Into The Lion’s Den
We begin episode 1 of The Mess You Leave Behind with a woman named Viruca holding the door shut from her partner Mauro. He’s desperate to get in but she simply tells him he doesn’t live there anymore. Tellingly, prior to their conversation, Viruca was copying files across from her computer.
After a dream about her mother dying and blurting out “f’ing seagulls”, Raquel awakens with a start and prepares to leave for a new job at Novaris High. She’s clearly anxious but partner German does his best to calm her down.
At Novaris High, we cut back in time and see Viruca teaching her students. She has Iago up writing on the chalkboard but it’s clear that trouble is brewing in the shadows. When Viruca heads outside, someone has written “puta” on her car, prompting the woman to head to the bar for a stiff drink.
As German and Raquel settle in, it’s obvious that hostilities remain between German’s parents as they question Raquel over her deceased mother. It’s still a tough subject for Raquel to tackle though and she eventually takes her leave. German follows, but Raquel confronts him about the number of times he’s been to the bathroom that evening. She believes he’s high on coke, eventually leading to them both going their separate ways for the night.
During another dream, Raquel sees her mother again, this time dressed as a doctor. A ghostly voice echoes through as Raquel awakens to hear German’s Mother crying in the room opposite.
During a flashback, we see Viruca struggling to concentrate but awakening to find spilt red wine over the table and her essay questions. She ignores a call from Mauro and begins getting ready for school. There, she hands back the exam papers but one them happens to have red wine stains up the side.
This inevitably causes the students to fight amongst themselves, as Nerea and Iago are both kicked out of class. As Viruca finishes her day, she receives numerous texts from an unknown number asking to meet. She refuses though and continues on her way.
In the morning, Raquel heads to the bar for a quick drink before school; an espresso though, not gin like Viruca. Raquel eventually heads into assembly where Nerea happens to be giving a powerful speech about equal rights.
Raquel meets two of her colleagues there, math teacher Ramon and Ira who teaches English. After, Raquel’s shown around and given the class schedule ready for the difficult task ahead of winning the kids over. Just before she goes, she meets Mauro (Viruca’s husband) who’s less than enthused to seer her.
He claims that she’ll be eaten alive in 2 days, which is only further exacerbated by Iago bringing a gun to school and scaring Raquel in the hallway with it. Interestingly, the camera pans across to show a Missing poster on the wall.
After class, Raquel heads home and finds a bomb of coke on the floor in her bedroom. She confronts German about it and berates him for lying.
With a gun in hand, Iago encourages Roi to head down to the hot spring with him and take photos. As they both get in the water together, Raquel takes her dog out for a walk. Iago tries to act tough when she shows up, playing up to Roi and confronting Raquel but she’s not phased by his attempts to intimidate her.
At school in the past, Iago forces himself on Viruca in the toilets. Midway through talking, Roi overhears their conversation from the hallway and heads in to investigate. When he finds Iago down on the floor, a crumpled heap and beside himself, he promises to make her pay for what she’s done.
Back in the present, Raquel prepares for her literature class but in doing so, finds out that Viruca commit suicide 3 weeks prior. The one who found her body happened to be Roi down by the shore.
At school, Raquel begins her class but Roi mentions the previous text books they were reading and comments how each of these authors killed themselves. Nerea scoffs at Raquel’s questions, eventually prompting the entire class to call her terrible.
Anyway, Raquel holds her own and after class, begins sifting through the essays she’s been given. Only, among the papers happens to be the Missing poster for Viruca. Even worse, an ominous messaged in scribbled in black ink on the back: “How long before you die too?”
The Episode Review
What happened to Viruca? This question is clearly going to consume the series going forward and there’s lots of scope for an intriguing mystery to follow. Iago is clearly involved in some way and I’d imagine this stems from him having an affair with Viruca and blackmailing her. Could he be the reason she’s missing?
Regardless, the contrast between Raquel and Viruca is a good one and the intriguing way this show jumps back and forth between both characters is a nice touch that keeps things engaging and interesting. So far so good; The Mess You leave Behind gets off to a great start.