Fate -| Review Score – 3/5
Penance -| Review Score – 2/5
Retaliation -| Review Score – 1.5/5
Wound -| Review Score – 3/5
Slaves -| Review Score – 3/5
Beatriz -| Review Score – 1.5/5
Poison -| Review Score – 2/5
Redemption -| Review Score – 2/5
Based on the novel by Ildefonso Falcones, Heirs to the Land succeeds the events of another Netflix original adaptation of the author’s work: Cathedral of the Sea. The Spanish period drama impresses with intricate production design, beautiful cinematography, and a dramatic saga with intensely high stakes: all positive attributes, and yet hollow trappings that fail to obscure flat characterization and lack of emotional depth.
Set in 14th century Barcelona, Heirs to the Land chronicles the life of Hugo Llor (played by David Solans and Yon González). A young man of modest means, Hugo is no stranger to sorrow. When his father dies, Arnau and Mar Estanyol take care of the struggling family. But when the Puiges–old enemies of the Estanyols–return to Barcelona seeking vengeance, Hugo finds himself in the crosshairs of their conflict.
While the Puiges gain more power, Hugo navigates his own challenges. In the next 20 years, he works to make something of himself, falls in love, and strives to keep his promise to Bernat Estanyol: that he kill the Puig family.
Hugo Llor is a fictional character, as are most of the major players in Heirs to the Land. But the show weaves in real historical settings, political figures, and religious strife between Christians and Jews. Unfortunately, Heirs doesn’t incorporate much of this rich historical context in any compelling way.
Christian/Jewish conflict is significant to the plot, but only inasmuch as it personally affects Hugo. This is a prevalent issue for the limited series. Violence against women and minorities is a tool repeatedly used for a single purpose. These characters are used, discarded, and grossly exploited time and again as fodder for Hugo’s character development.
The overarching plot is little more than an unfocused, soapy, dramatic saga revolving around Hugo’s perceived “heroics.” In actuality, he acts decently to slaves and doesn’t like murder; therefore, people laud him for his kind and noble nature. Ultimately, he’s a flat and boring character.
Still, González does an admirable job with the poor material he had to work with. The same goes for most of the talented cast. Maria Rodríguez Soto is delightfully vile as Regina, and Rodolfo Sancho is appropriately arrogant as Bernat. As committed as they are to their roles, however, none of the characters feel fully developed.
Even the best of actors can’t save a series as ill-developed as Heirs to the Land. Although the show may appeal to avid consumers of Spanish period dramas, its failings greatly outnumber its draws.
The majority of the drama’s value lies in the aesthetic. But at its true heart, the show is an antiquated, insensitive foray into 1300s Barcelona. Heirs to the Land may be set in the 14th century, but I hope its writers and creators know they don’t have to be stuck there.
Verdict - 3.5/10