On HBO the first chapter of this story based on the guerrilla actions of ETA and its victims was seen. Without didacticism, it invites you to follow it.
The first chapter of Patria, HBO’s first production in Spain, raises the central conflict that the miniseries based on the best seller by Fernando Aramburu will develop over eight chapters: the confrontation between two families tragically crossed by terrorism of ETA.
The story takes place in the Basque Country and is narrated in three time planes. It begins in 1990. It’s four in the afternoon on any rainy day. A married couple is waking up from their nap drowsiness. She dozes in an armchair while he gets out of bed ready to resume his daily routine.
A parade hanging in front of the department demands freedom for the prisoners and a general amnesty. Inside a car parked a few meters away, a group of people anxiously awaits someone. Above, the man seems restless, as if he sensed something. In a hurry, he takes a sip of coffee straight from the coffeepot and, from afar, says goodbye to his sleepy wife.
Three detonations will make the woman jump out of the chair and look out the window of the apartment. In the middle of the street, In a pool of blood that mixes with rainwater, her husband is lying.
The action jumps to October 20, 2011, to the precise day on which the nationalist guerrilla announced the definitive cessation of its armed activity. The years passed for the woman, but the wound did not close. She continues to dialogue with her dead husband: an effective narrative resource so that we can find out his thoughts without having to resort to an annoying voice-over. She repeats the ritual of going to visit her at her grave, where she announces that she will return to town to clarify who and why she killed her.
She is Bittori (played by Elena Irureta), whose life changed forever that afternoon in 1990. Or it ended, to put it in her own words, with the murder of Txato (José Ramón Soroiz). Said and done, she stops by her current home to collect some belongings and sets off for the crime scene. She settles in her old apartment, which seems stopped in time: everything is the same on the day of the attack.
Bittori gambles by the window waiting for one of those “to pass.” And soon his prediction is fulfilled: an older man notices the lights in the apartment and goes home to tell his wife the news, who is busy giving her paraplegic daughter dinner. “They’ll be cleaning,” she tells him. “At this time?”, He replies. Later, the woman will check that someone did indeed return. Bittori watches her from the window: “I have to admit that it is well preserved,” she tells the spirit of her husband.
The action goes back to the ’80s and we see Bittori having a coffee with her great friend Miren (Ane Gabarain), who is none other than the elderly woman with the crippled daughter. At the exit of the bar, women are involved in the incidents caused by a group of pro-independence protesters. And Miren recognizes in one of the hooded men her eldest son,. Joxe Mari (Jon Olivares), whom he sees throwing a Molotov at the group from which the friends have just been evacuated.
The incident sparks a family fight that ends with Joxe Mari leaving home. But if in that past his parents (the man is Joxian, in charge of Mikel Laskurain) disapprove of the son’s actions, in the present narrative of 2011, with Jose Mari in prison, the one they disapprove of is Bittori and his return to town looking for answers.
And not only them: everyone in the village murmurs when they see the widow. As if the victim were guilty of reminding them of a time they prefer to forget. To the point that Miren asks the village priest to speak with Bittori to ask him to leave. The woman’s response is clear: “I no longer have anything to lose.”
In one of the many flashbacks, light begins to shine on the motive for the murder of Txato: owner of a major transport company, he was being extorted by ETA and every so often he had to cross the border with France to give them sums of money in exchange for keeping his life and that of his family.
With meticulous realization (for example, the makeup to age or rejuvenate the actors is remarkable), this first chapter establishes the dramatic knot of Homeland without leaving out the public that is not steeped in the history of the Basque conflict.
Without falling into didacticisms that hinder the narrative, the general guidelines of the historical context that this particular tragedy is going through are established. Everything invites us to continue watching to discover what happened in the past and how these two families will deal with those events that obscure their present.