From making us abhor him through his astounding portrayals of baddies in the previous teleseryes he starred in, Richard Gutierrez has begun to endear us with his latest role as the bida of the newest ABS-CBN primetime series The Iron Heart, which premiered last November 14.
And it apparently had a good and promising start as its first five episodes received praises and rave feedbacks on netizens who were able to watch it. But before we get to see some of their tweets, let’s have a recap first of some its highlights on its pilot week.
The promising start
Just on the first episode, we already had a hint that it is going to be explosive, literally and figuratively. It commenced with Richard’s character Apollo Adelantar on his way to Temple of Leah in Cebu City, where an important and high-class event is being held. Wearing a tuxedo, he pretends to be one of the guests and discreetly executes his plan as an undercover agent by putting a bomb under the helicopter parked at the venue’s yard. The security personnel may have caught him, but he’s still able to accomplish his mission as the helicopter exploded mid-air.
The episode then veered to his life as a teenager, as depicted by Kyle Echarri. He was a student-athlete in high school who aspired to become an accountant. Since the income of his father as a teacher was not enough to fund his studies, he really tried his best to secure a scholarship at a university. Aside from his good looks, what makes him so admirable was his kindness and willingness to help those people who are in need, not to mention that he possesses super strength. Thus, it’s not surprising that his schoolmate Cassandra (Karina Bautista) immediately fell in love with him, especially when he saved her from the bullies who attempted to take her bag.
Unbeknown to Apollo, he was being tailed by Maricel Laxa-Pangilinan’s character Atty. Helen Gomez, and even had his profile on hand, while he was on his way to his university scholarship interview. As he went home, we we’re able to get a glimpse of his close-ties with his dad Homer (Al Tantay), who was later on revealed was just his adoptive dad during Homer’s conversation with Hector (Roi Vinzon), his rich and arrogant brother.
Apollo and Cassie met anew when she delivered clean laundry at the former’s residence. They finally hit it off this time and had the chance to know each other deeper as they hung out at their barangay’s breakwater. But that was cut off when Apollo saw police cars zooming to the direction of their house, which made him feel that something seemed to be not right. And true enough, he saw his uncle and father being arrested for drug-related charges that made him go berserk, so he was also brought to jail.
Since his record already got tainted, Apollo wasn’t able to pass the scholarship. The bullies ridiculed him about it, which triggered him to punch their leader on the face. For him to be able to control his aggressiveness, Homer gave him a stainless cuff that would remind him to calm down in times of distress.
Little did he know that it was going to be his one of his last conversations with his father as Homer got killed during their fisticuffs with the hold-uppers of the bus they rode on their way to the city to buy him new pair of shoes. Since he’s already orphaned, Hector offered to adopt him, but Apollo declined for he didn’t want to attach himself with a drug lord like him, who he considers worse than the criminal that shot Homer to death.
Still furious and hurt by what happened, he vowed to not put his father’s demise in vain by always choosing to help those in need and stopping crimes with all his might. One evening, he was surprised to receive a scholarship grant letter from the university he applied at, which was later on revealed was from Helen. When he asked what they wanted from him in return, she told him that they only wish him to be a better version of himself, especially with his strength and physique.
He relentlessly trained while studying, and after a few years, he’s able to finish his degree in accountancy and became an accountant. And on top of that, Apollo and Cassandra, who are now portrayed by Richard Gutierrez and Maja Salvador, also became in a relationship!
It was in the second episode when Apollo received his first top secret mission from Crime Investigation Bureau (CIB), with Helen instructing him to infiltrate the crime syndicate Tatsulok, which they wanted to bring down. He was seemingly hesitant to accept it, until he learned that the person who killed his father was a lower member of the crime ring. Since this is a secret mission, he isn’t allowed to tell anyone about it, even his loved ones, for their protection. When it will end is also uncertain, depending on how long he can accomplish it.
This strained his relationship with Cassandra, who had already decided not to push through her plan of working in United Kingdom as a nurse. He encouraged her to go with it, which appalled her, so he simply told her that he just doesn’t want her to stop her life or change her plans because of him.
As Apollo accepted the mission and began his trainings in the mountains, he got kidnapped by unknown men, who also tortured ruthlessly tortured him as he refused to speak about his involvement with CIB. He tried to escape, but only to be freed by the leader of the goons after he uttered “Lagi kong pipiliin ang tama” when asked why he didn’t want to ‘fess up. It was revealed afterwards that it was part of his test as an undercover agent.
