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'The Bridge' gets bloody in 'Rakshasha'

Ted Levine as Lt. Hank Wade enters the house where a large cartel meeting is taking place.
Ted Levine as Lt. Hank Wade enters the house where a large cartel meeting is taking place.
Photo courtesy of FX, Byron Cohen/FX Network

The Bridge” may have initially seemed like a straightforward police procedural, but has evolved into a more in-depth study of morality and the blurring of lines between good and evil. That may sound very intellectual and less than action-packed, but rest assured, Wednesday night's episode was a bloodbath that Quentin Tarantino himself would envy.

This is a recap, so spoilers follow.

The serial killer was captured last season, and this season the characters on the show struggle more with the dynamics of cartel violence and police corruption on both sides of the border between El Paso and Juarez. Likewise, many characters this season are also struggling with their relationships and trust issues that have been violated. Sonya (Diane Kruger) has lost her trust in Marco (Demian Bichir ) because of his longtime connections with the cartel leader Galvan (Ramon Franco). Then she loses her trust in her father figure, Hank (Ted Levine), after learning he shot her sister's killer, Dobbs, when he was unarmed.

Then Sonya puts her trust in someone she probably shouldn't in the form of starting a relationship with Dobbs', although that's now on the rocks after he discovered the body of another of his brother's victims and showed her the body. Sonya is having one tough season, on top of the challenges she already faces with her Asperger's Syndrome.

So Wednesday's episode focused on the cartel transferring property from their reluctant front woman, Charlotte (Annabeth Gish), who was "turned" by federal agents and secretly texted them about the meeting taking place with several other parties involved: this season's villain, Eleanor Nacht (Franka Potente); Charlotte's former ranch hand Cesar (Alejandro Patino) who Eleanor has now recruited to work for her; and her simpleminded henchman, Jamie (Roman Arabia). There is also a real estate agent, a notary, and the new home owner thrown into the mix at this meeting.

Unfortunately for most involved, even as Hank and the federal officers closed in and drew their weapons on the crowd gathered, Galvan had sent men to kill them all because of Eleanor's betrayal of him. In a scene reminiscent of Tarantino's classic, “True Romance,” it was a three-way shootout between cops, cartel and civilians caught in the crossfire. When all was said and done, almost everyone was dead, except of course our villainess Eleanor, Cesar, Jaime and the wounded Hank crawling away with Eleanor's notorious ledger, where she recorded everything.

There was a lot that happened in "Rakshasha," and trying to summarize it into a short article is impossible, but the other major action in this episode was resolving the cliffhanger for the end of the last episode where Sonya was kidnapped by a cartel hit man. Due to Marco's impressive political skills -- his delicate handling of the arrest of Sebastian Cerisola's (Bruno Bichir) daughter for drugs -- Sebastian told him that Sonya had been taken and was going to be killed, allowing Marco to come in and save her at the last minute.

While there were a few plot holes in this episode -- most notably the blatant mistakes a so-called professional killer made in letting his victim hobble around the desert as he dug her grave, and not seeing the cop approaching in the middle of nowhere -- the complex morality of the show was explored in even further detail.

When Sonya is out in the desert with the hitman, he shows some compassion to her in telling her he would make her death quick and would make sure that the “animals don't get her bones.” When she tries to walk away with her ankles bound and her wrists tied behind her back, he cuts the ties around her ankles and tapes her knees together and tells her to go ahead and hobble away, as he'll find her when he's done digging the hole. But before she goes, he waxes philosophical about death.

"Death is a reminder that we really don't matter. You don't. I don't. No one does.”

Eleanor is such an amazing character this season, wearing her frumpy, thrift store attire that makes her look like a church marm, but executing her needs and people with cold precision. One has to sympathize with Potente every time the wardrobe department hands her a new outfit; the contradiction of her plain-Jane, almost child-like attire and her ruthless ability to savagely murder anyone who gets in her way is a great touch, but those wardrobe people take their orders to go frumpy mighty seriously.

And yet, the episode opens with an exchange between her and Caesar over a silly vampire book she had found him reading which she now read, and said she liked it. She told Caesar she wanted to read the next one, and when Cesar said his wife was still reading it, she politely told him she would wait then. It was an unusually civil and almost friendly exchange for such a cold-blooded killer. And she gives the simpleton Jaime candy, so that in one scene, he's holding a machete and sucking on a baby bottle-like candy. It's a classic example of the many contradictions woven into the characters and story lines.

On the other hand, some of the so-called good guys are wrestling with moral issues, as well. The new revelations about Hank's shooting of Dobbs has caused a fallout between the pair, as Sonya can only see the law in black and white. Then when Sonya and Marco were in Juarez tracking down a lead on who killed the Mexican prosecutor, they stumbled across two cartel men in a hotel room that Marco killed to protect them and more importantly, to protect the fact that Sonya was present.

Marco has also proven to be quite the politician, trying to be the good guy, yet keeping his relationships open with very bad people, such as his handling of the arrest of Sebastian's daughter to earn favor with the cartel businessman. And previously this season, Marco had Galvan get him into the prison where David Tate (Eric Lange) was being held, the man who killed his son in Season 1. But at the last minute, Marco decided to let him live instead of killing him. Was it out of trying to do the right thing, or did he simply feel that letting him live out a long life in prison was really the worst punishment?

"The Bridge" is a gritty, dark drama focusing on the officers on both sides of the border in El Paso and Juarez. It airs Wednesday nights at 10 p.m. on FX.