El Ministerio del Tiempo 4×07 Review: Past Imperfect

el ministerio del tiempo 4x07 preterito imperfecto salvador draws anomaly

It is always impossible to pick just one episode out of a whole series, but if I had to choose just one, I might say one from season 2 where the team meets Napoleon in a monastery. Granted, I love many other episodes (Felipe II, Lorca, Lope, Groundhog Day with Isabel I, Cervantes…) but I don’t think I ever laughed as hard as I did with the monastery. But this week’s episode comes close.

el ministerio del tiempo 4x07 preterito imperfecto salvador hires cucalonWe begin with Salvador at a club, watching some stand-up comedy about political correctness (great subject). After the show, he has a drink with the comedian, Juanjo Cucalón (this is a real actor known for his TV work, playing himself, by the way). At the same time, in 1832, Fernando VII is ailing in bed. His doctor, Castelló, is a ministry agent, and promptly calls Salvador to inform him that, as suspected, the monarch is going to die a year earlier if nothing can be done. Thus, Salvador begins his plan: he tells Cucalón, who is the spitting image of the king, that he is going to be part of a “historical reality show” where all he needs to do is lay in bed and, most importantly, not say a word.

Why is it so important that Fernando VII, arguably the worst monarch Spain has ever had, survives another year? You see, there was this law, Pragmatic Sanction of 1830, which stated that a woman could only inherit the throne under extreme circumstances. In this case, that meant that the heir would be Fernando’s brother, Carlos María Isidro, because Fernando and his wife María Cristina only had two daughters. But Fernando eventually abolished that law, allowing his daughter Isabel to become queen. The problem is, if he is about to die before his time, he can’t abolish the law. So something must be done. Also, Carlos María Isidro (CMI from now on) isn’t even supposed to be there.

el ministerio del tiempo 4x07 salvador la madre queSo the plan gets started, and while Irene and Ernesto bring Fernando VII to the present day to treat him and find out what’s wrong with him, Pacino and Alonso are in charge of going to the past with Cucalón, Pacino as assistant to the doctor, Alonso as his personal guard. Alonso is ecstatic because he knows Cucalón from his favourite soap operas, but Pacino is more worried about the actor doing a proper job and remaining silent, like a dying man. What could go wrong?

Things start to look bad when Cucalón sucks on a dummy as an enunciation technique, but soon he is tested with the arrival of the queen and Calomarde, the Secretary of Justice. It doesn’t help that he is lying in a bed that stinks and the sheets are sweaty.

el ministerio del tiempo 4x07 preterito imperfecto calomarde poisons fernando viiIn the ministry in 2020, Fernando VII doesn’t seem to improve, even going into cardiac arrest. All the while, Alonso troubles himself because he can’t seem to respect a king (Fernando VII was really a dipshit) and Pacino is still sad because Lola is gone.

Unbeknownst to them, we the audience soon discover Calomarde is up to no good, as he discusses with the cook how much poison to put in the king’s morning porridge. When the breakfast arrives (not before Alonso hilariously pads the servant down), María Cristina insists on giving him the porridge herself, and while alone, she confesses to her husband that she is sorry she made him sign the document in 1830 that annulled their daughter as the heir, something she only did to protect her child. But she regrets it. Thanks to the hidden cameras installed in the room, Ernesto and Salvador watch aghast from the ministry as Cucalón tells the queen that he loves her and kisses her, going completely off-script –although, as he reminds them later, there isn’t a script at all. Just in case, Salvador warns Pacino and asks him to keep an eye on Cucalón. But because we knew this guy wouldn’t just play dead, he even lights a cigarette he smuggled under his nightgown.

It is then we learn that Calomarde and CMI are in cahoots about the slow poisoning of the king. But what’s worse, the brother, this human version of Scar, wants to bring back the Inquisition when he reigns!

el ministerio del tiempo 4x07 preterito imperfecto pacino alonso castello shylock monologueWe move on to more amusing moments when Castelló, Pacino and Alonso tell Cucalón off for talking while in character. The guy is all about showing his grandeur as an actor, and goes the extra mile and starts reciting the Shylock monologue from The Merchant of Venice; but it is during this recital that he suddenly becomes ill. Something is rotten in the state of Spain, indeed.

