[This is a review of The Bridge season 2, episode 6. There will be SPOILERS.]
Not many would argue that, despite the searing presence of the south Texas sun, The Bridge is a fairly dark show. So, for an episode of that show to be titled 'Harvest of Souls,' it's fairly clear that things are on the verge of getting darker, and that the characters are most likely in for a rough time.
This comes just a week after Marco's nemesis, David Tate, had his left eye casually dug out with a spoon in a prison hallway. And while one might think the series isn't going to top that level of darkness, that's precisely what it aims to do in one of the more crisp and exhilarating episodes this season.
Last week's 'Eye of the Deep' was largely centered on the concept of revenge, and the many ways it is and is not to the benefit of those seeking some kind of closure or payback for having been wronged. The effectiveness of that revenge was relegated to a hierarchy of sorts – that is, those with more power wielded their revenge with swiftness and, seemingly, little or no regret.
To that end, it was Fausto Galvan who would reap all the rewards of dealing with those who had crossed him in one way or another; most notably, the drug-stealing teenagers he had all but wiped out in frighteningly swift fashion.
But the episode also promised Marco a similar shot at revenge; one he ultimately refused to take, considering the torturous conditions of the prison Tate had been sentenced to, granting him death would have been doing Gus' killer a favor.
And, in one very distinct way, perhaps Marco understood the desperation of being in a situation with no end in sight and no obvious means of escape. While keeping Tate in misery was better payback, it's clear Marco realized that whether he followed through with his revenge or not, he would still be controlled by Galvan.
The crux of 'Harvest of Souls,' then, is that all the various characters find themselves in sticky situations (some far worse than others, but all pretty unpleasant) due in part, or in some round about way, to the universally corruptive influence of Fausto Galvan and the idea of doing "business."
As a result, or in an effort to deal with their situations – as either a way of freeing themselves from it or to simply struggle against succumbing to it – the characters must deal with the almost unbearable weight of having to make a life-altering choice, sometimes very quickly. From Marco to Sonya to Frye and especially Eva, no one is completely unaffected by the events that unfold during the episode. Even Galvan himself is taken to task for his brutality toward the dope-thieving teens and especially the public murder of State Prosecutor Abelardo Pintardo.
Pintardo's not-unexpected death is definitely the turning point in the season since, as Grupo Clio CEO Sebastian Cerisola explains to a petulant Galvan: all eyes are now on Juárez, as it is very likely the deal struck with the government to exclude the DEA in exchange for a reduction in local violence may now be in jeopardy.
But Pintardo's gruesome demise at the hands of several corrupt Juárez police was not merely an attempt to silence the man who'd gotten closer to a case against Capt. Robles and the Juárez P.D. than anyone else; it was a display of power to demonstrate the lengths to which the cartel will go against those who rise up against it.
The fact that Frye and Adriana are roped into the situation as well, after their Grupo Clio/cartel story is killed by their editor (supposedly for lack of evidence) and Frye is subsequently fired following a demonstration of his lack of shyness when it comes to taking a drug test, is further proof that the cartel and its collaborators are, at the moment, simply better equipped to handle issues through brutal violence, as well as tying up its adversaries in bureaucratic red tape or media influence.
With the death of Pintardo and the various other setbacks stymieing the efforts against Galvan and the cartel, 'Harvest of Souls' dramatically demonstrates how the story of The Bridge is growing into one of corporate influence on government and the justice system. As such, it's telling that Eva strikes down her assailant - a man complicit in corruption and violence against those who cannot adequately defend themselves - with an otherwise simple tool, an instrument of labor that essentially defines her class status.
The idea of class warfare equaling justice is furthered when Marco and Sonya successfully retrieve Eva's signed statement given to Pintardo before he was silenced, resulting in Marco joining the fray by (apparently) killing two of his dirty colleagues.
So far, The Bridge has been setting up a strong, winding story that has brought several seemingly disparate character threads together. Now, 'Harvest of Souls' (with an assist from 'Eye of the Deep') has taken the largest step in moving those threads toward matters of consequence and additional intrigue, all under the now-unfolding theme of corporate corruption and the idea of criminality being sanctioned by governments under the guise of doing business.
Most importantly, though, as it rounds the corner on this exciting turning point, season 2 continues to demonstrate the considerable maturation of The Bridge from a silly serial killer drama to an overlooked series with some big, competent, and compelling ideas.
The Bridge continues next Wednesday with 'Lamia' @10pm on FX.
Photos: Byron Cohen/FX