With just one episode left in Vida’s first season, it’s only natural that “Episode 5” pushes the sisters even farther out of their comfort zone — this time, while remaining in their own neighborhood — and into conflicts where they’re forced to look deeper into themselves.
Emma is coming to terms with the fact that she has to stick around longer than intended. She flyers the building with a 3 percent rent increase, ignoring Lyn’s worries that tenants may not be able to afford it. Emma also reveals that she’s looking for a weekly sublet situation, which seems especially necessary since the cold open featured Emma trying and failing to masturbate in her room while a prayer circle loudly prays in the living room. Lyn hopefully asks if it’s “for both of us” but, of course, it isn’t.
This is no surprise: Though the sisters have made small breakthroughs (such as the coming out scene in an earlier episode), Emma’s still hesitant to share her world with Lyn. Emma also isn’t the type of person to consult with anyone before she makes a decision, whether it’s subletting without Lyn or raising the rent without running it by Eddy — and Eddy certainly isn’t happy, and immediately tears down the flyers.
While Emma looks at rentals, Lyn heads off to a yoga class where she runs into Carla, Johnny’s pregnant fiancée. (And though Lyn claims that she had no idea Carla was also in that class, it’s hard to believe it.) Carla forces Lyn into conversation, asking if she’s actually in love with Johnny, but then answers herself: “You’re not.” Lyn tries to explain that there’s some connection between her and Johnny, that she can’t really control it, but it’s mostly bullshit — Lyn has always been perfectly aware of the role she plays in this messy love triangle, and the show never once tries to fully let her off the hook. Which makes sense, because Lyn won’t disentangle herself from Johnny; she has sex with him again, thoroughly satisfied with herself.
Meanwhile, Marisol spots Emma (“Hey coconut!”) attempting to rent a weekly sublet and ruins the deal, threatening to spray paint the house and effectively outing herself as the one who tagged the bar, goading Emma even further. As the two yell, the white realtor immediately whips out her phone to call the cops — even before the two start physically fighting on the front lawn.
The scenes in jail, with Mari and Emma are chained up on the same bench, are some of the series’ best so far. Both women have strong personalities, are steadfast and passionate in their respective beliefs, and guarded — it’s only natural that they’ll clash even if it’s clear that, in another world, they could be friends. Putting them together like this is a clever way to depict two sides of a similar coin, to watch them not only confront each other but confront the internal reasons for their endless tension.
Mari sees Emma as the enemy, a gentefier, and someone who turned her back on her own Latinx community. She also — repeatedly throughout the series — accuses Emma of wanting to be white, which is viewed as a betrayal. “How does one just denounce their entire culture so they can pass for white?” Mari asks. But without missing a beat, Emma counters by telling Mari to “get rid of that fucking chip on your shoulder.”
It’s interesting to watch these two reveal aspects of their own personality — and their own insecurities — through their arguments. It’s also almost cathartic to watch them slowly come to terms with the fact that they aren’t enemies but that a lot of Mari’s anger comes from the Lyn/Johnny drama. While Mari is understandably pissed at Lyn for aiding her brother in becoming a cheater, Emma points out that it’s Johnny who is cheating on his pregnant fiancée. And when Emma complains about the jail treatment, it’s Mari who is unsurprised, pointing out how fast the realtor called the cops. Even with Emma’s fancy dress and haircut, Mari explains, “We’re the same to her.”
Episode 5 is skilled at breaking this tension between them in small gestures: Mari giving Emma crumpled tissues for her bloody legs; Emma casually telling Mari she shouldn’t be ashamed of her scars. (“Lying, cheating, being a bully — those are things to be ashamed of. But scars, they’re maps of who you are.”) Emma even tell a story about living in Texas—something we haven’t heard her do with anyone else. And eventually, when Lyn bails Emma out, Emma bails Mari out, too.
Back at the bar, Eddy has continued to unravel and Vida shows the depths of her sadness through small moments, such as her conversation with Johnny or her steady, consistent drinking throughout the whole season. It’s heartbreaking to watch her grieve, especially because the sisters continue to keep her at a distance, which further adds to Eddy’s despair. (One telling scene: Emma asks to borrow Eddy’s car by reeling off her good driving record but Eddy doesn’t need convincing because “whatever’s mine is yours.”) As Eddy drunkenly explains to them, she “had these daydreams where we could all be a family and go camping … that’s what Vida always wanted, so that’s what I always wanted.”
But the girls, and especially Emma, refuse to let her in. It’s understandable, to an extent, but it’s clear that Eddy’s suffering and spiraling—and the girls need to take notice before it gets even worse.