Holding Cucalón’s blood sample, Pacino returns to the ministry so that the doctor treating the king can find out what poison is running through their veins.  Salvador uses this moment to let Pacino know that Fernando VII is the only monarch who didn’t know about the ministry. His father did, and his wife will as well, but he would have used it for the wrong reasons, or perhaps even closed it altogether.

Back in the palace, Pacino and Alonso pay a visit to the cook, and through the power of, err, persuasion, they discover that Calomarde was behind the poisoning.

In the royal chamber, Cucalón is now raving, saying stuff about acting in front of the queen. Irene arrives with an antidote and confirming that the poison was arsenic, but she also tells the team that now Cucalón has to get up, walk around, talk, so that the people behind the poisoning get nervous.

el ministerio del tiempo 4x07 preterito imperfecto fernando vii soy padre antes que reyAs one could expect, leaving the actor to act is not a great idea. The next morning, the queen arrives with her youngest child and he calls her Isabel, when it’s Luisa Fernanda. He evens says some lines directly at the camera. A mess. CMI sees his “brother” walking around the gardens and gets restless. We know something is coming.

In the ministry, Fernando VII is completely recovered, and Salvador uses his sanity to scold him, big time. He tells the monarch that he is in purgatory, and that the only way he can atone for his sins is making sure that his daughter inherits the throne, because he is only one year away from dying.

But please, forget about that, because now comes the highlight of the episode. Alone in his room with the queen, Cucalón is shocked when she offers herself to him. In her case, she claims that, if he makes the sacrifice of reinstating Isabel, she will make the sacrifice of giving him what she hasn’t in a while. First reticent, Cucalón is later all in, ignoring the offer of a strange pillow and all. And then it goes wild. Like, really wild. It can be heard everywhere in the palace. I don’t think I have ever laughed this much at a sex scene.

el ministerio del tiempo 4x07 reality historico

The problem is that Fernando VII had a malformation in his, err, thing, so Salvador, who is watching the screens with the others in the ministry, is certain that the queen now knows Cucalón is an impostor. Alonso and Pacino, who are by the door with Castelló, listen as the doctor tells them about the “issue” as well. To be fair, the queen seems pretty okay afterwards, so I don’t see the problem.

el ministerio del tiempo 4x07 preterito imperfecto carlos maria isidro maria cristina calomarde see fernando viiOh wait, there is a problem. While our team is fighting Cucalón over his deeds, soldiers arrive, with Calomarde and CMI at the front, holding María Cristina hostage. They claim that the queen and Castelló have killed the king and have put an impostor in his place, because everyone knows about Fernando VII’s inability to, you know, give pleasure to women. Demanding the soldiers undress the man to prove he is not the king, what the bad guys don’t know is that, while they were on their way to the room, Irene has arrived with the real Fernando and sent Cucalón to the present, so the man in front of them is indeed the king. And he is not too happy, so he removes his nightgown in front of everyone, angered that his identity is questioned in the first place. Yes, everyone sees his junk.

Fernando doesn’t hesitate and banishes Calomarde, who gets a well-deserved slap from the queen (although history says it was her sister who slapped him). CMI would also get banished, to Portugal, and from then, the Carlist Wars would begin. Luckily for us, the plan works out, and Fernando signs the abolition of the law, ensuring the throne for his daughter. Castelló, present in the room, winks at the camera, knowing the others are watching – Cucalón included. Now he knows that he was in the past, and he actually slept with the queen. Not that he will be allowed to tell anyone ever.

el ministerio dle tiempo 4x07 julian saves wife maiteIf you missed Julián, you must know that he wasn’t idle. Claiming that he was visiting his sick mother, Julián sneaks into the ministry and goes to… can you guess? Yes, he goes to the day Maite died, and my friends, he actually saves her this time! I feel like this was always meant to happen. Sure, he had feelings for Amelia and whatnot, but Maite has always been the love of his life. It was his one consistent trait. His whole character has been about him trying to save her, then not being able to, then moving to a century in the past to help people and forget he couldn’t help her… And now he has! Unfortunately, some criminal-looking men go after him and kidnap him, forcing him into a car. I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but I think next week, for the finale, we are going to… the future!



God, Fatherland, and Me

el ministerio del tiempo 4x07 aqui no ha pasado nada

-I wish I could include all the memorable quotes, but it would be impossible. Pacino alone has about fifty.

