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The Drought critique - Spain's equivalent of The Bridge.
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The Drought critique – Spain’s equivalent of The Bridge.


In the latest ITV drama After the Flood, the floodwaters retreat and expose a dead body, laying the foundation for the show’s main murder investigation. The Drought, also known as Sequía, highlights the importance of being cautious before draining any body of water, as there may be hidden dangers lurking below the surface. This captivating new Spanish series, which can be found on Walter Presents, starts with the uncovering of skeletal remains in the dried-up Campomediano reservoir near the Spain-Portugal border, which was once completely submerged but is now dry and ready to reveal secrets from years ago.

According to a radio news report, the Iberian peninsula is facing a severe water shortage, with Spanish reserves at less than 35% capacity. However, the story begins with heavy rain, before the drought, as unknown individuals drag a mysterious body (or bodies) through a storm, followed by a gunshot that hints at their fate. This dark look into a wetter past quickly transitions to the bright sunshine of the present day. Viewers accustomed to Nordic noir may need a moment to adjust to the fact that the sunlight makes everything seem less ominous. However, the heat soon adds to the drama. It becomes clear that no one is exactly who they appear to be, and the remains discovered at the bottom of Campomediano are likely to make them all sweat.

Due to the reservoir’s proximity to the border, there is a possibility that the bodies found may be Portuguese, leading to a culture clash similar to The Bridge. As I am not well-versed in the nuances between Spanish and Portuguese, I may have missed some of the references, but there seems to be a joke about mispronouncing surnames. The first encounter with Portuguese Inspector Hélder Gomes is when he is chasing a tattooed delinquent, and his colleague jokes that he is “the most feared man in Lisbon”. It is not entirely clear why, but he takes it upon himself to investigate the case across the border informally in order to uncover the identities of the skeletons found in the sand.

Evil under the sun … The Drought.View image in fullscreen

In Spain, he frequently observes the officer leading the investigation, Insp Dani Yanes. She is known for her toughness and boldness, often sporting a leather jacket and drinking alone at bars. There are gaps in her past that have yet to be explained, but it is likely that this will be resolved soon. Despite her messy personal life, she is a skilled female detective who is dedicated to her work. She is determined to solve the reservoir murders and has a keen eye for small details that others may overlook. However, she faces challenges in getting the case reopened, partly because her boss, Commissioner Javier Ortiz, is closely involved in the investigation. Ortiz is set to retire after 43 years on the force, but is that the only reason he seems to be hindering Yanes’ progress?

Yanes is in close proximity to a former love interest, Óscar Santos, a reporter who is inquiring extensively about the remains. He is interested in determining their age, as he suspects a connection to activists who opposed the construction of the reservoir. The wealthy Barbosa family, who owns the reservoir and has significant influence, adds to the complex power dynamics by making personal calls to newspaper editors and threatening to withdraw their advertising funds. The addition of a folkloric backstory, about the flooded village that was sacrificed for the reservoir despite local protests, adds depth to the story. The fact that the submerged ruins are now visible again gives The Drought a modern fairytale quality. It delves into the themes of power and greed, set against the backdrop of a climate crisis that can be directly linked to both.

The plot of this thriller may seem familiar, but the details of the case are intriguing and kept me engaged from the beginning. Keep a notebook handy during the early parts of the story. The cast of characters is extensive and although they are all somewhat connected, the connections are not always explicitly explained. However, if you stick with it, these characters, reminiscent of Saga Norén and Martin Rohde, will fill the void left by your viewing of “The Bridge.”

  • The show “The Drought” can be streamed on Channel 4’s website.

Source: theguardian.com