El Ministerio del Tiempo 3×01 Review: Time by Northwest

It might be hard to believe, but after a year of arduous negotiations, El Ministerio del Tiempo is finally back to our small screens! It comes with some casualties (Rodolfo Sancho, The Ministry’s Files), but let’s just be thankful it’s back, and we can complain about the rest afterwards.

The plot of this third season starts on a sad note. Our beloved Julián has died during the Battle of Teruel in the Spanish Civil War, and everyone, especially Amelia and Alonso, is stricken with grief. I must make a note here about how shocked I was about the death, even though it was the only feasible way of sending Julián off. But I had heard Javier Olivares say in an interview that the doors would always be open for Sancho to return, so I can only hope that the door exploded behind Alonso and Amelia, and Julián somehow survived the blast. Who knows.

But after this tragic death, and an enigmatic beginning where a blue sort of fire/power engulfs the ministry, we are back to reality.

Pacino, who has been working back in the 1980s and has a new ladyfriend, his workmate Marta, follows her to the Festival of San Sebastián in 1958 to make sure Lola Flores and Kirk Douglas don’t hook up. Easy task. But then a note is slipped under the door, and when Pacino runs to find out who put it there, he encounters a Soviet agent carrying a film roll. He takes the roll from him, but before he can find out anything else, he hears Marta scream and runs to her, only to find her dead after a fall down the stairwell. But before he can do anything, a waiter sees him and Pacino is forced to run away.

What can Pacino do? Well, he calls Amelia and Alonso for help. The pair, who have been given time off to mourn Julián’s passing, sneak into 1958 to aid Pacino, who is sure there is a mole in the 1980s, which makes him feel he can’t trust anyone.

Now the three of them together, Pacino develops the film (which amazes Alonso) and they find the Soviet spy had been taking photos of Alfred Hitchcock, who is in San Sebastián for the Vertigo premiere. After an outraged Pacino explains to his colleagues who Hitchcock is, the team decides to stay close to the British director, to make sure the Soviets can’t get close to him.

During a trip to the cemetery, where Hitchcock is giving interviews, Pacino begins his own Vertigo movie after he thinks he’s seen Marta. Of course, chasing her leads to a shed where he finds the Soviet, who almost strangles him to death (in a homage to both Psycho and Rope).

Now that they have captured the spy, Pacino begins interrogating him. But since the guy isn’t talking, and Pacino is punching him in the face way too many times, Amelia sneaks out to call Irene so she can help. And of course, Irene sends everyone back to 2017 so the Soviet can be interrogated there.

And speaking of 2017, if Pacino has been living in Vertigo, Salvador has been starring in his own Rear Window. After a nasty fall while trying to change a lightbulb, Salvador’s leg is broken, and he spends the days bored looking at the workers who are helping renovate the entrance floor. Salvador doesn’t trust the workers, especially one who seems to be going downstairs (forbidden area) and always carries a Walkman, something he finds out of date, but that others say it’s just vintage. But no one believes Salvador has seen the guy go downstairs, and when Irene finally sees him go to the forbidden area, Walkman guy simply says he was looking for the toilets, and then Irene goes away because she gets the phone call from Amelia. That guy is up to no good, and I was sure by this point he had something to do with that mole from the 1980s.

But anyway, the 2017 interrogation reveals Hitchcock is going to be kidnapped after the showing of his film, and Salvador says if this happens in Spain, the relations with USA will suffer, and Eisenhower won’t visit the country in 1959, a visit that helped Spain start getting out of the hole it had been in since the Civil War. A mess, basically. Also, they want Hitchcock to direct propaganda films for them, and their plan to make him accept this is by promising they will cure his cancer-suffering wife, Alma.

When the time finally arrives to protect Hitch so he doesn’t get kidnapped, Pacino gets distracted by the sight of Marta. She was forced to fake her death, she says. The Soviets have his father, and they’ll kill her if she doesn’t do this. Luckily, Pacino is not an idiot, and can smell the lie from miles. (I literally wrote in my notes: “Do we trust her, Pacino?”) He’s not a monster, though, and loved her once, so he lets her escape.

Now Pacino is back in the 21st century, and the team is reunited again -albeit, for tragic reasons. But in a twist, Walkman guy goes back to the forbidden floor in the middle of the night, and just when you think he’s about to rescue the Soviet spy, he injects him with something that kills him instantly. A mystery for the season!

(Not really a mystery. He’s clearly the 1980s mole, working with Marta).


The “chipirón” is in the building

-The outfit Amelia was wearing was clearly a homage to Tippi Hedren’s in The Birds. Well, the whole episode was paying tribute to Hitchcock’s filmography.

-Alonso, after hearing Hitchcock speak: “He’s sharper than Cervantes.”

-Let’s just apply the suspension of disbelief to Hitch’s “British” accent. José Ángel Egido is a great actor and gives an outstanding performance nonetheless; let’s try to ignore his accent here.

-Salvador’s plaster reads: “Here lie the broken bones of Salvador Martí.”

-It’s so typical, when there’s construction work and the AC breaks down.

-There is a wink to Cayetana Guillén Cuervo’s participation in Spain’s Masterchef Celebrity (she was the runner-up): “I cut myself while making gazpacho.” “Watch out, in case cooking is more dangerous than time travel.” (Cayetana used to cut herself all the time on Masterchef).

-“How is it going, boss?” “Considering the plaster is itchy and I look like the bald one from X-Men, I’m doing great.”

-“Are you telling me that the guy has discovered time travel and the first thing he’s done is stealing a cassette player?”

-Cute: Alonso is afraid of seagulls. And he still calls Pacino “Chapino.”

-“So that’s how you go through life, not having seen Vertigo.”

-“What do you like about San Sebastián?” “Chipirones en su tinta de Casa Nicolasa.”

-I was not into Hitchcock fancying Amelia. He was supposed to be obsessed with blondes by 1958; it would have made more sense he’d taken a liking to Irene, had he met her.

-“Stop! Or I’ll be able to see the landscape through your head.”

-“Do you speak Slavic?” “No, but Nikita here can speak perfect Spanish, I tell you.”

-“We are in the middle of the Cold War.” “Cold? No, but isn’t the weather quite nice outside?”

-“If he wants to pee, he can go to the bar next door. He can’t just walk as though he were at home, damnit!” (Amelia explains to Alonso the origin of the Spanish idiom for “as though he were at home”, in Spanish “como Pedro por su casa,” which comes from Pedro I of Aragon) Salvador: “Ha! None of you knew that, right? Well, neither did I.”

-Salvador entering the interrogation room in the wheelchair is everything.

-Also, Salvador’s main worry about the mission is that Hitchcock won’t hire Tippi Hedren, her daughter Melanie will never become an actress and then Antonio Banderas won’t become an international superstar.

-I checked that alternate ending Hitch was forced to film for Vertigo. Nope, I didn’t like it either.

-Pacino’s English is also everything: “Come conmigo. Organisation.” “No, no, now…Vamos, ahora.” “Nosotros go to La Nicolasa.”

-“Is he with the Doctor?” “Nope, with someone I’ve never seen in my life, a Mr Churrero” (that’s the name for someone who sells churros, and the man Salvador is with is Churriguera.)

-Explanation of the episode’s title: In Spain, North by Northwest was called Con la Muerte en los Talones, which translates as “death on their/his heels.” I decided to keep the film’s original title when translating the episode into English.

Categories: Spanish Historical Fiction, Television | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

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14 thoughts on “El Ministerio del Tiempo 3×01 Review: Time by Northwest

  1. Heather

    I thought heels were “tacones” in Spanish? Thanks for the recap, due to Netflix helping to finance the show now, RTVE has blocked the web version in North America. Boo hiss.

    -Also, Salvador’s main worry about the mission is that Hitchcock won’t hire Tippi Hedren, her daughter Melanie will never become an actress and then Antonio Banderas won’t become an international superstar.- LOL!

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  6. Erinah

    Thanks for the great review, I would not get the Spanish “inside jokes” without it; Masterchef, episode title.

    Were there any other episodes with this many allusions, references? (like all the Hitchcock movie references they managed to weave together here)

    • Ginny C

      I’d say the ones set in the 20th century tend to have the biggest amount of this type of jokes. Although to be fair, both Julián and Pacino spend their time doing just that! I will soon start reviewing season 1 in retrospective, and that one had plenty of jokes that need to be explained 🙂

  7. Caroline Driver

    I’ve just finished the last of series 3, hoping for an explanation of the blue fire/face at the end of episode one, but there is none. But reading your review here, it seems to say that the blue fire came after the death of Julian, which it didn’t on the version I saw, it was before the titles and the funeral and the mission to the war which led up to it. So maybe it should have been in a different place, to make sense. Anyway, thoroughly enjoyed MoT, hoping there will be more.

  8. Caroline Driver

    Salvador in the wheelchair in the interrogation room had me in fits. (actually he had some of the best comic lines and his performance was always so wonderfully dead pan) And as you say, the actor playing Hitchcock’s accent was…almost needing subtitles! I couldn’t place Amelia’s english accent, her english was excellent, but she didn’t, to me, an english woman, sound Spanish. Does anyone know where she learned english?
    I’ve not yet found anyone I know who’s seen this series, so I have no one else to discuss it with, I’ve been driving my family crazy with talking about bits of it.

    • Ginny C

      Amelia’s English is the only objection I have against this otherwise excellent series, because while she is high class and university student, she is still a 23 year old in the 19th century. They should have made her speak with more of an accent, because I doubt Amelia has spent an Erasmus year in London improving her accent

  9. Pingback: El Ministerio del Tiempo 4×01 Review: Lost in Time | Corleones & Lannisters

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