rating: 3.5During the first half or so of "Take the Ride, Pay the Toll" the biggest "R" I was feeling would have to be regret; regret that maybe the series I had felt the greatest anticipation for at the beginning of the year met its end at the hands of a revenge-killin', cliched piece of genre trope like David Tate. Actually, I thought that despite my disappointment in what I felt was a lack of synthesis between Tate's motivations of those of the politically minded Bridge Butcher, the character was portrayed by both Eric Lange and the writers and directors quite well, but Elle's line just felt so right to parody there. Anyway, throughout the beginning of the episode I grew increasingly mournful over what steadily resembled a very well produced series that looked more and more like a weaker version of Se7en. But ultimately the head was in the box here too and after getting to know Detectives Marco Ruiz and Sonya Cross over the course of the season I was feeling a much more powerful "R," remorse. Not remorse for a show I thought had grown a bit watered down in its plot structure or slightly simplified in its characterization, but remorse for the characters themselves. Having witnessed Daniel Frye's struggle with addiction and even more so with self-worth, seeing him at the mercy of Tate's lethal manipulation of Marco's rage, clearly not wanting to die, but never pleading to live was pretty gut-wrenching, especially since I genuinely had no inclination of whether Marco would pull the trigger. It's nice to know he survived the gun shot (from Tate) and the fall, but extensive brain and spinal damage in an ICU isn't exactly getting off scotfree. After Sonya had her eureka moment at the sink, realizing there was something off at the house where Tate had been staying, I assumed she would find Gus, wet and frazzled, but alive. Once I realized I was only half-right about that, Sonya's Somerset revival wasn't so much weak as it was painfully poignant. The same effect was achieved through Marco's Mills (same initials, though it's this series' characters' first names and the film's surnames, but still, funny coincidence, no?) revival as his anguished scream cradled in Sonya's arms, while not necessarily as powerfully depicted as Tate's upon seeing his son's mangled body, was still quite palpable. Plus, this iteration of the familiar situation, while not exactly happier thankfully was slightly more optimistic though not less meaningful thanks to the twist of Sonya's intervention. After the climax on the bridge the episode's denouement was what really crushed my soul (in a good way of course; better to feel something negative than nothing). While speaking with Hank Sonya smiles when she's reminded that out of all the tragedy at least she kept Marco from playing into what Tate wanted (though seeing as how it's fair to say that despite being interrupted by Sonya's bullet to his leg, Marco did make the decision to kill Tate therefore Tate did still technically get what he wanted, to make Marco "like "). Nonetheless, Sonya is hesitant to see Marco at the hospital and with good reason. Diane Kruger did an amazing job portraying the bravery Sonya had to conjure just to visit Marco, and she broke my heart conveying just how utterly devastated Sonya was to hear Marco say that they're not friends, and repeatedly yell at her to leave. As mentioned, it was genuinely heartbreaking, but we can hardly blame Marco as he's clearly in a very bad place right now. The episode's final shot of him limping out of the hospital morgue to Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds' "Push the Sky Away" may have initially felt a little on the nose, but veteran TV director John Dahl's bet paid off as the lingering of the shot made the coupling of the visual with what is an excellent song work (at least for me). Seeing this very thoroughly broken man soldier on is a genuinely interesting prospect. Although "Take the Ride, Pay the Toll" uncharacteristically focused for the most part on just this one plot, I think doing so worked well to keep the tension of the situation high enough as any breaks in between to check in on Steven Linder or Charlotte Millwright would detract from each plot's overall efficacy. Nonetheless there was a bit of an update in the cold open where we found Ray dragging his old buddy's corpse through the tunnel for what appeared to be yet another terrible decision in what is probably a long line of terrible decisions in this character's life. They were already in the desert when they shot Tampa Tim, why not just bury him there instead of bringing him back to the property Charlotte owns? Anyway, once Ray got through he found a classic, "OH GOD, WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED HERE?" bloody crime scene, and watching him navigate through it, taking a man's life and a lot of narcotics to boot (another brilliant call, Ray), was filled with suspense as the scene appeared fresh and there was no way of knowing what monster Ray might encounter while exploiting the space as best he could (which still wasn't very good Ray doesn't seem to understand the fine intricacies of forensics or planting evidence). While the Bridge Butcher/David Tate arc does at present feel a bit anticlimactic as the killer's grand scheme devolved from a morally intriguing plot surrounding pertinent cultural contrasts to one which boiled down to a very convoluted, familiar, and petty revenge plot (though executed about as well as these things can be), I'm still curious to see how Fausto Galvan will play into the dangling threads of Charlotte and Ray's dalliance with smuggling and the ATF, as well as Steven's arc as "the finder of lost children" (and prostitutes)/Jules' "Mr. 9 millimeter" (I don't know what's up with me and all the Tarantino references this week). Tate may be apprehended, but there's still two more episodes to watch Sonya and Marco mend fences while setting up for a potential second season, one I'd be more than happy to tune in for granted this season sees a satisfying conclusion that reinforces part of what made it so strong in the first place, its intricate and fresh world-building.
Couldn't help myself.