Based on the real-life adventures of Ferdinand Magellan and Juan Sebastián Elcano's sailing journey to the Spice Islands from Spain, this historical drama attempts at bringing a history lesson to a six-episode miniseries format.
The show manages to tell the story of the famous Spanish expedition that lasted over three years under the leadership of commander Ferdinand Magellan (and Juan Sebastián Elanco later). The reality of the events is certainly fascinating as the expedition was subject to achieving multiple feats and discoveries. Magellan’s theory was proven right as he discovered the secret interoceanic strait, which accomplished his motive in finding the western route to the Spice Islands, and on the fleet’s return, the ship completed the first circumnavigation in the world under Juan Sebastián Elcano. Despite consisting of historical inaccuracies, the series paints a picture of certain events as it gives a good outlook on what might have happened. The direction, as well as the production, in that regard, remains impressive, while the editing sticks to the basics and provides a clean and crisp look. As far as the action spectacles are concerned, they were limited but still satisfying.
The face of the show is Rodrigo Santoro (famous for his role on Westworld) as Captain Magellan without a doubt. He steals every scene he appears in; this is even more prominent in the first episode when the show looks to establish other characters in the fold, he had already made his mark as soon as he first appeared. The show inevitably feels less charismatic and duller when he is not the man of focus. This is both a compliment to the actor and a criticism of the show. He manages to bring a lot of depth to his character as a man of honor, stubborn yet respectful, as he is fuelled by his dream while yearning for somebody who respects his knowledge.
A sea journey is both a thing of beauty and a cry for help, and I feel that the mixed representation of a life-threatening expedition is done justice here, with it capturing the essence of both happiness and helplessness. The struggle hits the right notes with well-rewarded glimpses of happiness. It is an intense affair. The unpleasantness of sea sickness also looked convincing enough thanks to the make-up department.
It is good, but far from perfect. There are certain elements in the writing and screenplay where the show falters. At first, it introduces the audience to the three Spanish captains that were intended on protecting their crown’s interest in the Spanish Federation because Captain Magellan was a Portuguese heading the ship, and knowing the history between the two neighbors, meant a boiling conflict yet to explode any minute.
While the show inspects the long-lost love between the three captains and the commander, it is difficult to follow up on whether the events are happening inside the same ship or a different ship that sailed along with the main fleet. The three captains are never really developed as side characters. Consequently, it doesn’t present enough information about the other subsiding ships, which could have used some context in words or narration if not screentime. Another problem is it forces the contribution of Juan Sebastián Elcano in some scenes that could have been allocated somewhere else. Álvaro Morte (famous for his role in Money Heist as the Professor) certainly blended very well in his new role, as he looks almost unrecognizable as Juan Sebastián Elcano, but he has been overused in my opinion. This is in no way criticism of his actions, but rather the writing.
In the retrospect, the Spanish periodical drama gets a lot of things correct, and it probably deserves more attention as well, as it does justice to Ferdinand Magellan and his determination to explore against the adversaries he faced against.
Final Score – [7.5/10]
Reviewed by - Devyansh Anand
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