Wednesday, August 01, 2012

The new telenovela "Rostro de la Venganza" and the Aurora shooting

I don't know if the timing has anything to do with the Aurora shooting. But the Spanish-language channel Telemundo started on Monday (July 30) running a new mystery/suspense telenovela, El Rostro de la Venganza (The Face of Revenge), at 10:30 seemingly without their usual buildup. It looks like it was meant to replace Corazón Valiente, which is finishing up soon.

If the first two hours are any indication, the series is likely to deal with a number of issues related to the mass murders that the United States has in practice accepted as routine occurrences and the established rituals around them: bullying, domestic violence, bloodthirsty calls for revenge even from those who are unfamiliar with details of the crime, vigilante justice, charging children as adults for violent crimes, stigmatizing of ex-prisoners.

Telemundo is good about making their novela episodes easily accessible at their website the day after they have their first run. They have also placed the first halves of the first two episodes of Rostro on YouTube (both Spanish with no subtitles) but they want to send you to the Telemundo website for the second half. This is Part 1 of 2 from the first episode, "Volver a nacer":

It has as its main protagonist Diego Carrasco Mercader (Maritza Rodríguez), seen above with the Rubik's cube puzzle, was sent to prison for killing seven kids at his exclusive school at around age 8. ("El rostro de la venganza" se estrena el 30 de julio México Espectáculos 25.07.2012) As of the second episode, we've seen his flashbacks to a fire at the school and also video of him at the time with a gun at the school.

Known in the press as the Niño Monstruo (Boy Monster), in the first episode he is released from prison after 12 years. He lives under the name Martín Méndez and is struggling to adjust to life as a free adult in New York City. His psychiatrist, Antonia Villarroel, is helping him to adjust, supported by a wealthy businessman, Ezequiel Alvarado (Saúl Lisazo), though his reasons for helping are not yet clear. Ezequiel is engaged to a much younger Mariana San Lucas (Elizabeth Gutierrez), who is diddling Ezequiel's adult son Luciano. Ezequiel has taken the seemingly unlikely step of hiring Martín as Mariana's bodyguard, whose real role is to spy on her for Ezequiel, a fact of which both Mariana and Luciano are aware.

It turns out that a well-known TV newscaster is the sister of the one of the students killed, and she not only hates the Niño Monstruo, she wants him dead. I'm tempted to say that her journalistic investigation of him with the support of her station is a bit improbable, since she's obviously heavily personally invested in the case. But our mainstream media still considers Judith Miller a respected journalist, so I guess it's not that improbable at all. And the father of one of students killed is a powerful and shady character who Antonia calls a "mafioso".

There is actually a mystery about what happened in the case. Martín remembers the events only in fragmentary snatches. Only one student who was there at the school on the day of the deaths, Marcela Llanos (Yina Vélez), testified about the events at the time. The parents blocked the rest from testifying. Two of the students have since disappeared.

The actress who plays Martín's sister Diana Mercader (Cynthia Olavarría) has more than a passing resemblance to Law and Order SVU's Mariska Hargitay:

Although that didn't strike me before in seeing her as more of a comic-relief character who eventually turns out to be a borderline-personality whacko in the novela Alguien te mira (2010), which was also a mystery/suspense series.

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