Synopsis: The Barrier, episode four, is a very tense affair. Last week’s cliff hanger, Hugo and Julia’s discovery, answered. Hugo (Unax Ugalde) and Julia (Olivia Molina) grow closer to the truth. Alma (Eleonora Wexler) scrambles to stop them discovering it. Marta (Laura Quiros) is given hope of being with her father, Hugo, again. Alex’s situation brings surprises.
The events of this episode of The barrier move on multiple story components. Whilst doing so, the pacing and tension are tightly managed. Placing both Hugo and Julia together is a smart move. Saves screen time needed to develop both of their situations. This may sound basic, but them always being together shows their joint plight.
Marta and the other children’s circumstance isn’t an easy aspect of the story to manage. Not a great deal happens to them. Whilst them just being there, in the awful compound isn’t enough, the fact that children have been taken is chilling. It’s Marta’s subtle response to her circumstances that makes compelling viewing. Chiefly, her acceptance of it as normality.
Just as it has already done, The Barrier continues to put the character’s emotional states at the centre of things. Unable to contain himself, Hugo demands that Marta is freed. Storytelling like this is powerful. The characters behave as they likely would in reality, not according to the plot. Behaving this way is dangerous and ill-advised under the circumstances. What comes through, because of it, is desperation.
There’s a great deal, on once the credits roll. The glimpses into events of next week’s episode tie in well with those just seen. Emilia’s (Angela Molina) role in things is clearly going to be key. Her relationship with Luis (Abel Folk), as well as their backstory, is further explored. The short flashback scenes were vital this week, to compare with the current atmosphere.
Angela Molina put in a strong performance this week. Whilst her character, Emila, isn’t central to everything, her presence matters. Molina makes it do so even more, by convincingly capturing critical aspects of her. Her ability to cope shows her experience, as well as her deep understanding of the regime. This knowledge of the character brings an real authenticity to things, which really helps to keep the ultra realistic tone of The Barrier.
Another character who is perhaps often sidelined by the two central stars of The Barrier is Alex (Daniel Ibanez). Ibanez really makes Alex’s lack of experience as in spy type role comes through. His demeanor is the exact of opposite of Emilia, which is to be expected. Some really smart character study here.
As ever the two central stars of The Barrier continue to make a powerful impact. Using dual central protagonists can be as risk, but Unax Ugalde and Olivia Molina turn to the set up to their advantage.
CGI & Effects
There’s more thoughtfully presented use of lighting, which has become a staple of the show’s look. The van that Marta’s being moved in has a fluorescent purple, ultraviolet light. Feelings of unease and even impending doom are embedded, as a result. Further still, it embodies the bleak existence of the show’s characters. The minimal effects work to really make each scene that should come alive. This is also the case with Alex’s continual dowsing with cold water. Used to great effect, even simple ideas can create the desired result.
Another example of why The Barrier is a great show, It offers something totally different, which this episode acted as a microcosm for. There are many themes. Class division, corruption, how oppression happens, to name a few. These concepts are dealt with evocatively. They ask many questions. With a combination of actors depicted by some wonderful talent, inspired directing and great world-building, The Barrier continues to excel. Without any doubt, this is the best depiction of a near dystopia that’s ever been on the small screen. The depictions of brutal events and tough regime continue to draw you deeply into the story-world.