Land Of Women episode 1 recap: Escape from New York

Land Of Women episode 1: Kate (Victoria Bazúa), Gala (Eva Longoria) and Julia (Carmen Maura) walk down a street in Spain. Kate and Gala are dragging wheely suitcases behind them, while Julia is carrying a holdall
(Image credit: Apple TV+)

Land Of Women episode 1 introduces us to Gala Scott (Eva Longoria), a wealthy New Yorker who seems to have it all — until her husband's shady financial dealings come to light and she's forced to flee New York along with her mother Julia (Carmen Maura) and teenage daughter Kate (Victoria Bazúa) for their own safety. She hits upon a spontaneous plan to run away to the small Spanish town that Julia left 50 years ago, vowing never to return — but what sort of welcome will they get? Read on to find out...

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Failure to launch

We open on Gala hastily shoving wads of $100 bills into plastic bags and sticking them to her torso before zipping up her dress, while assuring us via voiceover that, despite current appearances, she is neither a "drug dealer's fancy sidepiece" or a "white collar criminal's stripper girlfriend". As it happens, everything in her life seemed perfect until yesterday... so we flash back two days where Gala is shopping for a suitable dress for the opening of her new wine shop and chatting to a friend about her daughter Kate, who's currently away at school but has been extremely supportive of this new endeavour. 

Shopping completed, Gala hops into the car with her husband Fred (James Purefoy) and tells him that everything's set for tonight — though a few red flags are starting to hover into view as Gala mentions a message from her landlord and an email from the lighting company saying they haven't received their deposit, both of which Fred vaguely assures her he's already handled — it's clear that while she's the figurehead of this new venture, he's the one looking after the finances. Fred realises that he's forgotten something at the office that he needs to go and pick up, so he suggests dropping Gala at home while he returns to the office, and he'll be at her launch party by 8:15pm.

At the launch of the lavishly-decorated-but-not-exactly-imaginatively-named Gala Scott's Fine Wine Shop, all seems to be going well — except for the part where it's now 8:30pm and Fred hasn't turned up. Gala circulates the room in search of her husband, but finds only two imposing-looking gentlemen who inform her that they were meant to meet Fred there "to collect what we're owed". Yikes. Gala assumes they're the caterers, but the only thing these men serving up on a platter is veiled threats: it turns out Fred borrowed $15 million from their boss. The goons inform Gala that she's got 24 hours to pay up, or they're going to pay Kate a visit in Rhode Island, and Gala's mother a visit at her nursing home — and they won't exactly be bringing flowers and a basket of muffins.

Gala returns home to find her house in darkness and Fred hurriedly packing a suitcase — he promises her he's going to "fix everything", but warns her that she's not safe and needs to gather up Kate and her mother and get the heck out of New York. Did we say "yikes"? Because: yikes.

Running scared

The next morning, Gala's in her car — and we can immediately appreciate the downturn in her fortunes because she's driving herself rather than being chauffered — trying to make an emergency withdrawal from her savings account, only to discover she's overdrawn and her cards have been canceled. She tries to hawk an apparently priceless neckless she was given for her anniversary, but it turns out to be fake — though she does manage to get $55,000 for her watch, bracelet, earrings and wedding ring. With that, we're back to where we came in, as Gala stands in her enviable walk-in wardrobe strapping the cash to her body while frantically trying to get hold of Kate, who isn't answering her phone. She leaves a message for Kate telling her she's coming to pick her up for a "surprise girls' trip", in a tone that's clearly aiming for "breezy and spontaneous" but lands mostly on "strained and panicking". The door buzzer goes, and it's the hired goons looking for payment, so Gala hurries down into the parking garage with her suitcase and books it out of there in her car when they aren't looking.

First stop: the Calm Lake nursing home where her mother Julia is bartering her pills with a fellow resident. Gala and her mother have a hurried conversation in Spanish where Gala tells her they're off on a trip. Julia: "If your dumbass husband is going, then I'm not." (We like Julia already.) Julia wants to bring a photo album full of her childhood pictures, claiming she was "the prettiest girl in La Muga". This gives Gala an idea: La Muga is a small town a long way away where nobody is likely to be looking for them, and Julia still owns half a house there, so that's where they're going for their "trip". Gala hastily concocts a story about how lovely it would be to reconnect with their roots, which Julia doesn't really seem to be buying, and Julia insists that she's not getting on a plane unless she's good and drunk first.

Second stop: Kate's fancy boarding school, where Kate is handily sitting on the steps outside with her girlfriend Maggie as Gala and Julia pull up, waving frantically and honking the horn. A little bit of muttered dialogue between Gala and Julia reveals that Gala doesn't like Maggie — she has no problem with her daughter having a girlfriend, she just objects to her daughter's girlfriend being Maggie specifically, it seems. Anyway, Kate didn't get any of Gala's messages so the Surprise Girls' Trip comes as a complete surprise to her. Gala, lying with impressive fluency, sells it to Kate as having been all Julia's idea, and that Julia's dementia is worsening ("if we don't take this trip now, we might be too late... it's her last, dying wish"). 

