Episode 1 of Three Days Of Christmas introduces us to the family we’ll be following for the next few episodes while setting the foundations for ensuing drama to come. With a slow-burn plot line and a lot of this opening episode consumed by characterisation, Three Days Of Christmas won’t be for everyone but if you can stick with it, the show absolutely rewards your patience.
We begin the opening episode with a woman narrating as she approaches a tree and rips down the moss to reveal four names carved in the oak. Running across the snow, the camera pans out to reveal a beautiful quaint house back-dropped by snow-peaked mountains. A family prepare for christmas and one of the sisters decides to head out and find Maria.
Outside, Maria stumbles upon a group of soldiers out looking for someone but she runs off as they apprach, preparing to skate across the frozen lake until her sisters catch up to her. As they prepare to head back, we catch a glimpse of that same oak tree again, this time with only three names carved into them; the names of all three sisters. However, a strange man approaches and begs the sisters to hide a girl called Valentina in their house. He promises to come back and get Valentina before dark before scurrying away again.
They take her back to the shed and let her rest, prompting Esther to start looking through her possessions, wondering just who the girl is. After leaving her there for now, the girls return to the house where Juan takes Adela aside and tells her that he’s not the one for her. At the same time, Esther speaks to her father and discusses his smoking.
Valentina awakens and begins talking to Maria. It turns out her Mother is dead but before they can press further, Juan enters to examine her. Uncle Rafael and Colette arrive and after some pleasantries, Maria’s mother takes her aside and asks where she go the necklace from. As it turns out, it actually belonged to her in the past but she lost it a long time ago.
Christmas dinner begins and Colette immediately breaks the silence by telling them she’s pregnant. She’s only joking though of course, but it’s enough to break the uneasy tension hanging round the dinner table. As they get talking, they discuss Valentina’s father and through the adult conversation the sisters learn he may well have been killed. There are certainly secrets in the family but before they can press further, Juan bursts into the house with Valentina. They immediately learn what the girls have done before they turn on Juan, allowing the adults to argue amongst themselves over what to do with the girl.
Chief Manuel arrives and the family try to remain calm in the face of his pressing questions. Asserting his dominance, he sits down at the head of the table and immediately starts eating the food. He shows the family a bloodied yellow scarf and questions them over Valentina. As he gets up and paces around, the frightened girl hides under the table. Just before he leaves, he forces the girls to stand up and recite what they’ve learnt while Manuel frantically searches around the rooms for the girl. He tells them all to leave the table, which they do aside from Ramon, who squares up to the officer. Unmoving, he shoots the table several times before pointing the gun at Mateo’s neck and asking where Valentina is.
Adela unfortunately caves and tells them she’s upstairs. It’s enough of a distraction for them to rush out the house with her while Manuel is upstairs. They charge through the forest to the lake as snow begins to fall but with nowhere to go, Manuel catches up to them as the girls creep out onto the frozen lake and begin to cross. Just before Manuel shoots, the ice gives way and the family watch as Manuel scrambles to break free before allowing him to drown. This happens to be another secret the family hold but as we’re told during the narration at the end, it’s one that won’t remain a secret forever.
Three Days of Christmas takes its time to get going but when it does, there’s some really nicely worked drama at the end. The segments involving Chief Manuel at the end are incredible tense too and seeing some of the foreshadowed segments early on pay off at the end is a nice inclusion too. There’s some wonderful scene composition late on here too, tying in nicely to some of the visual elements of the series. Still, the stage has been set for some dramatic episodes to come.