TV REVIEW: Flawed But Memorable, “La Luna Sangre” Premiere is Unmistakably Direk Cathy’s Episode

La Luna Sangre” largely takes place after the events in 2011’s ‘Imortal’, on the heels of a resolved supernatural war between the vampire and werewolf races. It can be recalled that the said war came to its tragic end in the wake of a selfless sacrifice both committed by Lia (Angel Locsin) and Mateo (John Lloyd Cruz), who both gave up their powers to bring their child, Malia, back to life.

In the series, Kathryn Bernardo plays the teenage Malia, who is called to duty as the new “chosen one” by ‘La Liga Unida’, a secret group of united vampires, werewolves, and mortals, who adhere to the examples set by Mateo and Lia. In the pilot episode, it was revealed that the two have chosen to build their family in the countryside, away from the realms of their supernatural races.

Now confident they will be soon forever free from their former identities by fully losing what’s left of their powers to the supermoon, Mateo and Lia try to create a normal family surrounded by generous and kind neighbors who see their arrival to the neighborhood, as a blessing from the heavens.

But the calm could only be present inside the storm, and it was Baristo (Joross Gamboa), Mateo and Lia’s friend and ally in La Liga Unida, who gives the hint that the tail could be near and fast-approaching. The news is disguised as an invitation to get the two back to the fold, and embrace their former lives.

But Lia and Mateo already made peace with their past; Baristo could only try his best. In truth, the union has been leaning towards a chaotic phase: rebel vampires–ones who opted to abandon the pact–have been carrying out small but terrifying attacks, and the number of incidences is alarming ‘Luna’, the government’s agency that maintains close cooperation with La Liga Unida.

If you’ve been closely following Direk Cathy Garcia-Molina’s projects, it wouldn’t be difficult to figure out that this episode is hers. Unlike the dark and suspenseful pilot episode of “Imortal,” which was helmed by Chito Roño, Direk Cathy’s is much lighter and is missing the ominous, foreboding tone of the previous installment’s premiere.

Daniel Padilla’s character is introduced as a young child named Tristan, whose emotional scenes with Romnick Sarmienta and Gelli de Belen’s characters, will surely melt your hearts.

Richard Gutierrez’s introduction as Sandrino, is rather short, but memorable, appearing shirtless in the last few seconds of the episode. It is easy to believe that these proceedings will inevitably fall to the notorious teleserye clichés, but “La Luna Sangre’s” pilot could never be less of a seminal episode as it serves as a crucial portion of an eventual epic saga that will spread across the lives of Malia, Tristan, and Sandrino, and everyone else that they will stumble upon.

Narrative-wise, “La Luna Sangre’s” pilot episode lacks solid development to engage viewers, dialogues are too bland and character development are seemingly lazily written, failing to provide their actors enough room to work them out.

Nevertheless, it sounds unforgivable to dismiss the few beautiful portions that eventually make us love this largely flawed but still memorable pilot episode: the young Tristan, who shares the most heartbreaking scene in the episode, is charming and touching at the same time, Richard Gutierrez, with his just few second-long half-naked appearance, makes every girls and gays’ heart beat fast, and Mateo and Leo, whose onscreen chemistry still prevails amidst their deficiently-written characters, are just lovely being together.

The vivid and bright colors suggest that the series’ light mood will persist alongside an inevitable darker atmosphere, but it’s highly likely that the show will eventually track a rom-com trajectory, as Direk Cathy, herself, revealed that she will be tackling the continuation of the moonstone saga (Lobo, Imortal, La Luna Sangre), differently.

It is also surprising that the series is using a revival song as its official soundtrack, unlike the first two installments which both used original songs. KZ Tandingan immortalizes Joey Albert’s ‘Ikaw Lang Ang Mamahalin’ in a haunting and heartfelt rendition, which only proves that the narrative will most possibly delve on the forbidden romance between Malia, a vampire/werewolf hybrid, and Tristan, a vampire-hunter.

In the second episode teaser, it is suggested that Sandrino will begin to hunt for Malia, who is prophesied to kill him, and a new threat to leadership for La Liga Unida is carefully being plotted, while vampires, werewolves, and mortals await for the biggest blood moon to emerge, and determine whether Mateo and Lia will come back again to their vampiric and lycan forms.

We’ll be keeping our eyes peeled for these developments. (JE)

Rating: 3/5

5 – Terrific
4 – Very Good
3 – Good
2 – Tolerable
1 – Terrible

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ABS-CBN2184 Angel Locsin314 Cathy Garcia-Molina39 John Lloyd Cruz172 Joross Gamboa12 La Luna Sangre64 La Luna Sangre TV Review3 Richard Gutierrez144 TV Reviews57

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