Ingobernable, Netflix’s original Mexican political drama, is exactly that: a drama. Moreover, it has an thrilling side to it, an edge of your seat, what’s going to happen vibe that is mostly reserved for big screen action movies starring white men. Though the plot can feel convoluted at times, and 100% focus is required to follow every little thread, there is an odd sort of joy and in the seriousness and action of the series. It’s exciting, is the basis of it, despite minor flaws, and it follows the classic Netflix formula of ending each episode on a cliffhanger so there is no choice but to hit the next button.
Though, again, there are a zillion things going on, the main thread of Ingobernable is following the flight of (former) first lady of Mexico, Emilia Urquiza as she flees the scene after being framed for her husband’s (aka the president’s) murder. It’s such a wild concept, first of all, being framed for the president’s murder, and on top of that having been married to him. The first half of the episode, the only time that Diego, the president, was alive, shows that he is an angry borderline-abusive husband. There’s no nuance there, but it immediately cements the audience’s allegiance to Emelia. There is no breath wasted on being torn up over Diego’s death, simply the need for Emilia to get out of there.
This whole genre of someone being framed and doing everything they can to escape is so often dominated by men, that it’s more than refreshing to see a woman in that role. To the credit of the show, they also do more than just swap out a traditionally male trope for a beautiful woman; they make the character of Emilia, her flight and her plight also about fleeing the oppressive nature of being married to a powerful man. The fact that she was married to the man she is accused of murdering already adds more layers to the stock action tropes before even throwing in the gender dynamics. All of it combined make Emilia a protagonist that carries the audience’s interest, through every pitfall, from when she is running full steam through a restaurant away from the secret service, to when she finds herself kidnapped once again, her need for survival is key, and one of the most compelling elements of the show.
Of course, while she flees and runs into every type of peril, the audience is just playing a massive game of catch up. Through a combination of flashbacks, hints dropped in the present, and new characters of significance showing up every which way, there is beginning to be a framework of the puzzle of Diego’s murder. A very light framework, that is. If someone were to ask me after having just seen the first five episodes, who killed Diego, my answer would be a hard, “well, clearly the now acting president had something to do with it because he is now in power and also showed Diego pictures of Emilia cheating, and we can’t forget the sexy press secretary who had an affair with Diego and is in cahoots with God knows who over the murder, so those two definitely, but also there is the whole ring of people who wanted the president gone to do a mysterious kidnapping case/raid that the government did to the poorer areas, so that’s gotta play into it.” Ah, a simple answer.
The convoluted nature of the central mystery is both good and bad. The bad, clearly shown in my rambling above is that it’s simply difficult to keep up with what’s happening as more questions arise with each episode, about the nature of the political climate during Diego’s time in office, or the affairs both he and Emilia carried on. On the other hand though, these questions keep the intrigue alive. They could do with maybe one or two less mysteries, but overall, when the show is focused on one of the character we already know, or touches back on the same situation, the intrigue stays alive.
The real question now (besides the obvious “who killed Diego,”) is will the remaining ten episodes continue to hold up this momentum? Netflix has pretty comfortably thrived in the 8-13 episode range, but Ingobernable is coming in with a hard fifteen. Luckily, each individual episode is about forty minutes, a welcome relief from the streaming service’s over indulgent hour long episodes. Even with the shorter time though, a show this serialized needs to cling to it’s original excitement and fifteen episodes is a long time to hang onto an adrenaline rush. Hopefully, given the number of questions that have arisen from the first five episodes, there will be enough material that needs to be addressed to keep the show interesting.
As of now, the biggest things that remain unaddressed are the central conflict of exactly what were the political decisions made by Diego in a case dubbed “the 39” that caused his potential murder, his wife to leave him, and now a few people to kidnap his wife. Perhaps it is my limited knowledge of the political struggles in Mexico, but there on only so many times the show can bring up “the 39” without addressing it further. Another thing it would be great to see more of is how everything is affecting Diego and Emelia’s children. There are glimpses of it throughout the first five episodes, especially in the fifth, but it’s such an interesting dynamic that deserves to be explored more. Especially, the oldest daughter Maria’s romance with a female lawyer who just showed up her father’s murder case. That kind of drama deserves much more screen time than its currently getting, but considering the seeds were just dropped, there is room for growth.
All that said, if the show walks the tightrope of exploring these plots while still giving focus to Emilia and her conflicts, it should continue the heightened action aspect that makes for a compelling story.
Season 1, Episode 1-5 (S01E01-05)
Ingobernable is now streaming on Netflix
Raina spends most of her time watching television and trying to find the perfect bagel and lox, because she likes being emotionally distraught.
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Raina Deerwater | Contributor