Warning: This contains spoilers for Season 1 and 2 of Locked Up. Never seen it? Catch up with our spoiler-free review of Season 1 dark humour, nasty violence and queasy shocks. Because, the last time we saw Zulema, she was being tortured by Macarena to reveal the location of the dying Amaia. It was a brutal affair, involving a syringe full of air being injected into Zulema’s bloodstream – a calmly administered piece of sadism that was a long way from the wide-eyed newcomer we first got to know in Season 1.
That evolution of Macarena over the years has been one of Locked Up’s strongest assets, and Maggie Civantos is fantastic at continuing to find new sides to her protagonist. Equally crucial is the way that Najwa Nimri has grown Zulema into so much more than the prison villain – she delights in twisting sympathies in her favour, both among her jail mates and the audience at home. Together, they’re two halves of a gripping coin, one becoming more questionable and the other seemingly becoming more human. Season 2, while occasionally uneven in pacing, left us unsure which one to feel more sorry for.
Season 3 takes its lead from both women, working to find new tensions, new pressures and new scenarios in which to explore its colourful ensemble of characters. Where Season 2 saw Macarena step up to take down Anabel and her gang, Season 3 knocks Macarena and her crew firmly down a peg or three, by shifting the whole lot to a new prison, Cruz del Norte. That means new guards, new threats and a new pecking order to adjust to – and for audiences, a new set of surprises and intriguing character growth. Any privileges and protections have gone out of the window, or, in the case of certain contraband, smuggled in a private place belonging to another prisoner. That’s possibly one of the last times we see Macarena exert authority over another person, as from then on, she’s eyeballed by a new enemy, and, when she does try to arm herself, finds her weapon swiftly swiped away.
But Macarena’s tale would be nothing without Zulema, and so Nimri’s deliciously antagonistic antagonist awakens from her coma and joins Macarena in this hostile new environment. But while they take pleasure in seeing each other pushed off their respective perches, there’s a hint that they may have more in common than before, as new guards begin to enforce new rules. The result is an intriguing start to Season 3 – the first at the show’s new home of Fox, after Antena 3 cancelled the programme – and with fewer episodes on the cards, it promises a tauter, intense story of two unstoppable forces colliding in an unpredictable new way. When it comes to survival, Locked Up certainly knows how to keep going.
Season 1 to 3 of Locked Up are available to watch online and download on Walter Presents.