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Series / Padre Coraje

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"They're going to stone us, so what?"

Padre Coraje (Father Courage) is a 2004 Argentine telenovela. It takes place in 1952, during the Peronist years of Argentina.

The provincial town of La Cruz is governed by Manuel Costa, a conservative mayor whose family held the post since the town was founded. Power hungry and utterly corrupt, Costa is more than just another dishonest politician: aside from running the town like a dictatorship, he leads a secret, murderous religious cult in La Cruz together with the town's other prestigious figures. The poor people are exploited by the aristocratic elites throughout the country and region, and locally their only hope is the folk hero Coraje (lit. "courage"), a handsome vigilante wearing a monk-like robe who steals from the rich and gives to the poor and is known for never killing his enemies. Living on the run, he and his band have become something of a legend among the rural population, but are, in fact, criminals, and are treated as such by the establishment.

When Coraje and his band come across a dying priest who has been waylaid on the road to La Cruz, they learn that an inhabitant of the town, Alejandro Guerrico - one of the few decent rich men, as the popular opinion goes - has been murdered, and that mayor Costa has blamed Coraje for the killing. Enraged by this slander and unable to save the dying priest, Coraje assumes his identity and takes over the La Cruz parish, in order to safely investigate the murder of Alejandro Guerrico. This already risky plan is complicated further when he meets Clara Guerrico and immediately falls in love with her. This, however, is only the start of his problems, as it soon becomes apparent that what led him to La Cruz was nothing less than destiny.

Padre Coraje contains examples of:

