The Innocent (Spanish: El Inocente) is a maze. It invites you into the dark dungeons filled with webs and spiders. Amid Darkness, one can witness few characters standing in a shadow. Each episode lights up a particular personality, and a God-like voice tells you its tale. What’s peculiar about the whole narrative is that it spreads like a grapevine. It starts with a central hero, Mateo Vidal, and through him connects to others. In The Innocent, each character is flawed and hunted by a past that makes each one its prey.
Directed by Oriol Paulo, The Innocent (El Inocente) is a highly well-written thriller drama. Much of the credit goes to the original writer, Harlan Coben, whose novel the mini-series is based upon. It won’t be a mistake to say that there is some novel-ish writing one can witness. Done with appreciation, let’s explore the dungeons.
‘The Innocent’ Summary
The central character, the protagonist, Mateo Vidal (Mario Casas), is a law student. On an unfortunate night leading to a tragic turn of events, Mateo accidentally kills another student, Dani, in a college brawl outside a night bar. The lead witnesses testify against him, and the court finds him guilty of homicide leading to 4 years imprisonment. But it is just the beginning of great misfortune for Mateo, who is bullied in prison.
During his tenure, his parents passed away in a car accident. And when he comes out of jail to start his life over again, his only left relative, his brother, Isma, is hit with a heart attack. He couldn’t survive. He leaves behind his family and a paralegal firm for Vidal to take care of. The only fortunate thing that happened in these four years was Olivia Costa (Aura Garrido), the girl he met at his family hometown during a leave to attend his parents’ funeral.
Nine years later, Mateo Vidal decided to start over with his wife, Olivia Costa. He returns to the same town that took everything away from him. But he has Isma’s family to look after and his firm where Olivia works too. The problem with starting over is, one can try to run away from their past, but the past, like a relentless shadow, never shakes off.
Vidal finds out that Olivia is pregnant, but she has to leave for an urgent business trip to Berlin. In her absence, Vidal receives unusual photos of Olivia from her cell phone. Vidal tries to connect with her, but instead, he gets a nude video of a man with Olivia in a deep sleep. Later, a car rushes over Vidal, and a man threatens him with a gun. But Why?
Traveling through an interestingly weaved maze and meeting complex characters on his way, Vidal finally finds out about Olivia’s past that has come to threaten them. Who is Olivia Costa, and what’s her story?
Major Spoilers Ahead
Olivia Costa – Link to all the Mystery
Olivia Costa’s original name was Candance Russo. She used to work in the most notorious brothel in Marbella, reigned by a monstrous man named Anibal Ledesma. The three prominent hookers in the story, Candance Russo, Kimmy Dale, and Emma Duran, are linked through Anibal for whom they worked.
The brothel wasn’t satisfactory enough for Anibal, and hence to feed his greed, he started a secret sex society. Only elite community members had access to it under an arrangement where their identity was kept secret. But Anibal had other plans. He recorded these men in action to blackmail them. It was the beginning of Anibal’s end.
Emma convinces Candance to leave without Kimmy and leaves a voice note. She tells in the voice note that Candance is dead and Emma is running away with Anibal taking the tapes along with her. The recordings are the recordings from the secret society, the most hunted object throughout the series. Emma gets a new identity for herself as Sister Maria, and Candance becomes Olivia Costa.
Candance, Kimmy, and Emma, who were in charge of the secret society, had seen enough horrors. They decide to run away, but their plan screws up, leading to Anibal’s death, who gets shot by Candance. Emma chooses to cover up the story. She replaces Candance’s clothes with a dead girl, recently killed by Anibal. They also throw away Anibal’s body into the stream where he used to dump all the bodies of dead hookers.
During a police investigation, officer Gallardo is convinced that Candance is dead. But years later, when Candance’s daughter shows up, he couldn’t help but look twice at the autopsy report. According to it, dead Candance had AIS (a genetic syndrome that ceases her chance to become a mother). Gallardo is convinced that the bodies were swiped, and he soon finds out real Candance is living as Olivia Costa. To make her come out of her shell, he threatens her with her daughter, Paula.
Olivia couldn’t reveal the truth to Mateo Vidal and end up in Gallardo and Bouncer Ibai Saez’s captivity from where Vidal rescued her.
What was in the Tapes?
It wasn’t visually revealed, but according to Candance, Anibal used to record his clients’ sessions and later blackmailed them through the same. In one of these tapes, tape no. 27, horrifying footage of an undercover Special Crime Unit officer, Teo Aguilar (Jose Coronado). Teo was a psycho and liked beating women. One night he went insane, and during a session, he savagely killed one of Anibal’s hookers. Anibal saw it as an opportunity and started blackmailing Teo. But the revolt of his hookers destroyed his empire. In the chaos, these tapes went missing, and since then, Teo and SCU are on the hunt for them.
Teo had a personal inclination towards the tapes, and that is why his pursuit got murderous. He was willing to go to any extent to erase his past and spend a happy future with his wife and daughter. The remorse was so burdened upon him that Teo shot himself at the end when police got hold of these tapes. He wasn’t brave enough to face his daughter and wife, with his past made public.
‘The Innocent’ Ending Explained
It is interesting when a narrative finds its endings in its beginnings. The root of all causes is the root itself. Before exploring the end, let’s explore the missing bridges in The Innocent (El Inocente).
- Where were the tapes hidden? Candance and Emma hid those tapes in a safe depository. The vault could only be opened by two keys, one of which was held by Emma and the other one by Candance. It was for this reason, Teo Aguilar was hunting them both.
