TV Review: The Bridge 1.12, "All About Eva"

All About Eva

rating: 4.5

After the bulk of the plot of the first major seasonal arc was wrapped up in the previous episode, I was very curious to see how the remaining two episodes of the season would achieve what it needed to provide resolution to the remaining plots and reconcile Sonya and Marco, especially now that The Bridge has been renewed for a second thirteen episode season. "All About Eva" was in fact about much more than that as the end of the all consuming David Tate plot allowed the show to open back up and return to the plots of Steven Linder and Charlotte Millwright in addition to our lead detectives. This episode, after what I felt was a slightly disappointing ending to the Bridge Butcher plot, was all about returning the show to its core strengths. It more than succeeded by not only resurrecting the looming significance of the Dead Girls of Juarez, but doing so while simultaneously reestablishing the main characters with their own authenticity and drawing connections among them, both narratively and thematically. One of my favorite aspects of this show, like all great stories which aim to truly evoke the significance of a meaningful existence, is its acknowledgment of the inherent indifference of the universe to each individual. Much like the fantastic opening shot of the roadkill over opera, the world is as full of potential for beauty as it is decay and rot. The universe does not care if you've been dealt a crap hand or worked hard to improve it, you still can be cleaned out of all your chips in an instant. Eventually we all have to stop playing at some point, the house always wins. But the point isn't to win, it's to make the most of your time before you have to leave the table, and you can't do that by constantly folding your cards. If this episode has a theme, it's finding the will to play the game €“ to not give up. "All About Eva" returns our attention to the characters over a month after David Tate committed his last act of ruthlessness before being apprehended which several weeks later has left two men particularly in shambles, Detective Marco Ruiz and Daniel Frye. Marco, having lost his son to a tragic and painful death, and lost his wife and two daughters who've left him to carry on their lives without him, definitely holds the most pathos in the story and is at the lowest point of anyone else portrayed. The first shot of Marco is of him waking up, seemingly despite his best efforts to be awake, in Gus' bed gradually collecting himself to answer the door. The following exchange between Marco and Sonya does a fantastic job of illustrating exactly what condition these characters and their relationship are in and it doesn't look good. The exchange is informed by the previous scene of Sonya barely holding it together while being told her truck, which once belonged to her sister, is essentially bound for that big scrap heap in the sky. Thankfully Hank shows up to remind Sonya of her priorities, that while she can't hold on to her dead sister, she can bring her once and former partner some pastries. Seeing Sonya so visibly upset isn't just necessary for her interactions with Marco to carry more dramatic weight, it's a pleasure to see Diane Kruger's talent in depicting Sonya's nuances as a person with significant obstacles which prevent her from more easily connecting to other people, an issue which has never been exploited throughout the series, but utilized as a means of realizing the character's depth, and the richness of the larger story. Narrative convention dictates that seeing Marco so consumed by grief at the beginning of this new turning point in the series means that by the next check point, in this case the end of the episode, he should either be in much worse shape or on his way toward picking himself up and getting back in the game. Through Sonya's persistence in refusing to acquiesce to Marco's very vitriolic, though understandable, requests to be left alone, this broken man begins to put the pieces back together. On paper this probably sounds too neat, too predictable, too cheesy, but because of the high quality of every aspect of this production €“ the acting, the writing, the direction €“ it absolutely earns its victory of convincing its viewers that Marco can get back to work, and do so alongside Sonya, a woman he seems to despise in the first act. Demian Bichir and Diane Kruger (and really every actor on this show) consistently brings their A games, but the writers of "All About Eva," Esta Spalding and Fernanda Coppel, deserve recognition for concisely and effectively bringing our detectives' relationship from nearly nonexistent to, not immediately stronger than ever €“ this show is better than that €“ but well on its way. Marco's lines about being "drunk or asleep," and distinguishing his and Sonya's partnership as merely "two people who worked on a case together," as well as Sonya's line that she doesn't "find many people," plus all of Marco's drunken criticisms of Sonya not being normal or understanding things all worked beautifully. Director SJ Clarkson should also be commended for the second shot of Marco waking up in Gus' bed, but this time getting himself up with determination, hollow as Bichir makes it seem Marco feels it is, and making the bed, as per Sonya's advice. Mourning and, more pertinent here, getting back to life despite that grieving process can only be addressed by those who truly understand its debilitating machinations. Getting advice when you're depressed from someone who clearly doesn't comprehend what it's like makes you want to see that person swiftly crushed under an anvil, Wile E. Coyote style. The same sense of disgust is evoked by stories which ring false in depicting recovery from such maladies, but "All About Eva" definitely rings true. Daniel Frye has been struggling with recovery from his addictions throughout this series, and the first season has seen him excel at indulging them, put real effort into going cold turkey, subsequently falling off the wagon, taking the bigger leap of actually accepting support, and although David Tate interrupted this latest development just as it seemed to be taking root, Daniel appears as though he's still determined to make something more of his existence than merely coasting by in a haze, as Marco was for most of the episode. Similar to how Marco is motivated by Sonya (and Cecilia) to emerge from his cocoon of grief and return to work, Daniel would more than likely be blacked out in a pool of his