Palermo Connection – The Secret of the Water

Angelo Caronia (Riccardo Scamarcio) is a brilliant but arrogant police detective. After offending nearly everyone in his police station in Rome, he’s told to either apologize or risk a transfer. When he’s unable to swallow his pride and account for his mistakes, he’s shipped off to his hometown of Palermo. 

Caronia is still haunted by the ghosts from his childhood. Returning means he will have to face his Mafiosa father, Ruggero Santocastro (Luigi Maria Burruano), and his half brother, Blasco (Michele Riondino). Over the years, both men have distanced themselves from Santrocastro, Angelo by becoming a cop, and Blasco by running his own company and refusing help from his father. Knowing what he will encounter in Palermo, Angelo begins therapy sessions by phone with a doctor, Treves (Roberto Herlitzka). Finding out if Santocastro is no longer a criminal is the only thing that will help Angelo put the past to rest.

One of his officers, Daniela Gemma (Valentina Lodovini), meets Angelo at the airport. Rather than heading for his new apartment, however, Angelo asks Daniela to take him to the home of his former teacher, Adele Diamante (Lucia Sardo), who helped to raise him and teach him proper Italian. Adele isn’t home, but wandering around an apartment he knows so well stirs something in Angelo. Daniela responds to those feelings and soon the two are making love. 

Riccardo Scamarcio

That brief encounter, however, will complicate both their lives. Daniela is engaged to Blasco and when he learns Angelo is her new boss, old resentments bubble to the surface. As teenagers, Angelo and Blasco were in competition for Santocastro’s affection. Blasco was never told that Angelo was his half brother and regarded him as an interloper. Now Blasco sees himself in another competition with Angelo  – for Daniela’s love and loyalty. While she tries to reassure Blasco, his jealousy threatens the relationship as he watches Daniela working a tough case with Angelo, the two spending long days and nights together.

The case starts simply enough. The body of an unidentified man is found on the beach. Because he’s Black, everyone is quick to write it off as a refugee who drowned trying to travel from Africa to Sicily. Angelo orders an autopsy that finds the man died with fresh water, not salt water, in his lungs. Water soon becomes the central focus of Angelo’s investigation. While there seems to be plenty of water available in Palermo, little gets to people’s homes. That dead man, as well as many of his countrymen from Tunisia, have been brought to Palermo to work on a tunnel that will eventually bring water to where it’s needed. But criminal elements behind the plan stand to make a fortune, killing anyone who stands in their way.

Chief Sabino Tomei (Antonio Bruschetta), tries to get under Angelo’s skin by taunting him with the nickname Brad Pitt. (And, yes, Scamarcio has sex appear to spare.) But when Angelo’s instincts prove right and he gets results, Tomei is solidly behind his deputy. 

Riccardo Scamarcio, Dario Alta, Valentina Lodovini, Max Mazzotta, and Natalino Balasso

Angelo’s team is a rag-tag bunch, but under his leadership – he can be brutal in his criticism, and never apologizes – they come together and turn in exceptional work. Daniela is the smartest, but even she begins to sharpen her skills to keep up with Angelo. Ettore Borghesan (Natalino Balasso), who was booted from the mobile squad by Tomei, turns his career around to such an extent that Tomei asks him to come back. Sergio Basso (Dario Alta) is working as a cop only until his music career gets off the ground, while Marcello Ascalone (Max Mazzotta), spends his off hours taking care of his crippled father.

Available on Amazon Prime and MHz Choice, the six episodes, each nearly two hours long, are not stand alones, but continue the investigation into the water situation in Palermo. While the scenery in Sicily is not as much on display as in other series set on the island – Inspector Montalbano and Young Montalbano – the underwater scenes are fabulous. Unlike Montalbano, Angelo is not interested in food so we are deprived of those glorious table shots. 

Scamarcio is one of the most popular, as well as perhaps the wealthiest actor in Italy. A second season of Palermo Connection is not on the horizon, but Scarmarcio can also be seen in the PBS series, The Woman in White, streaming through PBS Passport. 

Photos courtesy of MHz Choice.

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About Charlene Giannetti (423 Articles)
Charlene Giannetti, editor of Woman Around Town, is the recipient of seven awards from the New York Press Club for articles that have appeared on the website. A graduate of Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Charlene began her career working for a newspaper in Pennsylvania, then wrote for several publications in Washington covering environment and energy policy. In New York, she was an editor at Business Week magazine and her articles have appeared in many newspapers and magazines. She is the author of 13 non-fiction books, eight for parents of young adolescents written with Margaret Sagarese, including "The Roller-Coaster Years," "Cliques," and "Boy Crazy." She and Margaret have been keynote speakers at many events and have appeared on the Today Show, CBS Morning, FOX News, CNN, MSNBC, NPR, and many others. Her last book, "The Plantations of Virginia," written with Jai Williams, was published by Globe Pequot Press in February, 2017. Her podcast, WAT-CAST, interviewing men and women making news, is available on Soundcloud and on iTunes. She is one of the producers for the film "Life After You," focusing on the opioid/heroin crisis that completed filming on February 1, 2020. Charlene divides her time between homes in Manhattan and Alexandria, Virginia.