What’s Who Killed Sara?
Who Killed Sara?, a.k.a. ¿Quién Mató a Sara? is a Spanish-language television series from Netflix that’s been hanging out in their top ten for the past couple of weeks. Created by Chilean screenwriter José Ignacio Valenzuela, it’s a show that attempts to combine the “dead girl with secrets” mysteries of Twin Peaks with the “rich people being awful” fun of Succession. It is not, however, an attempt to capture Twin Peaks’ surrealism or Succession’s satire. Who Killed Sara is light, frothy, deeply committed to on-screen nudity, and really only has one question on its mind: Who killed Sara?
Who killed Sara?
Ten episodes in, and we don’t know for sure! The Sara in question is Sara Guzmán (Ximenia Lamadrid), a young woman who is killed in what initially seems to be a parasailing accident in the early-aughts flashback sequence that opens the series. Sara’s brother Alex (Manolo Cardona in the present-day, Leo Deluglio in flashbacks), tells police he was the person who strapped Sara into the parachute, so when they discover that her harness had been sabotaged, he’s convicted of murder and sentenced to thirty years in prison.
So Alex killed Sara.
No! Alex was lying about the parachute! The boat towing Sara’s parachute belonged to the wealthy and powerful Lazcano family, and the patriarch, César (Ginés García Millán), was afraid his children would be caught up in a scandal. César convinces Alex to take the blame before evidence of foul play surfaces, promising him he’ll serve a few weeks for involuntary negligence, tops. The Lazcanos have money from their casino empire, the Guzmáns do not, and in exchange for Alex’s lie, César vows to pay for lifesaving medical treatment for Alex’s terminally ill mother, and support him financially after he’s released. Once Sara’s death turns into a murder investigation, however, the Lazcanos cut Alex loose. Eighteen years later, Alex gets out of prison and begins seeking revenge. Unless the show is gearing up for a Fight-Club-style multiple-personality plot, Alex is the one person who didn’t kill Sara.
Why did the police think Alex would have murdered his sister?
Their theory was that Alex was mad at Sara because she was pregnant with her boyfriend Rodolfo Lazcano’s child. That’s fine as far as it goes, but a lot of other characters had more pressing reasons to want Sara Guzmán dead.
I’m glad you asked! Here are a few other suspects and their motives.
• Rodolfo Lazcano, the heir to the Lazcano casino empire, who actually strapped Sara into her parachute, might have discovered that Sara’s baby wasn’t his. Although we don’t know yet for sure whose child she was carrying, Sara had slept with at least one other person: Rodolfo’s father César.
• José María “Chema” Lazcano, Rodolfo’s older brother, knew that Sara had discovered he was gay. In the series’ present-day scenes, Chema is out to his family, but as a teenager he wasn’t. Sara, who once walked in on Chema masturbating while secretly videotaping Alex in the shower, threatened to tell César about his son’s sexuality shortly before her death.
• Sergio, César’s business partner, oversees the casino’s secret brothel, and occasionally enjoys videotaping himself beating women to death. Sara discovered one of Sergio’s snuff films, giving him more than enough reason to put her out of the picture.
• César Lazcano had more reasons to want Sara dead than almost anyone else in the series. He would not have wanted his family to discover he had slept with his son’s girlfriend. He wouldn’t want Sara to have his child. And he definitely would not have wanted his casino’s brothel or his business partner’s hobbies to become public.
• Mariana Lazcano, the family matriarch, had most of the same reasons César did—it’s not clear how much she knows about the family sideline in human trafficking—plus she’s not happy with Sara for sleeping with her husband, and doesn’t want her to join the Lazcano family.
• Elroy, Mariana’s personal assistant, is in love with Sara, and hurt and angry that she referred to him as “the help” when he tried to kiss her.
These people sound like a nest of vipers.
Well, they’re rich. I haven’t even gotten into the big game hunting, or the time César got Rodolfo’s wife pregnant, or the way Chema gets iced out of the family business over his sexuality, or the cilice Mariana wears on her thigh, or who tried to kill Sara.
Who tried to kill Sara?
Yeah, although we don’t know who actually cut Sara’s harness, we know that Mariana and Elroy planned to kill her that way. Mariana knows that Elroy murdered both of his parents—in separate incidents!—as a very young boy, and has been using that information to blackmail him ever since the Lazcano family pulled him out of an orphanage. (She’s also been molesting him since he was a kid; the show does not miss any opportunities to be sordid.) Before Sara’s final boat ride, Mariana encourages her to go parasailing, pregnant or not, and orders Elroy to cut the harness and keep the Lazcano boys away from the parachute. Elroy later tells Mariana that he couldn’t bring himself to cut the harness, but he’s either lying or someone else carried out their plan for the murder. Although we still don’t know who killed Sara, we do know that Mariana killed Elroy, after Elroy’s failed public suicide attempt, so he won’t be talking.
That is extremely sordid. Are there any other suspects?
Well, there’s Sara herself! Who Killed Sara takes some of its cues from Twin Peaks, so just like Laura Palmer, Sara Guzmán kept two separate diaries. Her secret diary, hidden in the wall of her bedroom for Alex to discover in the season finale, is considerably less cheerful than her public one, full of disturbing sketches and crayon scrawls repeating phrases like “I want to die” and “I am many Saras.” There’s also a map to the shallow grave in the yard where she buried the body!
Yeah, as Alex discovers, there’s a skeleton in the Guzmán family backyard with a silver dollar-sized hole in its forehead, and Sara knew it was there. As a flashback reveals, Don César seems to have shot the skull’s owner in the head, but we don’t yet know who it was, what his or her connection to Sara was, or how the body ended up at the Guzmán home. We know that Sara was very concerned about her own mental health—she wrote “Am I like him? Am I crazy?” on one of her secret diary pages—so given the show’s obsession with paternity, Don César’s habit of getting people inconveniently pregnant, and the fact that we don’t yet know much about Alex and Sara’s mom, there are probably a lot more secrets to unravel before we can say with any certainty who killed Sara, who Sara killed, and so on and so forth.
When can television audiences expect to learn more about the depravity of the Lazcano family, the trail of bodies they leave in their wake, Sara Guzmán’s possible complicity in their schemes, and the many, many subplots you didn’t have time to mention here, like Chema and Lorenzo’s search for a surrogate or César’s affair with Rodolfo’s wife or the murder of Flor Sanchez?
The second season of Who Killed Sara? hits Netflix on May 19.