Under the Bridge S1E3 Recap: “Blood Oath” — Digging Deeper

Jo at the police station
Photo by: Bettina Strauss/Hulu

The following recap contains spoilers for Under the Bridge S1E3, “Blood Oath” (written by Jihan Crowther and directed by Catherine Hardwicke)

Now that the first three episodes of Under the Bridge are out, it’s time to really dig deep into Hulu’s newest series. The show is set in the small town of Saanich in British Columbia, Canada, and centers on the death of Reena Virk (Vritika Gupta). The first two episodes have painted a hazy picture of Reena’s last night. The main suspects are girls her own age who pretended to be her friends: Jo (Chloe Guidry), Kelly (Izzy G), and Dusty (Aiyana Goodfellow). Only now, in Episode 3, “Blood Oath,” do we learn that while many kids participated in the initial attack on Reena, it was Kelly who ultimately killed her.

Rebecca Godfrey, the writer who turned the events of this case into a book, has said that the reason she wrote about Reena wasn’t because she wanted to write a true crime story, but because there was something about this particular series of events that she needed to explore. Reena is an Indian girl living in a predominantly White town in Canada. She’s openly mocked about her body hair and her family’s religion, and feels overwhelmingly isolated from her peers. It’s this sort of loneliness that pushes her to pursue a friendship with Jo and try to experience the life she was offering.

Dusty, Kelly, Jo, and Maya at a house party
Photo by: Jeff Weddell/Hulu

Jo’s obsession with Mafia man John Gotti makes her want to be part of a gang, but the local group of Crips won’t let her join because women aren’t allowed. She and Kelly form CMC, which we now know to mean Crip Mafia Cartel. The allure of being part of a gang isn’t exclusive to Jo. It spreads to Kelly, Dusty, Warren (Javon Walton), Reena, and plenty of other characters whose names we never learn. Maybe the desire for violence is one of the reasons these young people seek out the gangs, but more than that, it’s the simple yearning for a group of people who will care for them no matter what. Jo, Dusty, and Warren are all without parental figures, and Warren has no place to call home. All of his worldly possessions fit in a duffel bag. Reena, though she does have a stable home life, feels stifled in a way that goes beyond typical teenage angst. Her family’s religion (Jehovah’s Witness) is quite conservative and doesn’t allow her to celebrate birthdays. Witnesses are encouraged to separate themselves from the rest of the world and socialize within their own insular community. For a 14-year-old girl, the worst thing in the world is feeling alone.

“Blood Oath” sees Rebecca (Riley Keough) further ingratiating herself into the lives of Reena’s family and murderers, but it never comes from a place of wanting to exploit the pain of the people involved. There’s a slight deviation from the true story in that Rebecca didn’t return to Saanich until the trial was already underway. And the still-hazy backstory of Rebecca, Cam (Lily Gladstone), and Rebecca’s brother is fictitious. In the case of Under the Bridge, however, these creative liberties add an intriguing depth to the series’ overarching thematic questions.

Warren sits at the police station
Photo by: Bettina Strauss/Hulu

Under the Bridge is an examination of identity, community, and society’s simplistic ideas on morality. Does one cruel thing define a person’s life? Does it make them, at their very core, an evil person? Can humans exist in the gray area? Or, maybe most importantly, can someone who did something terrible be forgiven? Do they deserve to be? These are the questions Rebecca seems to be grappling with. Somehow, Jo, Warren, Reena, Kelly, and Dusty make her think of her own teenage years. Maybe she too was cruel or a bully because she felt she had to fight for a place of belonging. Perhaps Rebecca’s only sense of comfort came from Cam.

“Blood Oath” gives us an answer in part as to who Rebecca and Cam are to each other. The two share a drink at a bar that’s pivotal in their shared history. Rebecca asks if that bar is still the only place in town to dance. One thing leads to another, and the duo find themselves making out in the bathroom. Some might see the shift in focus away from the murder investigation as a hindrance to the series, but the dynamic of Cam and Rebecca is quickly proving to be one of its strengths. There’s so much potential that can be mined from their lives and their history together. Cam used to live at the group home where Jo and Dusty now reside, so she’s acutely aware of the perception the public and the police have of these teens. Jo tells Rebecca that the girls at Seven Oaks are colloquially called “bics” after the disposable lighter brand. That slang alone gives the audience the clearest picture of how the girls believe they’re seen by people around them. It’s no wonder they’ve latched onto each other like this. To find a ticket out somehow.

It’s easy to see how the real-life Rebecca became interested in this case, because the signs are beginning to point to the fact that a teenage girl is responsible for the death of Reena. Society doesn’t think much about anger that’s coming from teen girls because they’ve been conditioned to bottle it, shove it down. Young girls have rage brewing within them in the same way teen boys do. Under the Bridge, and “Blood Oath” specifically, is interested in what happens when that emotion is ignored for far too long.

Written by Tina Kakadelis

Movie and pop culture writer. Seen a lot of movies, got a lot of opinions. Let's get Amy Adams her Oscar.

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