Final Thoughts: “Locked Up” (Series Four)

Taken back to Cruz del Norte following an unsuccessful escape attempt, Zulema Zahir (Najwa Nimri) once again strives to finally obtain her freedom but making this goal particularly difficult are the tough new security measures set up by sadistic former doctor, now prison governor, Sandoval (Ramiro Blas) as well as his bringing Zulema’s daughter into the prison, using her as leverage in order to force Zulema to reveal the location of fugitive former jailer Altagracia (Adriana Paz). Meanwhile, Sole (María Isabel Díaz Lago) is given a most horrible diagnosis which will require her “children” to somehow perform the ultimate act of mercy . . .

The final series of the (I’m assuming) popular Spanish series was made available to UK viewers through Walter Presents on All 4 during the closing months of last year, and I was of course particularly excited to dive into yet another series, the show (in particular, the first two series, which previously made it into my “Top TV of the Year” lists) having already impressed, excited and thrilled me greatly thanks to its brilliant storylines, genuinely gripping drama, and its cast of excellent characters who are given life by so many passionate performances.

But now the series concludes with its fourth season and I would be remiss if I didn’t post my final thoughts on it, having previously posted reviews for all the previous series. Reviews which have proven to be my most popular posts on this site by a country mile and ensuring that my “viewing figures” get better every year (which, I suppose, is the benefit of linking the posts to IMDB, where only a few other reviews can be found!)

So, looking at the fourth and final season, I would say that Locked Up has gone out on a high as the series yet again demonstrates good, solid drama as well as further developing the great characters that we’ve grown to love over the years but at the same time, it’s not quite as good as what’s come before and this particular series didn’t do enough to make it into my “Top TV of the Year” list at the end of 2020.

On the positive side, the show is surely a cut above many other drama series out there as the writing is consistently strong and there are never any ridiculous moments, plot holes, or anything that would make you want to give up on the show. This year, we see former chief jailer Altagracia return as a prisoner, only to quickly escape and to set up a plan with Zulema, leading to some particularly dark moments as they square off against the villainous Sandoval, and “mother of the prison family” Sole is diagnosed with a most horrible condition that leads her into asking the others to perform a certain act of mercy, these parts being particularly touching. The plotlines for the fourth series never bore and there’s almost always something interesting going on but at the same time, I would also say that the plot isn’t quite as exciting or as genuinely gripping as it has been in the past and it sometimes appears as though the show is starting to run out of ideas, so it was probably a wise idea to bring it all to an end, going out strongly before it became too stale and repetitive.

The characters are written very well and it is here where the series shines particularly brightly; we’ve already been on quite a journey with these characters – some of them lovable rogues, some conflicted and complex, some of them straight up nasty – and the series successfully “closes their arcs” in a perfectly satisfying manner and ensures that we support the central “family” from beginning to end. Curly, Saray, Tere, Sole, relative newcomers Luna and Goya (the latter often appearing as a nasty piece of work but who often shows that she belongs with the rest of the family), and even Queen Bee Zulema – these are especially brilliant characters and I’m glad that I got a chance to go on this odyssey with them all.

And helping to bring the aforementioned characters to life is a cast of powerful and passionate performers and, as before, there are no bad performances to be found; Najwa Nimri continues to wholly own her role of the formidable Zulema, almost always appearing commanding and tough but also facing several dilemmas as her own daughter is put at risk, Ramiro Blas is again believably cruel and slimy as doctor-turned-governor Sandoval, Adriana Paz continues to be an intriguing presence as the now fugitive Altagracia, and the performers who make up the central “family” – Alba Flores, Berta Vázquez, Marta Aledo, María Isabel Díaz Lago and Laura Baena – all continue to be most welcome presences as they all play their roles superbly and all come together to give their characters a proper send-off.

And that’s really all I have to say about the final series of Locked Up, a series that I am glad to have stuck with for all of this time as it is a stellar drama series with so many exciting developments and truly wonderful characters. The fourth series, as I say, didn’t quite measure up to what came before but still, it remains an impressive series that delivered on the drama and gave the characters a worthy send-off.

Technically the weakest series so far, as the story isn’t quite as thrilling as what’s come before but still, the drama manages to excite and entertain, and the brilliantly written and performed characters are given a strong send-off.

★ ★ ★ ★

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