Previously on Vida, “Episode 3”
These two episodes really pack a lot for the viewer to chew on. The Hernandez daughters are still operating on the idea that they are in Vida’s world temporarily, yet their hearts are settling into old feelings and routines. Though Eddy is still trying to juggle running the bar, mourning her wife’s death and trying to keep Vida’s memory alive, the daughters are still reluctant to acknowledge Eddy. This keeps Eddy in a state of sorrow as every attempt to get Lyn and Emma to come together is thwarted. Eddy has a big heart and though the daughters see a hint of it, they are too self absorbed in their own agendas to fully notice. Maybe noticing would make Lyn and Emma have to face their own issues with identity and their place in a post-Vida world.
Speaking of juggling, Emma has a video conference meeting with her co-workers but it does not seem as though she is taken seriously. We see that she, in fact, is a workaholic and is using her vacation time to finalize her mother’s affairs. This company that Emma works for seems to be using Emma as the female representative for them and she has little value other than that. By the way, what kind of company does not have paid leave for grieving? Why is she using her vacation time to mourn her mother’s death? One of the attendees of the meeting had the audacity to imply that after one week of being gone, Emma should be back to work.
While Emma is trying to do some market research to “rebrand” La Chinita, she runs into Cruz and things between them heat up. Though Emma starts out being reticent to Cruz’s group of friends, after a couple of drinks, she loosens her blouse and shows off her biting sense of humor. We see Cruz becoming more and more turned on as Emma becomes more and more flirtatious with the group. We learned in the movie Hitch that the best way to your crush’s heart is through their friends. Unfortunately, we can not get too excited about this breakthrough that Emma has with Cruz; the wounds are too deep. Just when things get hot and heavy between Cruz and Emma, Emma has an attack and bolts out of Cruz’s place. Emma cannot let her feelings get in the way, she has a job to do, remember?
As we progress through these two episodes, we see that Emma has been conditioned by her grandmother, to never be a chillona, a cry baby. She makes sure to play that out for most of the season so far. She blows off one of Cruz’s friends, doesn’t call back Cruz to let her know she is okay, and tries to move to another place to sublet. It is only when Eddy confronts her about not participating in the old traditions of mourning that we get a powerful scene of Emma breaking down while trying to masturbate. This breakdown may be a breakthrough, but only time will tell. Meanwhile, we see that Emma does have a big heart and is very aware of the world and times she lives in but she can’t seem to shake her grandmother’s voice from her head, “I don’t raise chillonas”.
While Emma is trying to get in and get out, Lyn is struggling with her place in the world. We see Lyn having no regard for Johnny’s wishes by still texting him. She tries to lift her spirits with some good ‘ol fashioned credit card fraud. Ultimately, while hanging with the white privileged gang, she is made aware that she is only an “exotic” prize to them. Lynn still has to take the bus back home on the same route that the maid, Aurora (Laura Patalano), took.
Lyn is bored and no one is taking her seriously; she doesn’t even take herself seriously. Lyn has a confrontation with Carla, Johnny’s fiancee, at the local yoga class which results in Carla letting Johnny go. It was made clear that Carla does not believe Lyn truly loves Johnny but “Johnny is infected” with Lyn and Carla does not have time for the drama. She is super pregnant and has to think about the baby’s and her wellbeing. Lyn thinks she has won, but has she? Johnny quickly goes running back to Lyn with no other care than the love he feels for her. It should be interesting to see just how this plays out as Lyn is very self-centered yet is beginning to notice how the rest of the world around her treats her people. She is also showing an inkling compassion towards Eddy. Lyn seems to be accepting of Vidalia’s life and all the people in it, but is afraid to go against Emma. Though Emma tends to dismiss Lyn, she still wants to show Emma that she is supporting her decisions. We leave Lyn joining in on the final “goodbye” to Vida, amongst tequila and singing.
Unfortunately, as we suspected, the video of Mari giving Tlaloc a blow job ends up getting out to the Vigilantes group. Though, Mari’s friend, Yoli, tries to head Mari off at the pass, it was too late. Mari feeling embarrassed and angry, stays away from the group for a couple days. While she is avoiding the critical eyes of her peers, she does not let that stop her cause and the first victims are the Hernandez sisters. Mari mixed with passion, anger, and judgement, decides to spray paint “Chipsters” on the La Chinita bar window. We get the throwing of hands when Mari confronts Emma about what she did. Emma, not being the type to back down, ends up in a holding cell with Mari. Apparently the white woman who witnessed the fight called the police.
This is the moment I was waiting for, when these two strong willed characters go face to face. What starts out as shade throwing between the two ends up with what might be mutual respect. Emma is more proud of who she is than Mari realizes and Mari is more driven than Emma noticed. Mari is still young and has a lot to learn, but maybe Emma is not as much of an enemy as Mari thought. With some bail money from the Hernandez sisters, a little pep talk from Yoli, and a feeling of new found challenge, Mari goes back to the Vigilantes group and raises her voice.
Side Note: I do not believe Tlaloc did not have something to do with that video getting out, but that just may be my own trust issues.
Overall, the two episodes revealed just enough for us to want more. The underlying plot of Emma seeing the ghost girl is very interesting. It seems this little girl may represent Emma at the point when Vidalia sent her away to her grandmother in Texas. I am purely speculating, but it seems this is the life changing moment that presented us with the Emma we see today. The environment is rich with lore and religious symbolism so it does not strike me as odd that this anomaly is occurring. Though Emma has been far removed from this life, it is in her blood. Her struggle is not just to acknowledge the pain she is feeling, but to also identify her place in this community and how to marry the old ways with the new. Change is hard for everyone, but only because we fight it. It seems logical that Emma would be the one to see this ghost girl because it seems she is the one fighting that little girl (her own fears) every step of the way. The juxtaposition of mixing the old world with the “woke” world is fascinating and is indicative of our real world issues. This East L.A. community represents the internal struggles we all face and how we move throughout the world community. I continue to enjoy the realistic nature of this storytelling. These characters are relatable and full of life. Though the acting was a little clunky, at times, with these two episodes, the heart wrenching scenes were well, truly heart wrenching. The use of music is better each episode. Closing out episode 4 with Susana Baca’s “Maria Lando” touched my soul (it’s one of my favorite songs of all time). Using music to tell the story of the scene is perfect and accompanies the visuals nicely. I am on pins and needles awaiting the series finale.
Vida S1E4/S1E5 Review Score
"Episodes 4 & 5"
Starring: Chelsea Rendon, Mishel Prada, Melissa Barrera, Ser Anzoategui, Carlos Miranda, Maria Elena Laas