|“||There will come a time when the world is ready for me, when nation will battle nation, when race will devour race, when brother will kill brother, until not a soul is left. Are you ready? And on that day, a leader will arise and set all the kingdoms to war and all the races one against the other, a day when the dark powers are coming into alignment and the world is ready to burn. And all it will take is one final spark.||”|
|— Magda to Santa Muerte|
Los Angeles, 1938. LAPD detective Tiago Vega and his partner, Lewis Michener, investigate a murder. While at City Hall, Tiago’s activist brother Raul Vega battles with the fiery Councilman Charlton Townsend over the construction of California’s first freeway. Meanwhile, Peter Craft, the head of the German-American Bun, meets Elsa, the mysterious mother of one of his patients. Sensing danger, Tiago’s mother Maria pleads with Santa Muerte to protect her family as the rising tensions in the city threaten to explode. Series premiere.
Many years ago, in a field with the sun emitting its scorching heat, a young Tiago Vega is playing the song La Llorona on a record player. His father, Jose, comes to grab a drink of water and asks Tiago if he has any other songs to play. Tiago says that he likes this one. To which the older man mentions that the boy always likes the sad ones.
Unbeknownst to any of the humans present, two women, Santa Muerte and her demon sister, Magda, are having a conversation regarding humanity. Santa Muerte pleads with Magda to leave that young boy be. Magda, for her part, doesn't understand why her sister is troubling herself with that boy or any of them for that matter. She refers to the humans as frightened animals who are unworthy of Santa Muerte’s devotion and care. Magda vows to prove to her sister that none of the humans aren't worth any special attention from her. But to accomplish such a feat, she will simply let them be who they are, through making all their dreams come true and whispering in their ear. Magda continues by saying that in the end "all mankind needs to be the monster he truly is is being told he can." She asks Santa Muerte if she will stop her.
Santa Muerte replies by saying that she has no heart for the living, and as Magda walks away, she tells her sister to open her arms as she will give her many souls today. When she makes contact with the fields, everything in her path begins to burst in flames. Some of the people begin to burned alive, including Jose. Tiago screams for his father and tries to go to him, but another man holds onto him and refuses to let him go. Tiago manages to get out of the tight grip and runs to his father, whose body is now being cradled by Santa Muerte. But before he can get any closer, Santa raises her hand and, and Tiago gets pushed back by an invisible force.
Present day, Los Angeles, 1938. Tiago is now all grown up and is celebrating his ascension to Detective of the Los Angeles Police Department with his mother Maria, and siblings Josefina and Mateo. Tiago’s siblings congratulate him, but he makes sure to get a moment alone with his mother to tell her that the badge he earned is just as much hers as it is his. Although Raul, Tiago’s older brother doesn't seem to think it’s something to necessarily be proud of him. He does however joke with his brother and tell him that now as a boy in blue, Tiago will be a gringo before he knows it. Maria is proud of Tiago and demands that Raul show respect. The Vega family comes together and Raul proposes a toast in honor of "Detective Tiago fucking Vega."
Later, while his mom is walking him to his bus stop, she remarks how Tiago is the first Chicano detective in the Los Angeles Police Department. She tells her son to wear that badge proudly, so he can help the next man that comes up behind him. Because, at the end of the day, that is what they as Chicanos do. They look over to the construction site as demolition is set to commence on Monday. Raul is trying his best to stop them. They got an injunction, and he's going to the city council tomorrow. She finishes by saying how Tiago’s papá would be proud, and that he sees him tonight.
Tiago returns home to his apartment. He lays his badge on the nightstand, undresses, and goes to bed. The next morning, Tiago is abruptly woken up by his partner, Lewis Michener, who tells him they have some butchery down the river. He tells Tiago that he will be there to pick him in 15 minutes, give or take. Tiago, mentions how he doesn’t start his new job of Detective until Monday. But Lewis tells him that it’s obviously changed and his first day officially starts in fifteen minutes. Lewis tells Tiago that Captain Vanderhoff called Lewis himself.
