The Italian superhit Netflix series Suburra is back in a new form with the 2023 action thriller series Suburraeterna, which continues the grisly story of Rome’s political and criminal complexities. The plot follows Spadino Anacleti as he reluctantly returns home from Berlin and quickly gets involved in the convoluted situation of changing alliances and plans of betrayal. With multiple characters belonging to multiple crime families who want to be in control of the Ostia district of Rome, the action and plot motivations in Suburraeterna rely a bit too much on the violence and pride of one’s family. The series would perhaps be most enjoyable for those heavily interested in the action crime genre.
Plot Summary: What is the Netflix series about?
Suburraeterna begins amidst massive unrest in Rome as protestors voice their frustration against housing schemes and a lack of governmental support. Every administrative group, starting from the council under the city’s mayor to the Catholic priests working in the city for the Vatican, have taken note of these protests and are busy choosing their stance. One of the central characters, Damiano, is introduced, as he is frustrated by the disrespect and mistreatment that his mother-in-law, Adelaide, metes out against him. Adelaide belongs to the powerful Anacleti family, a Romani bloodline that has become one of the biggest gangster families in the region. Damiano is married to Adelaide’s daughter-in-law, Angelica, who had become estranged from her son, Spadino. It is considered highly disrespectful for esteemed families to abandon their daughter-in-law, especially since Spadino was homosexual and had left the country after a disagreement with his family.
Although Adelaide had allowed Angelica’s second marriage with Damiano, she always looked down upon the man, making him tend to the fighting dogs kept by the Anacletis. Meanwhile, Damiano and his siblings, Cesare and Giulia, grow tired of their current situation in life. They are from the Luciano family of fishermen, and while they currently earn their living by selling fish and smuggling drugs, the siblings want to take more control over the criminal network in Ostia. They finally get a group together and launch an attack on the Anacleti house, and Angelica joins them, too, after killing Adelaide. This tragic death of his mother now makes Spadino return to Rome from Berlin, where he intends to pay his last respects to the woman.
While a violent conflict between the two families ensues, the fight is given a political dimension by two rival councilmen, Amedeo Cinaglia and Ercole Bonatesta. Both of these municipal councilors want to establish their stronghold over the rest of the council, and they involve the warring families as well as make use of a rift inside the Papal administration. It is these chaotic times that Suburraeterna presents, with every side desperate to make alliances and save themselves from violent crimes.
Why does Spadino decide to stay back?
Soon after the shootout at the Anacleti house, it is made clear that the Lucianos are working together with councilman Ercole Bonatesta, who hails from another notorious family of gangsters, the Bonatestas. Ercole’s grandfather, Vito, does not want the man to be so involved in politics and instead wants him to take forward the family business of drugs and crimes, all hidden behind the counter of their grocery store. But Ercole is not one to pay heed to these orders, as he is motivated towards making it big in the town council. Since the Anacletis are family rivals and supporters of his political competitor, Amedeo Cinaglia, he offers to work with the Lucianos, giving the family a chance to run their own business. After the hit on the Anacletis, Ercole also ensures that the surviving family members are forced off their property, citing legal issues with their claim of owning the property.
When Spadino first returns home, his only intention is genuinely to attend his mother’s funeral and then leave for Berlin, where he has made his own home. Always a closeted homosexual, Spadino has finally found love in a man named Mesut, and he works as a DJ in Germany. During one of his gigs at a club, Spadino receives a call that informs him of his mother’s passing, and the man is shocked to hear of it. Once he returns home, the other members of his family almost immediately expect him to take up the reins of running the mob family. The man has severe arguments with some of the men with regards to this as well, for Spadino wants to return to his current life with Mesut as early as possible. The loss of his elder brother Aureliano and now his mother Adelaide has grieved Spadino terribly, and he wants nothing to do with the crimes of his family.
However, things start to change after the Anacleti family is forced to evict their property or else face trouble from the police forces. The members all return to the campsite, which had been their home before they moved in, on the more luxurious side of the city. Feeling a rising anger and desire for revenge after these atrocities, as Spadino, too, was once extremely dedicated to serving his mob family, the young man decides to change his mind. He meets with Cinaglia, who had already spoken with Spadino earlier, and the two now form an alliance, promising to help each other in stopping their respective enemies. Through a common friend, Nadia, Spadino also meets his estranged wife, Angelica, who is now on the enemy side. Although there is not really any love between the two, Angelica and Spadino do have mutual respect, and the woman asks him not to attack her current husband, Damiano Luciano.
Spadino does not comply with this request, though, as he gets a great chance to avenge his mother’s death with the help of Nadia’s accomplice, Cerocchi. The plan does not go down well, and this, in turn, begins a long battle between the two families, as they both want to kill the other before they are themselves attacked. Suburraeterna has the side characters changing their motivations with the drop of a hat, and this is apparent with regards to Nadia, who initially teams up with the Lucianos despite them attacking her gym. This is because Damiano’s wife, Angelica, is Nadia’s best friend, and the two have been extremely close to each other ever since childhood. However, Cesare and Giulia are not fond of Nadia, and it is Damiano who has to contain the situation between his siblings and his wife with regard to Nadia. The woman in question also has a change of heart when the Luciano siblings change the appearance of her gym.
