Aside from the Julia/Sophia subplot, this episode could’ve played well alongside the season finale as a two hour event. The return of an early villain provides a venue for significant change and complication in the characters’ lives. Things are escalating as they’re drawn deeper into an underworld where gangster exploit innocent and desperate people and hope for escaping their clutches grows dim.
Sean and Christian consult Maria, a Colombian with enormous breasts. She had two implants in each breast to appeal to American love for well endowed women. When she arrived, she found out that modeling agencies wouldn’t take someone with as large a chest as hers. As they prepare for surgery, they talk about how they can’t believe the butchers who would do two implants, a very painful procedure.
Sean is curious about the fluid inside the implants. It doesn’t feel or have the consistency of saline. Suddenly Escobar Gallardo emerges and informs then that it is heroin. Maria agreed to be his mule and snuck in a million dollars worth of heroin in her breasts. Consequences make for great drama, and the return of Gallardo is a great example of that. In addition, it’s great to see more Robert LaSardo, who really shines in the last episodes of the season.
Gallardo wonders when Maria will be available to undergo another implant procedure. They can’t believe that he would do that to her. She could lose sensation in her breasts if she’s operated on again. He ignores that concern since she begged him to be a mule and he feels the opportunity to live in America outranks the risks with these procedures. Stories of the desperately poor who’ll do anything to provide a better life for their family and the drug lords who test that claim are unimaginable here.
He draws a parallel that drug dealers and plastic surgeons aren’t that different in their function in life. Both help people deal with self-loathing and both leave “no scars”. Escobar is there to tie up a loose end. Perez, one of Gallardo’s former henchmen from the pilot episode, stole the $300,000 that he used to pay McNamara/Troy to alter his face. Gallardo wants it back. Unfortunately, they have spent the money on their business. He demands that they get it somehow in a week. To reiterate how evil this man is, he makes a rape threat directed at Julia as a potential way to repay his debt.
When Julia goes to her yoga class, she meets Sophia Lopez, who is taking the class as well. Sophia draws much attention to herself and gets strange looks from everyone in the studio except for Julia. Julia’s story doesn’t fit so well in retrospect because of their decision not to continue the Sophia Lopez character. It feels a bit like a rehashed version of the “Sophia Lopez” episode, where someone garners tolerance for a different lifestyle.
Getting $300,000 is stressful enough, but in addition, Christian has to prepare for his family. Gina is now six months pregnant and eager to buy expensive items for the baby, in addition to child proofing Christian’s apartment. The pregnancy has changed Christian. Though he still doesn’t like Gina eating on his $1,100 sheets, he rebukes her for trying to smoke while pregnant. She agrees to stop, but only if he’ll buy the expensive things for her.
Approaching the deadline, they find that they’re still short of what Escobar wants. They have to take “less desirable” clients, such as the man with two tongue tips, and ask for payments up front in cash. By the meeting, they are still short, but Escobar cuts them a deal to have them exclusively work on his mules. Sean shoots his mouth off and Escobar threatens to cut off his hand, effectively ruining his livelihood.
Following this Christian and Gina are out shopping for things for the baby. There they meet Brad, one of the clerks. Within minutes, he is more affectionate than Christian has been to her through their whole relationship (if you can call it that.) She even gives him her address for the order, something Christian doesn’t know. While at the store, Pepe gives him further instructions about a new mule coming to town.
The strange looks Sophia got results in a petition to remove her from the class. All the members have signed except for Julia. They are concerned about having a man there, even if he underwent gender reassignment. Julia’s comfortable with having her in the class, and begs Susanne to let her speak to Sophia to see if she can do anything. Actually, she doesn’t, but instead supports her enrollment. Because of her support, she gets a girlfriend to discuss her problems with, which doesn’t have much impact as she doesn’t come back to the show.
