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High Seas (Alta Mar): For the Love of Mystery and Gorgeous Clothes

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Ivana Baquero and Jon Kortajarena in a scene from "High Seas" | Image credit: Netflix
Ivana Baquero and Jon Kortajarena in a scene from "High Seas" | Image credit: Netflix

Think Death on the Nile with Murder on the Orient Express thrown in. I’m more than halfway through Season 2 of High Seas (Alta Mar) and I look forward to Seasons 3 and 4 for the same reasons I read Agatha Christie novels and watched their film adaptations. Mystery and gorgeous clothes.

It was my daughter Alex (who adores 40s fashion) who suggested watching High Seas. I was initially skeptical. Although I adore almost all Spanish movies I have seen on Netflix (and I haven’t had the time to write about a dozen), I am not exactly a fan of Spanish TV series. Season 1 of Elite was okay but Season 2 was way over the top and I dropped it. I tried Velvet but it was too slow. The only one I really liked (binge-watched all three seasons) was Money Heist.

But Season 1 of High Seas consists of only eight episodes, so, why not? We checked out the first episode back in May when the series first aired on Netflix, one of the two lead actresses looked vaguely familiar and a quick search on Google revealed that she was Ofelia in Pan’s Labyrinth. Ivana Baquero — a mighty good child actress and if her performance in Guillermo del Torro’s masterpiece were a guage, the now grown-up actress would probably regale us with a great performance in High Seas.

So, we watched Season 1. Binge-watched would be the more accurate term. Not because we were awed by any award-worthy plot or performance but more as a guilty pleasure. High Seas is far from cerebral. But it is something to pass the time enjoyably while indulging in a visual feast. Fun.

High Seas is a fashionable whodunit

Yep, pretty much like Agatha Christie’s novels. Someone dies and everyone’s a suspect because each character has agenda and secrets to hide. Well, except for the “investigator” which, in the case of High Seas, is Eva Villanueva (Ivana Baquero).

Alejandra Onieva as Carolina Villanueva and Ivana Baquero as Eva Villanueva in a scene from “High Seas” | Image credit: Netflix
Alejandra Onieva as Carolina Villanueva and Ivana Baquero as Eva Villanueva in a scene from “High Seas” | Image credit: Netflix

Two heiresses, Eva and her sister Carolina (Alejandra Onieva), set sail from Spain to Brazil and pick up a stowaway in the process. The sisters have just lost their father and decided to sell the business their father shared with their Uncle Pedro. Eva is a published writer who has written nothing in months. Carolina is set to marry Fernando, one of the owners of the ship.

What can you expect heieresses to wear aboard a luxury liner? Think lavish costumes post-Downtown Abbey era. Dinner scenes and formal wear are especially lavish. Floor-length downs in rich fabrics, opera gloves, lovely coiffure and drop-dead jewelry. Ballrooms, staterooms and dinner tables set with opulent crystal glasses.

But don’t look past the clothes and the interior design

As eye-popping as the clothes and art-deco interiors of the ship may be, the outdoor scenes are not as good. You see FAKE splashed across many scenes. You can’t stand on the deck of a moving ship without the wind (no matter how light) ruffling through your hair and clothes. Of course, the series was filmed mostly on set but, you know, a little more attention to realism and lighting for those deck scenes would have made a huge difference.

And then, there’s the matter of the plot and sub-plots with too many holes. Toward the end of Season 1, it is finally revealed that the Villanueva sisters’ father was not dead after all and, more importantly, that he was not the good guy everyone thought he was.

A Scene from "High Seas (Alta Mar) | Image credit: Netflix
A Scene from “High Seas (Alta Mar) | Image credit: Netflix

So, it was Carolina’s wedding day but, instead of marching down the aisle dreamily and romantically as most brides do, she burst into the hall half-carrying and half-dragging a suitcase.

A Scene from "High Seas (Alta Mar) | Image credit: Netflix
A Scene from “High Seas (Alta Mar) | Image credit: Netflix

Carolina came from her stateroom (the previous scene says so), brought the suitcase to the reception hall that had been transformed into a wedding venue then walked from one end of the room to the other where she opened the suitcase.

A Scene from "High Seas (Alta Mar) | Image credit: Netflix
A Scene from “High Seas (Alta Mar) | Image credit: Netflix

Gold bars. A suitcase full of gold bars. One gold bar weight 12.4 kilograms. We see five on top, there are at least two layers and that’s just about a quarter of the suitcase. But let’s give it a conservative estimate. Say, there were 25 gold bars in the suitcase. That’s a whopping 310 kilograms that a bride in a wedding gown and high heels carried. Really?

But, you know, in the spirit of fun (and, really, we couldn’t get enough of the costumes), we got through the scene, went on to see the actual wedding and reached the end of Season 1 which, as it turned out, was a prelude to Season 2. And that final scene which was clearly going to introduce a new plot was enough for us to wait excitedly for Season 2 which aired six months later.

Season 2 initially threatened to turn High Seas into a horror story

A new plot, new characters and another dead body.

Alejandra Onieva as Carolina Villanueva and Clausia Traisac as Casandra in “High Seas” Season 2 | Image credit: Netflix
Alejandra Onieva as Carolina Villanueva and Clausia Traisac as Casandra in “High Seas” Season 2 | Image credit: Netflix

Enter Casandra, one of five castaways rescued by the ship. She knows little things about everyone which she explains as intuition. A few episodes into Season 2 and we got ghost sitings, an Ouija board session and Alex insisted on setting the audio to English so she wouldn’t have to see the scary scenes when reading the subtitles.

We watched three episodes in one sitting. My theory was that the ghost was a camera projection and Alex said I was being too Nancy Drew-ish. She had a more Detective Conan approach. Three more episodes the following night proved we were both wrong. Suffice to say, without giving away the plot, that there was no ghost but there was another dead body.

What could be in store for Seasons 3 and 4 of High Seas?

We’re two episodes away from finishing Season 2. According to the ship captain in Episode 6, the ship will reach Rio de Janeiro “the day after tomorrow.”

Alex says that, per IMDB, Seasons 3 and 4 are set for release on 2020 and 2021.