Control Z Season 1 Review: A riveting teen drama
This Mexican series from Netflix has relatable characters and an interesting central mystery
I'm not much into teen dramas unless there is some really interesting factor. So it was with a bit of trepidation that I approached Control Z, a new Netflix series from Mexico. Since each episode is just under 40 minutes, I decided to give the pilot episode a shot and was immediately hooked.
Control Z is, I think, something that would be appreciated by anyone who loved Rian Johnson's Brick. This series is similar to Brick in that both try to do something fresh with the mystery genre. The central mystery in Control Z doesn't concern a murder, but the identity of a mysterious hacker who gives a wake-up call to all the high-school students in a posh school. How did this happen? Well, their Wi-Fi security is weak. Someone didn't bother paying attention to that.
This series has three important things working in its favour — decent character development, performances, and suspense. Though it doesn't exactly break any new ground here with respect to the characters, they all look and sound like people you have already met or can relate to. And, who knows, you may even find someone whose personality somewhat matches yours. Or see a little bit of you in all the characters.
Creators: Adriana Pelusi, Miguel García Moreno, Carlos Quintanilla
Cast: Ana Valeria Becerril, Michael Ronda, Yankel Stevan
Streaming on: Netflix
The 'investigator' in Control Z is a cool female student, Sophia (Ana Valeria Becerril), who is capable of standing up for herself. She is an observer with a keen eye for detail and is usually found all by herself. But she has her issues, just like every other character in the series. The blade scars on her left arm indicate a dark past, which is revealed in the later episodes. Sophia is easily my favourite character in Control Z.
Unsurprisingly, every character has parental or sibling issues — and it's not just because of their raging hormones. Each character is, to the society's eyes, strange. When the hacker intrudes everyone's device and puts all their secrets out in the open, chaos ensues. The secrets are damaging to each student, to varying degrees. Using hacking as a plot device gets half of the job done when it comes to character detailing. We learn that one student was cheating on his partner, another may have killed somebody in the past, one homophobic bully could be a closet homosexual, and so on. The girls have similarly interesting secrets.
Having such a diverse group of characters allows the series to address pertinent issues in LGBTQ, parenting, love, and, of course, internet security. We get some genuine and heartwarming bonding moments, especially among the girls. It's the female characters who are seemingly better at dealing with their inner demons as opposed to the guys. While the identity or motivation of the hacker isn't exactly mind-blowing, the moments leading up to the revelation are quite gripping.
Don't hang on to whatever impression you may form of some of the characters after going through just the first two or three episodes, because they could surprise you with some drastic transformations later. Those assumed to be completely bad may have some redeeming qualities. It could go the other way too. I like it when a series or film does that to me.