ABC uncorked a new family drama paired with a telenovela, and it hit all the right notes.
Promised Land, a tale of an immigrant family at the helm of a wine industry in California, threw a lot at audiences in the first house.
The series definitely fills a gap left behind by other shows with Latino family’s at the forefront, namely the prematurely canceled Grand Hotel and Beauty and the Baker. Considering both those shows aired on ABC, it leaves me a little concerned for the fate of Promised Land, but I’m hoping the drama bubbled up to the top of many must-watch lists following that jam-packed pilot.
In the first scene, we meet Juana and Rosa, two sisters crossing the border to chase their American dream, when they meet Carlos, a man with his sights set on the Heritage House, a vineyard where his brother, Roberto works.
For much of the episode, it’s unclear if scenes featuring the trio are flashbacks or if these are present-day immigrants looking or work.
However, by the end of the hour, it’s revealed that Carlos is Joe, the patriarch of the Dynasty-like clan, while his wife, Lettie, is Juana. I love that this time, the wife isn’t just arm candy but someone who has also put in the work for a better life, even if she never became a teacher like she hoped.
During their journey to a better life, Carlos, Juana, and Rosa came across a sex-trafficking ring, which is where Rosa got shot. They dropped her off at the hospital, but since that meant deportation, they were forced to part ways then and there, and it’s unclear what happened to Rosa or if they ever kept in touch.
But Juana — now Lettie — is likely glad she hitched her wagon to Carlos’s because they worked their way up from the bottom, and in the present-day, they own one of the biggest wine brands on the market.
Of course, it’s not all as picture-perfect as it may seem; the top rarely is.
Over the course of the episode, and through perfectly woven flashbacks with present-day scenes, we learn that Lettie married Joe’s brother, Bobby, and the two had a son together, Mateo.
Bobby reportedly cheated on Lettie, so she remarried Joe, but while he made Mateo the GM of the vineyard, he never fully embraced him as a son.
And that’s peeling back the first layer of the complex family onion.
Joe married Margaret, who accused him of stealing the vineyard from her dying father. Despite sharing three children, she vows to take the vineyard back from him by any means necessary.
And she’s enlisted their son, Antonion, to do her dirty bidding. Antonio is more than happy to pull one over his father as Joe turned his back on his own son after he came out.
When Antonio returns home for Joe and Lettie’s anniversary, his father attempts to make good as he needs him to steer his sister, Veronia, in the right direction as the company’s newest CEO.
Naturally, this a recipe for disaster for the family, but it’s highly entertaining for all of us sipping on wine from the couch.
Veronica’s first day as CEO was a smashing success up until she hit one of the vineyards employees and ran from the scene.
The man, Delgado, is fighting for his life at the hospital, and the accident unearthed his side hustle: making papers for illegal immigrants.
Of course, that’s somthing Joe and Lettie are very familiar with, but apparently, they have no tolerance for.
When the Sheriff allows it to slide, Joe fires the employee with the fake papers, Daniela, and explains that he’s doing the best thing for the business.
Mateo, who took a liking to Daniela and helped set her up with the papers, decides that this is his breaking point and calls Joe out for being a hypocrite at the anniversary party in front of all the guests.
And he’s not wrong. Joe seemingly succeded in the exact same way Daniela is trying to, but he won’t give her a chance or look the other way.
It’s so much easier to turn up your nose when you’re at the top instead of pushing for change.
Mateo then tracks Daniela down and looks into buying his own land for a competing winery, which makes sense considering Joe didn’t even leave him any shares in the will.
Why not build your own fortune from the ground up? Mateo seems to be the only person that isn’t afraid of a little manual labor.
Meanwhile, the moment leads to a pretty intense fight between Mateo and Lettie. When she suggests that she doesn’t know him anymore, Joe is reminded of his past and hits the ground running in the field alongside the workers.
Elsewhere, Margaret and Antonio keep on scheming in hopes of getting the reins, the socialite daughter, Carmen, attempts to infuse the brand with a little modern marketing in between taking Instagram shots, and Veronica’s husband, Michael, sort of flirts with Carmen in a moment that seems really off-brand before you remember that this is also part telenovela and that sort of thing is likely going to happen.
The pilot showed plenty of promise alongside a very intriguing plot and developed characters.
I’m interested to see how Joe and Margaret’s paths crossed, and what led to their split.
Also, what’s the backstory with Joe’s brother? When Carlos first arrived at the Heritage House, they had such a great relationship. It was likely tainted by Lettie, as so many brotherly relationships are on television, but why did Bobby leave and then decide to come back as a priest that teaches at Junior’s school?
