In ‘Under the Bridge,’ Rebecca’s Been In Love With Cameron Her Whole Life

Rebecca Godfrey has been in love with Cameron Betland her whole life. We learn this within the first five minutes of Under the Bridge‘s sixth episode, “In the Water They Sink the Same,” which opens in 1982. Becca’s in the kitchen of her family’s consistently resplendent home overlooking the endless water and its danger. Her headphones are on and she’s blasting The Cure while making cookies. She’s pretty and her black nail polish is chipped and the sleeves of her oversized black sweater are long enough to clutch when she’s nervous.

Cam and Gabe rush in — he’s got a bloody nose, seemingly from a scrap with bullies. He’s awkward and gangly and world-weary. Cam, a cute, tall tomboy; is doing her best to cheer him up and get him stoked for the school dance, which is a pretty tough thing to get an unpopular kid excited about. Cam gives Becca a shy smile, they say hello.

rebecca and cameron as kids

Immediately, we see Cam and Rebecca’s roles as teenagers are the same as their roles as adults — Cam is the calm and measured one, Becca is emotional and impulsive.

Certainly, Becca isn’t thinking about Gabe and what he might be going through, she’s just thinking about herself and relatedly, about Cam, who she’s obsessed with. She asks Cam to come to her room to try on a dress to steal a few moments alone. It’s unclear if Cam reciprocates Becca’s feelings entirely or if either of them know what those feelings are, but there’s tension there that suggests intimacy, a secret connection they have to keep quiet around Gabe. Cam is torn between trying to care about Gabe and Rebecca at the same time.

That tension explodes when Gabe attempts to interrupt the girls for help tying his tie. Becca brats out, shouting at him:  “Cam doesn’t even like you, okay? She’s only pretending so you won’t be such a fucking downer!” She slams the door. Cam says she shouldn’t have said that. And that’s the last time either of them see Gabe alive.

Later, Becca will answer the door and find two young boys there, delivering the news that Gabe fell into the water and drowned. In that moment, Becca is all of them: She’s Josephine’s careless cruelty. She is Reena’s tunnel-vision, a girl willing to do anything to be with the girl she adores, no matter who gets hurt in the process. She is Warren’s cross to bear: even if he wasn’t the one who killed someone, he was too close to it to ever imagine an un-haunted life.

Cam, meanwhile, was steady then and steady now. Even as a teenager, she likely never felt granted the freedom to fuck up or act out without considering the consequences.

Throughout the episode, we see Cam torn between Becca’s emotionality about the complexity of this crime, and her father’s bureaucratic insistence that it’s actually all quite simple. To him, the cops are good guys, backed up by good laws, and everyone involved with the murder is a bad guy and deserves a specific pre-ordained punishment.It behooves Cam to side with her father. He’s her boss. He’s there. Cam is certainly drawn to Rebecca, sexually and emotionally, and I think appreciates how Becca’s presence gives her a break from rationality and routine. (Again, I personally am deeply invested in their relationship and would like them to run away together.)

But Rebecca is unreliable and has burned her before. Rebecca disappeared for years and now she’s back but not for long and also she’s writing about all of this and people tend to be suspicious of writers who are writing about things like this. You can see Cam’s unease as she weaves through the high school dance late in the episode, wishing she wasn’t there at all, being the ultimate buzzkill in service of a possibly misguided manhunt. You can see how deeply she resents her father’s orders throughout — how he wants to arrest Warren rather than pursuing Kelly, how he grumbles at Cam to find “the Egyptian and the angry one” and bring them in, too.

So when Becca calls Cam in a panic, worried about Warren, and thus reveals he was, in fact, at her house the whole damn day — including the time period in which Becca and Cam met up for drinks and Cam looked really nice in her sweater and they shared a lot of furtive glances!!! — Cam’s not just frustrated with Becca but with herself, for letting herself trust Becca and Becca’s whole entire worldview.

It’s not just Rebecca or the job that’s pushing Cam away from her family now, though. When she and her brother visit the Kamwatan Housing Society in search of Warren, whose grandmother, Carrie, once lived there, the woman at the front desk asks Cam where she’s really from, and Cam says she doesn’t know. She was adopted. Her Dad said her family’s from Alberta, but Cam never met them.

“Carrie’s family wasn’t around much, but she was accepted here,” the woman tells Cam and her brother. “There’s nothing more important than that.” It’s a lot for Cam to carry, knowing in her bones that her adoptive family has never really made her feel accepted.

“In the Water They Sink the Same” also spends a lot of time with Dusty — again, Aiyana Goodfellow is absolutely killing it in this role, my lord — who’s unknowingly in Kelly and Josephine’s crosshairs. They fear Dusty will rat them out, and thus they’re hoping to convince Dusty she’s coming to Mexico with them on their little bandit escape but instead, they’re going to murder her with rat poison? En route to the school dance, Dusty immediately throws up their death cocktail. So Kelly has a new plan: they’ll drive Dusty to the train tracks and convince her to kill herself. 

