‘From Dusk Till Dawn’ – ‘Opening Night’ Review

And we’re back from a long summer hiatus just in time for “From Dusk Till Dawn”‘s return. If you haven’t watched Robert Rodriguez’s show, based on Tarantino’s script (and his own movie), you should really give it a shot, because it is a fun-filled, never-ending rollercoaster ride of action, gore and family stories.

The show comes back from the hiatus with a three-month jump. Richie and Santanico have taken it upon themselves to bring down the nine lords, and that starts with Malvado, the lord who imprisoned and forced her into becoming a dancer at the Titty Twister (which we find out a lot about during a flashback). During the first season I must admit I had a complicated relationship with Santanico. While I understood her need to be freed, she did manipulate Richie into killing to connect with her (RIP Monica, we hardly knew ya), and forced him and Seth into the Twister. She also didn’t quite seem to mind playing a part in Carlos’ schemes, including but not limited to feeding the counselors with other girls and bringing Kate in for her replacement (what was up with that? Will we ever find out why Carlos was so keen on having Kate, specifically, replace Santanico?) When looking at it in retrospect, she probably thought all those things were little a price to pay for her freedom (“I do what I do to survive”), which to someone who’s been enslaved for over 500 years, is probably the first priority. Santanico was a pure girl in the beginning, but she had means to an end and part of being a complex, interesting character is sometimes not doing the right things. It’s not like everyone in this show is a saint.

This season, however, Santanico seems to have taken a different approach when it comes to taking down the lords: while she would rather just show up and kill them, Richie has convinced her to start small, by tricking the lords into coming to them and then taking them down. This finally gives Richie a time to shine. He is finally “free” of Seth’s shadow, but, much like Seth got himself into jail the first time he tried to pull off a job without Richie, Richie’s first big job with Santanico as a partner doesn’t quite work out that well. 

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A meat-packing plant hiring illegals is shipping them back into Mexico as food in exchange for money, now that the Twister is no longer bringing them food, and Santanico and Richie decide to hit back by stealing their money. This turns against them when the two guys they hired as help reveal to Richie and Santanico that they never turned off the security cameras— something Seth would have probably never let happen. After feasting on the two guys, they decide to locate the lords by following their trail (“follow the flesh”) of illegals. This will probably imply finding human bait, so I am curious as to how this storyline is going to play. Santanico has been a victim for too long, yes, but turning her into a perpetrator would not be the best choice. However her destiny seems more heroic than anything and her humanity is already showing through her relationship with Richie (how adorable was to see Richie trying to be a cute boyfriend and Santanico not understanding movie references?) and through saving those people about to be sent back into Mexico.

Meanwhile, Seth and Kate are doing small jobs at the south of the Mexican border, or, more accurately, Seth is doing jobs while Kate drives. Kate insists on becoming Seth’s partner, which he does not allow her to, I suspect due to a mix of his need to protect her (which he keeps doing) and a refusal to let someone fill the void Richie left. Richie himself is the biggest tension point between the two. Seth has fallen in a downward spiral of heroin and self-pity, and Kate tries to get something out of him by mentioning his brother and her need to find hers in order for them to finally move back into the US. This does nothing but make Seth’s response worse, to the point that not only does he shoot up in front of her but lets her help injecting him, right in the same spot where Richie bit him. “Your brother already found the best vein”, Kate says, and chills immediately ran down my body. Kate is being unbelievably ruthless, probably tired of trying to help someone who doesn’t want to be helped. 

It goes to show how two people with so much in common can have such a different response to loss. While both go to the mercado the same night, Kate goes to find out more about the culebras, who she has been researching thoroughly, in order to find the way back to her brother. She meets a new culebra friend along the way, Rafa, who catches her up on Santanico and what she really means to them (real name: Kisa) and tells her it is not recommendable for culebras not to feed. He also gives her a new target to hit, a man who’s been extorting everyone in the mercado.

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Seth meanwhile, after waking from his high, goes to get his tattoo extended up to his neck (like in the original movie) as a symbol of him finally being done with Richie— or not being done with him at all, let’s be honest– and meets Sonja, a tattoo artist who also does fake documents on the side and immediately recognizes Seth as a Gecko. He seems to finally give in to Kate’s request and tries to get them new passports. “Who’s the little girl?”, Sonja asks, after Seth gives her Kate’s picture. “Just a little girl”, he brushes it off, and you know he’s saying it because he doesn’t want Sonja to inquire, but he does not believe a word of it himself.

Seth and Kate’s differences do not mean that they do not care about each other. Seth’s response is immediate to the motel’s night manager that has been checking up on Kate before even realizing that he is a culebra and killing him (by the way, nice symbolism there with the glasses, show) and in the little moments where they seemed to be okay, from Kate nagging him about a job gone wrong and “I owe you a toaster” to finally planning a score together at the end of the episode, these two seemed to have developed an intimate relationship. They know which buttons to push when they hurt each other, because they’ve gotten to know each other so well. Seth insists that her brother is dead, Kate reminds Seth that his isn’t and he is just choosing to bury him. It hurts both, and yet I am thoroughly fascinated by their relationship, because apparently I love the pain that these two will cause me when they eventually separate.

Meanwhile, we only barely check on Freddie, who has been having nightmares and visions, much like Richie’s last season. Richie and Santanico plan to fake Seth and Richie’s deaths and Freddie’s called on the case. He takes a look at two burned bodies in a car at the bottom of a cliff, which he obviously knows are not the Geckos’ and confirms that they’re dead. He is lying, of course, but he believes they will be keeping their word– “you stay out of my way, I stay out of yours.” Freddie’s priority is his family, and he will do anything to protect them. However something tells me he will be brought back into this battle whether he wants it or not.

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In the Twister, things haven’t been going great. Scott is being held captive by Narciso, and no one  actually ever shows up (this show continues giving us hilarious scenes like an empty Twister with a lifeless dancer not even trying to dance and hilarious music playing), this brings Malvado, the face-leather coat wearer lord of the night, to the club, who in anger rips off Narciso’s face. He wants Santanico back, and the Twister is closed until she is. He then goes on to bring back to life The Regulator, a mysterious figure in charge of bringing back those who escape the Twister, and who we know will be behind the Geckos.

The episode managed to give us a new start after season one and continued to expand these iconic characters and send them in new and exciting directions. I cannot wait for more.

You can watch “From Dusk Till Dawn” on El Rey Network at 9pm in the US. If you live outside the US, it will be up hours after it airs on Netflix, internationally.

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