Review: I Know Who You Are (S1 E9&10/10), Saturday 12th August, BBC Four

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So where do we start with this two-part finale? Really, it all happened. There were things that I expected, and things I didn’t. Those characters – Juan Elías, Eva Durán, Alicia Castro – I had grown to love and despise in equal measure had all their flaws and ambiguities on full show tonight. But instead of a slow, seductive striptease, they whacked out everything in front of us without hesitation. To use the sporting parlance, nothing was left on the field of play – it was a full-on rush, and everything was thrown at the story. It was magnificent, slightly infuriating and tremendous fun.

NB: Spoilers inside

This whole series has been about identity and about whether what we think we know about a person is real. Throughout Juan Elías has shifted from one type of person from the next, to the consternation of his wife Alicia. She has always wanted him – neigh pleaded him – to revert back to the devious, scheming and manipulative Elías he was before the accident; Elías, on the other hand, has fought this and strived to be a different version of himself. A good Elías.

Missing Ana Saura, too, had hidden, calculating sides to her. Pol, Eva, Heredia… they all had different, previously unseen sides to their personalities. All of them unravelled throughout the series.

For Juan Elías this conflict was resolved in emphatic style in this stunning two-part series finale.

What did we know up to this point? The series has been so breathless, now feels like a good time to take stock and recap. Prominent lawyer and university lecturer Juan Elías emerged from the wreck of a car crash with amnesia. In that car, the police surmised, was his niece, Ana Saura. Her blood was found on the upholstery and she had called from her mobile nearby in a panic. An unused grave was found. She was missing, presumed dead, and Elías was the prime suspect.

During the series, it had been established that Juan Elías had been drugged by his nephew, Marc, and this intoxication had probably been the cause of the crash. But what about Ana? Was she really dead, or was she just missing?

We were about to find out.

The pace of this series has been 100mph throughout, and these two, final parts of the first series were no different. We followed Eva Durán and Elías as they slowly but surely peeled back the layers of the mystery, and clarified Elías’s memory. They found the man who the lag in prison had mentioned to Elías, which, in turn, led them back to Villa Castro. There, Eva found an old newspaper cutting about the Mediterraneo case – the airplane crash that killed her parents. What had this got to do with her? Why does everything lead back to her? She had a right to be angry – from the start she has been manipulated, whether it be Saura, David, Marta Hess or Alicia. She was livid with Elías – it was the Castros who had been involved in the case – and suddenly her reignited love and trust for him was shattered again. Was he playing her again? They found that Ezequiel Cortéz – whose body Alicia had dumped on Heredia’s land to keep the cops looking in his direction – was on that jury and that he had been bribed by Heredia to swing the verdict in the Castros’ favour.

Then things flipped again – Elías’s memory had been jogged again when a key fell from his wallet, with the letters VC printed on them. This led him back to Villa Castro, and a secret underground basement room. And Ana.

Ana Saura was alive, locked in a cage-cum-office.

Episode 10 then laid it all out. Ana and Elías had argued on the night of the election – he had reneged on his promise of pulling out of the election. Ana, armed with the knowledge that her father was dying, was furious with him. She didn’t want to harm her father any further and was desperate for Elías to pull out of the race, as he had said he would do. When Elías refused to do this, she wanted to do some harm to him. First she threatened to accuse him of rape, which he laughed off. Instead, she sneaked into the back of his car using the secret key, lowered herself into the back seat and cut herself, smearing her blood onto the seat. Elías, not knowing he had a passenger, drove out to Villa Castro to meet Ezequiel Cortéz, and promptly shot him callously and without hesitation between the eyes. Cortéz had been blackmailing him about his part in the Mediterraneo case, and things were threatening to get out of control.

Ana had seen the whole thing from the backseat of the car and ran, but could not escape Elías, who threw her in her dungeon.

He then had the crash.

So Ana was not in the car at the time of the crash. She was alive. It was sensational, it was brilliant. It was ridiculous.

This was when Elías turned. The sight of Ana in her basement prison triggered his memory, and brought it all back to him. Suddenly the love of Eva Durán, which had briefly threatened to save him, had vanished, and any notion of him changing evaporated. He now remembered what he had done and couldn’t bring himself to set Ana free. The old Elías was back with a vengeance, and it was all about self-preservation from this moment on. This restoration of the old Elías I understood, but the turning happened so quickly it was difficult to believe. In fact, this was like the entire series – everything happened, those key moments and twists, so quickly it was difficult to fully buy into them. I would’ve liked a little bit more time taken during these moments, to let this transformation breath and slowly sink in.

But still, old Elías was back, which meant Alicia had got her husband back. Conversely, poor Eva had been discarded again. Elías and Alicia make for a deliciously Machiavellian couple, and everything she had done for him – all the protective law breaking, knowing that her husband had probably killed Cortéz and perhaps had killed Ana, lying, moving bodies et al – had paid off. But she truly did not expect the full horror of what awaited her down in that basement, and even she was shocked and horrified when Elías told her he wanted to keep her down there for a month to try and convince her not to talk.

