Under the Bridge Finale Recap: Life After Death

under the bridge finale recap: life after death

Darko Sikman/Hulu

Under the Bridge, both the finale episode and the series as a whole, is bookended by a Biggie Smalls song. The fourth track off of his posthumous album Life After Death, the song is titled “Kick in the Door.” We know that Reena loved Biggie’s music and lifestyle (and mourned his death at Connor’s party), but she had no way of knowing that her story would end much like his did. Both Biggie and Reena died tragically young, lives cut short by acts of senseless violence, with stories that have been dissected and discussed for decades.

,

Biggie’s murder remains unsolved, but the mysteries that keep us talking about Reena’s untimely death don’t revolve around who perpetrated the violence against her. Instead, the questions are nebulous and thorny. By the end of the series, we find out that Warren Glowatski aided Kelly Ellard, but the circumstances surrounding Reena’s murder still feel nonsensical and unreal. The finale often plays back moments that we’ve seen earlier in the series, punctuating the idea that, at any moment, things could have gone differently for Reena and for all the teens involved in this horrific incident.

,

The episode opens with a flashback to one of the first scenes of the series. Reena and the Seven Oaks crew dance to “Kick in the Door.” We’ve seen this before, but this time the camera keeps abruptly cutting to the credits. Each beat gives viewers a second to pause and contemplate everything that’s to come. Then, we revisit another moment when Connor, Jo’s crush, tells her that he heard she contracted AIDS, and we see the rage light in her eyes. After this, we see new scenes where Jo rallies her troops. First, she calls Kelly, who offers up some really sick and twisted ways to hurt Reena (within earshot of her complicit mother), and then she confronts Dusty.

,

Jo plays it off like they’re just going to initiate Reena into the CMC with a beating, and so Dusty reluctantly agrees. For good measure, Jo inducts Dusty into the CMC with the blood oath, and it’s very clear that Dusty is a little squeamish to smoosh open wounds with the girl after hearing the rumor that she has AIDS. But what’s done is done.

,

The credits bring us back to the present day, and we reckon with the relationship between Warren and Rebecca. His trial is done, and he hasn’t heard from Rebecca, but that’s about to change. Killer Kelly is finally getting her day in court, and she might possibly walk free if Warren doesn’t testify against her. Even though Cam brings Jo evidence that Kelly turned on her faster than she could say “CMC,” Jo still refuses to take the stand. And, when Dusty and Maya tell their stories to the judge, they’re both roundly discredited by the prosecution. Maya is a known drug user, so the lawyer tries to question her sense of recall, and then he uses Dusty’s history of (admittedly scary) violence against her niece to try and pin the murder on her.

,

It’s starting to look very much like Kelly is going to get away with literal murder, and Bad Dad can’t stand it. He turns to Cam and tells her to go talk to Rebecca, but when Cam tells him to go talk to her himself, he does. Rebecca is initially resistant to his query, saying that she needs to maintain her journalistic integrity or whatever, but when Bad Dad snaps back that she’s already involved, she doesn’t really have a leg to stand on.

,

When we see Rebecca next, she’s visiting the Virks, leaving a manuscript on their doorstep like some sort of demented Santa Claus. Suman catches her in the act, and the two women chat about their grief. Rebecca acknowledges that she probably didn’t do enough to honor the memory of Reena in her book, but she promises that she’ll try to get Warren to testify. It’s not much of a surprise when we see her arrive at the prison to see Warren, but when she reveals who she’s brought with her, it’s an astounding gut punch.

,

Suman is there. She wants to talk to Warren. Because she doesn’t know any other way out of her madness. The speech she gives to Warren is only a few lines long, but Archie Panjabi delivers it with such grounded, heart-wrenching emotion that it feels like a soliloquy. (Emmy voting is approaching, and Panjabi should probably submit this episode. Just sayin’.) She’s not only talking to Warren, but she’s trying to find some peace within herself that might allow her to live her life without earth-shattering guilt grinding her into nothingness every day. She offers up a seemingly impossible solution: she’s going to forgive her daughter’s murderer.

,

Warren is incredulous at this woman’s generosity in the face of the reprehensible thing he did. He can only whisper, “I don’t know why I did it.” Suman seems grateful for his kinda-confession, and she counters by saying, “If someone had shown you kindness earlier, then my daughter might have lived.” Honestly, if you had to pause this scene to catch your breath, then you are not alone, my friends.