It seems like Carlos/Joe is a good man, but then again, he did steal his brother’s dream of owning the vineyard, so maybe that’s just a facade?
There’s definitely much more to unpack here, but I’ll be honest, a series where the family fights over wine and not oil is a welcome change of pace.
What did you think of the premiere episode of Promised Land? Will you be tuning in again?
Promised Land Season Finale Review – La Tierra Prometida (1×10)
ABC may have banished Promised Land to Hulu, but I’m glad the streamer allowed the series to finish out its season 1 run.
It may not have been the best show to ever make its way across your screen, but it had so much heart poured into it as it aimed to tell the story of Mexican immigrants coming to the states to follow their dreams and make a better life for their family. It was a stark look at the hardships and struggles nuanced with all the things that make it worthwhile.
And while it was definitely a love story, it wasn’t a love story in the romantic sense. It was about the blurred line between love and hate for two brothers. A love story for Margret and Lettie (Juana), who, despite targeting each other always had each other’s backs. It’s about a love story between a man and his winery. It’s a love story about a man and his love for himself.
One of the biggest secrets hanging over Joe Sandoval’s head was that he was an “illegal.” He was always so ashamed of being called the slur, but he finally acknowledged that there was nothing illegal about setting out to pursue a dream and doing everything in your power to make it happen. He was good at what he did, and there’s nothing shameful about it.
As everyone set their sights on Heritage House and attempted to take hold of Heritage House, it was the secret that they all wanted to leverage, so it was satisfying to see Joe yank the card from them and own who he was instead. A secret can only destroy you if you let it have power over you. Joe made it powerless, and thus, it couldn’t hurt him.
It would’ve never came to this moment had it not been for Lettie, who was so fed up with Joe’s behavior — including the employee lockout — that she packed her bags up and left to be with Billy.
When Joe begged her not to go, she informed him that he’s the one that left. In his determination to become the winemaker, Joe lost sight of himself and strayed too far from the Carlos Rincon that she loved all these years.
Her honesty brought him back to himself as he realized that he lost sight of what was really important by always striving for more.
Joe’s present-day journey paralleled his past as he lost Lettie once again and felt his world crumbling around him.
Thankfully, by course-correcting, he was able to make amends with his family, including Lettie, the woman that always had his heart.
While Heritage House was a blessing for Joe, it was also time to close the chapter on it as he accomplished everything he set out to do. He handed over the reins to Veronica while allowing Margaret to buy him out. It was an important gesture because it indicated that the woman who contributed so fiercely to his dream and gave him a family was now ready to shine and realize her own dream of managing her father’s vineyard and working alongside her kids.
The moment of her standing in the barrel room soaking it all in was such a Scandal moment, I was waiting for Olivia Pope to waltz in with her long stemmed glass and cheers with her.
Margaret was painted with a villains brushstroke, but she was never really the enemy — she was just a woman who loved fearlessly and lost herself in the process. And while she was never above teaching Joe a lesson, she truly loved him, so I’m glad that she never stooped down to outing his big secret.
Joe’s life has always been wrapped up in the vines, so when he Joe hung up the HH hat, he didn’t really know what his next step would be. Thankfully, Lettie had it all figured out, and he accepted a job working at Mateo’s vineyard as a wine maker, which, comes full circle on his promise to Lettie in the vineyard all those years ago when he told her that he would raise the son she was having with Billy.
Lettie has always been torn between the brothers, and while love triangles are so cliche, this one felt different as there was a genuine love radiating from both of them. They both sparked something inside of her to be a better person, but it was more than just a romantic connection — as immigrants, they needed each other to survive.
Through flashbacks, we finally understood that the wedge that forced Billy and Joe to drift apart was Lettie, though, it was also the thing that kept them a family all these years.
Teen Lettie confirmed she was pregnant with Billy’s child — Mateo — which broke Joe’s heart and propelled him to become who he is today, but she was also fully in love with Joe and hated letting him go.
In the present-day, Lettie kissed Billy goodbye as she acknowledged their special relationship while also choosing to stay by Joe’s side this time.
She’ll forever be conflicted, but it seems that she’s completely content with it. She has the love of both brothers, but for the first time ever, she’s also putting herself first. It’s a huge step for Lettie.
Carmen’s storyline with her own sangria that she was convinced to sell the an outside company may have been heartbreaking considering she never cared about the money, but it also forced her to step up in ways she didn’t think possible.