-I encourage you to learn more about Fernando VII, and the royal family in general in the 19th century. I have only found articles about his anomaly in Spanish.

-“It was in those small moments of silence where I realised what a great actor you are.”

-“It’s historical. The only thing left to do in realities.”

el ministerio del tiempo 4x07 preterito imperfecto alonso pacino defend fernando vii-“It’s not fair, you two have great costumes, and me, instead of a king, I look like the ghost of Christmas.”

-“You know what they say: play an ill person, you get an award.”

-Castelló claims “Por La Pepa” which is the constitution of 1812. It was a saying uttered by liberals. You have to admire how much historical accuracy this show has.

-You also have to admire the great casting. Every actor resembles their real-life counterpart. And that is thanks to casting director Luis San Narciso, who gets a mention in the episode when Cucalón mentions how good the other “actors” are.

-“The Spanish people believe anything, but give them a martyr and they will go nuts.”

-“The scene was taking me towards something more physical.” “Then see if it takes you to something physical, but inwards.”

-“What an actor won’t do for a role.”

-“I close my eyes and I’m with her until I wake up.”

ministerio del tiempo 4x07 pacino pa dentro-I wish I had a gif of Pacino slapping Cucalón on the forehead and then claiming there was a fly.”

-“How is he?” “So-so… as they say in my home town.”

-“I can’t take this anymore. This is The Rich Cry Too, but with period costumes.”

-“What a devout wife.” “That’s not love, that’s panic because she is losing her leverage.” “I’m worried about the little girl.” “Ernesto, this is not a TV show.”

 -“Pacino wants to give him some direction notes.” “Then he better give them to him soon, or else this is going to change genres pretty quickly.”

-“He is a politician capable of dealing with the devil as long as that keeps him on the throne.”

-“Cervantes already said it: each actor is as God made them and even worse.”

-“Stick to the script!” “But there is no script!”

-“Is that Shakespeare or the Álvarez Quintero brothers?”

el ministerio del tiempo 4x07 preterito imperfecto pacino alonso guard door-Nice knife-throwing skills, Alonso!

-“I need to study more to understand everything.” Never a line said in this show made more sense than this one

-“Last time it was lacking salt, and that can’t be, or else we are going to kick you out of Masterchef.”

A delirious Cucalón: “You have to be your character, become your character..”

-If you want to read on Fernando VII, I recommend the biography by Emilio La Parra López.

-“Lots of fancy curtains and dress coats, but the catering on this production is not the best…”

-“An awareness of death encourages us to live more intensely.” “Beautiful. Garcilaso?” “Paulo Coelho.”

-“I am a king, but first and foremost (looks at camera) I am a father.”

-From the first second, I knew Cucalón would sing María Cristina me quiere gobernar to the queen.

-“I’m Fernando VII.” “And I am Antonio Banderas, don’t mess with me.”

-Out of topic, but I’d like to say it: let’s focus on what unites us, not what divides us, especially with the year we are living as a planet.

-You haven’t truly been a child in Spain if you don’t know this song by heart:

Categories: Spanish Historical Fiction, Television | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Post navigation

15 thoughts on “El Ministerio del Tiempo 4×07 Review: Past Imperfect

  1. Heather

    I only saw the previews but color me surprised. I’ve already said how I feel about the whole Maite storyline so let’s just say I hope she and Julian are reunited in life or death and we never hear from them again.
    I do think the old woman will turn out to be Lola and I can see her finding some people to kidnap Julian to help bring back our world. I’m hoping Alonso is okay though would he and Pacino even be at the ministry if not for Julian?
    On a shallow note, I hope Hugo Silva got to keep that yellow camel hair coat because that is epic! It has the same kind of swishing when he runs as Sherlock and his long coat.

    Sad that it is the end though hoping now that Pacino and Amelia get together because Lola is well old and Pacino needs loving from somewhere-seriously writers? We won’t even get into the baby and having it killed and buried by the Ministry. Yikes. Finally, the female police detective looks familiar but not sure where.

