Amazon’s Too Old to Die Young
Volume 6: “The High Priestess”
Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn
Written by Refn & Ed Brubaker
* For a recap & review of Volume 5: “The Fool” – click here
* For a recap & review of Volume 7: “The Magician” – click here
In Tarot, The High Priestess is a goddess of knowledge who brings insight, integrity, and wisdom— numbered II, she is the symbol of duality and links the conscious / unconscious mind. If upright, it means a personal desire for guidance and knowledge, urging to listen to intuition while also seeking inspiration from older and wiser counsel. If reversed, it warns against heeding bad advice— that someone you thought was reliable is not sincere, perhaps an authority figure or an older family member.
Jesus (Augusto Aguilera) and Yaritza (Cristina Rodlo) are joined as one in marriage. They’re headed back to America. We get more of a sense about Magdalena (Carlotta Montanari), who Miguel (Roberto Aguire) tells us built the cartel empire. Her son’s playing an important part in the business now to protect “her territory.” The story, outwardly, is Jesus has “found rebirth,” resurrected by Yaritza in the wake of his mother’s death.
Appearance is reality— to the uninitiated, anyway.
Alfonso (Manuel Uriza) goes to a garage to speak with a mechanic, Devante (Jimmy Gonzales), asking if he’d like to kill somebody. The target is Damian (Babs Olusanmokun). They’d like to have him snuffed out fast. Some “Kamikaze shit” to get Los Angeles talking about the new King. Devante and his buddy Jaime (Gino Vento) plot to figure out how they might manage to get Damian, who’s got men with guns around him all the time and who’s also pretty damn good swinging a machete himself. Well, he’s actually trying to make Jaime do it, and for a major discount. What a greasy bitch. After that, Jaime turns around to convince his meth head buddy Gameboy (Scotty Tovar) to do the job. An endless cycle of passing the buck, of so-called friends ripping off friends, of a chaotic breakdown in order and rank. Also grimly hilarious as the price gets smaller and the potential for error becomes FAR more likely.
we are conquistadors.”
The error occurs when Gameboy can’t find his pipe. He snorts crystal, using half of the picture he was given— of Damian and Celestino (Celestino Cornielle)— and you just KNOW what’s about to happen. You can feel things going wrong. He thinks he’s meant to kill Celestino. While Damian and the others dance to reggae, Celestino is shot to death. Gameboy doesn’t get away, gunned down by the boss.
Soundtrack note: Damian’s grooving to “Ten Commandments” by Prince Buster. Should be noted it’s a pretty fitting tune for all the patriarchal themes happening overall in Too Old to Die Young.
Yaritza finds a nosy neighbour, Mrs. Watson (Morgan Fairchild), at Magdalena’s home snooping. She’s assumed to be “the help.” Good ole white bourgeois America! The lady’s out quickly, then the newly married couple prepare for what’s next. Jesus feels his mother everywhere, seeing visions of her. He gifts Yaritza some of Magdalena’s clothes, completing the transformation. These two are the reincarnations of Ricardo and Magdalena. Only fitting the “lady of the house” wears the right outfit. The couple go to a gun shop to buy hardware. Yaritza wants The Hanged Man on her pistol’s grip.
If there weren’t already incestuous vibes from Don Ricardo towards Magdalena, it’s also very obvious in Jesus, whose relationship with his mother was beyond complicated— same goes for Ricardo’s relationship to his sister. The son pictures his mother lying scantily clad in bed as he stares across the pool on a sweltering day at naked Yaritza. They talk about Magdalena. “She wanted me to be American,” says Jesus. She didn’t necessarily separate him from his culture, but certainly immersed him in U.S. culture, as well as the cartel’s drug business.
“Let me hear your bark”
At home, Jesus gets a knock on the door from Alfonso. He’s brought Yaritza’s gun. She rubs it all over, jerking the barrel like a cock while he watches. The guy then ogles a picture of “Mother Magdalena” in between trying to tell his new boss Damian wasn’t killed. The young King isn’t pleased, calling Alfonso “a wetback“— that Americanised Mexican in him coming out— and insults his mother. He orders the lackey to his knees “like a mule, like mommy” at the end of Yaritza’s gun. A thorough humiliation.
Note: Yaritza places The High Priestess card from the Tarot on her gun’s case. Likewise, the jacket Don Ricardo gave her seems to parallel The Hanged Man somewhat, depicting a tree growing out of a skull at its roots with branches full of eyes— the Tarot card of The Hanged Man is often linked to Odin, who hung himself on Yggdrasil, the mythical tree.
Yaritza goes to a party at a place owned by a former friend of Jesus. She meets the dude’s sister and Janey (Nell Tiger Free). She has to hear a little racist nonsense from the Asian girl about marriage customs in Mexico. Surprisingly, it’s the bourgeois white girl who’s got to explain “not all Mexicans are Catholic.” Yaritza joins in on a bit of cocaine, remaining mostly mysterious, as is her shtick. She hears about Martin’s (Miles Tellers) stabbing during a supposed “Mexican meth raid.” Worlds are beginning to collide in America. The three ladies play Two Truths and a Lie, unaware they’re in the High Priestess of Death’s company.
Jesus sees a snake slithering on the floor. He pictures it slithering over him in bed. In the Tarot, a serpent symbolises rebirth— like Miguel mentions in the opening scene— because it sheds skin, constantly moving through different cycles and renewing itself. Jesus goes to Yaritza’s room. She mentions Magdalena being present, all around them. Those incestuous vibes are much stronger, coming out fully now.
The idea of reincarnation only becomes more vivid, too.
“Because death follows me”
Another spectacular instalment in the series. This one brings many things to the fore, including the Tarot themes and the family history of Jesus. There’s so much to unpack throughout each episode. This one feels particularly important.
Volume 7: “The Magician” is next.