After having been forced into the jailbreak at the end of the previous series, Macarena Ferreiro (Maggie Civantos) finds herself on the run alongside the dangerous Zulema (Najwa Nimri) and the gypsy Saray (Alba Flores), eventually having to return to Cruz Del Sur prison. Macarena, her family and Zulema soon find themselves targeted by The Syrian (Hakim Noury), who wants revenge/justice for the killing of Hanbal/The Egyptian, and later on, the seemingly random kidnapping of a young girl soon changes the lives of many inside the prison as Macarena and Zulema start making their own plans to break free.

As it was with the first series, the characters in the series are wonderful; each one of them has a distinct personality and they’re all so colourful, exciting and three-dimensional.

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Zulema and Maca

Maggie Civantos returns as Macarena “Maca” Ferreiro and this series allows her to develop her character even further. Previously, she had started to make the “sheep to wolf” transition, going from being a naive doe-eyed blonde to becoming something more dangerous and confident and in this series, she changes even more, truly embracing her dark side, not taking any prisoners and being far more proactive by challenging her oppressors and making plans to escape and to protect her family. Unlike Piper Chapman in Orange is the New Black, who talked a big game but was actually in over her head, Maca genuinely becomes more dangerous, commanding and unstable and once again, Maggie Civantos plays her brilliantly, making the role her own and expressing so much emotion with her eyes alone.

The returning supporting characters are also great and there are plenty of moments where they provide moments of levity, lightening the mood with an affable camaraderie, in particular the central grouping of “ally” inmates Sole, Tere, Antonia and Curly/La Rizos. Also Saray, who was something of an antagonist in series one, is given an interesting storyline relating to her forced marriage and certain episodes take some time to develop her relationship with Curly (Berta Vázquez) and the resulting love triangle between Saray, Curly and Maca. Although she takes certain moments to be nasty to Maca, she becomes much more of a sympathetic figure, eventually an ally, and we get to see so much more of her genuine love and devotion to Curly, as opposed to Maca who is only really with her for selfish reasons.

Maca’s family also return as they are pulled even deeper into the danger that Maca has inadvertently unleashed upon them, even her previously unaware mother, Encarna. Her father and brother truly “break bad” in series two as they go over to the dark side as well, doing whatever it takes to protect Maca and the scenes in which they tackle the outside danger head-on is often incredible and exhilarating.

Since it’s a new series, some new characters are brought in and they all fit in really well, letting us get to know what they’re all about whilst at the same time, not losing focus on the returning characters. There’s Cristina (Olivia Declán), a new inmate who quickly gets the nickname “Bambi” due to her whole “deer in the headlights” look, who finds herself at the mercy of the tough, unforgiving inmates, most prominently the sadistic Anabel who goes on to use and abuse her. She develops well throughout the series, slowly gaining a sense of confidence as she finds a friend in Maca and the revelation of what crime she committed is jarring and shocking. Plus, there’s undercover cop Helena (Verónika Moral) who, while technically not in it that often, is a fascinating presence, tough and confident, and she shares some intriguing scenes with prison guard Fabio, with whom she had a previous fling with. And finally, Karim/The Syrian essentially takes over the main antagonist/outside threat role for the first half of the series and he is indeed a worthy foe, a force to be reckoned with. So it was The Egyptian in series one and now it’s The Syrian in series two. And in the final episode, “The Colombian” is even mentioned . . !

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And on that note, as it was with the first series, the villainous characters are outstanding, one of my favourite aspects of the series. The cruel and sadistic Anabel (lnma Cuevas) returns and has a bigger part to play in this series, operating a highly profitable drug/pimping business within the prison and eventually going to war with Macarena, culminating in an amazingly tense High Noon/The Warriors standoff. It’s great to see her become much more of a central antagonist, her plotline is always tense and exciting and her final act in the finale is totally unexpected and truly shocking. Resident queen bee Zulema Zahir also returns (well, you really can’t have a series without her!) and, though it sometimes seems as though she’s in danger of being relegated to the sidelines, she eventually dominates proceedings as she puts another grand scheme into action, always ten steps ahead of everyone else and not afraid to take huge risks. Zulema is undoubtedly a fascinating, fully fleshed out personality as she is capable of being ruthless but there is also great depth to her as she sometimes gets emotional, uncertain and clearly needs other people’s help. So even though she’s technically an antagonist, she’s very likeable, three-dimensional and her final scenes allow her to ride off into the sunset in a blaze of glory, in a final “interview segment” that’s full of heart, drama and humour. Najwa Nimri is just perfect in the role.

And of course, the deliciously evil, slimy, reptilian Dr. Sandoval (Ramiro Blas) returns more depraved than ever. Here, he gets to unleash more twisted, nasty schemes, most prominently one that he unleashes upon unsuspecting prison governor Miranda (Cristina Plazas), in scenes that had we welling up so much due to the overwhelming amount of evilness and sexual tension involved. Sandoval is a character that will coax a wide, wicked smile out of a certain kind of viewer (i.e. me) and in his final moments when he laughs hysterically at the completion of his sinister plan, I was unashamedly laughing along with him, thinking “He’s so evil and I LOVE IT!”

But as a side note, it’s worth mentioning that the antagonists are admirably deep and complex; at certain points it actually appears as though they aren’t actually that bad and there is even a chance to feel some sympathy for them. Locked Up definitely needs to be praised for its characterization and writing.

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Curly, Zulema, Maca and Saray

Series two is exactly what you’d want from a successive TV series – it brings back a lot of what we saw before plus some brand new features and a more expansive, darker storyline, very often succeeding in thrilling and shocking with its uncompromising, bold scenes of drama. We also get to see many more areas of the prison such as a brand new boxing ring and the prison cafeteria. At nineteen episodes, three more than the first, there are inevitably certain stretches where not too much happens but it is never boring and the storyline flows well.

The finale is a perfect way to end as it is an incredibly thrilling, shocking hour or so that delivers completely unexpected moments which often had me gasping, shouting certain things at the screen and covering my mouth in shock and awe. Additionally, there’s plenty of heartfelt moments which manage to coax genuine sympathy and there’s also a lot of comedy. It seems as though this is the last ever series and, while some plot threads are left partially unresolved, there is definitely plenty of closure and many characters go out in a blaze of glory.

And one final note: those black jumpsuits that appear in certain episodes (the escapees are made to wear them as a reminder to the other prisoners that they’re responsible for the heightened security measures) are supercool and badass. It’s just a shame that they eventually have to go back to yellow . . .

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Bigger, bolder and darker than its predecessor, Locked Up continues to be an incredibly worthy drama series, full of danger, shocks, excitement, humour and a wonderful assortment of colourful, three-dimensional characters.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

See Also: Final Thoughts: “Locked Up” Series One

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