Netflix’s Criminal: Spain Review
In this last trip through the world of Criminal, we take a trip to Spain to how things are there and, unfortunately, it just doesn’t live up to the other iterations. Don’t get me wrong, Spain still utilizes the look and feel of the Criminal formula to deliver dialogue-heavy thrills, but the storylines and cases just seemed weaker than other parts of the world.
For one thing, the team is much smaller with the series mainly focusing on Chief Inspector Maria (Emma Suarez) and Sub-Inspector Ria (Alvaro Cervantes) as they are in a relationship outside of work. While it’s an interesting new conflict that isn’t explored to this extent in other iterations and I actually like how their arc ends, it’s just so weak in comparison and makes the other investigators of the series pretty much irrelevant. This relationship story is the only prevailing things in Spain and even though it ends on an interesting note with it connecting to a much more intriguing theme in the season, I never really connected to it much.
What was interesting with Spain, though, was how this group of investigators is a little more inclined to break the rules and regulations to get the answers they need to make the case. It’s actually a unique take that isn’t found much in the other iterations and leads to some creative conflicts. From Maria utilizing the prized property of a suspect to rattle them without a warrant to the team covering up police brutality and making up what happened during an arrest in order to arrest someone who has a personal connection to Maria, there’s an interesting debate dredged up about the lengths that this group will go in order to make the case. All of this comes to a strong end with Rai confessing that Maria has been lying and it puts a strong roadblock in their relationship. Admittedly, this end conflict doesn’t give viewers much to make of it as it’s literally at the end, but it does set up nicely for a second season – if one ever comes.
As a whole, the cases are fine with them tackling things like abuse and lying, but they just don’t leave the same kind of impact or intrigue as the other cases do. The performances are definitely on the same level, as Suarez and Cervantes are really good here, and the dialogue is still strong, but there’s just something about Spain that makes it unable to land that same kind of punch as the other three. Perhaps, I came into it with incredibly high expectations since France was so great, but there was definitely an opportunity for Spain to have great arcs and intriguing narratives that leave you thinking, but it just doesn’t.
Spain leaves an underwhelming mark on Criminal because of how it simply can’t live up to the other iteration’s narratives, characters, and cases. It’s not bad in any sense and still contains the thrills that make this series so strong and unique, but it’s just on a lower level. In terms of the entire series of Criminal, the possibilities are truly endless. With the possibilities of seeing these stories return or seeing the Criminal formula in other parts of the world, I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed that Netflix will bring back this series soon to deliver dialogue-heavy thrills that are too hard to pass up.