Created by Claudia Piñeiro and Marcelo Piñeyro for streaming platform Netflix, the Spanish-original political drama series ‘The Kingdom’ (original title: ‘El Reino’) is a dark, somber, and often menacing journey deep into the heart of power. The poignantly drawn, provocative tale begins with the murder of a presidential candidate, which subsequently plunges the audience into a labyrinthine mystery fraught with conspiracy plots, conflicting narratives, secrecy, and situational perils.
The murder that kickstarts the story moves the audience’s focus to a charismatic but controversial televangelist with little experience in politics. We get glimpses into his vast empire, which only gets consolidated in the end. The finality also brings us to a devastating truth, which exposes a world where evil often overpowers good. But while evil seemingly wins in the end, there is still hope. Let us recollect the final moments of the story. SPOILERS AHEAD.
The Kingdom Season 1 Recap
The tale begins with a massive campaign for Armando Badajoz, the presidential candidate, and Emilio Vazquez Pena, the vice president. Pena is the omnipresent leader of the controversial Church of The Kingdom of Light, and while some people think of him as a messiah, some reasonably think him to be a fraud. Organizers are busy suppressing riots outside the campaign venue while a man named Remigio Cardenas assails the president-elect. He pleads guilty shortly after, and the judge hurries to close the case. Meanwhile, D. A. Roberta Candia jumps onto the case and shortly identifies Remigio to be a church member.
She thinks that Remigio is acting on someone else’s orders while Remigio asks for Julio. Further confusion ensues when Remigio asserts that his intended prey was Emilio and not Armando. We meet the power-hungry members of Emilio’s family, matriarch Elena, daughters Ana and Magdalena, and son Pablo. Others are not related to Emilio by blood but belong to the inner circle of Emilio nonetheless. Julio is the rebellious son of Emilio’s opposition leader and a passionate lover to Ana. Julio seemingly works under the order of Ruben, who has a bigger role to play in this conspiracy. There is also Tadeo, who takes the stage after the president elect’s murder.
He runs an orphanage for the church and is also trusted by Emilio. Remigio refuses to speak to anyone after his arrest and demands Julio as the lawyer. Going into the past, we see the strong bond between Julio, Tadeo, and Remigio, as they partake in community service together. Julio becomes a prime suspect after Remigio’s demand. Probing into Julio’s life, the show reveals Ana to be pregnant with Julio’s child. The media wants to tear Julio apart, but a confrontational ritual saves him the trouble. Ruben’s search reveals that Elena was having an affair with Remigio.
In the past, we see Elena meeting Remigio in a hospital, where a devoted nurse named Laureana bears witness to their conversation. Ruben and his men kidnap Laureana, and after some questioning, they slay her while making it look like a hit-and-run. Meanwhile, Tadeo goes to meet Remigio in his cell, and as per Remigio’s orders, steals money from the stash of the church. The walls of the church are filled with dirty money laundered through various channels. Still, the D. A. finds herself powerless after a handwritten stay order by the judge invalidates her warrant to search the church’s premises. The mystery only deepens with everyone trying to cover the mystery.
In the absence of the presidential candidate, Emilio decides to run for president against Elena’s wish. The D. A. finds herself at a dead-end, but then she finds out about children disappearing from the orphanage. We also sense that Ruben is working for some powerful and immutable people when he abducts Brian and his mother against the whole truth. The truth ultimately comes out from Tadeo, who confesses to Julio about Emilio’s many cases of child molesting. Emilio is a pedophile who thinks his act to be justified by God, and we come to know that he is pure evil. When Emilio attempted to molest a messiah called “The Fish,” it was the last straw for Remigio, who took up arms. In the end, Emilio seemingly gets away with his crime, while those on the side of the good feel helpless.
The Kingdom Ending: Does Emilio Become the President?
In the finality of events, Emilio becomes the president after all. Emilio is hungry for power, and deep down, he does not practice the way of Jesus that he preaches with such conviction. Emilio is the monarch of the titular kingdom of the story, and he lies at the center of the conspiracy. He has charisma and can mobilize people in a certain way, which he takes pride in. Consequently, his large following makes him an ideal candidate for politics since his devoted church members are a considerable vote bank. However, the final exposition reveals him to be a monster in the garb of a prophet.
Although Emilio is initially shocked by the murder of Badajoz, he does not take long to gather himself and spin a story that would act in his favor. He comes to know that he is the target of the assassination (it’s quite possible he already knew) and uses his chance of escape from death as a gift from God. He becomes the president just as his heinous crimes are revealed, painting the dark tale with a further dystopian coating.
His energetic speech in the finality of the season moves influential people into tears, and he specifically uses the death of Remigio to make an impact on the audience. Elena stands by his side at this moment, further blurring the demarcation between good and bad. And when Emilio, of all people, promises the audience to rid the country of false prophets, his hypocrisy reaches a new height.
Was Remigio Murdered?
Let us recollect the events before Remigio’s alleged suicide. After revealing the whole truth about Emilio’s pedophilia to Julio, Tadeo and the Fish go on the run. However, Ruben’s men catch them at the doorstep. Ruben visits Remigio at his cell and extracts a false confession from him, using the chips of Tadeo and the Fish. Remigio makes sure that Tadeo and the Fish are okay before putting anything on paper. As agreed, Ruben arranges a mode of transport for the abducted, and Remigio writes the fabricated confession that makes him look like the child molester rather than Emilio.
Shortly after writing the letter, Remigio seemingly takes his own life in the cell. However, we see Ruben going out with the note while simultaneously indicating two guys going into the cell. Tadeo and the child messiah catch a bus, but a group of people stops the bus midway. Ruben is perhaps not keen on keeping his side of the promise. Finally, the show does not give us a conclusion on whether Remigio takes his own life or if Ruben and his men kill him off. It is easy to think that after the sheer humiliation of writing the letter, Remigio takes his own life after all.
But that is maybe just what they want you to believe. It is more likely that Ruben gets Remigio murdered in the end to cover all loose ends. He seeks to do the same to Tadeo and the Fish, but they escape through the supernatural abilities of the Fish. Ruben is working for some powerful people, and while Emilio becomes the president, we get the idea that he is seemingly a pawn in a larger game played by Ruben.
Read More: Is The Kingdom Based on A True Story?