Fantasmas S1E5 Recap: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Fan

“The Little Ones”

Julio looks at his neck in a mirror
Photograph by Atsushi Nishijima/HBO

The following recap contains spoilers for Fantasmas S1E5, “The Little Ones” (written and directed by Julio Torres)

In Fantasmas S1E5, Julio (Julio Torres) finally does the credit card commercial Vanesja (Martine Gutierrez) has been trying to get him to do. He wears a rainbow-colored suit and a sombrero, but despite the director’s (Tommy Dorfman) efforts to get him to smile, Julio just can’t do it. The crew ends up putting green tape over his mouth so they can plug in a smile the director chooses from options on a tablet. And, when we see the ad at a bus stop later in the episode, we learn that they’ve altered the rest of his face as well. So, as Vanesja tells Julio, this isn’t going to get him the Proof of Existence exception he’s after.

While near that bus stop, Vanesja gets flagged down by her (former?) art professor (Amy Sedaris), who we should note calls her Martine before being reminded that Martine has assumed the name Vanesja for her performance art thesis. (Martine is, of course, the name of the actor who plays Vanesja, whose real name is apparently Martine.)

Her professor wonders if Martine is extending her performance as Vanesja to avoid graduating with an art degree that would make it hard for her to get a Proof of Existence, though she’s also heard that Martine is now actually an agent. Regardless, Sedaris’s character reminds her student that the point of art is to make people see things in a different way.

This gives Vanesja pause, perhaps because it resonates with what Dustin (Dylan O’Brien) says to her earlier in the episode. He’s worked on Cunty Little Rich Kids for 15 seasons and is materially quite comfortable, but he fears he isn’t living in the real world. He thinks the point of being an artist must be to make the world a better place, and he’s not doing that. Ultimately, he calls Vanesja a suit who doesn’t get it.

Is Dustin an artist? Is Vanesja? She certainly seems to be playing the role of an agent to the point of actually being one, and if it’s performance art, it’s not clear who the performance is for.

A man in a suit eating sushi off Vanesja's nude body

A number of scenes in “The Little Ones” take place in the New York City subway, and I loved the running gag about how long people would have to wait for a train based on the intercom announcements we hear. I can’t say I’ve ever had to wait 178 minutes for an F train, but 248 minutes for the L? Could happen. The G would be more plausible, but it wouldn’t fit geographically.

Anyway, the title of Fantasmas S1E5 relates most directly to an exchange that occurs between Derrrick (Michael Graceffa) and Boy Radio (whose character didn’t seem to be named, so I’m deciding he’s playing himself). Boy Radio has come to be roommates with a number of “little ones” (who resemble Smurfs).

It was OK at first, but they keep multiplying in some asexual way. That’s not to say that they are asexual in orientation—some of them are gay. They’re obsessed with pizza, but not with eating it. They just like to take photos of it. And, somehow, going to the Met would be against their religion. It’s clear that Boy Radio is complaining about all of that, but what’s really set him off is that some of the little ones hooked up with the guy he brought home recently, Diego (Juanes Montoya).

Boy Radio tells Derrrick he tried to set boundaries with his little roommates about this, but, as we see in a flashback, he did a poor job of it. When he and Derrrick see Diego in the subway station, they decide to go get a cab.

Trish stands with her hands on her hips, wearing a dress
Photograph by Atsushi Nishijima/HBO

Back at Derrrick’s place, a group has assembled to watch The True Women of New York. This group includes Trish (Ana Fabrega), who is more interested in doing things on her phone. She pretended to be her own manager (under the name Emily) and commissioned some fan art from Luis (Jordan Mendoza), which she then posted to a Trish fan account that she also runs. Apparently, she’s told Luis that the art is for charity, and when he comments on the post to plug himself as an artist/ask to be given credit for the art, Trish messages him (as Emily) to tell him he isn’t allowed to do that.

Luis quickly figures out that it’s actually Trish who is running the fan account (and that she pretended to be Emily to commission the art), and he starts blasting her on Instagram about it. Others start calling her out as well, so she blocks Luis, which leads to people calling her out for blocking Luis, and then he keeps reappearing with new accounts to evade the block.

Trish is freaking out, so she asks Derrrick for help. The pair go into the bathroom for privacy, and when Trish explains to Derrrick what is really going on, he starts mocking her. She’s not famous; she’s paying people to make fan art about herself! “I’m dead,” Derrrick says, “I’m literally friggin’ dead!” Then, Trish bashes his head against the sink.

I think he’s literally dead. RIP, Derrrick with three Rs.

Julio looks at his neck in a mirror
Photograph by Atsushi Nishijima/HBO

Julio is still worried that the mole on his neck might be cancer, so he uses a web app to get advice. The doctor he connects with (Sandy Honig) thinks the mole looks fine, but she gets distracted as she stands in a subway station and pushes the wrong button. She shrugs it off as no big deal, as it’s only a biopsy, but I got a little worried as Julio prepared to give that biopsy to himself. It seems to go fine, though. He’s just got a band-aid on his neck.

More to the point, it would seem to be Julio’s fear of death that leads him back to Incorporeal. He notices a model ship adorned with three diamond oyster earrings (like the one he lost), which Oscar (Ikechukwu Ufomadu) informs him would be priceless if it weren’t for the fact of the missing oyster. If Julio can find it, Incorporeal will upload his consciousness without a Proof of Existence.

So, Julio does an internet search about how to find something tiny at the bottom of the sea, but his phone tells him that this is impossible. This seems to lead him to give up on the idea, but we’ll see if that remains the case in next week’s season finale.

Mermaids under the sea in Fantasmas

With the credit card ad having failed to achieve Julio’s goal of receiving a Proof of Existence exception, Vanesja urges him to sell an idea to Zappos (who, I guess, make films and TV series in the world of Fantasmas—at some point, I should probably talk about how this series namedrops so many real-life brands in off-kilter ways, as those companies must have signed off on it).

Julio thus takes a meeting with Susanna (Natasha Lyonne), who is completely uninterested in his idea for a Lion King remake about a zebra who rebels against the lions. She tells Julio that they know what he wants (a piece of paper so that he doesn’t have to get another piece of paper), and he knows what they want.

Give us your trauma. Give it to us funny. Give it to us in español por favor.

So, Julio reluctantly offers an idea that he says he was hoping never to have to use. It’s a script titled How I Came Out to My Abuela. “That’s a show!” Susanna exclaims, as she hits him with finger guns. I don’t think, however, that it’s a show that Julio wants to make.

It seems like it’s either that or a voyage under the sea in search of a lost earring in the season finale. My money’s on the latter. Will Julio find the oyster and become incorporeal? Will he get the exception he wants? Or will he give in and get a Proof of Existence? With the threat of eviction and the non-threat of melanoma still hanging over our hero’s head, there are a lot of loose ends for Fantasmas to tie up as it ends Season 1. And if Bibo (Joe Rumrill) trying to become an actor somehow plays a role in that end game, I suppose I should mention that, too.

Bibo and Gina in an acting class together

See you next week.

Written by Caemeron Crain

Caemeron Crain is Executive Editor of TV Obsessive. He struggles with authority, including his own.

Caesar non est supra grammaticos

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