Nadia makes a deal with Spadino, convincing him that she will lead him to Damiano and his siblings so that he can kill them and get his revenge. But then Angelica convinces her to sort out their problems and reconcile with Damiano, as that would be more beneficial to her. Nadia agrees, and she now leads Spadino into a trap laid out by the Luciano family, helping Damiano get his revenge. However, Nadia is the only one who gets killed in this encounter, with Damiano and Angelica grieving her loss.
What is the dirt dug up against Father Tronto?
The politics in the religious administration in Rome are particularly interesting and also play a central role in Suburraeterna, as two Catholic priests are also made part of the political conflict. Fiorenzi Nascari and Armando Tronto are two priests who are rivals in their field, as they both want to become the president of the Foundation. At the beginning of the series, Nascari is ousted from the post after his views about the ongoing citizens’ protests do not find many supporters. While he states that the protests should not be supported, Tronto differs by saying that the citizens were representatives of the poor and downtrodden, whom they are meant to serve through the Church. A direct link between the politics inside the Foundation and that in the town council is also established fairly early on, as the church has an extensive amount of money from which it often donates to the council for developmental projects in the city.
It is Cinaglia who first proposes a plan to build a new stadium in the city as a sort of modernized Colosseum, which would stop the unrest among the public. A large portion of the fund required for this construction is to come from the trust money held by the church, and Cinaglia makes an agreement with Nascari to ensure he will get the money and back the project. But since this construction project is going to heavily influence the balance of power in the town council, Ercole is quick to react. While he opposes the project during the official meeting, Ercole establishes contact with the rival priest, Tronto, to try and get the donation fund himself. As Nascari is ousted from the presidency and Tronto takes his place, the balance of power easily shifts towards Ercole, who now proposes to build the stadium with the money he would be getting from the church.
In response, Cinaglia and Nascari dig up some dirt from Tronto’s past, and the priest then makes use of a senior priest to make his way back to the presidency. This senior priest had been having a homosexual affair with one of the young corporals at the Foundation, and Tronto was also regularly blackmailing him with information about this affair. Nascari now reveals that Tronto himself has a secret from his past, for his sister Flaminia mysteriously disappeared during their younger days, never to be found again. It is agreed that if something sinister about the disappearance can be proved and Tronto is imprisoned or at least removed from the Foundation, then Nascari will be given back the presidency of the Foundation.
Naturally, Nascari informs Cinaglia about all this, and the politician does the rest of the investigation. It is found out that Flaminia was a drug addict who would often steal from Tronto’s church, and on one such occasion, the young priest accidentally killed her while trying to punish the sister. Together with Flaminia’s boyfriend, Tronto then buried the woman’s body under the very church. Cinaglia and his men now find this body and steal the entire coffin, which they intend to provide as proof of the priest’s past crime. This sudden change in the scenario makes Tronto extremely nervous, and he informs Ercole that he will be unable to support the politician’s plans if he does not do anything.
Ercole now makes use of a colleague of his named Miriana, with whom he was also having a secret affair all this while. Since Miriana is very close to Cinaglia, too, she figures out where the stolen coffin is stored, and she informs Ercole about the location in exchange for the promise that he will support her in her mayoral election campaign. Finally, Ercole and his helpers, the Luciano siblings, get hold of the coffin with Flaminia’s dead body inside, ensuring that Tronto’s secret murder is never caught.
What happens to Spadino And Ercole?
Keeping up with the overall tone of the entire series, Suburraeterna‘s ending also presents some grand betrayals and cunning political plans. It is Ercole who comes out as the cleverest among all the characters, as he plans out a betrayal against both his enemies and friends. Throughout the entire show, Cinaglia and Spadino have been working together against the Lucianos, but now Ercole has a crucial member, Cerocchi, switch on to his side. Upon the orders of Ercole, Cerocchi convinces Spadino that it was Cinaglia who had called for the later attack on the Anacleti family, while in reality, it was the Lucianos who had carried out this attack.
This deceit completely spoils any chance of Cinaglia and Spadino attacking Ercole for the time being, as the two are left to sort out their internal conflict. Spadino reaches Cinaglia’s house to confront him, and by the time they realize that they have been played, Ercole signs the documents with Tronto at the notary’s office. This officially transfers the church donation money to Ercole’s stadium construction plan, ensuring that the man becomes the most powerful among the councilmen, with no chance of Cinaglia fighting back for now. At the end of it all, Spadino is exhausted from all the violence associated with protecting his family, and he has to be comforted by Mesut as the boyfriend finally comes to Rome to visit Spadino. The man seems to have stepped away from his family once again, leaving his nephew Victor as the new leader of the Anacleti family.
On the other side, after convincing Spadino that his associate had betrayed the alliance, Ercole does the very same thing against his own associates, the Lucianos. Now that the politician has no more need for the siblings, he orders an attack on the family, which leads to the death of Cesare and leaves Damiano and Guilia hungry for revenge. Ercole had himself been nearly killed earlier by his grandfather’s men, as Vito still did not approve of his grandson’s ways. Now, at the very end of Suburraeterna, Ercole takes his revenge against this attack by strangling Vito to death, making it evident that he is ready to take on anybody who goes against him, even if they are from his own family.