“To be free.”
This is the answer that Eleanor Nacht provides when asked why she does what she does, and it’s fitting because this is, in essence, a show in which every single character is attempting to break free from his or her past. Whether it’s through violence or physical distance or a rigid moral code, the desire to move forward and start a new life is what connects them, and we begin to see links between their various histories as a result.
For example, we have Eleanor Nacht and Sonya Cross, two people with very similar backstories but very different ways of developing. Abandonment by their mothers drove them toward father figures and left them both cold and isolated, but they’re on opposite sides of the divide, on opposite sides of the table. It’s no coincidence that this conversation takes place within the confines of an interrogation room, but it’s also no coincidence that there’s a clear contrast between the orange of Nacht’s prison outfit and the gray-blue of Sonya’s clothes. The former was driven toward Fausto Galvan and a life of crime, while the latter was driven toward Hank and a life of stopping crime. And for both, the past informs each of their actions in the present day.
It’s a similar divide with the Marco-Fausto connection, and at the end of the episode, Marco, interestingly enough, attempts to break free by once again returning to Fausto Galvan. In order to attempt to break free, Sonya must enter a small interrogation room and Marco must enter a murderer’s den; each is confronting, assessing, and potentially eliminating the past, and that’s exemplified by Sonya telling her mother to leave (the homeless woman she’s been seeing is her mother, which goes to show you the ways we cling onto our pasts).
Elsewhere, we see more examples of holding onto things, and the episode explores this through the idea of parent-child relationships yet again. I mentioned Sonya, Eleanor, and their mothers already, but we also see Fausto using Cerisola’s parenthood against him when he holds a gun to Romina’s head. Later, we see Fausto crashing a quinceañera, the celebration of the transition from a girl into an adult, and he partakes in one of the most important aspects of the celebration: the father-daughter dance. He know he’s near the end, so he’ll essentially use intimidation to shove his way into a situation he feels he’s entitled to. His and Cerisola’s pasts are about crime, but maybe certain situations lead them to move beyond that, even if it’s just for a moment.
Finally, all the aforementioned ideas even take on a more national perspective in this episode, a perspective that’s grounded in the main draw of the series: the exploration of the U.S.-Mexico border. Marco and the state prosecutor discuss the idea of corruption on both sides of the border, and the latter states that he prefers the open corruption of Mexico rather than corruption under the guise of patriotism in the U.S. Corruption is ingrained within both societies, within each country’s past, and it influences the way we develop as individuals and as a collective whole. Just as Eleanor and Sonya coped with abandonment differently, the two countries handle corruption in different ways.
One simple truth remains, though: it’s extremely difficult to break from the past because the past makes you who you are today.
-Eva wants to break free, to start a new life, and she tries to do so by having sex with Linder. However, the pain of the past is too much for her, and she eventually breaks down as a result. As for Linder, I don’t think I’ll ever get used to seeing him without that facial hair.
-More connections: Lucy represents a new life for Adriana, but they break up because Adriana simply isn’t able to separate herself from the story, from the past.
-It’s always a pleasure to see Adam Arkin. He’s like FX’s go to guy, isn’t he?
-Last week, JustMeMike made a fantastic point about many of the characters being seemingly on a pendulum, swinging from good to bad. I wonder if the same idea applies to the past and present.
-We see Robles’s kids as well, which is certainly in line with the themes of the episode.
-That opening scene–the hostage video–is hilarious, but definitely in a dark way.
Photo credit: FX, The Bridge