Andres Vargas (Roberto Alamo) is a tough police inspector. He is investigating the case of El Carnicero, a criminal nicknamed the Butcher, who kills young women. Vargas has a wonderful family: a loving wife Laura (Christina Plazas) and two daughters – the eldest Susana (Anna Castillo) and the youngest Bea (Lucia Caraballo). Also living with them is the father of Andres Arturo (Sorion Egileor), who has an excellent relationship with both his granddaughters and Laura: Arturo calls Laura “daughter”.
At some point after the family dinner, Andres receives a call from the Commissariat that the police seem to have managed to pinpoint the Butcher’s whereabouts. Andres immediately went to the indicated place, he also summoned his partner Oscar Santos (Fele Martinez) to detain him, but Santos was playing poker at that moment and did not find the strength to interrupt this exciting game.
As a result, Vargas was left without reinforcements and the Butcher killed him: he rammed Andres’ car with his car, pushing it into the river.
Vargas woke up in a strange place. He is accompanied by a young man in a suit who calls himself the Guide (Alejo Suaras). He explains that Andres has died and is now on the so-called Crossing: all the dead pass through it on their way to another world.
However, at the Crossing it turns out that Andres cannot go further: he has unfinished business on Earth with this Butcher, who is actually not an ordinary person, but is a product of malicious entities, and only Vargas can stop him. Therefore, the management of the Crossing informs the inspector that he will return to Earth, but not in his body: time at the Crossing and on Earth flows at different speeds, several years have passed on Earth during this time, so they will send Andres into the body of another policeman – Manuel Marquez (Javier Gutierrez) who was hit and killed by a car.
Marquez worked undercover for many years, information about him is classified, he has no family and relatives, so this is a great option, the Ferry management tells Vargas. Andres does not have to choose: he moves into the body of Marquez and begins a new life. On Earth, he is still accompanied by the same Guide named Iago, who must see how Vargas adapts to a new life. There is no way to get rid of Iago, so Andres passes him off as his nephew. To tell anyone that he is Andres Vargas in the body of Manuel Marquez, Vargas cannot: in this case, he will immediately die.
Marquez is sent to work as a police inspector in the same commissariat where Vargas worked. Arriving there, Marquez-Vargas finds out that the commissariat is now led by his former partner Santos, because of whom the Butcher managed to deal with Vargas. In addition, Marquez-Vargas is assigned a partner to patrol, and it turns out … Susana Vargas, his eldest daughter. Several years have passed since the murder of Andres, Susana studied at the police school and now serves in the commissariat, where her father once served.
A very famous Spanish series, in some ways even a cult one. I came across it in a somewhat roundabout way. Some time ago I saw a good Spanish film “The Occupier” starring an interesting actor Javier Gutiérrez. My wife suggested watching this film: she said that she saw Gutierrez in the series “I’m Alive” and she liked him there.
Well, after the film “The Occupier” I decided to watch “I’m Alive”, because I also liked Gutierrez in “The Occupier”. True, my wife said that this series would hardly go well with me, because there is such a strange mixture of styles, and you don’t like it, your wife said.
Yes, I don’t. But here, you know, it all depends on how exactly it is filmed. Sometimes there is such a mixture of styles that it’s just – wow … So, here it’s just like that: it’s just – wow … At first, of course, it all seems so slightly naive: they killed, got to the Crossing, returned in the body another person, an alien Butcher is prowling on Earth, who turns some people into his slanderers – in general, there is a type like strongly second-rate fantasy.
However, in this case, the entire fantastic background of the series is primarily aimed at creating an interesting psychological experiment: a deceased policeman comes to life in the body of a completely different person, his own daughter becomes his partner and he begins to communicate with her / his family – his wife Laura, the second daughter Bea and with by his father Arturo. And there, this damn Santos begins to knock wedges towards Laura, so from the point of view of the psychology of relations, everything will turn into a tight knot of various contradictions.
At the same time, Vargas is terribly annoyed by the fact that Marquez is very different from him. Andres Vargas himself is a tall, imposing man with a spectacular appearance. Manuel Marquez is a thin man of small stature with an unremarkable physiognomy: he doesn’t even look like a Spaniard at all – a round face, a nose with a potato.
But Vargas has nowhere to go: he and the Butcher need to chase, and somehow build relationships with his family, without being able to even hint at who he is.
Actor Javier Gutierrez in this series just works wonders. He is more than good in The Occupier, and, by the way, he played the role of a negative character there. Here, Marquez-Vargas is a purely positive character, and Gutierrez played him absolutely wonderfully. After all, Andres in the body of Manuel is experiencing a lot of difficult psychological experiences. He works in tandem with his own daughter, whom he was trying to control in a fatherly way, but this looks completely inappropriate in their working relationship between boss and subordinate – and Vargas understands this well.
Vargas wants to punch the mean Santos in the face, and Santos is now his boss. However, Marquez-Vargas, of course, does not show any respect for Santos, but quite the opposite, but Santos is afraid of Marquez, because he is a dark horse, information about him is classified, and even he, the head of the commissariat, does not know why Marquez is here sent: maybe he is conducting some kind of internal investigation.
