Always a Witch (Siempre Bruja) comes from Colombia. It’s a Netflix original with 10 episodes in the first season. The story is about a time-traveling witch from the 17th century who finds herself in modern day Cartagena.
The witch, Carmen (Angely Gaviria), is on a mission in her time travels.
Let me back up a bit and set the scene. Carmen is an African slave in 1646. She’s on the auction block. A light skinned man, Cristobal (Lenard Vanderaa), approaches the sales area. The two make eye contact and fall in love. Cristobal’s family buys Carmen.
Yes, Carmen is in love, love, love with her slave-master owner.
That’s just the first of many highly problematic plot points in this series. The time-travel and witchcraft parts of the story are reasonably well done for the genre. But there are other more supposedly realistic parts of the story that don’t work.
Another example, when Carmen jumps into modern times she finds a place to live and a swell wardrobe without so much blinking or finding a way to earn money. She starts going to the university without enrolling.
Back in 1646, Cristobal’s family detected an air of the witch about Carmen and arranged to have her burned at the stake. That’s when she made her first time jump. She thinks Cristobal was shot and killed by his own father for trying to save her from burning.
A warlock named Aldemar (Luis Fernando Hoyos) promised Carmen if she would deliver a stone to a woman in the future named Ninibe (Verónica Orozco), she could return to her own time and save Cristobal. That was her mission.
She met people in modern times, made friends, learned a lot, and came to understand more about her powers. But she never forgot her mission to save Cristobal.
The people Carmen met in modern day Cartagena included Jhony Ki (Dylan Fuentes), Esteban (Sebastian Eslava), Alicia (Sofia Bernal Araujo), and Mayte (Valeria Emiliani), among others. Some of these people were witches or warlocks like herself. Some were out for power. Some were friends who would do anything to help. From one episode to the next, you might discover that someone you thought was safe for Carmen to be around was actually working a nefarious scheme of their own with her as a pawn.
She saved people wherever she went. She was a healer, a mind-reader, she could levitate herself and objects around her, she could move force fields with her hands. Each time her power increased, circular symbols that lit up on her forearm grew. As I mentioned, the genre parts of the story were interesting and worked well.
There were many things to like in Always a Witch (Siempre Bruja). I especially liked seeing the dark skinned Carmen take control of situations because of her intelligence and charisma – not through witchcraft – and tell the lighter skinned people around her what to do. That almost compensated for the weird sexual and racial relationship between the slave and her owner.
In the beginning episodes, there was too much attention to romantic relationships for me. However, I think the series is probably aimed at a much younger audience who will care about that more than I. After Carmen saw what women’s lives are like in modern times, she became a crusader for women’s rights and the freedom of slaves when she was back in her own time. That gave some weight to the story that I enjoyed.
Angely Gaviria as Carmen was teriffic. She was in almost every scene. She is capable of a wide range of emotions and personas. She’s very talented and carries the majority load of the series well.