Lily Gladstone Tops Riley Keough in a Bar Bathroom in ‘Under the Bridge’

The third episode of Under the Bridge, ““Blood Oath,” moves the story out of unknowing — a space where the worst thing could be true but isn’t true just yet, a space where hope and fear can exist in equal measure — and into a tragic certainty that opens up a whole new set of questions. Reena’s body has been found, and her heartbroken mother confirms that the body in the morgue is her daughter. The autopsy reveals that the confirmed attack on Reena under the bridge was only the first of two, that she was later beaten again and drowned, although the injuries suffered during her second beating could have killed her if the drowning hadn’t happened at all. Josephine’s claim that she killed Reena is proven false, and by the episode’s end, we find out who did kill Reena, and get a pretty solid idea of who specifically saw it happen.

Then, amid all of this, there is Riley Keough and Lily Gladstone hooking up in the bathroom of Connie’s Bar, a bar that only serves one kind of gin and apparently doesn’t play music unless you put a quarter in the jukebox, at which point the dance floor gets immediately lit. It can feel a bit weird to care so deeply for obviously very intellectual reasons about this relationship but it’s not incongruous to the entire narrative, and gives the story a light charge without taking away from the overall vibe. This relationship between Cam (Gladstone) and Rebecca (Keough) is unfolding itself from the complicated past they share, seemingly as lovers and as friends. Their relationship is already full of mess and grief and broken trust, just like everything else in the story.  But this bathroom is where despair and grief and physical urgency and confusion and ghosts can all exist together at the same time and where for a minute, desire can drown everything else out. For a minute, what we have is a scene that is simply quite hot, and my lord Lily Gladstone!!!!!!!

Cam and Rebecca make out in the bathroom, caption reads [heavy breathing]

To rewind a bit — “Blood Oath,” like other episodes, contains two timelines, one in the present and one several months before the murder. In the before-times, we watch Reena embedding herself with Josephine, Kelly, and Dusty. While her relationship with Dusty is sweet and innocent (we learn so much about who they are from that brief scene of them together without Kelly or Josephine), Josephine and Kelly are cut from a different cloth and it’s a very bad cloth. I wrote last week that Josephine reminds me of Scar in The Lion King, and this episode, Kelly reminds me of Shenzi, Banzai and Ed. The closer Reena gets to being accepted by Josephine, the more frustrated she is with her parents, who open the episode by removing the door from her room, and end it with #1 Dad Manjit insisting she bring her new friends over for dinner so they can meet her new friends.

We also get more background on the “CMC” “tattoo” Reena has on her hand — it’s Josephine’s gang, which is formed in the flashback episodes, wherein Josephine aims to make a gang unlike all other gangs, one that’ll “keep shit tight” like the mafia, and, according to Kelly, will murder people and chop their heads off like the Mexican drug cartels. So they call it the “Crip Mafia Cartel.” Reena and Dusty aren’t allowed in yet, but Kelly’s Josephine’s first member. “Live by the gun, die by the gun,” they say and then Kelly and Josephine cut their hands and then shake their hands so they literally have blood on their hands.

In the present, Josephine’s frantically attempting to keep control over her story and maintain her badass reputation while also plainly confused about how Reena ended up dead. Samara’s growing suspicious of her baby-faced boyfriend Warren’s involvement in the beating and Reena’s death, while Warren is preoccupied by all that and also by the fact that, clearly left adrift by his parents, he’s got nowhere to live, eat or do laundry. By the episode’s end, Josephine spots Reena’s boots, caked in mud, in Kelly’s closet, and Kelly tells Josephine she did it all for her.

Then we have Cam and Rebecca. Rebecca is eager to tell Cam about Josephine’s confession, but Cam’s already ruled Josephine out based on the timing of the security camera footage and the distance from the bridge to Seven Oaks. Inside, out of uniform, with a glass of whiskey, in a white t-shirt, with her hair pulled back, Cam is very hot, by he way.

“You know this is an active homicide, right?” Cam asks.

“Yes, I know, and I’m trying to help you,” Rebecca insists.

“Help me do what exactly? My job? You hate cops.”

“Yeah well, I like one cop.”

Cam’s building walls quickly. She’s finally working a case that makes her job feel worthwhile for reasons unrelated to impressing her father or wanting a ticket off the island, and she fears Becca fucking it up for her. We learn that Rebecca left the island suddenly and Cam’s still hurt over it. But Cam pushes too hard when Rebecca brings up how tough it was for her to see a girl’s body pulled out of the water and Cam is too caught up in pushing her away to remember why that is, that once Becca saw the same thing happen to her brother. The regret is immediate and eventually brings us to Connie’s Bar, where Cam apologizes and then so does Rebecca — for leaving so abruptly and for losing touch.

“We didn’t lose touch, Rebecca, you fell off the face of the earth,” Cam corrects her.

“Yeah well I was a kid, and i was going through a lot when Gabe died, and you shouldn’t have had to take care of me or… give anything up for me.”

“I didn’t give anything up,” Cam counters.

