The Department of Time: Un virus de otro tiempo (A Virus from Another Time)   First Watch 
May 30, 2018 12:01 PM - Season 2, Episode 5 - Subscribe

During a mission in 1918 to attend the birth of Carmen Amaya, Irene falls ill with the Spanish flu. New undersecretary Susana orders (against regulations)) that Irene be retrieved and returned to the Ministry, risking widespread exposure to a highly contagious disease that once killed millions and for which there is no vaccine. Soon, more personnel begin to show flu symptoms and the Ministry is forced to close its doors to prevent the disease from being spread through time.

Notes (contain spoilers)

* This episode aired in 2016. This year, 2018, marks 100 years since the Spanish flu pandemic. 25 million people were killed in six months.
* Even though the episode doesn't reference the incident, Spaniards watching would have seen connections to former health minister Ana Mato and how she handled the 2014 ebola crisis. A nurse had become infected with Ebola and the regional Minister of Health had made a snarky remark about how the special protective suits weren't that hard to put on (in fact, there are some strict protocols for the process, which the personnel weren't properly taught). The resulting outcry was so huge (even worse, since he was a doctor himself and should have known better) that he resigned. An almost identical remark is said by Susana Torres in the episode. Both the doctor and Ernesto react to it.
* The previous episode was much more lighthearted. This one is deadly serious. More than one agent we are familiar with is at risk, including Alonso, Velázquez, Germán the clerk and several others.
* Those who are ill begin to reminisce about their past as fever begins to take them: Velázquez remembers about his youth as apprentice to Francisco Pacheco, Alonso about how his friend Blanca was forced to leave for the north of Spain and later returned to Seville (where they would later marry) and Germán about his father's last days and their shared love for football
* In a nice call-back moment, Amelia repeats Salvador's "We are Spaniards, no? Improvise!" from Episode 1.
* In the previous episode, Susana had criticized Salvador and arranged to have him fired for being sentimental and unprofessional with regard to Ministry personnel. Here, she risks a pandemic because Irene became infected with the Spanish flu.
* Susana Torres suggests using antibiotics on infected patients. Dr. Vargas has to explain to her that antibiotics do not work on viruses.
* Pacino kisses Amelia. She slaps him.

Dr. Vargas: "It's a very particular flu that must be treated from its first symptoms."
Amelia: "What's so particular about it?"
Dr. Vargas: "It's... Spanish Flu."
Alonso: "If it is Spanish, it cannot be that bad, right?"
posted by zarq (6 comments total)
It’s funny, I remember thinking an episode or two ago that, realistically, the Ministry agents would all be disease vectors of epidemic proportions. I don’t know if that means there was some foreshadowing that only registered subliminally, or if it was just a coincidence.
posted by oh yeah! at 12:27 PM on May 30, 2018 [2 favorites]

This one hurt to watch because of the overall terrible decision making.
posted by tofu_crouton at 4:14 PM on May 30, 2018 [1 favorite]

This one hurt to watch because of the overall terrible decision making.

Yes, I was surprised at how inept Torres was as the new boss, considering how well she maneuvered herself into power. I mean, I wouldn't have been surprised if there'd been a brand-new government-appointed boss taking over Salvador's job and making a complete mess of it, but I expected her to be more overtly "now I shall implement my master plan, mwah ha ha" than to be just "behold, I know nothing of Spanish history, and I'm a hypocrite!".
posted by oh yeah! at 6:02 PM on May 30, 2018 [2 favorites]

It doesn't even feel consistent within her given motivation. She doesn't want to "leave any agent behind," but that's exactly what she ends up doing.
posted by tofu_crouton at 4:20 AM on May 31, 2018 [1 favorite]

Looked up Carmen Amaya. Am wowed.

I don't have any difficulty believing a bureaucrat like Torres feels supremely confident taking over a department she knows nothing about and fucking everybody up completely, because I live in Brexitland.

Light and dark and dark and light. Loved the previous episode with Napoleon and appreciated the way the denouement wasn't over the top. Angustias muddled through, being herself and making mistakes and the thing that saved the day was that genuine human contact occurred. Cue revising the daring escape and putting everything back the way it was so Napoleon could step up and fulfill history!

It's the way the series values ordinariness and ordinary moments and sets them up as being as transformative as the big heroics that I find touching. Look how the focus in the flu episode is on character and loss, treated very quietly.

I think I'm going to slow down my watching now to match the posts so I've got the relevant episode ready in my mind when the posts go up. And maybe rewatch as well.
posted by glasseyes at 4:48 AM on June 1, 2018 [2 favorites]

Three days to contain the situation and thirty-eight (forty-one?) to reopen the doors.
Sighs in 2020
posted by polytope subirb enby-of-piano-dice at 3:35 AM on April 1, 2020 [1 favorite]

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