I’ve finally finished the third and last season of what might be described as the Spanish Downton Abbey—except it is a hotel. Great scenery, great clothes, and every plot know to humankind crammed in. Revelation scene: I’m your brother! Check. You murdered my father! Ditto. Swapped babies. Certainly. Plus, watching it, I can pretend I am learning Spanish.
I’ve now spent the equivalent of two work weeks in this company. The docile sister (stolen baby, murderess, affair with priest) is one of the mildest characters. But Alicia—feisty and gorgeous—is our real heroine. She is the owner’s daughter. She loves Julio, a waiter.
Well, we love him too. He is an Adonis with long eyelashes. He spends a fair amount of time injured, beaten, shot, bleeding, bedridden, concussed—usually half naked. There is actually a resurrection of a different cute character. Spanish Catholicism? Well, it translates.
As does the cult of the mother. Mothers here are apt to scheme—or kill—on behalf of their offspring. Or pressure and manipulate them. But they are central. No one is too old to cry out to his mother.
This is a very woman friendly drama. Middle-aged and downright elderly women are courted and admired by dashing age appropriate suitors (who sport mustaches and weapons)—plump ladies and downright stout ones are objects of desire (some of them are killers too.) No discrimination here. You don’t need to be skinny and young to have an adorable love interest—or a weapon in your hand and revenge in your heart. This is the early 20th century but women have jobs—ranging from working class maids to hotel manager to lawyer to ladies of ill repute to, of course, murderesses. They are never idle, constantly rushing about moving the plot hither and yon.
And look at Alicia’s character curve. She loves Julio, but gives in to an arranged marriage. Here she suffers from the sadism of her husband, but her spirit isn’t broken. She rallies, survives, and beats him at his own game. Then, she dithers at the end, inhibited about running off to happiness with Julio. UNTIL her mother, the often evil yet somehow sympathetic very well dressed Dona Teresa, engages her in mutual forgiveness and letting go.
Then Alicia can live happily ever after. So it is all about redeeming the mother-daughter relationship. With lace collars, lavish meals, and half naked waiters.