In Review: The Barrier: (S.1 Ep.13) – Last Days of the Present

"Last Days of the Present" is the season finale. Marta (Laura Quiros) and Julia (Olivia Molina) are prisoners. Because Alejo"
The Barrier

Synopsis: “Last Days of the Present” is the season finale. Marta (Laura Quiros) and Julia (Olivia Molina) are prisoners. Because Alejo (Marcelo Converti) knows Julia’s secret. Luis (Abel Folk) is still on the run, in mortal danger. Consequently, Alma (Eleonora Wexler) finally decides what side she’s on. Once and for all. The revolution has begun. Thus, there’s no stopping things from escalating, now . . .

Story

Revolution

The Consequences of Luis (Abel Folk) making his speech, in last week’s penultimate episode, are felt. The President tries to quell the feelings of insurrection. But it’s too late. The way “Last Days of the Present” deals with its finale is seriously impressive. Just as all the tension of the series comes to a head, so too does the anger of the oppressed. You feel, as a viewer, connected into the story-world. Like you’re there, with the characters. Having been on the journey with them, now you’re reaching the end of it, just like they are, too.

 Julia and Marta

Trapped, and at the mercy of Alejo (Marcelo Converti), Julia (Olivia Molina) looks doomed. Using her as the ultimate cure, is a great move. Her neck has a bio-chip in it, that her father implanted, way back in episode one. As if things weren’t bleak enough for her, she has to watch, helplessly, as Marta (Laura Quiros) is again taken, to have her blood stolen and used to manufacture the vaccinations. a Seriously harrowing scene, as Marta gets torn from the protective care of Julia, who attempts battling against the guards in vain in the cell. In some ways, this acts as a microcosm for the whole series. Citizens’ lives always at the control of those part of the corrupt state.

Winning Shots Fired

Alejo being shot and killed spelt a huge move forward for the “good guys”. And that it was Carlos (Juan Blanco) who was responsible, was scintillating. A truly timely return and emotional reunion for him and Julia. Great use of a very last minute reveal to save the day.

Luis, Alma and Loyalties

Despite her support of potential genocide, Luis still attempts to rescue Alma, who has been implicated in the betrayal. She must rely on Enrique (Manu Fullola) to protect her, now. Alma decides it’s too late for her, but does help Luis escape. What really went well here was the use of conflict. Alma is bad, but not entirely. The loyalty she showed was tender and very human. Similarly, Alma was shown loyalty by Rosa (Elena Seijo) too. More emotive drama, that complicated concepts of loyalty. As a result, things felt genuinely heartfelt

Final Battle

As the standoff played out, the tension was gripping. Wonderfully so. With Hugo (Unax Ugalde) and Luis leading the line, the crowds face the police and the armed forces. Fernando (Oscar de la Fuente) has also joined the resistance now. He knows his son is alive and that the boy he’s been speaking with is him. Whilst a minor character, Fernando (Oscar de la Fuente) sacrificing by diving in front of a bullet to protect his wife, had a powerful impact. A very well written arc, for a lesser part. Fernando embodied so much of the show’s citizen’s plights. His speech and Luis’s too, were what turned the tide.

That moment when they convince the soldiers and police that they are not the enemy was full of poignant resonance. The sheer humanity of the entire scene was sweeping and potently inspirational. What emerged was the theme the show has been fostering so brilliantly: true unity against tyranny cannot be defeated. But it requires laying your life on the line, and being willing to self-sacrifice.

Result

With the final scenes of “Last Days of the Present”, comes the toppling of the regime. The desperate acts of The President, now infected by the virus, also capture a crucial theme of the show. Privilege and the value of life being deemed greater, by those in power. That it’s Emilia (Angela Molina) who kills him, and rescues Marta (Laura Quiros) is a fitting tribute to the arc of Emilia (Angela Molina). What’s shown is the determination of one person to never stop fighting for what’s right. And for those who she loves, deeply.

Seeing Ivan (Nicolas Illoro) and Manuela (Yaima Ramos), six months on, was another fantastic trope. Hope, in the form of their survival and that of their healthy baby. Both had he virus, faced death, and defeated it. Through it all, love still won. An established formula, but one handed really well. So you cared. Just one more example of how tried and tested story techniques can feel fresh.

That it was Emilia (Angela Molina) who narrated the ending, was apt. At her husband’s grave. It gave things a sense of closure, as it was him inoculating Julia and her sister that begun the story. Luis heading up the mass vaccination program also felt right. He was the health minister, after all. The final scene with Alma (Eleonora Wexler) meant things could carry on, but they weren’t left needing to.

Acting

What has been for the whole season was also true in “Last Days of the Present”. A fine cast, who all knew their parts so well. Made sure the characterization was able to hit hard. Abel Folk’s Luis was a fantastic depiction that had such a scope. So too was that of Eleonora Wexler, as Alma. And without the dynamic created by Unax Ugalde and Olivia Molina, as Hugo and Julia, none of the show’s power would have been felt so deeply and clearly. Laura Quiros also helped make this possible, as she again showed in this season finale.

Whilst it’s hard to single out anyone in this fantastic episode, the last scene with Emilia really did excel everything. Perhaps it was that Angela Molina is the real life mother of Olivia Molina. Or that Angela Molina will have a deep connection to Franco era Spain. Either way, her grace and skills gave those last scenes a truly lasting impact. Her depictions of a moment so long awaited for as good as any.

CGI & Action

Another example of “Last Days of the Present” acting as a way to hammer home the message of the series was the scene with Marta and Julia, in the cell. If done well, a hulking guard with a gun, pointed at a child, is absolutely chilling enough. Certainly, the case here.

Using rain as pathetic fallacy was a stroke of genius. The impact of it, visually, was a fine metaphor. As the regime is being toppled, the last struggle is set to a deluge of rain. A final traipsing through bleakness. To bring much needed light. Justice, literally washing down on the ways of old to sweep them away. Once and for all. In a final use of weather, to follow up the rain, we see the climate return to that of glorious sunlight. The sun setting on the land that had been purged of the evil regime. Literal, visual hope for a new future.

Overall

The Barrier has given viewers the perfect finale, in “Last Days of the Present”. This show has been exciting to watch, in away like no other. Because of current global events. This episode was fantastic, in so many ways. For so many reasons. Seeing the declarations of curfews imposed had relatable connotations. That other shows of a similar vein haven’t had, due to current Covid-19 restrictions. But that aside, the show was fantastic for other reasons. Genuine human drama, and a stark message. In that sense, the show serves as a warning: we can fail to learn from the past. And so, repeating the mistakes that result in true horror once again becoming normalized.

Having watched the finale of The Barrier, there’s a sense of relief. As a second season hasn’t  been confirmed, everything was relying on “Last Days of the Present”, potentially. What’s so great about this episode is that it wrapped everything up so well. Though, there could be second season. It was enough that Alma was (supposedly) the new President. Someone capable of what she was, ended up in power. Again. Enough said. It might be best left now. As a self contained series. Any more might ruin what has been a terrific experience. Many shows could learn from The Barrier. Imagination, heart and soul make brilliant stories. Let’s hope they choose to.

9.6
In Review: The Barrier: (S.1 Ep.13) - Last Days of the Present
  • Story
    9.6
  • Acting
    9.5
  • CGI & Effects
    9.6
  • Overall
    9.7
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