Sean still doesn’t want to cave in to Gallardo’s demands, but Christian sees no other option. The last time he tried, he was tortured with Botox injections. They’re stuck in an impossible situation as a murderer holds them hostage with threats of violence if demands are not upheld. The consequence for taking in a client like Perez has snowballed beyond anything from which they could walk away.
Christian finds out her address and confronts her about her ability to raise this child. She lives in a houseboat, which can be dangerous for a child. The marina isn’t clean either; there are rats everywhere. Christian is right, but Gina refuses his help and throws his gift of a stroller in the water.
Sean rushes out of the house, which raises Julia’s ire. In the wake of the affair, heading out for “late surgery” is going to rouse above normal suspicion. He failed to notify her before she started to prepare dinner. Frustrated, she throws the frying pan in the sink. Matt tries to comfort her by saying that he’s likely not having an affair. She’s upset that he found out about it and that he’s trying to cushion the act itself. Matt leaves frustrated that he’s being treated like a kid. Somehow, this scene doesn’t function as it should. They should’ve spent more of this episode focusing on the aftermath of Henry’s decision to tell Cara instead of Julia’s friendship with Sophia.
Sean and Christian prepare for surgery when Liz enters. She isn’t there for them, but for the girl who was mutilated for the drug trade. Pepe comes in and tells them there’s been a complication and they need to go. Liz was right to come. The title character is in a seedy hotel, convulsing because of an infection she got from the unclean tools the butchers used.
This is where we see what a callous monster Escobar truly is. He’s not doting over her. He’s satisfying his cocaine desire in another room as 80s pop music plays (which becomes far more sinister than it was ever intended). He doesn’t even know her name (Pepe tells them). Instead, he refers to her as derogatory words. He’s only concerned with the heroin inside her. Once he gets it, he leaves them to do whatever with Antonia.
They do the right thing and treat her in their office. As she learns her prognosis, she asks when she’ll be well enough to travel to Fort Lauderdale to pursue her modeling contract. She hasn’t figured out that it was all a scam so Escobar could get drugs into the states. This news crushes her. To see such a delicate, beautiful girl be mislead by a vile monster like Escobar further escalates the hatred from the audience.
As Christian gets his order from the baby supply store, he finds out that Brad had slept with Gina. Brad has a pregnant woman fetish. Where the Christian we knew from early in the season would’ve congratulated him, the new one is furious that he would brag about being with the mother of his child. This child made Christian able to see outside of himself.
Matt and Julia discuss the aftermath of that previous conversation. Matt is certain that something is wrong. They don’t have time to say much before Escobar comes from one of the rooms with Annie, holding her hand. He tells them that this visit is to let Sean know he visited. It is tense as he grabs the kitchen knife and slams it down on a cucumber. He compliments her on her choice of produce, which is true to his character; a blend of the psychotic and charismatic.
Gina tries to light another cigarette, which Christian swipes before she can. Now she is pursuing her sexual addiction on top of her other self-destructive attitudes. She dismisses his concerns as his way of making her life miserable, but he sees it as protecting the baby. He knows she can’t handle being a mother alone so he invites her to his house so he can be an active participant in helping this baby’s development. They sleep together (in the literal sense) and they experience intimacy that they never were able to in the past. He touches her stomach tenderly and feels the baby kick and she finally divulges her last name. Something she had held out on him since they met.
Sean has come a long way since the pilot episode. With his family threatened, Sean warns Escobar, who at the time is “busy” with a mistress, never to go near them again. Escobar commends Sean on his audacity, but tells him his visit was to make sure he knew that he wouldn’t get any resistance for future work. Then he gets back to his mistress, threatening that he could easily do what he’s doing to his wife. It’s unsettling as he makes Sean watch. They have no choice, and take another mule as a patient.
The episode fully utilizes Robert LaSardo, who was underused in the pilot episode, to show the consequences of their actions wouldn’t be limited to self contained episodes. The titular character’s ordeal, while brief, was affective and disturbing. Certain elements outside of Sean and Christian’s story don’t work ideally, but the whole is moving to a satisfying conclusion.