Heirs to the Land – Season 1 Episode 3 “Retaliation” Recap & Review


Episode 3 of Heirs to the Land (Los herederos de la tierra) Season 1 begins with Jucef making a powerful medicine called aqua vitae. He calls it the pure spirit of wine. But if you drink too much, he explains to Hugo, it can kill you.

Dolca and Saul stomp on the grapes that Hugo gathered for their wedding wine. It’s a happy celebration, but Astruga can tell that Dolca and Hugo are miserable.

Jucef wakes Hugo the next morning. He wants to take him to visit his mother in Sitges. While this is likely Astruga’s plan to keep Hugo from coming between Dolca and Saul, Hugo doesn’t argue.

Jucef mentions some Christian women who are looking for a suitor. Hugo ignores this, asking if a Christian can become a Jew. Jucef protests: The Inquisition would execute both of them if Hugo converted from his influence. Jucef knows Hugo loves Dolca, but says he must forget her.

Hugo goes to see his mother, but her new husband Ferran punches him. He calls for Antonina only to beat Hugo in front of her. He warns Hugo not to come again, or he will beat Antonina to death. Hugo is forced to leave, while his mother lies on the ground, beaten and sobbing.

Later, Hugo asks Dolca why God has to punish good people. Dolca remarks that God may make it up to his suffering family and friends in the next life. She kisses him, and he tells her she can’t marry Saul and should sail away with him. She can’t leave her family and asks that he stop trying to make her dream.

 That night, Regina sneaks downstairs and catches the lovers sleeping together.

Jucef and the other community leaders receive news that Christians raided the Jewish quarter in Valencia. They killed hundreds of their people and forced them to convert or die.

Jucef brings Hugo news from Sitges; his mother is sick. Hugo goes again to visit her. He asks to see her, and Ferran tells him she’s dying. “Leave before I kill you.” He says Hugo might never come out if he enters his house, but Hugo enters anyway. He sits by his mother’s bedside and promises not to leave her alone. She just barely stirs to hold his hand.

Hugo goes to the cathedral and asks to speak to his sister. He wants to tell her that their mother died. The abbess says she’s about to take her vows and her prayer cannot be interrupted. She will tell her when she is ready.

Later, the abbess comes to Arsenda with the news of her mother’s death. Arsenda cries, and the abbess tells her to dry her tears and find joy in God’s will.

Back at the winery, people begin shouting. It’s rioting Christians yelling “Death to the Jews.” They barely have time to hide before the rioters come bursting through their property, smashing things.

Old Saul watches as they kill his young grandson. A townsperson then stabs the old man. Hugo tries to find Dolca in the chaos. He hears a young woman yelling.

He finds a man raping a bloody Regina in her bed. Hugo pulls him off and claims that she is his. When the men in the room leave, he asks her where Dolca is. She doesn’t know.

He carries Regina downstairs and outside. Mosé Vives, a doctor and friend of her family asks him to leave her with him. Hugo asks if he knows what happened to the rest of Jucef’s family. Many were taken to Castell Nou Square to be tried. They will have to convert or be killed.

Hugo runs to the square. He sees a man–the same man who caught Bernat–ask Dolca, “conversion or death?”

“No,” she replies. “I’ve been very happy.” The man slices her throat as Hugo and Astruga watch. A magistrate stops the proceedings, and everyone flees.

Hugo dreams that Dolca is with him, but it’s someone else cleaning his wounds. The Jewish people who survived are hiding until things calm down. Teary eyed, Jucef tells him that Astruga didn’t make it. Regina is safe, however.

“Why so much hate?” Hugo asks him. Jucef says it’s fear. King Juan arrested those responsible and executed ten of them, although hundreds were there. But none of them were the man who killed Dolca and Astruga.

Hugo asks Jucef to lend him money. He goes into town and pays people for information. When he’s found out where Dolca’s murderer is hiding–in the bell tower of the Santa Maria del Pi–he tells Jucef and the others. They want to kill him tonight, but Jucef wants to go to the magistrate.

