Vida Episode 5 develops its central characters in interesting ways, building to a poignant finale as Emma, Eddy and Lyn each grapple with their relationship to Vida and how they should mourn her now that she’s gone.
Vida Episode 5 opened to the sound of rhythmic chanting, as Eddy and a group of elderly Latina women fondled rosary beads and said prayers in memory of the late Vidalia. Meanwhile, Emma fondled herself – or attempted to, anyway. Restoration of Vida’s building is taking much longer than expected, and while Emma considers finding somewhere to stay (on her own) so that she can masturbate in peace, Lyn continues to freewheel through the neighbourhood in skimpy yoga shorts. “You’re so thirsty,” Emma tells her.
But even yoga isn’t easy for Lyn; while Emma issues 30-day notices for a 3% rent hike (“It’s like, twenty dollars, I’m sure they’ll be fine,”) Lyn is only a couple of mats away from the heavily-pregnant Karla, whose husband, you’ll recall, Lyn has been relentlessly harassing after ruining both their lives for virtually no reason at all.
You’d be surprised how well that encounter turns out for Lyn, really. Karla wants to know if she loves Johnny (she says she does) but also states that she won’t fight for him; how can she, really? Their outfits – maternity wear on Karla, next to nothing on Lyn – aren’t a particularly subtle metaphor, but they get the point across. This isn’t a battle Karla can win, and she knows it. So does Lyn, whose smug smile afterwards says as much. It’s very difficult to like her, which I suppose is the point.
Contrast this with Emma and Marisol, who got into a fight this week and ended up in jail together, and you start to see how cleverly Vida Episode 5 has reversed how we consider these characters. We understand why Emma is so cold and driven; why Marisol’s activism is just an outlet for her adolescent anxieties. We see them bond and come to understand each other a little bit, and we start to like them as they begin to like each other. That’s good characterisation. By the time Johnny shows up at Lyn’s place while she’s painting her nails, we don’t feel any triumph for Lyn. She’s self-centred and lazy, and as the season progresses she has less and less to offer. That she defines herself purely by her attractiveness to the men in her life started out as an ugly trait that we assumed she’d progress beyond. As it turns out, that might be all she has to offer.
Might. There’s still a glimmer of hope for Lyn, who, when she returns to Vida’s with Emma, decides to join Eddy and the other women in mourning her mother. Emma wants to grieve in her own way. And so Vida Episode 5 ends much how it began; with Emma trying to masturbate, but being distracted by the noise. But whereas before it was the quiet praying, by the end its drunken revelry, singing and chanting, as all the people who loved Vida celebrate her passing in the only way they know how. As the camera focuses on Emma’s face, she starts to cry.