'Who Killed Sara' Season 1 review: A beautiful Mexican whodunit

A young girl falls to her death. Her brother takes the blame. Now he wants revenge — and the truth could take down a corrupt family.

From left, Claudia Ramirez as Mariana, Alejandro Nones as Rodolfo, Gines Garcia Millan as Cesar, Carolina Miranda as Elisa, and Eugenio Siller as Jose Maria in "Who Killed Sara" on Netflix.
(Image: © Netflix)

What to Watch Verdict

Sex, murder and infidelity in Mexico make for a gripping whodunit — and keeps you guessing right up until the end.


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    🇲🇽 A simple premise wonderfully teased out among 10 episodes.

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    🇲🇽 Enough sex to keep things fun, and murder to keep things dangerous.

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    🇲🇽 There's no shortage of awful people.


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    🎰 There are a lot of people to keep track of here.

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    🎰 Occasionally gets a little too porny for its own good.

Someone killed Sara Guzman. And over the 10 episodes of Who Killed Sara? (aka ¿Quién Mato a Sara?) we're going to find out who. It's that simple. And when it comes to making a good mystery, the simple premises often work the best. 

That explains how the Mexican series came to land in the Netflix Top 10. That and all the sex and murder and torture and sex and betrayal and mystery and sex. It's all anchored by surprisingly strong characters and acting that quickly assuages any fears that you'll be caught up in a cheesy telenovela

There's enough everything — did we mention the murder and sex and betrayal? — to go around and make the subtitles well worth it. (If you're not watching all these Netflix imports like Who Killed Sara? and Sky Rojo and Lupin in their original languages, you're missing out.)

And somewhat surprisingly, you're going to make it through most of this series before you finally have even a shot at figuring out which of the truly awful people caused poor Sara to die.

Who Killed Sara? starts, appropriately enough, with the death of Sara Guzman, as she falls from her parasailing jaunt into a lake in Valle de Bravo, Mexico. On the boat are her brother, Alex, his best friends (and brothers) Rodolfo and Jose Maria Lozcano, and friend Nicandro. Everyone's been drinking and having a great time. Sara wasn't supposed to go up under the parachute, but kids don't always listen to their parents. 

And then the parasailing rig breaks. Sara is rushed to the hospital but doesn't survive. She's dead. And someone killed Sara.

Cesar Lozcano — Roldofo and Jose Maria's father — is a powerful (and corrupt) business man. He is not a good person. The authorities are going to charge someone for the death of Sara Guzman, and Cesar persuades Alexa — Sara's own brother — to take the rap. In exchange, Cesar promises that Alex will be out in just a few weeks, and that he'll take care of Alex and Alex's mother, who relies on dialysis and is awaiting a new kidney.

Alex rots in prison for 18 years.

Before he's released, however, he extracts a key from a hiding place in his cell. That key holds the, um, key to enacting his plans for revenge — and for finding out the truth.

That truth is complicated. Very complicated. And we learn it across the present, as well as flashbacks some 20 years earlier. (Some go back even a little farther.) Sara, it turns out, was pregnant (but not showing) when she died. That could point toward motive for someone. Maybe even more than one someone.

Alex sets up shop and gets to work. Despite having missed the past 18 years of the computer age, he's able to get right to hacking his targets and is plenty capable with mobile telephony. Go figure. The Lozcanos, meanwhile, have gotten word, and Roldolfo drives over to Alex's new pad but can't bring himself to go in. Instead, he's followed up by a couple goons with semi-automatic weapons who shoot up the place and give Alex the what-for — bad enough that he needs to go to the hospital. Good thing that Rodolfo's younger sister, Elisa, was tailing him. She takes Alex for help and gets him fixed up and decides she wants to find out all of her family's secrets, too and hop in bed with Alex in this whole endeavor — both figuratively and literally.

And that's what sets the stage for the other nine episodes, none of which weighs in at more than 45 minutes. The story moves along as Alex and Elisa learn more and more. Meanwhile, the guilt that most in this series (save for Cesar, because he really is a sociopath)

As if that's not complicated enough, we've got a number of other players in this game. Rololfo's wife, Sofia, desperately wants to get pregnant. (Her teenage Bruno, whom she had with another man (Felix), plays a role in everything, too.) But it's just not happening, and Roldolfo is too damn proud to care. 

Jose Maria — often going by the nickname Chema — is living with his boyfriend, and they're exploring surrogacy for a baby of their own. Chema's character is one of the fuller one's in the series — we see him struggle with his sexuality in an early threesome with Alex and Alex's sister's best friend, Marifer Fernandez Galvez — and he's entirely comfortable with himself in adulthood. His father, Cesar, however, never could come to terms with having a gay son and takes it out on him without hesitation. 

Mariana Guzman — Cesar's wife and mother to Rodolfo, Jose Maria and Elisa — has plenty of skeletons of her own, and a load of guilt to go with it. That guilt only goes so far, though.

If that seems like a lot, it's because it is. And that's without getting into all the other intra-family betrayal that really makes things messy. And the series does seem to lose the plot a bit, sidetracking away from who killed Sara and concerning itself more with Don Cesar and his panache for human trafficking and his No. 2's panache for torture. (Sara herself was no angel, either. If you remember anything in these 10 episodes, it's that no one is innocent.)

Everything all starts to come together in the final episode, though, where we spend much of the time in the past, in the day of Sara's death. (Plus a little deus ex machina, just because.) None of the pieces has been obviously left in plain sight at this point, but they're there. It's possible the subtitles clouded that for me, but there also are a lot of characters in Who Killed Sara?

And so many of them had a reason to want Sara dead.

MORE: Is Who Killed Sara? available in English?
ALSO: Does Who Killed Sara? have subtitles?

Phil Nickinson

Phil spent his 20s in the newsroom of the Pensacola (Fla.) News Journal, his 30s on the road for AndroidCentral.com and Mobile Nations and is the Dad part of Modern Dad.