Ricardo In ‘Iron Reign’ Explained: Is Joaquin’s Son Dead Or Alive?

If Brando’s character in The Godfather taught us anything, that’d be how blood is supposed to be thicker than anything else in a collectivist culture like Spain’s. But apparently, that does not stop families from turning against their own. Just between you and me, don’t we all have that one uncle in our families who we’d never want to see again but are forced to entertain because they’re family? I’m not blatantly pointing fingers at the ‘enforced’ family values of our cultures, but again, everything has its pros and cons. It isn’t uncommon to regard our heritage with a particularly narcissistic perspective. We’re all the same amount of flawed and an arm’s length from a crucial realization after all. But come to think of it, Ricardo’s dilemma doesn’t just stem from his gambling addiction. The suffocating constraints of family and expectations end up consuming this young man. Ricardo’s character is a reflection of how often a close-knit culture like Spain’s can fail a man and antagonize him. In fact, Ricardo’s vulnerabilities end up becoming a target for his enemies to further isolate him from his family. 


Spoilers Ahead

Who Is Ricardo Manachados?

Ricardo is the eldest son of Joaquin Manchados, the crime lord operating out of the port of Barcelona to smuggle cocaine into the country. Along with his younger sister, Rocio, he participates in the operations by handling the transport for his father. Being the eldest son, he is supposed to have responsibilities, but Joaquin prefers his daughter instead, who is more responsible for looking after the business. Ricardo is afflicted with a gambling addiction, which makes him exhaust all his funds and is the reason why he’s in debt. Ever since childhood, Ricardo had been weak and was often disregarded by his father, who wanted a stronger heir. It isn’t entirely Joaquin’s fault, either, that he had these expectations. Joaquin himself had a difficult past; he grew up in poverty and fought his way to where he is right now. Quite obviously, Ricardo is a child of all the privileges that his father bestowed upon him, but is it his fault that he isn’t the leader his father wanted him to be?


Who Is Ricardo In Debt To?

Ricardo Manchados is a compulsive gambler, continuously chasing bets despite frequent losses. Such is the reward mechanism of a gambling habit that people suffering from this affliction often fail to look beyond the rare profits that they do make. He got into this habit as a teenager who didn’t have any friends. The first time Ricardo gambled was on a slot machine in a bar after school, which gave him a huge profit, but the rush he got from the game kept him asking for more. Years later, owing to this compulsive habit, Ricardo finds himself in a dangerous amount of debt to the Arab gangster Jatri. The majority of Ricardo’s actions in the series are depicted as him trying to run flee the grasp of this gangster to whom he owes money. Likewise, when Jatri finally catches up to him, the gangster gives him 24 hours to return the amount he owes and threatens to kill him if he is unable to return the money. 

It seems that his family has helped him get out of a similar situation even before, and they’re aware of his addiction. To seek help for his condition, he even goes to a support group at his family’s request. Regardless, he still indulges in gambling on his phone behind their backs. Perhaps, at this point in his adulthood, this habit has become a coping mechanism for his failures, which in itself is circular thinking. He can’t seem to achieve things in life because of gambling, but at the same time, he cannot give up his gambling because of the troubles he has in his life. To solve the Jatri situation, Ricardo goes to his father, asking for money, but Joaquin turns him down as well. As a last resort, he asks for money from Rocio, his sister. Rocio is the last person he wishes to seek help from. Perhaps because she’s Ricardo’s younger sister, he feels it is his responsibility to look after her rather than the opposite. 


Why Does Ricardo Scheme Against His Uncle?

One can’t call Ricardo’s relationship with his family very flourishing, but he has a distinctly strained relationship with Roman Manchados, his uncle. Roman and Joaquin have started their business together from scratch. As a second-in-command, Roman never asks for anything from his brother but has his own share of woes. It is possible that Ricardo is kind of envious of the relationship between his father and his uncle. In reality, Roman is Ricardo’s godfather and cares for him, but he also criticizes him for his irresponsibility. Ricardo, therefore, feels attacked by his uncle. Perhaps he sees Roman as his equal, a completely flawed individual, which is why he doesn’t like the holier-than-thou demeanor his uncle projects towards him. 

After Nestor and Roman find out that it was Ricardo’s truck that carried the Czar’s mail and was stolen, they collectively blame Ricardo for being the person behind the incident. When Ricardo finds out what he is being accused of, he immediately starts seeing Roman as his rival. He believes that Roman is the person responsible for Joaquin’s accident and is framing Ricardo so that he can become the head of their enterprise. 


How Does Ricardo Die?

When Ricardo goes to Jatri to return the money he owes, Jatri realizes that the money he brought isn’t the entire amount. The gangster then prepares to have Ricardo shot, but in defense, Ricardo reveals the whole situation about the Czar’s mail. He claims that his uncle has stolen the shipment, and they must target him. However, to prove that he’s not bluffing, Jatri asks Ricardo to attack Christina, a sex worker whom Roman is in love with. Subsequently, Ricardo, along with Jatri and his men, head over to Christina’s apartment and assault her, hospitalizing her, which enrages Roman. 

After he proves his allegiance to Jatri, they tactfully craft a plan to lure Roman into an ambush. Roman follows the clues intentionally left behind by Ricardo after he went missing. Luring him to an isolated warehouse, Ricardo and the men ambush Roman. However, being as strong as three men, Roman ends up killing Jatri and his men, leaving him alone with Ricardo. After a short chase, Roman finally confronts Ricardo, leading to violent combat. They end up stabbing each other to death. 

Ricardo was himself a misjudged person. He had been misjudged by his father as well as by his uncle. Perhaps what he really needed was some attention and compassion from his father while he was growing up. There can be a million reasons to point at if we’re looking to understand why a person starts a compulsive habit like gambling. However, for Ricardo, it was definitely an escape from the complex of not being good enough, which he had harbored over the years because of the expectations of his family in this collectivist culture he had been brought up in. 

Shrey Ashley Philip
Shrey Ashley Philip
A teacher, photographer, linguist, and songwriter, Shrey started out as a Biotechnology graduate, but shifted to studying Japanese. Now he talks about movies, advocates for ADHD awareness, and embraces Albert Camus.

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