At the airport, Gala is relieved when she doesn't set off the security scanners and avoids a pat down, and the three of them board the plain for Spain without incident. During the flight, Kate keeps checking in on Julia, asking if she needs anything to make her more comfortable, prompting Julia to mutter through the side of her mouth to Gala that "your daughter's acting really weird" and it's making her nervous. Still, the ready supply of alcohol miniatures that she's getting from the cabin crew should take the edge off that. Gala, however, can't relax on the flight, as old conversations with Fred play in her head about how she and Kate are the most important people in his life.

La vida loca

Touching down in Barcelona, Gala goes to get the three of them a rental car, but runs into problems when she needs a credit card for the security deposit. She offers up multiple cards, but none of them are working, and the company doesn't accept cash. Switching to much-less fluent Spanish to pass herself off as a clueless American tourist, Gala tries sliding some bills across the counter and pouting sexily at Manuel, the guy at the counter, but he is somehow immune to her charms.

Still, Gala is nothing if not resourceful and trots out to the parking lot, where she pays a random guy to take his car instead. She probably could have done with being a bit more choosy, given that she ends up with an old car with a manual transmission and she can't drive stick. Still, she bunny-hops around the corner to pick Julia and Kate up in the dusty old Citroën, which they eye with curiosity and a little distaste, and the three of them set off.

Along the way, Gala gets uneasy when Kate gets her phone out to text her dad and tell him that they've arrived safely, so she tries to impose a "no phones" rule for the duration of the trip, attempting to snatch the phone out of Kate's hand while driving along a winding mountain road. She succeeds in wresting the phone away and lobs it out of the window, to Kate's horror — Kate tries to get her to stop so she can go back and get it, but Gala promises to buy her a new one when they get there.

Some time later, it's clear they're lost. When Kate tells Julia that Gala clearly doesn't know the way to La Muga, Julia replies that she didn't know that's where they were going, and she's doesn't want to go there. This confuses Kate, since Gala told her the whole thing was Julia's idea, so Gala desperately tries to convince Julia that she really did want to come back and see the old town, and the house she shared with "Aunt Mariona". Reluctantly, Julia points them in the right direction — or so she says. An hour later, they're still driving and Gala is frustrated that she hasn't so much as seen a sign post for La Muga yet, and she and Kate start bickering, which causes a distracted Gala to crash the car into a tractor which is pulling a trailer full of grapes. For a moment, it seems like they've escaped with just a few scratches and dents, but then the trailer creaks, topples over, and offloads its entire cargo into a nearby field.

The grapes of wrath

The driver of the tractor, Amat (Santiago Cabrera) angrily bangs on Gala's window, so she steps out to talk to him. He's understandably furious that she's wrecked both his crop and his trailer. Gala apologises, but then tries her luck at blaming him for driving his tractor on the road in the first place, suggesting it should only be used on a farm. (Well, that's what she tries to say, but it turns out "farm" — or "granja" — is one of the areas where Gala's Spanish vocab is a little rusty.) Amat wearily dismisses them as tourists, but Gala insists they are Spaniards — though Kate is quick to point out that Gala has never been to Spain before. Gala and Amat bicker some more in a very romcommy meet-cute sort of way before he asks for her insurance papers to sort this whole mess out, at which point Gala and Kate notice that Julia's missing. She's gone for a swim in the river, where she's having a flashback to skinny-dipping there with a handsome young man when she was a teenager, and being scolded by Mariona for her wanton behaviour. When Gala and Kate find Julia in the river in the present day, Gala's a little unsettled when her mother calls her "Mariona" — and when they try to pull Julia out of the water, she pulls them both in, where the trio have a brief moment of giddy laughter — until all the money Gala had strapped to her body starts to float soggily away. Kate wonders what gives, and Gala promises there's a perfectly reasonable explanation... just not one that she can share right now.

Wrapping the cash in Kate's jacket, Gala and her family make it back to the car, only to discover it won't start. Amat tells them that they can call a mechanic from the town to tow it for them, and when Gala vents that she just wants to get to La Muga, Amat informs her that she was going the wrong way. Julia plays innocent, blaming it on jet lag — but whaddaya know, Amat lives in La Muga! And he's happy to give them a ride in the cabin of his tractor, which is quite a snug fit for four people. Along the way, Gala explains that her family lived in Mexico for nine years before going to New York, and now they're here to see check out her mother's roots. She shows him a picture of Julia's house, only for Amat to inform them that the house in the picture is not her mother's — it's his, because he bought it years ago. Gala splutters that that can't be possible, because it's their house and they are going to stay there, and Amat informs her that they absolutely are not going to stay there, because it's his house, which he bought from Mariona. Gala protests that this isn't legal, because half of the house belongs to her mother, and Mariona would need her permission to sell it. Amat offers to drop them at a guest house in the next town, and when Gala protests, he drops them off near Mariona's house so they can take it up with her. As he drives away, thunder rumbles and it starts to rain — so we can probably assume that La Muga is mainly on the plain.

