Brazil: Apocalypse Now for “Vidas Opostas”


Your infotainment is loading … WARNING: Torture scene, while not over-the-top graphic, is not for the squeamish …

I have not had a chance to watch the grand finale of Rede Record’s social-realist soap opera, Vidas Opostas (“opposite lives,” or “lives opposed”), but excerpts are available on YouTube that I will try to subtitle.

The soap’s screenwriter, a playwright formerly of the Globo network, promised an apocalyptic finale in the Torto shantytown in which, in some cases, the wicked would prosper while the virtuous would be rewarded with an undeserved doom.

Because that’s the way life is.

He was teasing us, mostly. The obvious villains are dispatched with the kind of poetic justice you would expect, mostly, but some of the loving couples wind up paired in surprising ways.

It all began, you will recall, with the arrival of the evil Fausto the militiaman showing up to promise shantytown residents he would kick out the drug traffic. And if we do not want the militia? they ask.

We are armed to the freaking teeth and totally vicious, replies Fausto. What do you think? Are you really going to make me say it?

Fausto later goes into business with Inhame the drug dealer. Fausto is one of the villains who gets his in the end, along with the memorably sociopathic delegado Nogueira, policeman, militiaman, mafioso, and parapolitical blackmailer, whose death scene has to be one of the more histrionic moments in the history of soap operas anywhere in the world. Ever.

Previous notes:

The synopsis of the final episode is worth noting down pra inglês ver.

A delegada Maria do Carmo investiga se Joana está mesmo aprisionada por Jacson no Torto, e se Miguel Campobelo subiu o morro para tentar resgatá-la. Marcelo, Silvio e Roberto confirmam as informações. Começa um tiroteio no morro e Roberto suspeita que o Torto esteja sendo invadido. Pé de Pato e Canudo estão à frente da invasão e avançam na subida do morro. Mofado ordena para que seus comparsas atirem nos inimigos e não os deixem subir o morro. Caranguejo e Zaqueu também sobem a trilha em direção ao Torto. Torres avisa Jacson que “os alemão” estão subindo o morro. Jacson dá os comandos para que seus soldados impeçam a invasão do morro.

Policewoman Maria do Carmo is investigating whether Joana is really being held prisoner by drug-dealer Jacson in the Torto shantytown, and whether Miguel really went up the hillside to try to rescue her. Silvio and Roberto confirm this information. A gun battle breaks out on the hillside and Roberto suspects Torto is being invaded. [Drug gangbangers] Duck-foot and Tube are leading the invasion and moving up the hillside. Crab and Zaqueu are also climbing the Torto hillside. Torres warns Jacson that “the krauts” (the military police) are coming up the hillside. Jacson orders his soldiers to prevent the invasion.

Na casa de Joana, Lucília pede que a família se proteja. Miguel chega à casa de Joana. Jacson conta para Joana que “os alemão” estão tentando invadir o morro e ela implora para que ele deixe-a ir para casa, mas ele volta a trancá-la no quarto. Boris pede que Miguel espere mais um pouco para resgatar Joana. Mofado liga para Jacson e pede reforço para conter a invasão. Torres e Caranguejo trocam tiros com seus homens. Maria do Carmo vê Boris e o reconhece como o italiano procurado pela polícia, mas Boris sugere que eles unam forças para destruir um inimigo em comum. Carmo orienta a comunidade reunida na escola a se juntar com a polícia e impedir a passagem dos bandidos no Torto. Por telefone, Maria do Carmo avisa a Leonardo que está no Torto com Silvio organizando uma batalha contra os traficantes e pede que ele entre em contato com as autoridades.

At Joana’s house, Lucilia asks the family to protect itself. Miguel arrives at Joana’s house. Jacson tells Joana that “the krauts” are trying to invade the shantytown and she begs him to let her go home, but he just locks her up again. Boris asks Miguels to wait just a little longer before trying to rescue Joana. Torres and Crab and their men trade gunfire. [Foxy policewoman] Maria do Carmo sees Boris and recognizes him as the Italian wanted by the police, but Boris suggests they join forces to destroy a common enemy. Carmo instructs the community gathered at the school to join forces with the police and prevent the bandits from coming through Torto. On the phone, Maria do Carmo tells Leonardo she is up on Torto with Silvio organizing a battle against the drug gang and asks him to contact the authorities.

Pé de Pato se dá conta de que está no meio de um fogo cruzado e Canudo avisa que é a milícia de Fausto que está atacando por trás. A comunidade liderada por Boris e Roberto fecha a viela levantando uma barricada. Boris instrui a comunidade a gritar bastante, sem usar de violência com paus ou pedras. Miguel decide ir com Sovaco salvar Joana. Eles chegam ao lugar onde funcionava a boca. Sovaco rende o soldado que estava de guarda e pede que ele avise a Jacson que o Sovaco quer falar com ele. Jacson sai da casa dos bandidos para encontrar Sovaco, deixando o terreno livre para Miguel entrar. Sovaco diz para Jacson soltar Joana e eles começam a trocar tiros. Miguel chega ao quarto onde Joana está presa e arromba a porta. Quando Miguel e Joana se preparam para fugir, Jacson chega.

