Culebras stalk the night in search of something to satiate their bottomless hunger. With the ability to strike their prey with an uncanny speed akin to a viper (the snake they share a nickname with), culebras are used to being at the top of the food chain. But the venomous vamps are the ones who are hunted in “Protect & Serve,” the latest episode of From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series Season 3, airing tonight at 9:00pm ET on El Rey Network.

As the Peacekeeper who does his best to keep order between humans, culebras, and anything else that would raise the eyebrows of Mulder and Scully, Freddie Gonzalez (Jesse Garcia) has a lot of lines to cross out on his to-do list. Combined with the danger of dealing with the underworld, Gonzalez’s hectic schedule doesn’t leave enough room for family time, and his wife and young child are currently avoiding him after Sex Machine broke into their home and left quite an impression that a deadbolt couldn’t fix in season 2.

Gonzalez still calls home and tries his damnedest to be there for his family like his former mentor, Earl (Don Johnson) would have wanted him to do, and it’s during one of these calls that a wounded culebra approaches the Peacekeeper in his motel room. Venom glands ripped out, the young vampire is a bloody mess, and things go downhill from there. With another body on his conscience and a new case to tackle, Gonzales hits the road with a handful of clues and a whole lot of Texas Ranger intuition, ultimately leading him to a familiar foe (and former friend) from his past: Professor Aidan Tanner (Jake Busey), aka Sex Machine.

Free from being under Carlos’ shadow, Tanner has returned to the classroom to teach at Longhorn Community College. For the most part, the professor has swapped his murderous ways for a more peaceful lifestyle: instead of ripping out throats, he’s opted to take a more gentle approach with his fangs and has turned college students into culebras. Together, they form an unconventional family—a family that feeds on the occasional human, sure, but a family nonetheless. The group believes they’re on the top of the world in their Texas town, until a man shows up wearing a bandana on his face, wielding a scorpion-like tail, and harboring a deep desire to capture and tame every culebra in sight, starting with Tanner’s clan.

Keeping in line with this season’s monster-of-the-week approach, the scorpion demon is the latest in a slew of sinister faces that have escaped from the Labyrinth following the destruction of the Titty Twister. While the Skullkeeper and the massive Olmeca demon boasted more jaw-dropping appearances, the scorpion man is intriguing by how human he seems to be, making his acts of violence all the more unsettling. The scorpion tail whipping around makes for a wild barn brawl at one point in the episode as well, once again showing that when it comes to action in this series, the writers and stunt crew never run out of new approaches to fearsome fights.

Directed by Alejandro Brugués, who previously helmed season 2's "Attack of the 50 Ft. Sex Machine,” this new episode features the Juan of the Dead director’s unique blend of scares and comedy. Both of the Brugués-directed episodes follow Sex Machine and Gonzales as the primary characters, and he really understands how to bring out the heated anger, reluctant friendship, and surprising comedy in their relationship. It’s great to see Busey back in the saddle for the first time this season as well, especially since this episode introduces a new character played by the man who brought the original Sex Machine to life, Tom Savini.

As a weed-smoking culebra and retired demon hunter now known as Burt, Savini is the perfect addition to an already impressive cast of characters. With hundreds of demon hunting years under his belt, Burt brings invaluable experience to the fight against the creatures from Xibalba, and he knows how to work in perfect one-liners against the occasionally over-confident Gecko Brothers. Savini gets plenty of time to shine in “Protect & Serve,” and it’s going to be a real treat to see him along for the ride this season. His comical first encounter with Busey’s Sex Machine in this episode is worth rewinding and watching again… and again.

“Protect & Serve” is yet another eerie and entertaining entry to From Dusk Till Dawn’s third season. With a possessed Kate building her army and the Gecko Brothers readying their own witty, ragtag team for battle, it looks like the next seven episodes are going to go for both the jugular and the funny bone.

  • Derek Anderson
    About the Author - Derek Anderson

    Raised on a steady diet of R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps books and Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Derek has been fascinated with fear since he first saw ForeverWare being used on an episode of Eerie, Indiana.

    When he’s not writing about horror as the Senior News Reporter for Daily Dead, Derek can be found daydreaming about the Santa Carla Boardwalk from The Lost Boys or reading Stephen King and Brian Keene novels.