Corruption. Violence. Nudes. Shots. drugs. Holyone of the new Netflix series, offers all that through a drama that alternates personal conflicts and the spectacular nature of some action scenes. Ernesto Cardona, played by Bruno Gagliasso, and Detective Millán, played by Raúl Arévalo, star in a story set between Madrid and Brazil with the search for a drug trafficker as a common point.
In Holy many of the legends and real facts associated with drug trafficking seem to be grouped together. From individuals who change their face to the networks they weave in police forces or the result suffered by those who integrate into those worlds and then try to leave. The six-part series does not work, in that sense, as narcs; but he makes many winks in relation to real events.
One aspect should be clarified in relation to the comparison. narcs takes references to compose a fictional story with a notorious documentary background. That framework is not so evident in Holy. Is this a problem for the series? Not unless the viewer is going into this story with that intention. Without the need for that framework, his characters manage to compose an interesting plot of tensions.
Netflix and the risk of stigma
Productions about drug trafficking are becoming a kind of subgenre within drama and action. The foundational phenomenon may have been narcs, at least within Netflix. From this work, that universe full of blood and drugs reached a massive audience, it became a kind of pop reference. So from a business and content perspective, why not push in that direction?
Holy can come from that interest. A captive audience in relation to stories in which drama, explicit violence and drug trafficking constantly dialogue. The risk that is run in the attempt is to saturate that space, offer proposals that do not have a differential value, beyond entertainment, and stigmatize the spaces in which they take place. It is no coincidence that one of the locations is Brazil, another Latin American country marked by inequality, drug trafficking and blood on the streets.
Based on that country, the series Holy It also explores the religious profile of Brazilian culture and the landscape of the favelas. His villain, Santo, heads a drug gang with tribal interests. His steps are not just for revenge, leadership in zones or due to the management of a crisis; they also advance on a story that escapes the plane in which the drug is found. Meanwhile, Detective Millán plays with fire.
Three characters are marked by the same figure in this series, Santo, a drug trafficker who is spoken of as a being who is beyond good and evil, even positioning himself as a religious figure. Meanwhile, two policemen, from their sidewalks, try to dismantle his system, running the risk of getting lost in that search. Five interesting chapters, aimed at continuing to expand a narrative universe within Netflix, that of the history that has drugs and weapons as paths to different stories.
Holy and the two sides of the coin
Ernesto Cardona enters a case with the intention of solving it, even when this may cost him his life. In that attempt, failures or conflicts of interest leave him exposed to the cartel. The Netflix series makes an effort to build the character from that place, although it can be confusing between the time jumps and the pulses present in the story. Cardona finds himself in a context in which he cannot trust anyone. Coming and going between moments, Holy tells how he entered that world and, also, his interest in spirits.
If the series wants to serve as a kind of cultural or anthropological essay, it might work.. During the sections in which the story is based in Brazil, everything that it describes looks plausible, backed by good photographic work and convincing performances. In opposition, when narrated from Madrid, detective Millán leaves more doubts. Straddling two worlds, the legal and the criminal, his life little by little disintegrates. Both characters are haunted by their past and the shadow of a figure that is spoken of as a God: “Don’t you feel it?” is one of the most repeated dialogues by Bárbara, played by Victória Guerra.
The slope of time jumps
At times, Barbara’s role seems to be that of femme fatale. While the story of the other two axes of the story is told with time and detail, hers (and Susi’s, in the skin of
Greta Fernández) is one that would have been better left with more screen time. The actress not only convinces of her, but also seduces the viewer, while trying to discern what is happening to her, why this faith, why her relationship with something forbidden. Until, as in the other cases, it is revealed that an event from the past plunged her into the bowels of that universe with its own God.
Holy is a series that, between drug trafficking, sexuality and religion, tends to disperse; perhaps due to an editing issue and the abuse in time jumps. This last resource, on occasion, clouds the story he wants to tell: how, moved by different interests and traumas, one and the other are part of a power struggle that goes beyond them. It may be that due to the previous alterations, the outcome is confusing, weakening the story that it wants to tell, perhaps because it wants to cover too many aspects in that trip, including winks to the terror that allows us to discover that, behind the facade of the drug, there is a sect. The series can be viewed in its entirety at Netflix from this September 16, 2022.