Thursday, August 27, 2015

From Dusk Till Dawn, Season 2, Episode 1: Opening Night

Santanico opens with a nifty voice over of her history – and how she is free. Big bads are coming for her – and she’s coming for them. It sounds so very epic.

From epic we go to a meat packing plant which does not look pleasant – tired workers, unsafe working conditions and a terrible boss who is happy to sexually harass his workers. Only this worker is Santanico who lets Richie into the plant with a gun. They want to rob him and, surprisingly, creepy boss Balthasar isn’t that impressed, he knows all about Calebras (snake vampires) and knows who they are – the rebels after the big boss.

Maybe because he has his own calebros who can spit venom – which he does, right into Santanico and Reggie’s eyes, knocking them out. Well that didn’t go well.

This is, of course, another “start the episode in the damn middle because we can’t be bothered to make it interesting” trope and we now have to go to the beginning of the story with Reggie and Santanico having sex with a whole lot of biting and discussing their heist.

It’s all part of Richard’s plan to slowly track down the big boss – Santanico thinks it’s just an easy matter of finding and killing the Emperor Malvado, Richard thinks they’re actually going to need to plan and track him through his network: tedious but necessary. He describes it as a criminal gang while she describes Malvado as a lord demanding tribute. She does so in extremely epic terms – she has a flare for the dramatic.

While watching, Richard tries to get Santanico to think and be cold rather than so emotional. They have apparently also made a rule about feeding on civilians. They have a conscience it seems. They also have a damn long winded way of recruiting allies with film trivia. He also has pointless trivia while giving Santanico pretty jewellery for awkward romance conversation. I think she seems… conflicted. Perhaps not as ready to accept their relationship as a relationship.

That day as she contemplates the necklace, while deliberately putting her hand in sunlight she reminisces Malvado pushing her to dance while she clearly loathes it.

Back to the present, Santanico and Richie wake up (apparently early) from the venom and get to killing Calebros (a surreal scene with the workers in the meat packing plant not noticing with their ear protection despite the fight happening right next to them)

Over at the strip club, well, business is very slow, as Scott (newly turned and chained up and abused) is quick to point out to Narcisco, owner of said club and vampire semi-bigwig. A much more important and menacing bigwig arrives – Malvado, He knocks Narcisco across the room, furious that he dared to put on a show without Santanico - he calls it an insult to her, that this whole palace was hers alone (despite Narcisoc’s protest that they need the victims this place brings them). To make his unhappiness clear, he tears off Narcisco’s face. I think he’s abundantly clear with that.

Returning to Santanico and Richie, with the Calebros killed they take the money – and free the large number of people that had been captured and imprisoned in one of the trucks. They realise that the strip club is closed and without the large number of victims it provided, the Calebros in Narcisco/Malvado’s organisation need a new source of blood, hence the people trafficking. It gives them a new way in

Santanico also gives Richard the bracelet back – she can’t be “what he needs” until she’s finished her mission to kill Malvado. Oh and their stupid stupid sidekicks try to doublecross them. Oh silly boys

Afterwards Richie kicks himself for screwing up on the security tapes and giving someone the means to double cross them – especially the police still all looking for the Gecko brothers. She declares they need to stop looking, they need to be stronger and they need to shed the old skin: hey they have two convenient bodies that they can alter to look like them and fake their own deaths.

Kate is playing innocent angelic lady while on the run with Seth who has stolen big scads of cash and nearly got them both arrested. Kate is outraged… that he nearly got them caught (she is most disapproving that he let a guy call the cops – amateur!). She wants to be his partner in crime, especially since his haul is less than impressive. She rips into him quite epicly for his failure – and she also wants to find her brother, Scott, even while Seth thinks they should forget about Scott and consider him dead. She hits his guilt buttons by mentioning Richie and Seth deals with that by injecting heroin. She helps him – injecting into the bite marks his brother left in his neck.

While he’s unconscious, she leaves. She goes to a market where a local is not impressed (taking her to be a patronising missionary) but he shows her her book which is certainly not a Bible, or not a conventional one. He takes him to a shrine dedicated to Kisa (meaning sunlight) who he calls a saviour who consumes sins – it’s Santanico. Kate isn’t impressed and happily holds her own with the two calebros with her stake and firmly laying down the rules. She’s looking for her brother and wants to help him deal with being a calebros  – which she assumes is what the worshippers are going, but the man she’s impressed with her stake tells her that humans also worship the goddess Kissa.

He also tells her that, basically, not feeding isn’t a good idea, but he doesn’t usually have trouble finding a meal. He also shows her a perfectly human man who still preys on others; with the added lesson of learning when to pick their battles.

While Seth goes to get a tattoo on his neck – and some fake passports. Again the Gecko name is very well known. He goes back to their motel and their manager there turns out to be another calebros (and they make an issue of Kate’s “pure blood”). Is everyone here a Calebros – Seth kills the manager, seeming to be as strong as him. He hides the killing from Kate.

Over to Richie and Santanico and she does one of her epic voice overs about changing who they are, becoming who the need to be which not only feeds into Richie faking their deaths (and Seth’s fake ID) but her memories of Malvado pushing her to dance, her becoming less awkward and embracing it – even as he stripped her of her real nake: Kisa.

Malvado reanimates a “warrior” a figure encases in clay. He describes Santanico as being “taken” by the Gecko brothers (he clearly sees her as an object, not a person). The warrior goes out hunting in a car with rap music. He seems to approve.

And in the tunnels under the club, a bearded, haggard man with a sword still walks – he’s a calebros, but he rips out his fangs.

And policeman Gonzales is still out there and is called in to the Gecko’s apparent deaths, faked by Richie. He agrees that it’s the Geckos, but I think he means they did it, since he checks the Richie body for fangs.

Kate – well my hasn’t she grown. In some ways I think seeing her walk into the vampire den and threaten everyone should have looked ridiculous – but maybe it’s just me but I think she managed to pull it off. There’s a definite edge to her now, but she isn’t a completely new character with it.

It’s an interesting and somewhat new quest – finding her brother and not killing him or changing him back – but helping him find a way to live with himself. It’s a very mature attitude, fully accepting what he is yet at the same time not giving up on him

Santanico has the potential to be such an interesting character – but I wonder if they’ll manage to give her her due. So far we’ve seen some interesting scenes- how she is worshipped and revered even as she is used and exploited (and perhaps there are worshippers outside of that exploitation). We’ve seen her pain very dramatically shown including her reservations about Richie which could be about so much: not wanting to be in a relationship after being used? Leery of adornment after being treated as a beautiful object for so long, something pretty to be showed off? Leery of overt shows of wealth when she’s just described how Malvado is all about treasure and ownership? There’s a few reasons why Richie’s gift could have fallen flat and I want to see that delved. I actually hope there’s more to it than simply “I can’t love you until I’ve killed Malvado” trope

But I also want to see her as intelligent and capable – not just the incredibly beautiful seductress dealing with her pain and rage: she’s centuries old yet Richie is the one doing the planning. Ok that might make sense because of his expertise, but her impatience and lack of planning (or understanding the need for planning) don’t work so much.

I feel this is going to be the season that may truly engage me - season 1 was far too invested in retelling the films (which, to be honest, I wasn't a fan of) this can now do it's own thing