Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again is a movie musical that doesn’t mind breaking your heart right from the outset. It’s clear as the 2018 flick begins (or if you watched any of the trailers, or heard anything about it prior to buying a ticket), that Donna — the main character from 2008’s original Mamma Mia! movie — is dead. While it may help to repeat to yourself, “Meryl Streep is alive and well and doesn’t do sequels,” you’re still going to be blubbering at the end when she returns as a ghost (or a memory) to sing a duet of “My Love, My Life” with her onscreen daughter, Sophie (Mean Girls alum Amanda Seyfried), at her grandson’s christening.
Luckily, we have some comic relief prior to this in the form of Cher showing up as Sophie’s grandmother, Ruby, despite the fact that she by no stretch of the imagination looks like anyone who could possibly be Meryl Streep’s mother (not to mention, as The Guardian points out, Cher is only three years older than Streep in real life). We also have island resident Don Raphael Cienfuegos (Andy Garcia), who coincidentally turns out to be Ruby’s old lover, Fernando. (Cue yet another ABBA duet.)
While the Fernando/Ruby backstory is left a little sketchy in the movie — merely being introduced as the setup for a song — one fan theory assigns Fernando a much larger role in the general scheme of things within the realm of Mamma Mia! lore.
Could Mamma Mia's Sophie have been reunited with another long-lost relative?
After Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again hit theatres, one Redditor took Sophie’s line about her grandma, Ruby, being “25 years too late” to kick off an entire chain of date-related calculations. They began with the assumption that Sophie herself is 25 years old, and the movie sequel is set in 2005 (not an unreasonable assumption, considering that the first one came out in 2008). That would mean that Donna gave birth to Sophie in 1980, and that she did so within a year of graduating from university at around 20 or 21 years of age. If Donna had been in the graduating class of 1979, aged about 20, she could have been born in 1959.
Well, what else happened in 1959? According to the movie itself, this is the year that Fernando and Ruby claimed they hooked up in Mexico, per Vanity Fair. So… assuming the hookup took place sufficiently early in the year to allow for a full-term pregnancy, the Redditor argued that Fernando might be Donna’s dad. Meaning that Donna, like her daughter, possibly grew up without ever knowing who her father was.
Hmm, interesting, having a family history of misplaced paternal figures. We suppose this doesn’t bode well for Sky’s (Dominic Cooper) sticking around to raise his baby with Sophie — but then again, they probably needed some premise for a potential second sequel.
Objections to the Cienfuegos paternity theory in Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again
Another Redditor seemed doubtful that Fernando was Donna’s papi, since Señor Cienfuegos was living in Greece, and Donna did not grow up there. However, that merely leaves things in the realm of coincidence: Donna was conceived, her parents parted ways, and years later she moved to the same island where her unknown father had earlier relocated. The two become acquainted, yet they somehow never compared notes, and were therefore unable to discover their supposed relationship. (Maury Povich, where were you?)
Perhaps more dubious is the fact that Cuban-born Andy Garcia is hardly the Nordic blond that would have been required to sire a Meryl Streep with Cher. In response to the naysayer, the original Redditor commented, “I just thought the mention of Ruby and Fernando meeting in 1959 was very deliberate.” Hmm.
As to skeptics’ claims, though, that if Fernando were meant to be Donna’s dad, the movie would have dropped more clues, well, we can’t be so quick to dismiss it out of hand. Even Garcia himself told Vulture of this potential familial connection, “There’s also the interesting anecdote that it’s possible that I may have been the father to Meryl and Lily [James].” To get a clearer answer, we may just need to wait another 10 years to see what surprises Mamma Mia III may have in store.
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