From Dusk Till Dawn had a rough start during its first season. Constrained to the plot of the first movie, viewers were forced to sit through a 10-hour adaptation of a 108-minute movie. While it started to get interesting in the latter half of the season when it started deviating from the film’s plot, it wasn’t enough to merit a recommendation. Season Two improved on the first, as it was able to fully break away from the film’s narrative, but it wasn’t without its flaws. This brings us to Season Three, which may be the best season of From Dusk Till Dawn yet.
The third season takes a different narrative approach than the previous two, offering up a monster-of-the-week format that works better than it should. It’s a format reminiscent of the early seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Charmed, and even Smallville. Those shows used the format in their early seasons but outgrew it and moved on to more layered season-long arcs. From Dusk Till Dawn manages to merge both formats to much success.
Each of the four episodes provided for review contained a different Xibalban monster as the antagonist, though not the main antagonist. That role is reserved for Kate (more on that in a bit). From a scorpion man to camouflage motorcycle warriors, there is a wide variety of baddies for our characters to face, each with a unique gimmick that prevents the routine from getting stale.
The writing is still a little shaky (examples being an outdated reference to Britney Spears and some other forced pop culture references), but overall the show has embraced its campy tone without going overboard into parody. The writers know what kind of show this is, and they roll with it.
As you may recall, the second season ended with Santaánico (Eiza González) and the Gecko brothers (D.J. Cotrona and Zane Holt) parting ways, while Kate (Madison Davenport, having a ton of fun this season) was murdered and possessed by the blood in the mysterious blood well. Season 3 picks up with the Gecko brothers, now acting as guardians for the seven remaining culebra lords. Cotrona and Holt have always had a great rapport with each other, and that holds true here. For some reason, González’s role has been trimmed for this season (I believe she only appears in one episode). It is unclear as of now what her role will be in the season, but she hasn’t been given much to do so far. This may be due to budgetary constraints, but it’s regrettable nonetheless.
Davenport arrives at the tail-end of the first episode, but she really gets to show off her acting chops in the second episode. Now that she has been possessed by the blood of an ancient being named Amaru, she is given her best material yet (and lots of eyeliner). Amaru is set up as the season’s big bad and Davenport is able to have plenty of fun in the role. There are traces of Angel’s Illyria or Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Glory in Amaru, if that gives you any idea of what kind of character she is.
The show still hasn’t figured out what to do with Jesse Garcia or Brandon Soo Hoo. Soo Hoo, as Kate’s culebra brother Scott, doesn’t appear until the fourth episode of the season and feels like he is in a completely different show. Garcia is more integrated into the happenings of the season, but still fails to be a compelling character, even in his new role as the Peacemaker. However, if you were worried that Jake Busey wouldn’t return: fear not. Professor Sex Machine (I swear I’m not making this up) does return this year, and he’s just as funny and ridiculous as ever.
The new characters introduced this season fare slightly better, but their screen time is limited so they don’t make much of an impression. Nicky Whelan pops up in the fourth episode as a mysterious bar patron, though her identity will ring a bell to fans of Grindhouse (and to be clear: everyone should be a fan of Grindhouse). Ana De la Reguera (who was so good as a crazed fan on Jane the Virgin this year) has a brief stint as one of the seven culebra lords and gets to trade barbs with Holt and Cotrona. Even the master of special effects himself, Tom Savini, pops up in the third episode as a pot smoking demon hunter named Burt.
For a show with such a small budget, it certainly makes the most of it. While there is plenty of CGI blood splatter (a forgivable flaw in this type of show), the practical effects do stand out. Heads are ripped off, faces are detached and intestines are spilled. It all looks glorious. Gorehounds will find plenty to
Fans of the first two seasons of From Dusk Till Dawn will find plenty to like about Season 3. I dare say that it might be the most entertaining season yet. Of course this is only based on the first four episodes of the season, but they are extremely promising episodes at that.