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Hotel Cocaine - The Mutiny - Review: Glitz, Glamour, and the Dark Underworld Beneath

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"Hotel Cocaine," kicked off with a bang in its premiere episode. Set in 1978, the show centres around Roman Compte (played by Danny Pino), a Cuban expatriate who manages a high-end Miami hotel, The Mutiny Hotel. As he tries to protect his daughter from both unscrupulous federal agents and his estranged mobster brother, Roman finds himself entangled in a perilous web of crime and deceit. 

The storyline is gripping, chronicling the impact of the illegal drug trade from Cuba to Miami on Roman and his brother, Nestor Cabal (Yul Vazquez). The first episode vividly depicts Roman's struggle to maintain normalcy while being blackmailed by DEA agent Zulio (Michael Chiklis). Years ago, Roman fled Cuba with his daughter, Valeria (Corina Bradley), after losing his wife to Castro’s forces. Still haunted by her death, he tries to build a new life with Marisol (Tania Watson). However, his world is turned upside down when Zulio coerces him into contacting drug kingpin Nestor Cabal (Yul Vazquez), his estranged brother. This reunion pulls Roman into the cocaine trafficking underworld, transforming him from an upstanding man into someone entangled in deceit, violence, and murder. His journey from a respectable businessman to a reluctant criminal is both compelling and heart-wrenching. 

“The Mutiny” - HOTEL COCAINE. Pictured: Danny Pino as Roman Compte and Yul Vazquez as Nestor Cabal. Photo: Carlos Rodriguez/MGM + ©2024. All Rights Reserved.

The episode does an excellent job of setting the scene in 1978 Miami. The visual effects are commendable, transforming the city back to its retro roots with accurate depictions of buildings, cars, and the overall ambiance of the era. This attention to detail immerses viewers in the time period, adding an authentic backdrop to the unfolding drama.

Roman's character is particularly well-developed. Outside the club, he's portrayed as a quintessential family man, deeply caring for his daughter and trying to preserve his Cuban heritage despite their new life in the USA. His daughter's desire to forget Cuba due to the traumatic loss of her mother adds a layer of emotional depth to their relationship. Roman’s moral struggle is palpable when he's forced to prove his loyalty to Nestor by committing an act of violence, showcasing his vulnerability and conscience. 

The episode's climax is intense, with Roman initially appearing to cooperate with the DEA, only to double-cross them as he and Nestor enter into a showdown with the Haitians. This twist highlights Roman's descent into the dark underworld he desperately tried to avoid, setting the stage for a thrilling and unpredictable series. 

“The Mutiny” - HOTEL COCAINE. Pictured: Danny Pino as Roman Compte. Photo: Carlos Rodriguez/MGM + ©2024. All Rights Reserved.

"Hotel Cocaine" weaves a complex tale of Roman's struggle to balance loyalty to his loved ones while safeguarding them and himself. His conflicting allegiances to his daughter, his commitment to his job at the Mutiny, and his renewed connection with his brother take a toll on Roman's psyche, transforming him from a well-intentioned man to someone willing to cross moral lines. The series does not hold back in depicting the deadly consequences of large-scale drug trafficking, but it also revels in the glitz of the era. 

Danny Pino is brilliant as Roman. He delivers a highly convincing performance as a man capable of handling any situation, but even his character begins to show signs of cracking under pressure. His vulnerability and steadfast commitment to his morals make him a likable character that viewers find easy to root for. 

Creator Chris Brancato, known for "Narcos" and "Godfather of Harlem," describes "Hotel Cocaine" as "Casablanca on cocaine," a fitting analogy given the show's blend of high-stakes drama and historical context. While it shares similarities with other drug-centric shows like "Narcos," its unique setting and character-driven plot offer a fresh perspective on the genre. 

“The Mutiny” - HOTEL COCAINE. Pictured: Michael Chiklis as Agent Zulio. Photo: Carlos Rodriguez/MGM + ©2024. All Rights Reserved.

Overall, "Hotel Cocaine" delivers a strong premiere, with stellar acting and a storyline that leaves viewers eager to see what happens next. Despite not reaching the cinematic heights of shows like "Griselda" or "Narcos," it carves out its own niche with likable characters and an engaging narrative. Time for viewers to weigh in: What did you think of the premiere? Did you feel Roman was a likable character? As he gets more involved in Nestor’s crime-ridden world, will he be able to stand true to his morals? Share your thoughts in the comments below and follow me on X at @middleofcanada.

Cristina manages the site and reviews several shows. She is an Elementary School Counsellor by day and avid TV buff by night. True Crime, thrillers, dramas and dramedy's are her favourite genres. When she is not at work or managing SpoilerTV, she loves spending time with her two dogs, a Chihuahua Pug mix named Holly and Terrier mix named Penny. She also loves Travelling to visit family.

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