Marisol is back at it! Boyle Heights’ defender is riding her bike with the confidence and determination of Supergirl flying with her cape flapping in the wind. She stops at a new art gallery in the neighborhood and pulls out a can of red spray paint.
Well, then. That’s one way to send a message.
Back in her mom’s apartment, Emma has a rude awakening of her own — Lyn’s hand slapping across her face. It turns out that her little sister snuck in her bed during the middle of the night. They both overhear Eddy clanging around in the kitchen, and of course they hate it because they have no souls.
Dressed for the day, they wordlessly plot for how to best make a break for the front door without having to actually talk to or deal with their mother’s widow.
Undeterred by their general awfulness, Eddy greets both sisters with a sunny “¡Buenos Días!” and plates full of chilaquiles. She even Googled how to make them vegan because she remembered Lyn’s dietary restrictions! Do you know who’s a perfect human? Eddy is a perfect human! This is my hill and I’m willing to die on it. She is trying so hard you guys, and neither Lyn or Emma will give her an inch, let alone a mile.
Guilted a bit by Eddy’s expression (Seriously, I don’t know how Ser Anzoategui brings every shattering heartbeat to the front of their face like that, but damn, kudos!), Lynn gives in and takes a few bites. Her eyes roll back in orgasmic bliss from the taste, a brief reprieve in the cold war between the Hernandez sisters and their mother’s widow. Emma moves in to shore up defenses. She reminds Eddy that she’s looking to sell the building.
As the sisters rush out the door, Eddy clears her throat. Her eyes are still lined with tears of grief. Nevertheless, she straightens her spine. She doesn’t want to be a burden or difficult, but she never agreed to sell the building. She would never, ever do that to Vida. The will leaves her with 30% ownership; she has a right to have a say.
Emma’s smile goes predatory as she steps into Eddy’s personal space, just a bit. Before the two can have it out, Lyn butts in as peace keeper. The three of them can discuss options after Emma meets with Nelson, the developer. And in the meantime, Eddy will — apprehensively — give Emma access to the budget and financial documents. But no matter what, Eddy promises as the Hernandezes walk out the door, she’s NOT selling.
Lyn’s plans for the day include catching up with her boyfriend Juniper. He flew in from The Bay to pick up his truck, which she drove down for the funeral. Honestly, he’s the exact kind of self centered, faux-hippie, weed smoking, bro-type white guy that I’d expect for Lyn. We’re first treated to his dumb face while Lyn is going down on him. In the very next scene, while he’s still full frontal nude, we find out that he’s breaking up with her.
Juniper wants back the keys to the truck, but also the credit cards that he’s been letting Lyn live off of. He packed all her bags and brought them with him to LA, making for an even colder hand off.
Ok. It already says a lot about Lyn that she’s been living off of this jerk, so I don’t want to excuse her. But, not nearly as much as it says about him. Lyn nails it in her withering final lines, “You waited to dump me until after I ate your ass… Know this about yourself Juniper, you broke up with me two days after I buried my mother. That will always be the truth about you.”
Vida’s writing room is once again out here flexing their prowess. In another show, a line that bold would have flopped on hard on its face. Instead, it smolders.
Crying and dragging her bags up the steps, Lyn visits her next door neighbor, Doña Lupe. Doña Lupe specializes in reading tarot cards, cowrie shells, candle lighting, and other forms of brujería and Latinx spiritual practices. It’s a knowing detail that Lyn turns to her when her life feels upside down.
La Doña tries to help Lyn see that her quest for love is bigger than any one man (preach, sister!), but Lyn misinterprets her advice and instead sets her sights on Johnny. Marisol catches them fucking in the office of his auto shop. She’s rightfully pissed and worried that Johnny is letting Lyn back in his life. Lyn’s still grieving, and she’s carelessly using Johnny as she works out her emotions
Mari’s role in Vida’s narrative is complicated. On the surface, she doesn’t yet seem strongly connected to the Hernandez sisters or the main plot of the story. At the same time, her presence looms. We can tell that she’s far from a bit player. She’s the embodiment of the harmful, changing demographics of Boyle Heights and the resulting consequences of those changes for its local residents (in this episode, she films a YouTube broadcast about a local family displaced after their landlord raised rents to court “Trump dollars”). As the Hernandez sisters circle around their interpersonal family drama, it’s Marisol who will not let us forget the charged political atmosphere that their presence and decisions are being weighed against. It’s a lot of responsibility to carry on the shoulders of a teenager.
Emma runs into Cruz and her always perfect newsboy cap at the bakery. This time she pairs her cap with an off shoulder tee showing off her tattoo sleeve, because apparently she just wasn’t sexy enough in the first episode and wants to break even more gay hearts.
