wed 17/10/2018

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


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


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

Share this article

Subscribe to

Thank you for continuing to read our work on 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 gift subscription?


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