From Dusk Till Dawn 3×01 ‘Head Games’ & 3×02 La Reina recap & review (Part 2)

From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series, for El Rey Network and Miramax

From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series, for El Rey Network and Miramax

By Jes Vu

Continuing from 3×01’s recap

 

All Hail the Queen

Flashback five months back: a very violent and hostile Kate (Madison Davenport) is having a psychotic break as doctors hold her down. Spoiler: she’s not actually Kate anymore. Having bitten her wrist, she has written AMARU on the walls with her blood—the name of the soul that’s possessed her?

After being sedated and chained, one of the physicians attempts to communicate with her to no avail. Noticing the cross on his neck, Amaru demands him to pray with her. But with one touch, she’s able to break free and sucks the remaining life of the doctor. She leaves the hospital where Brasa (Maurice Compte) is present to pick her up before they drive off. All hail the queen indeed.

 

The Peacekeeper and the Culebra

Freddie (Jesse Garcia) and Ximena (Emily Rios) investigate the culebra murders in Waco. At a house, they find a desecrated shrine of La Diosa (the mythical version of Santanico, basically) and the ashes of her worshippers. They discover a culebra girl hiding in closet who tells them Brasa is going after all culebras who worship Santanico, as she is a false idol. Ximena understands and tries to explain it to the ranger: With the Lords dead, all the culebra have is their faith—it makes sense for Brasa to want to destroy it, and with it, that last bit of hope.

Despite her short appearance last season, Emily Rios held a memorable presence inducting Jesse Garcia’s Ranger Gonzalez as The Peacekeeper. It is wonderful to see her return this season, acting alongside her Quinceañera co-star once more (fun fact!) Ever after a decade, the chemistry between them clearly hasn’t deterred. Their characters’ dynamics are polarizing—Ximena a culebra determined to save her people and Ranger Freddie Gonzalez, a human whose prejudices against culebras run deep from the role forced upon him—but they fit together like a puzzle, balancing each other.

A clue in the house directs them to The Lodge, a La Diosa church where they witness Brasa murder all the culebras present. In a fight with Brasa, Ximena is nearly overpowered but is saved by Freddie before Brasa escapes. Despite being hurt, Ximena tells Freddie “It’ll heal,” and mentions an all-important flyer that had caught Brasa’s attention…

 

Party Crashers

The Gecko brothers are having a difficult time rallying culebras in the fight against the Xibalbans. Seth realizes they have to recruit Santanico (Eiza Gonzalez) to lead—Richie’s ex and Seth’s “frenemy” to say the least. Santanico is a culebra who’s garnered respect and worship amongst her people. Despite their amicable parting last season, Richie is reluctant to do so—he knows she wouldn’t want to get involved. Seth wants to at least try.

They locate Santanico who now leads a fight club and has reclaimed her original name Kisa (which we’ll call her from here on out). During a match, one fighter breaks the rules and stabs his opponent; he’s immediately taken away to a private room, the consequences of his actions being determined by Kisa. Concerned at what she’ll do, the brothers barge in. To their surprise, Kisa’s changed—people under her are given a choice. As shown: the fighter begs to stay and fight free matches for his opponent’s injuries rather than be banished while Manola, one of her loyal guards, is in fact human. Given Richie’s history with Kisa, it clearly bothers him.

Kisa hasn’t been living in a bubble—she knows about the war, she knows the Lords are dead, but after all she’s been through, she simply wants to live her own life. Despite Seth’s warnings, Kisa has them taken away.

Kisa and Manola return to the bedroom, and it becomes increasingly clear that these two are closer and more intimate than they appear. Despite her earlier stance, Kisa’s worried—specifically about Manola’s safety. But Manola’s confident they’ll be prepared before offering her neck—from the puncture wounds, it’s clear this was not the first time. However, their dinner date is interrupted when Seth enters the fight ring and sets forth a challenge to Kisa: if he beats her fighter, she comes with them. If he loses, they’ll leave and never bother her again. She accepts.

During Seth’s fight, Richie and Kisa reconnect—their first real conversation since they parted. It’s clear Richie still has feelings for her, and even clearer for him to realize she’s in love with Manola. And it’s abundantly clear how well he still knows her. He calls her out on caring about the culebras even though he also knows she wants to be left out of the fray.

Seth has the upper hand in the fight, but is distracted when Amaru appears in the crowd, studying him. Seth, believing her to be Kate-Kate, is visibly shaken, but manages to regain his focus. After winning the fight, he searches for her in the crowd, but she’s gone again.

Just as he steps out of the ring, Omecha, the Xibalban demon appears, seeking Kisa’s blood. Chaos erupts as Omecha massacres humans and culebras alike. Kisa, Manola, Seth and Richie hole themselves up in one of the private rooms after Omecha chases them. As Kisa and Richie argue, Seth confesses to seeing Kate in the crowds. Being a witness to Kate’s death, Richie is unconvinced, but Seth points out they never found her body.

