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The Bridge – Maria of the Desert Review: Right Back Where We Started From (Kind of)

After watching episode 4 of The Bridge, "Maria of the Desert," we find ourselves right back where we started from at the beginning of the episode. We are not any closer to finding our killer, who has been dubbed “The Bridge Butcher,” and his message is just reiterated. Already established character traits are also empathized.  However, we are privy to a few insights that give the audience a new look at the overall story. I do enjoy the episode for the sheer fact that the main story line is so centralized around one goal: finding Maria (the girl tied up in the desert).

First off, we learn that Steven Linder (Thomas M. Wright) is officially not The Bridge Butcher. He is shown driving in the dessert and stops in order to avoid a fatal encounter with his car and a snake. This points to his gentle nature, yet we can see a body laying down in his back seat, leading the audience to believe that something fishy is going on; maybe Linder is the killer. That doubt is quickly squashed when he pulls up to a ranch and Eva (the prostitute from the previous episode) is reveled to be alive and well. Linder is helping her flee Juarez and her sordid past. This is all fine, but I think it would have been more thrilling for the audience if we'd seen the snake/body in the car scene last week. There would have been more build up going into this week, especially when we come to find that Linder is actually a good guy.

Then we have the Cartel thrown into the mix. Crime boss Fausto Galvan makes a few appearances (we were introduced to him in the pilot, playing cards with Det. Ruiz’s boss). First there is the fabulous scene between Galvan and the unnamed wealthy Mexican women (the one who was partners with Charlotte’s late husband). She is getting her nails done and Galvan enters and pours nail polish remover into her bodyguard’s eyes (awesome). Not only does this scene establish Galvan as a total bad ass, it also demonstrates the wealthy Mexican women’s bad ass-ery. Does she go to help her bodyguard like a normal human being would? No, she calmly sits back in her salon chair.  Galvan appears again when he calls up Det. Ruiz and just so happens to have the $1 million in ransom money. He can’t be that bad of a guy then, right? My guess is wrong; I’m sure this money comes with some strings attached but Ruiz has no choice but to take it.

So here is my issue with this money situation: the killer asks for the money to specifically come from four wealthy Americans. The FBI is having a hard time scraping up the money; presumably the Americans do not want to pay. Ruiz gets dirty Cartel money and they use that instead. At this point the police and FBI know the killer is a pretty tech savvy guy. Does it not run through any of their minds that the killer will look into where they got the money? While we later learn the killer never cared about the money (what a shocker); rather it was the point behind it. For me it’s just a small hole in the plot that could have easily been fixed.

Moving on...lets get back to Det. Ruiz. Demian Bichir gives another great performance. True to form, Ruiz does not let the FBI agents squeeze him out of the case. Ruiz is in it to win it, as demonstrated by him accepting the money from Galvan. I feel like a lot of storylines are being set up for Ruiz. I’m sure there be will face some sort of consequences due to accepting the money, perhaps something to do with compromising his morals as a detective. Don't forget: last episode he had the affair with Charlotte. That was not touched on much this episode, except when Charlotte returns his wallet to the police station; however, the two do not have a face-to-face interaction. Speaking of the wallet, how does Ruiz not realize his wallet is missing? Another small hole in the story that could have been easily avoided by a small line of dialogue; for example: “Has anyone seen my wallet?”

While Ruiz’s character stays true to form, Det. Cross finally shows some emotion while talking about her dead sister (YES!!!). This plot point hasn't been touched on in a while, but it's refreshing to see genuine emotion run across Cross’s face. Cross is also the hero of the episode; her somewhat creepy obsession with watching Maria’s demise in the desert pays off when she realizes Maria’s location in the desert. Cross’s Aspergers is briefly touched on when Daniel Frye comments that “Cross is a little ‘short bus’” to Ruiz. While this does not fully explain her condition, at least it shows that other characters are picking up on it. I’m still waiting for that line of dialogue where Cross or someone explains that she has Aspergers.

The episode reaches it climax towards the end when an FBI agent goes into the bar for the drop. The bartender hands him a phone and the agent takes out his earpiece. With the FBI agent not responding, the rest of the force takes it as a sign to move in. Ruiz goes off on his own to investigate, and abruptly gets knocked out by the killer. Meanwhile the killer contacts Frye and tells him to check a nearby dumpster, and the shock and horror on Frye’s face when he opens the dumpster tell us something bad is in there (perhaps the FBI agent’s decapitated body?).  They don't show us what he sees, but they should have. Ruiz comes too, just as Det. Cross enters (what a coincidence). And what do they find? The FBI agent’s severed head, of course, which by the way was really cool (I’m a sucker for a good severed head)! Oh, and the money and a tape of the agent with a prostitute. So the episode is over and we are not any closer to finding our killer, and with Linder cleared we have no potential suspects.


Best Det. Sonya Cross Quote:  “That’s his wife; she calls all the time.” The reason I chose this quote is because of the matter of fact way Cross says it. The funny thing is that the person calling Ruiz is not his wife, but a crime boss.

Bad Ass of the Episode:  It is a bit of a toss up. In one corner we have crime boss Galvan, who pours nail polish remover in another man’s eyes, and it does not faze him. In the other corner we have our killer, who once again outsmarts the police and the FBI. Oh, and he also decapitates an FBI agent to make a point. It’s a tough decision but I’m going to have to give it to Galvan because I feel like his actions happen suddenly, whereas our killer has more time to plan his actions. Also our killer spares Ruiz’s life.

-- Cross finally shows some emotion over her dead sister. I would really like to get some more information on this.

-- Ruiz’s life is about to get even more complicated with the Cartel money situation.



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