    • I’ll have to admit that a friend had to point it out to me, but once I realized that last episode seem to suggest a Julian finally reunited wih Maite and a Lola staying old for good, hence no more nonsense between Pacino and Amelia, that made me smile. Glad me and my friend were not the only ones to think that :p

      On a more serious note, the final episode looks like a game changer and I’m very much looking forward to it.
      Technically, the moment Julian saves Maite that should automatically undo his recruitment in the Ministry and all the missions he accomplished, but it doesnt exactly looks like that’s what it is going to happen (our writers have never been too strict with sci-fi rules, which is not necessarily a bad thing, gives them more leeway to operate without too many constrictions).
      It looks like someone from 2070 MdT (Lola? Someone also suggested Irene. Or maybe Carolina) kidnapped him to show him something in the future. It is not clear how that could affect present time MdT but it looks like they have fallen in disgrace, with barely any personnel left and the whole dead newborn story. That looks the weirdest one. Could that be Julian travelling back from 2070 without drinking the potion?

      Any wild theory?

      • Ginny C

        With this show, I am going to refrain from having a theory because they always throw them out the window, but it is funny thr episode title is going to be Days of Future Past. Based on that, it can either be that he creates an alternate timeline or something similar. I really cannot tell, and I am sure we will all be wrong 😂

  2. Cris


    I’m a spanish lurker that has been reading your MoT entries since the first one 🙂

    Did you noticed the great quote Alonso has, when he and Pacino were about to enter the palace first time with Cucalon?

    I can’t remember the exact words. Pacino and Cucalon were talking about how popular seems to be hospital themed tv shows among audiences. And then Alonso says something like “indeed they are” *wink wink*.

    And that’s ’cause Nacho Fresneda is well known for his character Doctor Manuel Aime (Hospital Central).

    • Ginny C

      Indeed! There were so many winks, including that one, or the one I mentioned about the casting director, or how the queen asks Castelló how he knows Pacino and he says he is his student (Juan Codina, the actor, has an acting studio, and I believe Hugo Silva was in fact his pupil).

  3. Heather

    Finally found a site that has full episodes online. This one was a belter, not as funny as Napoleon but belly laughs throughout. So does the actor playing the king do standup comedy or was that made up for the show? The best romance in the show continues to be the bromance between Alonso and Pacino, having heart felt chats but also lots of banter. They do better when it’s just them as the actors play off well together-like with the cook and when they first meet the actor at the Ministry.
    This show is probably the best case again a monarchy as it seems most of Spain’s Kings were mierdo. Finally, I don’t know what they taught in Franco’s army but Julian seems to be the Spanish action hero at the end evading capture!;P

    • Ginny C

      I was also surprised by Julián’s skills! I wouldn’t say they go against the monarchy in general, but they like showing the lights and shadows. Felipe II in emdt ruins things at the end of season 2, but that was all made up. Him and his son and grandson, Felipes 2 and 3, they did so much fir the empire and the arts. And of course, this show is partial to Isabel. Don’t forget Olivares studied history, so he presents it with all the information, and no ruler is completely good nor completely bad. Except in Fernando VII’s case. That one was truly a selfish coward.

    • Ginny C

      Ouch! I meant Felipes 3 and 4

  4. As usual, an excellent recap!

    I agree that the most enjoyable relationship in the show is the bromance between Alonso and Pacino, what a funny couple they make! Too bad we still didnt get a Julian/Pacino mission, that would have been epic! But I understand that in the writers’ minds, Pacino and Julian represent the same “Spain” so on a narrative standpoint it doesnt makes sense to put them on the same mission. But we still hope to get one, someday, maybe wih Alonso too!

    Nonetheless a very solid episode overall, I just have to admit that the scene where Pacino so dramatically talks to Alonso about missing Lola felt a little weird. I could not pinpoint exactly what it was odd about it, but boy if it was. Maybe it’s the fact that they have never really talked about feelings so openly (at least not Pacino), but I also blame the fact that they are still trying to “sell” us this Lola/Pacino relationship like it’s the One True Love when they haven’t really given us more than a playful after-sex scene in 4×01 to establish that couple, so my personal investment with them is pretty much zero. I do feel for Pacino, poor guy, but I couldnt care less if they get back together or not, honestly.
    They spent much more time building a possible Pacino/Amelia relationship, including a damn love scene, only to close that story with a 10 seconds exchange and no consequences/repercussions at all!