But as the train rushes forwards, Josephine gives in to the part of herself that’s nothing like Kelly at all. Josephine may be cold and calculating and mean and manipulative, but she does draw the line at being the accessory to yet another murder.

three girls before prom

In flashbacks, we see Reena and Dusty connecting, and then Reena trying to form an alliance with Dusty against Josephine after Josephine hurts Reena, but Dusty is reluctant to turn on Josephine, her only family.

We also see the supervisor of Seven Oaks finding the letter Reena wrote recanting her accusations against her father. She moves immediately to eject Reena from the group home. While the supervisor shames Reena for making false accusations that’d label her father a sex offender, Reena’s focus remains on Josephine.

When Raj picks Reena up from the group home, he tells her, from the bottom of his heart, that this will all end — middle school and high school and living at home will all end and she will be out there on her own, just like she wants to be, living the life she wants to live, and she’ll barely even remember all this. But that speech falls flat, as speeches of that nature generally do with the teenagers who receive them. Reena’s still so preoccupied with Josephine and getting her revenge.

In the present day, Reena’s family is still grappling desperately with the scale of their loss. Suman runs into an unhinged, freewheeling Kelly at the grocery store. Back home, Suman says she could see the evil in Kelly’s eyes. I, too, could see the evil in Kelly’s eyes. Manjit implores everyone to be patient. But Raj wants to look that “psycho bitch” in the eye.

“If she would just admit it, then all of this would end,” Suman yells.

“None of this will end, Suman. None of it.”

Suman and Raj in the car

Becca’s spiraling rapidly as the episode proceeds. Her choice to dress Warren in the suit her brother never wore to the dance is … disturbing, to say the least. (Also, why do they still have this suit at the ready?) If Rebecca can save Warren, then maybe she can finally convince herself that she deserves salvation and forgiveness as well.

At the episode’s end, Rebecca rushes to the school after hearing that Cam’s gonna arrest Warren. Cam tells Rebecca that he lied to her — he was involved in the murder, they found out from Samara that he dragged Reena’s body into the water.

Becca yells at Cameron that he’s just a fucking kid who made a fucking mistake. This is what we do, as grown flawed adults — we project our own past failures, the ways we fucked up that we want to be forgiven for — onto similar cases wherever we can find them. But we often go a little too far in these efforts, equating situations that aren’t really that similar after all. Is this one of those times? We will find out.

“I’m telling you he killed a girl and he didn’t even care,” Cam shouts. “You’re making excuses for him. I thought we were fucking helping each other here, you were just using me. You don’t want justice, you wanted material.”

It’s unclear if Cam believes what she’s saying or if she’s just at the end of an endless rope.

“That’s a fucked up thing to say,” Rebecca responds.

“Is it?” Cam asks, “This might be a story to you. It’s fucking terrifying to me.”

Cam arresting Warren

Elliot Smith’s “Between the Bars” is a piercing soundtrack to the episode’s final frames, a song which has always broken my heart and does so again, here. One by one, every kid is arrested, bathed in blinking lights, their eyelids sparkling with glittery eyeshadow they put on for the dance, their hair done.

None of this will end. None of it.


Did you like this recap? Then you’ll love my new newsletter, What the Gays Are Watching, available to all AF+ members. Membership starts at $4 a month and supports the existence queer indie journalism!

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

Join AF+!

Riese

Riese is the 41-year-old Co-Founder of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in nine books, magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. She's Jewish and has a cute dog named Carol. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 3212 articles for us.

12 Comments

  1. This episode was painful to watch, at so many levels (and Manjit saying “None of this will ever end, none of it” was gut-wrenching).

    I was really interested how the opening flashback illuminated the dynamic between Cam/Rebecca, and also revealed how complex and fraught their connection and history is.

    I also felt like the show wants us to understand where Rebecca is coming from with some of her more impulsive or unreasoned decisions – even as we can also all the ways in which she is projecting, or using this situation to try to atone or make piece with her own past, etc, in a way that isn’t healthy or maybe even just. I totally feel where both her and Cam at the end of this episode.

    That parking lot scene, and Warren. Samara. Dusty. UGH.
    I am interested in how the show is trying to tease out the different motivations, behaviors, and impulses of each person involved, I feel like we get these flickers of understanding — both of what might condition them to act in certain ways, and also the residual inexplicability of why people sometimes do terrible things to each other, in ways that exceed comprehension.

    A small note but re: Gabe’s clothes: I got the sense when Rebecca walked into the bedroom that she maybe hadn’t been in there in 15 years, that after he died the family just closed the door and left it intact.