Duckfoot sees he is caught in a crossfire and Tube warns him that Fausto’s militia is attacking from the rear. The community, led by Boris and Roberto, closes off the alleyway by erecting a barricade. Boris tells the community to yell loudly, without resorting to violence with clubs or stones. Miguel decides to go with Armpit to save Joana. They arrive at the place where the drugs are being sold. Armpit overpowers the soldier on guard and asks him to tell Jacson that Armpit wants to talk to him. Jacson leaves the house where the bandits are holed up to talk to Armpit, opening the way for Miguel to enter. Armpit tells Jacson to let Joana go and they start exchanging gunfire. Miguel finds the room where Joana is being held and breaks down the door. But as Miguel and Joana are preparing to flee, Jacson returns.

Cliffhanger music!

Cut to commercial!

Miguel pede que Jacson deixe ele levar Joana, deixando Jacson alucinado de ódio. Miguel apanha violentamente de Jacson. Joana implora para que Jacson deixe Miguel. Joana tenta fazer Jacson parar de bater em Miguel mas Jacson a empurra e ela bate a cabeça. Jacson espanca Miguel, que cai no chão sem seus óculos. Joana pede que Jacson poupe Miguel em nome do que ele sente por ela, mas Jacson mantém a arma apontada para Miguel. Maria do Carmo surge na porta da casa de Jacson, com a arma em punho. Jacson atira em Carmo, que revida e atira em Jacson, acertando-lhe um tiro no peito. Joana se arrasta até Jacson, que agoniza de dor. Jacson diz a Joana que atendeu o pedido dela e não matou o mauricinho, morrendo em seguida. Carmo atende o celular de Jacson e avisa a Torres que ele está morto. Torres ordena que eles recuem. Caranguejo comemora ao ver que o bando de Jacson está recuando.

Miguel asks Jacson to let him take Joana away, which leaves Jacson foaming in rage. Miguel is beaten violently by Jacson. Joana begs Jacson to leave Miguel alone and tries to prevent him from beating Miguel, but Jacson pushes her down and she strikes her head. Jacson is beating Miguel, who falls to the ground without his eyeglasses. Joana begs Jacson to spare Miguel in the name of what they once meant to one another, but Jacson points his weapon at Miguel. Maria do Carmo appears in the doorway with her pistol in her hand. Jacson fires at her, and she fires back, hitting Jacson in the chest.

There is this long moment when you do not know which of the two shots has hit its mark. Jacson stares at the [extremely attractive, and honest] policewoman. She stares at him. The moment is dragged out for maximum histrionic effect. Finally, Jacson collapses.

Joana drags herself over to Jacson, who is writhing in pain. Jacson tells Joana he granted her request and did not kill Little Maurice. Then he dies. Carmo answers his cell phone and tells Torres that Jacson is dead. Torres orders them to retreat. Crab celebrates when he sees Jacson’s gang is retreating.

Torres, Pernilongo e o resto do bando dão de cara com a barricada dos moradores, que não deixam os bandidos passarem. Os bandidos dão meia-volta, acuados. Mofado atira em Pé de Pato, que cai morto. Roberto avisa a comunidade que Jacson foi morto. Caranguejo mata Pernilongo e em seguida é surpreendido por Torres, que o metralha sem piedade. Mofado ordena que o bando suba o morro de volta. Fausto percebe que eles estão recuando e vai atrás deles com seus comparsas milicianos. Mofado e os outros ficam encurralados pela comunidade e pelo bando de Fausto. Recomeça o tiroteio.

Torres, Bugs Bunny, and the rest of the [rival drug] gang run up against the community’s barricade, which they cannot get past. They turn around, finding themselves trapped. “Moldy” shoots Duckfoot, who falls down dead. Roberto tells the community that Jacson is dead. Crab kills Bugs Bunny and is immediately surprised by Torres, who machine-guns him without mercy. Moldy orders the gang back up the hill. Fausto the Militiaman sees them retreating and goes after them with his fellow militiamen. Moldy and the others are trapped between the community and Fausto’s gang. The gun battle begins anew.

Mofado cai, ferido de morte, não sem antes atingir Seu Fausto, que também cai morto. Orozimbo é avisado que Fausto foi morto e ordena que o bando dos milicianos recue. Sílvio encontra Torres escondido. Alfredo avisa a Cilene que Erínia saiu armada. Erínia chega à casa de Nogueira e sugere que ele mate Miguel para que eles fiquem com a fortuna dele. Nogueira se nega e ela atira nele. Torres é preso e Daniela promete ir à cadeia visitá-lo. Carlinhos guia Boris e Sovaco por uma trilha no mato. Cilene chega à casa de Nogueira e vê que ele está morrendo. Erínia chama a mãe para ir para casa, mas Cilene avisa que já chamou a polícia.

