The last season of From Dusk till Dawn was not my favorite, although it wasn’t bad. It was certainly one of the best vampire shows on TV at the time, and that includes American Horror Story. The story is generally cohesive, with most of the episodes remaining on point. When a plotline is introduced, it usually gets resolved, characters often have clear cut goals, and so does the season. (The characters have goals, but since all of their goals are in opposition to one another, characters can often get derailed by somebody else’s plans.)
The biggest drawback is the acting. It just skirts the edge of camp in a lot of scenes, and in some scenes, it’s just full on awful. So, there needs to be some consistency there. I’m still largely unimpressed by the actress who plays Satanica. She’s such a lite-weight compared to the bodacious Salma Hayek. It’s really hard to top Salma, so she partially gets a pass, but it’s distracting because I keep wondering what Salma would’ve done with the role.
There are a few women in the cast, and the show has moved alway from some of the misogyny of the first season, although I still have trouble watching the women get treated as violently as the men. The one mitigating factor is the women are every bit as ruthless and violent as the men, after all, most of them are vampires. My second biggest drawback was Richie and Seth spent most of the last season separated and/or fighting with each other and I hated that. The good news is that in the last episode they were back fighting together, so maybe we can get some great brotherly action this season. The action scenes are cool but I still think there should be more of them. The talking scenes aren’t wasted though. This is one of those shows where you have to pay close attention to what people are saying because a lot of the plot is defined/sharpened in he conversations.
Seriously, though. This show does not get enough love and that’s if people even know what station it’s on, (El Rey).The good news is that it’s on Netflix, so some of y’all can catch up.
Kate’s clear goal last season was to save her brother Scott from his vampirism, which didn’t work out, as she got turned into a vampire, or something like it, when the special blood , from the Sante Sangre, seeped into her wounds. The leader of the Culebras, Carlos, still had plans for Richie’s, and Scott’s, futures, but appeared to be defeated when Richie and Seth dismembered his body, and sent him to the four corners of the world. Everyone was on the trail of the Sante Sangre, the Blood Well. It’s like an oil well, only full of blood which acts like catnip for the Culebras (and turned Kate into one of them). Freddie, the ranger who was hunting the Geckos from the first season, is now a Peacekeeper, working with the Culebras to protect their territory,though he is still human.
Like Supernatural the show’s focus is on family. There are a lot of parallels between Richie and Seth, and Kate and her adopted brother, Scott, who was also turned into a vampire at the end of season one, along with Richie. Kate gets in bed with some fairly awful people, (but Seth and Richie grow to like her, and stop underestimating her dedication to saving her brother.) Seth spends almost the entirety of season two separated from Richie, and indulging in hard drugs, because he’s disgusted at Richie being a vampire, and angry because he feels Richie chose Satanica over him. The two of them are set to forgive/reunite, when an old friend of their family refuses to do a job without both of them, then gives both of them a good talking to, and shames them into working together.
The season premiere introduces a new menace after Carlos’ defeat, and takes place about six months after the least season ended. The SkullKeeper, Calavera, is a demon from Xibablba (Hell) ,who takes the skulls of Culebras and makes them his meat puppets. His possession of said drones is suitably gorey, as he just reaches into the person’s head and tears out the skull. When the Nine Lords of the Culebras become aware of his existence, they task Seth and Richie to find and destroy him. The SkullKeeper wants revenge on the Nine Lords for imprisoning him in the dungeons underneath The Titty Twister. Thanks to Carlos last act, blowing up the bar, The SkullKeeper and all of the other demonic prisoners were released. A vampire named Brasa, with a burning hand is introduced, and he uses Calavera to destroy the Nine Lords, and succeeds.
By the end of the episode, Calavera is defeated by Seth and Richie and it’s awesome watching the two of them fighting again, but eight of the nine lords are dead, and there’s a new queen, Kate, gunning for Satanica. The true villain is established as Brasa, an enemy of all the Culebras. He helped free Calaveras, and appears to be the worshiper of someone who looks like Kate, who is wearing bad eye makeup, and talking like a supervillain .