The two eventually arrive at the scene of the crime, where other police cars are already there. Lewis asks one of the cops what was so important that they got him and Tiago up so goddamn early on their day off. The cop doesn’t answer; instead he tells the two detectives that it’s better to see it with their own eyes. Four bodies lay covered in white sheets and placed in the form of a cross. When Lewis takes the covers off them, they all have their faces painted like a calavera, but their mouths are slit and their bodies all have wounds in their chest area. Another cop informs Lewis and Tiago that’s not all that’s present in the scene of the crime and shows them a message written in Spanish but painted in blood that says, "Te LLevas Nuestro Corazón. Tomamos el Tuyo." Which Tiago translates in English to "You take our heart, we take yours." When Tiago goes back to where the bodies continue to lay, he discovers that whoever committed such an atrocity, also took the hearts of the victims.
Maria reports to her job as a maid at the house of the Crafts, a well off German family. Inside, Maria greets Peter and kisses Tom and Trevor in the head as they discuss possibly visiting Yukon. Linda joins them in the kitchen and warns him that he’ll be late for work, leading to the topic of the new roads being built through Belvedere Heights. Before he leaves, Mr. Craft tell Maria that Mrs. Craft needs to rest today and that his wife should not take any alcohol. He asks her to let him know if his wife ends up having any alcohol today. He then awkwardly asks Maria how her children are. She answers that they’re good and he tell her that if any of them are ever sick, to come to him. She thanks him before he leaves. On his drive, he has a recorder play some English phrases for him to practice, in order to improve his English.
Back at the police station, one of Tiago’s coworkers, officer Jimmy Reilly, calls him Pancho and asks if he has any more of that hair oil. Tiago ignores him, but undeterred, he continues by saying that he’s got a date with a señorita down Belvedere way, and he wants to look all pachuco. Michener has had enough, and he steps in; telling Officer Reilly that if he doesn’t stop, he might just let it slip about the little girl the aforementioned officer has in Sonoratown. After Officer Reilly stops, claiming it was just a joke, Tiago tells Lewis that he didn’t have to do that because he can speak for himself.
Vanderhoff is looking at the victims and when Tiago and Lewis come into his office, he lets them know that a maid called in a missing persons this morning: two adults and two juveniles. They brought her by the morgue, and she identified the bodies, that of James Hasker and his family from Beverly Hills. Vanderhoff mentions how now they have four rich white victims in the L.A. River; so they can’t let this get out for fear of a race war starting up. He lets it slip how much he wishes that those bodies were Mexican instead.
At his clinic, Dr. Craft treats a young boy named Frank, who supposedly has asthma. In reality it is all a ruse as Elsa is merely one of Magda's personas; a German refugee who is intent on getting close to Dr. Craft. Elsa notices his accent and asks where he is from. He replies Essen. Elsa claims that she's from Berlin but now lives in Boyle Heights with the Jews. It is difficult for her there. Her husband is American and like all Americans, he listens to wrestling on the radio and drinks beer. He is curious about nothing. He knows nothing. And he says that Elsa has to be American to. Peter asks if Elsa's husband hurts her, which she claims he does. Frank, too. She grabs Peter's hand and tells him that he's a kind man who she wishes she could've met in Essen. Peter becomes nervous and pulls away. He reminds her of their appointment for next week before sending her on her way. Once he is all alone in his office, Peter goes to his closet, which contains his old military uniform from the German Army, alongside an American and Nazi flag.
Magda leaves the doctor’s office with Frank after successfully establishing a connection with him. Once on the elevator, she absorbs him.
At the council meeting, Councilman Charlton Townsend announces that the transportation committee has voted in favor of the construction of the Arroyo Seco motorway. He continues by saying that the city council has approved the recommendation. This, the municipal court has overturned the injunction. Amidst the groans of dissatisfaction, Townsend reveals that construction of the aforementioned motorway will resume Monday morning. Raul, on behalf on the Belvedere Heights Community Action Group, asks Townsend where exactly they are all supposed to go when the new motorway subsequently destroys their homes. He mentions how their community, their church and livelihood will all be affected. Rather than feel any form of compassion for their situation, Townsend tells them all that they can go back to where they came from. Charlton warns Raul that you can’t stand in the way of progress. However, Raul retorts that when progress becomes barbarity, it ceases to be in the public interest. He and his people refuse to leave and intend to fight for their home. Raul and his community proceed to make themselves heard, forcing Charlton to eject them.
