Thursday, May 1, 2014

From Dusk Till Dawn, Season 1, Episode 7: Pandemonium

This episode opens more artistically, more beautifully and more ritually than it has for a long time – even the naked woman covered in blood fits the ominous, powerful voiceover.

And then Santanico Pandemonium begins her performance, with two giant snakes around her neck and we spend a long time watching her dance nearly naked. Richie looks on, mesmerised that she’s real and not just a hallucination. The crowd is impressed when she disappears off the stage and magically appears just behind Richie – that was nicely done. She pours booze down her leg into Richie’s mouth (I’m just thinking “ewww foot sweat and tequila…” which is a very strong indication of how very much I am not the target audience for this scene, Got to love how stunned Pastor Jacob’s family are though)

The dance is interrupted by Freddie moving through the crowd, stabbing Richie through his already injured hand and drawing a gun on him (isn’t it awfully clumsy for him to just ignore Seth like that?) Seth stands up with a gun – so Freddie points a gun at him too. Santanico doesn’t appreciate the interruption – she grows fangs and scales and launches herself at Freddie.

She throws Freddie across the room – but other people can see how she’s changed and one of the bystanders shoots at her. She casually, easily, gorily and brutally slaughters several men and one women. Narciso and the heads of the 9 Vampire Houses watch and applaud.

When Santanico notices Richie looking at her, her claws, her fangs, her scales, she disappears. But the bar staff seal the club – barring the doors and windows. Now all the staff show their fangs.

Death, death and carnage and a little more death! The band keeps playing (professionals, damn it) and the Geckos and Jacob’s family kind of look around in horror in the middle of it all. And Freddie runs into the professor who identified his knife who is now dressed in leather and has a crotch gun that works on vampires. Yes, a crotch gun – it was in the film, of course they have to fit it in the series. He and Freddie battle vampires with knives, pool cues and genital guns

Pastor Jacob tries to fend off a vampire with a cross – she eats it. So Scott shoots her in the head with a shotgun. That’s more effective. Meanwhile the Geckos find guns of limited use yet still manage to punch vampires without being ripped into teeny tiny pieces. Seth, not being entirely stupid, concludes that they’re fighting vampires when he sees the fanged monsters drink blood – confirmed when he manages to stake one and it turns to dust. Definitely vampires.

Battle blood, battle blood – all kinds of gruesome and the 9 Vampire House heads are loving it, watching from the sidelines until Carlos invites them to their personal feast. Among the battle, vampires begin dumping people through trap doors in the floor – including Freddie which should probably have stopped obsessing over Richie for 5 seconds. Most of the vampires leave the main room with every dead or through trapdoors. Leaving Jacob and his family hidden in a corner – and the Geckos. Santanico returns, in human form, tries to seduce Richie and Seth shoots her. She leaves – and Seth now points the gun at Richie because he really wants to know what Richie means by Santanico calling him and waiting for him. They bicker for a while (and it is classic sibling bickering) about how much Richie knew when Jacob inserts some common sense – no time for playing Cain and Abel when there are vampires in the building

Finding they can’t find a way out, it’s time to brainstorm, vampires are raised again, more accusations at Richie (who knew something was coming but not what), talking about fate and Scott pointing out that, them being in Mexico and all, there’s a chance the vampires are Mayan or Aztec. Scott’s apparently read legends about Aztec snakey blood drinking fanged people. The professor (Aidan Tanner) pops up (he’s not dead, alas), which brings a new round of bickering over “Sex Machine” hitting on Jacob’s daughter, who confirms what Scott has read. He expositions about a cult that worships the “Vision Serpent” whose symbol is everywhere (the eye). He continues his big explanation of the snaky vampires, their venom, teeth, history et al. The gang then goes around staking the still alive, but injured vampires scattered around the room.

