The Spanish televisión series El Príncipe starts Season 2 six months after the events in the finale of Season 1. Like its debut season, it tackles terrorism, illegal drugs, abuse of authority and forbidden love between a Christian CNI agent and a Muslim teacher. Unlike its debut season, it has less abs exposure and lovemaking, yet it is more compelling. (El Príncipe – Season I here.)
After a brief running and fighting in Malta, Christian CNI (Centro Nacional de Inteligencia) agent Javier Morey (Álex González and his enviable abs) is back in Ceuta to pursue terrorism leads. Francisco “Fran” Peyón (Jose Coronado) welcomes him back at the police station with a slightly different cast, Samy (Ahmed Younoussi) is the more likeable replacement of the now-dead Hakim (Ayoub El Hilali), in addition to Quílez (Juan Manuel Lara) and Mati (Thaïs Blume). In the midst of the abduction of Fran’s daughter, Ruth (Ángela Fabián), his short-lived suspension as a result of his actions during Ruth’s rescue, the departure of lover Marina (Susana Córdoba), and the return of wife Raquel (Elia Galera), Fran continues to be dedicated to his work.
In addition to Fran’s people, Morey’s CNI group in Ceuta composed of Serra (Pau Durà), López (Fernando Gil) and new face, Laura Hidalgo (Nerea Barros) try to crack the enigma called Akrab, a terrorist group that recruits young Ceutís as suicide bombers.
The joint effort of Morey and Fran’s group is hampered by the French Secret Service and some corrupt high-ranking officials within CNI who protect Akrab members. For the most part, Morey’s group tap the mobile phones of Akrab members and civilians, but Fran and Mati do the legwork and it is a shame to see their hard work go to waste with the non-action of CNI. I think Morey has to stop flirting and Serra has to stop pulling his pants up to catch up with López, who is the only workhorse in the bunch. Okay, Serra is the boss and Morey places his life in danger every two seconds, but they can do better.
In the side of the civilians, the death of younger brother Abdu at the hands of erstwhile lover Morey pushed Fátima Ben Barek (Hiba Abouk) to go through with her wedding to Khaled Ashour (Stany Coppet) offscreen. They now live in a well-appointed house managed by Malika (Baya Belal) who also spies on Fátima in behalf of Khaled. For a while, life seems fabulous for Fátima, she continues to work at the civic center, chase terrorists in heels and wears glamorous clothes on her downtime. She also seems enamored with Khaled (at least she does not look at him with contempt, unlike last season). I like this version of Fátima better than the Morey-obsessed one. Fátima tries to resist the calling of Morey’s abs and succeeds for a while. However, this does not last long as fate dictates that Fátima and Morey meet once again. As Fátima slowly discovers Khaled’s true identity, she falls for Morey’s charms once again.
For his part, Khaled successfully hides his terrorist activities from Fátima and her family for several months. He makes decisions and comes up with money to finance Akrab’s activities while his lawyer-uncle Salman (Hamid Krim) defends and/or kills the hapless pawns. Their tandem enables them to throw off suspicions of the French Secret Service who recruited Khaled to be their spy within the Akrab organization. The backing of the French makes Khaled and to some extent, Salman, untouchable where CNI is concerned. What are the odds of having two spies as lovers, like in Fátima’s case?
Since the world of El Príncipe revolves around the Ben Bareks, with the exception of Abdu and patriarch Hassan Ben Barek (Thomas Calleja) who died four months before the start of the second season, Fátima’s family make a respectable amount of screen time as well. My favorite Ben Barek, Faruq (Rubén Cortada), and his wife, Leila (Mary Guinea), continue to struggle to conceive their first child. Without Faruq’s knowledge Leila decides to have artificial insemination. A Ben Barek relative uses Leila’s secret to blackmail her for thousands of euros, and this causes Leila to be anxious and depressed. As if Leila’s problems are not debilitating enough, an attempt for Faruq’s life by a new drug lord in Ceuta, causes her to lose the baby. It is just plain awful, and my heart goes out to Leila and Faruq. The scene where Ben Barek Aisha (Merce Montalà) consoles Faruq is one of the saddest moments in the series. Aisha tells her son that it is okay for men to cry, and Faruq lets out a waterfall.
In terms of his career as a local drug lord, Faruq starts the season sharing the Ceuta market with Ánibal (Antonio Mora). Later on, he finds himself competing with another rival, the Khaled-backed Lamela (?). With the help of his cousin Paco Ben Barek (Jesús Castro), Faruq evades police surveillance and eliminates his rival. Towards the end of the season, with the knowledge that Khaled is actually a terrorist who supports illegal drug trade in Ceuta, Faruq finds himself at the top of a monopoly.
Nayat (Carla Díaz), the youngest Ben Barek, is now a full-pledged teenager; with stubbornness that trumps Faruq’s and a puppy love that rivals Morey in cuteness. But the Ben Bareks cannot take a break for real, Nayat’s young love turns out to be a … drumroll please … fresh recruit of Akrab. He is Sergio Montes, whose good looks are exploited by Akrab to entice young women to join their cause. Of course, Nayat and a busload of teenagers with raging hormones (is this redundant?) blindly follow Sergio to the dusty road of no return.
