El Ministerio del Tiempo 3×11 Review: Time of Verbena

Every episode of El Ministerio del Tiempo makes me laugh, but if I had to choose the most hilarious one, the story that had me rolling on the floor, that would be the mission where Angustias has to talk Napoleon into freeing some prisoners. Even Hugo Silva (Pacino) admitted that he couldn’t stop laughing when he first read the script.

I bring this up because last night’s episode was also an Angustias episode. This time, Salvador’s secretary is finally getting her days off, and she decides to spend them back in her own time, so she chooses to go to 1894’s Madrid to attend the opening night of the zarzuela La Verbena de la Paloma, but when she arrives, she finds out it’s been cancelled! So she rushes back to 2017 to beg Salvador to do something. Pacino hates zarzuelas and doesn’t see why they should waste their time on this, but Salvador sends him and Lola back to 1894 with Angustias to find out what’s happening. So off they go.

Alonso using empathy

Alonso, though, has to stay, because it’s up to him to interrogate Arteche, the mysterious guy they captured during the Bolívar assassination attempt. You know, the guy who wouldn’t die. After an interrogation in which Alonso tries to use his empathy skills, Arteche reveals he doesn’t die because “time travels through him.” Weird. But even weirder is when Alonso has a dream in which he remembers that Arteche saved his life while they both served in the Army of Flanders. Turns out, Arteche has been alive for twenty centuries, since the time of Viriatus. A sorcerer gave him some potion that made him regenerate,in a Captain America way, and all he wants now is to finally die. The Exterminating Angel has been using him by extracting his blood, in the hopes of creating an invincible army, but the blood only works on Arteche’s body. Bad luck. Alonso befriends the man and takes him through a door that leaves Arteche back in the time when the sorcerer cursed him, so he can reverse what happened and finally die.

In the meantime, Marta still has amnesia and thinks she is 16 years old. Irene tries to help her out to regain her memories, but no progress has been made so far, so we’ll have to wait till next week.

But! Back to 1894. Pacino and Lola get jobs at the Apolo Theatre as a carpenter and a seamstress, and discover that the Verbena is cancelled because there is no money, the actors are divas and the set is falling apart. Also, the composer, Tomás Bretón, feels that zarzuelas are beneath him and he should be writing operas. It is up to Angustias to change the game, impersonating Mercè Abella, a great dame from the theatre at the time. As Abella, she convinces Bretón to go on with the show, but problems keep coming. The leading lady, Luisa Campos, decides to leave because she wants to start a career on Broadway -thanks to Pacino’s bad meddling and Angustias’s good one, she decides to stay. While Campos is away, Lola replaces her during rehearsals, and Emilio Mesejo, the protagonist, falls for her, even trying to punch Pacino at one point, out of jealousy. And to make matters worse, another actress, Irene Alba, is having an affair with Emilio and feels jealous of the attention Lola is getting. And Emilio’s dad, also on the show, is stealing the box office money to pay some people who want to extortionate Emilio because he gambles and owes them money. Quite a mess the whole thing, actually.

Don’t worry, because everything is solved in the end. Even the money thing, because Pacino allows Emilio’s dad to keep the money and spreads the rumour that “three actors” (the three of them) were seen running away with the money after opening night.

Oh, and thanks to Arteche, Salvador now knows that Bosco is the TEA boss, but is going to pretend he doesn’t know to finally catch him. Smart guy.



“You can always trust a man who shoots himself in the heart to prove he is not lying”

-“Get Arteche to relax. Use empathy.” “The what?”

-“Do you think this has something to do with the secret societies?” “Sure, secret societies have nothing better to do. Do we really have to go to save La Verbena de la Paloma? We have a thousand more important issues to deal with.”

-“La Verbena de la Paloma is the mother of all zarzuelas.” “And a real drag.”

overhearing the composers talk “My opera is Wagnerian-inspired.” “Valerian?”

-Again, you have to love Pacino’s faces for every situation.

-And how happy he is when he recognises Perez Galdós and José Echegaray from the pesetas bank notes.

-“Do you want something to eat, drink?” “You weren’t so effeminate the other day.” “It’s called empathy, you moron!”

-“He who humiliates a prisoner is a savage. And he who tries to humiliate me, a fool.”

-Pacino’s way of flirting with Luisa Campos so that she stays: “I wish I were the mayor so that I could raise a monument to honour you.” “If you take that boat to America, you are going to miss a train, locomotive included.”

-Remember in the other Angustias episode, when everybody had dreams set on a field of flowers? This time, they see people surrounded by flowers.

-The background of Arteche’s story is that of José Gómez de Arteche, who wrote a book about a man who lived for twenty centuries and got to fight in every Spanish army.

-The blonde actress in the zarzuela is meant to be Irene Alba, great-grandmother of Irene Escolar, who portrays Juana la Loca in Isabel and La Corona Partida.

-Both Pacino and Angustias make references to Lina Morgan, a famous stage comedy actress who died recently. (Pacino right before the show, behind the curtains, and Angustias on her first lines during the zarzuela, when she moves her legs.)

-Emilio tries to kiss Lola after giving her a carnation, but she pushes him away: “Here, a bud!” (capullo in Spanish means both bud and asshole)

-Angustias reminisces about Napoleon: “A long time ago, I performed for the great Napoleon.” “Why, you must have been extremely young!” “Girl, I am talking about… Napoleon III.”




Categories: Spanish Historical Fiction, Television | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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