And we’re back! After taking a brief hiatus to catch up with the series (my cable subscriber doesn’t carry the El Rey Network, unfortunately, hence the delay), we have resumed reviewing Robert Rodriguez’s “From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series.” The show is looking like a hit, having just been renewed and generally receiving positive notices, so we’re going to see it through to the bloody end.
Last week’s episode delved us further into Richie’s mania, his demonic visions not only continuing but getting stronger (same goes for his bloodlust), while we got a peek into Seth’s personal life with the introduction of his ex-wife (Adrianne Palicki), a character only briefly mentioned in the film. We were also introduced to an intriguing character played by Jake Busey, a sinister sort who caught Ranger Freddie up on the supernatural background of the cartel.
RECAP: Episode Four, entitled “Let’s Get Ramblin’”, brings us to a crucial moment in the story: the meeting of the Gecko brothers and the Fuller family. The series expands upon the collision of these two vastly different families a bit and adds a few new wrinkles. Both have holed up at the Dew Drop Inn and both could be on the verge of irreparable damage.
Richie has a brief and somewhat flirtatious meeting with a sullen Kate (Madison Davenport), who has come to believe she can’t trust her father, the grieving Jacob (Robert Patrick), as he returns to the source of plenty of his problems: alcohol. Richie displays a bit more of his psychic gift to Kate, simultaneously fascinating and unnerving her. Meanwhile, Seth makes himself known to Jacob and Scott and unveils his plan; Jacob takes this unholy burden as a sign God is punishing him for being responsible for his wife’s death.
Meanwhile, Ranger Freddie (Jesse Garcia) continues his pursuit, and intriguingly, he’s got visions of his own. He’s haunted by the “ghost” of a scuzzy gangmember he and his mentor (Don Johnson) killed years ago. The ghost is able to give Freddie advice on what steps he must take to reach the Geckos, which either signals he has the same gift/curse Richie has, or something supernatural is guiding them both along.
Freddie arrives at the hotel right when the Geckos and Fullers are leaving (after a brief consultation with Seth’s ex-wife, who foolishly took hostages after their last meeting). A brief firefight ensues, and both families escape, leaving Freddie wounded but no less determined.
REVIEW: “From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series” continues to prove itself a worthy viewing experience with “Let’s Get Ramblin’”; so far the show has been a very nice surprise, benefitting from clever directing, snappy writing and solid performances. Even though the series does indeed feel like it’s leading toward the inevitable - that is to say, we know how this will all play out - it has me hooked all the same.
This hour boasts a few very nice touches, mostly provided by the cast. Robert Patrick is an excellent Jacob, somehow more vulnerable and fragile than harvey Keitel’s stoic portrayal of the character. It’s nice to see a slight variation on the character, whose guilt weighs down his every moment. What’s nice is that we see Jacob and family in happier times, briefly, when the pastor held sway over his congregation and his beloved wife was still alive. There was clearly a love there, especially on Kate’s part - the affection way she gazes at her father as he works is certainly moving. Davenport has been quite good so far as well, now playing the role of teenager who must move beyond her angst in order to assume the role of family matriarch.
I’ve become more intrigued by Zane Holtz’s Richie. Initially I thought the actor was too good-looking to sell the character, and the role too one-note. Now that they’ve expanded on Richie’s eerie sixth sense, the character is more than just a perverted sicko as he was in the film. It helps that Holtz is a rather captivating screen presence. I do hope that the supernatural angle here leads somewhere unexpected, that his talent will prove to be a bit more than just a psychic connection with Satanico Pandemonium as she beckons him ever closer.
D.J. Cotrona’s Seth has remained about the same throughout, the actor’s semi-Clooney impersonation neither adding to nor distracting from the character. Truth be told, Seth might be the least compelling person in the series, his motives and actions mostly predictable. One issue is a lack of malice on Cotrona’s part. Seth doesn’t seem like such a bad guy, which may go far in getting us to warm up to him, but it doesn’t make him threatening. Perhaps as they move along and the dynamic between Seth and Jacob comes into focus the character will become intimidating , but right now the show fully depends on Holtz’s Richie to bring any menace to the duo. (Not to lean on the original film too much, but Clooney exuded a cocky self-involvement that made him dangerous; that seemed like a guy who’d shoot anyone who got in his way.)
It’s also nice to see that the series is finding ways to bring Don Johnson back, if only via flashbacks. When it looked as though the series would introduce and kill him off all in one episode, it was a downer, but clearly Rodriguez and his writers think it’s important to further establish the bond Earl and Freddie had in the good old days, and for that I thank them.
Next week’s installment should delve us into the tense atmosphere of the Fuller’s mobile home, and presumably past the border as the whole gang moves toward their bloody fate. I'm excited; are you?