This week’s episode of Promised Land draws its title from A Tale of Two Cities, but it’s really more about a tale of two versions of Heritage House – one for the workers and one for the owners. In “El Mejor de los Tiempos (The Best of Times),” we see just how far Joe has come from his early days on the vineyard to where he stands now. Here is a recap of the 7th episode, now streaming on Hulu.
In 1987, Lettie (Katya Martín) is giving Joe (Andres Velez) another English lesson, having him read Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities out loud. He stops after the opening line (“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”) to reflect that it reminds him of Heritage House, which is both the best and worst place in the world. Joe seems down and doesn’t make eye contact with Lettie, who chooses now to tell him that she’s in a relationship with his brother Billy. Joe looks away and tells her that he knows, he saw them kissing. “I’m with Margaret,” he adds, finally looking at Lettie and seeing that she looks hurt by the news.
In the present, Antonio (Tonatiuh) pokes around the abandoned workers' camp, going into the dilapidated trailer where his dad once lived. Inside he finds a crate full of the missing bones. “Antonio, you find bones in my vineyard and you don’t tell me?” Antonio turns around to see his father Joe (John Ortiz), who was waiting for him in the corner. Antonio pulls the watch with O.M. Honeycroft’s initials engraved on the back and shows it to Joe, who is surprised to see it and even more surprised to hear that it was found with the bones. Joe swears that this is not Antonio’s grandfather and to prove it, he asks for some of Antonio’s hair so he can send it in for a DNA match. “I’m not a killer,” Joe vows to his eldest son.
Veronica (Christina Ochoa) goes to the gym before work, channeling her aggression into a punching bag. A handsome man named Tomas Gutierrez (Matt Cedeno) begins to flirt, asking her who the recipient of her aggression is. Veronica lists off her father, her soon-to-be ex-husband, and the custody lawyer she just fired. Tomas offers to be Veronica’s sparring partner, but she flirts back, saying she wouldn’t want to ruin his pretty face.
Carmen (Mariel Molino) finds Joe at a table in the wine cellar, showing him a magazine article about the top Latinx winemakers. Heritage House wasn’t on it and she’s offended because it was the first Latinx-owned winery in California, but she tells her dad it’s because they don’t try to market it to the Latinx community. Veronica arrives at work from the gym and hears enough of the conversation to agree that Carmen is right, Heritage House should do something to engage the community. Carmen leaves with their blessing to contact a marketing agent she heard about. Alone, Joe asks Veronica how she’s doing and then asks about his granddaughter Rita is doing. “She misses her dad,” Veronica says, adding that Michael is fighting for custody.
In 1989, Lettie’s sister Rosa (Ariana Guerra) comes to tell her sister that it’s time to head to their first class at community college. She is upset to find that Lettie is not only dressed in her work clothes, but she’s also working. Rosa reminds Lettie of her dream to become a teacher, but Lettie says she is a teacher. Rosa snubs her nose at the thought of Lettie settling for teaching English to migrant workers on a vineyard. Rosa leaves upset and ignores Billy (Rolando Chusan) as she walks away.
In the present, Lettie (Cecilia Suárez) meets with three moms from Junior’s school (Chuti Tiu, Beth Fraser, Devon Reilly) on the Heritage House patio. She’s about to speak when Billy (Yul Vazquez) is escorted outside by Marta (Susan Ortiz), causing her to say “Father Ramos.” The other moms, clearly attracted to the school’s newest priest, think that’s a great idea, to auction off a weekend getaway with Father Ramos. Lettie is offended and shortly after, she and Billy talk in private and he reminds her that they’re just bored housewives. Lettie is not happy that Billy came to the house, saying that she had feelings for him at the church (during Mateo’s wedding) and it made her uncomfortable. Billy says he understands and he leaves.
Veronica and Joe meet with the union negotiator Richie (Mauricio Mendoza), who introduces them to his colleague. It’s Tomas from the gym and he and Veronica act like they didn’t just meet. Reviewing the plans, Veronica proposes a 3% raise for the vineyard workers, but Tomas is quick to counter, saying the standard increase is 6% and that their offer doesn’t even mention healthcare benefits. Tomas insinuates that Heritage House is mistreating its Latino workers and Joe gets offended, but Veronica calms him down and asks to take the lead on this meeting. Without Joe, she offers to show Tomas around Heritage House so he can see for himself that they treat their employees with dignity. He tears up his paperwork and says “It’s a date.”
In 1989, Billy meets his father Manuel Rincón (Manuel Uriza), and gives him a social security card with his new identity, Ruben Mejia, telling his father to use it to get a job. Manuel asks Billy about Joe, but Billy ignores the question as he gets back in the blue truck. “Good luck,” Billy says as he starts to back the truck up. “God bless you, Ruben.”
