It’s hard to criticize a show that tries for something more. Not because we don’t see the faults, but because we do see the passion. From what I’ve seen of “The Bridge,” I get the feeling that this a passion project for creators Meredith Stiehm and Elwood Reid. I don’t know either of them personally, but from what I’ve read in interviews they come off as writers with good intentions trying to tell a unique story in an unconventional way. That said, even in the world of TV: The road to hell is paved with good intentions. While there are much worse things on TV right now than “The Bridge,” none make me sadder. Not because of the shows intention, but because of my own disappointment.
“The Beast” managed to maneuver some of our character pieces in the right direction, while others still fell adrift. We start with a great opening scene involving Fausto (Mexican cartel leader) and his employee discussing the difference between a serial killer and someone else who kills. I mentioned last episode that the Mexican scenes are much more interesting than our main storyline and this scene proved my point very succinctly. It started the episode on a high note which can be a problem for a show that muddles its own energy with its heavy plot.
The follow up to that story involved my new favorite character (sorry Matthew Lillard) Steven Linder, everyone’s favorite barely clothed woman smuggler (or so it seems). Thomas M. Wright (Top of the Lake) is doing wonders with the role, or at least as much as he can with it. His awkward mannerisms and low grunts give the character some personality, something valued in a show with little of it. We followed him this episode as he first awkwardly dispatched the Mexican psychopath Calaca with a steam iron, and then trying to not heed attention as he buried the body. Unfortunately for him, the man who Fausto killed earlier mentioned his name and so the two meet. We never got a full resolution with their characters, but I’m excited to see if they’ll be together next week.
Our two lead detectives had an eventful dinner together in which we got to see more of the Ruiz family. Sonya is there to give Det. Ruiz his wallet back, a wallet he had left at Charlotte Millwright’s house which Sonya nonchalantly points out. Mrs. Ruiz picks up on this fact and later kicks Marco out of the house as she can see past his lies. Many people have criticized Det. Ruiz’s characterization so far, at first coming off as a family man and then suddenly being very adulterous. I think the writers felt this was a good way of showing how each character had his/her own demons, even the so called good guys. I don’t think they’ve failed as were starting to see that Ruiz is trying and it’s that trying to be a family man that connects him with who we saw in the pilot. His scene with Charlotte was important for the shows’ future, showcasing a character striving towards something noble in an environment that is passive towards morality.
Besides being everyone’s favorite food critic, Sonya did get to talk the “Bridge Butcher” on the phone. I like her distant and objective questioning. We get the sense that the killer isn’t there for her to prove something like many shows do, but instead is like a code she needs to crack. We later see her and Ruiz (sleeping on the couch of course) go to sleep together, but before he can Ruiz asks about some childish drawings on her wall. Sonya tells him it was made by the man who killed her sister in a scene that was one of the best yet for the duo.
I couldn’t talk about “The Beast” without talking about a young girl (still unnamed I believe) who after getting bailed out of jail by her father goes to Mexico and learns of the mysterious “beast.” I’m okay with a show giving us a new character and storyline in the middle of a season, heck “Justified” does it all the time, but the reason “Justified” succeeds and this storyline didn’t this episode is because it just wasn’t very interesting. It’s okay to not understand the character as long as we are engaged in the plot, but her story wasn’t too gripping. I mean it’s interesting that there’s a so called “beast” out there, but it seemed very inorganic and thrown in because it will probably be important later. This sense of showing something uninteresting just because it’s important for the plot has been a problem with “The Bridge” throughout its run so far, hopefully this will stop as the plot thickens.
- “Doesn’t taste good” – Sonya Cross. Man, I’d love to say that with as little regard to human emotion as Sonya does.
- I’m happy Mrs. Ruiz got her own storyline, I just hope it doesn’t turn into a storyline that feels unnecessary (aka Margaret Schroeder from Boardwalk Empire).
- Cooper (aka Southern Ron Swanson) calling the FBI agents “nuthuggers” was as innocent a swear I can think of.
- The episode was directed by Gwyneth Horder-Payton, a veteran of the industry being involved in shows such as “Battlestar Galactica,” “The Shield,” and “Sons of Anarchy.” My personal favorite of hers is The Shield’s Season Five “Of Mice and Lem.”
- They say the “Bridge Butcher” might be an inside job. I’m hoping for Lieutenant Hank Wade, mainly because he has a creepy voice and once played a serial killer to perfection.
“The Beast” = B-
* Would love to hear what you think, so sound off in the comments below.