From Dusk Till Dawn Season 1 Review “La Conquista”

Santanico Pandemonium

As we inch ever closer to the big finale, “From Dusk Till Dawn” likewise sought to deepen the storyline, adding hidden layers to any number of the plots and characters at hand, in “La Conquista.” Were all of them successful? Not entirely, but they were mostly interesting enough that I didn’t mind some of the more ridiculous subplots. (Looking at you, T-Dog- err, I mean, Sgt. Frost.)

We started with a back-story for Carlos that was actually pretty nifty. It seems he was one of the conquistadores sent by Spain to find and claim land in Queen Isabella’s name, and convert the natives to Christianity. Only Carlos was more interested in finding gold than any of that. Well, he found plenty of that, but he also found something else: Santanico, who was being held prisoner in the temple that the Titty Twister now exists upon.

Setting her free and pledging to protect and feed her, in exchange for making him like her, Carlos was turned into a snakepire, duping his fellow comrades into the temple and killing them all for her. Only, according to Santanico, Carlos was never in love with her, and he only wanted riches and power. Enter Richie, who she feels could actually aid in setting her free where Carlos failed- but only if he chooses it.

All of this worked like gangbusters for me, and I thought was a worthy extension of the mythos of the show. I also liked the notion of the guardian snakepires, aka the “Chanans,” as explained by the Professor, and how the snakepires thought that by sacrificing people to Santanico, they could see the future and communicate with aliens and so forth.

Yes, I’ll allow that buying Jake Busey as “Sex Machine”- or a professor/archeologist, for that matter- was more than a little disconcerting, and off-putting. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Tom Savini, he is not. But the character’s information is interesting and compelling, at least, even if he isn’t, necessarily.

The dialogue was pretty solid, too. For once, the pop culture stuff didn’t come off as trying too hard, or at least, it made me laugh more than usual. My favorite had to be the line Seth uttered after the Prof talked about the history of the temple and tied in aliens: “I can do ‘Temple of Doom,’ man- but ‘Crystal Skull’- I’m out.” LOL. With ya there, Seth. There was also a nice “Sunset Boulevard” reference- “Next thing he knows, he’s lying face-down in a swimming pool, reading his own narration” opined Ritchie on the problems with getting mixed up with femme fatale types- how’s that for range?

The reason Tarantino dialogue that references pop culture works is because if you get it, you get it; if you don’t, it just flies right by you and you barely notice it’s there. That’s why so much of the would-be Tarantino-esque dialogue falls flat: it doesn’t ring true as dialogue, and sounds too stylized, too fake. More often than not, “FDTD” has crossed into that wanna-be lane, ringing hollow much more than it does true.

Here, it worked for me, even if certain stretches of it were exposition city. But that exposition was mostly interesting, too, so it worked all around. For me, at least. I’m sure opinions may vary on that one. Hell, I even chuckled at the “Chanan-stop action” line, and you already know how I feel about Busey. To each their own, I guess, but I enjoyed the writing on this episode. Ditto the room where they gathered up the weapons and got locked and loaded for battle- that was done in full-on QT-style or in 80’s action movie style in general, really. And the amusing nod to “Star Wars” light sabers was fun, too.

Now, that said, there were things that didn’t work as well as others. An attempt to make Freddie some sort of “Super Ranger” didn’t work for me. It felt tacked on. I mean, I get that the show had to explain how Freddie managed to survive all that he has, but the notion of a special bloodline-
“Sangrita,” if I’m not mistaken- was kind of dubious. If that’s true, why was he kind of a middling cop up until recently? What, did Earl McGraw’s death awaken it inside him?

Yes, it’s no more silly than the whole snakepire thing, but all of that stuff was somewhat implied by the movie, whereas the Freddie character is a new addition. No offense to the actor playing him, but the character just doesn’t do much for me. I know we’re supposed to be rooting for him as one of the good guys, but it’s kind of a one-note character.

The Fullers, on the other hand, are much more real and developed, and we’re continuing to find out more about them as the show progresses, for the most part. Yes, Scott is now one of the snakepires and working for Carlos, but how much you want to bet he will save one or both of his family on down the line? And just when it seemed that the mother subplot was done with in a somewhat anticlimactic fashion, we discover that the big secret Jacob’s been hiding was that she tried to kill herself. Or did she? After all, it could have been a lie perpetrated by the temple…either way, nice call back to something I thought they had already abandoned.

So, there’s two more episodes left in the season. Chances are, we’re going to see Ritchie attempt to complete these various trials Santanico mentioned, and a final showdown between Freddie and Carlos, plus another with Carlos and Santanico, who more or less betrayed him with Ritchie. The Fullers will discover Scott’s fate and an end game will begin, assumingly leading into whatever they have planned for season two, which has already been green-lighted. So far, I think the season has been more good than bad, but a lot will hinge on how they end things, so we’ll see how it goes.

What did you think of “From Dusk Till Dawn” this week? Did you enjoy the writing like I did or not so much? What did you think of Carlos’ flashbacks? How about Santanico’s tale? What do you think will happen with Ritchie? Will he actually set Santanico free? Or will she end up dead? Who all will be left standing in the end? Any predictions on how it goes down? Sound off below and remember to pack your stake saber for next week’s episode! See you then!