In ‘Under the Bridge’, Cam and Rebecca Have World’s Saddest Sleepover

Nearly four months have passed since the last episode of Under the Bridge, and the wheels of alleged justice are turning quickly. Josephine, Maya, Laila and Dusty have been sentenced for aggravated assault, all now residing in the Youth Detention Center of Victoria. Rebecca’s taken a kind of center stage in trial discourse, appearing on a news report as a “writer from New York City” (oh, the simple glamour of being a Writer From New York City!) who’s working on a book about the murder for Simon & Schuster. Warren’s trial is days away, and Kelly’s will commence after that.

But the respective outcomes for Warren and Kelly seem pre-set. Rebecca tells reporters that true “justice” for Reena can’t be accomplished without acknowledging the disparity between Warren and Kelly’s circumstances; that Warren has no familial support while Kelly’s got two loving, wealthy parents who’ve hired “BC’s best lawyer” (played by the same guy who straightwashed Lez Girls in Season Five of The L Word, just saying) to represent their deranged daughter.

Rebecca can’t square Warren’s personality with what he’s been accused of — and honestly, can we? He comes off so vulnerable and guileless, and not in the way that a terrible person hides their true nature beneath an innocent veneer. He does come off innocently, but someone else will have to decide how much that actually matters.

In “Three and Seven,” we get, at least, a much clearer picture of what happened in Warren’s life on the day of Reena’s murder. Warren’s day began with his Dad calling him to say he’d met a woman and was staying in Vegas, a city impossibly far away from Victoria. Then, another blow: they’re getting evicted from the trailer where Warren’s been living. In five minutes, he looses his family and his home. Becca’s voiceover, the words she’s (handwriting?) in the draft of her book, sums it up thusly: “Warren, like most kids, didn’t know how to describe what he was feeling. Warren did not know there were words like humiliation and shame. So, he thought it was maybe anger. This emotion that he felt when he did things he would later regret.”

While Rebecca’s overwhelmed by her desire to protect Warren, Cameron’s continuing to edge away from her father’s black-and-white version of justice and protection and towards her own gut, which aches for Dusty. Cam is sent to juvie to convince Dusty to testify. Dusty’s been keeping to herself and reading a lot, staying away from the other girls. Her innocence, too, is heartbreaking. Her hurt is right there at the surface where Cam can touch it. Cam doesn’t convince Dusty to testify, instead she simply lays out her options.

Under The Bridge -- “Three And Seven” - Episode 107 -- The unfolding trial pushes Rebecca to the brink as she begins to question who she should defend. Cam’s allegiance to the justice system is tested as details from the night of the murder are finally revealed. Cam (Lily Gladstone) and Dusty (Aiyana Goodfellow), shown. (Photo by: Darko Sikman/Hulu)

(Photo by: Darko Sikman/Hulu)

Dusty can refuse to testify, and be held in contempt. She can admit she lied in the statement she signed asserting that Warren confessed the murder to her, but that could add more time to her sentence. If she sticks to the untrue story, that’s perjury. She’s screwed no matter what. Dusty breaks down crying. Reena was her friend, she admits to Cam. Reena trusted her. She should’ve protected her and she didn’t. So whatever happens to Dusty, well, she just wants to do the right thing.

Cam can’t sit with this. She knows that Dusty deserves mercy. Maybe she sees some version of her life in Dusty’s. The rules that have created a quagmire around Dusty, that have given her a list of equally terrible options, exist to be followed but will do nothing to help Dusty, or Reena, or society at large.

So Cam goes to her father’s place, where he’s working out in the garage. Cam tells him she’ll testify that the confession was coerced if they force Dusty to take the stand. She is willing, and maybe, at this point, even eager, to lose her badge for it. For the entirety of this scene, Cam is literally holding the punching bag. The symbolism!

Cam holding the punching bag for her fatehr

“You’re starting to sound a lot like Rebecca Godfrey,” he tells her. She doesn’t respond to that. While Cam is still resistant to Rebecca’s overall mentality, and Becca’s compassion for Warren, she’s smart and empathetic and can see the situation just as clearly — that losing every one of these kids won’t make Reena’s life any less lost.

