wed 13/12/2017

I Know Who You Are, series 2 finale, BBC Four review - Spanish drama literally took no prisoners | reviews, news & interviews

I Know Who You Are, series 2 finale, BBC Four review - Spanish drama literally took no prisoners

I Know Who You Are, series 2 finale, BBC Four review - Spanish drama literally took no prisoners

All who got to the end of the draining telenovela deserve a medal. CONTAINS SPOILERS

Repulsive: Juan Elias (Francesc Garrido) and Alicia Castro (Blanca Portillo) in 'I Know Who You Are'

So, if you’re reading this you probably trudged all the weary way to the very end of I Know Who You Are. Or you didn’t but still want to find out what the hell happened. After 20-plus hours of twisting, turning, overblown drama, long-service medals are in order for all who flopped over the line. We are probably all feeling as drained and battered as half the cast: black-and-blue Santi Mur, anaemic Ana, slapped-up Pol, smashed-to-smithereens Heredia.

The bloated brace of concluding episodes took up three and a quarter hours of BBC Four’s Saturday night schedule. There was so much crime-solving to get through the drama had long since shrunk the earworm theme tune to a tenth of its original duration. And where were we when all was said and done and dusted? Look away now if intent on avoiding spoilers.

It ended with a summary execution and a barbecue, both viewed from a distance as if the embarrassed camera could no longer bear to look any of the punchdrunk protagonists in the eye. Juan Elías was welcomed back into the bosom of his epically disturbed family, which lost one member in uncuddly Ramón but gained another in Julieta’s cute puppy. The family gathering bookended the garden get-together all those aeons ago in which we first clapped eyes on the pert flirt Ana Saura. The meat sizzled on the grill not long after the mortal remains of Eva Durán had been casually singed to a crisp (and her miserable coat with it). I Know Who You AreIt was as if a force 10 hurricane had suddenly blown itself out, leaving only a smooth glassy sea. Those hoping for justice will have been outraged - if not remotely surprised, given the dysfunctional performance of the Spanish judiciary (although Giralt did his best). At one point it looked as if everyone might end up in prison. In fact no one did who wasn’t already there, apart from the risibly ambidextrous Santi Mur. Almost literally, the plot took no prisoners.

The lung-bursting style of the telenovela is not something we’re used to in these chilly latitudes and, in so unsatisfactorily privileging villainy, I Know Who You Are is probably not going to act as a gateway drug. The less febrile pace of Nordic noir makes a lot more sense to us. And yet there was something quite noirish about Elías, a poker-faced icicle planted in a churning jacuzzi of hot Latin emotion. The drama's fatal flaw was that Elías was a nullity, whether he could remember who he was or not: emotionally and morally void, he was an insoluble puzzle, a pass-the-parcel revealed at the end to contain only emptiness. Driven only by an animal instinct to survive, he must have been quite boring for Francesc Garrido to play. (Blanca Portillo as Alicia Castro had more furniture to chew on as Spain's most toxic matriarch this side of The House of Bernarda Alba.) If Elías had gone to prison it wouldn’t have worked dramatically, because he’d have felt nothing.

It remains only to ponder a few unanswered questions.

  • How did Elias find the time to locate and break into an abandoned church, pointlessly drape it with sheets and fit it up with an alternative criminal history, while simultaneously helping the police with their enquiries, tending to his wife in a coma, looking after his children and keeping his niece captive?
  • How did Alicia, stabbed seven times and plunged into the aforesaid coma, make such a medically improbable recovery? Reverting swiftly to the vertical, she even, in the drama’s very absurdest moment in a vast list of them, perked up enough to perform an improv re-enactment of her own stabbing.
  • How come the police found out about Ana’s release after everyone else?
  • Can one simply stride into any Spanish police station, burst into an interview room and claim to be someone’s – anyone’s – lawyer?
  • Should Inspector Martin Barros have resiled himself what with that little conflict of interest in which he was the former lover of the woman whose attempted murder he was jealously investigating, not to mention the secret father of her kidnapped daughter?
  • How exactly did Elias make Eva’s car crash look like an accident?
  • Couldn't Marc have found something smarter to wear for his stepfather’s funeral?
  • Where in a tearing hurry did Pol get all that fuel to incinerate Ana’s cell? And couldn’t he have thrown in his self-pitying hoodie?
  • Did Elias own any non-black trousers? At one point he changed from one pair into, hilariously, another identical pair.
  • “Stay with your sister. Everything will be fine.” Is this the least reassuring thing any mother has ever said to her son?
  • Does anyone recall anything very much about Ezequiel Cortés?
  • Why did the grim Ramón marry the dim Silvia in the first place, and vice versa?
  • Has anyone from the real Spanish media sued the production for defamation of character? 
  • How did Ana become a partner in a law firm despite not having completed her law degree?
  • What happened to the 100,000 Euros deposited with someone dodgy in Thailand?
  • Pol’s twin: remember him?
  • Do Catalonia's imprisoned politicians have access to a lawyer as insufferably determined as Marta Hess? She was too bad to be true.