Now posing as Alex, the middle-aged assistant to Charlton Townsend, Magda stokes his ego by telling him he was a strong man today, in order to pit the whites and Chicanos against each other and thus incite more chaos and violence. "You can't be weak with these Latins", he says. "Their culture's all about machismo. You show them the whip, they back down." He refuses to allow "taco stands and donkeys" to stand in the way of progress. Alex agrees but warns him that such language isn’t necessary for him to get what he wants. He’s already winning and shouldn’t give the press anything to use against him. Alex advises him to stay the course and keep quiet. They’ll get the first motorway under construction and then start working on another one. Possibly through Bunker Hill, which is occupied primarily by the "colored." Townsend compares himself to Mussolini and Hitler; the latter of which he says is a fellow who understands the judicious exercise of power.
Outside the police station, Tiago asks Lewis why he took him as his partner. Lewis answers honesty saying that it was due to the fact that no one else wanted Tiago. He then asks Tiago why he doesn’t wear a hat. To which Tiago says that it’s because he wants everyone to know that he is Chicano. He also tells his partner that the painting on victims' faces was Day of the Dead makeup, honoring Santa Muerte. When Lewis asks for further clarification, Tiago calls it a folk religion from the peasants in Mexico. That Santa Muerte is the angel of holy death and in charging of bringing souls to heaven. Tiago continues by explaining how they built this religion around her and the other holy angels and devils. With this newfound information, Lewis suspects it was Mexicans for sure who committed the crime. But Tiago isn’t so sure, and asks to have some time to talk to his miner who considers herself a bruja, or witch and an expert on Santa Muerte.
Dr. Peter Craft proudly marches alongside other Nazis wearing his German military uniform. He greets all the Angelinos gathered there and introduces his group as the German American Bund. He uses his lunch hour to discuss how America should not get involved in European affairs. That in the end, as Americans they should all mind their business and keep their children safe. Some people applaud his speech as he talks about how above all else, it should be America first.
While investigating inside the Haslet’s home, Tiago comes across a 3-D model of The Arroyo Seco Parkway. He realizes that the Haslet’s company was building the Arroyo Seco.
Meanwhile somewhere on the outskirts of the city, Townsend and Alex have a secret meeting with Richard Goss, the building-architecture firm Goss and Ossenberg. He tells Townsend that what he wants is to make him the mayor of Los Angeles. He admits to Townsend that the Fuehrer looks at the city of angels and dreams. Moreover, he admits that there are secret German spies all over the city, from the aircraft factories, to the ports and even in the film studios. When Townsend asks why Goss is telling him all this since he could very well go to the FBI after all that he has heard, Goss reveals that his driver, Kurt, is Gestapo, otherwise known as the official secret police of Nazi Germany, thus if he doesn’t see the conversation end with a handshake, he has been instructed to take out his gun and shoot Townsend through the head. Despite saying that he won’t betray his country, he still shakes Goss’ hand. Goss leaves after doing the Nazi salute and saying heil Hitler.
Inside the record store where Mateo works, Josefina hooks up with a guy in the booth. Mateo breaks them up and throws him out of the shop, gaining the attention of Fly Rico and his crew of pachucos, including Diego and Bernadette. Josefina begs him to stop but Mateo persists and chases him off. Josefina insists that she wasn’t doing anything and reminds Mateo that he isn’t her father. Maria breaks them up, instructing Josefina to go inside and scolding Mateo for swearing. She pulls him to the side and tells him that he was raised better than to fight in the streets, but he isn’t so sure that there’s much out there for someone like him other than working at the cannery or in the field.
Tiago arrives and asks Maria about Santa Muerte. She knows that he isn’t a believer and wonders why he’s asking. Maria explains that Santa Muerte doesn’t curse people. She’s a holy angel that guides them peacefully to heaven. Tiago retorts that she didn’t guide his father so peacefully, who died in agony. Tiago then reveals that it looks like Mexicans may have been involved in a recent murder and wants her to keep an eye out for any Santa Muerte rituals and black masses, anything involving Arroyos. Maria questions how Tiago can continue to deny the existence of Santa Muerte when he was touched by her. Maria agrees to help but questions what Tiago will do when the day comes that he needs Santa Muerte. Tiago and Maria then dance outside the record store.
Just outside of Repertorio Musical Mexicano, Raul tells Tiago how Mateo roughed up one of the customers who was hooking up with Josefina. Mateo joins them and reveals how their mother scolded him. Tiago then tries to convince Mateo to go to the Angels game on Monday as opposed to the protest led by Raul, who has a difference in opinion with Tiago. Raul tells him how the machines are in the empty lot across from the laundry, where they used to play Tom Mix. Tiago encourages Raul to keep Mateo out of it. However, Raul worries this is only the first step in a long thought out plan to have them all deported. Tiago warns Raul that if he goes against the cops, they’ll shoot them down like animals. Raul places his hand on Tiago’s chest and asks where his heart is.
