I am a Political Science graduate, major in International Relations and Foreign Service, with an interest in anime, religion and philosophy
The final three weeks of the show were anticipated to conclude the long-running family feud between the two Mondragon sides. The entire stretch of Book 3 has been about resolving the main plot threads dangling around. We witnessed the revelation of Robert's rape and the consequences of the truth, as well as Jessa's death and child.
While the performances of Dimples Romana (Daniela), Beauty Gonzales (Romina), Francine Diaz (Cassie), Andrea Brilliantes (Marga), Albert Martinez (Robert) and Luis Alandy (Carlos) are to be commended, their prowess is not the only component needed to run this epic of families.
Touted as "The Battle of the Dragons", the series finale is supposed to entice viewers to witness the most epic of clashes, even more so than all the catfights, slaps and melodrama we have already encountered. Yet the plot slowly falls apart when we look back at some of the key points of the story.
It goes without saying that fans waited a long time for Robert's crime to be revealed. Book 1 was spectacular for setting up this twist. Robert was the stern but kindhearted man who raised Cassie as his daughter and loved Romina when the world seemed to betray her. So we expected that the payoff would come in a spectacular.
And it did not disappoint.
In fact, the episode shows Romina's suffering, from the betrayal by her husband to the realization that she has been sleeping with the man who destroyed her entire life and sense of peace.After learning of that truth, she would never see Robert the same way again. Even after his death, Robert's legacy and presence would forever be stained by that terrible mistake.
Yet it took an entire season to wait for this reveal and, as we did, we saw Daniela and Hector's antics succeed and fail. Back and forth, we saw Romina fight against her enemies, sometimes winning and, to the chagrin of fans, mostly losing.
So why did it take so long?
I would guess that it was because of how hard it is to resolve such a plot point. In my experience, I have yet to see any teleserye handle that problem. Robert was a being that personified noblesse oblige, of the kindness of the upper class and, above all, fathered a girl born from that rape. At the same time, he knew of that truth and wanted to preserve the illusion of happiness for his daughter and wife. A good man with so many shades of black and grey. Robert was a complex character and his crime needed to come out into the light anytime soon. But not too soon. Because, as it appeared to the writers, the aftermath might be a difficult hurdle. If they mess up, this will be a bad precedent for shows to come and for the people to follow.
One can imagine two major outcomes. First, Robert pays for his crimes in jail and returns for some time to join his family, being forgiven because all of his good actions trump over the bad. Second, Robert stays in jail and is never forgiven. Somehow, both happen but in different times. Romina was clearly the one to suffer the most. She never fully forgave Robert but when he died, she acknowledges his place in her life as her savior and true love.
While the narrative resolution has been served, this was preceded by a number of delays. Often, this would be acceptable in a long-running show with a plan but the more Daniela and crew got ahead of Romina (who grew smart and ruthless), the less interesting the payoff will be once it does appear.
It is also not helped by Robert coming back to life. While the helicopter crash has been hinted to not be the end for the Mondragon patriarch, it could have also been a convenient way to send Albert Martinez off in the event he does not return. When he returned after being captured by pirates and kidnapped by the deranged Eva, However, he did not immediately reveal himself to his family due to the danger Hector posed
The return of Robert Mondragon was a problem for two reasons. First, a series of coincidences were what kept Robert from entering his home right away, mainly of hearing about Leon and his relationship or the danger he poses to Romina. Second, when he did return to the Mondragon household, he was reduced to a quiet but guilt-filled man who was only secondary to the conflicts between Romina and Daniela. In fact, it appeared that, although the biggest event to wait for is the reveal, ultimately the entire story seems to focus too much on the external conflicts between the Romina and Daniela camps.
The Villains Always Winning
Much of Kadenang Ginto's last two seasons was dominated by the Romina-Daniela feuds, with many of them resulting in Daniela outsmarting Romina. Fans have often complained through YouTube comments and on social media that the bad guys often win, leading to tedium and a cyclic repetitiveness to the story.
That is a valid complaint. Recycled story patterns are usually treated with disdain because they not only offer nothing new to the table but do not help in exploring the nuances in the characters and their relationships. Often, this becomes filler compared to the main storyline involving Robert's crime and the growing development in characters, such as Romina, Cassie and Marga. However, as we will see, it appears that the story of the Romina-Daniela feud takes precedence over the more interesting plots the series has started.
Book 3 has some of the worst character development for the main cast. As much as Romina has learned from her experiences, it appears that she constantly lets her rage and emotions cloud her judgment. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why she often loses to Daniela.
The character to suffer most from Book 3 is Marga. She had the best character development in Book 2, with her attempted suicide as the climax of her frustrations with her negligent parents. Mikoy, her love interest, also keeps her grounded and reminds her that wealth and fame are not everything. In fact, his place in the story furthers the theme of "Kadenang Ginto" (golden chains) that shackle true love and compassion for one another. However, as we saw throughout the finale, Marga's grief gives way to vulnerability that should have helped her realize or cement the realization that her mother has never truly valued her the way she wanted to be. Carlos' death could have motivated her to seek justice and help see how her mother has evaded justice time and again. Fortunately, she is salvaged within the final week but it felt too rushed or out of place.
Declining to Cliques?
So where did Book 3 ultimately go wrong? It simply returned to the old teleserye formula and relied on tried and tested cliques. This made the series less appetizing as it prolonged its stay. Furthermore, many scenes were filmed with odd cuts and missing scenes. For instance, Kulas was kidnapped by Hector's goons but was brought to the place where Romina looked for his missing son. In that moment, the truth reveals itself.
Clumsy scenes and barely any concrete focus on the characters are what gradually destroyed Kadenang Ginto's golden luster. The finale might serve as a lesson that sometimes, long-running shows might inevitably decline without a clear plan.