For those of you who expected to find out last week more about Eulogio’s dream and whether or not that had made his memories return… Sorry! But there is way too much going on to spend time on a sedated man who still has dreams about Lorca and a girl running.
Why do we need to focus on something else? Because Velázquez was hanging out in his real present, 1648, with his best pal, King Felipe IV, admiring Diego’s latest work, La Venus del Espejo (currently displayed to be admired at London’s National Gallery), when this girl named Carolina showed up saying things like “cool” and other modern stuff that Velázquez knows it’s a little too early to say. So up he goes to the ministry to reveal his concerns. But we have seen this girl dream about a past life in the 1980s and participating in the show Un, Dos, Tres, Responda Otra Vez.
At the ministry, after effectively discovering a letter about the Peace of Westphalia written by Felipe IV (wonderfully played by Spanish comedic actor Edu Soto) which is word by word the lyrics to a Raphael song, Salvador decides to send Irene and Alonso to the king’s court. In the meantime, with the help of the painting the king commissioned of Carolina, Pacino and Lola find her in their database: she is a woman from Madrid who went missing in 1981, so that’s the time these two travel to. By the way, in the painting Carolina shows up holding a Spanish omelette.
Alonso, must be said, doesn’t want to return to work for the ministry, seeing his last stint as a one-off freelance effort to help out Julián. But after even his wife suggests he should come back, our Alonso arrives with little Blanca, demanding that the ministry create a nursery in the building for workers like himself. For the time being, Angustias will take care of his daughter while he is away on his mission.
Madrid, 1981. Lola and Pacino find out that Carolina’s marriage was far from perfect. The neighbours heard fights and more than that on a daily basis. It was after the pair won a flat in Torrevieja in the popular show Un, Dos, Tres that she disappeared.
After the discovery, the pair goes to a bar and Pacino bumps into his friend from childhood, Ángel, who reveals he has just been cast in a film from this up and coming director, Pedro Almodóvar. The film is Labyrinth of Passion, Almodóvar’s second film, and Ángel is playing Sadec, the role that is meant to be the debut of Antonio Banderas, and the beginning of a fruitful movie partnership between the actor and director that continues today. This means that Lola and Pacino now have a different mission: to ensure that Banderas, and not Ángel, is the actor chosen for the debut role.
So, since these two are in Madrid, it is up to Alonso and Irene to travel to Torrevieja in 1981 to try and find the door Carolina used, and they discover it in the bathroom of the apartment. More precisely, in the bathroom cabinet. And yes, when you go through it, you come across the Alcázar.
Back in Madrid, Pacino and Lola are experiencing the Movida Madrileña in a bar where Almodóvar is performing with Fabio McNamara (again Edu Soto! Brilliant double performance). After the performance, Lola and Pacino sit down with Ángel, Almodóvar and McNamara, hoping to convince Pedro to check out this new kid called Antonio who might be promising. But Lola ruins the moment because she is flat out drunk, and she tells the director that she has an uncle who can fund his film. Never get drunk while time travelling.
So when the pair returns to the present to inform Salvador, he considers this might be a good idea after all. 70% of the movie was actually funded by the Banco de Crédito Industrial, so he decides to send Ernesto to pretend to be Lola’s uncle. Medieval Ernesto is not too happy about being part of making such a racy film happen, but he serves his ministry. And although the money is now coming from the ministry, officially it will have been paid for by the bank. The story ends on a bad note when Pacino realises his dear friend has AIDS.
In 1648, Alonso and Irene infiltrate court, and are treated to a night that is, step by step, the entire show Un, Dos, Tres conducted by Carolina. All the tests, word by word, even the music of the show is played by the court’s musicians, and the king himself delivers unforgettable lines. It is hilarious to see how Alonso and Irene dive into it and immerse themselves into the “show” by playing like their lives are at stake.
But Irene mentions the word “revolver” during one of the tests, as a way to reveal to Carolina that they are from more modern times. It is later that Carolina reveals to Irene how she found the door in the cabinet, how she met the king and they fell in love. How that allowed her to escape an abusive husband she only married because her parents ordered her to, when she loved her first boyfriend, Paco. Apparently, she told Paco to wait for her outside the church on her wedding day so they could have a perfect end like in The Graduate, but Carolina cowered and never left the ceremony, and now regrets not having done so. So no, Irene, thanks, but she will remain in the 17th century, even if it means Felipe IV won’t marry Mariana of Austria (which means Velázquez won’t paint Las Meninas!)
