From Dusk Till Dawn 3×03 ‘Protect and Serve’ Recap/Review

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Hey there, Ramblers!

With a two-hour premiere last week, we are already a third of a way into From Dusk Till Dawn season three. The Gecko Brothers are on the front lines in search of a way to defeat Amaru (who has now possessed Kate) and her legions from Hell (or Xibalba in the world of From Dusk Till Dawn). And in this episode, it’s snakes versus scorpion and we’re packed with a load of Xibalban mythology, the return of Sex Machine (Jake Busey) and some neat little From Dusk Till Dawn movie easter eggs!

The Cowboy from Hell

Continuing with the monster-of-the-week format, we’re introduced to a bandana-wearing, scorpion-tailed Xibalban cowboy—yes, cowboy, accent and all—as he stalks a woman down a dark alley. But she’s not exactly human—she’s a culebra. She would have gotten the upper hand, except the cowboy isn’t exactly human either. He attacks her with his scorpion tail before… the title sequence begins!

The Return of Sex Machine

A injured culebra appears to Ranger Freddie Gonzalez (Jesse Garcia) to seek his help—notably, his wounds aren’t healing and all he could give is vague cryptic messages about his attacker. Before the ranger can learn more, the culebra kills himself; the only clues he leaves are the tattoo on his neck and a Longhorn Community College sweatshirt which leads him to… Sex Machine!

Despite the fact that six potentially entertaining culebra Lords were killed in their first appearance, Professor Aiden Tanner a.k.a. Sex Machine (Jake Busey) is unfortunately still alive having returned to teaching at a community college. Through recruiting college students, he’s created his very own family of culebras, all marked with the same neck tattoos as the culebra who entered the ranger’s home. Ranger Gonzalez sneaks into one of their parties and confronts the professor right before he’s about to sleep and turn a young woman. Despite being able to kick the professor’s ass, he’s easily outnumbered by the party of culebras.

Ranger Gonzalez informs one of Sex Machine’s culebra students—Hector—sought his help before killing himself. The ranger eventually brings Sex Machine to Hector’s body who becomes distraught. With Hector’s death, Sex Machine teams up with the Peacekeeper, realizing another one of his “family”, Chloe (the culebra captured by the Xibalban Cowboy), may also be taken by the same perpetrator.

In the past two seasons, Sex Machine was a (supporting) antagonist, while in this season, he’s slowly paving way to become one of the supporting protagonists. He’s defensive in reaction to Ranger Gonzalez’s dismissal of the “family” he’s created – he mourns Hector’s death and even shows concern toward others. His lecherous nature was and still is utilized as comedic relief—and that’s why his character simply doesn’t work. It’s not the fault of Busey who brings an entertaining value to the show. He’s simply not enough to overshadow what’s been established for his character. The comedic relief may have worked before in the first season because it was minimal. But more than often now, it’s simply too creepy—he’s been established as a predator in the most human ways after all. In turn, it’s difficult to garner sympathy for Sex Machine as a protagonist, especially in context to his past actions being both a serial killer and a sexual predator. Despite his despair over his “family”, it’s hard to see it as anything but him, once again, taking advantage of young people considering the imbalance of power in the relationship. Otherwise, his only purpose seems to be the one of the key voices on the mythology of the From Dusk Till Dawn world.

After all, Sex Machine notes that Hector’s venom glands were removed—the glands allow culebras to not only make new culebras, but also lets them regenerate. This form of castration hasn’t been done since the Xibalbans ruled over the culebras (who were considered the lowest of the lows) in the Xibalban hierarchy. There was a “ranch hand” that enforced the culebras—notably one with a scorpion tail as presented on the artifact Sex Machine has. Connecting the dots yet?

The two soon realize the Xibalban Scorpion is tracking the remaining members of Sex Machine’s culebras via their family tattoos. They immediately return to the party house, but they’re too late and soon Sex Machine, too, is captured.

The Search for Ilhicamina a.k.a. Burt (a.k.a. Sex Machine the Elder)

The Gecko Brothers (DJ Cotrona and Zane Holtz) are in a tight spot—Lord Venganza is hiding; Kisa has bailed;  Ranger Gonzalez is not enough to fight Amaru and her legions; and, Ximena (Emily Rios) is withholding information. Through his research, Richie discovers that the Ilhicamina—a warrior who fought and imprisoned Amaru’s legions—may be the key to defeating them despite Ximena’s stance that he’s dead.