Enjoying The Arts Desk? To access all our coverage of TV, film, theatre, art, new music, opera, classical, dance, comedy, books and gaming, updated daily, buy an annual subscription for only £30

@JasperRees

There was something quite noirish about Elias, a poker-faced icicle planted in a churning jacuzzi of hot Latin emotion

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

Share this article

Comments

Your review is great! Such a twisted, complicated plot & series of relationships - ridiculous! I decided to watch the end, 3 odd hours tonight - partly to find out how much Spanish I could understand - but also to see if the fog cleared by the end, just to be left with the message that the most manipulative people, who will resort to anything, get on best in life. This was undoubtedly the far and away worst Saturday night BBC4 crime series to date.

Think you are taking things bit too seriously. Yes, the plot went from absurd to ludicrous, but I just loved it: the twists were brilliantly engineered and Marta, the goddess of law - she deserves a series of her own.

And why are there, apparently, only five lawyers in the whole of Spain? Juan Elías, Eva, Marta, Heredía...and the completely useless David, who kept turning up out of the blue again and again. By the way, did you realise that they were having the barbecue on a patio that they'd built over the swimming pool? You know, neat little coda there. As for the stuff about Pol's twin, they really should have found a better use for that - I mean, he's really going to wonder. Are Pol and Julietá going to grow up all twisted? Or is that all going to change because of a dog? I think Silvía loved Ramón. What will happen to Heredía wen he comes out of jail? How was Giralt the only character who was both competent and actually good? Doesn't Marc deserve a bigger punishment for doing what he did to Julietá? I mean, that was possibly the most evil thing in the entire series. I don't even remember the theme tune - just all the incidental music that was repeated over and over again until we finally got some variation with the very end of the finale. Maybe the fuel with which the cellar was burned was already at the house.

What did Marc do to Julieta? I can't remember, it's driving me mad! Probably all the files and papers in the basement were the fuel. How can a university lecturer who murders Ezekiel, murders Eva, believed he had murdered his wife, sends his partner to prison (who forgives him) walk away? Obviously never had amnesia. Would the reflective hoodie be enough to implicate Elias was at the house? Elias must have thought so since he murdered Eva. Very enjoyable mental gymnastics.

I think that was a reference to Marc taking Julieta down to the burned out basement and locking her in.

Thanks for the excellent reviews on this series. I seemed to have missed it over the summer, so binge-watched it last weekend to be ready for the final episode. It didn't feel tedious at all. Just when it was a little difficult to suspend disbelief (that list reveals all the loopholes but still...), I was swept away by the sheer force of the moral dilemmas that were thrown in the fire and given a good old cremation. After all, as Ana said, what would she get in exchange for telling the truth? In comparison to all the Nordic stuff, this exposed people's dark underbellies way more effectively. Montalbano tried to do this but not this effectively. Blanco Portillo was just fabulous.

I was gripped until the very end. I thought the acting was superb, particularly on the part of the young people, and the mess that ensues when a lie is told was wonderfully well illustrated. Everyone has something to hide and only those without a conscience (think Donald Trump) get away scot-free. Of course it was far-fetched - the business of fiction is to stretch the bounds of credulity, otherwise drama would be as banal as real life. I thought the balance of regular police work and hunch came off a treat. I loved it.

Loved the review - especially for noticing Eva’s coat. But I really enjoyed the series too. Acting and photography were outstanding.

I stuck with the first series thinking that the last episode would be just that-the last episode, especially as we found out that Elias had kidnapped Ana and done the murder. Then I watched the first episode of the second series (having completely forgotten the plot) and realised that I couldn't lose another 13 hours (more probably) of my life on this complete and utter nonsense. The expressionless acting of Elias and the overacting of the other characters, all behaving in stock ways-the stupid clothes of the female lawyers (forgotten their names) the non stop dramatic music, the unrealistic police station scenes-I could go on. I think they made the plot up as they went along, as they seem to have to adjust the plot when they realise that things don't fit and now they've strung it out as long as possible. I agree with Julia O'Brien that this is the worst crime series ever presented on BBC 4. I'm going to write to them to complain about this load of badly acted old tosh.

