|“||You go against the cops, they'll shoot you down like animals. That's what you are to them.||”|
|— Tiago to Raul[src]|
Tiago is LAPD's first Mexican-American detective who Tiago grapples with racism, childhood trauma, and faith issues.
Throughout the SeriesEdit
Many years ago, Tiago Vega joined his father, Jose, out in the fields. A young Tiago 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. Suddenly, the field catches on fire. His father is caught in the fire and burned alive. Tiago reaches out for his father as he screams in agony. Tiago runs into the field towards his father, who is in the hands of Santa Muerte. She extends her hand and pushes Tiago several feet back.
Present day, Los Angeles, 1938. Tiago celebrates becoming the first Chicano police detective in the Los Angeles Police Department with his mother Maria, and siblings Josefina and Mateo, who insists on seeing his badge. Tiago goes over to his mother and tells her that the badge is just as much hers as it is his. Before long, Tiago’s older brother, Raul arrives. Unlike the rest of the Vega family, Raul doesn’t approve of Tiago’s career path. Nevertheless, 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."
Maria walks Tiago to his bus stop. She asks Tiago if he's nervous about starting work, but he's got a good partner and used to being treated unfairly. While Tiago may have earned his badge, a lot of people won't like that he's the first Chicano detective in the Los Angeles Police Department. Maria tells him to wear his badge proudly, and always help the next man up. They look over to the construction 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. Maria looks to Tiago and tells him that his father would be proud. Tiago's bus then arrives.
Tiago returns home to his apartment. He lays his badge on the nightstand, undresses, and goes to bed. However, he is awakened from his sleep the following morning by his partner, Detective Lewis Michener. Tiago isn’t supposed to start until Monday, but Lewis gives him 15 minutes to meet him outside. There was a homicide down by the river, and they were called in. Tiago and Lewis arrive at the crime scene of a quadruple homicide. The victims have been stripped of their clothing and mutilated, as well as painted ritualistically. Lastly, there’s a message written in blood: "Te llevas nuestro corazon tomamos el tuyo", which translates to "you take our heart, we take yours." Tiago reexamines the bodies and discovers that their hearts have been removed.
While getting dressed at the precinct, Tiago is harassed by officer Jimmy Reilly. He asks if Tiago has any hair oil and refers to him as "Pancho." Lewis comes to his defense and threatens to tell everyone about Reilly’s girl in Sonoratown, forcing Reilly to back down. Tiago tells Lewis that he can speak for himself, to which Lewis retorts that he should start doing so.
Tiago and Lewis are called into Captain Vanderhoff's office. 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. James Haslet and his family from Beverly Hills. They're dealing with four rich white victims in the L.A. River. This gets out, and they're looking at a race war. Vanderhoff wishes those bodies were Mexican, to spare them of any outrage. While Tiago isn't so sure the suspects were Mexican, Vanderhoff would beg to differ. Lewis suggests that it's the work of the pachucos.
Tiago asks Lewis why he chose him as a partner. Lewis reveals that no one else would. He then asks Tiago why he never wears a hat. Tiago explains that he wants everyone to know he’s Chicano. He then reveals that the painting on their victims’ faces was Day of the Dead makeup, honoring Santa Muerte, folk religion from the peasants in Mexico. Santa Muerte is the angel of holy death. It’s her job to bring people to heaven. A religion was built around her as well as the other holy angels and devils. Tiago offers to talk to her mother, who believes she’s a witch, about Santa Muerte. Suddenly a band of individuals waving Nazi and American flags arrive in the park, among them Peter Craft. They are the German American Bund. He introduces himself and explains that he would do anything to keep his family safe. He believes that American has a duty to keep them safe as opposed to interfering in foreign affairs.
Tiago and Lewis arrive at the victims’ house. They enter to find a very religious setting; paintings of Jesus, gospel playing over the radio, etc. Lewis grabs a drink and begins looking upstairs while Tiago searches downstairs, though they both come up empty handed. All they know for certain is that Haslet was a church elder and his company is contracted to build the Arroyo Secco roadway.
Tiago asks his mother 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. Mateo retorts that she didn’t guide his father so peacefully, who died in agony. Tiago then reveals that it looks 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 defy 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 the record store, Raul tells Tiago how Mateo roughed up one of the customers who was hooking up with Josefina. Mateo joins them and reveals how Maria 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. Raul places his hand on Tiago’s chest and asks where his heart is.
Lewis 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 shows up at Taigo’s apartment unexpectedly and asks if he will be there tomorrow when the construction starts. She tells Tiago that he must be there because Santa Muerte spoke to her. She then pulls down the collar of Tiago’s shirt, revealing the hand print Santa Muerte left on him. She urges Tiago to stop the riot at whatever cost. If not, everything will end in blood and fire. While he couldn’t save his father, she hopes he can save himself. Maria takes a drink of alcohol and tosses Tiago his badge.
Monday morning. The Los Angeles Police Department stand on one side of the road and Raul, Mateo and the Belvedere Heights community stand on the other. Before long, Tiago arrives, joining Lewis. He reveals to Tiago that he’s never fired his weapon on the job. Tiago hands his weapon over to Lewis and walks into the street. He pleads with them to go home as there’s nothing they can do to stop the construction. However, Raul refuses to leave. Magda notices one young officer that’s exceptionally nervous. 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. Magda encourages Raul to fight back rather than tend to the wounded. So, he finds a gun and shoots multiple police officers. Raul shoots Lewis in the arm but before he can kill him, Tiago shoots him, and he falls to the ground almost instantly. As Tiago stands over Raul’s body, at the center of the blood shed, Magda and Santa Muerte stare each other down with only a few feet in between them.
Tiago and Lewis arrive outside the hospital, where they are confronted by fellow officers. Lewis suggests that Tiago enter around back. To them, he’s nothing more than another brown face, just like that that killed four officers today. However, Tiago refuses and faces the officers head on. Officer Reilly spits on Tiago’s face as they walk past.
Inside, Tiago and Lewis are approached by Captain Vanderhoff, who questions if Lewis knows who shot him. Despite knowing his attacker, Lewis tells Vanderhoff that he never saw who fired the shot. Despite numerous Mexican fatalities, Vanderhoff is only concerned with the four dead officers. He tells Lewis to come see him after he is patched up. Once Vanderhoff is gone, Tiago asks Lewis why he didn’t tell Vanderhoff the truth. Lewis covers for Raul, replying that he didn’t see anything nor did Tiago. He then tells Tiago to go find his family.
Tiago watches as a grieving young woman identifies a deceased loved one. Tucked off in the janitor’s closet, he finds at least half a dozen dead Mexicans lying on gurneys. Tiago then speaks to his brother’s doctor, who reveals that Raul is being kept alive through machines. The shot fired by Tiago glanced off his skull and caused bone fragments to shatter into Raul's brain. They are given three days before they have to remove him from the respirator. Josefina greets Tiago with a hug. Maria continues to pray for Raul’s recovery. Tiago suggests calling Father Nunez, but Maria refuses to accept that Raul will die. Two floors up, in the very same hospital, Maria gave birth to Raul. She insists that he’ll survive. Tiago then pulls Mateo to the side, who confronts him for shooting Raul. Should he succumb to his wounds, Mateo intends to denounce Tiago as part of their family. Tiago rushes down into the stairwell, where he proceeds to sob.
Tiago, Lewis, and Vanderhoff meet in the cafeteria, where they discuss the pending Mexican uprising. On top of the riot, they still have the Hazlett case, in which a white family from Beverly Hills was seemingly murdered in some kind of Mexican voodoo ritual. City Hall needs this resolved, so Vanderhoff orders them to conclude the Hazlett case, rather than solve it. He wants a Mexican's head on a plate.
Tiago and Lewis arrive at Hazlett’s church, Joyful Voices Ministry. They request to see Sister Molly but are instead taken to her mother and head of the Church, Miss Adelaide. They question her about James Hazlett. He was a deacon in their organization and had various obligations, such being one of their bursars. Miss Adelaide claims that he was a valued member of the church. Lewis asks her to take him to Hazlett’s office while Tiago stays behind.
Tiago sneaks off downstairs, where he finds Sister Molly sitting in the dark, preparing to go on stage. The curtains rise and Sister Molly takes center stage. She tells a story about meeting a man on the street on the search for the Lord and then sings. All the while, Tiago watches from behind the curtain.
As Tiago and Lewis leave, Lewis reveals that he believes the Hazlett murder is a con. Between the bodies being painted up and left in the LA River and the Spanish Message written in blood, someone wants them to think it was race related. They suspect that someone else wanted Hazlett dead and are trying to frame the Mexicans. Lewis is certain that Miss Adelaide has something to hide and is determined to find out what it is.
Tiago goes around the back of Joyful Voices Ministry, where there are guards on duty. He sneaks in through the back door with a group of food delivery workers. He finds Sister Molly washing dishes and asks to speak with her about James Hazlett. As he asks about Hazlett and his position at the church, Tiago helps Sister Molly with the dishes. Molly didn’t know him well. She and her mother had dinner at his house two years ago. But she found that it’s difficult when getting too close to the parishioners, though Hazlett was always level-headed. Randolph, who’s tasked with protecting Molly’s "virtue," tells Tiago to get back to the truck, unaware that he's a detective. Molly assures him that it’s fine and continues talking to Tiago, who wonders why Sister Molly isn’t out front, where more people can see her. She’s "too famous" and prefers it in the kitchen, where it’s more quiet. Her life is busy with touring, doing a radio show and recording songs. Her calling is pastoral. She simply wishes to help people. She’s been on the revival circuit since she was four. She would sing a song and her mother would pass a hat. They went from town to town, all over Nebraska. Sooner or later, fate just found her.
Sister Molly tells Tiago about the time that one of the congregants became ill. She visited him at the hospital at his mother’s behest. He was in an iron lung, looking up at her through a mirror. Molly told his mother that she couldn’t heal him, but she did pray with him. He was very close to death, and Molly thinks that he saw straight through her. Admittedly, Molly wanted him to die and for his suffering to end, so that he could be with God. Tiago reveals that his brother is dying and that they need to take him off the respirator tomorrow. Molly asks if Tiago prays for Raul, or if he believes in miracles or God. He answers no to all three questions. However, he does recall believing as a kid that he saw Santa Muerte when his father died. Molly tells Tiago to find his grace and help his brother do so as well. When that little boy looked up at her, she couldn’t find the grace within herself, so she couldn’t possibly help him. The boy died two days later. She had to do a radio show that night. And then, she went home and cut her wrists. If his brother dies, Molly asks that Tiago come to her. Miss Adelaide and Randolph interrupt and inform Molly that the car is waiting. Miss Adelaide then warns Tiago that if he wishes to speak to her daughter again, he’ll have to do it through their lawyer.
Tiago and Maria sit at the table just outside the house. Maria reveals that she has to go back to work on Sunday because the Crafts are having a party. Tiago then enters Raul’s room and takes a seat at his bedside. When Tiago asks Raul how he’s doing, Raul places Tiago’s hand on his chest.
Tiago sits at his desk, studying the Hazlett case. Captain Vanderhoff asks about Tiago's brother and then tells Tiago to go home, given that it’s his day off. He tells Tiago that they’ll still be just as dead when he comes back on Monday, something he had to learn himself. Many years ago, he worked the Florence Moore case. A 12-year-old girl was murdered. Her arms and legs had been cut off and her eyes were held open with wires. Tiago asks how he sleeps with that on his mind. Captain Vanderhoff replies "Seconal." He then tells Tiago to go home.
He is approached at the bus stop by Molly. She asks the talk and the two take a seat on the bench. She’s been praying for his brother. She presumes he died and asks if there’s been a service. Tiago reveals that his brother is recovering, much to Molly’s amazement. His bus arrives, but Tiago stays behind to continue talking with Molly. She reveals that she doesn’t get out by herself a lot and never gets a day off. There’s always work. Always pour souls in need of help. Tiago adds that it’s hard to leave them behind because they just stay in his head. While his captain recommended Seconal, Molly suggests Nembutal. She often wishes she was someone else entirely. A completely normal person. Tiago shares the same sentiment. He then offers her the chance to be someone else, just for the day.
Tiago takes Molly to the Santa Monica Pier. He plays a game at the shooting range and wins her a Popeye doll. Tiago shares with Molly how just after his seventh birthday, his father managed to scrape up enough money to bring all of them to the pier. They couldn’t afford to go on any of the rides, but it didn’t matter. They enjoyed being there. His brother Tomas and sister Gina were alive then. It was the best day of his life. They later died from Cholera. It was all over el barrio at the time. They all got sick, but some never recovered.
Tiago and Molly look over the pier, into the ocean. Molly explains that she can’t bring Popeye home with her and gives him back to Tiago. Someone so jaunty has no place in her house. Tiago and Molly share a kiss. She offers to drive Tiago back to the station, but he intends to stay at the pier a bit longer, to continue enjoying what he calls the second best day of his life.
Tiago meets Lewis at a bar. Lewis reveals that he’s taking a couple days off to bury his friend Anton. He has no one, so the chore is left to Lewis. He then tells Tiago that Sister Molly and Hazlett were having an affair. He discovered it while going through Hazlett’s temple records and real estate contracts. He bought a love nest in Malibu but used church funds, so it’s tax-exempt. He went through a lot of trouble to hide it. Lewis came to the conclusion that he didn’t want Miss Adelaide to know. Tiago is doubtful but Lewis is certain. "The only reason men hide anything is for money or for pussy." In the face of all the evidence, Tiago is convinced that Sister Molly is innocent.
Tiago returns home and goes through Lewis’ findings. After looking through the documents, he comes to the same conclusion as Lewis, that Sister Molly was in fact having sex with James Hazlett, making her a prime suspect.
Tiago arrives at the precinct to find every cell filled to each corner with Mexican prisoners. He catches Officer Reilly in the middle of his "interrogation" of Diego Lopez. Reilly has handcuffed him to a chair and beaten him mercilessly. Tiago slams Reilly against a wall and tells him to stay away from Diego or else he’ll kill him. Captain Vanderhoff arrives and calls Tiago into his office.
Vanderhoff places the medical examiner’s photos of the Hazlett family on his desk and tells Tiago to look at them, specifically the kids, Steve and Marion. Steve was about the same age as the boy that Reilly has handcuffed to a chair. Vanderhoff explains that Reilly was conducting an interrogation and he'll go on doing that until they get a confession. Vanderhoff recalls Lewis mentioning that Hazlett was cooking the books and shacked up in a love nest. He tells Tiago to work on that and bring him a suspect or else the interrogations will continue.
Tiago arrives at the love shack that Hazlett has hidden away at the edge of town. Tiago goes inside to investigate. It becomes apparent that both a man and a woman reside there judging by the closet. Molly arrives soon thereafter. Tiago asks why she lied to him about having an affair with Hazlett. Molly admits to sleeping with hhim. Furthermore, he wasn’t the first. But, she didn’t kill him. Molly tells Tiago that she’s not who he wants her to be. All she wants is to be left in peace. She asks that Tiago allow her that. She recalls how she and Tiago spent a day being someone else, but that’s over now. All the value from her life comes from being Sister Molly. And that’ll never change. She then leaves, but not before telling Tiago that she never wants to see him again.
At the Vega house, as Maria prepares dinner, Tiago tells Raul about his complicated relationship with Sister Molly. Just from Tiago’s description, Raul presumes that his brother's dating a white woman. He jokes that gringas are crazy and that Tiago should give up the idea of having a family because they don’t want to ruin their figure. Tiago and Raul join their mother in the kitchen, where Raul tells her about Tiago dating a gringa. Mateo and Josefina arrive with the groceries. Maria notices the bandage on Mateo’s hand and rips it off to discover the Pachuco mark. Maria is enraged and ashamed, but Mateo is proud of his mark. He refuses to end up like his mother, being a maid or his brother, a cop. Mateo exclaims that he’s tired of being weak and storms out. Maria follows him out the door.
Tiago finds Molly at the Joyful Voices Ministry washing dishes and decides to join her.
Tiago and Molly return to her beach house, where they have sex. Afterward, Molly tells Tiago about her lowest point in life. Many years ago, she and her mother were in Florida without a penny. They parked their car and pitched a tent near a marsh. A hurricane suddenly struck. Then it began raining and thunder storming. Finally, a truck full of men came by and took them in and found them shelter. Molly is very much aware of how Tiago sees dragon of a mother. But there are times where Molly finds herself grateful for the dragon’s roar. She’ll always be in debt to her mother for introducing her to God and giving her useless life a purpose. Molly then inquires about Tiago’s scar. He tells her he’s had it since he was a kid. He and his father were working in the fields. Suddenly, there was a fire. Tiago tried to save him but couldn’t. Molly recognizes the burn as a handprint and tells Tiago that it’s a blessing.
