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The title of this — “Beholder” — made sense in that it carried along the theme of the episode titles this season. They are all a part of Dungeons & Dragons world, something that Agent Joe McKenzie (RIP) was so fond of that it became one of the only topics of conversation between him and his wife (that, and baseball). But to me, the title would have been perfect with just the switch of one letter. Rather than “Beholder,” I wanted it to be called “Beholden.” The episode was a collection of stories of people beholden to their past lives, and in some cases, traumas. The backstories that have been built up, largely over this season, serve a purpose in this episode in ways that haven’t been able to come together in previous episodes. “Beholder” felt like The Bridge at its best, bringing together storylines that had long floundered and casting away the fat that had bogged down season two since its beginning.

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The revelations of these past lives created important juxtapositions between each of these characters, just as the first season used duality as a major theme. The obvious juxtaposition is Sonya and Eleanor who are literally put in a room together to hash out the lives that made them who they are. There mothers neglected them when they needed them the most, but they both reacted differently to their abandonment by the people they loved. Each found new authoritative figures; Hank took in Sonya, while Fausto exacted revenge for Eleanor. They both turned out so very differently, yet very much the same. Icy, alone and mysterious. (Frankly, I had a lost sight of the boy that Eleanor murdered earlier in the season, but the Sonya-Eleanor interrogation re-grounded that storyline in a way that I wished had happened earlier.) Marco and Fausto were similarly split apart. One gravitated toward the side of good, while they other preferred to live outside the bounds of the law.

When “Beholder” did not specifically deal with the past, the episode instead dealt with the attachments these characters currently cling on to. Marco’s story about his childhood and his relationship with his father further illuminated another theme of the episode: the bonds of parenthood. When those bonds are treated correctly, they have the ability to normalize. Abuse them, and the results can vary from Sonya to Eleanor. This theme was most apparent in two of my favorite scenes from “Beholder.” The first featured Cerisola pleading for his daughter’s life from the Mexican, something that he cannot avoid no matter how much money he has. Bruno Bichir has show great range as Cerisola throughout season two. He’s played quietly and mysteriously menacing, pretentious and prim in the face of a violent business partner, and, in this episode, shockingly devastated in a way that must be kept under control. Cerisola’s desire to save his daughter humanized a character meant to symbolize the kind of greed that looks good in a suit. The same could be said for Robles, whose sons share the name of action stars (Arnold and Sylvester). (Robles was certainly humanized, for a time, for Eva and Linder, whose presence I enjoyed this episode, although I still don’t see their larger purpose.) Fausto, on the other hand, has quietly pled for normalcy as he lays in hiding, wishing to fly off to Scandinavia rather than stay in his home country. While Fausto was a father (as we learned in “Eye of the Deep”), he asks the father of the daughter celebrating her quinceañera permission to return to that normalcy he lost by becoming who he is. Forget who I am, he asks.

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Perhaps the greatest juxtaposition though can be traced back to the United States and Mexico, returning to the heart of the series. I have argued before that The Bridge lost its sense of place in season two. Following episodes have restored what was lost in many ways, but none more so than the government official explaining to Marco why the drug trade is necessary for both Mexico and the United States: money. Each country handles it differently though. Mexico is overt about their corruption while Americans “cloak […] corruption behind patriotism, war…” Like Eleanor and Sonya, each country has similiar issues. They just choose to handle it very differently. And if Daniel and Adriana have their way, those issue will come to light.

Stray observations:

  • Daniel and Adriana continue to be my favorite storyline, sussing out why the CIA is so heavily involved in working against the DEA. Extra special shoutout out to Emily Rios for the scene in which Adriana chooses her work over Lucy.
  • What medication could Sonya possibly be taking? Or, rather, not taking?
  • Man, Adam Arkin is everywhere. He was great on Masters of Sex last week.
  • “My beard affords me special powers. It affords me disguise, deception.” You stay weird, Linder.

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