REVIEW: Exceptional storytelling, brilliant acting highlight pilot week of The General’s Daughter

Riveting action-dramas come rarely.

And when we came across the pilot week of The General’s Daughter, we are treated not only with an impeccable story but also a breathtaking array of acting brilliance and production quality that grips and enamors us.

What’s truly impresses us was the way it treads an interesting, mysterious, and suspenseful storytelling that makes us wonder and crave for the truth, specifically about Rhian (Angel Locsin). And her marvelous “rescue” of “fishermen” who were plying their “trade” on the West Philippine Sea from Chinese coast guard troops was well-orchestrated and shot, including underwater camera work.

While she did bail out the “countrymen,” Rhian’s meticulous operation turned out a misfortune for her as a bullet grazed her forehead when the Chinese troops opened fire as she dove into the sea. This rendered her unconscious and floating into the shores of Sto. Francisco village.

Touching scenes

The subsequent scenes wherein a partial amnesia-ill Rhian had interacted with Sto. Francisco’s fisherfolk touched viewers, given the way a heartwarming autistic young man Elai (Arjo Atayde) had discovered his “Diyosa,” and his kind and affectionate Nanang Sabel (Maricel Soriano) seeing a loving daughter in her.

This truly captivated viewers as it kept them pondering as to who Rhian really is, as they joined fellow cast members and even Rhian herself in finding out as she is even clueless about her name. Storytelling at this point was at its finest because it held back key truths at the onset and made us discover them bit by bit as the narrative went on. A method that took us at the edge of our seats in exceptional post-Hitchcock Hollywood thrillers.

While Rhian had enamored Elai and Nanang Isabel, the rest of the villagers were skeptical, thinking if she could be masquerading criminal making a fool out of them. Rhian herself was also skeptical, given the superb fighting skills she displayed in disposing of local hoodlums.

One night, however, as police herded away the criminals Rhian had fought off, two military officers were in frantic search of a woman they presented in a camera phone photo that exactly resembled Rhian. When these officers, Captains Ethan del Fierro (JC de Vera) and Jopet Ramirez (Cholo Barretto), had seen her, they immediately brought her to the military headquarters in Tarlac.

Regaining her memory

They first informed her that she was 2nd Lieutenant. Rhian Bonifacio of the nursing corps. And while Rhian still could not fully remember what led her to that fishing village in Sto. Francisco, her memory was slowly coming back.

Rhian would now remember who a very concerned Captain del Fierro is in her life. After saving his life in a bloody encounter, she and Ethan drew close, and actually became lovers.

Also, after checking her quarters, she finds interesting items to discover—hordes of cash, a card key and a notice from a condominium in Angeles City. When she visited the condominium, it turns out that she owns a luxury unit and a huge Jeep Wrangler. But when suddenly another set of hooligans try to gang up on her inside the unit led by a well-trained male combatant and she overpowers them again, the leader Franco (Paulo Avelino) confirmed what she feared all this time, that she was also a “criminal.”

And when Rhian is brought to a yacht and meets Heneral Tiago (Tirso Cruz III), she learned her true identity. Tiago told her that he is her father, and that it was her life-long mission to exact revenge over the death of her sibling by eliminating the person he said was behind it, General Marcial de Leon (Albert Martinez).

Not a law-abiding citizen

Tiago, however, was by no means a law-abiding citizen. While he presents himself as a helpful and generous benefactor who gives jobs and scholarships to the underprivileged, Tiago is actually an illegal drug trafficker and gun-runner in cahoots with an international terrorist David Pascal (Ruben Soriquez). He had been at odds with Marcial since they were young officers—when the latter (Joseph Bitangcol) wed the woman of his dreams, Corazon (Meg Imperial), and brought Tiago (Bernard Palanca) to justice over a failed bombing attempt that Tiago instigated to start a coup.  

As Marcial was promoted and Tiago and his partner in crime, 2nd Lieutenant Amelia Montemayor (Roxanne Guinoo) were since discharged from service, the disgraced officer vowed to avenge all his hardships on him. The most telling incident that sparked his deepest hatred for Marcial was when he overran a checkpoint that started a gunbattle, which took the life of his child with Amelia.