Fair enough, but I didn’t quite buy this. Elías could have saved himself a whole world of trouble if he had, a) not told Alicia what had happened and where Ana was; and b) done away with Ana once and for all. He had already proved he was a murderer and he could’ve easily finished the job off, hidden Ana’s body and covered his tracks. Why revive her and make himself vulnerable?

Alicia has been a tremendous character throughout (this was thanks to Blanca Portillo’s terrific performance) – the way she unhesitatingly supported her husband, even though he had been having an affair with Eva Durán, was astounding. She had been a woman scorned and yet her belief in the family unit and preservation of this concept had been rock solid. (Interestingly, Heredia’s wife was also going through something similar.) Alicia’s duplicity was also a delight to watch, and you were never quite sure where she was coming from: one minute she was a loving mother; the other she was a scheming, scowling force to be reckoned with. But in the end, the thought of her niece being imprisoned was just too much to bear. She had made a phone call to the judge, to fix up a meeting in order to seemingly confess her husband’s part in the tale.

We know that there are six more episodes to come in the form of a second six-part series, and even though the Ana Saura mystery had been solved, we were left on a cliffhanger – the Elías home had been broken into and Alicia was stabbed, leaving her life in the balance.

And this was the beautiful thing about I Know What You Are: despite the ridiculousness and the extreme convolution, those beats were hit with precision every single time. Twists and turns were dropped like bombs throughout the episodes, and the cliffhangers at the end of each instalment were perfectly timed and executed.

It looked as though smug, entitled Elías could well get his comeuppance, especially with Eva telling Giralt about the gun, but with Alicia’s attack who know what’s going to happen?

Yes, you had to throw any rational thought out of the window on a regular basis (especially when Eva and her team were throwing caution to the wind and investigating so recklessly) when watching I Know Who You Are, but once you did you entered an irresistible wriggling, spitting pit of vipers – each character was so ambiguous (and were likely to sleep with each other at the drop of a hat) to the point where morals and what anyone else would call normal social interaction was utterly discarded. It was an addictive, high-concept rollercoaster ride from start to finish, and quite possibly the breakout crime drama of the year.

It was terrific fun and I want it back as soon as possible.

Paul Hirons
@Son_Of_Ray

For our episode one and two reviews go here

For our episode three and four reviews go here

For our episode five and six reviews go here

For our episode seven and eight reviews go here

For our exclusive interview with Aida Folch go here

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12 thoughts on “Review: I Know Who You Are (S1 E9&10/10), Saturday 12th August, BBC Four

  1. Colin C

    Very well done unravelling it all! Agree it’s totally bonkers yet somehow compulsive viewing. I really thought they would wrap it all up in part 10. I wonder how they are going to wring it out across another 6 episodes, and will we still be able to remember the storyline by then?

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  2. It was a bit bonkers and exaggerated – why not tell anyone, including the police, about Ana’s father’s cancer until the 6th episode or so? But nevertheless utterly compelling viewing, although the only person I want to cheer for is poor Julieta.

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  3. Rich in California

    I agree completely with this review. I was foolish enough to search for and find the finale episodes online, along with Spanish reviews, and I can say–without any spoilers whatsoever–that the final 6 episodes are even most astonishing than the first 10. Phenominal!

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  4. Leela

    Great review! I too, contrary to my better judgement, love Alicia! She is just the most wonderfully compelling character. She’s so complex and easily the most dangerous person around.

    I found Eva the weakest character. Half the time I wondered what she was even there… :/ …eye-candy? bit too close to the hysterical woman stereotype for my liking (especially over these last two episodes).

    Just finished the episodes just now and was shocked by the sudden ending. It was my understanding that there had been 16 Spanish episodes (of varying length) which had been condensed into 10 UK ones – of which we have just finished ( loosing some character development in the process apparently). However, your review states you think there are 6 more to come! Where did you hear this? I SO hope this is true!

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    • Rich in California

      Leela —

      The final six episodes (of 16 total) have already been broadcast in Spain. All you have to do to confirm this is search for “Se Quien Eres” (the original Spanish series title). I have watched them.

      And this is what The Killing Times quoted the BBC in a previous post:

      “I Know Who You Are was commissioned and produced as two seasons, which its Spanish broadcaster subsequently decided to show together as one long season. BBC Four is screening the series as two separate seasons and will be showing season two later in the year.”

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  5. I cannot believe I watched this start to finish. I am a fan of European dramas but here I am left feeling flummoxed and annoyed. Don’t think I will be watching the last 6 episodes. I see that there will be many new dramas coming out soon, so will give my energy to them :)

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