The pilot episode of “Ngayon at Kailanman,” the teleserye debut of Julia Barretto and Joshua Garcia, had viewers counting deaths as its rapid pacing unraveled the linked histories of its lead characters.
The maiden telecast of the Star Creatives production introduced several key characters, including Rebecca (Iza Calzado) and Rodrigo (TJ Trinidad), who welcomed a baby girl, Angela, in the series’ opening minutes.
Rodrigo, who had turned his back on his family and his wealth, assured an anxious Rebecca that he would rather live a simple life with her and their daughter, and proposed marriage.
Learning that his father Julian (Dante Rivero) has died, Rodrigo visited the mansion he once called home, and learned that he was the sole inheritor of the Cortes estate, and a P400-million fortune.
Rodrigo’s stepmother, Carmen (Rosemarie Gil), as well as his stepbrother, Hernan (Christian Vasquez), were shocked at the content of Julian’s will. While Hernan conceded it wasn’t his and his mother’s wealth to begin with, his wife, Stella (Alice Dixson), was adamant that he should have received a share, too, especially for the sake of their children.
Worried that Rodrigo has yet to return home a week after he was supposed to, Rebecca sought answers in Manila. With the baby Angela in tow, and her cousin (Nico Antonio) bringing them by car, Rebecca managed to find the Cortes family mansion.
A wake was still being held, but it wasn’t Julian’s. Rebecca was told it was for Rodrigo, who had supposedly died in an accident. She, however, was immediately turned away by security, and soon her initial daze turned into hysterical grief. Stella, seeing Rebecca’s behavior, believed, correctly, that she was Rodrigo’s fiancée.
On their way to seek answers from police, Rebecca and her cousin were pursued by gunmen. Both of them were shot point-blank, apparently to death. Hidden in the backseat, Angela was spared.
The assassin, Joey (Manuel Chua), would raise Angela as Eva (Sophia Reola, Barretto), an adventurous girl oblivious to the fact that the man she calls her father, was the same man who had killed her mother.
Joey’s wife and Eva’s adoptive mother, Lia (Mercedes Cabral), appeared to be aware of the girl’s tragic past, as she readily understood the threat behind Joey coming home, injured and in panic, one evening.
Resisting telling the gunmen Eva’s whereabouts, Joey was shot dead. Lia, who fled with Eva, gave instructions to her daughter on how to escape using a boat. Realizing the goons were nearing them, Lia stayed behind to stall them and give Eva headway. The plan was successful, but at the expense of Lia’s life.
At this point, viewers of “Ngayon at Kailanman” would have already counted six onscreen deaths — Julian, Rodrigo, Rebecca, Rebecca’s cousin, Joey, and Lia. The surprising death toll, and the episode’s fast pacing, were among the common subjects of praise online, as the pilot ranked among the top trends on Twitter Monday.
“Ang daming patay agad?!” one fan tweeted.
The episode also showed a glimpse of Hernan and Stella’s family. Sickly and in need of a bone marrow transplant, their son Oli (Jameson Blake) found a donor in his young brother, Inno (Joshua Garcia).
A pivotal scene unfolded as Inno and Eva appeared to die at the same time — the boy during his operation, and the girl, from hitting her head on the boat during a storm — resulting in their encounter in a depiction of afterlife.
It remains to be seen whether any of the characters shown to have apparently died in the pilot are, in fact, dead. Calzado, for instance, is billed as a main cast member, so a future plot point explaining how Rebecca may have survived is likely.
“Ngayon at Kailanman” airs weeknights after “FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano.”