In one of cinema's most memorable moments, Michael Corleone delivered the infamous line: "Fredo, you’re my older brother, and I love you. But don’t ever take sides with anyone against the family again. Ever."
The shadow of Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather looms large over new Spanish family crime drama Gigantes. It doesn't deliberately reference the film in the same way that The Sopranos celebrated its myth with such reverence, but rather, in telling a story about a crime family, Gigantes simply finds itself swimming in similar waters.
But, if you think you know where this story is going because you've seen The Godfather, think again.
Gigantes has a wildly different approach to family loyalty. Where The Godfather told its characters to rally behind the family and that success was to be found by sticking together as one cohesive unit, there is a different dynamic at play with Gigantes. In this show, everyone is in it for themselves, with the characters best trusting pretty much anyone as long as they aren't a member of their family.
The troubled family
During the opening moments of Gigantes we watch a flashback of series patriarch Abraham Guerrero climbing out of a van, with his three young sons watching on, walking towards a man and beating him down brutally with a wooden stick.
"Stay in the van. I'll handle this," he tells the boys. It's the sort of relationship Guerrero believed he would maintain with his sons as they grew older, but as we see in the series, the strict hand of the father in his sons' lives does not keep everyone adhering to his wishes.
The series jumps forward 20 years to a point where Guerrero wields much greater power in Madrid, with his three grown sons each playing a role in the family business, to different degrees. The brutality exhibited by Guerrero beating the man with the stick has remained a constant in their lives, only now there is also a degree of psychological torment, with the patriarch playing power games to keep his sons in line.
These power games vary from simple exercises to remind the sons they are answerable to his's desires, to far more sinister displays of power such as requesting oldest son Daniel organise the murder of the wife of middle son Tomás.
Of the three sons, it is Tomás who presents the greatest threat to his father. With an interest in art and finance, Tomás sees a lucrative future that doesn't involve trafficking drugs along the Madrid Trail (using a furniture business as cover).
This is just the beginning...
Gigantes brings to the screen an incredibly bold and audacious storytelling effort.
The entire family dynamic established in the first episode is just the foundation for the rest of the series. The second episode completely subverts expectation with a time jump that pushes the show 10 years ahead, where all of the relationships have an additional decade's worth of animosity built into them. This is a crime family built entirely on deception, betrayal and murderous intent. And that is where the story really begins.
The premiere season (six episodes) of Gigantes is now streaming at SBS On Demand.