One of the immediately successful aspects of Vida is how it centers the delicate situation between Emma, Lyn, and Eddy: three people who aren’t quite sure how to interactor even sure of what to make of each other. (I’m sure she’s a lovely human,” Lyn tells Emma, “But like, do we have to deal with her?”) This tension is always there, even when the characters embark on their separate storylines.
To Eddy’s credit, she’s the only one trying, even surprising them with breakfastwhich is specifically vegan, so Lyn can partake. But as much as she’d like to bond with her stepdaughters, it’s not going to change the fact that she never wants to sell the bar. It’s easy to take Eddy’s side: La Chinita is a tangible connection to her late wife and it’s a place where she’s put in time and effort. Plus, of the three, Eddy is the only one who has been there for the past few yearsEmma’s been living in Chicago while Lyn was crashing in San Franciscoso she’s the only one who has watched the neighborhood grow and change, though not exactly for the better.
Indeed, “Episode 2” really explores the show’s recurring gentrification theme. Once again, the episode opens with Marisolthis time spray-painting “fuck white art” on a galleryand later, we see her vlogging about the construction on a nearby house. The landlord’s to blame for wanting “Trump dollars” and displacing the five-person family to a one-bedroom, but Mari also brings up the Latino workers who are, to paraphrase, putting the nail in their own neighborhood coffin. (She does concede that everyone’s gotta eat, though.) Another high point of “Episode 2” is it further develops Mari, peeking into her complicated home life and giving her a crush on another young, passionate activist who shares her beliefs.
Emma, meanwhile, is getting her own lesson on the changing neighborhood (she should probably subscribe to Mari’s videos) as she attempts to sell the bar. There’s a chance meeting with Cruz who basically echoes Eddy’s warning about Nelson. Emma shuts down that conversation quickly but we do get some vague-flirting, and more hints of their pastthere’s another moment of lingering hand-clasping!and Cruz gives Emma her number. Vida teasing this out is effective in building tension that’s sure to come to a head.
Predictably, Emma’s meeting with Nelson goes horribly. First, she runs into a neighborhood woman who casually spouts some unsolicitedand offensiveinsight on why La Chinita hasn’t been doing so well. “Ever since your mother turned, you know, people didn’t go to the bar. I don’t know how she keeps it going all these years.” It’s a heartbreaking reveal, and you have to wonder how much of this was (and is) weighing on both Vidalia and Eddy.
Then there’s the actual meeting, where Emma learns that Nelson preyed on Vidalia with predatory loans that he knew she would never be able to pay back. Now, they owe more than the building is actually worth. Nelson is a patronizing and handsy asshole (we did meet him trying to drum up business at a funeral) who took advantage of Vidalia. He even, during the meeting, places his hand on Emma’s leg to hit on her and reveals just how gross he is. She wastes no time dumping hot, expensive coffee in his lap.
That leaves Lyn on her own little adventure this week, meeting up with her boyfriend Jupiterahem, Juniperonly to be broken up with. “You waited to dump me until after I ate your ass,” Lyn astutely points out to a still-naked Juniper, in a line that would feel like shock value but Vida’s established-tone is able to pull it off. To really hammer home how terrible Juniper is, Lyn later adds, “You broke up with me two days after I buried my mother.” It’s certainly a fucked-up move on his part, but it does seem like Lyn was more interested in his credit card and a place to stay than she was in dating him. After all, she did recently hook up with Johnnyand that’s exactly who she goes jogging back to. Johnny’s reluctant at firstasks her to stay away, says he’s going to be a fatherbut it isn’t long before they’re having sex again. This time, Lyn breaks down about her mother after sex (it’s clear that Johnny is her link to the past, when she still lived in Boyle Heights and when her mother was still alive). Also this time, Mari spots them from outsidewhich adds more fuel to her dislike of the sisters.
Eventually, the main three women come together to bookend the episode, all bitchily complaining and angrily plunging their forks into flaneven Lyn, knowing it’s not vegan. It’s a neat ending (and reminds me that Vida would’ve worked as a one-hour premiere) but it’s an ending that works. It shows that despite their differences, these three do have a common link in Vidalia and, now, a common goal.