Family reunion

The trio trudge up the road in the rain as Julia explains that she fell out of touch with Mariona when they moved to the Americas and it was too expensive to phone her. Kate suggests they just go to the guest house like Amat suggested, but Gala insists they need to see Mariona to get this situation sorted out. They knock on her door, and Mariona answers, takes one look at them, and slams it closed. 

The rain dries up as Amat returns to La Muga with his wonky trailer and a story of the "crazy American women" who crashed into him. He breaks the news to Nalda that the crash resulted in the total loss of her entire crop of grapes, prompting cries of anguish and disbelief from the assembled locals as well as an argument over who actually has the oldest vineyard in La Muga. Amat mentions that one of the women from the crash was Mariona's sister, and there are more gasps — clearly, these people have not forgotten Julia, even if she left a long time ago.

Arriving into town, somewhat soggily, Kate summarises their situation by pointing out that they have no car or house, but they do have a bag full of wet money. Julia suggests they go to the guest house and dry off. Kate asks Gala what they're really doing there, "and don't say it's because Grandma's dying". Obviously, this is news to Julia, who assumes that Gala has been withholding a terminal diagnosis from her, but Gala admits that she made that up because she needed an excuse to get them all out of the country. She tells them the whole sorry story about Fred's debts, her dire financial situation and the fact that the bag of damp cash and half of Mariona's house are the sum total of their worldly assets. Kate asks if Fred is okay, and Gala assures her that he's taking care of everything — they just need to stay in La Muga while he's doing that. The three of them embrace and agree that they'll be okay if they stick together. This lifts Gala's spirits, and she decides that she's too tired to walk to the next town in heels to find the guest house — they're going to find Julia's old house instead.

Jailhouse shock

On the way, they pass a café run by a woman Julia identifies as Catalina, "a viper with a very long tongue", but the woman says her name is actually Montse — Catalina, who was her mother, died last year. She agrees with Julia's assessment of her mother and offers them a drink on the house, but Gala asks instead for directions to "Casa Xatart", or "Amat's house", as Montse more accurately refers to it.

When they finally get there, the house is a thing of beauty, as the sweeping drone shot of the property and its surrounding landscape affirms. Gala is hopeful that if they have a calm, rational conversation with Amat instead of yelling, he'll let them stay in "their half" of the house. However, Julia has already found her way into the house, which is probably going to get that conversation off on the wrong foot. She lets Gala and Kate in, and they proceed to shower, change and make themselves some food. While they eat, Julia sends Kate out of the room and uses the opportunity to question Gala, who she's convinced isn't telling them the full story. Gala turns the question back on her mother, pointing out that even her own sister slammed the door in her face, so there's clearly some history there that Julia hasn't shared with them. 

At this moment, Amat arrives home to find the three crazy American ladies have let themselves into his house and helped themselves to his lentils — oh, and apparently they've locked him out as well. Guess that whole "speak to him calmly and politely and be rational about the whole thing" strategy is over. Gala tells him through the window that Mariona sold him the house illegally, which is a bit rich coming from someone who's just broken into someone else's house, as Amat points out. Gala says they will just stay in their half of the house and not bother him, so Amat calls the police. But when the police arrives, Julia recognises one of them - it's Andreu, the guy she was skinny-dipping with in the flashback, and he, at least, is happy to see her. Rather than arrest them, Andreu suggests they all go down to the station and attempt to sort this out peacefully, which Julia happily agrees to. She goes inside to retrieve their belongings, and has a vivid memory of her time in the house when she was younger, finding cash that was stashed in a hidden spot. Outside, Gala petulantly insists that if Andreu wants them to leave, he'll have to arrest them.

Cut, inevitably, to Gala, Kate and Julia behind bars at the police station, where this is apparently the most dramatic thing to have happened in years. Julia assures her daughter that she's hidden the money well, and that at least they know where they'll be spending the night. Gala takes their hands and promises they'll get out — she's just not exactly sure how. Kate goes up to the bars and yells that she wants to make a call — so she calls Maggie, leaving a message on her voicemail saying that they're stranded in "hell on earth" without her phone or any money, and they've just been arrested. "It seriously couldn't get any worse," she concludes. As Maggie gets out of the shower and is about to pick up Kate's message, there's a knock on her door — and it's the goons from earlier. Gala's voiceover declares that it's up to her to fix this situation that they've all found themselves in — although whether that vow extends to Maggie in the current circumstances remains to be seen...

Steven Perkins
Staff Writer for TV & Satellite Week, TV Times, What's On TV and

Steven Perkins is a Staff Writer for TV & Satellite Week, TV Times, What's On TV and, who has been writing about TV professionally since 2008. He was previously the TV Editor for Inside Soap before taking up his current role in 2020. He loves everything from gritty dramas to docusoaps about airports and thinks about the Eurovision Song Contest all year round.