They poke at each other a bit, about Rebecca getting Raj’s number at the memorial (for journalism!), about Cam seeming a little jealous to hear it. Cam says Raj won’t talk to them because he doesn’t trust cops. (It’s a benign detail here — of course a person of color living on a very white island in Canada doesn’t trust cops — but we find out later that Raj has a personal reason to distrust cops. Manjit’s got a (now-expunged) criminal record for something he didn’t do. Raj is also frustrated, knowing the cops are more interested in finding a family member to blame than in grilling the multiple teenagers talking freely about their own involvement in the murder.)

Under The Bridge -- “Blood Oath” - Episode 103 -- Upsetting news shakes the small town of Victoria, and as rumors surface, Rebecca and Cam reconnect. In the past, Reena enters Josephine’s mafia fantasy world. Rebecca (Riley Keough) and Cam (Lily Gladstone), shown. (Photo by: Darko Sikman/Hulu))

Photo by: Darko Sikman/Hulu)

But then Rebecca’s pushing back her own ghosts — she wants to dance. She puts “The Passenger” by Siouxsie & The Banshees into the jukebox and starts hopping around with her arms in the air, feeling so free for a moment, yanking Cam in to her orbit but playfulness quickly turns into sexual tension. Cam breaks away, leaves the dance floor, heads for the bathroom. It’s the ’90s and they’re queer so Rebecca knows exactly why she left, and where she’s going, and what will happen there.

Cam’s eyes are low and dim in the mirror when Rebecca comes in, and then their foreheads meet and finally their mouths and then my girlfriend, sitting on the couch next to me, went “oh my god,” and clutched my arm and I said “yes,” because I had already seen this scene and was inspired to see it again.

There’s a fiddling with the belt and there’s a pause where Rebecca says, “it’s okay to feel that” and I’m not sure what she means, if it’s literally something Cam can feel or if Rebecca is telling her it’s okay to feel things, in general. Then Cam’s eyes get low again, foggy, like okay, I’m going to top you so hard you’ll forget everything.

Cam nurses a hangover the next day at work. Her brother got Manjit’s criminal record, which you can see for him is all the evidence he needs to close this case. Cam’s skeptical. Now it’s her going to Rebecca’s, asking if maybe she can try to get a bigger picture from Raj.

“Do you wanna get dinner later?” Rebecca asks.

“I don’t know if I wanna sit through a whole meal with you,” Cam says, looking fine as hell. She gets up and puts her hands on Rebecca’s waist. “But um… eh, if you wanted to come over after.”

They both smile. “Deal.”

Like I wrote last week, Cam is a new character who isn’t present in Godfrey’s book, but this relationship is integral to how the show is telling its story. They were both once girls “in trouble” themselves in this place, and now they’ve grown up and out of it but have been pulled back into that headspace by a death so close to home. Everybody in this story is full of regret and confusion about the past and will be mired in it as they piece through what remains. Without ignoring or neglecting that reality, Cam and Rebecca’s storyline offers something else: a place where past pain can be reconciled and transformed. (Also they are very hot together)

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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 3202 articles for us.

15 Comments

  1. As someone who grew up in Victoria when this happened, it is very difficult to want to watch this series but then they made it gay with Lily. I don’t know if I will ever bring myself to watch this but I’m glad to read the updates on their storyline.

  2. The bathroom scene! Every fiber of Gladstone in civilian clothes! Keogh’s baby doll tee in this episode!

    The other aspect of this episode that really felt like the period was the way their playful dancing shifted to chemistry and then Gladstone is almost immediately aware of the watchful gazes of the old white men around them. It made me think about the kind of cultural permissiveness around teen girls dancing in this kind of intimate way (as presumably Cam and Rebecca once did as teens), and it’s like they get swept up in that rush of the past meeting the present in their bodies, but then there’s also this chilling awareness of the way the community will perceive them (especially Cam).

    I have a bad feeling that this episode might be the sweet spot in the Cam/Rebecca dynamic and it’s going to get more fraught from here, but nonetheless I love what you wrote in the last paragraph, Riese.

    It’s this dual timeline and storyline dynamic –– and the way their relationships might offer a place where past pain can be reconciled and transformed –– that feels like it transforms the show into something interesting, beyond the genre of true crime dramatization.

    • yes, cait! i have that same exact fear, that this might be the sweet spot in the dynamic, like there’s no world in which these two are not yelling at each other again and soon.

      and yes, agree, they captured that dance floor dynamic so well — when i first watched the ep i had a moment of like “wait is cam upset where is she going?” and then i was like oH RIGHT it’s the 90s we have got to relocate this event to the bathroom asap.

      gladstone is just like…..JAWDROPPING in this show, it’s so much

  3. Is Kristen Stewart the Kevin Bacon six degrees for queer actors? When I realized I knew Keough from The Runaways (2010), and Gladstone’s segment of Certain Women with Stewart (2016) remains a gem of cinema in my mind, it made me want to start mapping out a Stewart/queer Hollywood chart (which someone must have already done? queer cinema isn’t that large of a pool?)

  4. lily gladstone!! thank you riese as always for your excellent recaps. am I right that there are recpas of the two previous episodes as well? if so, can someone please direct me to them – I’ve searched without success. many thanks!

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