The first two episodes of 30 Coins started very raw and heavy, providing ample scares and mystery. Episodes 3 and 4 took a bit of a step back from that to provide some answers to the questions that had been raised while still giving us more questions. I was quite concerned that the show would keep going away from the horror and get more dramatic. Thankfully, I was (somewhat) wrong. Episodes 5 and 6 still aren’t the scariest in the series, but they provide some excellent moments of horror while simultaneously moving the story along perfectly.
Episode 5 “El doble (The Double)”
Episode 5 takes a bit of a detour from the body horrors of the first few episodes and takes a psychological route before hitting us with a heaping dose of body horror in the episode’s final moments. We start in Spain in 1970 where we see a young Manuel Vergara playing ball with his sweet pup Rayo. He accidentally throws the ball over an embankment, and the dog falls to his death. The young Manuel buries the dog. The next day in school, he flips through a monster magazine with some awesomely illustrated monster trading cards. During recess, he and his friend trade cards—boy, do I miss those days before—his friend reveals that he is controlled by Giacomo/Cardenal Santoro (Manolo Solo) and questions the young Vergara about Elena (Megan Montaner). Padre Vergara (Eduard Fernández) wakes up, and we see his is in a grungy jail cell.
In case you were wondering, there is no awesome coin opening like in the other episodes, which was disappointing. It had always been a fun prologue to set the mood for the episodes, and they definitely feel a bit off without it. It does make sense that there isn’t one, though, since it is later revealed that the Cainites already have 29 coins and only need the coin that Elena has—well, had.
Paco (Miguel Ángel Silvestre) and Sargento Lagunas (Pepón Nieto) get Elena back to town moments before she boards a plane to Paris with Roque (Antonio Velázquez). Elena sees her “missing” husband Mario (Víctor Clavijo) and is beyond overjoyed, while Paco is less than happy. As Elena leaves the police station with Mario, we see the old lady who watered the scarecrow that he spawned from creepily standing outside of the police station.
In Padre Vergara’s jail cell, he drinks from a *gag* bottle of cigarette water without batting an eye, which brings into question how long he has been there, and this is just one of the many examples of the fluidity of time in this show. He falls asleep and gets transported back to ’70s Spain, where he runs into an adult Sandro (Leonardo Nigro) as they are being stalked by an adult Cardenal Santoro. Young Vergara uses one of the trading cards that has the angel of death on it to subtly tell Sandro he is being held in the catacombs underneath Castle Santiago. In the real world, Sandro leaves the prison and heads to the castle with hopes of finding his friend and saving him from whatever peril he is in.
Back in Pedraza, Elena and Mario have weird, heavy-breathing-talk sex, while right outside their window is the old lady who raised him from the dead. We see the old lady’s lips moving in sync with what Mario is saying, letting us know that she is controlling him like a puppet…also letting us know she’s kinky as hell. Word starts to spread around town about Mario’s return, which freaks out Jesus (Paco Tous), who basically has a huge meltdown.
Sandro finally makes it to Castle Santiago and enters the World War II section of the museum. While there, he sees the spear that pierced Jesus’s side while he was on the cross, and we hear a docent foreshadow the immortality powers of the spear. Sandro thinks he knows where Padre Vergara is being held, so he knocks out a guard to get there. He’s pretty badass.
There are a few minutes of juxtaposed storytelling here where Jesus goes to town and sees Mario, making him freak out even more. Cut back to Sandro sneaking through the hallways of the catacombs looking for Padre Vergara. Jesus gets piss drunk and locks himself in the bathroom at the bar, forcing them to call Paco to try and talk him out of there. Finally, to end the back and forth of these two scenes, Father Lagrange (Francisco Reyes) addresses a group of Cainites who are adorned in white suits, at which point Cardenal Santoro comes out and tells them all that Padre Vergara will help them get the final coin. Padre Vergara attempts to tell everyone he was abducted but none of the Cainites believe or care, they even laugh as he says that. Unfortunately for Padre Vergara, Sandro sees this whole thing moments before being taken hostage. Santoro ends up taking Padre Vergara on a tour through the Vatican archives.