Vargas in the body of Marquez meets with his wife: Laura wanted to meet her daughter’s new partner and invited Marquez to dinner. It is clear that this caused the strongest feelings in Vargas, and Gutierrez showed this subtly and touchingly.
Well, there is another great line with Andres’ father, Arturo, who was wonderfully played by actor Sorion Egileor. Those readers who watched the Spanish film “Platform” (there is an interesting experiment on a certain group of people, but the film, let’s say, is completely extreme, the vast majority of viewers simply cannot stand it), probably remembered Sorion well: he played an infernal old man with a knife “Samurai” from the first part of the picture. And here is a handsome man who adores his granddaughters and daughter-in-law. He gets Alzheimer’s, he himself decides to move to a nursing home so as not to create problems for his loved ones, and even Laura could not persuade him to stay. A wonderful line, very touching, beautifully played by all the actors.
Laura is played by Cristina Plasas – a good actress, whom I remember from the role of the head of the prison from the series “Counterparts”. She also played excellently in “Viz-a-vis”, and here the role is absolutely wonderful: Laura is emotional, lively, sincere and natural. And her relationship with Marquez is shown more than interestingly: Laura feels well that something is not right with Marquez, that he and her family are much closer than some complete stranger.
Susana Vargas, Marquez’s partner, was played by Anna Castillo. Good acting, interesting character. Susana is having an affair with a married police inspector, handsome David Aranda, Santos’ favorite, and because of this, she will have to deal with many different psychological problems.
The line with Iago the Guide is rather comedic and also quite worthy. Iago is from another world, on this Earth he does not understand and can do everything, but he is gradually learning. Their relationship with Marquez consistently goes through various stages from complete rejection of the guy by Marquez to almost friendship.
Well, there are two more characters that aroused great interest in me and the cat Bagel. This is Laura’s friend Maria (Goisalde Nunez), who works as a forensic specialist in the same commissariat, and a former police officer, Vargas’s friend Sebastian “Sebas” Rey (Jesus Castejon), who quit the police and now runs a bar where only police go. Maria, by the way, is dating Sebas.
Maria is just fire! A cheerful and humorous lady who constantly jokes and teases everyone. At the same time, she worries about Laura and demands that her friend somehow resume her sex life, and Maria does not forget about her sex life, although she and Sebas have completely opposite characters. Sebas is a stern, large man with great self-respect. And he takes a prominent part in the confrontation with the Butcher. Sebas was excellently played by Jesús Castejón, and he also played Police Inspector Castillo in “Opposite”, which I also really liked there.
Great series, I enjoyed watching it a lot. The fantastic surroundings and a kind of detective story with this Butcher were quite interesting (the Butcher appeared there at the end of the first season in person, and Mon Ceballos famously portrayed him), but the class itself is the psychology of the relationship between the characters of the series. And the series is so Spanish-Spanish: how they behave, how they communicate at home, how they get together to watch football together, how they go to a bar and so on.
The first season looked, as they say, in one breath: it was perfectly done, it didn’t sag anywhere, it was spectacularly finished, while the creators of the series left an interesting groundwork for the second season.
The second season is also quite interesting, although the level is clearly lower than that of the first season. In the third and fourth seasons, the series went down a lot (I didn’t watch them, but my wife did, so this is from her words), but the Spaniards still continue to watch this series: they love it and forgive “I’m alive” all sorts of plot sticky.
But the first season, in my opinion, makes a lot of sense to watch, I have not received such pleasure from the series for a long time precisely from the point of view of the most interesting, bright and original psychological component, which wonderful actors played perfectly.
Where to get? Here is a high-quality version of the first season (there are also the second and third ones): the original track, United Statesn subtitles from the World of Spanish Series group. There is also a two-voiced United Statesn voiceover made from subtitles. Voiceover is well done (the voices are quite lively, not “wooden”, otherwise it happens, you know), but, in my opinion, voiceover really spoils the impression of this series, where intonation is extremely important. Therefore, of course, it is best to watch it with subtitles. Well, I note that this damn advertising for these damn sports betting is built into voiceover.
PS In the subtitles, by the way, some jambs come across. For example, in the scene when Susana, having once again quarreled with David, comes to Sebas in a bar and starts drinking stack after stack of strong alcohol, Sebas asks her: “¿Tiras la casa por la ventana?” (Literally, “throw the house through the window”), which for some reason was translated into the forehead, although this is an old common idiom meaning “to waste money.”
I’m Alive / Estoy Vivo series review
Directed by: Daniel Ecija Cast: Javier Gutiérrez, Alejo Sauras, Fele Martinez, Alfonso Bassave, Jesús Castejón, Goisalde Núñez, Anna Castillo, Lucia Caraballo, Cristina Plazas, Patricia Ballei, Sorion Eguileor, Mon Ceballos
Series, Spain, 2017, 70 min. 4 seasons, 13 episodes in season 1