Heirs to the Land – Season 1 Episode 2 “Penance” Recap & Review


Episode 2 of Heirs to the Land (Los herederos de la tierra) Season 1 begins with Hugo visiting Mar, who lies in bed, sick and wanting to die.

Jucef Crescas introduces himself to Hugo as a friend of Arnaus’. This surprises Hugo, because Jucef is Jewish and Arnau was a devout Christian. It is rare in this religiously-divided setting for the two groups to mix.

Jucef and his wife Astruga, a women’s doctor, want to help Mar. He asks Hugo to come to see her more often. The other friends of Arnau are too ashamed to see her.

Hugo visits Arsenda again at the cathedral. He tells her to never take the veil. If she does, he’ll never see her again. She still insists it’s not up to her, but up to God.

Nobles, including Genís Puig, arrive at the shipyard, having ordered a flagship. Hugo picks up a crowbar to go after Genís and Roger Puig, but his boss stops him. However, one of the nobles–Mateo–sees Hugo and chases after him.

Hugo eventually comes to the cathedral and asks a nun for refuge. She hides him, locking him inside a small room. But she then calls for Mateo to say that she’s captured the runaway.

Hugo bars the door, so they can’t open it. When Mateo peeks through a hole in the door, Hugo pokes a sharp stick through a hole, puncturing the noble’s eye. He escapes and eventually comes upon a garden, takes some food, and finds a small cubbyhole where he can rest.

In Constantinople, Bernat is shut out of the School of Trade, and his bills of exchange are refused. He’s told his father was beheaded for treason. The council was ordered to expel him from the city. If he doesn’t leave Constantinople by dawn, he will suffer his father’s fate.

Hugo is discovered by the owner of land he’s staying on. City councilors punish him by letting townspeople beat him while he’s strapped on a donkey’s back.

After, Hugo cleans up by the sea, and his boss says he can’t return to the shipyards. He visits Mar, who is in a trance, lying face first on the ground.

Bernat returns to Barcelona, where he finds his home has been destroyed. Someone tells him his mother has been evicted.

Hugo goes after Jucef. Astruga comes to see Mar and attempt to wake her. But Mar is ready to give up. She asks Jucef to take care of Hugo. He agrees, and she breathes her last. Just then, Bernat comes in. He rushes to his mother’s side, sobbing when he realizes she’s gone.

They have a small funeral for her. Bernat reveals that he is set upon vengeance for his parents. Hugo tries to convince them it isn’t feasible because the Puiges are always guarded.

Tomorrow, there will be a solemn procession, which every Christian is expected to attend. Bernat wants to kill the Puiges there.

Hugo tries to climb up the cathedral to see Arsenda, perhaps to ask her advice–but another nun stops him. She says Arsenda is no longer a maid, but has become a novice. She asks him not to visit anymore.

Hugo prays about what he should do about Bernat. At the procession, we find out that Hugo decided to help him. Bernat hides above the procession with a crossbow, while Hugo looks up at him and gives him a signal.

However, one of the townspeople that helped beat Hugo sees the crossbow. He tells a guard and points out Hugo as well. Hugo goes to warn Bernat not to shoot. He fires the bow anyway and misses.

Just before he is taken away by guards, Bernat asks Hugo to swear that he will kill the Puiges.

The king gives Bernat a life sentence in the galleys, although the Puiges push for his execution. Hugo sees Bernat off before he’s put on a ship. He promises him the Virgin Mary’s protection.

Hugo then visits his mother. She’s now married and is getting ready to move to Sitges, eight leagues away. She tells him to come find her someday and ask for Ferran. But her new husband tells him he had better not show up there.

Hugo seeks help from Jucef, who provides him with work in a Jewish vineyard. He’ll live in the winery.

Jucef says his wife often performs secretive procedures. Most Christian women don’t want others to know that they get treatment from a Jewish woman. He asks Hugo to swear not to say anything about what he’s seen here.

Jucef’s daughter Dolca appears, and Hugo is immediately taken with her beauty. She tells Hugo to wait outside and not spy on them, but her tone is inviting. So, when Dolca goes inside the barn, Hugo spies through a crack in the door. He’s surprised to see Astruga undressing a woman and providing her with an abortion. 

Throughout his stay, Dolca and Regina often spy on Hugo. (Regina is Astruga’s assistant and supposedly Dolca’s best friend.) When Hugo injures his hands while working, the young women take him to wash his hands in the well.

Dolca asks Regina to leave them alone. When she leaves, Hugo tries to kiss Dolca, but she stops him. It wouldn’t be right; she’s Jewish, and he’s Christian. She makes him apologize to her.

Regina comes to see Hugo at night. She tries to seduce him (and it looks as if she is succeeding) but Dolca catches her and reprimands her. After Regina leaves, Dolca tells Hugo that Regina is not a good person.

Hugo later watches as his benefactors celebrate. They sing and clap while Dolca and Regina laugh together, stomping their feet on grapes. Dolca’s mother notices them looking at Hugo. She sees Dolca kissing her own wrist and yells at the young women to stop.

Dolca goes to clean her feet at the well, where Hugo meets her. She kisses him, but soon pulls away and tells him to go. She insists they can’t be together. Her mother suddenly appears and demands an explanation as to why they are alone together.

Hugo makes up an excuse about running an idea for wine by Dolca. Astruga has him tell it to the men, and they agree to let him try it. They say the grapes will be trodden by cousins Dolca and Saúl. The wine they produce will be saved to celebrate their marriage. 

Dolca finds Hugo in the vineyard. He’s angry with her for not telling him about her arranged marriage.

She holds out her closed fists and tells him to choose; he chooses the left. Dolca squeezes the grapes in her left hand. She wants him to be first to taste the grapes he will use for her wedding’s wine. She also says she wants him to be the first man to have her. They have sex in the vineyard, and he tells her he loves her. 

The episode ends with Hugo’s old boss informing him that Bernat’s ship sunk; he died at sea.

The Episode Review

The overarching plot of Heirs to the Land just begins to take form in episode 2. A revenge-promise now colors Hugo’s future, but the show decides not to get into that just yet. Weirdly enough, it doesn’t even explore Hugo’s intent or any of his true thoughts on obtaining vengeance for the Estanyols.

In addition, it avoids exploring any of its emotionally-rich plot points. Bernat’s arrest, Arsenda’s joining the convent, Antonina leaving with her new husband–These are all events that should affect Hugo deeply, but Heirs simply continues to move on to the next thing.

Instead of dwelling on these events or furthering the revenge narrative, the show veers into romantic territory–with an ill-developed romance at that.

It’s arguably a tired trope to make women become instantly infatuated with the male protagonist, as this episode does. Even more cringeworthy is the flat characterization of Dolca and Regina, and how these best friends are pit against each other because of a man they’ve just met.

The series may be worth pressing on with if just for its actors and the beautiful cinematography. Hopefully, the story improves, because it would be a shame to waste such a beautiful setting.

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You can read our full season review for Heirs to the Land here!


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