'Control Z': Is Raul the real villain or is he a victim of daddy issues and his morbid obsession with Sofia?
A hacker starts exposing deep, dark secrets of a high school's most popular kids: Is he a bad guy or has his own abuse taught him no better?
Major spoilers for the show
One of the many disturbing moments on Netflix's 'Gossip Girl' meets '13 Reasons Why'-esque Spanish teen drama 'Control Z' is school bully Gerry beating the easily intimidated Luis into a bleeding coma.
Triggering and morbid in its own sensational way, blow after lands on the innocent Luiz after he proclaimed to be the hacker exposing all the students' secrets. The onslaught of blows will put classic school bullies like Bryce Walker and Monty Montgomery to shame; but while Gerry rides out his aggression on Luiz all because his love for gay porn was outed, the major accountability in hurling chaos at the lives of all these teens and their adults combined lies heavily on their affluent classmate Raul (Yankel Stevan). Raul - the real hacker - does all of this out of a sheer craving to connect with fellow classmate and protagonist, Sofia (Ana Valeria Becerril) - the observant social recluse. But to answer our question, not necessarily. Even with rampant daddy issues, he is far from the victim here.
Playing his tricks on the school's social hierarchy, Raul's first target is Isabella - the queen bee. Raul exposes Isabella for being a trans-woman, something that only her boyfriend Pablo knew. Raul gets to Isabella's closest allies - Pablo, Natalia, and Gerry - by blackmailing them with their own secrets. And once Isabela's secret is out, he targets the other three by reaching out to her as the mysterious hacker from Instagram. Soon Raul targets Sofia and threatens to expose her father still being alive and facing the risk of prison time should anybody else - including her mother - find out.
Raul's threats are deep and unnerving; while Sofia risks losing her father, Isabella is exposed to vehement bullying for being a 'freak' and a 'monster'. Natalia has to resort to selling drugs at high school parties to earn the money she embezzled from the school's accounts. Gerry gets grounded and sadly, there's no consequence to Pablo getting outed as a dick-pic sending cheater other than a breakup. As for their school principal, Raul has dirt even on him - something he uses to blackmail his way out of getting the new kid Javier expelled.
Gerry getting grounded also sees him get more and more aggressive towards Luis and we all know how that ends; Luis doesn't return from the coma, he simply flatlines. And even with Gerry confronting Raul with a gun after finding out the hacker's identity, it is Javier who gets shot in the scuffle. As for Raul? Not a slap on the wrist. Of course, he wouldn't end up losing in his own master plan, but what really strikes the mind at first is why Raul would out his own father's indiscreet black money and disrupt their entire family. Raul exposing himself with money and expensive items leads to people finding out about his dad's business affairs, and in turn, also earns him a whopping punch to the eye courtesy his dad.
It becomes more or less evident that his family isn't the closest; his father is completely detached. In fact, the son comes after the money and the relationship delves into more than just verbal or even physical abuse; it's emotional. Riddled with daddy issues, it makes sense why the aloof and cynical Sofia's worldview would attract him. And it is probably to alienate people, just the way his father had done to him, that he crafts this vicious plan to take the popular kids out.
Finally in a scene where Raul is dressed as the hacker and kidnaps Sofia, he reveals all his innate craving and obsession for her, mentioning how he's doing this to the 'fake' kids because Sofia had once mentioned to him in passing that she wished people would just be their honest selves for once. It could be just a poor guise for Raul's psychotic intent that ultimately takes the life of an innocent kid, and leaves another dying on the road. But even if one considers the fact that he truly fell for Sofia and his selfish instincts didn't know how else to get closer to her, it's not a reason justifiable enough.
The last segment of Raul's plan is to get the authorities to ambush his father in his secret hideout and that's a solid win; Sofia tricking him to confess he is the hacker, not so much, and earning him a few kicks in the guts, rightfully so.
The best part about 'Control Z' so far has been now it doesn't try whitewashing people's toxic behavior by unnecessary backstories explaining their actions. Karmatic relief aside, it's also refreshing to watch how character development isn't that common in their cruel world filled with social media validation and brand pessimism. So for now, we rest our case with Raul just being an emotionally manipulative, scheming, lying a**hole who almost had Sofia convinced Javier was the real mastermind behind it all. And honestly? Sofia deserves way better than that.
'Control Z' premieres with all 8 episodes on May 22 only on Netflix.