“Downward Spiral” proves an apt title as Raquel’s investigation begins to endanger her life.
This recap of The Mess You Leave Behind episode 4, “Downward Spiral”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
Just when Raquel was thinking her life couldn’t get any more awkward, here’s her ex-lover Simon. He’s in town for reasons currently unknown, but it can’t mean anything good given recent events, and you know what dear readers? I have a major issue with this show that “Downward Spiral” really exacerbated.
I honestly don’t think I’ve ever seen a high-school show about unruly students that expects us to suspend disbelief quite this much. All the students are on first name terms with their teachers? Everyone just knows that the students and teachers are sleeping together in some instances? We’ve had profanity-laden activist speeches, and at one point when Raquel walks down a corridor in this episode, she bumps into one student who immediately turns around like he’s going to square up to her, and another who calls her a b*tch. Lessons are, like, 90% backchat. It’s absurd.
So, Raquel confronts Roi about bringing Simon to town, which is also ridiculous, and he tells her that the small-town honor would basically inure him from backlash even if he did, which is – all together now – also ridiculous. Honestly, this stuff is proving to be a pretty major barrier for me getting into the mystery.
And there are the bones of a decent mystery here, no question, and I for one can’t quite figure how they all fit together. It’s obvious in the past that Viruca’s relationship with Tomas and Iago’s obsession with Viruca are both going to pertain to the present-day shenanigans, but not at all obvious exactly how. Speaking of which, things in the present-day get a lot more complicated when Simon makes a surprise move on Raquel and reveals that he has been receiving messages from her telling him to come and resume their affair. So, whoever is behind all this has enough technical know-how to… what, clone Rachel’s phone? Hack her social media? One of the students from the classroom with a blackboard you understand, but let’s not quibble over details.
With few other people to turn to, Raquel goes to Mauro. Then she goes to Viruca’s apartment. Right on cue, we cut back to the past and see Tomas and Viruca having a liaison that he’s rather insistent about, all things considered, and as they lay in bed together later, Iago returns home, finds one of Viruca’s garments strewn somewhere, and goes absolutely ballistic. Tomas is forced to confront him and throw him down the stairs, which Viruca isn’t exactly charmed by. She leaves, and Iago watches her go, but the damage has been done.
Back in the present-day Raquel realizes she has sabotaged her earlier plan of sucking up to Nerea by leaving her hanging while she was rooting about Viruca’s apartment, so Nerea leaves her to give a terribly awkward lecture until the pressure becomes too much and Raquel tearfully flees.
Raquel, it’s worth mentioning, isn’t a very good investigator. She heads to the gym to go through Viruca’s locker there, but she does it in full view of Nerea, right after giving her a fake excuse for her presence, which is a really strikingly dumb moment. Nevertheless, she finds Viruca’s phone. On her way home, she comes to believe she’s being followed and reaches down to grab the phone from the passenger footwell – when she looks up she’s inches away from a crash and is forced to swerve. The car flips, and “Downward Spiral” leaves her tangled in the wreckage.
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