The Bridge S1E2: Calaca

kyra: I enjoyed this episode although I don’t think it was as good as the pilot. The Bridge continues to add more mystery in episode 2, and certainly is piling on the questions. We meet a few new characters: a crazy Mexican looking for Steven Linder, a skeezy lawyer representing an anonymous client, and a savvy female border-crosser. Who all these people are and what their respective roles are in this saga still remains fully unanswered. Even those we already know, aside from the detectives, still have undefined parts. There is reporter Daniel Frye, acting like a real dick to the cops. Why did the serial killer choose to contact him? Is it because of his prestigious resume including the New York Post? He’s offered no explanation so far himself. What of Charlotte, who’s husband was smuggling illegals into the country? Well we know she’s not one to succumb to bribes, but what exactly was he bribing her to do? Keep funneling illegals in? It’s unclear, but at least we know she isn’t gonna take any shit because she’s a hostess from Tampa goddammit! As for Linder himself, we see him creepily stare at the picture of the new missing girl at work. We also see him disposing of a couple trash bags that we have to assume are body parts right? We don’t see who gave the border-crossers the poisoned drinking water, but I think we’re also assuming that’s him. While there’s nothing directly tying him to the murder of Judge Gates yet, he’s obviously the prime suspect right now.

Then there’s the two leads. This is more of a Sonya focused episode, as we see her stir the pot on a group of not-investigated murders in Juarez, and troll for some dick because looking at corpses on her iPad turns her on too much. I think that covers everything in broad strokes. Buckeye, what’d you think of episode 2?


Buckeye: I think my feelings towards this episode share much in common with yours, kyra (even if I found the pilot a little more disappointing than you did). Most of my reservations with The Bridge so far center on Sonya’s being not just socially awkward but actually having a certifiable disorder (no doctor we know has handed down a diagnosis nor have we seen her take pills or anything, but she’s out-of-whack enough that either she should be on meds or a doctor would only need two seconds to examine her). Luckily, “Calaca” took a step back from Sonya’s strained relationships with her fellow cops (particularly that dude with the mustache, whatever his name is). We worried last week that Meredith Stiehm might just have cut-and-pasted some Carrie-Saul scenes from Homeland to use for Sonya and Wade, but because Wade made only a brief appearance it’s too early to find out the exact nature of his mentor-slash-protector role in relation to his smart but vulnerable underling. If office politics didn’t figure into the story, Sonya is still all about work: This is someone who, after looking at the same pictures of dismembered corpses all night, feels overcome by the sudden, wet urge to drive to a bar and fuck the first guy she sees. If that’s how she gets her rocks off, I say more power to her. But it’s just so damned weird; while the show toned her down in the office, it didn’t get rid of her crazy, just shifted it to a new setting. (And again, I get that’s the point of her character, but there’s a sizable distance between not wanting to kiss the guy you’re banging and Asberger’s. Or as Nigel Tufnel would say, “a fine line between stupid and clever.”) What’d you make of Sonya in week two? Any less off putting, or more of the same?

kyra: Without a doubt Sonya is weird. I found a flaw this week though, is her inability to learn any social cues. I get that she doesn’t recognize them initially, but she’s not a dumb girl. This wasn’t the first time she went to a bar looking for action, and yet she was completely oblivious to the message of what offering to buy her a drink means. She was confused why he left, but this wasn’t a new situation to her–she has clearly done this before. There is a difference between Sonya not being impressed with the offer to buy her a drink, and not recognizing what it means. As an exceedingly blunt person I would expect her not to care, and prefer him to ask her straight up ‘want to have sex?’ However, she should know what it means.

In contrast, her interaction with ‘el Capitan’ shows her ignorance in a new setting. Despite Ruiz’s repeated warnings that things don’t work the same in Mexico as they do in El Paso, she tries to drill down over and over why 23 murders weren’t investigated. It’s obvious he’s deflecting, but she doesn’t pick up on the social cues. Buckeye, I can definitely see this becoming an issue going forward. She’s great at investigating for her job, and yet in many ways she is clueless about how to get something done. Additionally, it is hard to tell what she should understand and what makes sense for her to miss. We want to expect more from her.

