During a significantly unusual heavy rainfall in Spain’s Tabernas Dessert, a mummified hand is revealed. The disturbed sands and soil shows a hand seeming giving someone the bird. In many ways, something British and American viewers can instantly relate to, showing the finger is possibly the best way for the Álex Pina created Anglo-Spanish series White Lines to open.
The Tabernas Desert, found in Almería province, is a prominent television and film location where were spaghetti westerns and HBO’s Game of Thrones were filmed in the mid-1960s and the 2010s, respectively. This tit-bit of entertainment trivia was momentarily referenced in the White Lines season premiere.
The mummified corpse is soon identified as Axel Walker. Some 20-years earlier, Axel relocated from Manchester to Balearics. Axel, accompanied by a group of friends when he made the move, was a young DJ with great promise for the future. It was his desire to make his mark on the Ibiza nightclub scene. The late 1990s was a significantly different nightclubbing scene than what we see today. Anyone familiar with Manchester nightclubs will know what the vibe was live back then. Spain’s nightclubs, as the Mancunians quickly discovered, was a completely different kettle of fish.
The present-day mystery for Zoe Walker to solve revolves around who killed her brother and why. The series, with tantalising flashbacks to when Axel was still alive, makes viewers question everything. There is seemingly nothing about White Lines that is black and white. There is a lot of grey areas which Zoe must wade though to uncover the truth. That’s the only reason, in the closing seconds of the season premiere, Zoe opted to remain in Spain.
With such productions as Los Serrano, The Boat, Bienvenidos al Lolita, The Pier, and Money Heist, Pina has proven his talent as a writer time and again. Noting how White Lines seems like a significantly larger creation for the writer, it looks like Pina was ready to take his work to an entirely new level and it worked. Within each scene, drawn from the writers words and the cast members ability to embody their characters, the dramatic intensity gradually increases.
Early on in the season, it is revealed Axel was romantically entangled with the daughter of Ibiza’s main crime family. Naturally, given what the series title references, crime is a huge part of the Pina written narrative. When we speak of White Lines, with how prominent cocaine is within the story, we’re not talking about the middle of the road.
Marcus, Axel’s former best mate, is involved in transporting and the distribution of illegal drugs. He uses a banana boat to ferry his product into the coastal town. Anna, Marcus’ ex-wife, is anything but a peach. Given her position, possibly best described as a madam, Anna is the one that ensures the series is seen to have an abundance of sex. This obviously goes nicely with her ex-husband’s illicit activities. Even though Anna instructs her new girls to not refer to their activities as “orgies,” it’s difficult not not using that word to describe what it is they do.
These gatherings Anna organises are particularly popular with a member of the Calafat family. Oriol, the family’s heir apparent, is a man that knows his own mind. He has a certain way of relaxing which suggests a complete disregard of established Spanish laws. When Oriol isn’t relaxing, he’s making significant headway with expanding the family business.
Elsewhere, as Oriol does his own thing, we find the Calafat patriarch wanting to know who killed Alex and buried him on the family’s land. One of the Calafat henchmen, Boxer, comes very close to drowning Marcus in his own swimming pool. Fortunately for Marcus, whilst it’s obvious Zoe had never a harboon, shoots Boxer through the leg. Boxer, being the professional person he is, doesn’t hold a grudge against Zoe because he understands that’s the price one pays for doing what he does.
Pina’s White Lines, a ten-episode thriller, was made available to Netflix subscribers Friday, 15 May 2020. The series stars Laura Haddock, Tom Rhys Harries, Marta Milans, Daniel Mays, Juan Diego Botto, Pedro Casablanc, Belén López, Nuno Lopes, Laurence Fox, Angela Griffin, Jade Alleyne, and Rafael Morais.
White Lines, inclusive of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, 1917, and Temple, is one of a few productions where Mays doesn’t play a copper. Even though Mays doesn’t always play the “old bill,” it seems these are the characters he is best known for portraying. There is something refreshing about May’s Marcus that makes this character standout from the actor’s previous work.
Angela Griffin and Laurence Fox are fabulous as Anna and David, respectively. Whilst Coronation Street fans will recall Griffin played Fiona Middleton in the popular British soap opera, there is no denying the actress has come along way with her acting career since her Corrie days. Even though Griffin briefly reprised her Corrie character for a few episodes in 2019, she didn’t hang around long.
The Yorkshire-born Fox, with a significant string of acting credits to his name, is best known for playing Detective Sergeant James Hathaway in the hugely popular television film series Lewis. His character, more than half way through the film series, saw a promotion to Detective Inspector. Lewis, as fans will know, is the sequel film series to Inspector Morse. When Lewis ended in 2015, something that didn’t pan out, there were hopes for a series revolving around Fox’s character. Despite not having a Hathaway focused series, there is of course the Morse prequel series Endeavour. It has filled in much of the backstory to Morse’s character.
Every actor eventually moves on. It’s part of the business. We see television series come and go. Because of how well these actors embodied their characters in previous productions, it’s difficult for certain fans to not continue seeing them in those roles.