ABC’s new wine country drama Promised Land shocked audiences with some draw-dropping twists in the premiere episode, titled “A Place Called Heritage.” The show just began, but it’s already been a crazy ride. Pour a glass of your favorite red, white, or rosé and enjoy this thorough recap of the premiere episode.
Juana Sánchez (Katya Martín) looks fearful as her sister Rosa (Ariana Guerra) leads her up a bedsheet on the side of a fence at the U.S./Mexico border. As Juana climbs up, her yellow guidebook to learn English falls out of her pocket but she is soon reunited with it on the other side when another immigrant, Carlos Rincón (Andres Velez), returns it to her. He makes small talk, finding out that Juana and Rosa are on their way to Merced to pick alfalfa. He brags that he’s heading to Sonoma to work on a vineyard called Heritage House, saying picking grapes is better than alfalfa because you do it on your feet instead of your knees. Juana tells Carlos that she wants to be a teacher after her time in the fields, asking Carlos what his dream is. He admits that he doesn’t have a dream, but their conversation is interrupted by border patrol. Carlos, Juana, and Rosa successfully hide and avoid being picked up.
Joe Sandoval (John Ortiz) walks the vineyards at Heritage House in Sonoma where his daughter Veronica (Christina Ochoa) finds him. Having looked at the grapes, Joe tells Veronica that he wants the wine bottled by Memorial Day Weekend and she tells him that’s a tight deadline to get the wine bottled and shipped by. When she says the bottler will freak out, Joe informs her that he just purchased the bottler. Veronica tells her father that they need to have a conversation regarding when he plans to hand over the reins for her to run the company, adding that other labels have been trying to hire her away. “Show me something,” Joe tells her.
Shortly after, Joe walks the vineyard with Mateo (Augusto Aguilera), who is just as stressed about the Memorial Day Weekend deadline. He asks Joe a similar question about when he will be given more responsibility, wanting to become involved in the actual winemaking. “I can be more than a plant manager, Joe,” Mateo says, reminding him that he has a degree in viticulture. “You are the best GM in the valley, this place couldn’t run without you,” Joe tells Mateo. “You’re just not a winemaker.”
Joe and Mateo return to Heritage House to find a new domestic named Daniela Perez (Natalia del Riego) struggling with a bottle opener. Joe asks her if she has papers and she looks nervous. Mateo tells Joe that he was at HR this morning and saw her papers and when Joe walks away, Daniela apologizes for lying to Mateo’s father. “Stepfather,” he informs her, adding that he knows of a worker on the vineyard who can sell her papers.
Joe finds his wife Lettie (Cecilia Suárez) on a bench in the garden, approaching her with a bottle of wine and two glasses. He tells her that her son, Mateo, wants to be a winemaker. She tells Joe that Mateo idolizes him, looking up to him as a father figure ever since the day his dad left. She suggests that Joe step back from work and he asks what he would do. “Think about where you started, what you’ve built,” she says. He reminds her that they built it together. “Twenty years,” he reflects. They clink their glasses in a toast.
Veronica finds her sister Carmen (Mariel Molino) by the pool and asks her how she’d like to lounge by her pool this weekend, a sly way of asking her to babysit her daughter. Carmen asks if she’s trying to prove that she can run the company to her dad and Veronica promises it will just be a few days. Carmen agrees but asks for a favor in return. She show’s her sister a label she designed featuring a Xoloitzcuintli dog eating grapes and a label that says “Xoloz,” which she designed to appeal to people in their twenties. Carmen tells her that it's a demographic that prefers beer and liquor, but Carmen thinks they could be the wine label that breaks through to the younger crowd. Veronica’s phone buzzes and she tells Carmen it’s time for Antonio’s lunch.
Joe is surprised to find Junior (Miguel Angel Garcia) home from school in time for lunch. Veronica tells her husband Michael (Andrew J. West) that she has to work this weekend and he isn’t happy about it, adding that he will be working and having Carmen there to watch their daughter will be like having two kids for him to take care of. Carmen laughs off the comment as she notices on her phone that Antonio is about to arrive. Lettie leans into Joe and says “It’s going to be alright.”