Carmen goes to San Francisco to meet with Nati Rojas (Gigi Zumbado), a beautiful marketing guru. Carmen tells her about Heritage House not making the Latinx wine tastemaker list and says “I want Heritage House to mean something to people like us.” Carmen has an idea for a wine tasting event for Mexican-American influencers, but Nati goes bigger, suggesting a fusion event for all Latinx cultures that could attract a bigger crowd. Carmen is excited about the event. Later, Carmen shows Nati around the Heritage House backyard and Nati says that the parting gift should be cases of wine that attendees can share with their friends.
Veronica and Tomas wrap up the tour of Heritage House and, after he reveals how much he already knew about the business, she asks if he chose that gym because he knew she went there. It was just a coincidence, but in response to some of the programs Heritage House offers for its employees (an ESL program Lettie started and other education benefits), Tomas tells her that her family has lost touch. Veronica invites Tomas to the event Carmen is putting on and he accepts by saying “Sounds like a 2nd date.” Veronica tells him that if this meeting were the first date, he wouldn’t be getting a second one.
In 1989, Lettie gets dizzy in the field while working on a hot day and passes out. Billy and Joe carry her to the trailer and get her water. Margaret Honeycroft (Kerri Medders) enters to see if Lettie is okay, followed by foreman Gonzo (E. Ambriz DeColosio), who asks the boys to get back to work. Margaret stays with Lettie, who thanks her for coming, but then notices the way she’s looking at the cramped, dingy trailer they live in. Lettie brings up the fact that Margaret has no idea what it’s like to work outside for long periods of time.
Joe brings his newlywed stepson Mateo (Augusto Aguilera) a celebratory bottle of wine from the year he and Lettie were married. He asks Mateo how Daniela is doing and Mateo says he missed her, but he’s happy that she is applying for citizenship the legal way so she doesn’t live the rest of her life looking over her shoulder. Joe tells Mateo about Tomas’ labor deal with the union, telling him that it would be highly restrictive for a new winemaker like him to meet the demands. Mateo says his focus isn’t on the bottom line, but Joe says it would affect his family and his ability to start one.
Margaret Honeycroft (Bellamy Young) goes to Heritage House to see Veronica, who is not happy to see her mother. Carmen told her about the custody battle Veronica is going through and she tells her daughter that she doesn’t want her to make the same mistake she did, recommending a tough-to-get lawyer she’s friends with. Veronica is reluctant to accept anything from her mother, but Margaret goes on about how her lawyer told her that California usually grants custody to the mother and she didn’t think she had anything to worry about. Since then, she’s been fighting to find a way back to the kids and apologizes for never coming by to tell the kids what happened. She also mentions that she’s never met her only granddaughter, which makes her sad. “I know I hurt you and that is something that a mother should never do,” she says, asking Veronica to trust her. She sets a piece of paper down on the table with the lawyer’s contact information before she leaves.
Billy brings a toolbox to Mateo’s house with plans to build something for him and Daniela as a wedding present. He needs Mateo to leave for a few hours but before he goes, Mateo asks Billy for advice on the union dispute, sharing that Joe doesn’t want him to agree to the demands. Billy tells Mateo that Joe is a doer, whereas he was a dreamer. His only advice to his son is to think about his dreams, but also think about what he needs to do to make them come true, being a blend of both Joe and Billy.
In 1989, things are tense between Joe and Billy, who make dinner for Lettie. She comes out of her room in time to hear Joe mention that he loves her, adding like family. Lettie feels better but is very worried that one of the older workers will have serious problems with the current working conditions. Joe agrees and wants to talk to O.M. Honeycroft about it. Lettie asks if she can join him.
Back in the present, Lettie arrives at Mateo’s house with a wedding present of her own (she previously gave Daniela money with a promise to get them a real present). She finds Billy there instead of her son and they reminisce about their own wedding. They get closer as they talk about the kiss. “I was marrying the man I loved, carrying his child,” Lettie recalls. “I remember everything about that day. Every detail. I still carry it with me.” Lettie and Billy are now a few inches apart, his hands touch the sides of her face, her hand presses to his chest above his heart. The passion is too intense for both of them and they break their own rules, locking lips in a loving kiss. Their lips part. “Billy, I need you,” Lettie whispers. Billy backs away and tells her he can’t do this. She begs him not to leave like this, but Billy is already outside the door.
The three mothers from Junior’s school are back in Lettie’s kitchen the next day preparing for the fundraiser. They ask where Father Ramos is just as Marta escorts Father Collins (Christopher Wallinger) in. He tells them that he is filling in for Father Ramos until further notice. This is news to Lettie, who asks if he’s okay. Father Collins shares that Father Ramos packed up his things and left Sonoma.
