Where do I begin? Where. Do. I. Begin. Like this episode, I might as well start at the end, with Salvador resigning from his post. People leave, they start new adventures. Some get their sons back. Others remain, waiting until old age to reunite with their partner. And others retire because they turn 80 in three months and, honestly, they deserve a break if they bloody want to.
We jump forward in time, to November 20th, 2020. It is night time, and Ernesto watches from a window as the corpse of a baby is dug out from the land in front of the ministry. The detective in charge, DI Ayala, looks at the building suspecting there must be a link between the child and the ministry. Ernesto goes to Salvador, who is writing his resignation letter. He lets him know about the cops, and Salvador seems ready to do what needs to be done.
The next day, DI Ayala arrives at an empty ministry and is welcomed by Ernesto, who takes her to meet Salvador. Our sub-secretary then proceeds to tell her all about the ministry, probably because he doesn’t care, mostly because she will never be able to tell anyone about it. He reveals he knows about the baby, because he is the one who killed him.
To show her the bigger picture, he tells her what happened six months earlier, when Julián disappeared. We then see Julián waking up in the year 2070. He meets an old woman who reveals herself to be Lola, now taking over her Claudia Tiedemann (aka the White Devil) persona. She is the one who sent those men after Julián, and tells our guy that, after Díaz Bueno landed the anacronópete in 1945, she moved the numbers and drank all the García fluid that she could, ending up in 2065, aging nonetheless. In the five years since, the government has created over a hundred more, property of the ministry. The doors couldn’t take you to the future, but the doors were closed for good in 2020. With the anacronópetes, you can travel to an exact moment in time, and the current government uses it to go to the future and see if their plans work out, or if anyone is a threat, then going to the past to take them out before they can do any harm. Very charming.
It is quite the “Blade Runner meets 1984” scenario. The ministry is no longer a secret, goods like food and water are taken from the past to be sold at high prices in their present, and healthy babies (because the future stinks and is full of pollution) are kidnapped from the past to be adopted in the future. It reminded me of National Socialism in the 1930s, where they preached the purity of race by taking out anyone not healthy (a specific plotline from Man in the High Castle with John Smith’s son comes to mind).
Sorry, before I ramble again: the sub-secretary in the year 2070 is called Juan Salcedo, and you know what, he is that red-haired guy who pretended to be the government delegate! Something smells fishy. We see him as a hologram on a building, along with a big Wanted image of a young girl.
Lola reveals to Julián that Spain left the EU in 2028, and they meet the wanted girl, Iria Martínez, who, as it turns out, is Julián’s granddaughter! So I guess he really did save Maite for real. It is my guess now that Salcedo, knowing that Julián was her grandfather, travelled to the ministry in 2020 with the sole purpose of finding out where Julián was and kill him, to make sure Iria would never be born.
We enter now a paradox that could melt Stephen Hawkings’s brain. As Lola says, perhaps Julián saving Maite has changed things, but maybe they have done similar things in the past. Sometimes they had to go on missions that seemed to have little sense; alarms would go off about changes in the past that no one could have predicted, and perhaps that was their own fault. The butterfly Salvador always talked about. What if, on a mission, Alonso killed someone whose descendants were meant to be important, or saved someone whose kid becomes a villain, meddling with time? There are many variants, all impossible to predict and I think I need a nap after this, preceded by a long glass of vodka.
Now is the moment when Lola reveals to Julián why she has brought him to 2070: Salcedo travelled to the future and found out that, in 2075, Iria brings people together and wins the elections. Lola is protecting her, but she is old and knows that she won’t be able to protect her forever, because Salcedo can always travel back and finish Iria. So Julián realises what he needs to do, and it involves Terminator plotlines.
So we are back to the six months earlier, May 2020, after our team returns from the Fernando VII mission. The three bosses are in Salvador’s office when Angustias arrives with an alarm: Maite, two days after she was supposed to die in 2012, has reported Julián missing. They realise he has been lying to them. Almost at the same time, an anacronópete appears and drops Julián on the rooftop (poor Pacino thought it would be Lola).
Julián tells them everything, the theft of food and children from the past, how Salcedo found Lola in 2065 and she wouldn’t stop talking about the ministry… Salcedo then travelled to 2020, intrigued by what she had told him (so, not to kill Julián, as I had thought).
So, the mission starts now. Alonso has to go get Maite, while the others do research on Salcedo’s family tree. Poor Carolina, it takes her a while to realise that the reason they are doing this is to kill Salcedo’s ancestor. Unfortunately for everyone involved, because they know a grandfather will be too close to his line, and thus protected by Salcedo, they find in 1890 that his great-great-grandfather was left at an orphanage, a convent where his mother gave birth.