Lewis continues his investigation into the growing menace of the Third Reich in Los Angeles, which includes Richard Goss. He receives an unexpected visit from Tiago, who tells him that he’s not coming to the demolition tomorrow. Lewis informs Tiago that they all have to be there. With four bodies in the morgue and a potential race riot on the brink, Lewis urges Tiago to pick a side.
Maria prays before a shrine for Santa Muerte. A large gust of wind blows out the candles and knocks Maria over. Santa Muerte emerges from the darkness, demanding to know why she was awakened. Maria gasps in shock as she sees Santa Muerte standing before her. She refers to Maria as "Old Coyote". Maria tells Santa Muerte that she needs help. She mentions that she can feel evil walking now. She ignores her request and says if Maria is dying, she will come to her, but says that if her leg is in a trap, then Maria must chew it off herself. She finishes by saying she will see Maria in her final moment. Nevertheless, Maria continues to plead, and Santa Muerte tells her about a prophecy: "A time will come when nation will battle nation, when race will devour race, when brother will kill brother... until not a soul is left." Maria asks if that time is now, to which Santa doesn’t answer. She instead talks about how everywhere she looks there are so many corpses to gather. She wades through agony with each step she takes. Thus, she has no heart to care for man. Undeterred, Maria tells her that Santa has slept for too long too. Which her bitch of a sister has used to get strong enough to conquer all. Santa Muerte roars at Maria and disappears.
Maria rushes to Tiago’s apartment in the middle of the night. When he opens his door, she asks him if he will be there tomorrow when the construction starts. She pulls down the collar of Tiago’s shirt, revealing the hand print Santa Muerte left on him. She tells him how Santa Muerte spoke to her and that ultimately he needs to be there to stop whatever comes. Otherwise, it all ends in blood or in fire. Maria says how Santa ultimately chose Tiago, and that while he couldn’t save his father back then, that maybe just maybe Tiago can save himself. Maria takes a drink of alcohol and tosses Tiago his badge.
Monday morning, the Los Angeles Police Department stand off against Raul, Mateo and Belvedere Heights community. Before long, Tiago arrives, joining Lewis. Everything is quiet until Captain Vanderhoff orders them to disperse as it is an illegal action. He continues by saying that if they refuse to listen, they will be arrested. Meanwhile, Magda begins walking down the road leading to the chaos and violence that is about to unfold. Lewis takes out his gun and tells Tiago he has never used his gun on the job before. Tiago takes his gun out and hands it over to Lewis. Magda arrives at the construction site while Tiago stands in the middle of the two sides pleading to his people to go back to their homes with their families. Because, in the end they’ll be the ones who lose it all and it won’t matter who shot first.
Magda picks her target, a young officer that’s exceptionally nervous and whispers something inaudible to him. She whispers in his ear, sowing seeds of fear and uneasiness until he fires, killing one of the protesters. With that, a full blown riot breaks out as the community of Belvedere Heights attacks law enforcement. Tiago takes cover behind a car, as does Lewis. Shots fire and men fall on both sides. When a woman gets hurt, Raul and Mateo carry her to safety. Magda then whispers something inaudible to Raul, which tempts Raul into grabbing a nearby gun and using it to shoot as many cops as he can. Lewis gets shot in the arm as he’s about to shoot Raul. Tiago yells out his brother’s name trying to stop him. Tiago inevitably stops Raul from shooting Lewis, by shooting his brother instead. Tiago eventually makes his way to his brother’s body, while Magda and Santa stand on either side of him looking at each other.
- Despite being initially scheduled to air on April 26, 2020, the episode was released early on Friday, April 24, 2020 on Showtime, Hulu, and YouTube. 
- The word spic (also spelled slick) was common ethnic slur used in the United States throughout much of the early 1900’s.
- It is a derogatory manner of referring to a Hispanic person that was born or is a descendant of natives from Spanish and/or any Spanish speaking country.
- In the message seen written in blood, the phrase is grammatically incorrect. Corazón (i.e. heart) has an accent on the o, but in the show, it didn't.
- Moreover, the phrase is not a complete sentence. It should at least have a semicolon or a period before it goes to the next part.