Thursday, October 29, 2015

From Dusk Till Dawn, Season 2, Episode 10: Santa Sangre

We’re catching up with Freddie who was buried alive – an unpleasant way to die. But he is rescued by a Culebros whose boss blames him for the death of two of the Lords. Her boss is another Lord (a female lord as she calls out when Freddie assumes she’s male). She’s also not impressed he’s given up the bloodwell, going against what a Peacekeeper is supposed to do

Freddie threatens to kill a minion, she’s amazingly unimpressed – that’s what minions are for! She knows Carlos wants to bring his big truck of blood there and have “culebros take their rightful place in the foodchain” which she thinks is a stunningly bad idea that destroys everything. Her people can’t get involved for “reasons” – reason being vague prophecy. She says Freddie’s job is to put the right brother on the throne – that brother would be Richie.

She also manages to be impressively creepy

 Back to the gang with Kate severely injured, Scott trying to help, Richie begging Scott to save her (even while she shames him for focusing so much on being the king he derailed her plans to save her brother) while Carlos is pretty indifferent. She continues to give them both a massive slap down, shaming them for all the effort she put in to saving them all to be ruined by greed. She dies as she tells Richie he should burn in Hell.

Kate dies – and there’s a showdown between Richie and Scott vs Carlos and Aidan. Richie gives up, rather than destroy the tanker as he planned on. What this needs is a deus ex Richard gets his shiny Culebros power: an eye on the palm of his hand he can use to compel people. He runs but not before he tells Aiden to kill Carlos

That leaves Carlos chance to tell Scott that it’s totally fine to kill Kate so Scott can find himself, reciting his own history of being dismissed as a bus boy and trying to downplay the fact Kate is Scott’s sister by pointing out he was adopted. They seem to make their peace… seem to anyway.

Aiden does try to kill Carlos which fails and then storms off like the irrelevancy he is.
Kissa has killed Malvado and Seth completely ruins her triumph with some hard truth – eventually she will realise she’s still angry. She wants to know why Seth helped her and even he doesn’t seem to have a good answer. He also randomly tries to stop Culebras feeding on people in the bar, much to the annoyance of several in the crowd – he turns to Kissa but she’s clear, she killed Malvado for freedom. Which, to her, means no rules and no-one telling them what to do. Of course those Culebras think they have a new boss – Richie

Who arrives – for Kissa to threaten his life. Yes she’s not forgiving the betrayal. Richie uses his new kingy powers and language to call in the other Culebras to save him. Kissa’s not impressed “you’re the one that I just killed” – but they agree to talk while the rest look out for Carlos.

In his office he tries to spin it as him helping everyone – (though why he expected Kissa to be happy in El Rey with Malvado is bizarre). Seth tries to recruit them to help him kill Carlos – and invokes Kate’s death as a reason to do so. He also tells Seth and Kissa about the bloodwell, which they don’t know about yet. Seth still isn’t letting go that Richie used Kate and got her killed – but now Freddie arrives to add his own 2 cents and how terribad it will be if Carlos creates an army of Culebras all hocked up on the uber blood.

So plan making time – Richie doesn’t want the truck destroying because the Culebros need the blood (Seth agrees because he doesn’t want people eaten by vampires because random conscience he’s just spawned). So it’s time to steal it apparently.

Carlos arrives – without the tanker, just with his chief minion and future queen Maia. Kissa goes out to confront him, sipping from his devil flash and wielding the key-club. They fight

Seth and Richie are off to steal the truck and airing all their tiresome brother issues. It doesn’t all go entirely to plan, everyone seems to lose their respective fights. Because that’s the rule of fights – the “good guys” have to lose first – though Richie does whip out his new mind control power.

And Scott goes completely off the rails in the name of Kate and crashes the blood truck, spraying he blood well everywhere. Carlos seems to take over, inviting his Culebras to go out and feed – then come back and slaughter all he humans.

SO everyone starts fighting to musical accompaniment of course. Because why would the band stop? And how come Culebras lose their strength and skill when fighting Seth? And Kissa takes on Maia (and wins) with Carlos being extra sexist and vile about it.