    Chaper Julian.
    I’ll admit I was baffled when we realized he was going back to Maite…AGAIN!!! For two reasons:
    1) narratively, it was a storyline they literally abused of in season 1 & 2, to the point it resulted annoying to viewers
    2) he finally (FINALLY!) seemed over it and there was nothing that they showed us to motivate this sudden change.
    Truth to be told, Javier Olivares has actually apologized for #2 saying there was not enough time to show more and this kinda worked in his favor to create more suspence regarding Julian’s intentions (I dont know about you, but I had thought maybe he was going to Amelia, maybe something happened to his parents, but I was SO SURE it couldnt be Maite again that I didnt really consider her until I saw the pink jacket).
    I actually believe this will also make much more sense once we see the final episode so I’ll hold my judgement until then because I have the suspicion it is going to blow our minds. Literally.
    I am very excitedly looking forward to it but also dreading the idea it could be the last episode ever 😦 I hope we’ll hear soon about a possible renovation!

    • Ginny C

      I agree about the Pacino scene! I would have bought a scene of him mourning Amelia in season 3, but the onr here about Lola, even after the episode where he tried to save her, I just didn’t fully believe it.
      If you think of Julián’s storyline throughout the show, he’s always been a bit suicidal after losing his wife (we meet him like this in the pilot). He chooses to go to the front line of wars, he never seems to move on, it only seems that way because he failed to save her in season 1 and then he pretty much left.
      We will have a season 5, sooner or later. Just look at it as if it were a UK show, with a handful of episodes every few years!

      • Heather

        If you don’t want spoilers look away now, but on social media, Oliveras has been saying that with saving Maite, Julian has broken the cycle, that and the preview of the finale where Pacino sees a weird flying machine in the air, reminds me of Dark. Where history keeps repeating itself until a major change happens. We also see a happy Maite and Julian in the Ministry so perhaps at the end Maite and Julian meet in the ministry. I’m certain that Julian will get his happily ever after. Pacino and Lola-I’m not so sure as it seems Pacino has more feelings than her.

        I can see the show returning at some point with a few of the regulars minus Julian,Amelia and Alonso. I think it could work as it’s more about the history of Spain and there is so much more to learn about.

      • Yes, of course, Maite was Julian’s True Love (that, I was told enough times to believe it) and it’s not like you can forget someone like that overnight. It actually gives the writers a lot of credit the fact that they honored their bond for so long even when -from an exclusively narrative standpoint- it would have make more sense for him to move on earlier in the series and be “romantically available” sooner.
        Even though he stayed loyal to his wife, we have indeed been shown sign of his evolution as a character: first he tried to “fix” the past and (like Pacino) he learned the hard way that that only makes it worse, then he went through Cuba and Philipines wars because of the loss of Maite, ti find in his place in the world again, etc, but since when he came back from Baler (mid season 2) it looked like he was over the trauma of her death, so much so that Amelia even comments on the fact that he was finally able to talk about Maite without breaking down in the waiting room of the 1980s doctor in 2×10. He even seemed ready to open himself to the possibility of loving again, clearly thinking about Amelia in Baler already, plus all the attempts he made to get closer to her throughout the second half of s2 until their dancing in 2×12 at the castle.
        Even since he came back from being Eulogio Romero, he cried about Maite, of course, but shortly after is once again Amelia the one he is thinking about.
        You know I am not into this couple, but -objectively- Julian was gicen a good believable character arch. I bought it. Up until 4×04 and 4×05 we didn’t see any sign that he might have gone back to his Maite obsession, that’s why my first reaction was: “WTF?!? AGAIN?!?” Clearly, something that we havent been shiwn must have happened “between the scenes” for him to throw his character evolution and 2 years of improvement out of the window only to go back to the same point where he started in the pilot.
        I’m hoping the finale will tell us what is changed that threw him off balance again.
        I have read somewhere that Pacino messing with the timeline might have something to do with it and influenced other characters too.
        Someone else said that in 4×05 Lola might have caught Pacino being weird and she might have done some messing of the timeline herself…
        Maybe it’s something else altogether, who knows, only 4×08 will tell us, but no harm in engaging in some speculation…I have to admit that I love it! :-p

  5. You wrote a wonderful review of the last episode of season 2, back in 2015, which I’m linking to from a post shortly.

    • Ginny J

      Thank you! That is very kind of you 🙂

      • My pleasure: it is still my favorite foreign language show, and I plan to do a re-watch series starting shortly. I hope you’ll find my posts interesting, if you have time to stop by.
        Best regards,

Leave a Reply to Ginny J Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: