‘Between Lands’ Ending Explained & Series Recap: Is Manuel Dead?

Netflix’s latest Spanish import, Between Lands (Entre Tierras in Spanish), is a unique marriage between thriller and melodrama that works really well for the most part. The term “melodrama” usually implies something with an overly dramatic flair, flashy characters, and a flurry of sensational events. But it has kind of become the norm to take the genre as a lowly form of entertainment, which I find to be simultaneously stupid and unfortunate. Making really good melodrama is actually pretty difficult, I would say. You need to have a story that should be able to hold the audience from the beginning to the end, along with characters worthy enough to root for (or hate). Between Lands does have its thrill elements, like murder, deceit, and conspiracy, but what it mostly relies on is the drama at its core. And the show aces it by sticking to the basics. The story keeps you glued from start to finish, all thanks to solid writing and convincing performances by the ensemble cast led by Megan Montaner.

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Spoilers Ahead


Who Is Maria, And What Happens To Her?

The year is 1967. In the seaside town of Almeria, in the Andalusian region of Spain, Maria toils all day long in order to take care of her family—her ailing mother, Sagrario, and her two younger siblings, Luisa and Guillermo. Ever since the death of her father, the family has been struggling with their finances. They’re far behind with their rent and in constant danger of eviction. Maria is the only earning member of the family who does multiple odd jobs, but it’s not nearly enough to meet their financial needs. Maria’s boyfriend, Jose, who also belongs to the working class, went to Germany five years ago in search of financial fortune but then stopped calling her altogether. Although everyone believes that Jose has found someone else, Maria still refuses to give up on him.

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A solution to all their problems comes in a rather grim fashion when Don Ramon, a wealthy friend of the mayor, arrives from La Mancha in search of a wife. Luisa catches the eye of Ramon, and he proposes to marry her, and in exchange, he promises to sort out all the financial issues in the family. Luisa is understandably terrified at the proposal of marrying someone who’s probably as old as her dead father. As if things couldn’t get any worse, Don Ramon Cervantes appears to be a flagbearer of patriarchy, treating women like nothing but commodities. Looking at her family’s condition, Luisa gives in, but just when she’s about to sign the contract, Maria stops her and offers to take her place instead. Ramon is not particularly happy with the idea, given Luisa is younger and conventionally more attractive compared to Maria, but Maria does manage to convince him. She does lie about being a virgin, which plays a very important part in the story much later.


Who Does Maria Get Married To?

In another strange turn of fate, Maria finds out on the day of her wedding that she’s not actually getting married to Ramon. He’s actually a stand-in for a proxy marriage because the actual groom can’t make it. The person Maria is getting married to is Ramon’s nephew, Manuel. Upon reaching La Mancha, Maria discovers that Manuel is a bitter drunkard who absolutely doesn’t wish to consummate the marriage and even tries to throw Maria out of the house. She also finds out that he was married once before to someone named Llanos, who mysteriously disappeared years ago. Llanos and Manuel’s son, Nicholas, lives in the stable, doesn’t utter a word, and never comes inside the house. The townsfolk entertain the possibility of Manually killing Llanos, although there has never been any concrete evidence of that.

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In spite of all these, Ramon makes Maria work hard in the field, where she works with several other local women. These women, especially one of them, Claudia, are rather cold to her and always misbehave with her. They even discuss how long she’s going to last in the Cervantes household in front of her. At home, Maria has to take care of all the cooking and cleaning, but for the time being, she has Justa to help her. Justa has been working in the Cervantes household for ages, and as did her dead husband, who used to be Ramon’s right-hand man. Justa appears to be friendly to Maria, but it’s evident from her behavior that she’s either up to something or clearly hiding something. 

As if Ramon hasn’t made Maria’s life hard enough, she wants her to have a child with Manuel, who would be the heir to his fortune. Not only does that seem like a distant dream, but it’s soon revealed that Manuel and Justa are having a very physical thing going on. For him, it seems like seeking comfort in the absence of his wife, but for her, it appears to be more than that. However, Ramon is a man who would get his way no matter what, so he soon orders Justa to get out of Manuel’s bed, which would make him go to Maria, as there’s no other option. Justa doesn’t take this well, but she obviously can’t disobey Ramon.

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Did Manuel Kill Llanos?

While going through Llanos’ things, Maria finds out a letter from which she realizes that Llanos had an extramarital affair with a man named Jorje, with whom she even planned to elope. This theory that Manuel murdered his wife out of jealousy and rage. But Maria soon comes to the realization that Manuel is no killer, considering murderers don’t usually talk about how they’ve gone about doing it, unlike Manuel, who clearly does that to scare Maria off. Maria lets Manuel know that she’s going to stay in this whole mess only because of the deal she made with Ramon to save her family. Things get a little better between Maria and Manuel as they start to spend the nights in the same room—in order to convince Ramon that they’re indeed trying for an heir. Justa tries to out them by telling Ramon that the couple are not actually doing anything, which leads Ramon into actually checking if Maria’s “virginity” is intact. Thanks to her earlier lie, Maria gets away, leaving Justa in a state of confusion. In the midst of all this drama going on, Maria takes an interest in Nicholas. Not only does she manage to befriend him, she also takes him to the doctor to check what’s wrong with the little boy, which happens to be epilepsy. 