- Who killed Emma Duran/ Sister Maria? Dani’s father, Jaime Vera (Gonzalo de Castro), saw Retired officer Gallardo in Sister Maria’s convent room window. Gallardo came there inquiring for Candance. He didn’t want to kill Emma, but she jumped out the window in fear.
- How did Gallardo find Candance? Again, Jaime Vera told Gallardo about Candance to ruin Mateo’s life – the man who accidentally killed his son.
- Who hired Gallardo and Ibai Saez and why? When Candance’s daughter, Paula, showed up at Kimmy’s doorstep under a new name (different from what Kimmy and Candance gave her when she was born), Kimmy sensed something fishy. Kimmy and Candance gave away Candance’s newborn daughter for adoption to different parents under another name. She hires Gallardo to find out the truth about Candanace’s death. It was revealed to her that while running away from Anibal, Candance shot him. Emma swiped her clothes with another dead body to avoid police suspicion, making everyone believe that Candance is dead. Emma and Candance started living under new identities. Candance’s daughter was given a new identity too. She was now called Paula. Gallardo uses Paula’s name to force Candance to meet him.
- Is Aníbal dead? Candance, at a point, suspected that it was Aníbal who killed Gallardo and Ibai Saez in a mysterious murder. But police later find Anibal’s body in the stream where Candance and Emma threw it. The dental DNA reports match the identity, thus, finally putting an end to Anibal’s story.
Kimmy Dale and Candance Russo shared a strong bond while they struggled under the tyranny of Aníbal. Kimmy looked after Candance like a mother and was devastated when she found out that she was dead. However, years later, when it was revealed to Kimmy that Candance faked her death and left her to rot behind, she couldn’t control her anger. Kimmy hires Gallardo and Ibai Saez to take revenge on Candance. She takes Candance to the same dockyard where Aníbal used to operate his secret sex society. Kimmy locks Mateo Vidal in a container with a glass window and ties Candance to a chair under a heavy spotlight. Devilishly Kimmy tries to compel Vidal to look at Candance getting raped by three naked men. However, Detective Lorena Ortiz (Alexandra Jiménez) arrives and saves the couple from yet another tragedy at the brink of the moment.
For a brief moment, Ortiz suspects Kimmy of killing Gallardo and Ibai Saez. But her fingerprints don’t match the one police found on the gun near Ibai’s dead body. The police try to reconstruct the fingerprints, and it fits with Mateo Vidal.
Mateo Vidal is on the run and is suspected of three murders, Gallardo, Ibai, and a cellmate who was found dead during his tenure in jail. Through his private detective, Vidal finds out that his prison mate Aranda accusing him of murdering his cellmate was paid off by Daniel’s father Jaime Vera to sell off rumors to the press and the police.
Vidal arrives at Jaime’s house to fill the missing gaps. In the end, Jaime finally reveals the truth. Jaime used Vidal’s wife, Olivia past to take revenge on Vidal. He gave Gallardo and Ibai all the necessary information to make Vidal’s life hell. Dani’s father created the stir of unfortunate events to avenge Vidal for his son’s murder. Jaime planted the fingerprints found on the gun that killed Gallardo and Ibai. He wanted the police to suspect Vidal and put him in prison forever because four years of imprisonment wasn’t enough for a man who killed his son.
Jaime’s wife, Sonia, a witness to her husband’s murderous story, becomes a police witness and saves Vidal from further complications. Vidal finally gets a chance to start over.
“You never thought a man could be born twice. And it was the forgiveness of a woman (Sonia) whose soul you shattered. Thanks to the love of an angel who grew up in hell. And thanks to the power of second chances. ”
Mateo Vidal closes his brother’s paralegal firm and becomes a philanthropist. He starts helping people ex-prisoner rebuild bridges and reconstruct their life.
“You leave behind everything you were, and focus on everything you can become.”
All the people in the story, be it Candance or Detective Ortiz or Vidal himself, leave their past and the horrors and begin again looking forward to a beautiful future. However, there is one thing that I missed.
Mateo Vidal killed his Cellmate, Romero, by pushing him off the railing.
The Innocent (El Inocente) is a captivating drama. It keeps you on the edge of your seat. With an intricate plot and array of colorfully flawed characters, it’s a well-written thriller. The most astonishing and most unique thing about the narrative is that it explores the exciting backstory or the horrifying past of all its prominent characters through a beguiling voice-over. While there isn’t much exploration of characters and their arcs, the thrilling drama of The Innocent (El Inocente) seduces you with interesting insights and facts that keep the magic intact.
Throughout the series, execution and playout are commendable. However, the last confrontation with Dani’s father is a bit immature. It all looked too easy in a plot that was so thick from the beginning. In a way, the climax looked hurriedly done. I haven’t read the book, but in the series, The Innocent (El Inocente), the only missing element was Jaime’s confrontation.
The background score is titillating and suits the drama. Performance-wise there wasn’t much to explore, and Cinematography was average. The series is highly indebted to its fantastic writing. Harlan Coben sure knows how to fool its audience. He is indeed a sorcerer of the thriller genre. It was one of his 14 books whose adaptation we have seen on screen, and with the success of The Innocent (El Inocente), maybe there would be many more to experience.
The Innocent (El Inocente) is a 2021 Spanish Thriller Mini-Series holding eight episodes of approximately 1 hour each. The series is in the Spanish language, but the English dubbed version and subtitles are available on Netflix.
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