own vomit somewhere, if not in his grave, thanks to Adriana, and this is on full display in "Eva." However, the stronger story to emerge from their adorably playful interaction (Adriana referenced Superman and Yoda while visiting Frye at the hospital before leaving him helplessly parked in his wheelchair outside for suggesting she wants to "have babies,") is the confirmation that Adriana is in fact gay, and her mother has effectively disowned her because of her orientation, which is kind of hilarious considering Adriana pays most of her family's bills. What was also actually hilarious was Daniel's awkward attempts to break the tension between Adriana and her mother (suggesting they all go out for ice cream) until he could only react with honesty ("Oh, shit."). This isn't a huge revelation as it's been suggested through past scenes at her family's home, but it's a development that opens the character, an incredibly strong and therefore intriguing one, for new narrative avenues as the conversation with her sister about the cute new manager at the factory (presumably the one Eva worked at before her latest abduction) illustrates. It's very easy to picture The El Paso Times' Daniel and Adriana as The Baltimore Times' Scott Templeton and Alma Gutierrez to Sonya and Marco's Bunk and McNulty from the fifth season of The Wire. Sheeeeeeit It's also very easy to picture Charlotte Millwright's new relationship with Fausto Galvan as an incredibly dark version of Weeds. This plot had the least amount of time in "All About Eva" which is fine because a little Fausto goes a long way as his menacing presence is the stuff of nightmares (it also makes his comedic lines that much more effective, as illustrated by his calling his right hand man, "the worst accountant I've ever had."). I'm so glad to hear Charlotte is smart enough to have returned the drugs Ray took from Fausto's end of the tunnel and that she's requested a new business partner. I don't know if Ray's still in the picture, or if we'll be seeing the ATF anytime soon since their informant, Tampa Tim's departure from this world, but Ray was obviously only going to bring trouble to Charlotte. As fleetingly entertaining as he has been, the sooner Ray left the better off Charlotte and we as viewers would be. That said, it looks like Charlotte may have simply traded one devil, the goofy, dumb kind, for another, the dangerous as fuck kind. Although Fausto lays it on despicably thick that he's got the upper hand in their new dynamic, and Charlotte is visibly frightened, she's also dangerously unpredictable. Her combination of naivete and eagerness to cross all kinds of lines, both moral and legal, to avoid returning to her former state of relative poverty and financial struggle continues to remind me not so much of Nancy Botwin, but of Walter White, and I'm excited by that prospect. Not Weeds Finally, I was also very happy to see Steven Linder return to the proceedings with the episode's titular plot. I was concerned with how things were left with Steven as there didn't necessarily seem to be much story left despite there being at least a couple lingering questions (like how did he escape Fausto after killing Hector, and what was the story with that photo of the blonde girl he had €“ was it really just a picture of his sister who had gone missing, a red herring during the first half of the serial killer plot and the motivation for his good samaritan work?). But Steven's feelings for Eva have driven him to seek her hand in marriage. Of course before he can do that he must rescue her (again), this time not from her pimp, but from the Juarez police who picked her up from the hospital after she was deceived into being assaulted and apparently locked in a cage (most likely by said police out of uniform) only to lock her in a cell (bad sign) before doping her up and bringing her to a "party" of sorts where she was repeatedly raped, again, by the police. Juarez cops really are the worst. Linder enlists the help of Sonya in his mission to recover his "intended," and seeing these two characters interact was a lot of fun as they are the show's most awkward, but also the most valiant. Watching Linder explain himself to Sonya was a treat because while the golden rule in film and television is "Show, don't tell," in the season's penultimate episode it's more like finally hearing the legend of The Batman told by a Gotham citizen after seeing the caped crusader move in the shadows than it is boring exposition. Eva's abduction, assault, exploitation, and rape by the Juarez police has literally made her a poster girl (not that kind) for the Dead Girls of Juarez, and €“ with Sonya and Marco's involvement via Linder and Cecelia, respectively €“ brought the show back to its core of exploring the dichotomy of the border culture €“ its politics, justice system, and economy €“ the issue on which the David Tate plot so disappointingly dropped the ball. "All About Eva" has done an exemplary job of returning its cast to authentic places which its preceding episodes have built. Now, however, these places are primed for what will undoubtedly be an even better second season than was the already impressive first. Although it may not necessarily seem so in the pairings of Fausto and Charlotte and Steven and Eva, perhaps the theme of "All About Eva" isn't merely refusing to give up, but more specifically the euphemism that behind every strong man is an even stronger woman. Marco is backed by Sonya (and to a lesser extent Cecelia), Daniel is by Adriana, and Steven certainly is motivated by Eva (or at least his hope for their love). Plus, I have a feeling Charlotte may end up very quickly becoming a powerful asset in Fausto's enterprise. Regardless, the Emiliano Zapata quote, "It's better to die on your feet than live on your knees," rings true in the characters' refusal to accept the circumstances around them, striving for what they see as what should be as opposed to what is. The Bridge has proven itself a top-tier series, a show that honors its genre roots by exercising its tropes in the most impressive and effective ways, and I'm very excited for the season finale next week as well as its second season next year.
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Fed a steady diet of cartoons, comics, tv and movies as a child, Joe now survives on nothing but endless film and television series, animated or otherwise, as well as novels of the graphic and literary varieties. He can also be seen ingesting copious amounts of sarcasm and absurdity.