Moldy falls, mortally wounded, but not before shooting Fausto, who also falls dead. Orozimbo is told that Fausto is dead and orders the militia to retreat. Sílvio finds Torres hiding. Alfred tells Cilene that Erínia went out, carrying a gun. Erínia arrives at the house of Nogueira [the corrupt cop who has been blackmailing her and her family and forcing her to sleep with him] and suggest that he kill Miguel so they can get their hands on his money.

Erínia wanted Miguel for herself, but the young man — who inherited a ton of money — is in love without our poor but noble Cinderella heroine, Joana. She is a conniving shrew who still lives with her parents and runs a boutique fashion house for the alta peruada.

She winds up in jail.

Because market research shoes that the Povão likes white-collar perp walks.

Nogueira refuses and she shoots him.

He then launches into an amazingly ham-fisted and windy set of death throes.

“So dark. So cold. Mama?” That sort of thing.
Torres is arrested and Daniela promises to visit him in jail. Carlinhos leads Boris and Armpit along a jungle trail. Cilene arrives at Nogueira’s house and sees that he is dying. Erínia calls her mother to come to the house, but Cilene tells her she has already called the cops.

Félix e Mario se dão conta de que Maria Lúcia está colocando o dossiê nas mãos do promotor, o que os incriminará. Maria Lúcia entrega o dossiê a Leonardo, contando que com isso se verá livre de ser punida. Lisinha e Margarida embarcam num transatlântico, onde Lisinha conhece um novo pretendente, o Sr. Efigênio Cavaquinha. Leonardo vai até o cais despedir-se da mãe com a doutora Irene. Lisinha e Margarida estranham a nova companhia de Leonardo, e ele revela que Carmo terminou tudo com ele para ficar com um colega da delegacia. Silvio e Maria do Carmo se beijam com paixão.

Felix and Mario learn that Maria Lúcia is giving the dossier to the prosecutor, which will incriminate them. Maria Lúcia gives Leonardo the dossier, saying that this will sae her from being punished. Lisinha and Margarida board a transatlantic cruise ship, where Lisinha meets a new suior, Mr. Cavaquinha. Leonardo goes down to the docks to say goodbye to his mother along with Dr. Irene. Lisinha nad Margarida are surprised to see his new companion, and he explains that Maria Carmo ended it between them in order to be with a police colleague of hers. Silvio and Mario do Carmo kiss one another passionately.

Whooooo!

Cilene vai visitar Erínia na carceragem. Neusa e Felipe vão para sua nova casa, deixando o apartamento de Carla e Patrícia. Patrícia revela a Neusa que terminou tudo com Alfredo, mas ainda pensa nele. Carla e Marcos se beijam. Isis vai ao encontro de Boris no aeroporto da fazenda. Carlinhos volta a jogar futebol, contando com a torcida de Mariana. Isis não tem coragem de partir junto com Boris, que entra no avião onde estão Vanda e Sovaco. Carmem e Roberto se beijam no ônibus dirigido por ele. Miguel e Joana escalam o paredão do pão de açúcar e prometem recomeçar a história de amor deles do mesmo ponto de partida e se beijam.

Cilene goes to see Erínia in jail. Neusa and Felipe leave Carla and Patrícia’s apartment to go live in their new house. Patricia confesses to Neusa that it is all over with Alfredo, but that she still thinks of him. Carla and Marcos kiss. Isis goes to meet Boris at the airstrip at the ranch. Carlinhos goes back to playing football, with Mariana as his biggest fan. Isis does not have the heart to leave with Boris, who gets into the plane with Vanda and Armpit. Carmen and Roberto kiss on the bus he is driving. Miguel and Joana climb the Sugarloaf Mountain together and promise to rekindle their love story where it all began. They kiss.

Miguel likes adventures sports and Joana the honest [and lovely, of course] afavelada gets a job as an adventure guide, there at the beginning.

Fade to bossa nova and black.

The overarching metaphor of “going up the hillside” has a nice symmetry to it.

In the urban geography of Rio, it means descending into poverty, because the poor communities are clustered on high ground, with the “asphalt” down below.

Lenine has a nice song about how, if the UFOs ever arrive, the first people they will meet will be afavelados, because they live closer to outer space.

But it also symbolizes upward mobility and striving, in the figure of the two lovebirds climbing the emblematic mountain together. Nice touch, that. A little corny, but not artless. Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground” might have made a nice theme song. Or Sly and the Family Stone’s “Higher.”

What happened to the crooked polticians, I wonder?

Such as Erínia’s stepfather and his boss?

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