Under the Bridge S1E8 Recap: “Mercy Alone”

Warren and Suman sit at a table in jail
Photo by: Darko Sikman/Hulu

The following recap contains spoilers for Under the Bridge S1E8, “Mercy Alone” (written by Samir Mehta and directed by Kevin Phillips)

The final episode of Under the Bridge, “Mercy Alone,” is a reckoning. It’s an ending, but it’s also a beginning. The trials for those responsible for the death of Reena Virk (Vritika Gupta) continue with Kelly Ellard (Izzy G). She’s been dubbed by the media as Killer Kelly, and of all the kids involved, she’s the one who maintains that she had nothing to do with Reena’s death. Rebecca (Riley Keough) is putting the finishing touches on her book and Cam (Lily Gladstone) is tying up loose ends on the police side of the trial. All the characters are at a precipice of sorts. The event that has consumed their lives for the past few months is ending in the eyes of the law, but the loss of Reena will linger forever.

As a complete series, Under the Bridge stands as the best version of what a prestige true crime series can be. “Mercy Alone” offers another perspective of the events leading up to Reena’s death, but the series never shows her final moments. Warren (Javon “Wanna” Walton) describes what Reena endured at the end of her life in his testimony at Kelly’s trial, but there is never a visual of it. There’s power in refusing to show the extent of that violence. The audience sees some of the blows Reena endures leading up to her death, but never the final act of brutality. Kelly and Jo’s (Chloe Guidry) beloved mafia movies delight in showing the blood and murder. Under the Bridge is the antithesis of that genre, exploring the why of it all. Why Reena ended up under the bridge with Kelly and Warren and what it means about humanity’s ability to be violent in an effort to hide insecurity.

Suman and Manjit in the courtroom
Photo by: Darko Sikman/Hulu

It’s not often that young girls are the aggressors in violent crime. Girls are taught to not be angry, to maintain a restrained sense of poise. Anger is reserved for the boys in the gendered binary created by social expectations. “Mercy Alone” briefly touches on how the anger of young girls is often ignored, and how those few who do express rage are written off. In a flashback to the night of Reena’s death, Kelly describes all the ways she and Jo can torture Reena for her breach of loyalty. In the background is Kelly’s mom, quietly folding her daughter’s clothes, unperturbed by the violence her child is spewing because the assumption is that she won’t go through with it. She’s a good kid from a good family, so of course her vicious threats can’t be taken seriously.

Rebecca describes the way Reena’s death has hung like a darkness over the small town of Saanich. The community is acting as though her murder was a fluke, something isolated to the kids involved and not a greater issue that should be explored. Rebecca goes on, “as if this darkness was something they could hide from rather than something that lives within us all.” The people of Saanich want Reena’s murder trial to put an end to all the bad things that are happening, but fail to realize that the trial is simply an indicator of what’s going on in their community. Racism, economic disparity, and kids who turn to gangs in search of stability are all at play in Saanich. And all of those were factors in the death of Reena. They won’t suddenly be solved when the verdict is read.

“Maybe if someone would have shown you kindness earlier, my daughter would’ve lived.” It’s a heartbreaking sentiment from Suman (Archie Panjabi). She visits Warren in prison to tell him that she forgives him because that is the path of her Jehovah’s Witness faith. Suman also wanted to meet with Kelly, but her lawyers denied that request. Warren apologizes, and it’s this meeting that pushes him to testify against Kelly. He realizes that the bare minimum he can do now is tell the truth and hope it brings some sort of mercy to Suman and her family. In real life, Warren’s 2010 request for parole was granted because both Suman and Manjit (Ezra Faroque Kha) advocated on his behalf. He has spent his life working toward restorative justice.

Cam sits in juvie
Photo by: Darko Sikman/Hulu

“Mercy Alone” sees Cam and Rebecca going their separate ways. As speculated in previous recaps, Cam’s adoption was part of Canada’s dark history of forcibly taking First Nations children and placing them with White families. All her life, Cam was told that her birth parents were abusive and that she was brought to Seven Oaks covered in bruises, but those marks at the base of her spine were just birthmarks. With that revelation, Cam feels disgusted wearing the police uniform, the same uniform worn by the people who took her away from her family years ago. After a final round of drinks with Rebecca, Cam leaves to learn about her heritage.

“Accept the part you’ve played,” Rebecca says in a voiceover. It’s a quote from her book that pertains both to the kids involved in Reena’s death and to all of us. How much better would our world be if we could accept our actions at face value? To understand our role in someone else’s pain and grow from it. “All there can be is a call for mercy. It’s mercy and mercy alone that transforms the human heart,” Rebecca continues. It is a tragedy that Suman and Manjit do not get the chance to reconcile with their daughter. To accept the part they played in Reena’s anger and feelings of isolation and work with her to move beyond it.

The series ends with Suman and Manjit in Reena’s room. Manjit is screwing in the door they had taken away to punish Reena, and Suman is making the bed. She finds a Biggie CD stashed under the mattress and puts it in the CD player. It’s not the type of music she or Manjit would choose, but this is the closest they’ll ever get to be to their daughter again. “Mercy Alone” leaves the audience lingering in that room, reflecting on the loss, the pain, and the beginning of healing.

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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