The present – 2016
It’s kind of weird to see a show intro on Univision that’s not “Televisa Presente….” Hey, I’m not knocking it, but it’s weird.
Also weird: The show starts out looking like a scene from Top Gun. A fighter jet chases a tiny little plane. Their objective is to keep it from getting into Panama. A bunch of army guys get orders to shoot the plane down, and that they do.
The plane goes down in a wooded area, bringing down a few trees, but ultimately getting shredded. There is one survivor.
She wakes up on a cot in a tent, at the mercy of one Coronel Arnoldo Santamaria. He’s very interested in what a young, attractive, Mexican woman is doing flying a plane in Colombian airspace heading north. (What? Pretty girls can’t fly planes? What a tool.)
Said Mexicana tries for wide-eyed innocence. It’s her last day of flying school and they let her go out alone. Gosh, it must have been quite a crash!
Uh huh, and the cocaine?
The interrogation, if you can even call it that, goes into the evening. I mean, how many possible answers could there be for “Why were you flying a plan full of cocaine?” Yolanda warns him he doesn’t know who he’s messing with. He threatens to shoot her if she doesn’t talk.
In that case, she’s Yolanda Cadena and she flies cocaine for the narcos. Coronel Asshole…uh, Arnoldo…asks why she’s not a prepago (“prepaid”; a sex worker) or an escort, since she’s so pretty. (This one can die any time now.) But a pilot? He’s never seen that before.
Yolanda says that’s exactly why. It’s not typical. She’s always wanted to be a pilot….
Altamirano, México – 4 years ago (2012)
Yolanda and her aunt watch planes landing and taking off at the airport. She swears by her medallion of the Virgen that she’s going to be a pilot one day.
It’s nearly time for her graduation party and her skeevy uncle watches Yolanda dressing. Her aunt tells her to hurry up–her mom’s already out there partying. Yolanda knows she’s drinking. Things would have been different if those cops hadn’t killed her father.
Yolanda dances with a cute boy, but it’s not long before her skeevy uncle/godfather cuts in. So, has she thought about his offer to have sex for money? Yes…and the answer is “no.” If he wants to “help” her then why doesn’t he just give her the money? Uncle Scuzzbucket says he’s done helping for free. And without money, she’s not going to be able to study hairdressing, much less go to flight school.
Yolanda pulls herself up to her full height and tells him in a few years he’ll be looking up at her like he is now–only she’ll be in a plane.
The next day, Yolanda comes home and finds her mom passed out with a bottle, still in last night’s clothes. She thinks about the last day she saw her dad….
She walked into his garage, playing with a toy plane. He quizzes her about the takeoff velocity of a Cessna 150. In kilometers, missy?! No, no, in knots!
Isn’t it someone’s birthday today? The neighbor’s or something? It’s hers?! And he didn’t buy anything…but what’s this in his pocket? He pulls out a medallion of the Virgen. He tells her she can always pray to the Virgen when she needs help.
Two cops start approaching the shop and he tells her to hide under a car. He reminds the two cops he told them to stay away–they scammed him. They start to leave, but one turns around and shoots him.
Back in the present, er…the 2012 present…Yolanda goes to the local flight school to talk about enrolling. Fees are due Friday. The receptionist informs her the next class after this isn’t for another ten months. They have limited availability of planes and flight permits, hence limited class space. And when the next class starts the fees are going up, including for first-time students. And no, they don’t have scholarships. Or financing. Maybe she can try the government? Or get a loan from the bank?
Yolanda gets some loan paperwork, but she can tell from the application she wouldn’t get approved.
She goes to Unkle Skeevy, who says he has the money. He shuts down the butcher shop and takes her into the back, but Yolanda quickly realizes she can’t do this and says so. He rapes her.
The next day, talking to her aunt, she lies about the money and says she applied for a scholarship. The flight school calls to tell her they have her application, but not her payment. Yolanda begs them to check again. Her aunt seems to hear her saying her uncle was supposed to have paid yesterday.
Yolanda goes down to the butcher shop to confront the rapist who says sure, he’s going to pay, but that’s a lot of money for just one time. Why doesn’t she just calm down and…he doesn’t finish his sentence. Yolanda grabs a knife sitting nearby and slashes his face.
He runs out into the street, bleeding, while Yolanda keeps the knife out in front of her. Her aunt and mom come running and she tells them–he offered to pay for flight school if she had sex with him, but he raped her. Her aunt believes her. Her mom doesn’t. And according to Yolanda, her mother “never” believes her, so what else has she told her?
Yolanda screams at her uncle that she wants the money or she’ll kill him. He collapses into the street, Yolanda’s mother fussing over him. Her aunt grabs her and they take off down the street.
At the bus station, Yolanda’s aunt says she knows what a creep her husband is. She believes Yolanda. But he has friends who are cops and he’d have no problem having her thrown into jail. She needs to get on that bus to Tres Fuegos and find some work there. Tia shoves some cash into Yolanda’s packet. When things change, she can come back.
Tres Fuegos, México – Two years later (2014)
Yolanda’s waitressing at a little club. Her friend Zuli comes by, but before they can talk, her boss calls her into her office to ask for a little “favor.” Yolanda shoves him away from her, smashes his beer bottle on the edge of the desk and tells him she’s a waitress. If he tries anything again, she’ll…he doesn’t think she has the guts.
Yolanda misses with the beer bottle, but she does get in a knee to the groin and takes off running. She grabs Zuli as skeevy boss decides that rejecting his advances is a shooting offense and the whole club scatters.
Yoli and Zuli hop into Zuli’s car. When they’re far enough away, they get out so Zuli can ask what happened. The usual, Yolanda complains–she got hired as a waitress and the boss wanted something else. She’s out of a job once again.
