30 Coins: The Final Battle (S1E7 & E8)

The end is nigh, friends. We’ve come to the point of our review where we hit the end. Eight episodes gone in a flash. 30 Coins was my favorite series to cover so far. I’ve discussed foreign shows before, but there was something about 30 Coins that was more appealing than any show I have seen before. Even though HBO takes risks with big projects, it was heartwarming to see they would take a chance with a project like this. It is far from the realm of what a regular horror show would typically be. Álex de la Iglesia is one hell of a filmmaker, and with 30 Coins he has proven that he is a hell of a showrunner. With that being said, and with a heavy heart, let’s get into the final two episodes of Season 1.

Episode 7 “La Caja de Cristal (The Glass Box)”

The opening coin sequences are like, “It’s official, old buddy. I’m a has-been.” Initially I was bothered by the lack of scenes where we get little vignettes about the Cainites acquiring the coins, but the frantic energy these last two episodes give off makes up for it completely. We start the episode with Padre Vergara (Eduard Fernández) trapped in his prisoner hole while he befriends a very hairy spider. Soon he sees Giacomo (Riccardo Frascari), who starts a philosophical conversation about faith. He tells Padre Vergara to find his faith before brandishing two fresh stigmata-like cuts on each hand.

Giacomo appears to the imprisoned Padre Vergara

Angelo (Cosimo Fusco), who I have now realized looks like an Italian Joe Bob Briggs, checks into Merche’s (Macarena Gómez) hotel. The newly appointed town police Cristina (Greta Fernández) and Maria (Nuria González), who have escorted Angelo to the hotel, notice a black sludge on the ground. Once inside his room we see that Angelo has a briefcase full of jars of this sludge, with one of them being broken. He then sticks his fingers in the goo and slurps a good bit of it down.

Padre Vergara and the other prisoners, the ones we were told would be executed at dawn, are taken out of their respective holes and shoved into the back of a truck. Luckily for the captives, they are saved when Ahmed (Noureddine El Attab) steps in and kills the soldiers driving the truck. Padre Vergara and the others make their way to a car while Ahmed tries to distract the guards, getting killed in the mix of it all. The car flips as one of the soldiers breaks the window and jumps in, starting a fight with Vergara who is driving the car. We get another scene of Vergara’s badassery as the soldier brings a knife down to stab him, but he grips it by the blade (!!!), snaps the blade in half (!!!), and stabs the soldier with it. He then notices that the open cuts on both of his palms were the same cuts that Giacomo had when he hallucinated him in his prisoner hole. Boy, there’s really no way to say prisoner hole without it sounding weird.

Angelo inspects his jars of sludge, before eating some of it

Back in Pedraza, Merche and Paco (Miguel Ángel Silvestre) sit down with lawyers to start their divorce proceedings. Merche comes into the room with a completely new haircut and a makeover. Paco doesn’t care though; he wants to give her 100% of the house and the hotel, cutting ties completely. This infuriates Merche and she does not want to accept it, but at this point, Paco is over it all and just walks out of the room.

Realizing that something is off and losing the ability to hear the Shadow Priests, Antonio (Javier Bódalo) trails Angelo. He notices that Angelo meets up with the witch (the one who brought Mario back to life), and they exchange a few words before the witch drops a packet of something in a sewer grate. She then goes forth to the abattoir where she brutally meat hooks a security guard and then steals a cart full of pig heads.

Padre Vergara gets the stigmata cuts that Giacomo had earlier in his vision

Merche heads over to the bar where Paco is currently staying and slips a card that Angelo gave her in his coat pocket. This is a card he gave her earlier in the episode when they had a brief conversation where Angelo was basically like, “work with me,” and she’s like, “okay.” Also, Sargento Lagunas (Pepón Nieto) is being held as a prisoner by Cristina and Maria because he buried Mario’s bones without doing a proper investigation. Around this time is when fog starts to plume out of the sewer grates.