Dusty’s situation is not solely a result of her own actions but also a result of being a kid with limited options. She had to falsely accuse Warren to remain a member of Josephine’s family, because that family was all she had left.

During Warren’s testimony, we’ll see snatches of what he remembers from that wasted evening by the bridge, the one he barreled into overwhelmed with frustration and confusion and sick. We see the awful moment in which he chose to kick Reena. It’s mostly predictable, but one detail stood out for me — that after the initial assault, Warren had laid down on a bench by the river to sleep, having no actual home in which to do so. That’s where he is when Kelly walks by, in search of someone stronger to help her finish the job with Reena, although of course she doesn’t tell Warren she wants to kill Reena, only that she wants to make sure she’s okay, and make sure she’s sorry. Perhaps if he’d had somewhere else to sleep, he wouldn’t have been there at all, perhaps if he wasn’t shitfaced and angry and sad, he wouldn’t have believed Kelly, or followed her, lacking any feasible or immediate reason why not. Perhaps Reena would still be alive.

For Dusty, Josephine’s acceptance is the bench Warren had decided to sleep on.

“People can do horrible things and that doesn’t make them inherently evil,” Rebecca says to her father when he reads pages of her gradually-forming book and asks why she’s so focused on Warren. She wants to challenge the reader to see, as so many criminal justice reform and prison abolitionists want society to see, “that the worst thing he did isn’t who he is.”

Becca’s Dad also makes the very valid point that there’s not a lot of Reena in Becca’s book thus far. So Becca goes to see the Virks. She nervously smokes a joint in her car beforehand with the windows closed, then sprays herself with perfume like a teenager in a school bathroom, delusional about the powers of obscurification provided by a bottle of Bath & Body Works Plumeria. Again, Suman’s hardened pain and Manjit’s pure love are so clear it makes me want to cry to even remember it.

Under The Bridge -- “Three And Seven” - Episode 107 -- The unfolding trial pushes Rebecca to the brink as she begins to question who she should defend. Cam’s allegiance to the justice system is tested as details from the night of the murder are finally revealed. Suman (Archie Panjabi) and Manjit (Ezra Faroque Khan), shown. (Photo by: Darko Sikman/Hulu)

(Photo by: Darko Sikman/Hulu)

When they ask Becca what Reena’s friends said about her, she has little to offer. She didn’t know Reena, hasn’t talked to many people who knew Reena. It’s perhaps the episode’s most painful, fumbling moment. (It’s no wonder that in real life, Manjit wrote his own book, too: Reena: A Father’s Story.)

As for Cam and Rebecca, it’s unclear what’s transpired between them over the past four months — seemingly, not much, and with so much left to wrap up next week, it feels unlikely we’ll get a repeat of that electric bathroom scene. When they pass each other at the Detention Center — Rebecca is loading Warren’s commissary account after a visit when Cam’s on her way to see Dusty — they acknowledge each other tersely, through abbreviated and quickly withdrawn eye contact. I’d assumed this was simply how they had to react to each other in public, lest their association jeopardize Cam’s authority.

Cam walks by Rebecca in the hallway

Interesting sartorial choice by Becca here

But a scene later in the episode, after the conclusion of Warren’s trial but before sentencing, seems to suggest the two may have been estranged for the past few months.

Becca, losing what is likely a familiar fight with insomnia, ends up at Cam’s, where Cam is sleeping on the couch (generally an objective sign of unwellness). Becca shows up in her grandpa pajamas, telling Cam she can’t sleep like it’s a problem Cam has no choice but to solve. Their psychic bond is clearly unconditional, there’s some kind of muted understanding between them that transcends any circumstance, and a comfort they provide each other that enables them both to finally get some rest.

The next morning, Becca wakes up in Cam’s bed, and Cam enters carrying Gabe’s suit. She says Warren gave it to Cam when he was arrested, asking her to return it to Becca. This is the moment at which I wondered… how is this the first opportunity Cam’s had to return this suit???  They haven’t hung out or hooked up in FOUR MONTHS? Or did Cam just not want to give it to her until now? 

“Becca, I can’t pretend to know what’s going on in your mind,” Cam says, perhaps an evergreen statement. “But you know that Gabe and Warren are nothing alike.”

