Line ’em up, it’s Election Day on Now and Then, the Apple TV+ telenovela about the fallout from a 20-year-old murder case.
Pedro and Ana wait with bated breath to see if he won the mayoral election, while Ernesto gives him an ultimatum and Francis offers her a job. Marcos and Sofia plot their escape, Flora schedules a surgery, Hugo’s awake from his coma, and Sullivan’s been keeping secrets from everybody.
The plot is thick and the drama delicious this week.
Now and Then recap: ‘Elections’
Season 1, episode 7: In this week’s episode, titled “Elections,” would-be mayor Pedro (played by José María Yazpik) and Ana (Marina de Tavira) are out at their polling place giving tense interviews. He’s still mad that Ana set up campaign manager Ernesto (Eduardo Noriega) — and that Francis (Jimmy Shaw) wants Pedro to throw Ernesto under the bus.
Marcos (Manolo Cardona) is reeling from his suicide attempt last week; only Sofia’s (Maribel Verdú) quick thinking saves him. She’s trying to talk him into fleeing to Colombia and taking a bunch of his dad’s money to do it.
It remains unclear whether Sofia really thinks they’re going to flee or if she’s playing Marcos to get money to pay off loan shark Bernie (Joaquim de Almeida). When Isabel (Juana Acosta) comes home to get some things from her apartment, she finds them plotting to leave the country, confirming her worst suspicions about her fiancé. Marcos heads to his dad’s place to get into the safe.
Coma and cancer
Elsewhere, Daniela’s (Soledad Villamil) stepson Hugo (Matt Mitchell) is out of his coma and talking to the police. They want to know what he knows about his mother’s blackmailing scheme. He doesn’t know much conclusively. But he saw something that night — a van with a cute bumper sticker parked out front of the house when Daniela was killed.
Somehow, the person with the worst of luck is Flora Neruda (Rosie Perez), whose dizzy spells and nausea are, surprise, symptoms of unchecked breast cancer. She’s got to schedule a mastectomy as quickly as possible if she wants to live.
Unfortunately, Now and Then does not handle this particularly well. We see old Flora looking at young Flora as a flashback begins, but the show doesn’t do much to make Perez look younger, so it just kind of looks like she’s staring at herself in a mirror.
Meanwhile, a slightly better splicing of the past and the present has Sofia issuing Marcos an ultimatum as they remember this same ultimatum being deployed by their younger selves.
But anyway, Flora remembers her partner detective Sullivan (Zeljko Ivanek) losing his wife, Lisa (Miriam Cooke), to cancer all those years ago. Ivanek does handle these scenes incredibly well. I like it when a character actor like Ivanek gets to spread his wings a bit. He’s not always called upon to be a grieving husband, and he does it very well indeed.
Campaigning for compassion
Ernesto shows up at Pedro’s campaign headquarters to demand some measure of compassion from the wannabe mayor. Pedro promises to help his beleaguered old friend, but Ernesto can see through him. They’re never going to be together if Pedro wins the election.
Francis confides in Ana that he never liked Pedro as a candidate; it should have been her running. It was her idea for her husband to run, though. After all, she’s the one who cares about local politics. Imagine how she feels when Pedro loses that night.
That’s, as ever on this show, not all. Just as Flora is going into surgery, Sullivan pulls up to visit her and finds the house empty … in his van with a cute bumper sticker on the back. Everybody has a few hours left before this case blows up and somebody else gets killed.
The whole story
I always liked Eduardo Noriega. He’s so good as the sexy heel in genre films like The Devil’s Backbone, Transsiberian, Blackthorn and The Last Stand. Needless to say, anyone that handsome was going to age well (he’s been in movies since the early 1990s) but he really does terrifically charismatic work in this minor part playing Ernesto.
I would, of course, have loved to see him take a much more central role in Now and Then. His sense of injured pride and real compassion are palpable in his short scenes. I hope they find more for him to do in the second season (which, unless the next episode takes a turn for the Tarantino-esque, I think this show has a pretty good shot at getting).
Speaking of which, Ivanek emerging as the villain is an expected development just based on his history in movies and TV. But at least the writers did so much to humanize him that we really are primed to be invested in what happens to him as he goes around covering his tracks as best he can for the murder.
I was a little worried we’d be left with too many loose ends when the first season of Now and Then draws to a close next week. But I think the writers are too savvy about what audiences want to see from a story like this. There will, in all likelihood be a beautiful little cliffhanger in next week’s finale, but they did a wise thing by fully unwrapping up the mystery they’ve been teasing the whole season because now we’re ready for what happens next.
There’s no way they get it all cinched but I’m very curious to see what happens instead.
Watch Now and Then on Apple TV+
New episodes of Now and Then arrive Fridays on Apple TV+.
Watch on: Apple TV+
Scout Tafoya is a film and TV critic, director and creator of the long-running video essay series The Unloved for RogerEbert.com. He has written for The Village Voice, Film Comment, The Los Angeles Review of Books and Nylon Magazine. He is the author of Cinemaphagy: On the Psychedelic Classical Form of Tobe Hooper, the director of 25 feature films, and the director and editor of more than 300 video essays, which can be found at Patreon.com/honorszombie.