I cant believe people didnt like it! I was hooked, brilliant actors and a very clever plot, not predictible and interesting. Will miss it. Imported subtitled series are such high quality i prefer them to English series. Scandi ones also superb.

Finished at last, had to be the worst, boring drama seen on ch.4 Even tried on more than two occasions to catch up, my Saturday Ch.4 viewing can now be looked forward to and enjoyed now that its over.

And so nobody noticed the gaping hole in the middle of Ana/Elias' story. She says she drove his car to the castro mansion to get kidnapped only for Elias to crash the same car the same night?! And Eva gets killed over a flash of yellow that might, just might, be a reversible tracksuit?! It was fine for one series but dragging it on for three...

Origionally it was just 1 series but the BBC decided to show it over 2 parts. There is a second series but in book form, written by the creator of the TV show.

Watched first new episode and last. The murder of Ezekiel transformed Elias from an enigma to a psychopath in my little head ergo uninteresting. I just wanted hm to get his punishment so I thought it was a terrible, in the most basic sense of the word, ending. It conforms to my worst fears that there is no hope for el mundo as the psychos will always win.

As well as "bursting into police stations" it seems that as a visitor in Spanish hospitals you are allowed to stroll in and give a patient an injection or turn off their life support system with no medical staff around.

It was utter tosh but at least I got to brush up my Spanish.

I can only agree that this series was full of plot holes and absolutely impossible situations such as the walking in and out of hospitals and police stations, and the ending was terrible. Yes Ana's choice was understandable given that she had been imprisoned but not assaulted otherwise but that was one of many crimes that surely Giralt could have resolved. None of the characters bar Giralt and Julietta came out of this with any credit, Elias, Alicia, Marc, Pol, Ramon, Heredia and Sylvia should all be taken to Hectors basement and someone should cement it over and let them fight it out and last 'man' standing gets dug up and put in prison on behalf of them all! What a waste of time watching this complete and utter drivel!

Now I finally began understanding the meaning of Spanish Inquisition. Luckily I was recording episodes so made full use of the Fast Forward button. Shame it put me off from watching anything Spanish for some time.

I have just realised I was dreading spending another 3 hours or so of my life watching the last two episodes which I recorded as I was out when they were screened but I felt I had to pursue the story to the end. Then I gave in to temptation today and googled reviews of the finale and reading the above have decided to set myself free and spend those three hours doing something enjoyable. Like others, I did enjoy practising my spanish translation though!!!

Thoroughly enjoyable! Brilliant, even with all its faults! Some superb acting. Did not disappoint.

One line summed it up In spector Barrosso to Girault: "I'm always amazed how pragmatic people are prepared to be". And how.

I thought it was brilliant. And did you notice the cynical extra twist - that Eva's faith in the law was redeemed by her success defending Santi Mur, who turned out to be guilty? After that, there was no way forward for her. Like all the young people in the Elias/Saura family, she was defeated by the smooth successful powerful older generation. Bitter stuff!

After Elías stabbed Eva in the plot I was wondering if he was the one whoactually stabbed Alicia. Especially after he admitted to seeing the kids leave and to knowing then that Alicia would betray him. Santi Mur just gave him the opportunity to do it and get off scot-free.

Tonterías, no valió la pena [translation supplied by theartsdesk: Nonsense, it wasn't worth it]

Just caught up on the last episode. Like Jack V, it has put me off watching anything Spanish for some time... possibly ever. Great review though, Jasper.

And why did Hector kill his wife? How could Hector's House be forgotten? a Church not entered for 30 years? No CCTV on the streets or GPS trackers? So few cops, but so many journos. What happened to the teddy bear? So many holes, but hey so watchable

Loved the review, questions here and reply’s - interesting patio/swimming pool twist! Clearly the crime scene investigators aren’t doing their job either because Alicia’s attacker would be various heights (Tall - Elías, Short - Mr Mur) & The blood Elías left on the campaign Tshirt was not splatter! Santi said he did it because Alicia wound him up! Spain’s time travel is amazing one minute Elías is at hospital then at the Castro house (getting the house filled with their belongings) then back at the hospital. Why am I watching Subtitled Drama?

I loved it- thought the actor played Juan Elias brilliantly, the whole super cool personality; the expressive lift of one eyebrow....,,very attractive and powerful...who could resist him? Alicia As the ball breaking judge was brilliant too. It has been my guilty pleasure......

Add comment

Subscribe to theartsdesk.com

Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £3.95 per month or £30 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?

newsletter

Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters