So far in this season of Snowfall, Franklin has grown his drug empire to be too big to fail and too expansive to keep unnoticeable. As last week’s episode insinuated, Franklin’s operation is so ubiquitous in L.A. an unknown rival can locate every essential member of his team and organize assassination attempts that would leave Franklin’s entire empire shuddered indefinitely, if not eliminated.
In this week’s episode, we find out that the size of Franklin’s illicit business didn’t expose it to such vulnerabilities because of its visibility. We find out Franklin has grown so far detached from the day-to-day operations of his organization; he overlooked one of his closest confidants who worked against him to clean him out of millions and share the pressure points of Franklin’s team someone would need to hit to crumble it. And that wasn’t even the worst thing to happen to him in this week’s episode.
This week’s episode concluded the two-part arc around Franklin being targeted by a mysterious rival and ensnared in the murderous hands of Mexican gang members he and Oso successfully ran away from. After the gangs catch up to them, they trap them in a hair salon to try to beat the location of the money they were carrying out of Oso and Franklin. Oso tries to appeal to the gang leader’s Mexican heritage and their almost familial connection to no avail. Franklin’s had an acrimonious history with Mexican gangs as far back as season one when Mexican drug dealers nearly murdered Franklin for being a Black man in their neighborhood. While he and Oso holding duffle bags in a Mexican neighborhood made them targets, Franklin’s Black skin probably made them stick out even to be noticed with the bags. For the first episode since the Mexican drug cartel’s central narrative presence in the first two seasons, Snowfall gives an honest yet limited look at the vast reach of Mexican gangs in Los Angeles in the 1980s.
On Snowfall and most mainstream depictions of L.A. gang life during the 1980s, the focus is primarily on predominantly Black gangs, even though the reality of the time is vastly different. In the late ‘80s, it was estimated Los Angeles had 45,000 Mexican gangs compared to only 25,000 Black gangs. In fact, a 1988 L.A. Times article detailed how Black gang fatalities skyrocketed as Mexican gang violence dropped. In last week’s episode, when Franklin pulled out an empty gun to scare away the Mexican gang members ominously circling them, all but one of them ran away. The young Mexican gang member stood tall with the resolve of someone twice his supposed age. That level of conviction was common among even the youngest Mexican gang members in the ’80s. “Chicano kids won’t roll over like that. In Juvenile Hall, you can have one Chicano kid who won’t give up (disavow loyalty to) his neighborhood even if he’s facing 20 guys of a rival gang. He’ll fight to the death,” said a Black veteran county probation officer speaking with the L.A. Times.
Even though Franklin was able to escape the treacherous clutches of the Mexican gang cunningly, Snowfall continues to build out its fictional world to include more adversarial pitfalls for Franklin to fall into. If they continue to implement elements of the real-life drug landscape of Los Angeles in the 1980s, last night’s episode won’t be the last time Franklin has to deal with the influence of Mexican gang culture in L.A.