The Innocent (Spanish: El Inocente) is a maze. It invites you into the dark dungeons filled with webs and spiders. In the midst of Darkness, one can witness few characters standing in a shadow. Each episode lights up a particular character and a God-like narrative 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 through a spiral web. Here in the world of 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 an extremely well-written thriller drama. Much of the credit goes to the original writer, Harlan Coben on 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 an unfortunate 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 was just the beginning of a 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 4 years was Olivia Costa (Aura Garrido), the girl he met at his family hometown during a furlough to attend his parents’ funeral.
9 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 merciless shadow never shakes off.
Olivia is pregnant but she has to leave for a business trip to Berlin. In her absence, Vidal receives unusual photos of Olivia from her own cell phone. Vidal tries to connect with her but instead, he receives a nude video of a man with Olivia in 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 to the truth, Vidal finally finds out that it was Olivia’s past that has come to threaten them. Mateo Vidal and Olivia Costa for a series of murders they haven’t committed but the plot is thicker than it looks. Who is Olivia Costa and what’s her story?
Olivia Costa Story – Link to all the Mystery
Olivia Costa’s original name is 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 members of the society had access to it under an arrangement where their identity was kept secret. But Anibal had other plans. He recorded these men in action, in order to blackmail them. It was the beginning of Anibal’s end.
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 decides to cover up the story. She replaces Candance’s clothes and genes 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. Finally, he meets his hell.
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 tapes 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.
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 hence ended 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 the sessions of his clients 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) were recorded. 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 uprising 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 along with professional reasons has a personal inclination towards the tapes and that is why his pursuit gets murderous. He was willing to go to any extent to erase his past and spend a happy future with his wife and daughter.
‘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 Gallardo in Sister Maria’s convent room window. Gallardo came there inquiring for Candance. He didn’t want to kill Emma but she jumped off the window under threat.
- How did Gallardo find Candance? Again, Jaime Vera told Gallardo about Candance in order 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, Kimmy sensed something wrong. Kimmy and Candance gave away Candance’s newborn daughter for adoption to different parents. Kimmy, in order to dig deeper, hired Gallardo to find the truth who later reveals that Candance and Emma swiped the body and ran away. They are now living under new identities. Gallardo uses Paula’s name to compel Candance to come and meet him and Ibai Saez, where she later reveals the whole story.
- Is Aníbal dead? Candance at a point felt that it was Aníbal who killed Gallardo and Ibai Saez in a mysterious murder. But police later find his decayed body in the stream where Candance and Emma threw it. The dental DNA reports match his identity, thus, finally putting an end to Candance‘s suspicion.
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 that Candance faked her death and left Kimmy to rot behind, she couldn’t control her anger. She hires Gallardo and Ibai Saez in order to take revenge on Candance. She poisons Candance and takes her to the same dockyard where Aníbal used to operate his secret sex society. She locks her husband Mateo Vidal in a container with a glass window and ties Candance to a chair under a heavy spotlight. Devilishly she tries to compel Vidal to look at Candance getting raped by three naked men. However, at the brink of the moment, Detective Lorena Ortiz (Alexandra Jiménez) arrives and saves the couple from yet another tragedy.
For a brief moment, Ortiz suspects Kimmy of killing Gallardo and Ibai Saez. But her finger doesn’t match with the fingerprints police found on the gun near Ibai’s dead body. The police try to reconstruct the fingerprints and it matches 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 who is 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 fed Gallardo and Ibai with all the necessary information to make Vidal’s life hell. The stir of unfortunate events was created by Dani’s father in order to take revenge on Vidal for his son’s murder. The fingerprints found on the gun that killed Gallardo and Ibai were planted by Jaime. He wanted police to suspect Vidal and put him in prison forever because 4 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 to 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 interesting 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 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 misplaced 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 marvelous 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.
This is an intriguing drama that shouldn’t be missed. If you are a fan of thrillers or wish to feed yourself with something to binge over, then do not look further and stream The Innocent (El Inocente) as soon as possible. You won’t regret it.
The Innocent (El Inocente) is a 2021 Spanish Thriller Mini-Series holding 8 episodes of approximately 1 hour each. The series is in the Spanish language but the English dubbed version and subtitles, both are available on Netflix.
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