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Review: Control Z is a Well Thought Out Teen Thriller

May 22, 2020
4 min read

In many ways, ‘Control Z’ is like a Spanish remake of HBO’s ‘Euphoria’. Although its core themes highlight the toxic relationship that we have with social media, a deeper look at it makes it pretty evident how it holds up a mirror to our 21st-century existence. Now, compared to its “spiritual predecessor” ‘Euphoria’, ‘Control Z’ isn’t as extreme when it comes to its portrayal of sex, drugs, or just teens indulging in glorious debauchery.

However, it does take an unflinching look at the lives of its teenage characters and heightens its shock value through the depiction of toxic masculinity, bullying, depression, teen suicides, teen pregnancies, and scandalous high school politics. It takes a while to find its feet, and as a viewer, it expects you to persevere before it unravels its minefield of high school drama. But eventually, it proves to be the perfect form of “pay off” entertainment.

Control Z Plot Summary

‘Control Z’ centers around Sofia, an outcast who observes everyone around her from a distance. Often labeled as a “freak” because of her troubled past, she has no friends until Javier, the son of a football star, joins her school. Soon after this, a hacker takes the school by storm when he slowly starts exposing all the secrets of the popular kids. Sofia, who seems to have a knack for solving crime, decides to unravel the mystery behind this hacker’s identity.

While she’s at it, Javier uses his own social skills to help her out. In the meantime, chaos ensues and relationships are tested in the school as all buried secrets begin to resurface. When the hacker threatens that he’ll soon expose everyone in the school, Sofia races against time to solve the case. But little does she realize that she, too, will eventually become a victim of this ploy and will be forced to face her disturbing past.

Control Z Review

The first act of ‘Control Z’ is very archetypal in context with its characters and storyline. Even its atmosphere feels dry instead of being ominous and unsettling. When it comes to the initial hook of its mystery, it just gives you enough information to pique your interest and makes you somewhat of an amateur sleuth. But even though the dramatic element of its first act aligns you with its central character, there seems to be a stint of predictability to it. And it’s this predictability that will eventually be a turn off for many viewers.

Only when the show gains momentum in its second act, you start realizing that its predictability was nothing but a major red herring placed intentionally to misguide you as a viewer. These red-herrings are carefully placed all the way until the end. And since they primarily unfold from the perspective of the protagonist, you can’t help but fall for all of these well-placed twists. For the most part, the storytelling technique it uses is fairly linear and never relies on too many unnecessary flashbacks. But despite its traditional approach, the show keeps heading into new directions and keeps you captivated.

Some viewers might question the way in which its characters have been depicted. But if you think about it, the outrage and toxic behavior of these characters often seem to be painfully realistic and are even justified throughout the show’s runtime. With absolutely no judgment or ridicule, ‘it walks you through the lives of its diverse teen characters, making you despise them at one point and empathize with them at another. On the downside, its huge roster of characters adds variety to its coming-of-age themes but compromises the development of many. This, in turn, makes some of its didactic subjects a little less impactful and its overarching plot less effective.

All in all, ‘Control Z’ is a surprisingly good teen thriller drama that uses relevant foreshadowing to unfold its who-dun-it premise. Along with that, it also manages to be fairly grounded with its time-honored coming-of-age themes, without being too preachy about it. It sure is flawed and its final “spill all” moment is also a bit dumbed-down. Even so, I appreciate how it wraps up all of its plot points in its conclusive moments instead of leaving you with trivial cliffhangers just for the sake of dragging its storyline.

Rating: 3/5

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