,

The focus shifts back to the courtroom on the very next day, and Warren is there to testify. And this time, he’s not going to leave anything out. He owes Suman that much. He is a cooperative witness, answering all of the prosecutor’s questions with brutal honesty. After Kelly made Reena take off her coveted Steve Maddens, she and Warren unleashed a torrent of rabid violence on Reena’s injured body. I won’t repeat the particulars here, but neither Glowatski nor Ellard were armed or used weapons of any kind, and yet Kelly still persisted until Reena lost her life. Warren’s testimony is the stuff of nightmares. He isn’t too sure why he did it, but he’s sorry, and he’ll never stop being sorry.

,

Of course, Rebecca feels a lot of feelings when she hears her buddy confess to taking such an active part in Reena’s murder, so she hurries out into the hallway and has a brief breakdown. She makes it back in time to see Kelly take the stand. And her testimony is absolutely bonkers. At first, she stammers through responses with a ridiculous accent that gives Nicole Kidman’s often-wild accents a run for their money. Then, when presented with physical evidence from Reena’s body — tiny pebbles recovered from her lungs — she goes feral. She flails out of her seat and shouts, “I did not kill Reena Virk! I did not cross the bridge!” Over and over again she screams, asserting her innocence all while acting like a child denied an ice cream at the zoo. Izzy G’s performance is chilling to the core, and the cut to Cam and Rebecca tells the rest of the story. The look on Cam’s face is especially priceless as she’s not even trying to hide her disgust.

,

The trial draws to a close, and while Kelly is found guilty, a very lenient judge only sentences her to five years in prison. It’s a real slap in the face after Warren’s life sentence — he was a party to the murder, sure, but he didn’t actually murder Reena — but money rules the world, and Kelly’s got some, so the judge smiles at her and praises her good grades and kind family as she slaps her gently on the wrist with the minimum possible sentence. This part of the show should come with a barf bag, truly.

,

Later, Cam and Rebecca accidentally-on-purpose meet up at the local bar for a postmortem. Cam partially catches Rebecca up on her own journey throughout the last week or so. When she finds out that Seven Oaks is closing due to the controversy surrounding Reena’s death, she heads over there to collect some items. (Side note: Cam tells the house mother that she doesn’t blame Seven Oaks for what happened, but I … kind of do?) Suspicious of where she came from, she looks into her own file and finds an ad for AIM, or Adopt Indian Métis. Turns out that it was a horrifying program where Native children were separated from their parents and adopted out to white families. In real life, this was called the “Sixties Scoop,” and thousands of Indigenous children were separated from their families. It’s breathtakingly evil, and I have no idea how or why the Canadian (and American) governments ever thought this was okay. See also in a similar vein: the deeply affecting “Deer Lady” episode of Reservation Dogs.

,

Cam knows that her Bad Dad knows she wasn’t abused, and yet he perpetuated this lie throughout her childhood and into her adulthood, which is also so clearly a form of abuse that I can’t even deal. (Again, I ask: Is Bad Dad one of the villains of this series? It seems like the answer is yes!) She confronts him and then quits the force. She chooses not to share all of this information with Rebecca; she just says that she’s tired of people being scared when she walks into a room. Then, she says she’s going to try and find her family.

,

The two women have a sweet moment together, their conversation set to the sweet jukebox sounds of Donna Lewis’s “I Love You Always Forever” in the background. It feels like this isn’t the last time the two of them will see one another and, seeing as there probably won’t be another season of Under the Bridge — at least not with these characters — the fate of their relationship is left to our collective imaginations. At the very least, I hope Keough and Gladstone end up in something else together at some point in time because their chemistry is really something.

,

Finally, we check in with the Virks as they put Reena’s door back on the hinges and sort through her things. Suman finds a journal tucked away under the mattress and presses play on the CD player. Biggie’s voice dedicates the song to “you and you and you” as Manjit and Suman bop along to the beat. Then, the disc skips, and we see Reena’s spirit peeking in the door, wistfully wondering what could have been.

,

Random Thoughts

,

• It’s been a privilege to recap Under the Bridge and watch along with you all. As I mentioned in my first recap, I am roughly the same age as Reena would have been if she had lived, so in a lot of ways I found myself reckoning with real feelings of grief as I read the book and then watched the series. I had it much easier than Reena as a teen — crucially, I was white, like 95 percent of the kids in my town — but those aching feelings of being an unsure and unsteady teen who sometimes looked for friends in the wrong places are still very accessible to me. I wish Reena had lived. I truly wonder who she might have become.

,

• Book Club Corner: As someone who read the book before watching the series, the reveal that Rebecca Godfrey had an ongoing correspondence and friendship with Warren Glowatski shouldn’t have surprised me, but it did. She doesn’t overtly mention it anywhere in her book, but she writes about him with such compassion and affection that it’s very obvious in retrospect. For more on Godfrey’s role in how Under the Bridge came together before her untimely passing in 2022, check out Jen Chaney’s Vulture interview with showrunner Quinn Shephard here.

,

OTHER NEWS

34 minutes ago

‘Strange message’ from Valtteri Bottas could end F1 career, claims Ted Kravitz

35 minutes ago

COMMENT: Is Nasreddine Nabi’s ‘helicopter football’ the right fit for Kaizer Chiefs?

35 minutes ago

The Black neighborhood home appraisal gap is real. Can we close it?

35 minutes ago

What Prince William told dejected England players at Euro 2024

35 minutes ago

The schools debate is asking all the wrong questions

37 minutes ago

Galvin finishes stunning long-range try

37 minutes ago

2024 Logie Award nominations: Tony Armstrong, Robert Irwin and Andy Lee among the top nods

37 minutes ago

Wes Foderingham Set for West Ham Medical As Agreement Reached

37 minutes ago

Hardik Pandya buries IPL hate, converts boos into monstrous batting pyrotechnics en route to rediscovering his mojo

37 minutes ago

Arne Slot told what he must do to avoid Liverpool sack talk as dazzling first signing goes up in flames

39 minutes ago

Westfield Marion: Major police operation unfolding at Adelaide shopping centre

43 minutes ago

Sonia Kruger shows off her sensational figure as she attends TV Week Logie Awards nominations in Sydney

44 minutes ago

What to know about Eddie Murphy and his 10 kids

44 minutes ago

Jay Slater: What is the official GoFundMe page for missing teenager and how will the money be spent?

44 minutes ago

‘Members see him as the Messiah’: How Farage could take over the Tories

44 minutes ago

The Legend Of Zelda Games, In Chronological Order

44 minutes ago

NetApp CEO: We protect most of the world’s important data

44 minutes ago

MultiVersus Character Guide: Jason Voorhees

46 minutes ago

Iowa trucker whose body was found in field died of hypothermia after taking meth, autopsy finds

50 minutes ago

ADAFSA leverages innovative national talents to lead smart, sustainable projects

50 minutes ago

Tory Johnny Mercer branded 'sad and desperate' as veterans and Keir Starmer back ex-forces rival

50 minutes ago

We retired to an Italian village where three-bedroom homes cost less than £20k

50 minutes ago

An amnesty for Covid lockdown breakers? Robert Buckland plays the rest of us for fools

50 minutes ago

Agricultural Fire That Killed 12 in Southeast Türkiye under Control, Media Says

50 minutes ago

Roberto Baggio speaks out after being rushed to hospital following terrifying armed robbery

50 minutes ago

Zara Tindall shakes off Royal dress protocol for Taylor Swift show in £60 New Look bomber

50 minutes ago

Rassie 2.0: Erasmus back to coach World Cup-winning Springboks

50 minutes ago

People claim a mysterious force is killing us – but is geopathic stress actually real?

50 minutes ago

GNU is the code word for a ‘bloodless coup’ by the DA

50 minutes ago

Denise Nolan gets married! Nolans singer finally ties the knot with fiancé Tom Anderson after 30 years following his Parkinson's diagnosis in emotional ceremony with her sisters by her side

52 minutes ago

Huge pre-Covid increase in foreign doctors joining Australia’s healthcare system

58 minutes ago

'Everybody Hates Chris' animated revival to star Terry Crews, Chris Rock and more

58 minutes ago

Go local: Introduce your kids to books by Singapore authors and illustrators

58 minutes ago

Could be wurst: Vienna sausage stands push for UN recognition

58 minutes ago

Chloe Chang is Illustrator of the Year at first Singapore Children’s Book Festival

58 minutes ago

Soccer-Martinez happy with Portugal's progress, ready for Euro 2024 knock-outs

58 minutes ago

'Inside Out 2' Heads for Animation Record $96 Million 2nd Weekend at Box Office

58 minutes ago

How to master festival dressing in midlife

58 minutes ago

Afghanistan trigger a cricket earthquake, put Australia’s cup campaign on the ropes

58 minutes ago

Ryan Reynolds' sports teams hand Hollywood star simultaneous double boost