There is suspense and intrigue at a very slow pace that will test your attention span at times, but this is a great and very clever adaptation of a 1901 short story, transposing Jack London’s story to today’s Madrid and turning it into a political thriller. The series puts into question notions of wealth, possession and morality.
Co-created and directed by Mateo Gil, who also co-wrote the script with Miguel Barros, this six-part miniseries follows Victor Genovés (Luis Tosar), a wealthy and influential businessman as the new CEO to a media company. Victor is being blackmailed by an organization calling itself the Minions of Midas for reasons which are not immediately clear. He must agree to pay a large sum of money, or a person will be killed at random and at a designated place and time periodically until he does. Will Victor save his money, or the lives of innocent people?
Os subordinados de Midas takes place in Madrid, at a time of social unrest in Spain. What had begun as a peaceful protest against rising electricity prices has now escalated into widespread social unrest. Victor Genovés is at the head of the Malvar Group, a position he has just inherited from the organization’s founder after Malvar’s death eight months before. It is a surprising inheritance, one which Victor admits himself has no idea why Malvar gave him his empire, or so he says. Cardboard boxes from his move to his new penthouse apartment, where Victor lives alone, have remained untouched.
However, the opening sequence of the first episode does not open with Victo, but with a young woman, Mónica Bàez (Marta Belmonte) a journalist. She is in front of her computer in a darkened office as turmoil is unfolding in the streets. She is about to publish her article, named “The Minions of Midas”, when two men with police gear chase her out. This turns out to be a flashforward, as the next sequence returns 50 days prior.
That morning, Victor Genovés receives a letter with a red wax seal, signed “The Minions of Midas” demanding that he sell his shares in order to deliver 50 million euros in cash. If he does not agree to the terms, a person will be chosen at random and will be killed. Victor goes home and googles “the minions of Midas.” Finding nothing of note, he decides to ignore the letter by throwing it in the bin.
Meanwhile, the young journalist from the opening sequence is in war-torn Syria to interview an arms dealer, who reveals that the Banco Industrial in Madrid has been financing the corrupt government. Mónica is in fact a reporter working at the newspaper Victor owns through the Malvar Group. And as it turns out, when Mónica and her editor go to Victor with this explosive news story, Victor informs them that Banco Industrial is the very bank that finances the Group. Victor, though, decides to publish the story.
While Victor goes on with his day, forgetting about the blackmailing letter, a woman is killed at the time and place specified in the letter. Victor then receives an email from the Minions of Midas, urging him to pay the sum of money or another person picked at random will be killed. This time, Victor decides to alert the authorities.
Os subordinados de Midas is shrouded in mystery. Why is Victor being targeted in this blackmailing affair? How does Mónica’s meeting with an arms dealer connect with Victor’s predicament? Events happen without any real explanation, something which, one can sense, will all come together at the very end of the miniseries.
What is most interesting about this miniseries are the questions it raises about wealth and property. At one point the inspector in charge of the case, Inspector Conte (Guillermo Toledo) tells Victor that perhaps the reason they picked him was because they think him a businessman with a conscience. Besides the fact that this in itself infers that businessmen are usually without conscience, what it also suggests is that wealth here seems to be the antithesis to morality, that something amoral must have happened for someone to amass so much money.
Os subordinados de Midas is a brilliant and thought-provoking thriller. The originality in this series also springs from its pace. This is not a chase to the truth, or to uncover the blackmailers, as thrillers usually are. This is a slow-burning series that makes a 1901 short story resonate with modern-day’s issues.