Thursday, January 5, 2017

From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series - La Reina

Vampires love a good fight.

In the season two finale of From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series, it looked like Kate Fuller, the character played by Madison Davenport, was dead. For a while. But then in the final moments, Kate was resurrected by some kind of supernatural force, and she didn't come back to life the same. Her body is now inhabited by another spirit, which causes such erratic behavior that she ended up in a mental hospital. Five moons ago, she killed her way out of that hospital to be greeted outside by the mysterious Brasa (Maurice Compte), who escaped from the rubble of the destroyed vampire den/strip club the Titty Twister and now seems to be seeking to eradicate the Culebra species of vampires that had held him captive.

Brasa is said to be a Xibalban, a being from Hell, and he has certainly been raising hell since gaining his freedom. He has even managed to wipe out the ruling class of the Culebras, the Lords, causing any order among the vampires to go out the window. Only Lord Venganza Verdugo (Ana de la Reguera) is left to try to pick up the pieces... and honestly, never a fan of elaborate mythologies, I'm not sad to see the Lords get (mostly) removed from this series. In my day, the only organization vampires had was groups of like-minded individuals, like in The Lost Boys and Near Dark, or when one badass vampire like Dracula had some brainwashed minions. I don't need anything more complicated than that.

Someone not so glad that vampires are running loose now is Texas Ranger Freddie Gonzalez (Jesse Garcia), who is working as a "Peace Keeper" with Venganza's counselor Ximena Vasconcelos (Emily Rios). Gonzalez and his wife are estranged while he deals with all this vampire business, and if I were Mrs. Gonzalez and had hopes of being with Freddie again down the line, I would be a bit wary of his relationship with Ximena. These two are starting to seem a bit too close for my liking.

One thing still holding some groups of vampires together is their reverence for Santanico Pandemonium (Eiza Gonzalez), so Brasa and Kate are massacring their way through Santanico's followers, zeroing in on the reluctant goddess herself. As luck would have it, the villains locate Santanico at the same time retired bank robber Seth Gecko (DJ Cotrona) and his vampire brother Richie (Zane Holtz), Santanico's former lover, show up at her place of business seeking her help with the Brasa problem.

Santanico once ruled over the Titty Twister, and now she has traded strippers for fighters, running an underground vampire cage fighting establishment. This allows for some fisticuff action in the episode before the monster mayhem breaks out - like Brasa was working with the demonic Skull Keeper in the previous episode, he and Kate have a one-off monstrous associate in this episode as well. Just like the Skull Keeper, this creature is short-lived but is pretty cool during the screen time it does have. An Olmeca, a legendary Xibalban warrior, it's played by Shad Gaspard and is just a bruiser, muscle working for Brasa and Kate, able to tear off heads and crush skulls with the greatest of ease.

Robert Rodriguez, director of the 1996 film that this series is based on, directed the premiere episodes of both the first and second seasons, but for this third season he held back and waited to direct the second episode. As expected, Rodriguez brings a nice energy with him, and his episode delivers some good violence and bloodshed while the script by Diego Gutierrez (writer of previous episodes 'Blood Runs Thick', 'Pandemonium', 'Bring Me the Head of Santanico Pandemonium', and 'Santa Sangre') keeps things flowing forward at a good pace.

The highlights of 'La Reina' are the reunions, the band getting back together as Seth and Richie recruit Santanico into the fight (with the villains ultimately forcing her to get involved to some degree), and the brothers realizing that Kate isn't dead, but also isn't really Kate. The character is far from being the teenybopper preacher's daughter we were first introduced to, and I'm intrigued to find out where her plotline is going. I have some hope that the real Kate will somehow return, but the fact that she died before this evil being took over her body would seem to make that quite complicated.

With the main villains of the season seemingly established, the third season of From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series is off to a really great start. I'm invested in finding out its answers and looking forward to more action.

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