By Jorge Castro-Salinas
Things are heating up in both sides of the border. While the show’s premiere was just setting the plot to end up in a warm-up session, this week’s episode, appropriately titled “Calaca”, showed us that those altars with la “Santa Muerte” on them can’t be a good omen. Here is what happened.
The episode opened with the aftermath of Frye’s “not-so-divine-intervention” when a fake bomb was placed inside his car and therefore caused him a pretty good scare. Now, Sonya and Marco are trying to put things together as in relation with Frye, but the reporter is clueless about as of why he was picked by our mysterious killer/ caller. Instead, Frye decides to make news of the case as an opportunity for his career. Looks like he hasn't learned from his recent experience. Soon, he gets coordinates by his mysterious caller and goes to the given location with a fellow reporter. At the site of the coordinates, they find a crime scene.
Meanwhile, we follow a group of illegal immigrants who are left stranded in the middle of the desert located somewhere in the outskirts of El Paso. They struggle with the danger of being found and sent back to Mexico by ICE agents, but deportation is not the only thing on their list of concerns. Ignored by them, the desert can turn to be a very dangerous killer, as the sun and heat causes them to fall into stages of desperation and dehydration. After several hours, or even days of wandering through the desert mountains, they find a “Santa Muerte” statue with several gallons of water next to it. The immigrants don’t hesitate and drink the water, taking this as a sign of god. Again, there’s no such thing as “Divine Intervention” in this show, as the water turns out to be poisoned and the sole survivor is a girl that ends up stranded in the middle of the highway, and is subsequently picked up by a stranger. Oh-oh.
Back with our heroes. As their case starts to hit dead ends, Sonya decides to go to Juarez with Marco, who is not very supportive of the idea. Soon, Juarez turns out to be another dead end, or at least appears to be, as Marco’s captain seems to be uncooperative with Sonya. When Sonya starts to ask many questions, or how some call them, “the wrong questions”, Marco explodes. He grows frustrated that Sonya can’t understand why Mexican police ignores or bury cases that seem too risky or dangerous. Said cases clearly involved Cartels, which puts every member of the Mexican police in their crosshairs. Subsequently, the pair takes the rest of the day off, going back to their respective lives.
Confident that he’s better at being alone and at acting discreet, Marco goes to Juarez’ “Zona Roja”, which is where all the low-level criminals hang out. In hopes of finding any leads of his victim’s disappearance, Marco meets with a very young prostitute, who reveals to him that Cristina used to work there before she disappeared.
Meanwhile, Sonya reviews her case at home. Soon, she starts to feel sexual desires, which reasons are unknown to me as of what triggered these needs. She goes to a bar and meets a guy (Jason Wiles from the cancelled-too-soon “Third Watch”), who approaches her. He discovers that Sonya is not just any kind of girl, and much to his surprise, her straight-forward attitude ends both of them up in her apartment. After some casual sex, Sonya resumes her study on the case. Her lover leaves the apartment, which appears to be alienated by her interesting personality (or lack of personality).
Elsewhere, we follow a mysterious man from Juarez who is looking for the woman that Linder crossed to El Paso. He appears to be angry and desperate by her disappearance, but by the looks of it, I would cross off the option of him being her boyfriend, brother, or being related to her at all. His search takes him to Linder’s apartment, but when his loud banging into the door makes a nosy neighbor threaten him about calling the police, the man viciously murders the neighbor. He clearly means no good, and I’m betting he is from the Cartel, looking for one if its investments.
The episode ends with most storylines tying up as Marco, Sonya and Wade arrive to the crime scene with the dead immigrants. They determine that the suspect is their killer.
I loved this episode. The pace was faster than the premiere, and it kept me intrigued. Annabeth Gish’s character storyline is moving slow, but I have no doubt that some big things will happen to her, as her husband may’ve had some dealings with a dangerous associate.
While not much of the case has moved forward, this episode serves as an important insight on the characterization of both Marco and Sonya, as their lifestyles are fleshed out a little bit more. Within time, I’m pretty sure we’ll learn to understand such complex characters. At least I already understand Marco, who like any other Mexican cop with a beloved family, is trying to keep a low-profile as he digs deeper into the case, which seems that will take him to some very dark places. Risks are also getting higher, as his wife reveals to him that she’s pregnant, which might help him reconsider the level of danger he’s stepping into. But I can’t blame him; he’s trying to do the right thing. I’ve got to note here, that Marco’s wife is played by the wonderful and talented Catalina Sandino Moreno, who played the lead in the acclaimed Colombian movie “Maria Full of Grace”, a movie about drug mules. I recommend it, watch it. And by the way, I also have to highlight, both Demian Bichir and Catalina Sandino Moreno have been nominated for the Oscar, so they make the perfect couple.
I’m also really growing into Sonya. I don’t know but I think she’s cute. She has no bad intentions, but she can’t explain herself why “normal” people do some things, such as why Marco’s wife calls him just to hear his voice. She looks for the most logical ways in things, but she lacks in being reflective and thoughtful regarding emotions and feelings. We can’t blame her for being like that, she’s just a straight-shooter, and sometimes hard honesty is what some people need.
I hope the show keeps this pace, and if it does, I have no doubt that more shocks and twists will keep coming. Well done FX, well done.
By Jorge Castro-Salinas
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