Episode 7 -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Maldivas is the latest Brazilian melodrama on Netflix and it’s certainly going to be an acquired taste. This is a series that grows on you over time, with the first half particular rough around the edges and swamped with exposition. Tonally, the show doesn’t always hit the right notes, but when it does – especially late on – Maldivas shows some promise.
The story is set in the heart of a condo called Maldivas, home to several rich occupants whom we follow across the season. There’s Milene, a poster-child wife who’s big on social media and happens to be married to a hotshot plastic surgeon called Victor Hugo. She’s his muse and after numerous surgeries, it’s clear that no amount of external fixing can mend the hole in their marriage.
Complicating matters further is Rayssa, who happens to be in an open marriage with her husband Caua. Rayssa is also in the middle of having an affair with Victor, while blackmailed pictures of Caua’s affair complicating matters further and looking set to blow the lid on their secretive arrangement.
All is not well with Kat and Gustavo either, who find themselves disgraced and embroiled in the middle of a corruption scandal after Gustavo got a little too greedy.
Rounding out this quartet is Patricia and her best friend Veronica. These two know a lot of the secrets going on in the condo and ruffle some feathers too. Nowhere else is that more evident than with Liz, Patricia’s long-lost daughter who returns to try and find her mum after she was given up as a child.
After establishing all this, the end of the first episode shows Patricia’s apartment set on fire by an unknown assailant. And even worse, Patricia herself was stuck inside at the time and dies.
This murder mystery forms the crux of the story, which plays out with a fair few twists and turns over the course of the 7 episodes. Spicing things up further is Detective Denilson, who immediately suspects foul play and that there’s more to this story than first meets the eye.
As the show continues, the second half finally starts to unveil some revelations about that fateful night. The end of episode 5 delivers a deliciously dark twist that lends itself to an exciting finale.
There are other subplots interwoven through this too; spicy affairs, the aforementioned blackmailed photos and Patricia’s secretive past to name a few. These are spread across the run-time and interweave around the main plot line with varying degrees of success.
The characters themselves are a hodgepodge of different ideas and influences, but most aren’t exactly rays of sunshine. In fact, characters like Rayssa, Victor and Milene don’t paint themselves in a very favourable light and it takes a long time to warm to these guys.
This is something that’s only made worse by the tone of this show which sometimes strikes the right chord and other times wildly misses the mark.
There’s a fine balance between humour and tragedy, and that’s something Maldivas carelessly misunderstands. At Patricia’s funeral, for example, several characters bemoan taking a minute’s silence and turn the event into a grieving match.
Another time, two characters make a big joke at Patricia’s crime scene – including the lead detective. While these seem like minor points, compounded across a season that tries to tackle a murder mystery seriously, it diminishes the urgency and care to get this right.
This is something made worse by the instrumental score, especially early on in the show, which is so off-kilter to what’s happening on screen it almost belies belief.
The best comparison I can give to this show is that it feels like Desperate Housewives, Jane the Virgin and Sky Rojo, blended together but done so in a way where some of the puzzle pieces fit together nicely and others are smashed together with a sledgehammer and stuck down with superglue. It’s sometimes disjointed and other times unbelievably messy…but it remains a very watchable show despite its flaws.
Maldivas is a soapy, melodramatic series that manages to just about redeem itself after a messy opening half. The final 3 episodes in particular are great and will reward fans that have stuck with this one, delivering solid answers to the big mystery of what happened to Patricia.
It’s not perfect, but it’s a decent enough soapy romp to keep you watching until the end.
Verdict - 6/10