Carolina’s way of getting rid of Irene and Alonso is to tell the king that they are conspiring against him, immediately throwing them into the dungeons. Alonso then laments that they have been sent to separate two people who love each other, though he knows it is his duty.
However, Carolina regrets putting them in a cell, so she visits them, and Alonso offers her the chance to start a new life if she sets them free. They can help her have a bright future. But Carolina only wants Paco, the man she stood up.
To help her, Irene and Alonso send Carolina in 1978 a letter in a bouquet, encouraging her to leave the church during her wedding. While our present Carolina and the other two await in a car nearby to watch the scene, they witness how wedding-day Carolina exits the church but Paco is not there. He never came. Her future wouldn’t change either way. So the ministry offers her a new life. And it looks like she takes it.
Back in 1981, Almodóvar is bedazzled by Banderas without even knowing it’s him, which means they were always meant to meet anyway. But Ángel is dying, and there is no way to save him. Already owning the obituary of his friend, Pacino goes back to the hospital to see him one last time, and he finds Pedro there. Between the two of them, they help Ángel get dressed to go on stage on last time to give a rendition of David Bowie’s Life on Mars. Pacino watches from the audience, teary-eyed, happy to be able to see his friend one last time.
The dungeon for little people
-I am so happy next week’s episode will feature Mary I. She has been maligned by history, and it is time she is seen in a new light. It also gives Javier Olivares a new opportunity to feature Felipe II, a character he loves. Here’s hoping he will one day make the miniseries he wants to film about him.
-When Carolina goes through the door in her nightgown and meets the king and his men, I felt a strong Outlander vibe: the woman in the white gown who suddenly finds herself in the past, in the middle of a field, with unknown men.
-I don’t know how to explain to people outside Spain all the references to Un, Dos, Tres. From the very beginning when Carolina and Felipe IV say “¿nos alabamos?” to all the tests Irene and Alonso go through, like Questions and Answers (with the weapon names), the Auction, how the big prize was always a flat in Torrevieja… So I have decided to simply share with you below one of the episodes in full.
-‘Really cool? Isn’t that too cheli for the 17th century?’ Let me explain that the expression Carolina uses is “mola mogollón,” which is indeed very “cheli.” That is, Madrid slang.
-I live for the interactions between Velázquez and Salvador: ‘Are you aware that if Felipe doesn’t marry Mariana of Austria, I will never paint Las Meninas?’ ‘Then you will paint Las Mononas.’
-‘We can take Blanca to nursery school.’ ‘Nursery school? The dungeon for little people!’
-I also want to highlight the excellent casting of Carlos Santos (who worked with Hugo Silva in Los Hombres de Paco) as Almodóvar. As you can see in the video that is played later of the real Almodóvar, the resemblance in the physic and the manners is spot on.
–‘Reconciliación familiar.’ ‘Conciliación, Alonso, conciliación.’ I leave this quote in Spanish because it cannot be translated into English, since the joke is that the phrasing is Conciliación Familiar, not Reconciliación, as Alonso says, but in English the phrasing is actually Family Reconciliation.
-‘If we make it out of this alive, remind me to never let you watch soap operas ever again.’
-‘Blanquita has poo-poo.’ ‘Poo-poo?’ ‘She has shat herself, literally.’
-‘Did you serve in the Army of Flanders or in the Workers’ Commissions?’
-‘Just remember when you pretended to be a bigwig of the music industry to convince Julio Iglesias to give up on his football career.’
-I need to point out that Mariana of Austria was 14 when she married Felipe IV, and also, she was his niece, because her mother was Felipe’s sister. No surprise then about Carlos II.
-Pacino should just be in charge of reading movie synopses forever.
-Salvador is so right that in this day and age of political correctness no one would dare to make a movie like Labyrinth of Passion.
-‘I know that medieval blood runs through your veins.’
-‘The carnival doesn’t start until February…’
-This man was a soldier of the Army of Flanders in the 16th century:
-A honorary mention to the moment where Velázquez can’t close the lift’s door fast enough when he sees Alonso’s daughter.
-By the way, what do you think of the new intro?