Review: I Know Who You Are (S1 E3&4/10), Saturday 22nd July, BBC4

Apologies for the delay in posting this, but it has been a busy weekend up at Harrogate for the Theakstons Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival. While much carousing was had during the weekend I did manage to watch episodes three and four of I Know Who You Are earlier in the week, but didn’t get a chance to post the review. So here we are, and it was another breathless two hours-plus of crime drama. Kitchen sink but brilliant nonetheless.

Because there’s so much going on this series, and so many characters and twisting plotlines, I thought I’d take a different approach to this review. So here goes…Ana Saura

Ana Saura
We saw a lot more of Ana in this double bill – a LOT more – which turned the tables on our perception of her, from episodes one and two’s almost passive portrayal as a eulogised victim, a grade-A student and caring, exuberant family member and friend. All the sympathy was with her, but not so now after these two episodes – she was revealed to be an expert seductress with a particular liking, it seemed, for family members. In flashback, we saw Ana try (and fail) to seduce her uncle, Juan Elías, in the toilets during the university election party, and then shockingly, try (and succeed) to seduce her step-brother, Marc. As she disrobed in front him after the university party, our perception of her was changing by the second. At first, I thought: Woah Nell,y she’s sleeping with her bloody BROTHER; this has taken a bit of a turn. These feelings of mild horror were assuaged slightly when it was confirmed that Marc and Ana were only STEP-siblings. Phew. That’s alright then. Still highly dodgy. It’s clever writing, though, if a rather extreme device in this case of semi-incest, because Ana, like Elías, shifted from someone who was a victim of a crime to a manipulator.  Add into the mix the fact that it was revealed – at the press conference – that she was pregnant. And that she was bisexual, who had been in a relationship with her flatmate. Liking sex with all kinds of people doesn’t make you an imbalanced or bad person, but it does open the door for using manipulation to get what they want. Where did we sit with Ana at the of episode four? I have no idea.

Marc Castro
The angry young man who had taken Ana’s disappearance almost disproportionately badly in the first two episodes found himself in a world of trouble in these two episodes. And, of course, we now know why he took Ana’s disappearance so badly – he was in love with her, plain and simple. This, of course, gave him a motive to try and bump off Elías – not only was his uncle trying to oust his father as university chancellor, but Ana was probably in love with him to boot. Marc bought some ketamine from Pol – at least indirectly – to try and scupper Elías’s big university speech, but did this really cause the crash? It could have done, but it’s still early in the series so there’s lots more to be revealed, to be sure.

Juan Elías
Like Ana, Elías himself was oscillating between bad guy and something else. We saw him first in flashback, giving a university lecture with Ana in the crowd, revealing the full extent of his fire, charisma and flair for manipulation: during a standard seminar about the nature of truth (topical!) he had introduced an idea into his students’ heads and then, by the end of it, he had coerced them into supporting his bid to oust Ramon. And that included Ana. Pretty impressive. Elsewhere, he was trying to piece together his life. He found a key and a telephone number, which turned out to be for an apartment he owned and for sex worker Sammy respectively. He soon found out that he had been boffing Sammy for the past two years. He was not liking who he used to be, and nor were his family. After another dinner-table argument he moved out and this gave the series – and his own investigation into his past – fresh impetus. He was now using the apartment as his home and his incident room, pinning pictures of key people in his life – and suspects in Ana’s missing person’s case – to the wall, annotating them and analysing them. His amnesia was giving him an objective vantage point of his own life. Up until that moment, our perception of Elías had been forever shifting. We saw him revisit the crash site and retrieve Ana’s handbag – which contained a gun and a visitor’s pass to a local prison – from a place of camouflage and concealment. If he did have amnesia, how did he know where the bag was hidden? He took the pass and visited the prison, where he found his wife’s father, Hector, incarcerated for life for the murder of his wife. Blimey, the Castros are a turning out to be the family from hell! When asked by Hector whether he was lying about his amnesia he said yes, he was. Yikes! He then told Pol, in a father-and-son heart-to-heart that he had lied to the old man to glean information about Ana. So let’s recap Elías quickly: he was an arch manipulator, he could have slept with his step-niece if he wanted to, he did sleep with sex worker Sammy in the two years before the crash, we still have no idea if he’s telling the truth or not, and he then finds out his number two, Ricardo, might be playing him. Quiet life, then.

