30 Coins Episode 4 recap: Who is Cardinal Santoro?

Eduard Fernández in 30 Coins Episode 4 -- Photograph by Courtesy of HBO
Eduard Fernández in 30 Coins Episode 4 -- Photograph by Courtesy of HBO /

The fourth episode of 30 Coins HBO explores Father Vergara’s past and a formidable enemy.

We finally get to see where Father Vergara comes from in the fourth hour of 30 Coins HBO. For a midseason episode, 30 Coins Episode 4, “Memories,” isn’t super action-packed, but it does give us critical background information and set up what I believe will be several key plot points in the remainder of the season.

Like the episode title suggests, this episode of 30 Coins HBO is all about Vergara and his past. Given the recent events in Pedraza, Vergara decides to return to Rome for assistance in dealing with these 30 coins and the immense horror they’ve caused.

We flashback to Rome, 1990 when Vergara was a young priest-in-training (who still had hair). He and two of his close friends, Sandro and Fabio, often hung out and dissected everything from God to the possibility of Satan. In class one day, Vergara dares to question their professor about his exorcism techniques. Vergara thinks they need to get to know the evil they’re dealing with rather than ignoring it. His dissenting viewpoint gets him kicked out of class.

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Fabio praises Vergara for his bold perspective. It earns him a visit to Fabio’s secret underground bunker, where he’s been keeping a demon chained up for weeks.

Like Vergara suggested, Fabio thinks it’s important to learn everything he can about the “evil” they face as priests. He records every session he has with his demon pal. Sandro is less impressed with the whole thing and believes this man is nothing more than a charlatan.

He demands the demon do something to prove himself. So he breathes fire, as demons do, and almost causes Sandro to burn to death. Luckily for him, Fabio and Vergara manage to suffocate the flames before Sandro flatlines, but the priest is still left with severe, permanent facial scarring.

Needless to say, the demon is just humoring the men and is clearly incredibly powerful. He waxes on about the truth of God and Satan, emphasizing that if God is the one who constructs all then, that means he is evil too — that God is also Satan. Fabio is hooked by this demon, or devil, or whatever he is and eager to know more.

Sensing an opportunity, the demon encourages Fabio to meet his “boss” by opening one of the cell doors. Fabio is super excited to potentially be vanquished for some reason and wants Vergara to accompany him but Vergara is like uh, no I’ll stay in the mortal world thanks. As expected, Fabio opens the door and gets sucked into some blinding white light, seemingly gone forever.

Vergara, for some reason, opens the door immediately after Fabio (dude, I thought you weren’t going to be dumb?!) but thankfully, I guess, the secret deadly realm is gone and it’s just an ordinary cell again. When Fabio turns around, though, the demon has escaped his cuffs and is nowhere in sight.

More. 30 Coins Episode 3 recap: The Mirror. light

Fast-forward to 1992, Vergara and Sandro travel to Jerusalem to help heal Sandro’s soul. (He claims the demon didn’t just burn his mind, but also his soul). There, Vergara sees Fabio in the crowd and tries to chase him down. Face-to-face, Fabio feigns ignorance, claiming a case of mistaken identity as he escapes in a mysterious black car.

Back in the present, the older Vergara finds his old friend Sandro at a prison. Sandro is hiding from Fabio, the demon, etc. because he knows that a bunch of bad stuff is happening. He claims that hiding in a place surrounded by tortured souls will keep him safe and recommends that Vergara goes into hiding in a war-torn country to stay hidden from Fabio.

But Vergara doesn’t want to hide, especially when he has people to protect in Pedraza. Instead, he seeks out his old contact Lombardi (who I think was his former professor? I could be wrong, let me know!). Lombardi tells Vergara his last line of defense is the Pope. Lombardi sets up a meeting between Vergara and the Pope.

The Pope wants assurances from Vergara that he hasn’t told anyone about the 30 coins and will track down the last one and destroy it. He says that, from this point on, Vergara should only talk to and trust one man — a man that the Pope himself has carefully selected. And guess who it is? Cardinal Fabio Santoro!

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Eduard Fernández in 30 Coins HBO Episode 4 — Photograph by Courtesy of HBO /

30 Coins HBO Episode 4 recap: Elena accepts Roque’s offer to leave town.

Pedraza’s residents are in a tizzy after the mess they made of Elena’s vet. The only people who actually know what happened are Paco, Elena, and Vergara. The rest of the town thinks they all lost their minds briefly and have no idea why they would attack Elena, but they blame Vergara because all the strange things —  beginning with the cow giving birth to a human baby — started when he arrived.

They’re all willing to pitch in some money to help Elena, but they also want to sign a petition to get the Diocese to agree to exile Vergara and bring in a “normal” priest. Merche heads the operation, going against Paco’s wishes. Well, Elena isn’t enthused by the way the town starts treating her like a charity case. Their intentions are not as pure as one might think, considering the way they acted.

They just want her to take money, shut up, and get over it. It doesn’t help that half the town still thinks Elena did something to her husband either. For Elena, this is the last straw. She’s had enough of Pedraza and wants out.

She decides to accept Roque’s gracious offer to move to his countryside estate and work as a vet for him. It also probably doesn’t hurt that he’s, like, super hot (although not as hot as Paco, but who is?). Paco is devastated to learn that Elena is leaving. For one, he’s fallen in love with her and all but confesses when he admits to her that he doesn’t want her to leave. And two, she’s the only person apart from Vergara that knows the truth — he’s not sure he can carry the burden on his own. But Paco is still married, so it’s not like he’s leaving Elena with many choices.

Speaking of Paco, his relationship with Merche is becoming increasingly messy. They continue to butt heads and argue, mainly because Merche doesn’t know the truth about anything happening in town. She can also sense his growing feelings toward Elena.

After a vicious argument at the abattoir, Merche leaves in tears and finds Antonio rolling through the streets in his wheelchair sipping stolen wine from the church (Honestly? Mood.). He tells her that according to the voices, Elena’s husband will return soon, and that will be perfect for Merche, wouldn’t it? Elena will finally be out of the way, and she can go back to normal with her husband. He says he’s been seeing a crazy old woman who eats olives like cockroaches, and she’ll be the one to bring Mario back — or something.

Across town, under the cloak of night, a mysterious older woman (I’m guessing the very same one that Antonio was talking about because how many mysterious older women can one town hold?) approaches a scarecrow. She shoves an old photograph of Elena and Mario into its ribs and then pours some strange liquid near the scarecrow’s base. Then she sits back and relaxes in her lawn chair as the scarecrow starts to shift and transform into a man. Guess who? Elena’s husband Mario emerges from the field covered in mud.

Paco and Sergeant Lagunas rush to the airport before Elena can board to let her know that things have changed. Poor Elena, she was almost free.

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What did you think of the fourth episode of 30 Coins HBO? Let us know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below!

New episodes of 30 Coins HBO air Monday nights at 9:00 p.m. ET and are available to stream simultaneously on HBO Max.