Another critique I had was how Frye figured out what the serial killer’s numbers meant. It was a Newsroom-esque maneuver: they simply made up that his partner’s parents worked with longitude and latitude coordinates! Wow that was convenient. Sometimes a show can get too smart for its own good, and writing yourself quickly out of the hole sounds stupid.

Those were my main problems this week. Now I know when we were watching you made a note of all the Spanish this week, which is something I definitely didn’t notice. Could you care to elaborate on that Buckeye?

Buckeye: Sí, puedo. As a Spanish speaker (though that may be giving me too much credit, because my accent is embarrassing) I took issue with how the pilot presented how and when characters spoke Spanish. During the pilot, I got the impression that the show didn’t have a good handle on bilingualism, even though the setting and the characters obviously demand that both Spanish and English be spoken: Ruiz’ concerned-parent lecture to his son about pot use was conducted almost completely in English, but there’s no way these two characters would ever speak in English to each other unless a non-Spanish speaker were around. When Ruiz did utter something in Spanish during that scene, he then repeated what he’d just said verbatim in English, even though Demian Bichir is perfectly capable of translating what he was intoning through body language and with help from the context and tenor of the conversation.

Thankfully, there was none of this stuff in “Calaca.” All scenes involving only Mexicans utilized Spanish (and subtitles) exclusively, as it should be. It adds authenticity to the show and treats the audience intelligently—the audience of course consisting primarily of people who live in a country where Spanish is spoken with increasing frequency. We’re familiar enough with Spanish (and with good acting) to let the characters speak in their native tongues and use the combination of acting techniques and subtitles to get us through. FX has another show that follows this very well, even though its second language (Russian) is much less familiar to us—The Americans. One interesting detail is that the El Paso cops almost never speak Spanish (I can’t remember any instance of them doing so) and, if anything butcher and gringo-ize it. I’d be interested to know if that’s something common among law enforcement down there. (In Breaking Bad, many of the DEA agents know Spanish, but the situation is probably different for federal officers, not local ones. Still, you’d think that cops in El Paso would possess a decent grasp of Spanish.)

I’d like to turn to another possibly heartening development for the show, which you alluded to at the beginning: the new characters. There’s the lucky migrant who didn’t drink the poison, and then there’s Lyle Lovett, because every criminal attorney needs a criminal…attorney (tip of the hat to Jesse Pinkman for that). Do you have any guesses for how these new people will fit into the narrative, maybe even the murder story?

kyra: Lyle Lovett oozes sliminess, with none of the tension-breaking humor of Saul Goodman. He says that Charlotte’s husband lost a lot of money during the financial crisis (implying he was indebted to the mysterious ‘client’), and yet it is him giving money to her. Smuggling illegals successfully into the country is likely a very profitable business, and he doesn’t wanna see the faucet turned off. He’s going to have some trouble with that, but as of now I really have no clue how this ties into the murder investigation.

I’m assuming the lucky migrant got picked up by Linder right? They established her character in the episode as a smarter-than-the-average-migrant, so my prediction is she escapes or somehow causes some trouble for Linder, which begins his unraveling.

As for that crazy Mexican dude, my theory for now is that the girl Linder kidnapped and possibly butchered (Eva) is this guy’s sister. His signature choking device kinda reminds me of Anton Chigurh’s air-pistol or whatever it was (in that they are both unique).

Any opinions?

Buckeye: One of these creeps HAS to be connected to a cartel. We’re two episodes in and the only established cartel connection is that El Capitan over there in Juarez likes his graft, and had you told me last month that there was gonna be this new show about the US-Mexico border, I would’ve just thought about Benicio del Toro doling out some justice to Los Zetas. I don’t mean this as a criticism, it’s just surprising. Maybe our smarter-than-average migrant will help us put the pieces together. Stay away from the poison, kids.

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