Not for long. Zuli came to find her to offer her a job at the airline. She’s got an interview tomorrow.
“What do I wear?!” Zuli can’t believe she was nearly killed and she’s worried about a dress. She’ll lend her one.
The next day at Centro América Air, Yolanda finally thinks to ask what job she’s interviewing for. Oh, the best one, of course–sobrecargo (flight attendant…because they oversee things in the cabin is the best reason I can come up with). Yolanda whines that she wants to be a pilot, but Zuli rolls her eyes–it’s expensive, it’s difficult and it’s for men. Yoli supposes at least this way she’ll be in a plane.
On the way to the interview, they pass by one “Albert.” He greets Zuli as “boss.” There’s some mutual interest between him and Yolanda.
The interview’s going pretty terribly. Yolanda hasn’t done the training course and she’s never even been on a plane before. But she knows all about them! We get a My Cousin Vinny moment as he asks her to talk about the 717. Yolanda laughs–it was introduced in 1999, has two engines, and was removed from the line 2006 due to a lack of sales. Yolanda tells him she wants to be a pilot, but flight attendant is a good start, right?
Zulima says she can train Yolanda. “Zequi” says she can have one month on probation and then he’ll decide if she can stay. Zulima sends her down to HR while she stays behind to talk to Zequi. The door’s not even shut when Zequi tells Zuli she owes him one.
In what’s supposed to be the HR office, Yolanda surprises Alberto behind the desk. He doesn’t explain what he was doing at Inés’ desk, but introduces himself and asks about Yolanda. She eagerly tells him she just got hired as an azafata (stewardess). “Sobrecargo,” he corrects her. Right, sobrecargo…but she wants to be a pilot. Inés arrives and busts up this little party to start Yoli’s paperwork.
Back in the dressing room, there’s a slow-mo montage of runway prep. Precisely applied lipstick, buttons carefully buttoned, neck scarves tied just so. Because “runway,” get it? Zuli introduces “the girls” to their new teammate, Yolanda.
Uh huh. They give her hostile glares as the one in front (Oh, I’m never going to learn names when they’re all dressed alike!) says she doesn’t look like a flight attendant. “Um, ok, so what do I look like?”
A model. Oh, ha, sorry, no mean girls routine today! They chatter about the hot dudes Yolanda’s bound to attract and then Zuli says they’ve got to start her training. The crew of Robert Palmer Air surround Yolanda to get her hair scraped back into a ponytail at Zuli’s request.
Training montage, wardrobe, test. The other flight attendants burst into applause when Yoli passes her evaluation and take a celebratory selfie before going to get her very first employee ID ever from Inés.
And now on to our other players: a hot guy gets his plane shot down by Colombian police and crashes into a lake, scattering packets of cash all over the surface.
In Medellín, hot guy is escorted to an apartment at gunpoint. His contact identifies him as “John Lucio.” John calls him “Luis.” And he’ll have Luis’ money as soon as he makes a phone call.
Back at the airline office, Zequi finds a sockless Mauricio Aspe lounging behind his desk. John Lucio sent him a suitcase full of bras with stacks of cash hidden underneath. (The bras are probably worth a fortune, though.)
Zulima spares a brief glance for Mauricio Aspe as he exits Zequi’s office. She’s not surprised at the suitcase full of cash and asks what’s up. Zequi informs her she just got an assignment–this cash has to make it to John in Medellín so he doesn’t get killed, so his brother doesn’t come kill Zequi and then Zuli. Zuli’s only barely bothered to find out it’s $5M in cash.
Flight time. Team Sobrecargo does a slow walk through the terminal in their cute uniforms. Alberto watches Zulima stashing her suitcase before she starts her welcome to the passengers. Zulima introduces the flight attendants and we get some more names: Olivia Nieves, Amanda Álvarez, Lizbeth Colado. I still have no clue who’s who. And apparently “Albert” is his stage name.
Takeoff. Yolanda’s nervous/excited. Wouldn’t this be a lousy time to find out she gets airsick?
Yoli wanders into the cockpit and drools over all the instruments. The pilot and copilot think this is their lucky day. If this is Yoli’s first flight, she has to pass her initiation…yeah, spending the flight sitting on the pilot’s lap.
Oh, ha ha, isn’t he funny…but no se puede chiflar y comer pinole al mismo tiempo (you can’t whistle and eat pinole–a corn flour–at the same time; you can’t do two things at once), jackass. The pilot tells the copilot he can turn off autopilot. But he still thinks Yoli will come around. Not one of the world’s great thinkers, this one.
In Colombia, Alberto splits off from the rest, while Zuli gives the other flight attendants instructions to keep an eye on Yoli. She’s off to “visit her mom.”
Zequi calls–the DEA has been tipped off and they’re looking for Zulima. Somehow, he wants her to save her own ass by getting on the plane that’s heading back to Mexico right now AND save his ass by making sure the suitcase gets to John. So she hands it off to Yolanda, with an address for a hotel. She says it’s just some…underwear…for a business she’s starting.
Yolanda takes the suitcase and almost immediately a security dog starts barking. Instead of leaving the airport, she heads for a bathroom.
Outside at the hotel shuttle, Alberto tells the other flight attendants he’ll catch up with them later. They lament his seeming lack of interest as he walks away. The pilot gets there and says they can get going–Zulima called to tell him not to wait for her or Yolanda.
Alberto tosses his flight attendant jacket and tie into the open window of an SUV and throws on a DEA windbreaker.
In the bathroom, Yolanda checks the suitcase and quickly finds the cash.