Iglesia’s best work is governed by suggestive imagery, rather than necessarily demanding compositions. He was more of a filmmaker defined by movement and momentum, which is why his most memorable footage is an action blur, simulating the shooting of a lightning-speed paperback page to get to the next intrusion. This agile delivery helps break through the mountain of incidents he and Guerricaechevarría have imagined; each episode contains something so deep and eerie that it could on its own be the plot of a single movie. Fittingly, writers have managed to create a number of types of television shows at once, from a “Twin Peaks” / “Andy Griffith Show” spin-off study of a city in crisis, to a political soap opera. Shonda Rhymes style, and finally a fountain of supernatural events like in monster offerings of the week like “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” or “The Venture Brothers”.
The creators are well aware that they dip their nibs in well used ink and that this mindful attitude is part of the fun of “30 pieces”. Take the character of Vergara. The idea of a priest-with-a-past is in itself such a formidable cliché that they run wild in retreading. He’s not just a holy man who smokes cigarettes like Constantine, he’s also a heavy ex-boxer with a cupboard full of machine guns. The whole show is like this. It’s not fair that there is a religious conspiracy, it goes so deep that it would upset the whole faith if it were unearthed. Lingering under extramarital passions, misbehaving teens, corrupt cops and clergymen, the world may be on the verge of destruction, but nothing is inherently more important than anything else. It would be flippant on someone else’s show to suddenly be dumped in Aleppo, Syria for an episode. Here, it makes perfect sense.
I’ve heard complaints on the show that it wasn’t as thoughtful as some of Guerricaechevarría and La Iglesia’s previous work, and I disagree. “30 Coins” is based on a clever and cunning idea that I wish I had explored more frequently in more consciously cool “religious” art. It might be a minor spoiler, but it doesn’t concern any character on the show as much as the ideas behind the whole business: the villains here are dark clerics trying to collect items with the lingering power of God’s betrayal. . In one scene it is explained that they want to prove that Judas was part of the plan for Jesus to be crucified, making him fair as an integral figure of the resurrection and therefore of the whole of the Gospels like Jesus Christ himself. It is explained in such a way as to give the impression that the very idea of Wrong in the world there is something which is also then just as divine as an act of charity. In short: can something be good without bad? It’s the sort of thing that preoccupies national discourse so much, albeit in a bowdlerized and distracting Byzantine form. Do we need Are there horrible things in the world to prove the true value and power of empathy and altruism?