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The Easy Way or The Hard Way
Well written, tense and engrossing throughout, Victim Number 8 is a thrilling crime drama series, one that does a good job building a core mystery around its central character whilst grounding its cat-and-mouse narrative into a terror-stricken Spain. With nods toward reality and TV news reports peppered throughout, Victim Number 8 flirts with some interesting ideas, all whilst delivering twists and turns through every episode.
The story begins right at the heart of the drama. A terrorist attack in Bilbao rocks Spain. A van drives into a crowd and kills 7 people – later increased to 8 – which acts as the catalyst for what follows in the series. At the heart of this terrorist attack lies Omar, a man who finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time, seemingly framed for this despite overwhelming evidence linking him to the attack. As the real culprits appear and Omar’s situation complicates, the action splits between two key characters – Omar and Gaika.
While the former finds himself on the run and later forced to co-operate with the ones behind the attack, Gaika rises to prominence after his brother is killed, hit by the van early on in the first episode. As the narrative ticks by, more of his backstory is uncovered, revealing an ugly secret that acts as one of the bigger twists in the series. Although the finale is pretty dramatic, some of the best moments happen through the earlier episodes. I won’t disclose too much here for spoiler purposes, but suffice to say the van isn’t the last we see from terrorists attacking, with some nicely worked set pieces thrown into the 8 episodes.
Given the show originally aired in Spain last year, recaps crop up at the start of every episode and each ends with a pretty big cliffhanger. It doesn’t detract from the show of course but the rigid structure each episode follows is worth bearing in mind if you intend to try and binge this one. Some of the camera work is a little shaky at times too but for the most part the production design is pretty good, given it originated on cable TV. There’s a deliberate use of desaturated colours early on and some slick shots woven through the series but to be honest, this is a thriller that relies solely on its story to keep things ticking by and in that respect, Victim Number 8 does a great job.
Omar is a likable protagonist which helps and his girlfriend Edurne certainly goes through a pretty dramatic transformation across the series. Gaika does come off as a little too cliched in terms of his backstory and motivations, especially given how many shows I’ve watched in this genre. It’s a minor gripe though in an otherwise solid cast of characters that certainly work well together.
Victim Number 8 is a solid Spanish crime thriller well worth checking out. It may not be the best in this genre, nor does it change the game and deliver anything groundbreaking, but what it does do however, is deliver a tightly woven story with a good pacing throughout to make for a really enjoyable watch. While its unlikely this will ascend to the same lofty heights La Casa De Papel has achieved, Victim Number 8 is another fine addition to the roster nonetheless.