Back in his hotel room, Paco starts to get fever symptoms when he puts his jacket on…the one Merche put the card from Angelo in. After doing a walk about the town where he dripped his sludge in a huge circle around the town, Angelo goes to the bar. The majority of the town is at the bar yelling for Paco, asking what is wrong with the fog. Angelo tries telling the town everything will be okay and that the fog will dissipate in the morning, at which point Antonio bursts into the bar yelling about Angelo being the devil. The town laughs it off, thinking it’s Antonio being Antonio. During all of this, we see Maria and Cristina walking around town, noticing that the front doors in town all have pig heads on them. Simultaneously, a little girl is playing soccer and kicks the ball through an open door…but the ball gets stopped by something. There is an invisible barrier surrounding the entire town, and it’s Angelo’s sludge causing it.

It took quite a long time, but Elena (Megan Montaner) is finally back in town! Also, it should be noted that people can enter the town but cannot leave. Also, around this time Cardinal Santoro (Manolo Solo) sees what is happening in town and is very pleased. As Elena walks into town the witch tricks her into helping her walk, but it’s all just a ruse to get into her head. During all of this Lagunas escapes from jail but shortly after crashes his car into the invisible barrier surrounding the town. And, after Lord knows how many episodes, Paco and Elena finally reunite!!! And who else is back in town? None other than Padre Vergara!

Elena has the coin around her neck, before it is ripped off by Merche

Angelo calls the town into the church and immediately sets it on fire, locking the townsfolk inside. Merche sees Elena tending to the sick Paco, and a fight breaks out. Paco falls out of the bed and Angelo’s card falls out of his pocket. On the turn of a dime, Paco is back at 100%. After the big fight, Merche rips the coin off of the pendant on Elena’s neck and escapes. Big surprise, she gives the coin to Angelo. As the episode nears an end the townsfolk escape from the church, with Padre Vergara walking through the flames for a gearing up montage. He locks and loads all of his guns and is ready for a fight.

Episode 8 “Sacrificio (Sacrifice)”

The season finale starts simple and strong, with Paco and Elena running into Padre Vergara. It feels so good to have them back together. He drops his guns on the ground and spouts out a simple, “Let’s go.” Ahh!! The gang is back together! The episode takes a quick turn when a terrifying and gigantic Satan beast comes up from the middle of the ground, leading to a bit of a firefight. Soon after taking hundreds of shots, the Satan beast retreats.

Padre Vergara sees himself in the Satan beast

Elena, Paco, and Padre Vergara play a bit of cat and mouse with Angelo, who is now covered in thick white paint, with only his relic tattoos standing out. After not being able to find our meddling crew, Angelo removes the smoke from the town. Soon after, a group of tourists shows up in town…bad news for them. The townsfolk kidnap the tourists, all while creepy smiles adorn their respective faces.

Cut to 15 days later, and our main characters are hiding out in the catacombs below Pedraza. The townsfolk gather at the church to get their daily Communion from Angelo, at which point he force-feeds Communion wafers to the kidnapped tourists. We find out that the Communion wafers are some magical drug-like cookie making everyone constantly smile. They don’t ever really go into much detail about what is up with the wafers, but it’s not too far-fetched in this reality that something like that would exist. Hell, we watched Santoro levitate a man at one point.

Padre Vergara walks through the flames as he prepares for battle with the Cainites

During the church service, Paco sneaks in and steals the Blood of Christ, a vial we saw once earlier on in the series. Simultaneously, Elena gets spotted by a townsperson, but thankfully gets away unscathed. This all leads to one of the coolest scenes in the series when Padre Vergara smears the Blood of Christ on his face and some on a dead dove Paco found, bringing the dove back to life. Padre Vergara gets hooked into this pulley system and has Paco and Elena move him up and down, which is controlling the dove! This takes Flight Simulator to a whole new level. He uses this to spy on the townspeople who are skinning and gutting all of the local animals.

