Alberto Rey

Updated Monday, February 26, 2024-01:51

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Things I have learned from watching

The Fifth Commandment

: that the order of the 10 Commandments is not the same in English and Spanish.

Things that I have confirmed by watching

The Fifth Commandment

: that the British are still the masters of short series.

You shall not kill

is the fifth commandment in Spanish.

In English,

You shall not murder

is the sixth.


The Fifth Commandment

was originally

The Sixth Commandment


Its title already makes it clear what it is about.

And its first episode sets the peculiar tone with which we will be told the story of the murders of

Peter Farquhar


Ann Moore-Martin

and the subsequent trial of

Ben Field

, a very difficult character to write from the purest fiction.

Sarah Phelps

did not have to do this, since both Field and the circumstances of his crimes are real.

The screenwriter of the fantastic version of

Great Expectations

that the BBC produced in 2011 begins each episode of

The Fifth Commandment

with a sign: this happened, but I have invented almost all the sequences in the series.

Because the series is neither a


nor a trial film, the two genres that the case cries out for.

The Fifth Commandment

is a portrait of loneliness and the spaces of danger that trust in strangers generates.

That was young

Ben Field


Peter Farquhar

, a lonely and lonely bachelor teacher, fell in love with him.

That's where the story begins.

The mechanisms of vulnerability are masterfully explored in the four episodes directed by

Saul Dibb


Screenwriter and director reconstruct the intimacy of two elderly people, skilled but manipulable, intelligent but invisible.

Dipp and Phelps also take the viewer into the deeply disturbed (and, precisely for that reason, very Cartesian) head of

Ben Field


Played by a prodigious

Éanna Harwicke

, Field is a villain worthy of



Harwicke easily takes on two titans like

Timothy Spall


Peter Farquhar

) and

Anne Reid


Ann Moore-Martin


The work of these two masters in

The Fifth Commandment

is neither Manichean nor condescending.

Spall and Reid make up two of the saddest characters on recent television.

Two older people who have assumed that the world no longer has anything exciting to offer them.

And then a psychopath offers it to him.

It might seem that this text eviscerates

The Fifth Commandment

to indecent extremes.

Yes and no.

Yes, because I have told a large part of its plot.

No, because that's not the most important thing.

This is a series about intimacy and its corruption, about faith and its simulation, about loneliness and its traps and, above all, about the mistake we make when we believe that the world ends at 70 years old.

Peter and Anne considered it that way and when a heartless man convinced them that, on the contrary, the world began at seventy, they lowered all their defenses.

And the monster attacked them.

The Fifth Commandment

, available in Spain on


, is a very sad series.

And marvelous.