Becca then explains something we’ve discussed in the recaps and comments before — that Becca doesn’t see Gabe in Warren. She sees herself, and doesn’t understand why it’s so crazy to see the side of Warren that isn’t “the one horrible mistake he made in his life.” Cam wants her to stop calling it a mistake. Becca wants to know if Cam still believes something she apparently told Becca a while ago, that Gabe would still be here if it wasn’t for her. She feels like Cam still looks at her like the person who killed Gabe.

Cam doesn’t say yes or no, if she still believes what she said back then. She can only cry and shrug and tear up: “I don’t know.” Cam could give Becca peace of mind on this but in this moment, isn’t ready or willing to do so.

It aches how we do this, how we try to give mercy to others because we don’t know how to give it to ourselves — but also how we hurt people because we don’t know what to do with our own hurt.

The judge gives Warren a life sentence. Rebecca hugs him as he leaves the courtroom as Reena’s parents look on, dismayed. In real life, Manjit wasn’t present for Warren’s trial. My grief had sapped my body and soul of all vital energy, he writes in Reena: A Father’s Story.

Meanwhile, throughout the episode, Kelly has been working her parents, her lawyer and the system to further screw over her friends while ensuring her own freedom. Kelly coos to her lawyer that “it’s not fair, I’m just a little girl,” after sharing a letter reading KEEP AWAY FROM ELLARD that she claims was taped to her door. She clearly wrote it herself. She provokes her friends who’ve already been sentenced to hit her so she can flail dramatically on the floor, moaning for help, claiming victimhood.

It works. Kelly’s wealth and privilege earns her the ability to manipulate the system into giving her a pre-trial release. She hugs Josephine goodbye, lying that she’s definitely gonna get Josephine out too, before literally skipping down the hallway. The person at the dead center of all of this, the most dangerous, twisted person of all, skips down the hallway, leaves the building, free as a bird.

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.

4 Comments

  1. Dusty and Cam in this episode, oof. Also the terse discomfort of Rebecca’s visit to the Virks—when Manjit so guilelessly and eagerly asks “and what do Reena’s friends say about her”—and Rebecca has exactly 0 things she can say (and even if she had asked, besides Dusty, none of them would have said anything remotely kind or incisive anyway) was probably the most painful moment of the whole series so far for me.

    As fraught as the scene between Becca and Cam is, I loved the work it did to show us the complexity of their feelings for each other, about themselves, about their shared history (and present).

    To me, Cam not being able to fully absolve Becca felt poignantly real and true. Besides, regardless of what Cam says, Becca feels implicated in his death. (I do think there is a meaningful difference between “she killed Gabe” and “he might still be alive if not for what she said.”) I think Cam can love Becca and still a part of her may feel that Becca’s self-centeredness, desires, and jealousy escalated Gabe’s extenuating depression or the bullying to the point of tipping the balance. Rebecca isn’t responsible for his death, but was she involved, or did she (unknowingly/unintentionally) contribute to it? It seems so from what little we were shown.

    I also think back to that line Becca narrates about Warren (which is also about herself), about not understanding their own feelings and mistaking shame or humiliation for anger… and what being 13 and in love with your old brother’s 15yo female best friend, in an isolated, conservative small town in 1982 would have been like….

  2. This is the 3rd time I am writing this comment because the first time it got to essay lenght and the second time the power in my building went off which I should take as keep your thoughts and feelings to yourself and I again not listening.

    That “sleep-over” scene might be my favorite of the show. I’m so glad Lily Gladstone got their break and I know of them now because wow, what a masterful actor they are and what a pleasure it is to see them on screen. The show itself is so layered, it’s making me think, oh so this is what complex characters look like, and queer characters that have something else going on than coming out or dealing with homophobia.
    Like in ther episode 3 bathroom scene, I was wondering a bit why Cam stopped herself, and if the what is the thing that is ok to feel, because I was like is this just the standard gay panic moment or was it something else. And just now I realized that the last time Cam allowed herself to be swept away in those feelings she lost sight of “the right thing to do”. I also love that she wasn’t able to absolve Rebecca of the guilt, because I don’t think it’s something she can control anyways. I think them being together is one of the biggest reminders of Gabe’s absence and how they both failed him so it would make sense they would sort of avoid eachother for months again. Props to Gabe for 5th wheeling them from beyond the grave, top tier big brother/bbf behaviour. (Was this inappropriate joke so dark it cut the power off in my building? We will never know).