Jesus goes home and grabs his shotgun, then walks through the town to finish what he started with Mario. Paco sees this and goes after him, which ends up with Paco getting shot in the shoulder. Jesus breaks into Elena’s house but ends up getting non-fatally shot by Lagunas. Back at the Vatican, Santoro takes Padre Vergara on a continued tour of the underground libraries but says he will only let him look at everything if he decides to work with the Cainites.
Mario and Elena decide to start fresh and leave town. While in the car, Mario starts asking weird questions about the coin and ultimately attacks her. We now know that this fake Mario is being controlled by the possessed old woman. Thinking on her feet, Elena forces the car to crash. We then see Sandro being beaten by Cainites, and Padre Vergara is forced to join in to prove himself to Santoro, which he does. Then Santoro shows off legit magical powers by making Sandro levitate. Padre Vergara is handed a knife and told to slit Sandro’s throat but (thankfully) ends up stabbing Santoro and shooting some guards as they try to escape. A bleeding-out Santoro goes over one of the dead bodies and starts repeating, “Salve Santana,” which turns the dead body into a grotesque spider/human amalgamation. It looks absolutely amazing and terrifying! Unfortunately, Sandro gets ripped in half by this creature, guts spilling everywhere.
Mario takes Elena’s unconscious body and finds a car at a gas station, where he shoves a gas pump down someone’s throat and starts pumping gas into them. It’s absolutely gnarly. Padre Vergara ends up killing the creature, then he runs away. Elena texts Paco their location, which is the dam she threw the coin into. Mario is going to throw himself and Elena down into the dam, but Paco and Lagunas arrive in time to save her. And for the nth time, Paco and Elena ALMOST kiss.
The final shot of the episode is some more wonderful foreshadowing, where Roque is at a Japanese restaurant in Paris. The chef cuts open a fish in front of them, and what falls out? Elena’s coin! Not going to lie, it was a thousand percent unexpected and a great episode ender!
Episode 6 “Guerra Santa (Holy War)”
Episode 6 starts us in Syria with Padre Vergara laying in a bed watching TV, where he sees himself (poorly) superimposed into some religious show where he is on stage with Cardenal Santoro and other Cainites. Soon after that, he gets a call from Elena, asking where he is because she wants to join him in the fight against the Cainites. While he doesn’t tell her his location, we do find out that it was Santoro emulating Elena’s voice, which turns out to be another one of his powers. Just like Episode 5, there is no opening coin sequence.
Paco holds a town meeting, but before going on stage he pulls Merche (Macarena Gómez) aside to tell her that he doesn’t want to be the mayor anymore. This pisses her off, a lot. She constantly says, many times through the episode, that he can’t just back out of this and he has to see it through. Paco’s speech is incredibly half-hearted, and he basically tells the townspeople he doesn’t want to be the mayor anymore.
One thing I’m still unsure how I feel about is how there are more main characters introduced at this point when Maria Salcedo (Nuria González) and Cristina Miralles (Greta Fernández) show up to town. They work for the Secretary of State of Security and are sent to the town because Lagunas requested backup. Unfortunately for Lagunas, they tell him that he will be their backup. Their first order of business is to go interview Jesus, while also questioning Lagunas as to why he has not been arrested. We soon find out that Lagunas doctored the arrest report and did not state that it was Jesus who originally killed Mario, also he states, in the report, that Jesus had his gun outburst due to his daughter refusing to tell him who the father of her child is.
Cristina and Maria realize that something is off. When they get to Jesus’s farm they are told he is feeding the animals, so Lagunas goes into the field to get him. There we see weird chair vigils that have animal bones and chicken wire attached to them. There isn’t any relevant info given in regards to the chair vigils, but they do look supremely creepy. After Jesus has not exited the field after a few minutes everyone goes to find him. Too late for them though, since Jesus has a shotgun barrel in his mouth, and blows his head off.