Nati definitely misled Carmen, who should’ve trusted her gut and had a third party look over the contract. However, it was an important business lesson, and likely one she’ll never forget.
She’s always strived for independence while asserting herself as a visionary in the family, so when she was throwing herself a pity party, Junior came to remind her that she’s busting at the seams with creative ideas. And while a sangria may be refreshing and on brand, there’s definitely more where that came from. Carmen is entering the seltzer business, you know it!
As for Veronica and Antonio, they got exactly what they wanted while also teaming up with Margaret to bring HH to new heights.
Again, as this is a family show about, it’s fitting that they are keeping it in house and in the family.
- It was nice to see young Joe in action against Margaret’s father as he proved that he knew a lot more about wine than anyone could’ve ever imagined. He has a good palate!
- We still have no idea how Margaret’s father died.
- Whatever happened to Mateo’s wife?
- We also know why Joe hated Mateo all these years as he’s the walking embodiment of his loss and one of his lowest points in life.
- You can’t deport a dream. That’s powerful.
- Whatever happened to Veronica’s estranged husband Michael? Who were the “dogs” he was referring to?
- The views were stunning, and I think that’s what I’ll miss most about the show!
While there were some great well-rounded and full-circle moments, one of my biggest gripes with the series is that there were so many loose ends or storylines that were started but went nowhere. The constant back-and-forth between timelines was effective, but at times, it almost felt like the writers lost sight of the story they were trying to tell.
If the series were to snag a second season, which I doubt will happen, I’d love for it to find its focus a bit more.
That being said, this a great way to wrap up in order to leave it as a limited series. Everyone got their happy ending, and the audience got an inspiring tale about to importance of following your dreams even when the stakes are stacked against you.
Promised Land Review – Los Rivales (Rivals) (1×05)
Promised Land showed plenty of promise when it first premiered, but it hasn’t done itself many favors in the five short episodes.
While the premiere was jam-packed with twists and wine-soaked drama, the momentum quickly faded with subsequent episodes failing to deliver on any of that excitement.
I typically try to give a show about four or five episodes before I determine whether it’s worth my time, but the series is lacking when it comes to keeping an audience engaged.
We’re five episodes in and it seems like the series has exhausted its premise.
The vineyard setting, the culture, and the family dynamic offer so much potential, so why is it being wasted?
Billy and Joe’s relationship is a snoozefest. We don’t know exactly what led to their falling out, though, we know that Billy’s addiction played a huge role.
There are a handful of flashbacks to their time working on the vineyard as teens to provide context to their relationship, specifically, their competitive nature, but it’s not enough to hold us over.
Introducing their father is supposed to explain why they’ve been in competition with each other their whole lives, but it didn’t really matter when, in the present day, they decided to mend their fractured relationship.
Margaret is a bit of a confusing character.
In flashbacks, she comes off as a very sweet, caring, and accomodating woman, but in the present, things have clearly taken a downturn between her and Joe. She wasn’t a part of their children’s lives, and she eventually lost her man to Lettie.
We also know she’s behind Billy’s placement in the church, but it’s still unclear what is motivating her aside from her determination to win back her father’s winery.
All of this would point to Margaret being a terrible woman, but Lettie seems to be on good terms with her when she brings Daniella over to inquire about a job.
I guess one could say that Margaret and Lettie are mature for keeping things cordial but there’s also a mutual respect there, so I’m not entirely sure what to make of the situation.
If Margaret likes Lettie, why is she hoping that Billy’s return will mess with her marriage to Joe?
Is that the cost of business?
And I wish I could care, but if I never find out, I won’t be upset. My indifference to cracking the show’s mystery proves that the writers aren’t doing a good job selling the narrative.
Margaret is in cahoots with Antonio, but his interest in the family business is also suspicious.
It seems that Antonio doesn’t have any loyalty and he’s playing both sides of the fence. He wants to help Margaret get back the winery so that he can be CEO, but I can see him turning on Margaret if Veronica were to give him a better offer or position.
Plus, for someone who was ostracized from the family, he’s really close with his siblings.
Admittedly, the scene of them all drinking copious amounts of wine was cute even if it didn’t move the needle.
Carmen and Mateo joined forces to concoct a sangria, which seemed all too breezy for a man who was struggling to revive a wine brand and compete with his father.
But honestly, with how much crap Mateo has put up with in these mere five episodes, I’m rooting for his winery.
Junior almost fell off the wagon again but didn’t, so that’s good. We don’t know Junior enough as a character to really become invested in his sobriety journey, but it’s great that he is taking Father Ramos’s advice.