Kisa and Seth team up to hunt the Omecha while Richie (to his reluctance) guides Manola to safety. Omecha finds Seth first and manages to escape, but not without damaging its head with a bat. Meanwhile, Richie learns Manola’s story—Kisa saved her from culebras collecting a debt. He urges Manola to convince Kisa to join them, but they’re interrupted when Kate—or Amaru arrives, shocking Richie—”Oh sh*t.”

Oh sh*t is right.

Richie, realizing the girl is no longer Kate, prepares to fight. Despite Richie’s urging, Manola refuses to run (REALLY?) Richie attempts to use the eyeball in his hand on Amaru, however, the attempt backfires as Amaru slowly sucks his life. Manola runs off with Richie’s Aztec spirit knife.

Seth and Kisa find Richie still alive, however soon discover Amaru and Omecha have captured Manola. Amaru clearly has a vendetta against Kisa being so worshipped and originally had wanted Omecha to kill her in front of the culebras. Manola stabs Omecha with Richie’s Aztec spirit blade and momentarily escapes its clutches, however Amaru grabs her and drains her life before throwing her dead body at Kisa’s feet.

Amaru orders Omecha to kill Kisa, however, driven by anger and despair by Manola’s death, Kisa destroys the beast. Amaru leaves, realizing this is a losing battle.

In the aftermath of Omecha and Amaru’s destruction, Kisa places Manola’s body in her car. Richie offers his sympathies being unable to stop Kate—but Kisa retorts that Kate is gone. Seth asks if she’ll finally join them in their war. She merely responds that with Manola’s death, she has no reason to stay and tells them to get their car. However, upon the Gecko’s return, they find Kisa gone.

Hope?

Amaru returns to Brasa and it is apparent being in Kate’s body has restrained her powers—she wanted to stay and fight, but Brasa notes she’s isn’t ready for it. Brasa presents Amaru with a flyer (the one Ximena saw Brasa looking at earlier) promoting Fanglorious—Scott Fuller’s face at the center of it. Amaru can feel Kate “yearning for him” and knowing he is a weakness, orders Brasa to go after him.

 

Final Thoughts

The start of season three doesn’t hold back from the actions and unlike the previous premieres, the plot moves fast. Brasa is entertaining enough—his shades and evil cackles are awesome and it’s apparent Maurice Compte is having fun. However, the pacing feels off—so much story and so many characters are introduced in a short amount of time. In turn, some of the character-driven plots seem rushed or sacrificed for the story plot where previous seasons were able to balance that. It was also disappointing to see most of the Lords get killed off so quickly. After getting to know Occulto and Malvado last season, I wanted to see more of these new Lords. Even though the former only had a few episodes, we as the audience at least got to know him and Occulto was super entertaining to boot. And while I enjoy exploring the mythology of the series, the amount of exposition drags the narrative.

Most notably—in a time where diversity is such a hot topic, From Dusk Till Dawn ranks high for me in regards to the representation of people of color and women (though there were notable flaws with the latter last season in the cases of recurring players like Paloma and Sonja.) It was great to see Kisa/Santanico be officially confirmed to be attracted to women as she is with men. It was even better to see her in loving relationship with another woman and have her sexuality be a non-issue. However, in a year where a high number of LGBTQ-identifying women characters are killed in film and television, it is crushingly disappointing to see From Dusk Till Dawn join the ranks with the death of Kisa’s partner, Manola, under the infamous Bury Your Gays trope. Even worse, she didn’t even get a single episode. Yes, in supernatural-themed shows, characters tend to die. But proportionally, the number of LGBTQ character deaths far exceeds those of their straight counterparts. And there are other ways to motivate a character beyond the death of a lover. Otherwise, they just become a simple prop in the overall arch of the plot.

On the more positive spectrum, the performers continue to bring their A-game. In contrast to Madison Davenport’s portrayal of Kate, it’s a lot of fun seeing her play the bad guy this time around and she’s doing a killer job. It’s somewhat of a role-reversal with Eiza Gonzalez. Kate and Santanico/Kisa have always been two sides of the same coin, so I’m excited to see the trajectory of their narratives together in future episodes. DJ Cotrona definitely gets the gold star for these episodes with his best moments being able to balance the “tough guy” exterior with the baggage of pain and history. The subtle choices he makes bring out so many stories. No flashbacks necessary—this is a character who has gone through a lot and isn’t as slick as he was in the past.

Other Notes

  • “Fanglorious”? “FANGLORIOUS?” Really, Scott? THAT’S what you’re going to name your band? One the other hand, it is a nice reminder of the guitar Scott had in season one.
  • “No one f*cks with the queen.” – Seth —Can this be Kisa’s official slogan?

In the meanwhile, let us know your thoughts on the two-hour premiere in the comments below!

From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series, airs Tuesday nights at 9/8c on the El Rey Network.

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