    Everything is so layered, I’m impressed. From the interviews I watched and read I thought the show set a really high bar for itself and it made me wonder if they can actually pull it off and having not seen the finale I still have my reservations, but it did surprise me in a lot of moments and I do like how they approached it.

    And I already mentioned how much I like Lily Gladstone’s aproach to acting, how impressed I am by their skill, and how entertwined their acting and their activism is. I’m always looking for how to be a master at your craft looks like, and they are a great example of that. ( I have a bulletpoint list that I can share if anyone wants it). And Riley is as well in a slightly different way. Starting the production company and making stuff like this and War Pony that I haven’t seen yet, but from what I heard about the production of it that too was ambitious is a great way to use your privilege and craft. And also, Sasquach Sunset being the other project that is coming out now? Hilarious and I will seek it out thank you very much.

    • yes, Gladstone in the sleepover scene is so heartbreaking and controlled. Both she and Keough really make you feel in that moment what it means to sit with the pain and guilt and blame that they both carry, and how it probably feels like there’s no way out of it.

      I am still curious about Becca said in the bar (in ep3) about how Cam shouldn’t have had “to give anything up for her” in the wake of Gabe’s death, and her being messed about about it and Cam caring for her (in Rebecca’s recounting). I hope the finale offers us some more insight into the two of them, although I also feel like it will likely mostly focus on Kelly and “justice” and the Virks…

      But I suppose we don’t need much, right? Between their two bathroom scenes in earlier episodes and the sleepover scene, this briefly interludes with just Cam/Becca tell us so much.

      • We probably won’t get more information on that since it’s not particularly relevant to the bigger points that the the show is trying to make, but with from what we’ve seen so far, I think in their teens Rebecca would have seeked more and more dangerous situations, especially with substance abuse, and Cam would either be there from the start or be the one who she would take her out of that situation. We’ve seen how she tried to comfort Gabe and I am fairly sure she was even more protective of Rebecca. And if they would get caught, Cam would have taken more of the blame. That might have happened a few times, not to a life changing degree maybe, but there would have been close calls. And Rebecca would have either noticed that or be so deep in her self destruction spiral she would have thought she has no future when she left, and that was the one place she didn’t want Cam to follow her. As Rebecca says it was a complicated situation.

        But yeah we have enough to fill in the blanks, or not. The thing that I like about it is that it’s not just about them, at the end of the day it’s about how identity informs our experiences, our ideas of justice, and how there is definately a systemic issue, but it’s also an individual issue. We all have our bias, some type of person we relate to more and want to be gentler to, how easy it is to see someone who doesn’t fit that pattern as other and more culpable.

        It’s not lost on me that the topic that interests me the most is the queer romance, and look I know we’re on a queer magazine, and the other place I read about this show is Tumblr which is the shipping site, but the truth is I don’t know how to engage with the other topics. How do you change a justice system that punishes poverty and people of color? How do you make law enforcement treat missing people with the same urgency as someone white and well off? How do we handle people who did objectively bad things, after they served their sentence? How helpful is it to put people in prison in the first place? How do we aknowlege our biases, our blindspots and prevent them from informing our worldview?

        I am really curious to see how they treat Kelly next episode because that situation is another one where there’s no answer, because from the true crime media and other media I follow, I know that legally you cannot diagnose a teenager with Antisocial Personality Disorder, and also even if you have that disorder, that doesn’t equal violence, despite that sort of diagnosys being treated in media and popculture as synonyms ?

        How do you say you were baited by the queerness of a show, but not in the correct meaning of queerbating or the wrong ones, but in the – it was the sweet thing that made the bitter truth go down easier?

        Ok, this got really long again, and it’s full of grammar issues, which I could blame on English being my second language even though I have the same issue in my native language and that one has pretty straightforward spelling, or ADHD which is a fun new thing I can blame for a lot of stuff, when really the issue is that editing and spell checking does not spark joy? And also writing scary. I dunno how you guys here do it. But thanks.

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!