Emilio (Diego Peretti) walks down a red carpet through an open door, at which two guards stand in full uniform.

Beautiful Contradictions

The corrupt, twisted, and bedeviled power-boasting bunch of the award-winning El Reino return for a thrilling final season.

12 April 20234 min read

With an icy-cold stare fueled by self-doubt, evangelical pastor-turned-president Emilio Vázquez Pena ponders how he can turn Argentina’s turmoil around. Then, his reassuring wife Elena tempers any uncertainty. “You’ll rid the world of the devil forever,” she insists, as her husband’s haunting glare transforms into a widening grin of enlightenment.

This pivotal moment takes place in El Reino’s latest season, which picks up a few years after the first one, as once-popular televangelists Emilio (Diego Peretti) and Elena (Mercedes Morán) begin to lead Argentina as the country’s most powerful political figures. He is president. She is his closest adviser who also oversees their church. But as the shifting political climate of their country is threatened by an uprising, poverty, and unprecedented violence on the heels of a holy war, Emilio, Elena, and their inner circle find themselves in a race to restore moral order and faith, and, ultimately, to save themselves. “I think the second season is far superior to the first season,” says Mercedes Morán, who portrays the scheming Elena. “The characters are putting out fires from the consequences of the first season. Everything is much more epic this time.”

Emilio (Diego Peretti) and Elena (Mercedes Morán) walk down some red stairs surrounded by earpiece-wearing guards in this ominous shot.

Emilio (Diego Peretti) and Elena (Mercedes Morán)

The high-stakes political and religious drama (known as The Kingdom to English-language audiences) was created by Marcelo Piñeyro and Claudia Piñeiro. Known for their appreciation of world affairs, the series creators devised the world of El Reino out of pure fiction. The series’ captivating storylines packed with action and a slew of taboo subjects turned heads, leading it to win big at the 2022 Platino Awards in Madrid. El Reino was awarded Best Ibero American Miniseries or Teleseries, Best Miniseries or Teleseries Creators, and Joaquín Furriel, who plays Rubén, the menacing campaign manager, took home a statuette for Best Supporting Actor. “The recognition and appeal of El Reino are due to audiences connecting to the story,” says Morán. “This season affirms the fiction, the language. It’s fantastical and magical with many protagonists [involved] in things that used to be politically incorrect.”

The second season of El Reino continues the story of pastor Emilio and his family, who prayed, worshiped, and built their faith-based business into an undeniably lucrative endeavor thanks to a cadre of devout followers. In Season 1, looking to expand his empire, Emilio campaigned to become vice president. When his presidential running mate was assassinated, Emilio persisted and eventually became the leader of Argentina. 

The new season of El Reino finds Emilio in the thick of his presidency, haunted by deep, dark secrets that reemerge from his past. From murder to pedophilia to homoeroticism, the patriarch known for his obsession with boys and power finds himself in a battle of good against his own evil. Returning to this season of El Reino, along with Peretti, Morán, and Furriel, are Chino Darín as lawyer-turned-professor Julio Clamens; Nancy Dupláa and Santiago Korovsky as former prosecutors; and Peter Lanzani as the pastor’s adopted son, Tadeo.

During a trip in his chauffeured limousine, Emilio compares the politics of the presidency to a chessboard, saying that in order to “stay alive, you need your pawns to protect you, surround you. They even have to be willing to die for their king.” Soon enough Emilio’s wishes are met with the help of a group of men from outside his official presidential team, and they make plans to strengthen the president’s status. 

Meanwhile, Tadeo rises as a beloved figure among the people of Argentina when a video of him denouncing corruption goes viral following the death of a youth. Portraying the well-meaning Tadeo allowed Lanzani to expand his character’s reach this season. “In the first season Tadeo seemed afraid, but he wasn’t scared,” says Lanzani, who credits his extensive talks with Piñeyro in finding his character’s core. “Tadeo didn’t want to advance, he was stuck, but the first season saw things being uncovered. In this season we flash forward — Tadeo is still the same person of faith, but not necessarily based in evangelical or Catholicism. He’s a kind person, a bit more visceral, without being disrespectful. The current season also takes him on a road he did not choose, it chose him.”

 At various junctures of the new season, many question their mission. At one point, as Elena sits inside her church, she wonders if a higher power approves of her actions. Not only does she get clarification, but it becomes evident what everyone’s fate will be as the final episode approaches.

 “Being part of El Reino woke up my imagination,” says Morán, who concedes she gets tremendous joy from playing such characters. “Because of Elena’s darkness and being someone in grand denial, she emerges brightly and it’s a beautiful contradiction to play as an actress.”