If there is something I enjoy more than well-written episodes, is the return of beloved recurring characters. That is the case in ‘Time of Splendour’, where we enjoy the visit of not one, but two key people: Lope de Vega and Cervantes. And it also allows us to sit back and rejoice a little bit, because these two had a rivalry of sorts that is wonderfully played out this time.
But let’s focus. Our team has their own personal issues to brood over: Pacino is still being questioned about letting Marta escape, so Ernesto and Irene have to travel to 1982 to investigate further on the case; Amelia’s mum is getting on her nerves because she claims that, at 24, Amelia is getting too old to have babies, and no one will want her; and Alonso, our 16th-century hero, can’t understand why Elena doesn’t get pregnant after all the times they’ve copulated -the world of pills is a mystery to him.
It is with all of this happening that our three amigos have to travel to Valladolid in 1605. Why? Because someone has tried to poison Admiral Howard, in charge of the delegation that has arrived on behalf of King James I to finish up the last touches of the Treaty of London. So of course, they have to stop whoever is trying to kill the admiral, so that the treaty is not broken.
Why are our two favourite Spanish writers in the episode? Well, Cervantes is now the king’s chronicler (I’m not sure that this happened, but I can confirm he was living in Valladolid), and Lope is writing a play to be represented in front of the English delegation, which includes Shakespeare, whom Lope has been promised to meet.
The man making this promise, by the way, is the king’s favourite, the Duke of Lerma, one of our country’s real estate pioneers, who bought cheap land in Valladolid only to convince the king, Felipe III, to move the court there, thus increasing their value. He is also a bit of an asshole, who keeps trying to undermine Queen Margarita, a teenage mother who lives in complete isolation in her palace.
So Amelia infiltrates as the queen’s lady-in-waiting, pretending to be Beatrice, Spínola’s niece, and Alonso and Pacino end up having to look after the admiral and the delegation. While Amelia finds out from the cook what the poisoner looks like to send Velázquez the info for a photofit portrait, our boys take the Brits to a pub, where the Englishmen binge-drink like there is no tomorrow, something Pacino and Alonso can’t stand. Like, they literally can’t stand, they are so drunk.
It is only after Amelia, on a walk with the queen, reunites with Lope, that she learns that Queen Margarita has asked Lope to write a satiric play that will show Lerma for what he truly is. Although Lerma then finds out and threatens to revoke Lope’s theatre licence, so our Lope has to give in, which angers Amelia, as you can imagine.
While all this is happening, the men go out for a hunting day turned betting grounds, as Howard bets his riffle against Alonso’s sword to see who shoots more birds. Men. But it is then that Amelia arrives with Velázquez’s portrait and shows it to Pacino, who realises the poisoner is one of the aide’s, who has suddenly disappeared -and who turns out to be the one who shot the Russian episodes ago. Luckily, Pacino finds him and kills him in self-defence.
To make amends -somehow-, the ridiculously oblivious son of Felipe II organises a game of blackjack at the pub, with our boys, Lerma, Howard and even Cervantes, who seems sure that he’s seen Alonso somewhere… The night ends abruptly when Alonso sees one of the Englishmen cheating, which later causes Lerma to convince the king to annul the treaty, because Lerma is a sneaky little B.
Luckily, we still have Amelia to sort things out. She convinces the insecure queen to talk to her husband, who finally agrees to ignore Lerma’s suggestion and go ahead with the treaty, and even gets Cervantes (who, upon seeing her, is now sure that what happened during his darkest hour was real) to meet Shakespeare, even if that annoys Lope enormously. Oh well.
Also! As B-plots, Irene and Ernesto find out that Pacino’s former colleague/girlfriend, Marta, wasn’t born in the 1940s, but she apparently came from 1821. And Young Lola is bored because no one will give her a case, and ends up running away with the paintings taken from the Alcázar. Drama!
So gentle and so honest appears
-I am Team Margarita forever. Even though Lerma was eventually defeated, she didn’t live to see his fall, as she died in 1611, aged only 26.
-Lerma, to escape execution after his misdemeanours were proven, asked the Pope to make him cardinal. From this comes the popular verse “Para no morir ahorcado, el mayor ladrón de España, se vistió de colorado” (so he wouldn’t get sent to the gallows, the biggest thief in Spain took the red).
-“I love you, but I belong to nobody.”
-“How am I not going to be old-fashioned? I was born in the 16th century, damn it!”
-Aaand another fun fact! Lerma is played by Fernando Guillén Cuervo, brother of Cayetana Guillén Cuervo (our Irene), who you might recognise as ambassador Fuensalida from Isabel.
-“Are there any witnesses?” “Of course not, boss. We are professionals.”
-“I moved to Valladolid following the Royal Family, and all I’ve found is a stinky river and cold weather.”
-“It sounds as if history tests are no longer a requirement for ministry agents.” “What tests?” The sad world we live in.
–“Arriba, abajo, al centro y pa dentro” is a phrase we love hearing foreign tourists say when they toast before drinking in Spain. The most famous person to say this was Melanie Griffith when she was married to Antonio Banderas. Legend.
-“Don’t compare fried pescaíto to fish and chips!”
-The cook has a vision: recipe books will be a thing in the future.
-Alleyway-drunk Pacino and Alonso perform what in Spain is known as the drunken stage of “Exaltación de la amistad” (Exaltation of friendship), which starts around the 28:40 mark.
-“It’s the era, it brings you memories.” “Nope, I’m from a century ago.” “Well, a hundred years more or less, let’s not get picky.”
-Casting praise: the actor who plays Felipe III looks a lot like his real-life counterpart.
verse that Felipe III claims he learned from his father, who lived in England during his marriage to Mary Tudor: “Que yo no quiero amores en Inglaterra pues otros mejores tengo en mi tierra ¡Ay, Dios de mi tierra, saqueisme de aquí! ¡Ay, que Inglaterra ya no es para mí” (I don’t want love affairs in England, because I have better ones back home. Oh, Lord, take me out of here! Alas, England is not for me.)
-“Fighting for a game saves us from fighting a war.”
-Gems from the Lope-Cervantes showdown:
- “I thought my greatest impudence was to share with you the air I breathe.”
- “I’m the phoenix of literature.” “Phoenix… more like a garlic-roasted chicken, because you keep repeating on everyone.”
- “You write what people want to hear, not what they should know.”
- “Cripple!” “Cradle-snatcher!”