El Ministerio del Tiempo 1×04 Review: A Bargaining on Time

I adore meta episodes. I revel in them. I rewatch them to catch hidden messages, and the fourth outing of MdT gives me this and much more. In fact, this is arguably the most meta episode of the show up until the series 3 finale in what I would like to call the ICU (Isabel Cinematic Universe).

This episode is centred on the most important person for the Ministry: the man who discovered the doors, Rabbi Abraham Levi. Let’s not forget he is the one who wrote the Book of Doors and handed it over to Queen Isabel. But in the present day, a descendant of Levi shows up in Salvador’s office with a subpoena. It looks like Levi was sentenced to burn at the stake after the Inquisition claimed he was Judaising, despite having converted and changed his name to Andrés de Luis -who are we kidding, they all did. They only “officially” changed religions to save face and survive.

But anyway, the descendant tells Salvador that he demands an insane amount of money claiming damages, or else he will tell the world about the gates and whatnot. A total dick move.

This can only mean one thing: team to the rescue! Salvador informs our trio that they must travel to 1491 and make sure the Inquisition doesn’t send the Rabbi to his death. Except there are three little problems:

  1. The door they must use takes them to the exact same day of the execution, so there’s a bit of a hurry.
  2. Said door, Door 148, is locked in a time loop, repeating the same day over and over, so they must leave before midnight, or else they will be stuck there and won’t be able to leave -the next door available is in the year 1500.
  3. Not having cars or anything, they must travel by horse from the door in Illescas to Toledo, and it will take them two hours.

Easy, right? So here we go:


First try

Travelling with a 19th century specialist in Medieval Law, the team arrives and “kidnaps” Levi’s lawyer (who, let’s be honest, wasn’t going to move a finger to save the man). With our new lawyer ready to defend Levi, the team trusts things will work out.

But wait! Torquemada arrives, and to everyone’s surprise, he looks exactly like Ernesto. A spitting image, we should say. And this raises the team’s alarms. But it seems this Torquemada has already decided Levi must die and the trial is a pantomime, because not even our new lawyer’s knowledge and demagogy can save the Rabbi. So, at the end of the day, he dies and the team returns to the present.


Second try

Alonso and Julián show up at the trial acting as envoys of the Pope of Rome, carrying a papal bull that absolves Levi. Does Torquemada care? No, he doesn’t, and he sentences the Rabbi to death, again.

Back in the present, Alonso reproaches Ernesto for not taking the risk and helping them out, being as he is Torquemada’s doppelganger.


Third try

At this point, Julián is even repeating everything people around him say, as he’s already lived it a few times.

The trio goes to Queen Isabel and they tell her about the trial. As it happens, she had no idea about this, and the Catholic Monarch resolves to write a letter informing Torquemada that the prisoner must not be tried.

When Torquemada receives the letter, he conveniently says he will read it later, after the trial, so it was all for nothing. So when our team returns defeated, Irene talks to Salvador and insists there is only one chance to mend this situation.


Fourth try

Finally, Ernesto joins the team. After leaving the real Torquemada out of the game, Ernesto impersonates the inquisitor at the trial. When the boys arrive with the papal bull from the second try, Ernesto agrees to absolve Levi. It is then that the real Torquemada shows up, but not before the team manages to escape with Levi and his wife to bring him to the present. Ernesto is obviously apprehended, and urges the team to run away without him.

In the present day, Alonso is quite adamant they should go back to save Ernesto, but there are only four hours left, and that is just the time it would take to ride there and back again. It is an impossible feat. Levi convinces his descendant to quit his shenanigans, and the Rabbi reveals he is dying anyway, yet refuses to be treated with modern medicine.

Back in 1491, Ernesto receives a visit in his cell: Torquemada. We finally learn that Ernesto is Torquemada Sr, although his son doesn’t receive this news well.

Luckily for all of us, Alonso, who has grown fond of modern day motorcycles, sneaks one through the door, managing to break Ernesto out of prison and return to the door on time.


Oh! In the meantime, Amelia has been worried about that tomb with an impending death date. She makes the huge mistake of writing a diary her mother discovers, because parents are the worst. To mend things a bit, what with all her absences, she lies to her parents and says she has a suitor. Julián, being so nice, goes to have dinner with her parents to pose as said suitor. Things don’t go well, with her parents being worried about Julián being much older and a widower. To solve things, Julián claims he is going back to Cuba, so he won’t be around for a while.

It is finally revealed to the viewers that Julián has known all along about Amelia’s tombstone, so we will have to see how that develops…



“So, it’s Groundhog Day, but medieval”

-I loved Michelle Jenner and Eusebio Poncela’s return as Queen Isabel and Cardinal Cisneros. My only objection is that they portrayed her without the hair veil she always wore at this point.

-Alonso’s reactions to the dog pissing on his leg are priceless.

-Torquemada and the 19th century lawyer exchanging lines from the Bible to rebut each other is a true lesson in pig-headedness.

-“Not even God can win this trial.” Julián, watching the two men arguing about the trial with lines from the Bible and quotes from saints

-“During a mission in the 19th century, we found an organ grinder who looked just like Bertín Osborne.” Salvador tries to justify why it’s normal to find someone in the past who looks like Ernesto

-“What do you think of the rotation pact of Cánovas and Sagasta?” “Wonderful, I find it wonderful.” “And the situation in Cuba?” “I don’t find it so wonderful.” Julián should have done some late 19th century research before having dinner with Amelia’s parents

-Julián’s double take when he first sees Isabel is worthy of an article alone.

-“I’d swear I know her from somewhere.”

-Alonso will never adjust to modern times. He cannot even open a sandwich bag.

-“I’m a soldier, and old-fashioned, but I’m not stupid.”

-“What an odd retable.” “Tablet, that’s a tablet.” “Oh, then, what an odd retablet.”

Categories: Spanish Historical Fiction, Television | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “El Ministerio del Tiempo 1×04 Review: A Bargaining on Time

  1. Pingback: El Ministerio del Tiempo 1×05 Review: Any Time Past | Corleones & Lannisters

  2. Pingback: El Ministerio del Tiempo 1×08 Review: The Legend of Time | Corleones & Lannisters

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