Historical justice. I have long hoped for a portrayal of Mary Tudor where she is not depicted as a bloodthirsty, vengeful old lady. But history is told by the victors. In England in particular, we know that Richard III was demonised, portrayed as an evil, murderous hunchback according to Shakespeare, to reinforce the Tudor supremacy. In Mary’s case, she was a Catholic monarch who had to be cast under a dark light by her Protestant successors.
So, luckily, we have a realistic depiction of Mary here. The Mary who saw, as a teenager, how her father cast her mother away and declared her illegitimate. The woman who doesn’t get married until she is 38, to a man eleven years younger, which was a huge age difference back then, especially for a young man.
The plot itself begins when the ministry discovers that Elizabeth I (just Elizabeth then), was poisoned in December 1554. Despite the fact that Alonso doesn’t really want to go save a woman who caused so much trouble for his people (don’t forget the second half of the 16th century is his time period), he, Pacino and Irene travel to England, then a part of what the doors count as Spain because the king was Felipe II, our old friend (just Felipe then, his dad wouldn’t abdicate for another year and a half).
So when our team arrives, the boys acting as royal guards and Irene as the queen’s Spanish teacher, they encounter a young king depressed by the English weather (the running gag of the episode) and a queen saddened by her loneliness, lamenting that her Spanish was good when she was a child, when her mother was allowed to be by her side. Felipe tells the men about his mistress back in Spain, Isabel de Osorio, and how he finds the old queen ugly and dull, but he knows it is his duty to provide an heir. Meanwhile, Mary and Irene read The Book of Good Love.
The team eventually sees Mary meet up with Sir Henry Bedingfeld, the man they know will poison Elizabeth. After Mary orders the man to do the deed (making sure her sister doesn’t suffer, though), Alonso and Pacino, along with their ministry contact, Bartolomé de Carranza, head to the palace where the young princess lives to save her.
In the midst of all this, Felipe has encountered some heretics that are about to be executed, so he confronts his wife about it, convincing her to spare their lives. Alas, Felipe is a dreamer, because later on, when he is having a drink with the Duke of Alba and the rest of the men, the heretics attack him (apparently, they weren’t too keen on having a Spanish, Catholic king), but Alonso saves Felipe’s life, getting shot in the arm. A bold move for Alonso, whose conscience had been bothering him, with memories of the Spanish Armada being sent to its death, along with all the events that happened in the past with an older Felipe.
Irene’s troubles up to then have been more, err, feminine. I’m saying this because the queen has found out she is pregnant, something hard to believe, because we all know Mary never had any children. It is only after Angustias brings Irene a pregnancy test that we know for certain that the queen has a phantom pregnancy. It is heartbreaking to watch Mary bleed and then have this confirmed, another disappointment in a life full of them, for a woman whose main concern was to ensure that her potential baby would never suffer fear like she has since she was a teenager.
And so, Irene returns to the present with a wounded Alonso, not before an impressed Duke of Alba offers him a position with him in his upcoming battles. Pacino stays behind, convincing Felipe to do what history tells us that happened: ensure Elizabeth’s safety, so that if Queen Mary dies childless, he can marry the younger sovereign and have offspring with her. Yes, we know that backfired, but at least that way the team can return with the certainty that Elizabeth’s life is not under threat anymore.
Of course, the present day has given us something different: the return of Amelia! Now a powerful businesswoman in 1885, Angustias summons her to our time to help a confused Eulogio remember that he is, indeed, Julián. In a series of powerful, superbly acted scenes, Amelia shows him photos of Ana and her son, whom he left behind in 1943. She tells him how they moved to Mexico. She shows him photos of Ana as a grandmother. She brings out a photo of Eulogio’s dead family with the real Eulogio. He is not too happy about this.
Then she brings her winning cards. The infamous photo of them in the 19th century. El Empecinado, from their first mission. Lope de Vega. Old Felipe II. García Lorca, whom he admits seeing in his dreams constantly, the man who told him to find Amelia. He starts to remember a woman running, and then Amelia brings out a photo of Maite. That is all he needs. He is Julián. That was his wife. He remembers. Then Amelia leaves and they imagine they kiss each other. Whatever. If you read my recaps, you know I dislike romance between ministry workers. At least it ended in a melancholic note in which they say goodbye to each other and that’s it, which was quite beautiful.
Because Julián’s high point is not with Amelia, but with his friend Lorca. Julián travels back in time to bring Lorca to the doors. In one of the hallways, he gives Lorca a warning. He tells him the day he is going to die, and begs him to make sure it doesn’t happen. Then he takes him to 1979 Granada, to a flamenco venue, where Lorca hears his own poems being sung. Then it hits him: people will remember his words. He doesn’t care if his body dies. His soul will survive for eternity.
Stop! In the name of love
-If you think I am being too harsh about Julián romancing Amelia, bear in mind that he has always been presented as a man forever tormented by the death of the love of his life. Amelia will never be number one in his heart. She knows this and she deserves better.
-Pacino’s reaction faces and comments are the highlight of every scene he is in.
-‘There’s a silver lining. They must have replaced fish and chips with chopitos.’
-‘BBC only produces family comedies with Andalusian maids and The Beatles never existed.’
-If you want to know more about Felipe II, the second half of Carlos, Rey Emperador covers his early life.
-‘Madness has always been a great excuse to get rid of the strongest women.’
-‘Welcome to the delightful English weather.’
-‘Pff I’d rather stay indoors…’ ‘If the king says we go, we MUST GOOO!’ ‘Sure, let’s go, let’s go.’
-‘I have renovated their army.’ ‘What an idea you had there…’
-‘Don’t get carried away by melancholy.’ rain starts pouring ‘With this weather…’
-Sorry, Pacino, Carranza is not from Cádiz.
-‘Between the heretics your father killed because they were Catholic and the ones you kill because they are Anglicans, there won’t be any English people left.’
-‘Have we been to Flanders or haven’t we been to Flanders?’
-The song Felipe and his men sing at the end has been heard before in the show, because he taught it to his son, Felipe III.
–After learning about the Bloody Mary ‘It could have also been called Bloody Henry, or Bloody Torquemada.’ You go, Irene!!!
-‘You are the only monarch who brings a general out of prison to give you another crown.’