Javier Olivares will never cease to amaze me. Just when I thought this second season couldn’t get any better, he has offered us a finale that made me laugh and cry in equal shares. But let’s get to it.
As it had been announced, the last episode was going to deal with Felipe II and the Grande y Felicísima Armada (dubbed by the English as the Invincible Armada). Felipe, known as a prudent man, feels like he’s had enough defeats. After all, we are at a point in his life when he has lost pretty much everyone. All his friends are gone. He has outlived his four wives and some of his children. So it’s only understandable that he demands that the secretary of the Ministry of Time let him go back in time and make the Armada win.
When the secretary obviously refuses, since Felipe’s great-grandmother, Isabel, stated that no one could go back to change things, Felipe gets considerably angry and sends the secretary to the Inquisition (the secretary eventually dies). When Felipe’s men find some agents and steal their book of doors (and their cellphone, in a hilarious scene straight out of a Monty Python sketch), Felipe travels to the 2016 ministry with his soldiers to confront Salvador and demand that he be allowed to go back in time.
What Salvador does here is an award-winning speech, in which he tells Felipe that he doesn’t care if he is a king, because he is a free citizen and is not going to let himself get bullied by him. It was inspiring. And then Felipe shot him dead, and left the office. Well, he tried to exit the office and had a funny moment (one of many) when the soldier outside didn’t immediately open the door for him.
And this is the moment when the episode connects with what happened a few episodes ago with Lombardi. Our team is not in 2016 because they are in the 19th century making sure that Agustín de Argüelles doesn’t get killed by Napoleon’s troops and is alive to redact the first constitution in Spain, La Pepa. When they return to the ministry, they find it quite changed: Ernesto is the new secretary of the ministry, everyone wears suits like they’re men in black, Irene is a meek personal assistant with a husband and children…
…but it doesn’t end there. Our team soon learns that Felipe II is now the king of all times in Spain, that the country still has all the territories the empire used to, and to fuck with Julián’s life a bit more now that he was moving on, his deceased wife Maite is very much alive in this world. And Elena, who had left Alonso at the beginning of the episode, is here quite the pregnant and loyal wife. Of course, Julián and Alonso are loving this, but Amelia decides to act. After all, she has discovered that in this world, Pacino was killed for those murders he didn’t commit –come back, Hugo Silva, I miss your face.
So Amelia’s plan is to travel to 1588 and get herself caught, so that the other two can at the same time travel to a vulnerable point in Felipe’s life to blackmail him. But at first these two don’t want to. That is until they realise their wives are just shadows of the strong women they knew and loved. In this world, there were never any constitutions, there are no liberties, and the Inquisition still prevails. Yikes.
So after the first bit of the episode, which was quite funny (especially thanks to Carlos Hipólito’s Felipe), comes the heart-breaking part, also thanks to Hipólito’s superbly balanced performance. While Amelia is captive in 1588 and is getting tortured, Julián lets himself get caught by Ernesto to give Alonso time to escape, put on again his Alatriste costume from season 1, and go save history, which is what the show has been about all along. That, and save his friend, of course.
So Alonso travels to 1534, to the bedside of a sleeping seven-year-old Felipe, and sends the king a photo. He then calls the king and tells him that, unless he does everything Amelia asks him to, Alonso will kill the boy and Felipe will never be king. So all Felipe can do is agree. He goes again through the process of finding out about the Armada’s defeat, but decides not to act upon it, and everything is right in the world.
But before he says goodbye to Amelia, he asks her something: Salvador told him that his death would be miserable and he would end up “rotting in my own putrefaction”, which Amelia confirms. It is true and it will happen in ten years’ time. So Felipe asks her to promise him something.
We don’t know what that promise might be, but we get a good guess. In 1598, Amelia visits Felipe in his deathbed, and while she takes his arm, she asks him to relive a happy memory, and he instantly knows the moment: a random night, in his bed, when his mother, the empress Isabel of Portugal, went to kiss him goodnight, and he asked her if it was true that he was going to be king one day, and how on earth would he be better than his father, emperor Carlos, to which Isabel replied that he would be an even better king than his father, which made Felipe immensely happy. And then the dying Felipe slowly closes his eyes, his last thought being of the mother who left him too soon and whose death scarred him for life.
If you thought that paragraph above was heart-breaking, imagine what the actual scene was like. Just thinking about it makes me cry. It was the perfect ending for an outstanding season, and that’s all I could ask for.
Thanks for reading all my thoughts these past few months!! See you next season!!! (which is definitely going to happen, or else RTVE is going to be in some serious trouble)
-I really need to mention Hipólito’s performance again. Not everyone could have pulled off that last scene like he did, and he owned some of the episode’s best moments. The way he keeps breaking the fourth wall, his constant reactions like a spoiled child, his astonishment when he finds out how things work in the 21st century, when he sees the cellphone and throws it to the floor so that one of his men can kill it with a sword. Terrific.
-Needless to say, even though you don’t see it on screen, Amelia injects the king with morphine.
-If you can more or less understand Spanish, get Javier Olivares’s biography on Felipe II. I am going to buy it as soon as I get to visit Spain again.
-The ministry in the 16th century tells Felipe that they saved his life several times, including two terrorist attempts in London and Lisbon and when some agents helped his grandmother Juana deliver his father Carlos in the privies in Ghent.
-When the team travels to 1808, we had the delight of witnessing a real-life version of one of Goya’s most famous paintings.
-“I’m sorry, but what is a constitution?” “It’s the fundamental law, the rules that establish a state with the supervision of the Cortes. Something very serious, Alonso.” “It can’t be so serious if it’s named like a common neighbour, “la Pepa”.”
-Let’s take a moment to appreciate that awesome scene in which Alonso starts killing every Frenchman he sees.
-“I curse democracy and I curse modern times. How I miss those times when the king decided everything and we subjects obeyed.”
-If you kept hearing Felipe II mention the Duke of Medina Sidonia and have no idea who he was talking about, do some research, he was quite an interesting character –also, there was a brief mention of the Duke of Alba, and I might have cried a little remembering Carlos, Rey Emperador.
–(Felipe II picks up the phone when Ernesto is calling) “It’s alive!! Kill it!!!”
-“Who would have told me that it would take me less time to travel four centuries into the future than to get to the Casa de Campo for a hunting trip? Although I must confess I was expecting something a bit more spectacular.”
-“Is there anyone there?” “Who am I talking to?” “His Majesty, King Felipe.” “Felipe VI?” “Felipe VI?? I think he got the wrong number. Take this thingy.”
-“Go and find the library.” “Your Majesty, I know you love books, but now is not the time…”
-“Have you already thought of names for the baby?” Well, if it’s a girl, Isabel.” “Like the Catholic one, I guess.” “No, like King Felipe’s mother.” I love that they always give the Isabel lines to Rodolfo Sancho, like his past life as Fernando is still inside him.
-“How could some wild Indians get so far?” “They’re not Native Americans, they are descendants of the English who once took over the north of America.” “Damned English, always in the way.”
-“The king these days, that Felipe VI, he doesn’t wage war against the Americans?” “No, we are allies.” “But if they rule and we are their allies, then we are their subjects! How can a king with my blood in his veins allow such a thing?” “Well…He is not from the House of Austria… He is a Bourbon.” “I’m going to have to fix that.”
-“How I hate the English. Their beer is warm and bitter; their women, ugly; their food, disgusting. They make admirals out of pirates. They have no taste, nor honour.” (Felipe II after his English experiences through a four-year marriage with an older English woman and a failed war with the Protestants)
-“And then what, you’ll bring the Inquisition back to the 21st century?” “WAIT, we don’t have the Inquisition anymore?”
-“El Escorial filled with tourists…But where are they originally from?” “Well, from many different countries.” “Oh, I see… it’s a new alliance trying to attack us.”
–(King Felipe learning how to use Skype) “And I can see other people moving?” “Yes, they’re called videos.” “From Latin, ver.” “Mmm I won’t disagree.”
-“Now, let’s talk about Excel.”
-The whole alternate future reminded me so much of The Man in the High Castle. Everything different, the new flags, etcetera.
–(Julián sees a group of football fans chanting and running around) “Who is playing today?” “The Empire’s team against those morons from the German principalities.”
-“I’m sorry for the human losses that war brings, but victory will come soon, and I will lead you to it, because I have an inner strength that GUIDES ME ALL THE TIME ABOVE EVERYTHING ELSE!!! Meanwhile, I’m glad to announce that unemployment is down to 2% thanks to my government’s cutbacks.”
-“You are a king, but I am a soldier, and there is only one thing in my life that’s above everything else: I never leave anyone behind in a battle.”
-“It’s impossible to rule a kingdom where the sun never sets. There’s no one left. I outlived everyone. Those who hated me. Those who loved me.”
-“Sorry to disappoint you, but those can’t be unicorn horns. Unicorns don’t exist.” “Just in case.”
-I wish they had brought back Blanca Suárez for that tiny scene with Isabel of Portugal. You know, as a link between the shows!
-Once more, the Ministry’s Files! You will certainly learn a lot about Felipe II.
-Shout-out to Los 50, who appeared at the end of the episode as Atleti fans -which is what they are, anyway. It is quite a fun game to spot all the Atleti references in every episode.
-Nothing to do with MdT, but I just found out that the DVD of La Corona Partida is released in Spain in July, so expect my review/analysis by then!
-Don’t stop harassing RTVE to make sure we get a third season!!! And also, please, do NOT watch NBC’s Timeless!! They stole MdT’s idea without even paying for it. They are shameless and they deserve to have that show cancelled after one episode.