This fight scene goes on forever

Finally Carlos gets staked by Richie – but that doesn’t kill him because of the whole labyrinth thing. So they decides to chop him up while he claims he made them all (sort of). They slice and dice him

And daylight with the remaining human survivors leaving

They plan to scatter Carlos body parts about. And Kissa has decided, as she saw with Carlos, that Culebras are utterly helpless without a leader. Seth encourages Kissa to lead – but she decides no because she’s too much of a mythological figure. She wants Seth to do it. He refuses, so she pleas on behalf of Richie.

Richie is busy setting himself up as the new boss before he and Seth have another round of brother issues. They fight and Seth ends up beating his brother into the sunlight and threatens to kill him unless Richie accepts that it’s a dual operation – Seth and Richie together. He agrees. Freddie agrees – before he goes home.

Kissa plans to leave – though Richie makes a plea for her to remain. She refuses, she will no longer be the property of men. She returns his necklace.

And Kate – well she died in a puddle of that cursed blood well. Guess who is back?

Well… that was a terrible ending.

What was Carlos’s plan anyway? Just show up and… what? Because his forces, such that they were, not only completely lost against Richie, Kissa, Seth et al, but they were slaughtered without managing ONE casualty on the other side. What did he actually intend to achieve here? And what did the writers intend except for a fight scene that lasted, what, 16 minutes? The conflict felt so tapped on the end – like they wanted the series to end last week and then this episode was to tie up loose ends – but they realised they didn’t actually have enough loose ends to tie

And I am so sick of Gecko brother drama – which, annoyingly, I think is what stopped this season being excellent for me.

I think this season as better than the first, but it had a lot of potential to be excellent, especially since it broke away from its origins and not having to follow the same painful track and tropes of the first film. A series drawing heavily on Aztec symbolism, an original take on vampires, a rich society and history and with an almost entire cast of POC? Yes that could have been awesome. The potential was there

But I think there was almost too much and not much of it developed. What does Freddie being the Peacekeeper actually mean? What are all these prophecies we see scattered around? What is El Rey? Exactly what makes the Bloodwell blood special? How is it special? Is it more than taste? What is the Labyrinth, what does it mean? Who are the other Lords? What do they do? Why couldn’t they intervene? Why didn’t they intervene when Celestino was killed? Exactly what are the basic physical traits of a Culebras and how come they go away when fighting Seth? What goes into the cult of the Deosa?

I’m frustrated because this world is rich enough and interesting enough that so much could have been done with it and I WANTED these answers. But could we have really got them all in 10 episodes? I’m not sure – that’s a lot

There was also a problem with focus – because not only were a lot of these answers missed but a lot of relationships needed more definition. Scott and Kate was an awesome storyline with potential for immense growth on both sides (I think Kate got it, Scott less so) but not enough time. I don’t even know what Freddie was doing. Paloma and Santanico was excellent and meaningful – and rushed. Similarly Sonja felt rushed and out of place – and why even introduce Maia at all?!

Instead we have episode after episode of Gecko drama and, your mileage may vary, I had real trouble caring. Apart from anything else the need to jump from the first season (and the characterisation of the film) meant a fair bit of character overhaul. And, honestly, with all the fascinating things here, is “brother drama” high on anyone’s agenda? It frustrated me so much because this should have been Santanico/Kisa’s season but so often she seemed to be in the background to the Gecko’s latest tantrum

Still I did very much like how Santanico/Kisa ended – her own name, free from all men, free from all love interests, living her own life beyond revenge. I do, however, think even if she didn’t want to accept leadership some more respect for her as the deosa would have been nice – or more analysis of why she didn’t want it. I would have also really liked it if she had been more of a power throughout and not so often victimised.

I do think the depiction of women this season has been better than the sex objects of the first Season (which isn’t saying an awful lot) – with Kissa/Santanico and Kate’s storylines being there if often distracted. Next season Kat promises to be a fascinating character. Still, isn’t flawless – there’s a lot of sexualisation that was never turned on the male characters and Kissa deserved to kick arse more than she did.

Most of the cast are Latino which is almost unique on television – and certainly in the genre (which often feels less diverse than the media in general) though the only non-Latino POC, Scott, was sorely underused. Still it is very rare to see this many Latino people on the screen, I do wish we had drawn on more of the Aztec mythology, but it’s still interesting to see such a number of POC characters on one show and in so many of the roles on the show.

Sadly, there are no LGBTQ characters still.

Despite the ending, I am looking forward to season 3. This season was a nice departure from the first and introduced, even if it didn’t develop, a whole lot of awesome. Now season 3 will be an even further departure – and more opportunity.