Thanks to living in close proximity and realizing Manuel is inherently a good person, Maria practically becomes friends with him. But things soon get complicated with the shocking discovery of Llanos’ body and the arrest of Manuel as the prime suspect in the murder case. Maria is convinced that Manuel is not guilty, and she tries everything that would prove his innocence. With the help of Justa, she even manages to find Jorge, who doesn’t deny the affair but also claims that he has nothing to do with Llanos’ death.

What I really liked about Between Lands is the show’s unabashed utilization or shock value, like this jaw-dropping twist of Llanos’ killer actually being her own brother, Alonso. And the motive behind the murder was as petty as family wealth, which Llanos had left for her son, Nicholas, before trying to elope. Thanks to the combined efforts of Maria and Justa, Alonso is soon apprehended, and Manuel becomes a free man again. Just when you can finally see the possibility of a romance between Manuel and Maria, she receives a call from home that Guillermo is sick. In a peak-melodrama moment, Maria sees Manuel and Justa in the stable, in a rather uncomfortable state. She fails to realize that Manuel was rejecting Justa’s advances because he has fallen in love with her.


Why Does Jose Come Back?

Between Lands continues to surprise the audience, this time by bringing Jose back into the town and making him the savior of Maria’s family. By the time Maria reaches Almeria, Guillermo is already doing better health-wise, and that happened because he got the best kind of medical treatment, all thanks to Jose. Despite all his good deeds, Maria is justifiably mad at Jose, who pretty much ghosted her years ago. But Jose has every intention to fix his past mistakes. He sincerely apologizes to Maria and pleads with her to get back with him, which obviously implies she ends her marriage with Manuel. Maria tries to call Manuel, but Justa picks up the call and stays silent, letting Maria think that it’s Manuel who’s ignoring her. Unbeknownst to Maria, Manuel is actually busy dealing with Ramon’s cruel treatment of the working class in La Mancha. This entire arc of Damon’s exploitation of his workers does feature extensively in the show, and at times it even takes center stage over the main plot.

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Anyway, frustrated with Manuel and in a moment of weakness, Maria sleeps with Jose. Jose takes it as a sign of Maria getting back with him, while Maria regrets it. Her regrets only grow with the sudden arrival of Manuel, who has come all the way to win her back. This is clearly an act of love, and by now, Maria has also fallen for Manuel.


Does Maria Fall In Love With Manuel?

Can anything really stop two people when they genuinely want each other? Maria and Manuel were always inevitable, and it was not at all surprising to see that finally happening. They finally move into steamy romance mode from Pakistani drama territory (and I don’t mean that as an insult here; those are genuinely well-made). Some time passes, and Maria gets pregnant with her first child. Manuel is overjoyed, and this also means Ramon’s wish of having an heir is finally going to be fulfilled, although Maria has managed to turn things around for Nicholas as well, by bringing up the kid like her own child.

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While everything looks bright for the Cervantes, there’s one person who just can’t accept her defeat, and that is none other than Justa. She has played all her tricks to separate Maria and Manuel, which includes showing an old photo of Maria and Jose to Ramon, but none of it has worked out for her. Unable to accept the fact that Manuel doesn’t love her, Justa does exactly what you would expect from a character like her—bringing Jose to La Mancha by telling him that Maria’s unborn child might be his.


What Happens To Don Ramon?

Don Ramon had to be the most fascinating character in Between Lands. Although he initially appears to be one-dimensional, playing the part of an oppressive tyrant, as the story moves forward, we get enough hints of Ramon being more than that. I feel the show squandered the opportunity to explore his past a bit, especially when they kept showing the branded symbol on the back of his shoulder. 

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From the blink-and-miss kind of flashback, we get to know that Ramon was tortured at a very young age, but he can’t be forgiven for all the terrible things he keeps on doing to so many people just because of that. After years of exploitation, Ramon dares to fire one of his older field workers, Marcedes, just because he can. This eventually leads Marcedes and her already sick husband, Roque, to commit suicide. As an act of revenge, Claudia poisons Damon’s beloved dog, and the innocent animal dies as a result of her master’s atrocities. Don Ramon continues to be rude towards Maria even after everything she has done for his family, including saving Manuel. And we shouldn’t forget that if Maria wasn’t there, Nicholas would have spent his whole life as an outsider—thanks to Ramon alone, who didn’t really try to make sure the boy was okay.