Lewis stands outside of Tiago’s apartment as multiple offers arrive at the music store across the street. Tiago arrives and Lewis explains that LAPD are on a vendetta after Officer Reilly was murdered and his body tossed out in front of the department. This is clearly a declaration of war. Which is why Lewis was waiting for Tiago, who disappeared for 24 hours. Admittedly, Tiago hated Reilly but he swears that he didn’t kill him. He hopes this wasn’t the doing of Mexicans.
Tiago and Lewis question Sofia about Officer Reilly. It didn’t take much asking to find her. They all know about his Sonoratown honeys. Sofia reveals that she was in bed with Reilly when four Pachucos kicked the door open, cut Reilly with a razor, and pushed her out the room. Sofia recognized Fly Rico and Rio. However, she isn't familiar with the two younger guys they came with. One of them however, had a bandage over his thumb, where they put the tattoo for new recruits. Tiago suspects that Mateo is the younger Pachuco she’s referring to. He thanks Sofia and tells her she can leave, but not before Lewis gives her a couple dollars to get something to eat. Tiago now wants to see Raul, who may know where Fly Rico is.
Tiago and Lewis arrive outside his family’s home. Raul is connected through his union work. He knows everyone, and Tiago hopes that he’ll know where to find Fly Rico. He asks Lewis to stay in the car, but Lewis refuses. He suspects that Tiago isn’t telling him everything. Tiago and Lewis question Raul. He’s heard about Reilly’s death over the radio. He wonders why they aren’t out looking for the killer. Tiago needs to know Fly Rico’s whereabouts. Lewis realizes that Raul won’t speak freely in front of him and offers to go for a walk. Maria joins them and Tiago suggests that she introduce Lewis to Santa Muerte.
Tiago and Lewis question Bernadette Romero as she’s on her way home with her child. They need to track down Fly Rico and hope that she’ll be willing to help. When she tries to brush them off, Tiago becomes aggressive. He confronts Bernadette about living in the county illegally and threatens to have her separated from her daughter and deported, which is too far for comfort for Lewis. So, he takes a gentler approach and asks Bernadette for an address where they can find Fly Rico.
Tiago and Lewis stake out the Royal Park Hotel after getting Fly Rico’s address from Bernadette. Lewis asks Tiago if he’s heard of Frederick March. He’s an actor who won the Academy Award for a movie called Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Tiago realizes that Lewis is hinting at his sporadic behavior. Tiago’s recent behavior is unsettling for Lewis. He asks Tiago what did he learn from Raul, but Tiago refuses to say. Lewis tells Tiago that either they go inside focused or not at all.
As Tiago and Lewis stake out Fly the Royal Park Hotel, a young Mexican kid rides past the car and Tiago realizes that he’s a lookout. He and Lewis go chasing after the kid. Tiago chases him into the building and up several flights of steps. Lewis catches up and they apprehend the kid before sending him downstairs. Tiago and Lewis then proceed upstairs. They kick in the door and find themselves face-to-face with Rio, Mateo, and Diego. Tiago has his gun pointed at Mateo. Fly Rico tackles Tiago to the floor, knocking the gun from his hand, and Rio throws the table at Lewis, providing them with a chance to escape; Fly Rico and Mateo down the fire escape and Rio and Diego out the front door. Rio escapes through the stairwell, locking Diego outside to be apprehended by Lewis.
Tiago chases Fly Rico and Mateo down the fire escape. Mateo and Fly Rico run in opposite directions as they reach the bottom. Tiago jumps off the fire escape and onto a car. He then chases Mateo down the street. He finally catches up to Mateo at a dead end. Tiago draws his weapon and asks Mateo if he killed Officer Reilly, which Mateo admits that he did. And he’d do it again. Tiago lowers his gun and allows Mateo to run.
Appearance and PersonalityEdit
Powers and AbilitiesEdit
- Santa Muerte
- Dead People Lie Down
- Wicked Old World
- Josefina and the Holy Spirit
- Children of the Royal Sun