Friday, January 20, 2017

From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series - La Llorona

Vampires plot, a character disappoints.

Diego Gutierrez is a prime example of someone working their way up in the entertainment business. He got his start in television as an assistant on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, eventually getting to write an episode. He continued to work in television over the years, working in the writers' room on various shows, earning producing credits. He became a co-executive producer on the TV series based on the 1996 Robert Rodriguez / Quentin Tarantino film From Dusk Till Dawn and has written several episodes over its three seasons - 'Blood Runs Thick', 'Pandemonium', 'Bring Me the Head of Santanico Pandemonium', 'Santa Sangre', 'La Reina', and now 'La Llorona'. And on 'La Llorona', he took another step up, making this episode his directorial debut.

Gutierrez's episode finds vampires Sex Machine (Jake Busey), Scott (Brandon Soo Hoo), and Richie Gecko (Zane Holtz), along with Richie's human brother Seth (D.J. Cotrona), discover a cult of the snake-like vampires the Culebras who serve the villain of the season, Queen of Hell Amaru (Madison Davenport). As part of their service to their Queen and Amaru's soul gatherer Itzpa, the cultists sacrifice fellow vampires.

While the guys deal with that situation, this show continues to do great damage to the character of Texas Ranger Freddie Gonzalez (Jesse Garcia). I could understand him when he was out to avenge the murder of his mentor and relentlessly pursuing the Geckos in season one. I thought it was cool when he turned out to be a vampire-killing badass. I could feel for him when his wife went into hiding with their baby because there are always vampires lurking around. But I am not fond of what's going on with him in season three. Rather than focus on removing himself from these vampire shenanigans for good (even though they consider him the Peacekeeper), rather than remaining dedicated to reuniting with his wife, the guy is conducting himself like a total horndog. He fell for vampire Ximena Vasconcelos (Emily Rios). She was killed off in the previous episode, 'Straitjacket', so now Gonzalez is hurting over Ximena's death... but that hasn't stopped him from hooking up with another woman, with 'La Llarona' catching up with Gonzalez while he's in bed with Solaya, played by Fernanda Andrade. And like when we saw him in bed with Ximena, he's ready and raring to go multiple times. I'm not liking this guy at all anymore, and by the end of the episode he does something so idiotic that my distaste for him gets even more intense.

Gonzalez has issues with Richie due to the events of the previous episode, in which they were both taken over by an evil force, but demon-hunting vampire Burt (Tom Savini) is able to lure him back into the Amaru battling efforts in time for him to participate in some of this episode's action. Gonzalez just can't quit these vampires.

Amaru is inhabiting the body of a character who has been in the series since season one, teenager Kate Fuller. Our heroes get the idea that they might be able to force the spirit Amaru out and bring Kate back, but to do so they need to capture Amaru... and for the Queen of the underworld, she proves incredibly easy to capture. Amaru seems to be less of a threat here than a lingering evil in Richie and the arrival of Itzpa, the latest "monster of the week".

Despite having a very strong start, this season has been going downhill for a while, and I have some problems with 'La Llorona': The fact that it doesn't address the poor storytelling involving Burt in 'Straitjacket'. How quickly Gonzalez is going from woman to woman. How ineffectual the cultists are. I'm also having a problem with this season as a whole - there is a severe lack of Santanico Pandemonium (Eiza Gonzalez). I have to assume that the shooting schedule overlapped with that of the Edgar Wright movie Gonzalez will be appearing in, Baby Driver.

The good? I still enjoy watching most of these characters interact with each other, and Itzpa is pretty cool - both when she's in monster mode with her venom dripping claws, and when she takes on the appearance of a normal woman to taunt and try to manipulate characters.

There's not much to grasp onto in 'La Llorona', especially when an act of pure stupidity is used as the catalyst for the last minutes. However, it does take us a couple interesting steps forward in the journey to the finale, and I have hope that season three will wrap up in a more satisfying way than the second did.

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