She slides up to Emma’s table as if it’s the most natural thing in the world. She thought that Emma would be back in Chicago by now, trudging through snow in thigh high boots. (Yeah Cruz, I always imagine what my old “friends” would look like in thigh high boots!)
She bought Emma a little something sweet. When Emma politely turns it down, Cruz is surprised. When they were teenagers, Emma always let her buy her orejitas after school. Emma immediately blushes at the memory, downcast eyes and all, while simultaneously trying to deny the tradition ever happened.
Cruz laments, these pastries are good, but not as good the Old School ones. It’s like everything’s becoming a plastic version of what it used to be, you know? Emma’s not so sure it’s a bad thing, she jokes that millennial upgrades come with Wi-Fi. Cruz presses her. She’s heard that Emma is thinking of selling Vidalia’s property to Nelson, and he’s a snake. He has single handily ruined their neighborhood, block by block.
Before this can turn into a full blown fight, Cruz walks away. Emma catches her by the wrist. She thanks her “for the sweet thing”. My heart melted a thousand times! Cruz reaches over smoothly and takes Emma’s phone without asking. She makes Emma promise to call or text or even freaking smoke-signal — whatever it takes. Lowering her voice an octave for good measure, she tells Emma to take care of herself out there.
The tension between these two is palpable, seductive, and multi-layered. I can’t wait to watch this caldron boil over.
Later, at Nelson’s office, Emma runs into an old neighbor, Señora Benitez. Nelson has one of those walls where clocks are set to different time zones. Except instead of the typical “Tokyo, New York, Paris”, they’re labeled Silverlake, Williamsburg, Shibuya, Noord, and Kreuzberg — all famously gentrified neighborhoods. The set detail packs a punch, reminding us of that the trend of gentrification is not singular. We’ve been here before. We’ve seen the damage. Señora Benitez recognizes Emma right away; she used to beat her daughter in the elementary school spelling bee. You can tell from the pinched look on her face, it’s not a compliment.
She tells Emma not feel bad. Redevelopers are leeches on the neighborhood. They are coming for everybody. And anyway, this was always going to happen to the Hernandezes. You know, ever since their mother “turned that way…”
Emma sucks in all her breath, absorbing the silent hit. It’s the first time she’s heard someone outside her family address her mother’s sexuality. And for extra fun, it’s packaged in a pretty little pink bow of hatred!
It’s only a few seconds, but you can already see Emma’s mind recalculating everything she previously thought she knew. What must it have been like for her mother to choose Eddy, even when it meant losing financial security? If this what the neighbor felt comfortable to say in front of Emma’s face — what kind of awful things must have been said behind Vidalia’s back? How painful must it have been?
Sitting down in her meeting with Nelson, Emma finds out that her mother had taken out two mortgages on the property. Nelson had supplied her with the second, predatory, mortgage after her health started failing. Now the family owes more than the building is worth. They’re nearing foreclosure and Emma can’t afford to have that on her spotless record.
Nelson, like Emma, grew up in Boyle Heights. “Look at us, and look at them,” he told Emma in the first episode, outside of Vidalia’s funeral. “We took the nopal from our foreheads.” Tanya Saracho explained the line to The New York Times, “Nopal en la frente [literally, cactus on your forehead] is the most racist thing you can say. He’s saying those people are indigenous, and we’re closer to white.” His self-hate is cringeworthy.
Nelson leans in close, putting his slimy hand on Emma’s knee, “I want to take care of you.” Emma stands away from his grasp and pours burning hot coffee all over his groin. She makes a solemn vow, right there in his office. “I will pay my mother’s debt before I’ll ever sell to you. In fact, that’s exactly what I’m going to do.”
THAT’S my girl.
Emma tells Lyn that their plans have changed. They’re going to have to stay a little longer. Inside, the siblings find Eddy making her way through the remaining funeral flan. Emma confronts her — how could she keep all the debt and financial woes a secret? Eddy shrugs; she knew it would all come out eventually. It’s been a long day. Emma changes tactics and asks about the flan. How long is it good for, anyway?
(FOREVER!!! Says me! FLAN IS GOOD FOREVER! ALWAYS EAT MORE FLAN! When I was a kid I would eat my dessert portion, and then go down the table and eat off the plate of every family member until each one was picked clean.)
Emma picks up a fork like it’s a dagger and she’s ready to go to war. She plops onto a dining room chair and sighs happily at the taste. Lyn worries her lip. Flan has milk in it. And eggs! It’s far from vegan friendly. But you know what… “Fuck it!”
“My God!,” she exclaims with a quiet moan. “I forgot about flan!”
And with that — in a reverse mirror image of the episode’s opening, Emma, Lyn, and Eddy finally sitting together around their dining room table — a small family was born.