WKND Series Review: The Mess You Leave Behind

sushmita@khaleejtimes.com Filed on May 13, 2021

El Desorden Que Dejas, translated into The Mess You Leave Behind, is the Primavera Literature Award-winning book that has been adapted by Netflix into a limited web series, created with the help of author Carlos Montero. In one line, it’s a tale of what happens when we keep life-altering secrets — unwittingly or otherwise — in the dark. Raquel and husband Germán move to a (fictional) small town, the latter’s hometown where his mother and brother still live, when she gets a job at a local school to teach literature to a class of seniors. It’s also the couple’s way to get a new lease of life: their marriage has been wobbly of late (reasons don’t tumble out till much later) and they believe a change of scene could help.

Once Raquel gets to work, she realises she has her hands full. Her predecessor, Viruca, reportedly, allegedly, killed herself a few months ago, and Raquel finds herself getting drawn into a murky world of “possibilities” that led to her taking such a drastic step. Additionally, her class of students shock her with their rabid ferocity which, most times, border on pure evil. In a Variety.com interview to Emiliano Granada, Montero has said, “We are always dealing with bullying between students, and yet many teachers can tell you about feeling attacked by students and being afraid of even going to class. That is terrifying when someone tells it in the first person. So, I wanted to talk about that, the arrival of a young teacher in a place where she is received with hostility, without knowing why. That leads her to investigate what is happening.”

The series moves between two worlds, one lived by Viruca in the recent past and one lived in the present by Raquel, and soon, hints of murder, not suicide, emerge — with Raquel getting obsessed with the trail, often believing herself to be inhabiting a realm of déjà vu.

As the drama deftly intersects with home truths, mostly skeletons, locked up in dusty cupboards, the way ‘students’ — most of them not yet 18 — are presented is disturbing at one level, intriguing at the other. There’s no downplaying of attributes or watering down of consequences with concessions given for age: these ‘kids’ are adults in every which way, at times even more adult than certified ones.

The best bits? As with all European noir thrillers, there are no pulling of punches: it’s hard-hitting while being ensconced in pretty frames. The small-town setting revs up the drama, stokes the mystery. It’s like a townhall congregation of characters and almost everyone has a part to play in the larger scheme of things. The worst bits? Somewhere towards the end, the thriller stops being psychological, as certain ‘hard facts’ come into the open. You almost wish the pathology didn’t come in the way of mental welter.

sushmita@khaleejtimes.com

author

Sushmita Bose

Sushmita, who came to Dubai in September 2008 on a whim and swore to leave in a year's time (but then obviously didn't), edits wknd., the KT lifestyle mag, and writes the Freewheeling column on the Oped page every Friday. Before joining Khaleej Times, she'd worked for papers like Hindustan Times and Business Standard in New Delhi, and a now-defunct news magazine called Sunday in Calcutta. She likes meeting people, making friends, and Facebooking. And even though she can be spotted hanging out in Dubai's 'new town', she harbours a secret crush on the old quarters, and loves being 'ghetto-ised' in Bur Dubai where she is currently domiciled.





 
 
khaleejtimes
khaleejtimes

Video | Videos

Star Tech: Arab Health's startup zone
khaleejtimes
khaleejtimes

Video | Nation

Al Baik in UAE: How good is it? We try and...
khaleejtimes
khaleejtimes

Video | Videos

Have you been to Dubai's fascinating Expo...
khaleejtimes
khaleejtimes

Video | Nation

KT Food trail: The journey of a cuppa from...
khaleejtimes
khaleejtimes

Video | Nation

Covid-19: How yoga can help patients recover
khaleejtimes
khaleejtimes

Video | Technology

Star Tech: Popularity of 'halal' tattoos in...