Antonio (Tonatiuh) lets himself into a seemingly empty Heritage House, but Carmen quickly slides open the door to yell “Surprise!” The family rushes to take turns hugging him, with Antonio having been away in New York. Joe is the last to greet Antonio. “Welcome home, son. How’s… I’m sorry, I forgot his name,” Joe tries to ask. “Greg… We broke up, but thanks for asking.” During lunch, Joe gives a toast about how it’s been too long since they’ve all been at the table together, talking about how their families blended. He was divorced with three kids (Antonio, Veronica, and Carmen) while Lettie and Mateo were abandoned by his father. “It wasn’t easy but we made it work.” He adds that Junior became the symbol of the two families merging together. After the toast, Veronica and Mateo get up to go work on the Memorial Day Weekend deadline. Daniela brings the phone to Lettie, telling her that it’s Father Collins from Junior’s school.
Lettie and Junior arrive at the church attached to his school, meeting with Father Collins (Christopher Wallinger). Lettie learns that Junior was caught in the confessional with a girl and has been suspended. However, the new priest discovered something more troubling. A man in a pew gets up and turns around, introduced as Father Ramos (Yul Vazquez). He offers his hand to Lettie, who doesn’t take it as she tells him her name: Lettie Sandoval. Father Ramos’ eyes seem misty as he produces a bottle of prescription drugs he found in Junior’s desk while collecting his books to be sent home. Junior tries to give an explanation, but Lettie silences him and tells him to wait in the car. Father Collins escorts her son and once she and Father Ramos are alone, she says “How dare you come back here. How dare you show your face. You think by putting on a collar God forgives you? I don’t.” She walks out.
Antonio joins Veronica at the bottling plant, complimenting her on her work. She says he’s the real star, having just sold 2 million units for a small batch tequila company. “Papi was impressed,” she adds as Antonio tells her that their dad should’ve made her CEO five years ago. She sees the light in the situation, saying that she’s learned a lot in that time. “Well just be careful what you learn from our pa. He doesn’t always care who he hurts,” Antonio warns her. Veronica tells him that their dad regrets pushing him away and she regrets not doing more to support him. Antonio says he’s fine now after years of therapy.
Joe arrives at the Honycroft Hotel and enters the hotel’s restaurant, where Margaret Honeycroft (Bellamy Young) is reviewing menu changes. “Wow, nice place you’ve got here Margaret,” Joe says as he approaches her table. “We’ve been open a year, it’s about time you came to see it,” she responds. Joe tells her that he’s having an anniversary party tomorrow night and two of his largest shareholders canceled at the last minute and are no longer taking his calls. He believes she had something to do with it since she’s friends with both of them and he asks her if she’s trying to buy their shares. He reveals that Heritage House belonged to her father, but sees his success as wholly his own, saying he took a little vineyard and made it one of the largest wine producers in the country. She tells him about how her father died after finishing the last bottle from his former winery. “I blame you, Joe. You took away everything he ever had.” Margaret reveals that she has already purchased the shares and she’s planning on buying Heritage House out from under him. “It’s not my company, it’s my family’s. If you take us on, you will lose,” Joe threatens. Margaret smiles. “Tell Lettie happy anniversary for me. I can’t believe you didn’t invite me to your party, I’m only the mother to three of your kids.”
Carlos continues to encourage Juana and Rosa to come with him to Sonoma, telling them that his brother is already there and can get them both papers. They have finally agreed to join him at Heritage House and Rosa tells him that a cousin of a friend lives in Bakersfield and might be able to give them a ride. They soon arrive at a house to see Pedro (Christopher Márquez), who offers them beer. Rosa asks Pedro for a ride and he tells them they can take them in a truck, motioning to another man in the house who seems to be asleep in a recliner. Sometime later, Carlos has had a few beers and Juana seems concerned by the other man, who gets up and grabs something from a drawer. Juana asks if they can hit the road and Pedro looks a little upset, but leads the girls outside. Carlos is behind them and they don’t hear the other man attack him from behind, strangling him. Outside by Pedro’s blue truck, Juana hears a girl from inside the shed nearby whispering for help. Pedro hears and grabs a gun, but Rosa is quick, breaking her beer bottle on the side of his head and knocking him to the ground. Juana grabs the keys and Carlos rushes out of the house, having used a knife on the table to get free of his attacker. As the three immigrants get in the truck, Pedro sits up and fires a gun. The bullets hits Rosa in the stomach.