In 1989, Joe and Lettie meet with O. M. Honeycroft (Tom Amandes), who cleans one of his antique guns from his collection. Joe tells him that the workers need an extra water break and says it won’t cost anything, but O.M. tells him that time is money. “We’re asking you nicely, sir, for the last time,” Joe adds. O.M. asks Marta (Ariella Amar) to show them out. Margaret runs after them, telling Joe that she knows her dad is wrong and she will work to change his mind. She kisses Joe and Lettie watches, crossing her arms and looking upset by it.
The Heritage House Latinx party has begun. As Carmen and Nati congratulate one another, their conversation becomes flirtatious. Mateo arrives and approaches Joe, telling him that he signed the deal. Joe tells him it was a mistake, but Mateo says it was right for him. Margaret crashes the party, an uninvited guest but things have grown more cordial and she is allowed to stay. She sees Veronica with Rita and her jaw drops. “Oh my God, she’s beautiful,” she exclaims as Veronica lets Margaret meet and hold her granddaughter for the first time. Veronica reveals that she hired the attorney Margaret recommended.
Junior (Miguel Angel Garcia) gets to the party late and Lettie is drunk, slurring her speech and slouching as she greets him and asks how he likes the party. He says it’s like getting back to the family’s roots, but Lettie laughs about how Junior was born in a mansion while she was born in a bathtub and her sister was born in a barn. Joe notices Lettie’s change in behavior and comes over, trying to escort her inside as Veronica starts a toast that forces them to stop. She speaks in English and Spanish about her family’s heritage, but Tomas speaks loudly and interrupts the toast, asking how much this party cost and estimating it at around $200,000. He says that money should’ve gone towards giving the predominantly Latinx employees the modest wage increases they’ve asked for. Lettie, in her stupor, loudly says that she likes Tomas as he flees the scene.
The next day, Carmen meets with Nati and we learn that after Tomas’ outburst, the party ended and the guests left, some even refusing their parting gift of Heritage House wine. Nati consoles Carmen by saying that if nothing else, the attendees are now familiar with two brands – Heritage House and Carmen Sandoval. She tells Carmen to stop limiting herself to just working for the family, saying that she could be so much more. Nati invites Carmen to dinner and she asks if it’s work-related. “I hate work dinners,” Nati flirts, asking Carmen out on a date.
Veronica is working at her desk when Tomas and Richie return for a follow-up meeting with just her. Tomas hands her a document with a counteroffer from the union, giving his version of an apology. “I clean up nice,” he says, “but I still don’t know how to act at these fancy events. You want to punch me with your right or your left?” Veronica tells him that physical violence is for men and the weak, angry about assumptions that he’s made about her and her family. Her response to the counteroffer: she tears the document apart.
Joe waits at the old worker’s camp and a courier pulls up with an envelope for him marked confidential. Antonio arrives and Joe tells him it’s important that they open the envelope together. It’s the DNA results that will prove that the bones found aren’t Antonio’s grandfather.
In 1989, Lettie is in Margaret’s room talking. Margaret brings up Joe, telling Lettie that she knows that she’s in love with both Billy and Joe and that she hopes her relationship with Joe doesn’t come between them. “You’re no good for him,” Lettie says, causing Margaret to get defensive. But their conversation is interrupted by the sound of glass breaking downstairs. Margaret’s dad is out of town. The girls sneak downstairs in the dark and see the shadow of a man at O.M. Honeycroft’s desk, rummaging through drawers. He pulls out one of the expensive watches. The girls run and Margaret grabs one of her dad’s guns, saying “Nobody steals from a Honeycroft” as she tries to stop the burglar from leaving. The man is wearing a ski mask so his face isn’t shown. A physical fight breaks out, with the man knocking the gun out of Margaret’s hand and pinning her to the ground. The gun is at Lettie’s feet. She grabs it. She shoots. Now on the floor, the man in the ski mask calls Lettie by her name, asking for help in Spanish.
Antonio opens the envelope. “The bones in the vineyard, they are my grandfather’s,” he says in shock. “That’s impossible,” Joe says, grabbing the paper. “It wasn’t Honeycroft, Papa,” Antonio says, stunned.
In 1989, Lettie crouches over the dying body of Manuel, Billy and Joe’s father.
Another week, another chilling ending on Promised Land. Here’s a sneak peek at what comes next in episode 8, titled “La Verdad Te Hara Libre (The Truth Shall Set You Free).”
Joe’s determination to investigate a murder scares Lettie, and Antonio makes a shocking realization. Meanwhile in the past, Marta helps Lettie and Margaret cover up a secret.