Veronica found out that her husband, Michael, is likely cheating on her by attending sex parties, and well, I know that’s bound to blow up in her face, but no progress has been made just yet.
A dead body was dug up at the winery, and Antonio determined (all too quickly) that it is his grandfather, Mr. Honeycroft. All signs point to murder, of course, but I don’t take Joe to be a murderer so my guess is that there’s some logical explanation here.
I’m also curious as to what happened to Lettie’s sister, Rosa. She didn’t seem to want to be working at the vineyard anymore as she had other ambitions, so she likely left her sister behind to go make something of herself. I wonder if we’ll see them reconnect again in the present day.
I can’t help but shake the feeling that Rosa is Danielle’s mother. Otherwise, why would Danielle be such a main character all of a sudden?
Since the series hasn’t been pulling in good numbers, it is being banished to Hulu starting Tuesday, March 1. However, I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. While it might lose some of the audience it invested during its short-lived time on ABC, Hulu might give the series some much-needed new eyeballs. We’ve seen other ABC shows go on to streaming platforms and become huge hits, so this could be a move that’s beneficial to everyone.
What did you think of the episode? Will you continue watching the series on Hulu?
Promised Land Review – El Regalo (The Gift) (1×04)
Trust is the basis of every relationship.
When you no longer have it, it’s hard — sometimes impossible — to get it back.
Lettie learned that the hard way on Promised Land Season 1 Episode 4. After Joe found out that Father Ramos was actually his brother Billie, he completely shut down when it came to Lettie.
She begged him to open up about his feelings, but sometimes, it’s almost better when things are left unsaid.
Because once Joe pulled off the bandaid, he revealed a deeply betrayed man who was hurt by the only woman he’s ever put first in his life.
As he told Lettie, from the moment they set foot in the U.S., he has put his trust in her, and she turned around and lied to him about Billy’s return.
Lettie doesn’t strike me as a vindictive person, so it’s safe to say she had her reasons, but it hurts to watch this relationship implode while seeing just how far they’ve come.
We still don’t know exactly where the rift between Joe and Billie started, but my guess is that it has something to do with alcohol and the winery.
In flashbacks, they are still bonded brothers, though, it’s clear that changed as some point when the family dynamic became a little too complicated.
Their one common ground was also Lettie, even back then when everything was much harder but also much simpler.
A rescue mission to save Lettie’s sister, Rosa, puts them in a line of danger, and we see just how far these three characters have come to live this dreamy lifestyle.
As we piece together the puzzle, we also have no idea what happened to Rosa or if she’s still alive. As far as we know, they rescued her from the man keeping her hostage and brought her back to the winery.
But as we see the past pan out, there’s no mention of her in the present.
While Lettie may have been shocked by Joe’s reaction to her keeping Billie’s return a secret, this was all part of Margaret’s carefully crafted plan.
That woman is vicious.
She is re-inserting herself back into everyone’s lives with complete disregard for how it might affect them personally.
She weaseled her way into Carmen’s birthday, and her plan of bribing a church official to place Billie in Sonoma successfully drove a wedge between Joe and Lettie.
All of this is part of her grandiose plan to get her father’s company back from Joe.
It’s unclear what else she has up her sleeve, but it can’t be good for anyone.
Who knows how far Margaret is willing to go? And knowing that Billie’s weak spot is his alcoholism, I’d hate to see him get pulled back into toxic drama that leads him to drink.
Joe might think Billie is a monster, but it seems as though he really tried to make a better man out of himself. He’s put in the effort to change his ways, which can’t be said for Margaret.
Meanwhile, Veronica has Cruz, the vineyard worker she hit with her car, tailing her husband.
There was obviously cause for concern when Michael lied about going to San Francisco and ended up drinking at some mansion in LA all night, but I’m the kind of person that loves giving people the benefit of the doubt.
Until we hear from Michael, I’m not going to pass judgment.
And it likely won’t go over well with him if he finds out she essentially hired a private investigator.
I’m really enjoying the friendship that’s shaping up between Junior and Mateo. Mateo seems to think all of his siblings are out to get him, but they shouldn’t pay for the mistakes of his parents.
Though, I am a little weary of his girlfriend. She seems to have some kind of interest in reuniting Mateo with his family, plus, she’s really eager to be a part of everything.
Why do I have a bad feeling about her?
The first few episodes of Promised Land were wildly entertaining, and though there wasn’t anything overtly wrong with the episode, it also wasn’t as action-packed.
Everyone’s motivations are still hidden too far under the surface to get a read of what’s to come.
What did you think of the episode?
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