Ramon’s urgency in getting Manuel in line by bringing Maria into his life does make sense, though, considering the man has been sick for more than a year, which we get to know much later. He does apologize to Maria after telling Manuel and Maria the truth about his illness. It was only a matter of time before Ramon dropped dead, which happens, but not without another twist in the tale.

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Is Claudia Related To Don Ramon?

Throughout Between Lands series, Ramon and Claudia have been the faces of oppression and revolution. Even though Claudia initially appears as a minor supporting character, she pretty much rises up as the biggest challenge to Ramon. And no matter what he does to her – from throwing the police at her for poaching in his land to making her husband Gabi pay an impossible amount of fine for stealing water from Ramon’s land, Claudia never bows down to Ramon. 

The thing about Between Lands is that the show seems to not care about giving the characters happy endings. Claudia suffering a miscarriage because Ramon made her work on the field to pay the fine is the darkest turn this story could probably take, but then they top that with the biggest reveal of all, which is Ramon turning out to be Claudia’s father. And to think that Ramon gets to know about it on his deathbed as Claudia is having her miscarriage!

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Ramon dying without ever getting to apologize to his daughter is probably the fate he deserved—after all he did to her, albeit unknowingly! Sadly, though, it was too late for him to leave Claudia anything legally, which led Claudia to wage an unnecessary war against Manuel in order to get her inheritance. It’s not that Manuel refuses to share anything with her, but you can’t expect Claudia not to act like this after everything she’s had to endure in this life.


How Do Maria And Manuel Save The Farm?

I’m quite certain the makers of Between Lands haven’t really seen the popular Bollywood movie “Dhadkan (2000)” starring Akshay Kumar and Sunil Shetty, but the entire plot of Jose coming to La Mancha and buying the flour factory is eerily similar to the second half of that film. From the moment Jose steps foot in La Mancha, you know for a fact that the guy is a sore loser, and he’s definitely not here for the sake of expanding his business.

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The arrival of Jose starts affecting the lives of Maria and Manuel. Jose deceives Manuel into not selling his wheat to a company by dangling the prospect of buying those for more money. Manuel only takes the bait to help out Claudia, but he gets nothing in the end, which effectively puts his farm in danger. Jose doesn’t stop at that; he goes on to put the idea of him being the father of Maria’s child in Manuel’s head as well, with a little bit of assistance from Justa. This is expected to cause a rift between Maria and Manuel, especially because she didn’t tell Manuel anything regarding her sleeping with Jose. However, Manuel and Maria soon make up, and they also come up with the unique idea of donating their wheat to a charity and making the charity buy some of their land, which saves their farm.


Who Kills Manuel?

I don’t think any of us expected Manuel to die in such a tragic manner in this story, but when it comes to being ruthless to characters, Between Lands happens to be a Game of Thrones of sorts. And the only person who could kill Manuel in this story is Jose, who does it like a coward by sabotaging his motorcycle. Manuel dies after a fatal bike accident right after Maria reaches the spot. At least, the poor guy gets to say goodbye to the person he loves. However, Jose’s sin was not going to go unpunished because Between Lands is a show where evil does have to answer, be it Ramon or Jose. He does try to blame the murder on Gabi, taking advantage of a minor scuffle Gabi had with Manuel just before his death. But Gabi would never hurt Manuel, as the two were childhood friends and had been there for each other since the beginning. Maria knew in her gut that it was Jose who took Manuel away from her. Justa only confirms her suspicion after finally having a moment of conscience, which obviously comes from the place where she genuinely loves Manuel.

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What Happens To Maria In The End?

Before going into Between Lands‘ ending, let me address the whole Guillermo and Custadio arc. You must be wondering why I haven’t mentioned it yet, and the reason behind that is, although well executed, this is one subplot that was a burden on the already overloaded narrative of Between Lands. I am glad that the two lovers found their happy ending in the end. Now, coming to Maria, it wouldn’t have made any sense if she didn’t get to avenge the murder of her husband. So, the story plays out exactly like that in the end. Jose goes down, thanks to a plan where Maria is aided by Justa and Claudia, which seems fitting enough. With Jose gone, the chaos in La Mancha comes to an end. Justa bids her final goodbye to Maria, who is generous enough to give her some of Manuel’s photos. Luisa and Sagrario stay back at La Mancha to help Maria raise Nicholas and her newborn, Manuela. Luisa does get to fulfill her dream of being an actress. Maria brings Claudia into the fold, and the two start to run the farm with the support of the local women. 

Between Lands ends with the good people of the town leaving flowers on Manuel’s grave on his death anniversary, while Maria chooses to stay away. In her imaginary conversation, where she describes to Manuel how things have turned out for her, she confesses that she’s still not okay. But the lesson we take from here is that life goes on, and it just needs to be lived. All you can do is stay good till the end, and the rest is up to destiny.

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Rohitavra Majumdar
Rohitavra Majumdar
Rohitavra likes to talk about movies, music, photography, food, and football. He has a government job to get by, but all those other things are what keep him going.

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