(note: I will be traveling next week, so I will not be posting a review of ‘Vendetta’. If you need your fix of The Bridge, head over to Sound on Sight and check out our weekly coverage).
There’s a certain bravery to the writing of ‘Destino’ in its murder-mystery moments that I admire: although the capture of Jackson Childress comes a little too early in the season to be convincing as the be-all, end-all to the murder spree in Juarez and el Paso, it gives the episode a momentum that previous, more mystery-building and inexplicable-murdering episodes couldn’t maintain for forty minutes. Although it probably won’t mean much in the long run, the scenes taking place at the trailer park were some of the show’s most tense, more than accounting for the lack of interesting material in the subplots around it.
The biggest problem with ‘Destino’ is how female characters (save for Sonya) continue to get the short end of the stick around the writer’s table. Both Charlotte and Graciela apparently equate sexual pleasure with trust, the former asking Ray if he’s trustworthy while her ankles are above his shoulders, and the latter forging an agreement to sell guns under the border through Ray by demanding oral sex from him. The moral of the story is consistent – fucking does not equate real “trust” – but it’s undersells its characters, establishing them as horny, one-track minded women instead of complex beings desperate for human connection (and thus willing to make shady deals with a newcomer who doesn’t appear to care about anyone but himself).
It carries over to Alma, as well: her response to a cheating husband is to cheat on him, with the man we’ve seen her conversating with outside work the last couple episodes. She still doesn’t want Marco to return home – despite the effect it’s having on Gus, who has pretty much flunked out of high school – and her only way of trying to make herself feel better is to cheat? It’s such a cliched turn for her character, it undercuts any kind of emotional connection we could feel for her character. Why the sad-eyed divorcee? Is this just a revenge fuck – or is there something in Alma that is screaming for more? We never get a sense of this, because The Bridge is often more concerned with the most visceral and the dark: and while seeing Alma cheat certainly adds more melodrama to the show, it’s done in a way that lessens her characterization, and marginalizes her stance in her argument to keep Marco out of the home.
But ‘Destino’ is more focused on what’s happening with Sonya, Hank, Marco, and Tim, which ultimately leads them on a chase to the man they think is “The Beast”, proving he isn’t with his reckless aim, rambling nature, and clear lack of sanity, three things La Bestia hasn’t shown to this point (I mean for fuck’s sake, the guy has beheaded and murdered multiple people WITH THE COPS RIGHT THERE; he’d never get caught in a shootout with a cop). He’s also supremely racist (after blowing off the head of the local deputy sherrif, he notes he was aiming “for the Mexican”), something La Bestia’s never really shown himself to be. It’s a fun, tense sequence (with an absolute gorefest of a kill shot, exploding blood and brain matter all over Ruiz), but ultimately what does it show us? That any psycho with a gun and an agenda related to the border has the power to manipulate cops into a position where he can kill them?
Watching ‘Destino’, it’s easy to enjoy it: great performances, beautiful cinematography, and enough action and plot movement to keep things moving certainly isn’t going to bore anybody. But peek under the surface of the episode’s events, and the motivations, metaphors, and thematic material can’t quite hold up to scrutiny, relying on convenient shifts of knowledge and a number of vagueries to keep its murder mystery moving forward. It certainly doesn’t ruin some of the better beats and moments in ‘Destino’, but the focus on something we can all see is an obvious red herring ultimately brings the episode down a bit.
- OF COURSE the fatty cop made some big revelation staring at a picture of the desert that he doesn’t get to reveal before his face is a big gaping hole. C’mon writers: you can do better than this.
- there’s a great shot when Ray’s in the pool (post Mexican cunnilingus), and Charlotte stands above him, her legs framing his face in the shot. Everybody wants to give their pussy to Bobby Cobb; it’s definitely not just a “cartel thing”.
- Daniel is going through withdrawals, then passes out on the floor of the empty paper office at the end. Not much to see here.
- Linder can’t win: after Fausto lets him go, the next girl Linder is supposed to “save” turns out to be Galvan’s girlfriend. Whoops.
- Tim and Hank’s conversation about Sonya not killing Jackson certainly suggests that Tim could be La Bestia – but previous episodes have shown him in the office while Sonya’s on the phone with the killer. I think the scene is really supposed to show the chasm of experience between the two: remember, Hank once put a bullet between a guilty man’s eyes, and regrets it nearly two decades later.
- why are there hundreds of pills in the bathtub? Yes, Jackson was off his meds, but what the heck was the point of that particular detail?