Finally! This week, we begin our reviews of episodes of El Ministerio del Tiempo! I love the variety of dialects of Spanish that we hear in this series, starting with that of old Andalucian Spanish spoken by our favorite 16th century soldier, who is from Sevilla.
We start off in Flanders in 1569 on a battlefield where the fighting has clearly just ended.
In the first 5 minutes we meet Tercio Alonso de Entrerios who is about to be executed for attacking his incompetent superior who attempted to frame him for the loss of a battle in Flanders.
This is the famous “No tengo quejas. / I do not have any complaints.” moment, where he tells his wife that he’s traveled, he’s loved, and he’s fought for his country, so he has had a full enough life. He begs her to forget him and continue her life. Then he gets an offer to work for a secret department of the crown, but must be dead to everyone, including his wife Blanca.
Interesting to wonder how his expectations compared to the expectations of many people nowadays. And with the fact that executions were public entertainment back then, we see that Alonso is very much a man of his times.
Then we jump to 1880 in Barcelona in a university classroom where the professor is categorically denying the influence of anyone on the works of Lope de Vega. The incompetent professor is swiftly contradicted by a female student whom he immediately silences of course. That student turns out to be Amelia. She accepts a note to follow a mysterious woman in red who ‘knows how much she is worth’ and makes her an offer as well.
Irene Lara claims to be there (and I’m in tears of joy) to meet one of the first women to attend University in Spain. And to discuss important things, and a future where women can do the same things that men can do, and also passing the Bechdel test, just before jumping to modern-day (2015) Madrid.
Where, we meet a rather impulsive Emergency Medical Technician who jumps out of his ambulance against orders in order to run into a burning building with inadequate equipment. When he wakes up in the hospital, his boss informs him that he is suspended from service. At home he gets a visit from our two earlier mysterious personages, this time dressed in modern business suits. They ask him about what prompted him to run into the burning building, which was a man he claims to have seen, but that the firefighters who rescued him deny seeing. That in turn, leads to his trip and our introduction to the Ministry.
As we finished the first 15 minutes of the episode, we’re walking through the impressive setting of what appears at first to be an abandoned building, and then an ancient dilapidated monastery, to descend into the bowels of a super protected secret office of what is still The Crown, or government of spain.
To get into the Ministry itself you go down into a well. Fantastic beginning! Of course he sees people dressed in the clothing of various different time periods. This is the first question in the mind of a modern man reasonably educated and intelligent, and very rebellious, like Julian.
Julian has the dubious privilege of being recruited by the head of the ministry himself, director Salvador Marti, who tells him that the man he saw in the burning building was a soldier from 1808.
Obviously this does not go over well with Julian, who goes on a tour of the ministry guided by the director himself.
The director explains to Julian that the Ministry is charged with preventing changes in the historical timeline of Europe or anything that would affect Europe, via the doors. These doors are how they transit time, going from a door in The Ministry, to a door in some shape or form (not always a nice comfortable door, as we see later in this episode), in a different time period. He takes Julian through one door to see the familiar ancient aqueduct, being built and guarded by shockingly ancient Roman soldiers. Then he explains the origin of the doors of time, and the fate of the one who invented them, which will take us to episode either three or four, if I remember correctly. Naturally Julian is thinking about his wife, and asks about traveling to the future, to which the director responds that
“El tiempo es el que es. / time is what it is.”
and that while we cannot travel to the future, we can prevent changes to the past. He points out that while our history is not great, it could be worse.
When Julian is welcomed to work at the ministry and refuses, he’s given the choice of working at the ministry, or being committed to the psychiatric hospital.
Julian continues not to be thrilled with this idea. In the cafeteria, after being offered a 100-year-old orange that’s fresher than fresh, he is introduced to his new teammates.
“Hoy es mi día de suerte, primero conozco a Velázquez y ahora El capitán Alatriste. / Today is my lucky day, first I meet Velasquez, & now, Captain Alatriste.”
As the leadership team watches this new Patrol get to know one another, the director explains that Amelia is the brains of the team, while Alonso, honest and honorable, would put down a modern Marine in 2 minutes, but that Julian, with nothing to lose, is the one who can get them out of sticky situations at any time period, with his knowledge of modern medicine, and his calm under pressure from having been an EMT.
Then we go back to the bookstore, where the two bad guys from 1808 are researching the history of that war, which is the Spanish war of independence from Napoleon, and deciding how to fix it. Back at the Ministry, Irene announces that it is time for Amelia and Alonso (obviously amazed at this rather different time period) to get to know the 21st century: via Madrid traffic! Boy, will they wish they’d taken mass transit, like the Metro, instead!!
This series began in 2015 on Spanish Public Television, RTVe, and is available on that website to those in Europe, or with a free web browser proxy, like Hoxx, set to a location in Europe.
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6 thoughts on “Ministry Mondays: El Ministerio del Tiempo (S1e1) “El Tiempo Es El Que Es/Time Is What It Is” First 1/2, & Transit”
1.) ministry Mondays and
2.) link to Alonzo’s line at the end of the post.
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