Tense and engrossing, this Spanish thriller offers a well-paced and tightly-written high-stakes story.
Despite a lot of Spanish-language content dropping on Netflix this weekend (see also: Green Frontier and 45 rpm), the low-key highlight might be the eight-episode thriller series Victim Number 8, a tense and engrossing affair that did decent numbers as a cable show in its native Spain last year and looks set to impress on the streaming giant. With topical hot-button themes of jihadist terrorism and the way law enforcement and the general public respond to it and those accused of partaking in or facilitating it, this is an action-thriller with more complexity and nuance than is common in the genre.
Victim Number 8 begins with a terror attack in Bilbao, Spain: a “lone wolf” drives a van into a crowd, killing seven people, and is caught on security cameras fleeing the scene. Wrongly accused of committing the despicable act is Omar Jamaal (César Mateo), and as the evidence against him mounts, real culprits begin to reveal themselves and the story is further complicated as it begins to include the victims’ families and those who become collateral victims of Omar’s public accusation.
Given the obviously incendiary plot, a tight script and rapid pace help to prevent Victim Number 8 from feeling preachy, as does how capably the mystery surrounding Omar is built and developed. Despite being obviously transplanted from cable TV with all the trappings that entail — each episode feels compelled to end on a cliffhanger, there are “Previously on…” openers, and so on — this is an eminently binge-able show that’ll be right at home on Netflix, where previous Spanish-language content (most notably Money Heist) has done really well.
A notably lackluster budget doesn’t work too much against Victim Number 8 either, and putting aside some instances of played-out character development, the show boasts a compelling lineup of victims and suspects who have relatable motivations and recognizable arcs of growth and change. The wheel isn’t being reinvented here, but it is turning at an impressive rate, with no squeaks and groans to be found. Victim Number 8 provides solid, well-oiled genre escapism and is well worth checking out this weekend.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.