After this, we finally have a moment between Pacino and Julián. These two are now united by the loss of their other half, and while Pacino laments that he won’t grow old with Lola (oh, Pacino, just you wait), Julián gives him a letter Lola trusted him to deliver to Pacino. And then Julián reunites with Maite and, my friends, I have never seen him more at peace. I know some people didn’t like that he was still, four seasons in, obsessed with his dead wife, but it made all the sense to me. Especially now that their offspring is going to change the world and all that.
As the team gets ready for the mission to 1890, we discover that the mother of the abandoned baby had followed this rascal who had knocked her out and then left her. She had become an alcoholic and resorted to prostitution. Because life in the 19th apparently sucked if you weren’t rich. The plan is for Irene and Alonso to act as the woman’s aunt and uncle to take the baby, bringing Pacino and Carolina along as reinforcement, just in case.
Unexpectedly (though not so much) some of the nuns are actually agents sent by Salcedo to protect his ancestor. After a wild gunfire that involves a Battleship Potemkin moment, our team succeeds and the baby is taken to Salvador.
Back in the present (as in, November 2020), DI Ayala reads Salvador’s confession of the crime and rushes off. She walks around the ministry until Ernesto finds her. She is looking for something, and she wants Ernesto to help her.
We go back to six months earlier, in May, with Salvador about to kill the baby. The infant cries; Salvador pours himself a drink. He is about to make him sleep forever, when Ayala shows up, gun in hand, urging him not to do it. The past has already been changed by taking the kid.
Back to the present again. Salvador resigns, leaving his posts to Ernesto. He gives a letter to his successor, where he says goodbye to everyone, even to his frenemy, Velázquez. Carolina keeps the child for herself; Irene creates the division for female memory; Alonso moves to The Hague, where his wife just got a job, the place where he once was a soldier of the 16th century; Julián has a life again with Maite, expecting their first child together.
Then we move to 2065, where we see an old man building what looks like a bomb. He drives (with his solar-powered car) to a field, waiting for something. Then, the anacronópete appears, and an aged Lola comes out of it. She instantly recognises him. It’s Pacino, well into his eighties but still looking sharp. He puts the bomb inside the machine and the two drive away to the years of future they still have left, as the time machine explodes.
“We were wrong”
-I assume that, ever since season 3, every season finale is going to be treated as a series finale, just in case. I love that Olivares gave everyone an ending, but one that allows everyone to return. Alonso can come back to Spain, Julián and the rest still work at the ministry, and Pacino is only seen when he is already old.
-I must say though, that I would have wanted this episode to last at least 20 more minutes. Some parts felt rushed and I think the story would have benefited from more screen time.
-I know this sounds awful, but I swear to you Pacino had more chemistry with older Lola (Fiorella Faltoyano) than with the younger version. Then again, I have said before that I am biased when it comes to older people. I can’t help it.
-“It’s been like this since Isabel the Catholic founded the ministry.” “Really? I’ve seen the show Isabel and they didn’t mention it.” “The first writer in the show tried to, but we replaced him.” Nice wink, considering Javier Olivares was the creator and one of the main writers of Isabel
-So, if Ayala stops the baby killing, the corpse disappears? Or did they then put the corpse of a baby that was already dead? Questions that needed 20 more minutes for answers!
-Another question: the Maite that Alonso brings, is she 2012 Maite or 2020 Maite? This will haunt me for weeks, or even years until a season 5 comes out.
-Also, I missed Amelia.
-I found the killing of people who might cause problem in the future for the government like a sort of immoral version of Minority Report.
-Even Alonso tells you this: stop denying climate change and do something about it! Unless you want to wear masks for the rest of your life.
-Please let me know if I missed an Easter egg. I’m sure I missed dozens.
-Inside joke that I loved: how the show Cuéntame, which is already lasting a looong time in 2020, is still going in 2070.
-The president in 2028, Bertín Osborne, is a famous singer, entrepreneur and TV host, signalling the joke that it appears anyone famous can rule a country. Also, his slogan, My Country is Your Country, is a pun on a show he hosts called My Home is Your Home.
-Oh, Julián, you have always been right: “Fuck, in the end everything is always like in Terminator.”
-“I have never met anyone who comes from the future, unless you count detergent ads.”
-I wonder if episodes 6 and 7 were meant to be shown the other way around. Just me thinking out loud.
-“You are right. What I am most sorry for, is that what you just said, I didn’t say it earlier.”
-Old Pacino, still rocking three quarter coats.
-Thank you so much for reading my views on El Ministerio del Tiempo! I really hope that one day we will meet again to discuss season 5, but if it never happens (yet I hope it will), it has been my pleasure! Let’s pray that Olivares will one day do his long-awaited project on Felipe II, so that at least we can talk about that! And remember: time is what it is.