Joe walks through the vineyard with Antonio, asking him when he last spoke to his mother. When Antonio says they haven’t spoken in a while, Joe tells him about the hostile takeover, saying “We can’t let your mother take our company.” Antonio looks surprised, asking “Our company?” Joe apologizes for making his son feel unwelcome and invites him to come home. Antonio says he won’t undermine Veronica and Joe says he just wants Antonio to help her, not take her rightful position as CEO. “I am so proud of you, son. I’m just sorry it took me this long to tell you that.” Instead of a hug, they shake hands.
Carlos drives to an emergency room and he and Juana carry Rosa to the door. She’s gasping for air as she tells her Juana that she’s going to be the best teacher. Juana cries about having to continue the journey alone, but Rosa looks at Carlos and tells her she’s not alone. She promises to find Juana one day. Carlos has to drag Juana back as the paramedics rush out to help Rosa. They get in the blue truck and drive away.
Joe visits Veronica in her office to congratulate her on making the deadline, reminiscing about how she insisted on starting at the bottom of the company to earn her place. “I’ve put my whole life into this company. I know you will do whatever it takes to protect it.” He pours two glasses of wine and raises them to a toast. “To the new CEO of Heritage House Vineyards.” They clink glasses. “Now don’t screw it up.” Driving home late, Veronica is distracted by a congratulations text as she travels down a dark county road. As she replies, she hits something, screeching to a halt and getting out of her SUV. She hit a man, who is groaning on the other side of a guard rail. Veronica grabs his phone and uses it to dial 911, her heart pounding as she states the location of the accident, but she doesn’t stay. She tosses the phone on the ground, gets in her car, and drives home. She is in a daze when she gets there and Michael recognizes that something’s wrong, but Veronica won’t talk about it. He hugs her and she says “I’m not a good person.”
Antonio looks through the list of Heritage House shareholders on his laptop, reading off who they are and who he thinks can be flipped. Among the list are himself and his siblings. As the camera pans back, we see that he’s talking to his mother Margaret. “Oh, Antonio, they are going to regret the day they turned their back on you,” she boasts. “Us,” he reminds her. “It’s good to be home.”
The Sandoval family poses for an anniversary photo before the party starts. Mateo tells Antonio how glad he is that he’s moving back home. As the party begins, Daniela serves drinks and Mateo finds her, getting a peck on the cheek for helping her get papers. A live band plays Lettie and Joe’s wedding song as they dance to “Where You Go, I Will Go.” While their kids watch, Junior grabs Carmen’s drink and walks away. She goes to the kitchen to get a new one and sees Michael picking up boxes of the reserve label. He tells her Veronica told him to serve it at a client dinner and Carmen implies that it’s an old person wine, offering for him to try a wine cocktail she created. It includes the reserve, whisky, lemon, and maple syrup. He is impressed and tells her that the clients he’s meeting are big in the marketing world and offers to introduce her to them.
The sun has set, but the party is far from over when an unexpected guest arrives, Sheriff Dan Acosta (Jay DeVon Johnson). Veronica is nervous as he interrupts her conversation with Joe to tell him that one of their workers, a man named Delgado, was involved in a hit and run. When Sheriff Acosta asks to speak to Joe in private, Veronica looks even tenser.
Carlos and Juana arrive at Heritage House Vineyards, walking through the field of workers looking for Carlos’ brother. He has a tearful reunion with Roberto, who has adopted the Americanized name Billy (Rolando Chusan). Billy brings them to his car and hands Carlos his new Social Security card, telling him his new name: Jose Sandoval. He tells him that he should go by the nickname, Joe. On a TV in the background, we see President Ronald Reagan speaking live about immigration.
In the present, Joe and Sheriff Acosta sit in his office as the sheriff tells him that Delgado has been dealing forged papers for immigrants. They found a mockup of a social security card for Joe’s new domestic employee, Daniela Perez. He gives Joe two options, he can arrest Daniela and turn her in to ICE, or look the other way and hope she never gets picked up. Cut to Joe and Lettie sitting with Daniela as Joe explains that he won’t be turning her in, but that she can’t remain an employee. She begs to keep her job, telling him that her family depends on the money she sends them. He doesn’t make eye contact with her as he apologizes and sends her away. Lettie stares into space as Joe tells her they should get back to the party. As he leaves the office, she goes to the bookshelf and pulls out a yellow book to teach a Spanish speaker English. Opening the book, Juana pulls out a polaroid photo of Juana and Billy.
Flashback to Billy taking a picture of Juana, with Carlos offering to pay for her papers. When Carlos steps away to go to the bathroom, Billy asks Juana about her dream and she tells him she wants to become a teacher. Returning the question, Billy confesses that his dream is to own Heritage House. He smiles as he tells Juana her new name, Leticia. He hands her a fake Social Security card and she comes up with her own nickname. “I like Lettie.”
Mateo sees Juana leaving the house with her bag and asks her where she’s going, in disbelief that his parents have turned her away for being undocumented. Seeing Joe, he loudly confronts him and draws a lot of attention to the scene. “How could you do this? You climb up the ladder and then you pull it up behind you?” Mateo uses his stepdad’s real name as he confronts him, Carlos Rincón. “Your whole life is based on a lie,” Mateo yells. Lettie tries to quiet Mateo down, but he tells her that his father told him everything before he left. “Right before he stabbed me in the back?”, Joe asks. “Before he put your mother in the hospital? Before he left your family for a whore?” Mateo screams that Joe is the one who stabbed his brother in the back, telling Joe that he quits and he can get Junior to be a manager. Lettie begs Mateo to stay, but he screams “You chose him!” as he storms off. Joe looks over at Junior, who has headphones on and is passed out by the pool. Joe angrily goes to wake his youngest son up, pushing him into the pool. Antonio lets out a laugh at the scene, which makes Lettie even more angry.
The sun is rising, the party is over, and Lettie and Joe sit by the pool still wearing their party clothes. “Junior cried himself to sleep,” Lettie scolds her husband. “How could you? He worships you, Joe. He wants to be just like you.” Joe says that junior is nothing like him. Lettie continues that he never accepted Mateo as his son, asking why he pushes him away and asking if he sees Billy staring back at him when he looks at Mateo. She is also angry at him for dismissing Daniela, saying that was her 30 years ago. “I will always protect this company,” Joe defends his actions. “And what about your family?”, Lettie asks.
Joe goes to a farmhouse on the vineyard, finding a truck under a tarp parked next to it. He peels the tarp back and stares at the blue truck that transported him and Lettie to Heritage House 30 years ago. He drives it through the vineyard and inspects the grapes as we see flashbacks of his first days in the field with Lettie and Billy.
Lettie returns to the church at Junior’s school, entering the confession booth. Father Ramos is on the other side and she asks him why he came back. “You think this was easy for me?”, he asks. She tells him that she told herself that he was dead to make it easier for her to move on. He tells her to go home to his brother, which makes her sob. She holds the polaroid photo of the two of them up to the grilled window as she cries. “Billy, why?” Father Ramos closes the partition.
Episode 2 of Promised Land is titled “La Madrugada (Day Break).” It’s now streaming on Hulu and will broadcast on ABC on Monday, January 31st at 10/9c. Here is a description of what comes next, but if you’re ready for more, click here to read my detailed recap.
Joe faces different challenges as Mateo threatens to expose his past while Margaret conspires to obstruct his future. Carmen supports Veronica in a time of need, and Lettie is no longer able to ignore Junior’s misbehavior. Meanwhile, Carlos, Juana and Billy find time for a little fun while adjusting to their new lives.