Meet Jess Valenzuela—the new Ben Gates in National Treasure: Edge of History

National Treasure premiered on Dec. 14, 2022 on Disney+. Photo courtesy of Disney+.


“National Treasure” premiered on Dec. 14, 2022 on Disney+. Photo courtesy of Disney+.

Katie Dikes

“A treasure. A treasure beyond all imagining.”

And boy, does Jess Valenzuela come to understand just how great a treasure can be. 

After Ben Gates  (Nicholas Cage’s character) finds the Templar Treasure and Cibola in the “National Treasure” movie franchise, little did he know that Jess would later follow in his footsteps and attempt to find another treasure, called the Pan-American treasure, in a TV series sequel. 

Prior to her quest, Jess is an ordinary, young woman living in Baton Rouge with her friends, Tasha, Oren, Ethan and Liam. Tasha is an extremely smart computer hacker. Oren is a street-smart sneakerhead. Ethan is on track to becoming a lawyer, and Liam is an aspiring musician who is trying to make a name for himself. Still mourning her late mother, Jess works odd jobs around town that waste away her potential, as she is a great puzzle-solver and historian. With no family left, as her father was presumed to have passed in a house fire, Jess’ only recollection of them is her father’s necklace.

After a chance discovery of a storage locker owned by a former FBI Agent and Freemason,  Jess’ life changes forever. She uncovers ancient secrets about her family, but also an underground organization that protects the treasure and all of its associates. She must stay one step ahead of another treasure hunter, Billie Pearce, and her crew.  The FBI is also keeping close tabs on her after one of their agents, Ross, believes her story about the treasure. 

With the help from her friends, new and old, Jess’ puzzle-solving skills, extensive history knowledge and determination help her uncover the truth about the Pan-American treasure, ultimately ending in a game of life or death. 

Starring Lisette Olivera (Jess), Jake Austin Walker (Ross) and Catherine Zeta-Jones (Billie), “National Treasure: Edge of History” quickly caught the attention of “National Treasure” fans. Justin Bartha also reprises his role as Riley Poole, and Harvey Keitel is back as Peter Sadusky. Both of them assist Jess, and provide her with some helpful insights during the first half of the show. Released on Dec. 14, 2022 on Disney+, the show received mixed reviews, but delighted fans with its continuation of the “National Treasure” storyline.

Armando Riesco also reprises his role as FBI Agent Hendricks, as in the show he is Ross’ boss. While the FBI is just doing their job, they don’t know that Jess and her friends are doing what may not be legally appropriate, but what is necessary for the situation at hand. 

Composer Trevor Rabin also returns to the “National Treasure” franchise. While bringing back the “National Treasure” themes, he also incorporates Hispanic music, especially during the title sequence. Ultimately, Rabin creates a new sound for Jess and her friends, making sure their cultural heritage and background is uniquely shared to the audience. Also consistent with past films, the characters are often finding clues in ingenious ways, running for their lives, outsmarting their opponents, dodging bullets, being arrested and avoiding traps set by the money-hungry thieves they face. 

Though it has its cheesy moments, the show is thoroughly engaging, and does a good job of making the antagonists unlikeable, while also not completely evil 

One fault with the show is that the ending is somewhat dull. It is quite predictable early on, and I would have preferred the show to end on a much more exciting note. A better finale could’ve really helped build the anticipation for a possible season two, or at least help the audience expect a continuation of this storyline in the future. 

 If you’re a “National Treasure” fan, this series is definitely worth a watch. You can currently only watch “National Treasure: Edge of History” on Disney+. Though it has not yet been renewed for a second season, it has been met with great anticipation and enthusiasm by some of its many screenwriters, as they look to hopefully bring back Nicholas Cage to reprise his role as Ben Gates in the second season.