The final minutes of Season 2 are not as dramatic as Season 1’s. It shows Nayat onboard a bus on its way to Syria, with Faruq in its wake, crying out of frustration for not having saved his youngest sibling from the evil clutches of Akrab. In an abandoned building in another part of town, Hidalgo attempts to murder Morey. A single shot is fired and the always bewildered-looking Serra appears onscreen. Then the credits roll. As much as I wish Morey to perish, I am sure that he will survive because El Príncipe will lose one eye candy without Álex González.
The sophomore season of El Príncipe picks up where the first season leaves off. It uses the successful formula of its debut season – narrating an interesting story with serious issues and hiring good-looking actors to portray the lead roles. I find the Season 2 of El Príncipe more likeable than the first because of two reasons. First, I am already familiar with Ceuta, the events therein and the characters. Sometimes, the characters get rather predictable but it is hard not to root for them because by this time, I am emotionally-invested in their future. Second, there is less Morey-Fátima exposure. I understand that their love story is the crux of El Príncipe, but Fátima has to make up her mind about which man to make her bed with, especially now that she is married. She cannot be an adulteress forever. Girl, just choose already!
For the continuation of El Príncipe Season 2, please read El Príncipe – Season II, Part II.
- What happened to the million and one sports jerseys in Season 1 of El Príncipe? The extras and recurring characters now wear regular shirts. No more FC Barcelona and LA Lakers jerseys.
- Did El Príncipe get product endorsements in Season 2? If I recall correctly, Morey used iPhone (or Samsung) in Season 1, now he and some characters use Hisense Also, in Marina’s bar, Kaskys makes more than five appearances. I do not count them, but these are things I see.
- Am I the only one who has a hard time understanding what Sophie (Melina Matthews) is saying? Last season, I had a hard time understanding Ánibal. I watched both seasons of El Príncipe without subtitle, and I am not a fan of the rewind button.
Faruq – His story arc with Leila getting pregnant and eventually losing the baby gives Faruq character development. Also, his interactions with Nayat just before she joins Akrab and right after he fails to retrieve her show what kind of a man he really is. Both of which reinforce his trait as a family man in Season 1. Lastly, Faruq is so badass when he gets mad to the point that I think he is going bonkers, but at the last minute, he sometimes shows humanity. Cortada shows in a handful of scenes that he is more than just his sculpted abs and mesmerizing eyes. The guy can also act. I have yet to say the same thing about González.
Fran – He relinquishes the top spot to Faruq because Fran is now Morey’s glorified lapdog. Even with his personal trials in and out of the police station, he is just Morey’s go-fer boy at the end of each working day. I sometimes want him to say no to Morey and have a drink or ten with Quílez, Mati and Samy.
Mati – For me, she is the definition of girl power in El Príncipe. She totes a gun, fights criminals and her research skills have helped Fran more than a couple of times. Her psychological problems as a result of Hakim’s death make her character more realistic.
Aisha – She is a strong woman who keeps the Ben Barek family together. With an expanded role for Aisha, Montalà is a revelation this season, and she uses every scene to exhibit her acting chops.
Quílez – I feel bad for him. I do not know why, but every time Fran ignores him, my heart breaks.
Creepy Guy #1 – The guy who asked Faruq to strip his clothes is back!!! He reminds me of Jim Carrey in Mask.
Creepy Guy #2 – The Lamela kid is also creepy. He looks like a good boy who does evil deeds. He had a huge smile plastered on his face just seconds before he killed Mama Tere (Charo Reina). It haunts me to this moment.
Mati and Samy – They fight like dogs and Mati accidentally puts Samy’s life in danger, but they look good together. I am hoping for a Mamy loveteam next season.
Faruq + El Tripas (Gilen Xabier) / Paco – Faruq and El Tripas have enough guns, literally and figuratively, to stock an armory. Faruq and Paco together onscreen is too much gorgeousness.
Creepy Guy #1 tried to scare Faruq. Faruq asked him if he dreams about Faruq and if he has a girlfriend. That threw Creepy Guy #1 off. Faruq continued by saying that he is sorry that Faruq only likes women. Creepy Guy #1 answered, “¡No soy maricón!” (I am not gay!), but he is already red with anger.
Fran punched Creepy Guy #1 when the latter wanted to exert power at the local police station.
Faruq crying, twice. First, he cried when he learned that Leila lost the baby after she was ran over a car. Second, he cried when he realized that Nayat is out of his reach and may have the same fate as Abdu’s.
Faruq invited 3 ½ burly guys who used to work for his rival drug lords. The muscled guys entered Faruq’s “office”and sat in low chairs meant for delicate women figures. El Tripas poured tea from tiny pot into tiny glasses. 3 ½ burly guys did not know what to do because they thought that Faruq poisoned the tea. Eventually, they drank the tea. It is comical to see adult men with bulging biceps having afternoon tea like they were Disney princesses.
Quotable Quote: ¡Perra, asquerosa, adúltera! (I will not write the translation, but believe me when I say that women do not want to be called any of them).