El Rey Network
Episodes Air Date: September 16th, 23rd, 30th, October 7th 2014
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
Matador (Night Of The Whale, Riot Til I Die, Dead Dreaming In Bagan, Mala Sangre)
Starring: Gabriel Luna, Nicky Whelan, Neil Hopkins, Alfred Molina, Tanc Sade, Yvette Monreal, Elizabeth Pena, Isabella Gomez, Eve Torres, Christina Ochoa, Christopher Cousins, James Callis, Sharon Lawrence
One of the success stories of the summer season, Matador ended its first season run yesterday, and what I could say is ‘wow’. I assume that there will be plenty of time before the second season airs, so I encourage you to jump on the bandwagon and watch the first season pronto. Even if you don’t love soccer, even if you don’t love spy shows, even if you don’t like soccer and spy shows in the same show, I would say to still watch the show, as it is the characters and their growth and development throughout the past season that has been the shining light for me, and the predominant reason why I will watch season 2.
So let’s recap about what we know. When we last left the show at the end of Episode 9, Galan (Alfred Molina) has shot Samuel dead, and wants answers from Tony (Gabriel Luna). He feels betrayed, as he loves Tony like a son, but he doesn’t want to kill him- Alfred’s acting throughout the last few episodes has been superb, and really enhances the show, taking it to another level. With Tony and Galan reluctantly working together, trying to dispose of Samuel’s body, he tells Galan the truth, and then that is the moment when everything changes. From episodes 1-9 we were told that Galan was a bad man, and that he wasn’t to be trusted, but ever since Lucien Sayer (James Callis), the ruthless, eccentric, ambitious and slightly crazy businessman was introduced, who had contact previously with Galan, Galan was humanised a bit more.
In the last 4 episodes, Galan now works as an asset for the CIA, and though Tony’s deal for Galan to receive immunity may be risky and foolish (given what Galan did at the end of episode 13), it’s clear that in Matador, there are no good guys and bad guys anymore, just people with different views on topics, who clash. Sayer’s dream for immortality may be a bit flawed, but even he had honourable intentions one time. The show has reminded me that the world is not black and white, and that is why I love the show, as there are so many layers to these complex characters. With such a large main and recurring cast (around 15-20 cast members I think!), mostly everyone has a chance to shine in the final 4 episodes- with cast chemistry shown and being very believable. It is these 4 episodes that have me eager to watch Season 2 (as well as the massive cliffhanger ending! Beware, spoilers are ahead, be warned!
While the disposal of Samuel’s body in episode 10 was resolved pretty quickly, it did however solidify the relationship between Galan and Bravo. Galan took Bravo hostage in the middle of the night, as they drove out to the middle of desert to bury Samuel’s body. In a unbelievable twist of events, Tony manages to turn Galan over to his side, through him giving Galan examples of his bravery towards him and his daughter, and then promises Galan that he will protect him at all times. Tony brings Galan into HQ, and it is then that he helps the team in exchange for immunity. By giving them everything he knows about Sayer, the CIA is trusting the person that they were hunting all these years, however it’s clear that Galan was acting partly under duress when Sayer demanded money and time of him.
Driven by wealth and success, it’s evident that his allegiance is not with Sayer, as in the next few episodes, he willingly assists the CIA to bring Sayer down, and still tries to make sure Tony’s cover isn’t blown. Sayer reaches out to him, as the team stages Samuel’s death to look like a car accident, then Galan announces the death to the world; and what happens next is a battle that ends quite dramatically and profoundly. Still respecting Tony, and caring for him and his family enough for Galan to give his family box office seat tickets to a LA Riot game, Galan tells Tony an interesting piece of information, and this will drive the 2nd season forward. Apparently Tony’s father was not the man he thought, and it’s clear the bombshell- what Galan knows because he either knew and worked with Tony’s father personally, or maybe he killed Tony’s father, or maybe he grew up with Tony’s father, is sure to fuel further storylines in Season 2.
