Rating 4.5/5 – Netflix Control-Z came out way back in May of 2020, convincing me that good things did happen in 2020 but they were hidden by the bad. Let’s start with what makes this show so absolutely binge-worthy, and her name is Ana Valeria Becerril. Ana Valeria Becerril plays Sofia, a teen in National School located in an unnamed area of Mexico, who lost her father at a young age and who spent time in the hospital for issues resulting in that loss. She had amazing powers of observation and deduction. It’s fair to say that Control Z owes a lot to Veronica Mars and all these types of shows are beholden to Sherlock Holmes. When a hacker starts releasing the deep and often dark secrets of the students then threatens to release Sophia’s secret, Sofia becomes determined to catch them. And so begin a journey of twists and turns with not-so shades of grey. Control Z is an eight-episode story that grabs you from the beginning takes you on a clever ride through the eyes of teens in Mexico.
Control Z – A Long Time Ago, We Used to be Friends
I’ve heard this show compared to Gossip Girl or Mr. Robot or everything but the most obvious comparison. Veronica Mars. In Veronica Mars, you have a teenage girl detective who spends each season investigating the main mystery wrapped in a mystery of the week as the show’s framing device. In Control Z there’s just one big mystery but it affects everyone in Sofia’s life in one way or another. I make the comparison because Kirsten Bell and Ana Valeria Becerril have vastly different acting styles. Both are good at observation and deduction, but Veronica was more of a hard-boiled detective novel told through the lens of an early 2000’s teen drama, Control Z is more a year in the lives of a group of high school students. There isn’t a murder mystery in Control Z, but the final solution felt “came out of nowhere.” In Control Z the writers did a pretty good job laying out clues before the big reveals. Where both Control Z and Veronica Mars both succeed is a powerful first episode and dynamic lead actress you want to see more of.
Control Z – This is the End
The ending of Control Z season one might divide people. I’m not going to say it was a logical ending that went with the overall narrative. It was an ending reflecting the chaos of life and how things can turn on a dime. A look at how things are never what they seem until you’re confronted with them head-on. Sometimes things are not as bad as you think, sometimes they’re worse. Sofia’s big secret needed more explanation. I am hoping for more of an explanation because none of it really makes sense. And I’m glad Mexican teen dramas can’t get away from the “if you just have a conversation a lot of things would be solved” trope.
Ensemble casts do not work if you do not have good supporting characters with engaging stories and something resembling depth. This is why teenagers make for great soap opera series because they have a daily dose of “WTF is going on with me” in a hormone cocktail mixed with heavy doses of angst. Let me tell you right now that the cast of Control Z is excellent. They are not simply “mean girls” or “jock” or the crazy ones. There were times you almost felt the curled mustache and black hat cheesy acting of the “villains” but the actors pulled in back and portrayed the actual humanity of this group. I’ve never watched a movie made in Mexico. Or, at least, I’ve never been aware of it. The similarities in problems, peers, choices life tells you to make connects this story with everyone else.
The only big flaw in the show is Sofia’s secret. It was a twist, I’ll grant them that. But it made me go “Wait. . .what?” instead of gasping and the movie tricked me into not actually seeing it. For instance the actual villain. Okay Control Z, you got me on that one. And he’s a complete villain. Especially that motivation. Creepy and completely evil. Also – and no offense to the actress – this is the writer’s, too many times Sofia was a victim when I felt she should not have been. Consider exactly what having genius-level observational skills would mean. She was falling backward into things I just felt the character just wouldn’t. She is an actual superhero, go with that next time. It doesn’t have to be fantastical, just her using an ability to be a real threat to the villain. Because Sofia is. In fact, she should be the most dangerous one in the room.
Other than that, Control Z is a great show. I hope to see a second season.