I don’t know if I have admitted this before, but I have a soft spot for stories about older people. It doesn’t matter if it’s about them falling in love, or getting ill, or both things at the same time. I am a terrible mess from minute one. I couldn’t watch more than three minutes of Love in the Time of Cholera because I had read the book (and cried with its ending) and knew the main characters were going to get old and whatnot. Anyway, you get my point.
Knowing that about me, you can imagine how teary my eyes were when eMdT gave us a prologue à la Up (I also cried with the beginning of that one). We see Salvador and his then girlfriend Sofía walking at the park. Then the years pass. We see them stare at kids, and time goes by and they are not able to have any. In 2010, we see Sofía terminally ill, and the years keep passing by until it’s 2020 and we see Salvador alone at the park. He is carrying a bouquet and enters the cemetery, ready to put the flowers on his wife’s grave. He then sees her and they talk about how it’s been 40 years that day (is she a ghost or his brain speaking? Who knows). All I know is that I had been waiting since 2015 for a proper episode depicting Salvador’s backstory, and this was everything and more. Long live Jaime Blanch.
Let me tell you, by the way, that this is a story mostly about the executives, not the agents, because thanks to the wonders of scheduling conflicts, the only agent we see briefly is Alonso (and Velázquez!)
At the ministry, everybody is a bit nervous because a government delegate with an endless name is coming to audit them and see if he increases or decreases their budget. But Salvador won’t be able to meet the delegate, because Angustias has found something disturbing: in 1923, during his visit to Spain, Albert Einstein was killed and Emilio Herrera was the prime suspect. How is that possible, if those two were good friends? Salvador looks distraught. He sees his wife again, who reminds him what a coincidence it is that today of all days this should happen.
So off to 1923 Salvador goes. He finds Herrera and Einstein at a tablao, where he proceeds to get them so drunk that, when the killer arrives the next day, these two are in bed sleeping it off, and the man the shooter meets at the breakfast table is Salvador, who brings his own men to arrest this guy –who is an anti-Semite, by the way.
Unfortunately, something has gone wrong, because when Salvador returns to 2020, he discovers that the first people to walk the moon were Russian. Apparently, the Russians obtained Herrera’s space suit, which allowed them to design the prototype to go to space. But Salvador knows that didn’t happen, that it was the Americans who did that, that even Neil Armstrong gave a piece of moon rock to a disciple of Herrera upon his return.
So off to 1936, to the Cuatro Vientos aerodrome in Madrid, where Herrera is keeping his space suit, unaware of some odd-looking men waiting outside by an aircraft. Salvador arrives to retrieve it for the Spanish government; to prove to Herrera that the Russians are there to steal it from him, he pays a little boy to throw a ball at the men by the aircraft, who promptly start cursing in Russian. Aghast, both Herrera and Salvador quickly find out that Herrera’s assistant, Gerardo, was going to sell the space suit to the Russians. Upon the discovery, Gerardo and his own henchman take our two men prisoners and put them in a car, leading them to their deaths.
It is around this time that Angustias has a weird paranormal experience, in which a framed photograph of Salvador and Sofía keeps falling down, no matter how many times Angustias puts it back up. At this point, I am fully buying that Sofía’s spirit is there –because we even see her! Anyway. Thanks to the GPS that Angustias made sure Salvador kept activated, Irene and Alonso run after him to save him, while Ernesto stays behind minding the fort. Angustias also reveals that this is not the first time Salvador has gone off on a mission.
Another proof that Sofía’s spirit is real or that Salvador has dementia (please, don’t, show): he sees her during the car ride. Fortunately for him, Irene and Alonso save him and Herrera before being executed. Herrera asks them to keep the space suit safe and balance is restored.
Back in the ministry, it is time for Salvador to tell his team the truth. The 40th anniversary was of the day he started working in the ministry, which was coincidentally also the day he met Sofía, a worker there. Salvador, who had been given the job at the ministry thanks to the recommendation of Adolfo Suárez, is sent on a mission even though he is not meant to be an agent. As it turns out, the sub-secretary back them was prrrrrreeeeetty corrupt, and sent Salvador to 1889 Granada to give his own great-grandfather the deeds to some land in Sierra Nevada, land that in the present day costs a fortune. Salvador complains that no one should change history for their own benefit, but it is literally his first day there, so there is nothing he can do.
In Granada, Salvador saves a kid from dying when a pot falls from a balcony. The father of the boy invites him over for lunch to thank him, and Salvador learns the kid’s name is Emilio Herrera.
Upon his return to 1980, Salvador is worrying that he might have changed history, that the kid might turn out to be a Hitler or something, and he shares his worries with Sofía, but she soothes him. She tells him that Herrera was actually one of the most important scientists in Spain, that he invented the first prototype of space suit; that NASA wanted to hire him, but he declined because they refused his petition to put the Spanish flag alongside the USA one.
Salvador then tells the team about the moon rock that Armstrong brought to Herrera’s disciple, rock that was stolen in 2004. He also reveals that, along the years, he and Sofía saw Herrera as the son they never had. They went to his wedding, to his son’s funeral…always from a distance.
We then cut to Paris, 1947. Herrera is looking at photos from an album and spots Salvador. How is that possible? He realises he has seen him many times in his life, and starts to wonder what is happening, so he decides to draw a portrait of him and publish it in a newspaper. When Salvador discovers the drawing, he comes up with an idea: Alonso and Irene will go to steal the moon rock at the same time the original thief did, and take it to Herrera, so that he knows there was a meaning to his work. Salvador tells him that of course his life was worth living, and assures him that, thanks to his space suit, humankind made it to the Moon in 1969. Herrera knows this means he won’t be alive to see it, but he knows it will happen, and he is fine with it.
While all this happens, we get the visit from the delegate, who starts off on the wrong foot, bumping into Alonso and making him angry because he somehow knows Alonso’s name. He then proceeds to question everything and everyone, creating some hilarious moments with Velázquez (dude, you are receiving salaries from two different centuries!) But! It is revealed at the very end that he was an impostor, as the real delegate arrives just as the other one leaves. That is a mystery for another day.
Three days after his anniversary, everyone gathers to give Salvador a cake. They ask him to make a wish, and he sees his wife (‘s spirit?) again. He fulfilled every wish he ever had, he says. And I swear to God I thought at different points they were going to kill Salvador off and I am just so happy he is there, in perfect shape.
See you next week, I need to remove this speck of dust from my eye, it’s making me weepy…
“I’m casting the evil eye on you… Done.”
-I must confess I didn’t know about Emilio Herrera, but as always, Javier Olivares gives us the gift of a piece of history we should delve into.
-“His name is Ignacio María Ayerbe De la Fuente Jiménez Salgado.” “If you don’t watch out, he’s going to steal the surnames of everyone in Spain.”
-I loved the joke about the falconetes, which I am assuming it was a thinly veiled joke about the Falcon, the private airplane of the president of Spain, who has been criticised a lot for using it for personal affairs.
-“Ten thousand euros in falconets. What the hell are those?” “They are small cannons. They could be carried by a mule, or in a soldier’s back, if need be.” “And couldn’t you buy these falconets cheaper? For a little less, you can buy a Kalashnikov and we save on the mule and the soldier’s lumbago.” “You want Hernán Cortés to conquer Mexico with a Kalashnikov?”
-“Lechuguillas? I assume these are not the kind that you eat with tomatillos?” here, the joke is that lechuguilla is diminutive of lechuga (lettuce), but it also means ruff
-Is the fake delegate extremely racist and xenophobic? Is that the reason he is there? He seems very concerned about Arabs from the 15th century not having their papers. Because, of course, why wouldn’t people from 400 years ago have a laminated ID?
-Kudos again to Olivares and his writers for their criticism of today’s politics, both from those in power and those in the opposition, in the scene of Salvador watching the news. It really isn’t politics anymore, or taking care of a country, but a playground where angry teenagers fight. Not even teenagers, toddlers.
-“I don’t get why we have you doing photo fit pictures. A street artist would be much cheaper.”
-In case you are wondering, Pacino has taken time off sick, others have returned to their times, someone has left the ministry to produce web series, Ortigosa is on a mission at the Cordoba of the Caliphs and Julián has just left to solve the patent of table football in the 19th century.
-“Two days before Spain touched the sky, and not in a metaphorical way!”
-If the fake delegate’s face looks familiar to you, he played Anne de Montmorency in Carlos, Rey Emperador.
-“What a cretin.” “Prudish.” “Breadface.” “Simpleton.” “Busybody.” “Toff.” “Major arsehole, that’s it.” I have translated the insults as closely as I can to their meaning, but bear in mind that Alonso and Velázquez are using really old-fashioned, out-of-use words.
-“He is in Madrid, 1936.” “Oh my, he could have gone to 1970s Torremolinos.”
-“Since the father couldn’t go as high up as he would’ve wanted to, the son has gone down faster that he would’ve liked.”
-“I paint the soul. I don’t draw doodles, I paint the soul!” “Then, paint it cheaper, because you have salaries from two different centuries.”
-“Well, if everything sucks, let’s just throw the cake against the wall and organise ourselves to do a collective suicide.”
-Velázquez: now in charge of the edible drawings on cakes.
-“I want to fly.”
-Please, read Love in the Time of Cholera and watch Up.