Antonio makes his way to the police station, sees that Cristina and Maria are now holding Sargento Lagunas prisoner, and vows to break him out. Once Cristina and Maria aren’t at the police station he saves Lagunas. At this point, Padre Vergara tells Elena they need to get the coin back before they escape town, and she says that he won’t do it without her help. He eventually obliges. Things seem to be going all too well for our main crew’s escape plan, and this is inevitably true. Paco pays a visit to Merche, who tries to convince him that she is not a part of this whole plan in town by giving him the bag of Communion wafers she had not eaten, as well as a bag full of food. She makes him a sandwich before they start arguing about Elena again. Unfortunately, he should have eaten the whole sandwich.

Padre Vergara goes into battle with Uzis akimbo.

Proving that she wants to harm anyone that Paco truly cares about, Merche takes the half-eaten sandwich to the witch. After nearly getting Un Chien Andalou‘d by the witch, she is provided a single needle that the witch has put a spell on with the intent of causing irreparable harm to Elena. Shortly after this Paco and Elena finally kiss in the catacombs! It’s about damn time! But when things seem too good to be true they usually are. Merche somehow finds them in the tunnels and stabs Elena with the needle. This causes her to basically go catatonic and then disappear completely. Padre Vergara immediately knows that the townspeople have taken her and are holding her captive at Roque’s mansion, which they have now overtaken.

A line of cars makes its way into town, and it turns out to be the rest of the Cainites, along with Cardinal Santoro. Santoro makes his way into the compound, where we see blood symbols drawn on the walls and horses nailed to it as well. The production design of this final scene is absolutely outstanding. Padre Vergara and Paco find the room that Elena is being held in, but Vergara has other plans when he realizes Santoro is now in possession of all 30 coins. There is also a brief moment where Lagrange (Francisco Reyes) and Merche have their meet-cute and (basically) fall in love? It’s a bit unclear how they feel about each other, but based on what happens at the end that is my running theory. Paco ends up taking the pin out of Elena’s neck, which causes her to bleed profusely.

Angelo reveals to Padre Vergara that he was GIacomo the whole time

We’re now in the final moments of the episode and things are tenser than ever. Padre Vergara enters a room where Santoro is putting on a blood cloak. There are thousands of skinned pig heads on the wall, and it just looks absolutely gnarly. The witch appears over Elena’s body, kicking off a fight between her and Paco. As he nearly wins the fight, the witch sprouts…spider legs (!!!) and gets ten times stronger. Thankfully Paco bests her and shoves her into a wooden spike, killing her. Angelo reveals to Padre Vergara that he was the one who put the coin in his possession…he was Giacomo. Moments later Santoro stabs him with the Jesus knife and puts on the 30 coins crown.

Paco fireman carries Elena out of the compound, and they both barely make it out. Santoro is standing in the window, like the Pope does, and has full control over the Cainites with his newly acquired coin hat. With a powerful thrust, Padre Vergara gets up and tackles Santoro out of the window. The coins go everywhere and the Cainites scramble to get the coins for themselves. Angelo realizes they have lost this time and shapeshifts into a random person. He enters the mirror and exits through a random door, appearing immediately in New York City. Merche comes into possession of one of the coins, and she and Lagrange skirt off together. Lagunas and Antonio make it out of town now that the force field is down, and Paco makes it to the next town over so that Elena can get medical attention.

And that, my friends, is the end of Season 1 of 30 Coins.

Final thoughts

The final two episodes of 30 Coins definitely made up for the mid-season lull and were hands down the best two episodes of the season. While I do wish they wrapped up a few of the storylines, I like how they put it in the hands of HBO by giving us multiple cliffhangers and basically saying, “let us finish this story.” I really do hope that there is a second season. There were so many excellent moments of horror in this show, spanning multiple subgenres and creating an intense and amazing experience in just eight episodes.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Written by Brendan Jesus

I am an award-winning horror screenwriter, rotting away in New Jersey.

A young girl covered in blood screams in an empty field in Honeycomb

The Honeycomb Trailer Provides Indie Pivot for Yellowjackets Fans

Cover art for Donna Tartt's The Secret History.

The Gothic Terror of Donna Tartt’s The Secret History