  • The Ace: Coraje can do anything and everything. He only admits he can't dance.
  • Anti-Hero: Coraje and his band are vigilantes and thieves, and while Coraje does not kill, the other two have less stringent moral codes. The band's methods are frequently illegal and/or very chaotic.
  • Anti-Villain: Amanda starts out hand in glove with the bad guys, but is morally the least repugnant among them. When she changes sides, she does not change her methods.
  • Arch-Enemy: Everything that goes wrong for the mayor is Coraje's fault, in the mayor's opinion.
  • Ax-Crazy: both Nora Ponce and Pedro Olmos-Rey eventually become homicidal maniacs.
  • Becoming the Mask: Coraje gets amnesia and tries to become an earnest, honest priest. It doesn't stick, but he gains a reputation for performing miracles.
  • Beleaguered Assistant: Marcia Krauss will do anything for Ana, no matter how badly Ana treats her.
  • Bound and Gagged: Numerous characters, but Clara most often.
  • Book Dumb: the orphanage didn't educate the kids much. When Coraje's band needs to write a letter, Santo is chosen to do it because he can write and spell passably.
  • Bury Your Gays: Played straight for poor Fernando Guzman, who dies shielding the man he loves with his body.
  • Cardboard Prison: The jail cell in La Cruz is this. Very much. Hardly anyone stays there longer than two days.
  • The Commissioner Gordon: Clara and Amanda play this role several times, contacting Coraje for help or supplying him with information.
  • Decapitation Presentation: Rodolfo's ultimate fate.
  • Driven to Suicide: Marcia, Ponce and Horacio all attempt suicide at some point. Neither of them is successful.
  • Doomed by Canon: Eva Perón, who died in 1952. This is actually somewhat plot-relevant, as she was a friend of Amanda Jauregui and her death reduces Amanda's political influence.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: When Clara realizes that the priest is Coraje.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Mayor Costa genuinely cares about his sons, although in his own, violent and rude way.
    • Subverted with Nora, who claims to want love from her family but keeps trying to murder them.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Perla, who abandoned Nora and has spent decades extorting her ex-husband, Ponce, appears deeply shocked by Nora's behaviour towards Nena.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: despite coming from completely opposite social backgrounds, Amanda and Messina form a strong alliance that turns into friendship after Messina helps Amanda in an hour of desperate need.
  • Gayngst: Dr. Ponce and, later, Nando.
  • Happily Married: Amanda and Ignacio seem to have been this, and Manuel claims so were he and his wife. May be actually true, from the few things his sons say. Elisa and Alejandro are presented as this, but it turns out untrue.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: several characters give their lives to save others, the most being made of the sacrifice of Ana Guerrico in the finale.
  • Historical Domain Character: Eva Perón, Juan Domingo Perón, and a young, pre-Cuba Che Guevara appeared as characters and always took the side of the good guys. Eva befriended Coraje when he showed her around the town, and personally endorsed Amanda's electoral bid, even giving Amanda the brooch from her own dress - of course, Eva's cancer is also foreshadowed. Che worked in the town hospital for his residency, where he got into trouble with the mayor for giving medicine to poor patients for free, then insulting the mayor to his face. Perón begged for Coraje's help to save Eva from cancer in two special episodes, and recited prayers for Eva together with him.
  • Historical Hero Upgrade: Juan Domingo Perón is always presented as a great hero and a noble soul, when in reality he was as authoritarian as Mayor Costa - ironically, Costa hates all Peronists and Peronism. However, Perón's jovial and friendly attitude to Coraje and his friends, who he trusts, is accurate to who he was.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Messina the brothel madam and pretty much all of her workers.
  • I Love You Because I Can't Control You: variant. Coraje is clearly attracted to the beautiful Clara from the start, but it's only when he learns how brave and resilient she is that he really falls in love with her. He wishes he could control her, though.
  • Incompatible Orientation: Dr. Ponce can't help himself - he loves Manuel Costa, even though Costa is disgusted by the very idea.
  • Ladykiller in Love: apparently Coraje has had many casual affairs and Clara is the first woman he really wants to commit to.
  • Love Dodecahedron: several, as befits the genre. From the top:
    • Clara and Coraje love each other. Horacio Costa loves Clara. Both Mercedes and Ana love Coraje. Both Santo and Pedro love Mercedes. Dario loves Ana. Messina loves Santo. Pipo loves Messina.
    • Manuel Costa loves Elisa Guerrico. Elisa loved her late husband and remains faithful to him, even when she finds out he had an affair with Manuel's late wife. Marcia also loved Alejandro and is still jealous of Elisa. Teresa loves Manuel Costa and so does dr Ponce, despite everything.
    • Lourdes and Lautaro love each other. Nora loves Lautaro, Rodolfo loves Nora.
  • Love Makes You Crazy: another staple of the genre. Basically everyone is prepared to kill for those they love, but Ana Guerrico is also willing to falsify religious miracles, dr Ponce is willing to fake his beloved's death, and Marcia - an interesting platonic example - cut her wrists when she thought Ana no longer needed her. Subverted with Nora, who claims to love Lautaro but is mostly motivated by a desire to hurt people.
  • Loves My Alter Ego: Coraje has fallen hard for Clara Guerrico, but can't have anything with her while pretending to be a priest, nor can he reveal his double identity. He tries to get close to her as Coraje, and then gets jealous of himself when she likes that.
  • Mama Bear: Amanda will do anything and everything to protect both her sons.
  • Messianic Archetype: The entire plot leads towards this. In the finale, Coraje is crucified by Costa in a reenactment of the Passion of Christ, complete with the crown of thorns and all.
  • Momma's Boy: Felippe 'Pipo' Jauregui, Amanda's adopted son, whose entire life revolved around their relationship. Makes sense, given that he is clearly neurodivergent in a not very accepting society.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: many miracles happen through the course of the story, but they are never explained. Neither are the prophecies of the cult.
  • Not Blood Siblings: Coraje, Mercedes and Santo grew up together in an orphanage. There a triangle of unrequited love between them, and the one having feelings will use this argument a lot, as will side characters. The uninterested person will usually insist they are "like a brother/sister to me."
  • The Omniscient Council of Vagueness: The secret cult, although it's not as vague as the usual examples of this trope.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: The bad guys constantly belittle Dr. Ponce for loving men, while the good guys show acceptance. Highlighted by Amanda, who blackmails Ponce about it when she's against him but becomes accepting when they bury the hatchet.
  • Redemption Equals Death: the ultimate fate of Ana Guerrico.
  • The Remnant: The series takes place during the rise of Peronism, but the mayor is very much not Peronist, and is implied to be part of the aristocratic opposition to Peronism. He's a firm believer in the "good old order," meaning hard class divisions and the occasional spot of starving the workers.
  • Rage Against the Heavens: Ana had a brief one when the priest was shot.
  • Reports of My Death Were Greatly Exaggerated: the mayor had most people convinced that he has killed Coraje and even staged a funeral with him. One of Coraje's band then made an appearance as Coraje at "his own" funeral.
  • Sarcastic Devotee: Santo has had enough of Coraje's antics in the very first episode already. He snarks quite often about it, but when push comes to shove he is always there to save his brother.
  • Sexy Priest: And how. Coraje is very young and attractive for a priest and has already stolen the hearts of most women in La Cruz. Clara is conflicted because of the perceived taboo while also giving him bedroom eyes when taking communion. Ana, on her part, is unfazed by the theological problem even though she's a pious Catholic: she just thinks they are special and rules don't apply to them. There's also an old flame of Coraje's who knows he's not a priest but finds the cassock very alluring.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: quite a few. When Mercedes sneaks in the night to destroy a damning letter that Clara has written, Clara calmly tells her that she will just write another. When Amanda decides to run for mayor, she gets enthusiastic support from the women in town, but is still outmanoeuvred by Costa, who has more experience in political dishonesty. When rumours of miracles in La Cruz reach the bishop, the church is sceptical and launches a cautious investigation. When the truth is finally out about father Juan being Coraje, the rural population turns against him because he's messed with the sacrum.
  • Starcrossed Lovers: ultimately, Lourdes and Lautaro turn out to be this.
  • Targeted Human Sacrifice: the whole point of the cult is to find The Pilgrim (their brand of messiah) and sacrifice him to usher a new world order.
  • Throwing Off the Disability: Ana began in a wheelchair but started walking halfway through the series. It may have been a miracle.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: Coraje is adamant about this, which pretty much sets the entire plot in motion.
  • Tranquil Fury: Messina when there was a murder during a party at her place.
  • The Unintelligible: La Muda, one of the prostitutes. Despite her given name, she's not mute, it's simply hard to understand her.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: in one episode there is a shot of the mayor as if from the point of view of a supernatural beast that watches him in the wilderness. Nothing ever comes of it.
  • Would Hurt a Child: the cult, among other things, took infants away from their mothers, branded them with the symbol of the cult using a hot iron, and dropped them off in orphanages in an effort to make their prophecies come true.
  • Wrench Wench: Mercedes is a skilled car mechanic.
  • Yandere: Nora Ponce and Ana Guerrico early on.