In Gomorrah, death has always come swiftly and without much ado. A motorcycle pulls up next to a car window, a quick shot to the head, and the body of the character who until seconds ago looked like they were ready to conquer the world lies inert on the pavement. And it is for this crude and realistic treatment of criminal life that Gomorrah has become the highest rated Italian series in recent years. The fifth and final season just released on HBO Max (Spoiler alert from here on it, so if you haven’t seen it yet, stop reading now) brings the story full circle by placing the emphasis on the contrast between the sentimentality of protagonists and how inconsequential their deaths are. Every individual populating the world of Gomorrah is striving to make a name for themselves within the criminal world hierarchy and even define one another in the same way. “You are the King”, “Now you are a nobody”, “the difference between you and me is that I am a man of honor”, “you are a rat and rats have a short life”, “unlike you, I am unable to do something like that”, etc. They are defined by rank and the status they aspire to, proudly displaying like medals the values that they feel makes them stand out from the pack, despite the fact that they all exist in this cosmos to snuff out the lives of others. So, regardless of how much they all strive to something bigger, they are in reality just mere cogs in the machinery.

As such, each figure is easily replaceable. The last season was pitched as the final showdown between Genna and Ciro, and how each one from their own different backgrounds have tried to rule the roost: the former as heir to the throne and wielding the long shadow of the family name right up until the last moment; the latter as the humble underdog, a nobody hell bent on reaching the top and revolutionizing the criminal underworld. Gomorrah places them as polar opposites and at the same time as equals, sharing the same industrial backdrop as a stomping ground, which showrunners adeptly portray using long shots in which dialogue hangs momentarily suspended in the air. And although each individual’s discourse may be different, each using a different array of words, both inevitably drag all those around them to their death, one way or another, either by killing in their name, or by dying for them. But for what? Ultimately, everything they have convinced themselves of and told others is rendered meaningless as the all-out war between the two characters that is Gomorrah not only delivers some of its finest action scenes in this last season (don’t miss the  cemetery scene, or the assault on Genna’s territory), but also has been simultaneously building an arc for both crime lords, who have come to realize just how empty and senseless the world they wanted to devour is and which has unavoidably “ended up chewing us up and spitting us out”.

Just in case anyone was in any doubt about the intentions of Gomorrah, fiercely loyal to Roberto Saviano’s original work, regarding its objective to thwart anything resembling a fascination for the criminal world and its protagonists, both characters end up finding themselves suffocating under the weight of the body count they have left in their respective wake, no longer capable of making sense of their actions. Their performances reflecting the deadweight hanging around each character’s neck, especially palpable on the face of Salvatore Esposito whose expression reflects an ever-deepening anguish that grows throughout the season as he comes to terms with the pain it inflicts on all those around him. “You were right. The only person you have to protect yourself from is me,” he says, as he pushes the boat carrying his wife and son away from the pier in the final scene in the series. And Gomorrah, in an unexpected paradigm, albeit faithful to the narrative they’ve been building throughout, sentences him to death abruptly in anti-epic manner from a bullet in the back, shortly followed by that of his best friend Ciro. The moment brought me back to the finale of The Sopranos, which Gomorrah undoubtedly referenced. Who killed Genna and Ciro? The identity of the shooters is intentionally hidden, but most probably it was a “nobody”. We could speculate, but then it doesn’t matter. After all, a bullet will kill you, no matter who the shooter is. And above all, because in reality Genna and Ciro were also nobodies, even though the series masterfully achieves getting audiences involved in their stories, they were no more important than any of the supporting cast who were wiped out without much ado throughout the series, almost inconsequentially beyond racking up an even greater body count in the name of revenge (dozens alone in this final season). The message here in the finale is clear: Genna and Ciro were mere cogs in an endless spree of violence that no one can put an end to, and truth be told, I couldn’t think of a better way to bring down the curtains on a series like Gomorrah.

Toni de la Torre. TV series critic. Toni works in ‘El Matí de Catalunya Ràdio’, El Temps, Què fem, Ara Criatures, Sàpiens and he also collaborates in TV3 magazine show ‘Tot es mou’. Author of several books on television series and a lecturer at the Barcelona Screenwriters and Showrunners school and in his free time, he likes to give conference on series. Highlights include Premi Bloc de Catalunya 2014.