Starring: Ludwika Paleta (Yolanda), Humberto Zurita (El Centauro), Michel Brown (Gerardo Duarte)
La Querida del Centauro is the latest narconovela offering from Telemundo. I understand that this genre is perhaps an acquired taste. I can’t seem to find too many people who admit they like them. I’ll go ahead and come clean now… I’m not sure I’m a legit narconovela watcher since the only experience I have is with the two seasons of Señora Acero. La Querida del Centauro feels more like a police procedural when I compare it to Señora Acero.
The Main Plot (What I could understand)
Thanks to the magic of flashbacks throughout premiere week, we learn the following about Yolanda:
Yolanda Acosta has the bad luck to have the crappiest mom ever. If Mariela isn’t the root of ALL Yolanda’s problems, she’s the root of 80% of them (I just made up that number.) Yolanda runs away from home at a young age after her mother tries to sell her. Years later she returns out of desperation-she has her own daughter now (Cristina) and has no place to go.
“El Perro” is another reason for Yolanda’s misfortune. He works for El Centauro. Somehow Yolanda gets caught up in one of El Perro’s kidnappings (which I assume was ordered by El Centauro.) El Perro escapes and Yolanda takes the fall. She’s been in jail ever since.
Yolanda at least seems to be a better mother to her own daughter. She’s been writing her and sending her money from jail. Unfortunately, Mariela has been keeping the letters from Cristina and pocketing the money to help pay off debts incurred by Otoniel…her, um, boyfriend (for lack of a better word.)
Before she went to jail, Yolanda left some money with El Perro. El Perro gave that money to Mariela. Do I need to tell you what she did with it? Yup. She kept it, but Yolanda assumes El Perro still has it.
Yolanda has tried to escape from jail…a lot. The series opens with her latest attempt. It’s during this escape that she crosses paths with Gerardo Duarte.
Gerardo is a policeman. Gerardo is determined to bring down the men that killed his brother. That would be El Centauro (or at least someone in his organization.) Gerardo’s brother was also a cop and had infiltrated El Centauro’s operation. He left evidence in a green backpack and El Perro was the last person to be seen with it. When the series opens, Gerardo is busy beating the crap out of El Perro in the attempt to find out where the green backpack is.
Hell bent to find El Perro and her money, Yolanda accidentally interrupts this “interrogation” and is captured again. This time she’s sent to a prison for male prisoners (where some female prisoners are also housed.) It’s the same prison where El Centauro is being held, not for major crimes, but for smaller ones. It seems that’s all they could get him on.
Duarte decides that Yolanda must know more about El Centaruo since she’s caught up with El Perro.
Once she arrives at her new prison, Yolanda does not play and can hold her own against the über creepy and corrupt guard Vicente. This gets El Centauro’s attention. Let the wooing begin. He sends her a beer and a meal while she’s in solitary. He offers to pay her the money El Perro owed her. She declines the offer. He sends a huge plasma TV to Cristina in Yolanda’s name.
I didn’t get the impression El Centaruo had all the power in prison. El Cirujano and his man Bestia seemed to have that. Suffice to say, there’s a power struggle in the prison.
Duarte comes to visit Yolanda in prison and question her about El Centauro. She wasn’t very forthcoming.
Duarte then starts to investigate Yolanda’s family. He sees El Centauro’s men delivering the TV to the house. He has Gato (a boy he saved from a gang beating and has been mentoring) pick the lock on the house after everyone is gone. Too bad El Centauro’s men come back to pick up a wallet left behind by one of them. There’s a shootout. While moving furniture to form a barricade, Duarte finds….A GREEN BACKPACK. In the straps of the backpack, he finds a paper filled with numbers written in his brothers handwriting. It’s a code that points Gerardo to bank accounts and deposits that can help them prove El Centauro’s involvement in larger crimes.
El Centauro really doesn’t take rejection well. He sends two of his men to get Yolanda. She gets tied up and gagged. El Centauro isn’t going to take her by force. She can keep rejecting him, but she’ll come asking for him eventually. He withdraws his protection.
Yolanda will later be forced to beg for his help when her daughter comes to visit. Through a series of misunderstandings, Yolanda doesn’t find out that Cristina has come until it’s almost too late. Yolanda has to go see El Centauro. She needs him to tell the guards to let her go in to see her daughter. He makes it happen. During the very brief mother daughter visit, Cristina mentions the TV. The week ends with Yolanda thanking El Centauro with a pretty hot kiss.
Other Bits of Plot
Duarte is a hot mess. He’s a rogue cop and his boss doesn’t seem to like him much.
Bianchini is assigned to be Duarte’s partner. He seems to genuinely like Duarte…even when Duarte is being a little outside the law. When Duarte’s job is in jeopardy, Bianchini swears he’ll quit if Duarte gets fired.
Duarte’s marriage is on the rocks. Unbeknownst to him, his wife (Bibiana) is having an affair with his boss (Marco Aguilar).
Bianchini is no investigative slouch. He figures out pretty quickly about the affair. Which might be why he was willing to quit. Aguilar was the man that convinced the comisario to get rid of Duarte. Duarte’s discovery of the code is what saved his ass.
The comisario actually likes Duarte.
Mariela is truly awful. I’m pretty sure she’s contemplating pimping out her granddaughter. I kind of hope the guy who left his wallet beats her ass. She did sort of steal the cash out of it… and a paper with some very important notations.
Yolanda is assigned to share a cell with Dominga. She’s a little crazy. But I would be too, if someone raped and killed my daughter. Dominga killed the men who did it and that’s why she’s in jail.
Tania uses her body to get favors from anyone who can do her a favor. It makes her prison girlfriend jealous. Tania must have been one of El Centauro’s favorites because she seems pretty jealous of Yolanda.
I watched the first episode twice. First when Telemundo made it available for preview and then when it aired on TV. It’s pretty typical fare story-wise: Yolanda (does one use the term “protagonista” in a narconovela?) had a horrible childhood with a mother who wants to pimp her out, she gets caught up with criminal elements, she goes to jail. I almost expect she’ll get raped or near raped sometime in the future. She gets groped by a prison guard…does that count?
It all seems to be filmed on location, which might be another reason I like narconovelas….no cardboard sets. Unfortunately, the locations are prison, a police station and various concrete buildings. Pretty drab and depressing. No luxurious capo safe-houses. Drat.
At least two of the three leads have a screen presence. Humberto Zurita exudes power and if Yolanda isn’t attracted to El Centauro, I sure as hell am. Ludwika Paleta is very low-key. Coming off of Señora Acero and Blanca Soto, this is an adjustment. Honestly, I find myself watching her eyebrows more than anything else. They are on-freaking-point. I suspect that if I’m paying more attention to her perfectly tweezed brow, she might be playing it a little too low-key. Michel Brown didn’t get my immediate attention, but I was on board by the end of the week.
For a show that is rumored to have only 52 episodes, the pacing seemed slow. Maybe I’m expecting too much. There have been plenty of shoot outs, beatdowns and some sex, but this is so common in narconovelas that I find it old and not very compelling. I want a show to evoke some sort of reaction from me; to surprise me. For the first two episodes I did a lot of passive sitting. Nothing really made me sit up and take notice. It really wasn’t until the third night that I really found myself fully engaged (that’s code for “shouting things like ‘awww hell’ and ‘holy shit!’”)
Music is important to me. I’ve been known to drop a telenovela if the music is crappy (and stick with a crappy telenovela if the music is good.) The incidental music is good, but some of it seems out-of-place and in some cases just breaks the mood.
I really struggle with the Spanish in narconovelas and La Querida del Centauro is no exception. Like Señora Acero, I have to watch this with the Spanish captions. I might actually be struggling with this show more, but I think that is because the plot is more substantial. Part of the issue is editing. Every p—-, c—–, ch—- and j—- gets bleeped. What they mean, I have no idea, but they always distract me. Maybe the more narconovelas I watch, the more I’ll start to recognize the standard lines (I think I already know what p— c— means.) The slang gets me every time, too.
Will I keep watching La Querida del Centauro? I honestly don’t know. El Hotel de los Secretos is premiering soon and they are both on at the same time. By the end of the week I found myself really liking it. I like it enough not to let it pile up on my DVR.