He would then retaliate by ambushing a convoy with Marcial’s daughter Arabella in one of the vehicles. Tiago would then seize his daughter after blowing up all the vehicles to make everyone think no one, including Arabella, had survived the attack.

Tiago would then name her Diana and make her believe that she is his daughter. He would then use her against her own father for his own designs for revenge.

After training her hard skills in hand combat and weaponry with his group of bandits and renamed her Rhian Bonifacio to avoid suspicion, Tiago would then take her to a nursing school. And when she finished her studies and eventually passed the board exams, Tiago would then let her join the Armed Forces as part of the nursing corps.

Real father

And when she was officially part of the military, her “romantic” ties with Ethan would lead her to meet Marcial, her lifelong slay target whom, unbeknownst to her, is actually her real father. Rhian would even report to Tiago her every move in her careful tactics in carrying out her mission.

All along, as she remembered, she was actually backing the group of fishermen who were actually drug smugglers in that daring rescue against the Chinese coast guard—the real, feared criminal in her mind and in the eyes of the Sto Francisco villagers that initially befuddled her and eventually accepted with a heavy heart.

As Rhian drew closer to the de Leons, when Marcial’s daughter 2nd Lieutenant Jessie de Leon (Ryza Cenon), Ethan’s ex, invited them to a party at their residence, Corazon (Eula Valdes) immediately felt a connection with Rhian when she met her, a kind of motherly instinct.

But having a link to the De Leons was far from Rhian’s mind at the time as she continued to play a part in Tiago’s illegal trade while being part of the military. Ethan almost discovered Rhian’s true identity in a bust of a drug smuggling operation by Tiago’s men wherein she was also part of. But Franco, who was also there, had prevented it by fighting off with Ethan in an unsettled duel.  Here, Franco tried to shoot Ethan but Rhian stopped him.

Growing disloyalty

This showed her growing disloyalty to Tiago, who was enraged by the botched billion-peso operation. But before he could address his issue with Rhian, Tiago went all-out to retrieve his men who were apprehended by the military. And when Marcial and his troops tried to transport the men to a bigger, more secure military camp, they were blocked in the main road by Tiago and his armed men with hostages in a bus they threatened to blow up if the soldiers won’t release the smugglers.

Marcial decided to release them, in exchange for the bus passengers’ safety. And after the detained smugglers were free, Tiago set-off the ticking time bomb, which was successfully defused by Jopet. And when Tiago fled, Marcial decided to give chase on a motorcycle. And when Marcial caught up with him, he realized that he was actually Tiago, whom he blamed for the “death” of their child Arabella.

Both would engage in a gun duel that led to fisticuffs. And as each gain control of their weapons, they would hit each other before Tiago got away in his vehicle. Indeed, their struggle is deeply rooted and personal.

As how the storytelling menacingly gripped us, we felt their anger, as we all understood where it all came from.

And, we all understood how Angel Locsin’s character is at the middle of it. This is what’s exceptional about The General’s Daughter on its pilot week. Add to that the sparkling visuals that further accentuates the spellbinding narrative and the stirring fight scenes that left us breathless.

Remarkable actors

But what draws us to the teleserye throughout its first week were the exceptional performances of its remarkable actors. From a menacing Tirso Cruz III who gave a natural, deeply felt projection of the demented Tiago to an endearing and impressive comeback of the Diamond Star Maricel Soriano as Nanang Isabel.

Two of them stand out.

Who could forget Arjo Atayde’s breathtaking portrayal of Elai, given the difficult realities surrounding his character. His superb understanding of Elai’s condition as a young man with autism marvels us, as he not only showcases his brilliance as an actor but his sensitivity and meticulousness in breathing life to such a special character.

And, of course, nothing can compare to the impact Angel Locsin has given in her teleserye comeback. She did an astounding performance in taking a confused, troubled Rhian searching for her identity and executing such a diabolical mission.  Best of all, she showed her dazzling combat skills in those strenuous and demanding fight scenes certainly not all, if any, actresses today can measure up to. Her tag as an Action Drama Queen befits her.

We can now wait with so much excitement on how the narrative will take us.

Netizen reactions were overwhelming…