Episode 5 of Heirs to the Land (Los herederos de la tierra) Season 1 begins with Mateo lashing Hugo’s back in prison, attempting to get an admission of guilt out of him. Although he threatens to kill him, Hugo still will not confess.
Regina continues to take care of Roger’s wife, confessing concerns for Hugo and claiming his innocence. She admits her love for Hugo, adding that her husband is a bad man who enjoys making her suffer. She hopes to be baptized, have her marriage annulled, and be free to marry Hugo.
That evening, the king dines at Roger’s palace. He remarks that he’s never tasted such good wine. Roger says the cellarman is a traitor, but his wife has been convinced by Regina. She remarks that Hugo can’t read or write.
This is good enough for King Martin. He commands Roger to pardon and release the cellarman at once. His talent is too rare.
After Hugo is released, Regina is baptized. She tells Hugo she’ll soon be rid of her husband. Roger’s wife has even offered her a position in the palace. She still doesn’t know of Hugo’s engagement, so she voices her assumption that Hugo will marry her now that she’s a Christian. Hugo doesn’t reply.
Eulália’s father visits Hugo to talk about wedding plans between him and his daughter. Hugo wants to postpone. He reminds him that he signed an agreement. If he doesn’t marry Eulália, he’ll have to give up his vineyard, as agreed.
When Regina next sees Hugo, she brings with her Mateo’s slave. It’s Caterina. When Hugo calls her by her name, Regina becomes suspicious of his feelings toward the woman.
She later comes to him again, livid. She found out from the priest that Hugo is already engaged. He apologizes, but he can’t break the betrothal.
Regina demands he break it off, or she will tell Eulália of how he slept with a Jew for so many years. She’ll tell Roger that she wrote the letters to Bernat for him. And she’ll tell Mercé that he’s not her true father.
She’s convinced he’ll be happy with her. She leaves him with a choice–marrying her or death–then kisses him.
Hugo breaks his word and so loses his land. Before leaving the vineyard, he grants his slaves their freedom. Barcha refuses her freedom papers, wanting to stay and help take care of Mercé. Hugo, unsmiling, marries Regina in a Christian church.
Many years later, Roger brings Hugo to King Martin’s palace, where Hugo serves some of his most expensive wine. Genis Puig is now dead, not that he’s been significant to any of the recent plot. But Roger is now the Count of Navarcles.
Mercé is now a young woman, and Hugo is still married to Regina. She is at the palace as well, to treat the new queen.
The entire court witnesses the awkward consummation of the king’s and queen’s marriage. The king just married Margaret of Prades and hopes for an heir. All four of his children with his first wife died.
Roger takes notice of Regina at the palace. They begin having an affair, which Hugo discovers when he hears them together while walking past their room.
Mercé wants to go into medicine like Regina, but this makes Hugo angry. He wants Mercé to stop calling Regina mother, and to marry respectably rather than follow in Regina’s footsteps.
Hugo accuses Regina of acting shamelessly, but she says he doesn’t understand. Roger has promised to make her a baroness. He will also let her and Mercé live at the palace. Mercé can learn her trade. But Hugo won’t have it.
Hugo later finds Caterina hiding in his cellar, bleeding from her lip. “That bastard again?” he asks her, most likely referring to Mateo. He asks where she’s from. Caterina says was captured by Turks and made a slave. She doesn’t remember her homeland.
She tells him he’s a good father, with a big heart. Since she fell from grace, he’s the only one who has treated her kindly. Hugo stares longingly after her as she leaves.
One night, Roger continually asks for wine from Hugo. He’s in a fit of rage. The king is dead, and there is no heir, which means war. He says the king tried to acknowledge his illegitimate grandson as the heir before he died, but the Cortes of Aragon prevented him.
Roger says they will have to win the crown for the Count of Urgell or lose everything. He hasn’t forgotten Hugo’s treason. But he can redeem himself by spying for him. He warns him that his daughter will still be at his palace. If Hugo fails in this task, she will die.
He then passes out from his excessive drink. Hugo remembers his promise to kill the Puigs. He looks at the unconscious Roger and picks up his dagger. After a few seconds of contemplating it, he throws the dagger away and storms out of the room.
