Recap: ‘Land of Women’ Is Dull Through Episodes 1 & 2, But There’s Hope Yet

By Jonathon Wilson
Published: July 2, 2024 (Last updated: 2 weeks ago)
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Land of Women Premiere Recap (Episodes 1 & 2) - Worryingly Dull
Land of Women | Image via Apple TV+

WARNING: THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS MAJOR SPOILERS

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Summary

Land of Women is a disappointingly dull affair in its first two episodes, but there’s hope for the show yet now that the groundwork has been laid.

After hobbling through Episodes 1 and 2 of Land of Women, I have a concise summary: It’s pretty dull.

This shouldn’t be the case. It has a great cast, fronted by Eva Longoria, and a decent enough premise. It’s funny in spurts, mostly in that frantic, fish-out-of-water way, and it’s on Apple TV+, which doesn’t have a perfect hit rate but is at least developing a reputation for very high-quality television.

So, what’s the problem?

Laying the Groundwork

It’s not fair, I suppose, to judge a show too harshly after just two episodes, since “Chapter 1” and “Chapter 2” of Land of Women – see, even the episode titles are uninteresting – spend a lot of time outlining the story’s stakes and getting the characters in place.

That place is Spain, by the way, and those story particulars are as follows. Longoria plays Gala, a woman living in New York City and on the cusp of starting her own wine business with investment help from her wealthy husband, Fred. But, as it turns out, Fred’s wealth was borrowed from some rather unsavory types who want it back, and since he can’t cough up the dough, he advises Gala, along with their trans daughter Kate and Gala’s dementia-suffering mother Julia, to flee the country.

This happens so quickly it’s a bit difficult to keep track of. I don’t mean difficult to follow, obviously – it’s simple enough in that regard. But three generations of a family upping and leaving their homes at a moment’s notice raises a lot of questions. Was Gala and Fred’s marriage on the rocks? Has he been prone to this kind of dishonesty and shortsighted decision-making before? Would he be the type to just want to get his family out of the way? Would his family be happy to have an excuse to leave him behind?

Some of these questions are passingly answered in the first couple of episodes, but most aren’t, so the key dramatic question – the why of what’s happening – struggles to cohere.

Fish Out of Water

Almost all of the comedy in the first two episodes of Land of Women comes from Gala being broke and not understanding how things work in rural La Muga, her mother’s Spanish hometown. Since she has always longed to return there, this is the destination that Gala chooses for the women to escape to, but manages to make herself an enemy of the place pretty much immediately by crashing a rented banger into a tractor full of grapes.

Julia’s dementia and snippets of her past are mined for laughs, too, like a sudden dip in a lake and a cop who arrests them being an ex-lover of hers. She has been estranged from her sister for 40 years, so Gala didn’t know that the house they planned on staying in has long since been sold to Amat, who just so happens to be the driver of the tractor they crashed into. Amat gives the women a ride to town and Gala is rude to him.

So, contrivance is a bit of an issue here as well.

Dishonesty Makes For A Dramatic Throughline

This show is a dramedy, so there has to be some actual drama. With Fred on the other side of the world, there’s no physical threat, so we’re relying on interpersonal conflict to keep things interesting. So, everyone lies.

Gala, for instance, is lying to Julia and Kate about why they left New York, and a big part of the premiere is Kate gradually realizing that something is amiss. But we also see where she gets it from, since Julia has been lying to Gala her entire life.

The circumstances of Julia’s departure from La Muga have been exaggerated in some cases and omitted in others. Her apparently dead father is still alive. Julia was ostracized for falling pregnant but was already disliked for being promiscuous. She promised her sister, Mariona, that she would remain in contact but never did.

These things all coalesce better in Episode 2. Kate, having realized that she is being lied to, runs away to flee back to the U.S., helped along the way by her girlfriend, Maggie. Now, as it turns out, Maggie’s father is Fred’s creditor, but Kate doesn’t know this. There’s also a developing love triangle for Kate in the form of a mechanic’s daughter in La Muga, which is worth keeping an eye on.

Land of Women Premiere Recap (Episodes 1 & 2) - Worryingly Dull

Land of Women | Image via Apple TV+

Honesty Wins the Day

By the end of Land of Women Episode 2, Gala has finally been honest with everyone, which puts the show in a position to properly settle in and, hopefully, open up.

Kate doesn’t leave in the end – Gala’s honesty convinces her to stay, and her plight compels Amat to offer her Julia’s old room in the house. There does seem to be a tentative business arrangement developing here, though it wouldn’t be outlandish to suggest that a romantic connection may soon follow it. Fred who?

Oh, and Maggie seems complicit in trying to lure Kate back to the U.S. on behalf of her father, which stands to reason since Gala never trusted her anyway and a mother’s intuition is (almost) always right. But it’s going to put Maggie through the emotional wringer at some point soon.

Read More: Land of Women Episode 3 Explained

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