Using the coordinates found in his research, they locate the Ilhicamina at a local gas station and pot dispensary where he goes by the name of Burt (played by the legendary Tom Savini). The brothers forcibly demand Burt to help them, but Burt, revealing himself to also be a culebra, kicks their asses (quite easily I may add). However upon Seth’s mention of Ximena, Burt changes his mind.

Returning to their office, Seth, Richie and Burt confront Ximena over her lies (Burt and Ximena clearly have romantic history—and it’s clear she isn’t happy to see him). They demand to see Venganza. However, Ximena finally reveals she doesn’t know where she is and is looking for her too.

Here, Burt and Ximena explain Amaru’s history with the culebras. Amaru and her legions followed the culebra Lords when they escaped to this world. They tricked Amaru and lured her into a trap before killing her and eating her flesh, however kept her blood (the Santa Sangre) due to its power where Lord Occulto hid it for safe keeping. With the events of the last few seasons, it eventually led to Amaru possessing Kate. Seth wants to know how they can get Kate back, but Burt says that Kate is gone.

Cattlin’ Culebras

Freddie tracks the Xibalban Scorpion to a ranch called Agua Fria. Sex Machine, along with the formerly missing Chloe, are chained up and being drained of their venom. On the ranch, Freddie discovers a shed full of the captured culebras. Caught off guard though, he’s immediately dragged by one of the Xibalban Scorpion’s men and is brought to the Xibalban Scorpion. He reprimands the ranger for being a poor Peacekeeper before offering him a chance to cut out Sex Machine’s venom sacks. Freddie begins to beat Sex Machine, however, it’s all a facade to allow Sex Machine time to escape his cuffs.

After killing the Xibalban Cowboy’s henchman, the two fight the Xibalban and eventually cut off his tail before stabbing him with his own stinger—but it’s not enough. The Gecko brothers and Burt (who is revealed to be responsible for disfiguring the Xibalban’s face) arrive and Burt shoots his crossbow, finally killing him.

Sensing trouble, they rush to locate the remaining captured culebras, but find them gone. Burt determines Amaru is using them to open the door to Xibalba in order to unleash Hell on Earth.

Queen of the Desert

In the middle of the desert, Amaru (Madison Davenport) arrives at a stone door (the door to Xibalba?) With her touch, the door breaks,but we don’t see what’s behind it. The remaining captured culebras arrive from afar and when she close her eyes, they bow. Whatever is behind the door, Amaru looks on with a dark smile.

Final Thoughts

Ranger Freddie Gonzalez: The episode seemed to foreshadow a potential path Ranger Gonzalez may lead with a contrast to the monster-of-the week. The latter seemed to hold an extreme hatred toward culebra due to Burt’s disfigurement of his face—he did note he “trusted the wrong culebra” after all and even believed the ranger’s prejudice was enough for him to punish Sex Machine. Yet it still very clear for now that he’s in control of his own actions despite his prejudice—at least for now.

New Cast Members—like last season with Danny Trejo, we have a incredible addition from the From Dusk Till Dawn film in the form of the legendary Tom Savini a.k.a. the original Sex Machine. His character Burt is a lot of fun as a quirky, badass mentor, bringing a great contrast to the more serious Gecko brothers. It makes me wonder who else we’ll see in future episodes or future seasons.

Mythology: As much as I love the mythology of From Dusk Till Dawn, the amount of information in this one episode is a bit overwhelming since so much is exposited. As mentioned from the last recap, as interesting as it is, the overload of information continues to bog down the narrative and can be a bit difficult to keep track. However, it is fascinating to see the roles switched and how the culebras are now the prey to the even bigger monsters this season in the form of Amaru and her warriors from Xibalba. We now understand, Amaru is back for vengeance against culebras and to reclaim her status as the Queen once more.

Also, we’re already three episodes in—where’s Scott? And how long till see Kisa again?

Other Notes

  • “That was a lot of exposition…” — That was very meta of the writers? Okay. You got me on this one.
  • Some neat easter eggs in this episode with Tom Savini’s foray into the TV series…Did you notice Richie’s medical marijuana ID had a picture of Quentin Tarantino’s Richard Gecko from the original From Dusk Till Dawn film. Nice throwback!
  • “…they call me Sex Machine.” “Riiiiight.” The Sex Machine the Elder and Sex Machine the Younger! The former doesn’t seem so impressed—Ha!

Let us know what you think of the episode in the comments below! Otherwise, be sure to tune in for the next episode of From Dusk Till Dawn Tuesdays at 9pm ET/8pm CT on El Rey Network or Wednesday on Netflix internationally.

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