Under the Bridge S1E4 Recap: “Beautiful British Columbia” — A Blast to the Past

Kelly sits at a table at a party
Photo by: Jeff Weddell/Hulu

The following recap contains spoilers for Under the Bridge S1E4, “Beautiful British Columbia” (written by Stuti Malhotra and directed by Nimisha Mukerji)

“Beautiful British Columbia” is a departure from the rest of Under the Bridge. We’ve already grown used to the show jumping between timelines of before and after Reena’s (Vritika Gupta) murder, but the fourth episode takes us to a new time. Now we get to see Reena’s family’s journey to Canada, with Reena providing voiceover. She doesn’t believe her death is the end of her story because her father always told her that stories have no beginning and no end. “We always get a piece plucked from the whole.”

“Beautiful British Columbia” is a piece of the whole of Reena’s existence, the people who came before her, and the people who will come after her. Despite being the shortest episode of the series so far, “Beautiful British Columbia” is perhaps the strongest because of how it captures the way trauma, isolation, and cultural losses are often generational. This episode also homes in on the idea of family and the role a family dynamic plays in growing up.

Reena looks concerned at the dinner table
Photo by: Darko Sikman/Hulu

Reena and Kelly (Izzy G) are at direct odds with Jo (Chloe Guidry) and Dusty (Aiyana Goodfellow) because they still live at home with their parents. Because Jo and Dusty are living in the group home and are estranged from their families, they heavily rely on one another. This desire to feel a part of something larger than themselves helps push these girls toward gang life. It promises them a community that will fight for them, a loyalty they haven’t known. This sense of belonging is also what Kelly and Reena are after. Despite the fact that they have stable family lives, they don’t feel like they can relate to their family members.

Reena’s disconnect with her family isn’t unique to her own adolescence. “Beautiful British Columbia” shows Suman (Archie Panjabi) as a twentysomething woman who also struggles to please her parents. We see the beginning of Suman and Manjit’s (Ezra Faroque Khan) relationship and how Suman’s parents don’t condone their engagement because Manjit is a Sikh. He chooses to give up his religion and his life in India to become a Jehovah’s Witness and marry Suman. Even though you get the sense that Suman didn’t fully buy into the community of the Witnesses as a young person, she appreciates it now as an adult.

Humans, no matter where in the world they are or what age they are, crave a sense of security in the form of connection. We are not an animal that thrives on its own. There’s a distinct, pressing need for humanity to find common ground and be surrounded with like-minded people. You can find it in sports teams, religious groups, gangs, crafting get-togethers, or almost any sort of organization. It’s not the type of activity that matters so much as the feeling that these groups offer. In this way, every character in Under the Bridge is the same. They’re all trying to surround themselves with other people to feel less alone, but they all go about it in different (sometimes violent) ways.

Jo and Dusty get out of a car by the bridge
Photo by: Darko Sikman/Hulu

In an attempt to repair their relationship with Reena, Suman and Manjit allow her to invite Jo, Dusty, and Kelly over for dinner. It’s the first time the audience gets to see these girls on Reena’s turf. In the first three episodes, it was Reena who was trying to insert herself into the world of Jo, Kelly, and Dusty, but now they’re the ones who are experiencing something new.

The dinner scene highlights the subtle differences between Jo, Kelly, and Dusty. Although Kelly and Jo have seemed like an inseparable duo who consider themselves to be the coolest girls around, “Beautiful British Columbia” shows a divide between the two friends in the way they treat Reena’s culture and her parents. While uncomfortable, Jo does go along with Suman’s encouragement to try on some of her clothes. She compliments the pizza at dinner and keeps a level(ish) head when Manjit begins prying into her personal life. Kelly, on the other hand, sees this as an opportunity to wreak havoc. She steals jewelry and releases Reena’s pet bird into the wild. It’s clear that she has no regard for or interest in Reena as a person. Dusty, as she’s shown for most of the first three episodes, genuinely enjoys Reena’s company and is on her best behavior during the meal.

The kids all see Reena’s parents’ care and compassion as an annoyance, something that’s stifling. And it is to an extent (they did remove her door after all), but it’s also the time in Reena’s life when she believes that her parents couldn’t possibly understand her and the life they’ve made for her. She’ll never get to grow up to realize the home they built for her or the depth of the mistake she made, and that in itself is a travesty. As a teenager, you don’t see your parents as people who were once teens themselves. They’re overbearing dictators who keep you from doing whatever it is you want to do. Sometimes, though, the teen is correct and the parents create an environment that does more harm than good for their child. In the case of Reena, it’s likely that she would’ve realized what they’d done for her if she’d been able to grow old. She might have had more compassion for them and their rules.

The episode ends with quite the bombshell: Reena falsely accuses her father of abusing her. We see her moving into a room at the group home and her father crying in the backseat of a cop car. It’s devastating to see his life upturned like that, and answers the question from an early episode about what his criminal background was. Reena sees this as her only chance to get in with Jo, Kelly, and Dusty. The audience has the ability to see the future, so we already know this won’t be the safe community Reena hopes it is.

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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