They turn him in, and Hugo goes to watch his execution. “There you have him, Dolca,” he says when the man hangs. Hugo then takes his shoes back–the ones he received from Mar that the man stole from him.

Years later, an older looking Hugo puts the shoes away. He continues to work in the vineyard. Jucef approaches him one day, with a cross hanging around his neck. Hugo greets him, but is informed that his convert name is Raimundo.

Jucef says Barcelona is speaking highly of Hugo’s wine. He says Saul’s family wants Hugo to keep the vineyards until the vines die or until Mahir comes back. 

Hugo asks if Jews have a heaven. Jucef tells him to erase Dolca from his mind. And his heaven, now, is the Christian one. Hugo also asks after Regina, who is now married to the doctor Mosé. She continues to learn medicine by his side.

He goes to visit his sister, having not been allowed to see her for a long time. On his way, he overhears a noble speaking to a young woman. He tells her she belongs to Roger Puig now.

No one will give Hugo news of his sister. One nun says she will report him if he doesn’t leave. He says he won’t leave until he sees Arsenda. A priest comes out to speak to Hugo. He says Arsenda has entered the perpetual enclosure. He can never see her.

But Regina can. A nun calls for the woman, requiring her medical services. She goes to the convent to treat Arsenda.

She has Arsenda spread her legs. “My god, who did this to you?” she asks. Arsenda responds that it was Satan. The nun affirms this, saying the devil will punish her for her shamelessness (implying a pregnancy).

Father Pau sends for Hugo, but not for a matter concerning his sister. The priest asks if he could tend to the convent’s vineyard. He doesn’t think it appropriate for Hugo to be so close to the Jews, even if they are Christian converts.

He offers him the same deal he is getting now, but with a better vineyard. Hugo later apologizes to Jucef for leaving. Jucef says not to worry. He’s thankful for all Hugo has done for the land. He gives him money. The work will be hard, and he’ll need slaves.

Hugo says he doesn’t want to own anyone, but Jucef says he can offer his slaves talla, the purchase of their freedom after an amount he deems fair. This apparently erases any moral qualms Hugo had.

He buys several slaves, including a woman named Barcha. He teaches them how to work in the vineyard. In the middle of his instruction, a man comes bringing a message from Bernat Estanyol, who is apparently very much alive.

The man has become a corsair, a master of a galleys ship. He wants Hugo to inform him of the routes and cargoes of Roger Puig’s ships. 

Hugo is hesitant. There will be Catalan merchants and sailors on those boats. People will die if he gets this information for Bernat.

But Bernat is committed to attacking Catalan ships no matter what. However, he will spare the ships that Hugo tells him about.

Regina is called again to Arsenda. She delivers her baby, and the abbess asks her to get rid of the baby.

That night, Regina brings the baby to Hugo. She doesn’t tell him the baby is his sister’s, but insists that Hugo must take care of her as if she were his own. He initially refuses, but Barcha insists that the baby stay.

The Episode Review

The Spanish period drama picks up a little steam with a time skip and a new phase in the series with Hugo older and running the vineyard himself. But at what cost does this new drama surface?

Well, it all comes about through genocide, for one thing. Heirs to the Land used such a tragic event involving rape and murder not to make any significant comment on religious disparity or persecution, but to hone the character of the Christian Male protagonist. It was such a grossly sensationalized, cheap exploitation of a marginalized group and showed a complete lack of self and social awareness on the writers’ part.

Trauma after trauma occurs in the lives of people around Hugo–from his mother’s abuse to the murder of his lover and all of his friends. Yet none of this is ever viewed through the perspective of the people directly experiencing the suffering. The show’s rampant abuse of women, for example, is never framed as anything more than another notch in Hugo’s belt of sorrows. Everything is about Hugo, even when nothing should be.

While this episode boasts some entertaining, albeit soapy, drama bits, those are almost completely overshadowed by this poor framing.

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

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