In the second episode, Demon Kate makes a play for Satanica, who has retired from the world of the Culebras, but is still being worshipped as a deity by them. DemonKate doesn’t like that. She follows Seth and Richie to Kate’s underground fight club, where the guys try to convince Satanica to come back and help her people. DemonKate and Brasa, have been roaming up and down the Culebras territory burning up all her worshippers. Satanica, who has found new love after breaking it off with Richie, has to take down a Xibalban warrior that Kate sent to kill her. In return Kate kills her girlfriend. I knew that girl was deadmeat as soon as I found out Kate was in love with her. Even in the most diverse fantasy apparently the rule is still “Kill your gays!” I should be mad about it but I’m too tired. I liked that character. She was gutsy.
It may sound like I dislike Satanica too, but I don’t really. I’m having difficulty getting past that actress but I like the character. She’s actually very well written and Hispanic creators don’t seem to have a problem writing female characters with agency. From the beginning of the series, Satanica made her thoughts known, and put in motion her plans to escape her enslavement by drafting Richie to her cause. From the beginning, it was always Satanica who was in charge of their relationship, creating the various game plans to win her freedom. As Richie became more certain of his powers, he had to fight to convince her his plans were worth listening to. In the second season, a lot of the plot was driven by Satanica’s decisions, and she’s the one who made the final decision to leave Richie, and retire from the field of play.
This season is being driven by three women, whatever Kate has become, the last surviving Lord, who gives Richie and Seth their orders, and now Satanica. We are reminded of just how bad ass Satanica is, when she singlehandedly defeats the Xibalban warrior, after Kate incapacitates Richie. Seth and Richie then manage to convince her to come out of retirement. These scenes are interspersed with scenes of Freddy, along with his female companion, hunting Brasa.
It gets complicated but I like the mythology of the show. I think I’ve mentioned before that a lot of the vampire mythology is based on Mexican vampires and gods, and some it is just wholly made up stuff. The understanding behind the mythology has evolved since the first season, slowly revealing various beliefs, lore, and artifacts, and what part the Gecko brothers have to play in all of it.
The show has also evolved beyond women as eye candy on the show. I like seeing so many bad ass Latinas onscreen, most of them are exceptionally good at kicking ass, or are just terrifying, or powerful, in their own right. They have agency, make decisions, and affect the plot, and it’s nice to see the occasional Afro-Latina, in the mix too.
I like the evolution of Seth and Richie’s relationship. If you’re looking for another brotherly relationship, but one that’s less claustrophobic than The Winchesters, then the Gecko brothers are it. They do low-key love each other, and although I don’t like it when they fight, the two of them often have clear-cut reasons for punching each other. Richie is a vampire now, and Seth is still human. Richie occasionally mentions to Seth how he’s going to live forever, trying to convince Seth to become a vampire, but he has never tried to change his brother against his will. It’s subtly played but you can tell that Seth, the older brother, is often disgusted by what Richie has become, sometimes he’s eye-rollingly exasperated by it too. He makes it clear to Richie that he doesn’t want to be a vampire and manages to do that without belittling or demeaning his brother. He doesn’t like that his brother is a Culebra , but he’s still there for Richie when he needs him. For example, there’s a scene where Richie goes back to his office, puts on a smoking jacket, and picks up a cigar. Seth rolls his eyes and gives his little brother a “what the hell are you doing? “look, but says nothing. He’s gotten used to Richie being weird over the years.
And yes, they fight every bit as well as the Winchesters, often sharing weapons, and synchronizing themselves during a fight. They always know where their brother is, and what he’s doing in a fight, something that comes from years of fighting side by side. Richie is smarter and more philosophical than Seth, who mostly leads with his emotions. But that’s okay, as Seth isn’t actually evil. He knows the difference between good and bad, and strives to do good, where Richie can sometimes be lead astray, into philosophically sound ideas, that require evil acts. Yes, Seth thinks Richie is evil, but he appears to be becoming a lot less judgmental about it. This is his little brother. He gets a pass.
So this show has more pros than cons, and looks set to become an exceptional show, that everyone is ignoring, in favor of watching The Strain, which has not improved even half as much as this one in three seasons. It has a concrete mythology, plenty of action and gore, interesting family relationships, and character consistency. The plots are intricate and not dumb, arising as they do out of the various characters quests for power, love, freedom, or just money.
Stay tuned next week when I’ll try to find time to review another couple of episodes, and let you know how it’s developing.
(ETA: Wow! Don’t those photos make you the least bit curious about what the hell those scenes were about?)