Netflix has decided for some unknown reason to take El Internado off the air. To be fair they did give me adequate warning, but on Friday I still went to watch it as usual of an afternoon and found that it had disappeared. Sigh. I feel bereft.
Anyhow, I will do a review in memory of this slyly addictive show. Now at the outset I must say that no one was more surprised than me that I was so hooked, but the fact remains that it was strangely well-written for such a ludicrous premise. That premise being that there is a boarding school (the eponymous El Internado de la Laguna Negra) somewhere in rural Spain which attracts the kids of that country's elite, but there are mysterious events afoot with an abundance of underground passages, missing children from the school's history as a former orphanage, and adults with plenty to hide.
There is skulduggery, for lack of a better word, in every episode with breathtakingly foolish actions and impossible coincidences galore. However, to offset all this is the genuine chemistry among the cast and the almost constant thread of humor that lends the proceedings some lifesaving levity. At the center are the group of teenagers, the principal and teachers, the administrator Jacinta, and two staff members, Maria the cleaner and Fermin the cook.(We are to believe there is but one cleaner in a school of 400 students, but that is just one lapse to overlook because you are too addicted.)
Among the students I quickly picked the fetching Marcos and his cherubic sister Paula as my favorites, but only by a slender lead. There's sassy little Evelyn who is Paula's best friend, Jacinta with her dry wit, and Julia with her badassery. Every episode had some quite charming vignettes of the two tots Paula with her round cheeks and the spindly little blond diva Evelyn up to no good, and these were pretty much worth the price of admission. Then there was the crackling chemistry within the group of teenagers and their friendship and various romantic angles; one of these, disastrously, with a teacher.
Marcos and Paula arrive at the school freshly orphaned in the first episode. Yet there is never maudlin sentiment on display; the kids are so in tune with their characters that they infuse them with a sort of dignified yet tragic innocence. And since Paula was barely five here, don't ask me how she accomplished this. Further: each episode clocked in at a whopping 80 minutes or so, and here was another head-scratcher: how did I never realize I was watching for so long without my usual goldfish attention span playing up?
The first three seasons were much more engaging than the last four; but of course I held on to the bitter end. This last season, the seventh, was a total drag. Only out of loyalty and not wanting to let go of my Spanish companions each afternoon did I refuse to give up. One major character does die, disappointingly enough, right at the every end. Needless, I thought, but oh well.
There is simply so much going on though. As Roque, one of the teenagers, tells newcomer Julia what she should expect in one of their secret excursions, "Oh, only some freezing, pitch-black underground passages, skeletons of long-dead kids, old films of medical experiments, and some unknown guy who wants to shoot us, but that's all."
Even as I type this my brain acknowledges the incongruousness of my addiction. But there you have it. My afternoons are missing something these days. Oh how pleasant it was down in the passages!