The ten-part series is set in Gloria do Ribatejo, Portugal in the 1960s. It follows Joao Vidal (played here by Miguel Nunes), a young man who has connections to the leaders of Estado Noo, the authoritarian Portuguese Regime. Joao is an engineer at RARET (a U.S. rebroadcasting agency of Radio Free Europe). This series reveals how a small village was transformed into “an unlikely Cold War stage” where Soviet and American forces engaged in dangerous sabotage tactics to take control of Europe. Joao is recruited by the KGB and will be caught up in the complex web of spy games in RARET.
Gloria, a series by Pedro Lopes that was directed by Tiago Gedes, is an original series. It is a slow-burning series with historical dramas based on actual events as well as espionage thrillers. It portrays Portugal’s dark past, including its violence towards women and brutal colonial war. According to The Portugal News, it is the most expensive series in Portuguese production history.
This series is based upon real events. The small village of Gloria do Ribatejo, located just north-east Portugal’s capital Lisbon, was home to a major CIA-operated radio station named RARET. The Radio Free Europe shortwave retransmission centre was established in 1951 and continued to function until 1996. RARET was used by the CIA to transmit anti-communist messages to Eastern European countries. Portugal was ruled over by the Estado Novo (New State) in the 1960s. It was led by Oliveira Salazar. Portugal was an anti-communist government that worked with the U.S. during World War II.
This is the historical background on which this fictional series is based. Gloriabegins 1968, right before the Soviet Union invaded Czechoslovakia. Joao begins his new job at RARET. Joao, an agent of the KGB, is on a covert mission. He wants to discover what happened to Mia, a missing KGB agent, and disrupt the CIA’s operations.
The series establishes Joao’s complexity from the very first episode. Joao is a secret agent for KGB. However, he comes from a family that is well-established within Portugal’s authoritarian regime. Joao’s father is Secretary of State in the Estado Novo government. He is also close to the head of PIDE (the International and State Defense Police), Estado Novo secret police. His motivation for joining the KGB at first is not clear. Through a series flashbacks, it slowly becomes clear that Joao was sent to Angola for the colonial war. There he witnessed the violence and brutality of the Portuguese army. The flashbacks suggest that Joao was recruited to the KGB.
Gloria is not like other spy thrillers that were set during the Cold War. It doesn’t portray the Soviets or the U.S. as bad guys or good. It is extremely nuanced in its portrayal of history. The series shows the complexity of Cold War, further complicated and complicated by Portugal’s brutal authoritarian history.
There are some fantastic moments of intense espionage scenes in the series. Joao is a KGB secret agent, retrieving information and trying to save another agent’s life.
Gloria, a series about espionage that uncovers important events in Portugal’s past that are not well known to the rest of world, is a great series. This series is great for history buffs who enjoy spy thrillers.