It was in the third episode when we found out more about Tatsulok and its leader, played by Albert Martinez, who’s business includes arms dealing, drug trafficking, money laundering, and other illegal activities. He also has connections in government and businessmen and is notorious for being a “ghost” as he’s able to do his transactions smoothly with no trace of evidences.
Before going on to his mission, Apollo was able to visit his Uncle Hector and his family, as well as Cassandra, only to say goodbye and leave again. Since he’s yet to know when his mission will be done, he told her to not wait for him anymore.
In order to easily infiltrate Tatsulok, he had to change his identity to Olimpio Custodio and be incarcerated because it is in prison where the syndicate scouts for new members. He almost got killed by one of the inmates, but he was able stop him through his unbelievable strength and fighting skills, which caught the attention of one the Tatsulok members inside and reported it immediately to his superior outside.
Apollo found an ally in Bungo (Mitoy Yonting), who told him about the secret tunnel inside the maximum-security compound and even pointed it to him. In one of their conversations, we found out that he is the father of Sue Ramirez’s character through a picture that he showed him, as he asked him to help his daughter just in case their paths will cross outside.
The fourth episode started with Bungo and Apollo inciting a riot, which was part of their escape plan. They’re able to swiftly arrive at the secret tunnel, with Apollo shocking Bungo after he was able to lift the cemented cover of the tunnel. The security personnel tried to stop them, but Apollo was able to topple them down. Unfortunately, it was only him who got to breakout as Bungo was caught.
Just when he thought that he’s already safe upon reaching a coastal area, he encountered a few members of Tatsulok led by Janus (Baron Geisler) who were waiting for him. He tried to fight them, but they’re too many and brandished guns as well. They brought him to their hideout, where Apollo further impressed Janus with his strength and fighting skills.
Much to his surprise, Helen was able to contact him through the phone provided by Tatsulok, and advised him to start from the bottom until he gets the favor of the superiors and be hailed as one of its leaders. In his conversation with Poseidon (Pepe Herrera), a Tatsulok member who becomes his friend, Apollo learned that their top leader is a certain “engineer,” which turned out to be Albert Martinez. He’s ruthless, cunning, and willing to kill innocent lives in pursuit of getting what he wants. In fact, he ordered the bombing of a mall after the mayor declined the favor his asking him.
Meanwhile, despite nursing a broken heart after Apollo called it quits between them, Cassandra had to face another heartbreak again as her mom abandoned her anew, but this time, also leaving her the responsibility of taking care of her half-sister Lia (Althea Ruedas).
Apollo heard Janus relaying to Sol (Mark Oblea) the order of their higher-ups to bomb the parking mall, which he was able to successfully stop in the fifth episode. Sol was able to identify him, but Apollo was able to shove him off the railings that ensued to his demise. Just when he was getting away from the scene, he bumped into Sue’s character, who seemingly got smitten by him.
It was later on revealed that she’s con artist named Venus, who uses her beauty to extort money from her unsuspecting victims. She used the money she scammed from a rich man to save Maia (Andi Abaya) from a cybersex den and to also feed less fortunate kids.
As he was able to foil Sol’s mission, Apollo found an opportunity to work his way up when the unsuspicious Janus picked him to participate in a combat in an attempt to appease their enraged bosses in Tatsulok. It was hosted by Venus, and was attended by affluent people, including the characters Jeric Raval, Diether Ocampo, Jake Cuenca, and Dimples Romana.
The rave feedbacks from netizens
The Iron Heart had a good and promising start, based on the feedbacks tweeted by the netizens in the past week. The pilot episode, tagged #TIHTheOrigin, became one of the trending topics on Twitter, along with other taglines and topics related to it.
Aside from the fact that it is an action-drama series and it is Richard Gutierrez’s first Kapamilya series in a lead role, other things that netizens raved about was Kyle Echarri’s astonishing dramatic performance that made him the perfect choice as the young Apollo. Many were impressed with his team-up with Karina Bautista, who also delivered an awesome performance as the young Cassandra.
At the same time, a lot of netizens also expressed their excitement to see Maja Salvador in an ABS-CBN primetime teleserye, more than two years since her last. They also couldn’t contain their kilig everytime she and Richard would share the screen, and even wishing to see more of them together.
They also didn’t miss to heap phrases on how awe-inspiring its cinematography and OBB (opening billboard) are, which are comparable to the international series and movies that we have seen. Of course, they also commended its powerhouse cast, as well as heaped praises on Richard’s performance and caliber as an action star.
Here are some of the enthusiastic tweets that we’re able to spot regarding the first episode: