Netflix’s animated series, Trese is an inspired Filipino version of DC’s John Constantine. Few undeniable similarities between the two protagonists are their usage of second names, “Constantine” and “Trese.” Both are occult detectives solving supernatural crimes in their respective lands. And the most prominent correlation, their battle with the boss-villain, aka the devil himself. In Constantine, the devil called himself Lucifer, but in Trese, the figure is labeled “God of War.”
Trese is based on a Filipino komik created by Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldisimo. With only 6 episodes of half-hour each, the series captivated the global audience and lured them into the realm. The initial publications of the original comics started off with standalone missions solved by Alexandra Trese to protect the streets of Manila from different savage creatures inspired by Filipino folklore. But the series incorporates both standalone missions and a base storyline centering around Alexandra’s origin and her significance. So let’s get this started.
‘Trese’ Season 1 Recap
The horror began to unravel upon Manila when vampire-like creatures, Aswang, started attacking the residents. To combat the supernatural underworld, the city sergeant, Captain Guerrero, summoned the occult detective, Alexandra Trese, assisted by her adopted brothers, Crispin & Basilio.
Alexandra’s father, Anton (also titled Lakan), was the former guardian of Manila. He signed peace accords with the masters of the different realms to protect mankind from constant threats. After his death, his daughter Alexandra continued the legacy. She found her existence in safeguarding the accords with her life.
For six intriguing episodes, the story established the skills and wits of Alexandra while peeping into her past, thereby clarifying her origins. The constant flashbacks also narrated the story of her father and how the accords came into formation. But above these solo cases, there was a singular threat connecting all the dots that ultimately led to the antagonist, the devil, God of War.
Who was God of War?
Datu Talagbusao, aka God of War, was a Filipino version of Devil or Lucifer, as you may like to refer to. Enough suggested, the wretch wanted to destroy the world and create a new one per his wish (been there, seen it).
In Filipino folklore, Datu Talagbusao was considered the god of death and destruction. However, Filipino mythology is not based on dualities like other religions. Many of the deities worshipped in Filipino history can be both good and bad in their own ways. This was a fatal flaw in the series where Datu Talagbusao was treated as single-shaded character, i.e. evil.
In the series, all the crimes Trese dealt with were, in a way, connected to him. He came back to Earth to fulfill a prophecy that suggested that “the sixth child of the sixth child” will bring about a balance between the underworld and the world of men. And will preside over the one and destroy the other.
The prophesied child was Trese, and Talagbusao was waiting for her judgment. He wanted to annihilate the world and remake it, something the devil had immense pride for.
Alexandra’s two bodyguards or the adoptive brothers, Crispin & Basilio, were Datu Talagbusao’s son. He wanted to consume his own babies to become more powerful. But Anton stopped him (witnessed in a flashback in episode 5). Anton sent the devil back, adopted his two kids, and later formed an extended family.
Who was Lakan?
Alexandra’s father, Anton (titled Lakan), was a former guardian of mankind who married a Babaylan Visayan, Alexandra’s mother named Miranda. Anton learned about Babaylan’s vision (folklore) during his stay on Mount Makiling through Miranda who was a religious leader of the community (community of healers and shamans).
There Anton discovered a prophecy according to which “the sixth child of the sixth child” will bring annihilation to the world. But the sixth child won’t destroy the world directly. Instead, the child will be assisted by a 5th child (the twin) who would turn out to be a fierce warrior bringing death and destruction and laying them all at the feet of the sixth.
Anton made his life’s pursuit of finding out the twins and also made a council to unite the human and supernatural world to fight against prophecy when the time comes. The association of the mythological creatures, titled him, “Lakan” which means ruler, because they saw him as a representative of human beings.
Anton never knew that the twins would be born to his own family, as his own daughters. His own flesh and blood. During Alexandra’s childhood, his father made an unwanted decision. He sacrificed Alexandra’s twin sister, the fifth child, to get rid of the prophecy. But the devil, Datu Talagbusao, made sure that Teresa’s judgment and destiny didn’t go to waste. Thus he returned to scheme destruction.
What was the Balete Tree?
In folklore, the Balete Tree is believed to be dwelling places for supernatural beings. In the series, Trese’s lineage was a stand between the world of man and the supernatural. To prove their worthiness, they had to face trials at the Great Balete Tree.
The tree was a kind of arena, a test of character where a warrior’s true spirit was tested. Anton gave her a special weapon, Sinag, a magical kris blade created from the soul of Trese’s twin sister. He believed that the blade would be a companion to Alexandra in times of need.
According to the series, Alexandra was trained inside the tree for 5 years, and when she came back, her father was gone. Thus, the significance of the tree became an important layer in the series. A great battle took place against Tresa’s family and the supernatural leaders. Initially, Anton hid the information of Alexandra being “the sixth of the sixth.” But when the accord members found out, they tried to attack the tree and kill Alexandra. Her father saved her but, in return, lost his life. The revelations also diluted the accords and connected back to the first episode, where we saw an uprising of the underworld, especially Aswang.
‘Trese’ Season 1 Ending Explained – The Final Battle
An eternity-long flashback vocalized by Datu Talagbusao lauded his efforts in restoring back the prophecy of world destruction. The whole point of a tiring flashback was to manipulate Trese to hate her father for killing her twin sister. Talagbusao wanted her to fulfill the prophecy and burn the world in her revenge. It would make things easy for the devil and make him feel important to create a new world.
But the death of Captain Guerrero and few other testimonials on the way weakened the devil’s manipulation. Trese created a magical portal (sigil) and trapped Talagbusao in the lagusan (tunnel/path). In the series, it was depicted as a portal to travel between places. Talagbusao was prisoned in between the realm, where he would be trapped forever (if the creators don’t wish for his return).
Trese came back to Earth and landed near the Balete Tree. A family reunion of the souls to embrace the death and losses that happened along the journey. Was it worth it? Terese always chanted to her father that all those deaths hurt her sanity. But the end suggested that Trese had a much larger goal than her personal loss or pain. She is Babaylan, who had the power to help a lost soul. She must see beyond the outside and help humanity with her labors. The occult detectives will keep on fighting the beasts until her last breath.
‘Trese’ Season 1 Post Credit Sequence
A post-credit sequence suggested another notable antagonist arriving in Metro Manila. Her outfit, a black button-down Chinese-inspired trench coat and a paper talisman attached to her hat was inscribed in Chinese. The outlook and her hunger for human blood suggested another vampire creature from the folklore referred to a Chinese Jiangshi. Unfortunately, it is a mere speculation because I haven’t read the comics. Better to read the “komik” or wait for the ‘Trese’ Season 2 for a better understanding.
Season 2 will follow other supernatural crime cases from the “komik” books. The main plotting would be similar to season 1, a central antagonist, connecting to all the cases. Let’s see how the creators unfold the second installment of the series.
Trese is a 2021 Animated Series Filipino komik series of the same name. It is streaming on Netflix.
Additional Credits to Diana (a diligent Filipino viewer) for suggesting Mythological Insights.