What is the story about?
Gabino, the young scion of the Falcón family, returns to his family in Spain after spending a decade in Mexico, with his best friend Lazáro in tow. However, it is 1950s Spain, where homosexuality is a punishable offence, and Gabino's father Gregorio, being the general subdirector of prisons, enforces this rule with an iron fist. Lazáro's arrival causes a great deal of discomfort for everyone in the Falcón household, to the point where everyone starts baying for his blood, albeit for different reasons. What happens next?
Manolo Caro's three-part series would probably be the kind of stuff enjoyed by people who are into Elizabethan tragedy. Someone Has To Die (Alguien Tiene Que Morir) plays out like Caro's version of Edward The Second with a 1950s Spanish setting. The only difference is that here, the tragic hero is absolutely in the dark about his predicament until the very end. Gabino's arrival in Spain is welcomed by all, but it is the arrival of Lazáro that truly sets the cat among the pigeons and exposes the hollowness of the Falcón family and their circle. Everyone casts their own assumptions about his nature because of his love for dancing—people belittle him for his Mexican heritage, he is derided for being a dancer, and devastatingly, he is also accused of being a homosexual. A complicated quadrangle develops as a result of all the intrigue, where Gabino and Cayetana, the girl supposed to marry Gabino, are deeply in love with Lazáro, and yet Lazáro shares a simmering sexual tension with Mina, Gabino's mother. All this is further complicated by the fact that both Gregorio and Gabino's grandmother both disapprove of Lazáro and believe he is actually a homosexual.
With such a loaded premise and Caro deliciously building up the intrigue, all the ingredients were in place for an explosive ending. Sadly, various inconsistencies in characterization and narrative take away some of the impact of the brutal ending. What could’ve been a brilliant miniseries becomes a missed opportunity.
As Gabino, Alejandro Speitzer is defiant and vulnerable in equal parts. Cecilia Suarez plays Mina, the woman who wants to follow her heart but is a victim of her circumstances, while Ernesto Alterio plays the patriarch Gregorio with an evil relish. But perhaps the best performance comes from Carmen Moura as Gabino's grandmother, who goes to great lengths to bury a secret, even if it means killing someone else.
And at the end, it is also Isaac Hernandez's performance as the misunderstood Lazáro that you remember.
Music & Other Departments
Lucas Vidal's score is suitably operatic, portraying the grandeur and messiness of the Falcón household. Angel Amoros' cinematography is gorgeous, while Maria Clara Notari's production design is top-notch.
The first couple of episodes are a masterclass in building up intrigue.
All the weak points about this series are contained in the final episode, where subplots just go haywire in Caro's quest for a Shakespearean ending. Characters act at odds with their traits, and there's a particular stretch with Lazáro and Mina in the woods that feels like it’s from a different film. All these digressions rob the bloody ending of its sheen a bit.
Did I enjoy it?
Yes. It is an engrossing character study, and a reminder that society is doomed once it allows the government to dictate it’s will in personal matters.
Do I recommend it?
Yes, it is a decent one-time watch.