The Snow Girl Season 1 Review – Dour subject matter hides a solid mystery

January 27, 2023 (Last updated: last month)
Jonathon Wilson 2
Netflix, Streaming Service, TV, TV Reviews
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Some very heavy content and themes can make it a tough watch, but The Snow Girl is a well-constructed and compelling crime thriller.

This review of the Netflix series The Snow Girl Season 1 does not contain spoilers.

Netflix’s Spanish thriller The Snow Girl, based on the book La chica de nieve by Javier Castillo with some key changes, is a horrifying what-if scenario and a captivating bit of crime-thriller television. It also earns that prestigious distinction of being tough to watch, thanks to some incredibly heavy themes, macabre subplots that don’t even further the overarching narrative, and a streak of desperation and sometimes cruelty that earns a content warning, at a minimum.

Genre fans, then, will be well served by these six episodes, which in totality make for a compelling and (relatively) conclusive binge-watch. Just brace yourself for some unpleasantness.

The Snow Girl Season 1 review and plot summary

The plot of The Snow Girl revolves around the disappearance of five-year-old Amaya Martin from the annual Magi — or “Three Wise Men” — Parade in Malaga. During the bustle of the event she’s separated from her parents for just a moment, but long enough to be snatched by an unknown perpetrator. In the months and eventually years following this disappearance, Amaya’s case is investigated by both the police and the press, especially an unusually dogged journalist named Miren (a stoic Milena Smit).

The Snow Girl makes a couple of smart decisions with this typical formula. One is that it takes place over multiple time periods; in the days immediately following Amaya’s disappearance, six years later, and nine years later, but it presents events out of sequence. Luckily it’s always clear when we’re moving backward or forward through time, so you never get lost in the shuffle, and the organization of events is often used to good dramatic effect. There’s a sense of satisfaction in putting together the pieces of how something witnessed in 2019 originated in 2010, and so on, and so forth.

The other good decision is offering the perspectives of both the police force and the press in all stages of the case. Miren is a journalist with her own reasons to distrust law enforcement — more on that in a minute — but there’s a clear focus on how rash journalistic action can make cases harder for the police to solve, but also how police inaction basically mandates that the press and public solve cases for themselves. There’s an interesting push and pull here wherein we’re sure everyone has the right intentions, but vastly different approaches, tied up in red tape or held back by a lack of resources. The balance works.

But back to Miren. She’s undoubtedly the protagonist of the series and has an obligatory tortured backstory that is unspooled gradually throughout the six episodes. It isn’t relevant to the main case, but it does crop up in a subplot in a way that feels slightly contrived but also a little perverse; there are a few moments in The Snow Girl that I’m convinced exist to be as horrific and uncomfortable as possible without really serving the narrative in any meaningful sense. A child’s kidnapping is horrific enough, but The Snow Girl keeps twisting the knife and can sometimes feel like overkill.

Is The Snow Girl good?

The Snow Girl is good by basically any reasonable objective metric. It’s well-crafted, compelling, well-acted, and has some smart structural flourishes that help the confident storytelling excel. But it’s very heavy in its subject matter, which will undoubtedly turn off people of a certain disposition. So, your mileage may vary, but it’s hard not to recommend this Spanish thriller to fans of the genre.

What did you think of The Snow Girl Season 1? Comment below.

You can watch this series with a subscription to Netflix.

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2 thoughts on “The Snow Girl Season 1 Review – Dour subject matter hides a solid mystery

  • January 29, 2023 at 6:52 am

    It is compelling with characters that have their own issues. The subplots make this a character driven series. It also touched on The suffering of women in a rapidly changing male dominated society in which the testosterone driven beings are slowly being driven down by the resilience of strong characters.

  • February 16, 2023 at 10:14 am

    I didn’t find it very realistic if you really think about it. The first thing I thought when the girl was missing was, check her patients. Then, I must admit, I forgot this thought, but I knew from the beginning that the childporno was a distraction. For a while I suspected the father. Another thing made it not believable was that the people didn’t get one day older in 9 years. The hair didn’t change, the fashion didn’t change. I missed the attention for details.

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