Eva Durán
Poor Eva was becoming more and more emotionally attached to the case, to the point where she was starting to lose it. Of course it was revealed she had had an affair with Elías when she was his student eight years before, and that emotional attachment was obviously still there. Her motivations for steadfastly believing that her former mentor and lover was guilty of Ana’s disappearance and murder was now becoming clear – bitterness and a feeling of betrayal. In terms of her investigation, she took another risk by asking Sylvia Castro to infiltrate Elías’s new apartment to plant a camera. It worked, but this highly suspect and reckless move only served to fuel her obsessions with Elías, and she was beginning to become an obsessed voyeur, watching him day and night. Two key scenes here: she followed Elías one night, which he had picked up on, and they had a very charged conversation in her car, which obviously revealed her turmoil: she so wants to bury this guy, but there are still embers of passion smouldering somewhere deep down below that make her believe he can’t have done it. Not the Elías she knew. She also received a visit from Alicia, who was cool and calm and sneering and mocking, and told her to stay away from her husband once and for all. It was brilliantly written and acted – two women scorned by the same man duking it out. One thing I didn’t buy was when, after her meeting with Elías, she grabbed Dirty David and ravaged him in anger and frustration. This seemed a bit of a cheap move. I also didn’t buy Eva and her team’s instant deduction that Ana’s disapperance was probably down to a crime of passion involving Marc. Semi-incest is not the most obvious or common thing in the world, so how they conjured this theory up out of thin air was a bit silly.

Marta Hess and Giralt
These two formed an odd-couple investigative team, and provided narrative propulsion throughout the episodes – they had found out it had been Pol who had been selling ketamine, and then more about Ana’s flatmate and their relationship. They also provided some strange, almost-comic relief – their relationship was always sparky, using different techniques to extract information from suspects (Giralt gruff, Marta strident and flirtatious). By the end of episode four, Marta was charged with finding out who the mole was.

Alicia Castro
Alicia is a brilliant character – stern, ruthless, unsmiling – but there were chinks in her armour in these two episodes, not least when it came to her family. She had fallen out with Pol and her daughter was having a tough time dealing with the idea that her father was not all that he used to be. She also went on the offensive when it came to Eva, showcasing her own scorned, hot bitterness; her chance for psychological revenge. But then, right at the end of episode four, she met secretly with Ana’s flatmate and told her to let it be known that Marc was the father of her child.

Honestly, this family.

I am fast falling in love with this series. There’s a breathless pace to it, which makes things rattle along brilliantly, and each character – seriously, every single character – is deliciously flawed and dodgy as you like. There’s also something almost Shakespearian about this warring family, about scorned lovers and stabbing people in the back at will, which gives I Know How You Are so much flavour. It’s higher than high-concept and entirely daft, but what a ride so far.

Paul Hirons

For our episodes one and two review, go here



9 Comments Add yours

  1. Mike Sargent says:

    I’m really enjoying it too. I was originally doubtful that Elias had amnesia, but now he obviously did. It’s a rollicking ride to be sure.


  2. Xoco Tosca says:

    I sat through three episodes of ‘I Know Who You Are’ wondering when the main character was going to do something other than look bewildered. I started to feel frustrated and critical of BBC4’s commissioning thought processes. Then I read your review, which thankfully gave me the heads up that incest is a key theme in this program. Not remotely interested. On to the next program.


    1. Paul Hirons says:

      Incest a key theme?? I don’t think I ever said that Xoco!


  3. I do like your method of reviewing these episodes character by character, Paul. It definitely helps comb out the strands of this extraordinarily tangled plot, and helps us see the complexity of the drama without being overwhelmed by it.

    I haven’t looked to see if you’ve used it again, but I for one would welcome it if you do.

    This is a terribly dense series, to use my wife’s word: very demanding on the viewer’s attention and memory – something none of us minds, I believe, as long as it’s repaid dramatically and not squandered by the nonsensical developments that have spoiled many superficially attractive series I shan’t name. Long as these episodes are, we’ve been watching many of them twice (with judicious fast-forwarding) to make sure we’ve really got the plot, or as much of it as we can. We’re only halfway through the BBC’s abbreviated dose and I already feel I’ve been watching for a month or two. So far, so good, though.


    1. Paul Hirons says:

      Thanks Colin, appreciate the kind words. The method I chose to review the series was done to, as you say, the complicated nature of it. It just felt right when there was so much going on. I thoroughly enjoyed the series, one of my favourites of the year so far – precisely because it was demanding!


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