TV Review: 30 Coins 1×6, “Holy War”

Joseph Braverman reviews season 1, episode 6 of HBO's supernatural series 30 Coins, "Holy War."
User Rating: 7

Move aside, dreamy Mayor Paco (Miguel Ángel Silvestre). There’s a new priest in town, and the only thing “hot” about him is his proximity to Hell. Before we get to this newcomer’s shocking identity, it’s important to note Pedraza’s downward shift in confidence regarding their leader. Based on his lackadaisical town square speech, even Paco doesn’t buy his commitment to the town he’s sworn to protect. Maybe it’s time to step down; after all, the heart beats louder than the call of duty. He can’t shake his feelings for Elena (Megan Montaner), further complicating his marriage to Merche (Macarena Gómez).

Even with cheesy confrontations that borrow heavily from telenovela tropes, Gómez handles her role with estimable consideration, giving audiences numerous meme-worthy glares of disapproval. Her snippy fits are a source of entertainment, but they also strengthen the argument that this power couple’s partnership has run its course. The pair have nothing left but mismatched priorities. Seeing Merche finally unleash her fury on Paco in public removes the façade of their perfect marriage. More importantly, it allows the audience to feel empathy for a woman who fought so hard for her husband’s career, only to be left unappreciated and vulnerable to town rumormongers. If there’s one person who might be able to unite Pedraza in its victimized entitlement, it’s Merche.

“Holy War” also features a B-plot with Father Vergara (Eduard Fernández) that plays like dramatic filler to keep him occupied this episode. Having just escaped from Cardinal Santoro (Manolo Solo) and his Vatican priesthood of evil, Pedraza’s excommunicated padre now finds himself in Aleppo, Syria. His attempt at bringing spiritual healing to the war zone doesn’t go over well. His link to Christianity was viewed as an affront to Allah and Islam. Syrian soldiers throw him into a holding pit beneath a house until his execution day arrives. One of them, who is fluent in Spanish, takes pity on Vergara and returns his misplaced rosary to him for luck. A miracle escape is surely imminent, but for now, Vergara uses dreams as his only way to signal to Elena that she’s in danger.

The two reunite in a dream sequence that pays homage to the hedge maze from Stephen King’s The Shining. Navigating the local grocery store, they find themselves trapped in makes Costco look like 7/11. Despite receiving fair warning that Santoro and his demonic army are after her for the last Judas coin, Elena wants nothing more than to wake up from this particular nightmare, blissfully ignorant with Roque (Antonio Velázquez) in Paris. Elena ignores (for now) Vergara’s pact to meet back in Pedraza and wakes up grateful to find her lover still in bed beside her.

Their peaceful respite doesn’t last, as one of Santoro’s acolytes uses the same possessor necklace from the pilot to turn a convalescent old man into a lethal terminator. The host body shoots up a restaurant where Elena and Roque are dining. Thankfully, the shock of Roque revealing the coin to Elena — having just found it from a gutted fish at the climax of last week’s show — sends Elena running to the restroom to process the coin’s horrific reappearance. Just as her husband’s double warned, the coin did find its way back, and now Elena has to face destiny or die running from it.

Sadly, Roque is killed during the ensuing attack, another lover now about to be six feet under. Elena knows she must return to Pedraza if she hopes to stop the demonic clergy from shadowing her every move. How she’ll prepare for the coming fight remains to be seen, but I suspect the coin might be a useful bargaining chip that could turn the tide.

Speaking of the haunted village, two criminologists are sent to investigate the rise of deaths and disappearances. They have neither the chemistry, charisma, nor clarity of Scully and Mulder, but the two women won’t stop until they get to the bottom of this infernal mystery. They’re greeted pretty early on with bloodshed: rather than submit to their line of questioning, the farmer who murdered Elena’s husband blows his brains out in full view of the investigators, Sergeant Lagunas (Pepón Nieto), and his wife and daughter. This shocking act only increases the air of suspicion over the town, suggesting that Lagunas is hiding more than he’s attested to.

Before the agents can interview more locals, their night is interrupted by a visitor whose arrival is predicted by a raving Antonio (Javier Bódalo). His preternatural abilities strike again, as the women see a man is indeed strolling towards Pedraza, looking mighty holy and purposeful. Even though we have an inkling of who this mystery man might be, it doesn’t prevent the chill from coursing down our bodies when the moonlight reveals his face. It’s none other than Angelo (Cosimo Fusco) who arrives at Merche’s request for Vergara to be replaced.

Pedraza has let the Devil’s advocate walk into their haunted den, and now they have no one to blame but themselves for the colossal mess they are inviting. Of course, our heroes will trounce evil eventually, but after all the town put Elena and Paco through, don’t expect audience empathy for these shady locals. They are getting exactly what they wrought.

30 Coins is currently streaming on HBO Max

Written by
Joseph Braverman is a 31-year-old film school alum from the University of California, Santa Cruz with a Bachelor of Arts in Film and Digital Media. He considers himself one of the biggest Star Wars fans in the galaxy, living by a golden rule that there is no such thing as a “bad” Star Wars movie. Joseph lives in Los Angeles, CA, and enmeshes himself in all things entertainment, though he’ll occasionally take a break from screen consumption to hike in Malibu or embark on new foodie explorations. Vehemently opposed to genre bias, he feels strongly that any good film is worthy of Oscar consideration. Joseph is also a proud member of the Latino Entertainment Journalists Association.

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