    • Last thing – the additional flashback context that precluded Reena prank calling through Jo’s contact diary also made me think about the whole situation from a slightly different angle. I think after the whole series airs I’ll end up watching back through again, as I’m interested in the show’s decision to piece together and unfurl the narrative, and how it intersperses flashbacks, the way it does….

      Thanks for these reviews, Riese! I feel like you and I and maybe 2 other people in the world are watching this show, so I look forward to coming here each week after it releases.

      • as usual yes 100% agree with everything you said! and yeah the flashback was SO illuminating, it made me want so much more, honestly, like i still don’t fully understand their relationship but i feel like it makes much more sense now. i

        and yeah, also so compelled by how they have chosen to roll out the flashbacks, jump around in time, sort of organize things thematically instead of chronologically, letting us decide how we feel about one thing or person and then challenging those assumptions later.

        as someone who has seen each episode i’ve recapped twice, it is definitely a story you learn a lot from on a rewatch, so i would recommend that.

        • Just coming back while I eagerly await your reflections on episode 7 (that wrenching scene between Cam and Becca–give them both an Emmy, even just for Lily’s face acting, my god) to say how much I appreciate the thoughtfulness of your write-ups, Riese. The few other outlets covering this show are pretty trash–all surface, basic details wrong, nothing interesting to say about the show. Thank you, as ever, for being the Autostraddle that you are! <3

  2. Thank you for the great recap as always Riese. I must say I’m a bit disappointed in how Cam and Rebecca’s relationship seems to have evolved during their youth. I interpreted it as they not having acted on anything/admitted any feelings for each other when we get to meet them in the 80s, Becca has feelings for Sam but it’s not entirely clear how Sam feel about Becca in return. Then Gabe dies, which makes me feel like they connecting emotionally/physically is more some sort of trauma bonding than anything else. Makes me think of Alice and Lara after Dana has passed. I wish we could see them having already reciprocated each others’ feelings for one another before Gabe’s passing.

    • I read the flashback as indicating that their feelings for each other were reciprocated (whether they were made explicit or acted on is more ambiguous, yes) prior to Gabe’s death, but that the dynamic between them was always in a way a complex/at times strained triangle (although not a romantic one), and that Gabe in his absence, as earlier in his presence, was a uniting but also definitely a complicating factor.

      I see the trauma-bonding element for sure, but for me the fact that Cam and Becca still have this intense, clearly reciprocal connection even in the wake of his death – and Becca’s unkindness that immediately preceded it, which was surely a culmination of much longer-running tensions among the three of them – suggests that there is something else, something more, that precedes the trauma. But that’s just my read!

      • Thank you for your thoughts! I definitely like your interpretation better than my own and I will probably have to rewatch the episode to see if I can read it as you did.

        • I agree that it is ambiguous and I think Riese put it aptly in her review: “there’s tension there that suggests intimacy, a secret connection they have to keep quiet around Gabe.”

          I do feel like Cam wouldn’t be responding to Becca’s sometimes confounding, meddling, or impulsive behavior in the 1997 timeline, particularly after Becca disappeared for a decade –– in the way that she does (wary but clearly still drawn to her physically, emotionally, wanting to take care of her and also be cared for by her in their own distinct ways) if she didn’t have a deep love or connection for her that went beyond “my best friend’s younger sister who had a crush on me,” particularly after their conversation in episode 7 which reveals the truth depths of the guilt, confusion, and intense messy feelings between them and as related to Gabe. But I’m curious how you feel on second watch!

          • Yes, I definitely agree with you about the 90s timeline which is why I was a bit disappointed in the past timeline story. And I mean disappointed only in a selfish way where I wish there was some smooching going on.

            I think what I’m trying to say is that had I not been shown the 90s timeline, I would not have interpreted the past timeline as the emotions being reciprocated from Cam’s side. A curiosity, yes – but maybe not more than that.

          • emelina, it won’t allow me to reply to your comment below, but I know what you mean about 13yo Becca’s intentions/desires been far more explicit. It kind of tracks with their adult ways of moving through the world though too, no? beyond personality I also wonder as a First Nations person adopted into a conservative police family in a small isolated town in 1982 what horizon of queerness would have even been on 15-year-old Cam’s radar… (I know what it felt like for me as a 13-year-old in a small isolated town in a conservative religious family in 1998, so!) But I agree that I had hoped the flashback might offer more, or clarify an overt romantic connection prior to the long shadow cast by Gabe’s death.

          • I also cannot reply to your last comment, caitrw, so I don’t know where this one will end up. I completely agree with you, and thank you for putting it so eloquently. I’ve appreciated all your replies – and see you on the next recap page hopefully :)

Contribute to the conversation...

Yay! You've decided to leave a comment. That's fantastic. Please keep in mind that comments are moderated by the guidelines laid out in our comment policy. Let's have a personal and meaningful conversation and thanks for stopping by!