Under the Bridge S1E5 Recap: “When the Heat Comes Down”

Rebecca leans against the trunk of a car
Photo by: Darko Sikman/Hulu

The following recap contains spoilers for Under the Bridge S1E5, “When the Heat Comes Down” (written by Tom Hanada and directed by Quinn Shephard)

Episode 5 of Under the Bridge, “When the Heat Comes Down,” brings the audience back to the present-day timeline, in the days after the murder of Reena Virk (Vritika Gupta). No arrests have been made, but Cam (Lily Gladstone) takes over the press conference after Reena’s funeral to say that every student who was at the party is considered a suspect. It’s a play inspired by Rebecca (Riley Keough), who thinks some of the kids will break once they realize the cops aren’t stopping just because the funeral is over. Jo (Chloe Guidry) and Dusty (Aiyana Goodfellow) are getting scared, but Kelly (Izzy G) is planning their escape to Mexico.

Once again, it becomes clear how obsessed with the idea of family these young girls are. They’re desperately clinging to any semblance of loyalty and support they can find, because they know that they’re likely days away from being held accountable for their actions. It’s about protection and preservation. To Jo and Dusty, this potential loss of support feels more dire. We see it as Dusty returns to her family and pleads to be able to come back, only to have her sister call the cops because Dusty is violating a restraining order. Kelly is treating this as a game. As though the mob movies she watches have come to life and she’s just enjoying the thrill of it all.

Cam and Roy give a talk at a press conference
Photo by: Darko Sikman/Hulu

The dynamic of Jo, Dusty, and Kelly is something that Under the Bridge could stand to explore a little more. Or, maybe more precisely, the divide between Jo/Dusty and Kelly, because “When the Heat Comes Down” only hints at their disparate life experiences. We see Jo and Dusty on the couch in the shared living room of the group home watching the news, while Kelly is lying on her bed, her mom massaging her foot, watching the same news in her big, fancy bedroom. Fundamentally, the stakes are different for these girls, and it would be interesting to hear them discuss it among themselves. Not once has Jo or Dusty made a comment about how much worse the outcome could be for them, yet they must be aware of it. Perhaps as arrests are made and people are held accountable, the trio will be forced into a conversation about their part in all of this and their varying levels of privilege.

After the funeral, Rebecca talks with Reena’s mother, Suman (Archie Panjabi). When discussing her book and the chapter on Reena, Rebecca says, “I think it’s important for people to be remembered for who they were and not what happened to them.” This sentiment speaks to true crime as entertainment as a whole. Personally, I’m always looking for stories about compelling people rather than grisly circumstances. That’s the inherent divide in how these true stories of murder are adapted into film, TV series, and podcasts. A showrunner may want to show the totality of a person as best they can. This was a person who walked on the earth and had thoughts, feelings, crushes, bad days, good days, and everything in between. Sometimes they were happy, sometimes they were angry and lashed out. They’re not only the way their life ended, yet having those final moments as the crux of the story is the other way someone could approach telling this story.

Rebecca talks to Reena's family at the funeral
Photo by: Darko Sikman/Hulu

There’s another version of Under the Bridge that would have shown us Reena’s murder by now, in all of its brutal detail. It might even have taken some artistic license and made the story far more intense than it was in reality. But by approaching Reena’s story like that, it would be missing what makes true crime stories so awful. These stories are about people whose lives ended with acts of violence, but that final moment is not what we should linger on. That is not what makes these people interesting. Humans, in all of their complicated contradictions, are inherently interesting. Rebecca goes on to say that she wants to understand Reena the way Suman did, to which Suman replies, “I didn’t understand her.” It’s hard to find any parent of a teen or preteen who would confidently say that they understood their kid at that time in their lives. It’s heartbreaking that Suman won’t ever get to come to a place where she will be able to feel like she understands her own daughter.

“When the Heat Comes Down” also begins to discuss the racial aspect of Reena’s murder. Cam’s father, the Chief of Police (Matt Craven), doesn’t think there’s any point in bringing in that angle to their investigation, but Cam is sure it played a major role, given some of the injuries Reena endured. The Chief says there couldn’t possibly be racial tension in his town, and uses his adoption of Cam as proof. However, as we saw in last week’s episode, Suman’s parents have found it difficult to meet people because of the prejudices of their neighbors. Not to mention that Canada has its own dark history in regard to the government’s treatment of Indigenous people.

The episode ends with an admission from Warren (Javon “Wanna” Walton), who tells Rebecca that he saw Reena die. This shocks Rebecca, but also complicates things for her because she has started to see Warren as reminiscent of her brother, who died when they were kids. Warren and Rebecca connect as they both feel responsible for a death they deeply regret. Rebecca has been fairly level-headed through most of the series (though taking ecstasy with teenagers remains questionable), but her association of Warren with her brother may throw her objectivity into question.

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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