Padre Vergara is spending his time in Syria praying over the bodies of dead and dying soldiers, but quickly pisses a lot of people off since he is praying in the name of his Catholic god. He is pulled out of the hospital to speak with Professor Lombardi (Luigi Diberti) who tells him not to trust anyone and to NOT answer the phone again if it rings. Lombardi also tells Padre Vergara that Cardenal Santoro now has full control over the Vatican, which is no bueno. He goes on to say that someone used the Holy Knife, the one from Episode 5, to fatally stab the Pope. But due to it being a knife that provides immortality, Santoro was able to look like a hero in the whole situation. Padre Vergara goes back into the hospital and steals a bunch of medication, which he uses to knock himself out so he can dream walk, again like in Episode 5. He runs into Elena in the dream where he tells her to stay safe, but oh no, is that Cardenal Santoro in the dream as well?!
Elena is now back with Roque because…why not. Lagunas is at the bar drinking away his sorrow (and anger), when two men walk into the bar and start talking crap about him without realizing he is right next to them. Paco goes home and packs his bags after a huge falling out with Merche, where he asks why they even got married. Even though I’m not a huge fan of Merche, this was a very raw and emotional scene. She just wants a happy life with him and thinks that he is doing all of this because she can’t have kids. Paco calls Elena while he is packing his bags, but she’s getting it on with Roque and doesn’t pick up the phone.
Back in Syria, Padre Vergara is forcibly removed from the hospital by soldiers and thrown in a literal hole in the ground. He gets interrogated by a soldier, where he is told that he is the enemy and that he is why they are fighting. Thankfully, for Padre Vergara, the translator Ahmed (Noureddine El Attab) does not tell the soldier what he is saying because it would have caused Vergara to be killed immediately. Before walking away, the translator slips him the cross that the soldiers stole from him.
In this globetrotting episode, we now find ourselves in Paris! Father Lagrange (Francisco Reyes) goes to a retirement home and starts asking Mr. Antoine (Mario Pardo) questions about his sight and walking ability. After figuring out that he will be a good candidate, Lagrange gives him one of the necklaces that has the coin in it, and they leave the retirement home. At a restaurant in Paris, Roque reveals to Elena that he has the coin that she was missing, thinking it was a romantic gesture. She, rightfully so, flips out and goes to the bathroom. Roque tells the waiter to just take all the food, and the coin as well, and throw it all away.
Suddenly Mr. Antoine enters the restaurant, gun in hand. Mr. Antoine starts shooting. First, he kills the waiter, and then he kills Roque. All of this transpires when Elena is on the phone with Paco, and he hears it all. A security guard gets in a tussle with Mr. Antoine and ends up ripping his necklace off, which kills him instantly. Realizing he has failed, Father Lagrange drives off from the restaurant.
Padre Vergara gets told by Ahmed that the soldiers will be executing him in the morning, along with a reporter, and a woman from an NGO. The soldiers decide to then mess with Padre Vergara by dropping a rope into his hole and then kicking him back in once he nearly makes it out.
Back in Pedraza, Antonio (Javier Bódalo) makes his way through the streets at night saying, “He’s here, he’s coming,” over and over. Cristina and Maria start to follow him asking what he is talking about, where he reveals that the voices have told him a new priest is coming. Who do they see walking down the long dark hill? The new priest…Angelo (Cosimo Fusco)!
Episodes 5 and 6 prove that 30 Coins is not done throwing twists and turns our way and that the tomes in the underground Vatican library do actually harness magical powers. Most importantly, though, they show that we still aren’t done with the horror! The psychological horror of Episode 5, with Mario, was absolutely fantastic and was a nice departure from the body horror we had previously gotten, but the body horror that we continue to get is still just as good as it was from the beginning. 30 Coins may be heading more towards being a melodrama, the elements of horror we do get continue to stand out and make up for the lack of horror through the majority of it.
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