November 1st, 2017. That was the last time Pacino and Alonso saw each other. And that was the last time El Ministerio del Tiempo blessed our screens with its presence. It has been forever, but now it’s back, in grand style, and it doesn’t waste a minute!
If you saw the prequel, you must know by now that Salvador, Irene and Ernesto are dealing with some dude in the 1940s who looks just like Julián. How can that be? He died in the Battle of Teruel! Ha! Fooled you.
Alonso, Pacino and Lola are summoned (so is Amelia, but she doesn’t show up – yet) so they can learn what’s going on: this man, Eulogio Romero Lozano, a former soldier who fought with the División Azul and is now about to become a movie star, is identical to their deceased colleague. Alonso was reluctant to return (he has a child now), but upon seeing this Julián lookalike, his priorities change.
Team mission now: travel to Madrid in 1943, where the movie Amor y Patria is about to wrap up, to find out who this Eulogio man is, and whether it is Julián or just some guy who looks like him (for the purpose of making this recap readable, I am going to refer to him as Eulogio).
In 1943, Irene and Alonso attend a press conference as a journalist and photographer and, unable to get anything from Eulogio, Irene convinces him to meet her the next day for an interview. At the same time, Pacino very smartly asks Eulogio for his autograph and keeps his cigarette butt. DNA and graphology tests ensured!
It is then we have a glimpse of what Eulogio might be after: he is seducing the producer’s wife to obtain invitations to this event at El Pardo with Franco. At this point, we wonder if this is our Julián and he is faking it, because his face betrays him. Is he a spy? Is he still a ministry worker trying to protect history?
After a short interview with Irene in which we meet a young Berlanga (who fought in the División Azul and whose life was saved by Eulogio), we find out the results of the tests: that Eulogio lad is definitely Julián, but he doesn’t know, so we will keep calling him Eulogio. The problem is Lola finds out that the real Eulogio Romero died in the Battle of Teruel, just like Julián allegedly had. Did Julián lose his memory and assumed his identity out of survival instincts? Possibly.
Pacino, who has stayed in 1943 to follow Eulogio, sends some photos to the ministry of him meeting some men whom Lola identifies as Republicans she knew (this was her time, after all). This clearly means Eulogio is up to no good at that event at El Pardo.
(Poor Eulogio, in the meantime, is having some weird dreams where he is still at war and someone shoots him. I just hope it won’t be long until he remembers he is Julián).
Anyhow, Lola meets up with one of the Republicans, who happens to be her ex. I could start ranting here about how much I dislike pairings between ministry workers, because they hinder storylines, in my opinion. Which is why I’d rather see Pacino and Lola as friends. I can see why their relationship makes Pacino’s discovery of Lola’s involvement with her ex more heart-breaking, but I don’t know, it is my personal taste. I prefer it when they are all colleagues. I don’t like it when romance gets on the way of bigger storylines.
As this is happening, Irene and Alonso go to Eulogio’s house to interview his wife. Everything in this scene is odd; the woman acts like a robot reciting something she learnt by heart, and Alonso notices that the photographs in the house indicate no love between them. This is too suspicious.
Lola and Pacino then go back to the present to tell Salvador the real deal: Lola’s ex, along with Eulogio, is plotting to kill Franco. Lola is on board with that, but Salvador is not having it: the ministry is there to make sure history doesn’t change, and Franco will die three decades later, not during that assassination attempt.
So, as Lola infiltrates and stays with her ex, Eulogio appears, ready to tie any loose ends before the assassination. And like all great storylines, all the main characters must end up in the same place. Irene and Alonso, suspicious (like we said) of Eulogio’s wife, follow her all the way to… the garage where the other three are. It’s a trap! Eulogio was suspicious of them and asked his wife to lead them there. He is certain they are working with anti-Republican forces to catch them and who knows what. So it is tying-hostages-to-a-chair time! Poor Irene and Alonso will have to spend the night like that, until the others leave and Pacino can come in to free them.
So then, the day is here! The day when Eulogio and Lola’s ex (sorry I didn’t catch his name) will try to kill Franco (Pep Miràs returning to the role) and the team will prevent it. Except Lola finds her ex talking to an officer and showing him some bullets. What is going on? Is he a traitor to his own cause?
Our Eulogio proceeds to take a walk with Franco, and when he is about to pull the trigger, surprise! Another Franco is behind him! This whole scene feels like a psychedelic dream, out of the deepest corners of Hitchcock’s imagination. Julián shoots anyway, aiming at one of the Francos, but alas, there are no bullets! Lola rushes in to warn Eulogio, too late. One of the Francos knocks him out, and the guards appear with Lola’s ex. Poor Lola is taken away with an unconscious Eulogio, while the real Franco leaves his doubles to take over while he goes hunting.
But it’s not like two of our main characters are going to die here! The rest of the team rescues them and they all come back to the present. What ensues is one of the best and more heartrending sequences, when Eulogio wakes up and everyone tries to convince him that his real name is Julián and that 2020 is his real time, not the 1940s. Eulogio is bewildered, confused, feelings that quickly turn into anger, leaving the others no option but to sedate him.
Then Alonso, upset after seeing one of his best friends in that state, returns home to his wife Elena and his daughter. Pacino and Lola break up, and a sedated Eulogio dreams.
He dreams about the División Azul, the cold winter in Russia, the snow. He can’t see with the fog. Then someone approaches him. The silhouette of a man with an Andalusian accent. “Julián, don’t you recognise me?” he says. “Who are you?” Eulogio wants to know. “I’m Federico.” Then realisation hits his eyes. Julián’s eyes.
“I have loved you”
-Can I just say I loved the scene when Eulogio and his co-star are filming the movie? It reminded me so much of Singin’ In the Rain (Here’s hoping it was actually a homage). And Eulogio’s emoting itself was priceless.
-I forgot to mention that the new headquarters of the ministry is the old building of Radio Nacional de España. Salvador blames the move outside the city to gentrification.
-Kudos for all the meta jokes, including Pacino talking about similarities between people: “One thing is to look a lot like someone, and another is to be identical. Donald Trump and Boris Johnson: they look alike, but they are not identical. Benjamin Franklin and Chiquito de la Calzada: they look alike, but they are not identical. That guy from Los Hombres de Paco and I (I’m not saying it, everyone else is) we look alike, but…”
-We now have elevators!
-The show reminds us that there were casualties on both sides of the Spanish Civil War, bombings on both sides with innocent people killed on both sides. These wars, no matter who wins, always result in confrontation, brother against brother, father against son, cousin against cousin. Pointless suffering.
-When Eulogio mentions to Berlanga that he should work in cinema, for a second I thought it was Julián in there, trying to keep history the same.
-“He wrote Raza, but he is so humble that he signed under a seudonym.” “It’s not humility, Carmen. It’s because, if I put my real name, people will think I spend my time writing, not ruling.”
-Kudos for the joke about how these days we seem to assume viewers are dumb: “I’ll call it Raza 2, that way people won’t get confused and they’ll know it’s a sequel.”
-I also answer my phone assuming it is someone trying to convince me to change companies.
-I’m not entirely sure, but is it possible that Alonso named his daughter Blanca, like his 16th century wife?
-I have never laughed harder than when Eulogio shouts “y por ESPAÑA!!!”
-Never a watermelon saved so many lives before.
-But really, there was no better way to end this comeback episode than with Lorca. BRAVO.