Is 'Heirs To The Land' Worth Inheriting As A Netflix Binge?

Heirs to the Land Los herederos de la tierra Hugo Llor Yon Gonzalez Netflix
Netflix / Atresmedia / Televisió de Catalunya

“Heirs to the Land” is finally here! Netflix is back with a heartrending Spanish epic that does its best to claim “Game of Thrones” level glory. Actor Yon González is the headliner for this sudsy action-adventure. There is just one huge catch. González does not appear until well into Episode 3.

Yes, you read that correctly. The “Gran Hotel” star not appearing until Episode 3 would not be as big of a deal if there were more episodes of “Heirs to the Land.” However, Season 1 of the apparent miniseries is comprised of only eight episodes. It is a tough break and a somewhat strange decision that leads the Netflix series to inherit some problems that a compelling story helps ward them off.

So, who does Yon González play? González eventually takes over the main role of Hugo, a young man (David Solans) when “Heirs to the Land” begins and whose life becomes rife with tremendous tragedy. Hugo’s initially poor decision-making and lack of logic make him a difficult character to empathize with during the first three episodes.

Like Uhtred of Bebbanburg, Hugo has some growing up to do, and “Heirs to the Land” does a wonderful job showing that evolution. The core of making this believable is that Hugo has a good heart yet lacks the concrete moral fibre to avoid selfish actions altogether. It is a compass that steers him in many surprising directions.

Tragedy is, unfortunately, a huge part of Hugo’s journey, and he does not acquire the political mindset of a Medici or the brutishness of the Cid to move forward. A sequel to “Cathedral by the Sea,” “Heirs to the Land,” seizes upon the brutal world that existed there. Humanity’s ability to trend towards horror is the throughline of both series and a warning of its ever-present pervasiveness.

The sorrow of Hugo and others’ traumatic ordeals is tough to take, and yet it is easy to continue binge-watching the Netflix costume drama. The familiar sights of Spain that “Game of Thrones” used to such epic effect are in full force in “Heirs to the Land.” The storyline is somehow reminiscent of “Alias Grace” in how it shines a light in rarely lit areas outside of a particularly moving episode of “Penny Dreadful.”

Hugo is not a warrior, a king, or an aspiring noble. He is an everyman, a distinct archetype largely ignored in the genre, and it is refreshing. The violence is the biggest downside to “Heirs to the Land.” Those who survived “Game of Thrones” and the highly disturbing violence of “Outlander” will probably be able to make it through watching. 

It is worth noting that this is a heavy viewing experience for those in need of a trigger warning. “Heirs to the Land” is a somber reminder of how bleak and debauched humanity can become. There are a few moments of levity to help lessen the load of the Netflix series’ dramatic mood. Once Yon González takes over the role of Hugo and begins doing his handy work, the drama’s momentum begins building. 

There are echoes of biblical figures and those in fiction. Hugo is heavily reminiscent of Jon Snow and, like him, does not make the best life choices. (Sorry, Jon! I still wish you were King.) The bright spot is that Yon González gets a chance to flex his dramatic muscle in a period piece that transports him way before the time of “Gran Hotel” or “Cable Girls.”

González gives another tour-de-force performance in a role that demands him to see Hugo through many years. Taking a character through an extensive length of time is a conceivably tricky challenge for actors. However, Yon González does it with seeming ease. He uses his eyes to tell of the weariness that plagues Hugo as he perpetually fights for his loved ones.

“Heirs to the Land” is a big story that calls for big emotion, and González’s nuanced touch provides the gray area it so needs. He is surrounded by a brilliant ensemble that helps bring additional color to this gray, overcast series. It is worth reiterating that this is a tough show to watch. Of course, like any good book (this one based on Ildefonso Falcones’) you have to find out what happens next. 

Will Hugo survive the trials and tribulations he faces? Where will a desire for revenge and justice take him and those around him? Can love win in the hateful world presented? “Heirs to the Land” inherits the right for viewers to find out and makes me curious to revisit “Cathedral of the Sea” past the first episode. All eight episodes of “Heirs to the Land” are now streaming on Netflix.