After a winning streak with Spanish original shows, Netflix broadens its horizon with a period drama that tackles the criminal enterprise in the Barcelona of 1960s. The protagonist of ‘Hache’ is Helena. She is a survivor and it is her fighter spirit that brings her to the attention of Salvador Malpica, the crime lord who has Barcelona’s drug business in his control. Helena doesn’t know anything about him or what he does, but it doesn’t take time for her to learn and rise up the ranks. ‘Hache’ is a must-see for crime drama lovers and if you haven’t yet seen the show, head over to Netflix. You don’t want spoilers with this one.
In the final episode of ‘Hache’, it comes down to Helena’s humanity. Who she truly is, and if the influence of the criminal world has changed her? In the second to last episode, other characters go through similar tests and most of them fail miserably. After the truth about Bruno comes out, Malpica is heart-broken. He loathes the fact that Helena is still in love with him, and in order to satisfy his own ego and insecurities, he orders Arístides to get Bruno killed in prison. Even when Arístides tries to convince him that the man is not that much of a threat, and wouldn’t come between him and Helena, Malpica refuses to listen. This is where the audience is finally convinced of his destructive nature if they weren’t already.
Like any other crime drama, ‘Hache’ presents Salvador Malpica as a bad guy with a heart of gold. And as Marie says, his scars make him irresistible. But instead of depicting him in a completely different light- unforgiving in business and loving in person, the show gives us warning signs about him, right from the beginning. In the first scene, he takes a liking for Helena and treats her well, but in the next, we see his violent nature, even if it is from a sexual perspective. Similarly, he continues to shower her with gifts and even gets a new apartment for her daughter but doesn’t hesitate from hitting her or telling her that she is his property. I mean, he literally brands her! If that’s not a toxic relationship, I don’t what is.
The aim of this balancing act is to keep us invested in his redemption. Maybe love will change him, maybe he’ll not do to Helena what he does to others around him. He has the appeal of a tortured hero, a man with a broken leg and a broken soul, which is a common trope in crime dramas. Despite them being ruthless criminals, there is also a part of such characters that you can sympathise with. The ambiguity of their past, the mark of some dark things that have happened to them as well as the things they have done in the war, allows creating a mysterious background. Giving them battle scars, tackling their PTSD, and using their experience in the battlegrounds moulds the characterisation, while also adding a sense of romanticism to their tale, which ultimately gives hope to their love interests, as well as the audience.
In Malpica’s case, these expectations are shattered when he kills Bruno. Instead of acting like a rational person, who would talk to Helena about it, he is angered by the fact that his “property” isn’t entirely his. Even though he doesn’t tell her about it, he is deluded enough to think that she might accept it and move on. That she will choose to let it go and they’ll continue with their happy lives. He is fooled into believing the thing that even other stories choose to show a number of times. The girl will forgive the guy no matter what he does because she loves him and knows in her heart that he can change! Well, this is not a teen drama, and Helena isn’t an idiot.
The Ending: What it Means for Helena
When Celeste tells her the truth, at first, Helena refuses to believe it. She thinks that Celeste is trying to sabotage her relationship with Malpica because she has ruined her prospects because of the betrayal. But she knows Malpica well enough to understand that it isn’t completely impossible for him to do such a thing. In a haze, she calls Inspector Vinuesa but hangs up without saying anything. When Arístides confirms it, she doesn’t indulge in the conversation where she would wonder if Malpica’s actions were right or wrong or if she should forgive him. She knows exactly what she has to do and demands Arístides’ loyalty.
Meanwhile, the assassination attempt on the American consul is thwarted and Inspector Vinuesa uses it as the opportunity to trap Malpica’s next shipment. Senovilla is sent to take care of the cargo and everything goes as planned. Then the news of the consul’s survival comes to light and Malpica is forced to change the route. Because it happens so suddenly, only Malpica, Helena and Arístides are aware of it. The new plan is relayed to Senovilla who, without Malpica’s knowledge, gets the heroin to Arístides’s gym, and departs with the team to the warehouse to kill Frank Caruso, with whom Celeste had planned to kill Malpica.
Despite Arístides’ warning, Senovilla decides to take part in the shootout. He knows that there is no sense of legality in this line of work and if he is to make himself valuable, he should do something like bringing Caruso’s head to Malpica. Inspector Vinuesa, who also thinks that the cargo is coming to the warehouse, witnesses the shootout from a distance and arrives on the site just as Senovilla, the sole survivor, departs. When it is confirmed that everything has happened as they had planned, Helena visits Malpica, who is under the effect of morphine to lessen the pain, and shoots him. Finally, she drives off with Arístides, her daughter and her friend.
Staying consistent with her goals, Helena shows that her one and only motivation to do all of it was to provide for her daughter. She had wanted to get Bruno out of jail, but that was only because she thought that his return would help them financially and she wouldn’t have to work as a prostitute anymore. Also, she loved him and knew that he was a good man. When he tries to take away their daughter from her, she fights back and even gets him thrown back into jail. But this doesn’t mean that she hates him. Malpica killing Bruno shows her that the world of crime is unforgiving and if she doesn’t get out in time, she, and her loved ones, will also end up dead. Moreover, she can’t trust Malpica anymore.
The next cargo of heroin is worth enough to secure a comfortable future for her family. She doesn’t allow her emotions to show and plays Malpica for as long as necessary. With the heroin in her possession, she could run away anywhere, but she knows that Malpica will not let go of her. He won’t take her betrayal well, as he didn’t take Celeste’s. He will hunt her down and kill her, which means that no matter where she goes, there’ll always be a sword hanging over their heads. So, she gets rid of the problem. Before leaving everything behind, she kills Malpica. He thinks that it is for Bruno, but in truth, it is for her own survival, as it had been from the beginning.
Hache Season 2: What to Expect?
The first season of ‘Hache’ works as a self-contained story. The protagonist goes through ups and downs and, in the end, chooses herself and her family above all. She runs away and with her safe and sound, it means that the story has found its conclusion. However, there are still some things that remain unresolved.
Starting with Helena, how far can she run from this life? The second season of ‘Hache’ could begin with that. What does she do with the heroin? Whom does she trade it with, and is it really the end of her criminal undertakings? Or will she build her own empire now? We know that Luciano had been very impressed with her. With Malpica out-of-the-way, will she use this influence to further her cause, secure a seat on the table? Even if she chooses to quietly dispose of the heroin and decides to lead a normal life, will the ghosts of the past not come back to haunt her? Isn’t there anyone who wouldn’t want to avenge Malpica’s death? If not for his sake, then for the drugs. Will Luciano not want his heroin back?
Speaking of Malpica’s demise, will someone else be sent to replace him? Not to forget that Frank Caruso is also dead, which means the threat to the business is basically gone. Considering everything, only Senovilla is left now. Because he killed Caruso, Luciano might agree to give Malpica’s position to him, which effectively makes him the new showrunner of Barcelona.
Inspector Vinuesa, who had tirelessly worked to expose Malpica’s business and secure justice for the people who became the collateral damage, will have a new problem to deal with. His superiors have refused to take any action on the drug trafficking, mainly because they got no results with whatever was being done about it. The shootout could bring their attention to the matter and Vinuesa could finally get his chance to take action. This means he can also try to seek out Helena for help. She has to return one way or another. It is, after all, her story.
Read More: Is Hache Based on a True Story?