So, Hugo goes on his new journey, spying for his nemesis. He goes to a cathedral, where a priest gives him a message for Roger. There will soon be a major event at Zaragoza. Count of Urgell wants armed supporters to gather there.
Before he leaves, Hugo hears beautiful singing. It sounds like Arsenda. He asks the priest if there is a nun named Arsenda, but he says it’s the Mother Superior, Sister Beatriz.
Hugo goes to his hiding place, where he hides the letter from the priest behind a loose brick. He has hidden several other letters there as well.
When he reports to Roger, he claims to have destroyed the letter so it couldn’t fall into enemy hands.
The next scene takes place in 1412. Hugo spots Bernat at an event in Caspe where an official proclaims the king of Aragorn to be the Prince of Castile, Ferdinand of Trastámara. Bernat is first to pay his respects to the king, soon followed by Regina and Mercé.
Hugo later goes to see Bernat, who has been appointed admiral of the Royal Navy. Bernat glares at Hugo, believing him a traitor for serving a Puig and not killing him.
But Hugo maintains that he has served Bernat well. For one thing, by risking his life to collect evidence of Roger’s treason. He has been seeking revenge–his own way.
Hugo shows him the letters he’s collected, the ones that show that Roger has been helping the king’s enemies. Now, he can execute Roger, but under the law. In return, Hugo wants Bernat to take his daughter under his protection and find a reputable man for her to marry.
So, Bernat announces himself to the people of Roger’s palace. He walks up to Hugo and hugs him, then kisses Merce’s hand. He completely ignores Regina.
His guards escort Roger downstairs. When Bernat reveals that Hugo betrayed him, Mateo slips a dagger from his sleeve. He rushes at Hugo, but Bernat cuts his throat. As Mateo dies, Hugo reminds him that he was the scared boy who caused him to lose his eye. “Remember me in hell,” he says, before the man draws his last breath.
Bernat decides to hand Roger over to the people of Barcelona. If he was fair to them, they will spare him. Roger grimaces, knowing how this will turn out.
Everything in Roger’s palace now belongs to the king. Bernat proclaims that his new goddaughter, Mercé, will be the lady of the house. He commands everyone to obey her.
He also declares that Caterina will be under Hugo’s custody until the king makes a decision about her fate.
Caterina approaches Hugo, and Regina spits at their feet. She swears Hugo will regret this before storming off. Caterina kneels at Hugo’s feet, but he makes her stand.
The episode ends with the people of Barcelona beating a helpless Roger Puig. In the middle of the beating, Bernat’s right-hand man approaches with a sword and disappears into the crowd to finish him off.
The Episode Review
“Slaves” is probably the most exciting episode of the series so far. It has almost everything you want from a revenge-driven period piece: love, betrayal, reunions, secrets, war. And finally, some sweet revenge.
Though this episode will likely keep you on the edge of your seat, it does nothing to make its characters more interesting or dynamic.
It tries to set up a parallel between Regina and Dolca, as well as Regina and Caterina. But the result is too obvious and trite. Where Dolca refused to deny her faith in the face of death, Regina converts so she can have the life she wants. Where Caterina was sexually assaulted, Regina goes to Roger’s bed willingly.
Sure, Regina has shown herself to be a truly horrendous person, but some ways the show tries to depict this fall extremely flat. It’s as if Heirs is presenting women as if there are simply two kinds: the angelic (Dolca and Caterina) and the demonic (Regina).
The series also fails Hugo’s character, who has so much wasted potential. It continues to astound me the ways Heirs tries to show us that Hugo is so noble and good. For example, Barcha doesn’t want to leave him. And Caterina lavishes him with praise for being the only person kind to her. So, are we to put him on a pedestal because he is kind to slaves? Is that such a sacrifice?
This repeated reinforcement of Hugo’s supposed “perfection” doesn’t just show an utter lack of awareness. To put it simply, it’s boring.
Here’s hoping Heirs to Land keeps this level of action and intrigue, but also improves its character development and starts to offer greater emotional depth in character arcs.