What else happens during the final 4 episodes? Well we have confirmation from Galan that Sayer was the one who unleashed the virus on the plane, as population control so that people like him could live forever, and we now know that he will go at great lengths to do what is needed to achieve his goal. And Sayer is definitely mistrustful of Galan, and sends a team out to kill him, under the disguise of picking up Samuel’s body to bury him properly. However Tony has Galan’s back and rescues him in Episode 11 while a game is underway (yep, Tony skips out from the game once again, and this time he is in the starting 11!), from Sayer’s men as well as from Reyna Flores. Remember the nosy reporter who was questioning Bravo and accusing him of working for Galan? Well it turns out Galan allegedly killed her father, so she decided to kill Galan. It was a twist I didn’t see coming, and as Reyna died in a pretty anticlimactic fashion, I felt that the character went to waste a bit, especially since I thought early on that it was a chance she could learn Tony’s secret, and be an asset for the CIA. Regardless, the plot was set up nicely, with Galan in hospital, and Tony snatched to an unknown location.
As the storylines continued to merge, Annie (Nicky Whelan) and Noah (Neil Hopkins) monitored the recovery of Galan, and it was then that Annie reminded Karen (Christina Ochoa) that she is just a friend and that Tony’s heart belongs to him. Tony uses his wits to try to escape the jungles of Burma (Myanmar), with Sayer burying Samuel there, but Sayer’s capture of him, and a subsequent explosion at the end of the penultimate episode presumably killing everyone puts a spanner in the works. With Galan still trying to find members of the group to overthrow Sayer his own way, he reveals to his daughter Senna (Yvette Monreal) that her mother wasn’t the saint she thought she was, as she was having an affair with the person she claimed abducted her. And as the team tried to extract Bravo out of a dangerous situation, ultimately succeeding, we now know the full extent of Sayer’s plan.
His plan was linked to the vaccine, as to which private companies were vying to create one for the market. One of the heads of one of the companies was a woman that Sayer knew, and that is the connection. Sayer unleashes a virus, then benefits financially from his friend selling the antidote. A cruel and diabolical plan that may or may not have anything to do with living forever, we shall never know, as Sayer meets his demise at the hands of Margot, the woman who we previously saw in episode 3, as penance probably, as she was remorseful for tricking Tony. With the virus contained in the final episode through an epic battle culminating in all of the players being taken down (Noah was also involved in the big bad plot, but I’m not going to say any more, just that there is more that Samuel did to him when he was captured than meets the eye!); Tony leaves for parts unknown, away from the CIA and his family, obviously in search for answers as to who his father was. Then the show ends.
As Tony’s family life and friends around him keep him grounded (although Tony now doesn’t trust his mother), I felt that he could have told them his secret of being part of the CIA by now, but obviously that’s for another season. Because even though Tony may have walked away from the CIA now, by the time season 2 rolls around, he’ll be back. Besides the crazy plot that we all just witnessed in the past few episodes, what makes this show unique to me? It’s the sub-plots, and how all of the characters are utilised, even if they do not know Tony’s secret. Reminding me of Chuck with every episode, the family drama, and whether Tony will spill the beans, gives this show depth, and keeps me interested. Though Annie and Tony v Karen and Tony for a romance hasn’t been explored this season, no doubt this will continue to the next season, and that should be interesting moving forward.
As far as acting is concerned, each actor continues to holds their own, and I will continue to praise Alfred Molina’s performance as Galan- the conflicted yet forward thinking businessman, who it turns out was just associated with the wrong people at the wrong time. It is not known whether Galan will continue to side with the CIA in season 2 (probably not); however I will definitely be watching the show in season 2 because of this complex and layered character! Nicky, Gabriel, Neil, and co. also work well in harmony together on screen as usual- their chemistry that the actors have makes the show believable, as they are immersed thoroughly in their roles. Though I myself didn’t connect to the character that Christopher Cousins plays, the fact remains that he could be shady- I still don’t trust him, and the fact that the show still leaves me guessing is pretty cool!
Did Matador leave a lasting impression on you in the last 4 episodes? Which themes spoke to you the most? What elements of the show did you enjoy- the soccer, the romance, the family drama, or the espionage parts? Did you buy Galan complete 180 turnaround, and what do you think Sayer told Tony with his dying breath? Do you root for Tony and Karen, or Tony and Annie? When do you think Season 2 will debut? Will another sport besides soccer be explored in season 2? Let us know in the comments.
RIYL: Chuck, The Bridge, Gang Related, Covert Affairs, soccer games on FOX Sports or ESPN
Rating: 4.5/5 (based on 13 episodes)
Matador Season 2 will air… in 2014 or 2015? We’re not that sure yet, but it will air on El Rey Network!