Richie throws in his bit about visions, they realise that the whole Titty Twister is an elaborate baited trap and that it’s built on an old temple – and that all the blood in the room is flowing into groves in the floor – and down a drain. It’s a, and I wish this wasn’t a quote, “people juicer”. The professor also decides there’s a hierarchy with the vampires

While the exposition continues Santanico is underground having blood poured on her wounds which heal, expelling the bullets. Carlos wonders where Richard is and Santanico half throttles him; she’s not amused by how the massacre turned out, or that Carlos let the Ranger Freddie go and dealing with the Vampire Consuls is not top of her priority list. She’s also not happy that Richie is now blocking her because he no longer trusts her. Funny how becoming a monstrous snakey killer will do that

To the aforementioned hierarchy, all that flowing blood goes into the wine glasses of the 9 Councillors (representatives of the 9 Lords of the Night) who happily chomp on the “prime cuts” of the room. Narciso has words for Carlos – he’s not amused that Carlos’s clumsiness lead a Ranger right to them (from Earl’s ramblings, we can guess the Rangers used to be vampire hunters), and he reminds Carlos that he, Santanico and their group are bottom rung vampires “slaves of slaves.” He humiliates Carlos, forcing him to clean his shoes.

Upstairs, then gang prepare all kinds of weapons for the anticipated second wave and despite Seth telling everyone they need to work together, he still argues with Richie – accusing him of planning the disaster and maybe running off with the money. Richie hits back with Seth giving money to Vanessa and an argument over whether Seth was going to abandon Richie or whether Seth gave up Vanessa for the sake of helping him.

The professor adds to the exposition, throwing in an old legend of the hero brothers who descended into the underworld (Hunahpu and Xbalanque) who he clearly sees as prarallels to the Geckos, while Jacob talks about needing his faith back. Scott and Kate have a different argument – Scott is doing things and fighting while Jacob reached for his cross and Kate cowered and prayed; not reactions Scott found impressive or useful.

Downstairs, Santanico arrives and while Narciso tries to mock her, it’s less successful. She repeats her awesome opening speech – about how they put on a good show, but they are strong and so much more than slaves. And “they are weak” – meaning the 9 Lords for which Narciso chides her like a naughty child, the role of Santanico’s people is to feed the rest. Santanico hits back that they’re all “Culebras” (“Serpent” but meaning vampire). She has a nifty line about the Councillors being slaves to the 9 too, slaves in “their soul”. And gives them a choice – join them and live free or die as the 9’s slaves.  Narciso bares his fangs and hisses – then has trouble breathing. Last episode Carlos filled glasses with snake venom… guess what the Councillors just drank? With the Councillors incapacitated by the venom, Carlos and Santanico kill them.

And now, the vampires upstairs attack the humans who have had time to prepare. Including a barricade – and a bomb full of wooden stakes which takes a few down and wounds others. More fighting (all that lethal skill the vampires had before may have been just Santanico’s – or they have plot variable power) in which Jacob steps up to save Scott, Kate finds a chainsaw and the Gecko brothers work together. But Scott falls through a wall in the process.

Freddie has a little dream sequence before waking up in the juicer part of the temple – all the bodies fall into grinding gears. But the dripping vampire bite doesn’t seem to cause too much trouble to him.

Santanico appears to try and recruit Richie. They talk while Seth and Santanico try to convince him – and then Freddie pulls himself out of the pit and shoots Richie in the back. Really Freddie? All these vampires and Richie’s your target? Santanico is Not Pleased – throwing Seth across the room she runs off dragging Richie’s body.

I loved the powerful intro, and loved the music during the dance… the dance itself? Yeah Dust Till Dawn loves its naked ladies. A little longer on her power as a goddess an a little less on her power as a sex goddess would have been better. I did love the music though – and the sudden, really well choreographed, bloody attack.

With all the campy choreographed fighting it’s hard to tell but I’m pretty sure Scott has spawned martial arts. East-Asian person on television, of course he has martial arts!

The whole episode… heavy exposition and combat. Exactly what the show needed, I guess, but we also knew it was coming, the gore was classic From Dusk Till Dawn but the exposition was long. I’m actually kind of more interested in Carlos and Santanico resisting the Lords of the Night than whether Seth, Richie et al survive the vampires or not….

I did love the inclusion of a lot more Mayan mythology and research.