Netflix Queue | Who Killed Sara? Has Us Thinking
A man stands in front of a display of computers, pictures taped to the wall, and a map. He wears a black tank top and black pants, and has a sinister look on his face. There are plants flanking the table, and the room is lit with eerie blue light.

Who Killed Sara?

21 May 20217 min read

From the day Who Killed Sara? premiered, its 55 million fans (and that’s just from the first 28 days) have been obsessed. They’re obsessed with the seemingly innocent Sara (Ximena Lamadrid), who was murdered while parasailing; with her easy-on-the-eyes brother, Álex (Manolo Cardona), and his sleuthing skills; and with the ridiculously evil Lazcano family. It’s not just the murder mystery that’s turned this series into a phenomenon more salacious than any soap and more creepy than any crime story. (Cancel your plans, because Season 2 is here.) I don’t know who killed Sara, but I can share a few things, from plot conundrums to wonderfully inconsequential fashion choices, that I can’t stop thinking about.

Actor Manolo Cardona who plays Sara’s brother, Álex, stands behind a barred window. He wears a black t-shirt and a chunky black watch. He also sports some facial hair. His fingers are poised in the shape of a gun, and he does not look happy.

Álex (Manolo Cardona)

Mission Always-Possible

During the 18 years that Álex spent behind bars (falsely imprisoned for involvement in his sister’s death), another person in prison with an ax to grind against the Lazcanos gave him a few tech tips, plus a stash of cash to fund his revenge plot. But were those fenced-yard chats enough to turn Álex into a Mexican amalgam of James Bond, Jason Bourne, and Ethan Hunt? Between Season 1 and 2, he was remotely installing software, data-breaching, bomb-making, remote fire-spewing, and loudspeaker-hacking. Apparently pleading innocent is the only thing Álex can’t do.

Sara (Ximena Lamadrid) stands on a dock, with a beautiful lake and mountain range behind her. She wears a crocheted yellow bikini and smiles wide. She is flanked by two boys with brown hair.

Sara (Ximena Lamadrid)

That Yellow Bikini

If Sara is the star of this series, her yellow bikini gets second billing. It’s trendy (Kim Kardashian recently wore her own crocheted bikini in a KKW photo shoot), a bit dangerous (I know there are other, riskier strings to be cut — did someone say “parachute”? — but you can’t ignore the omnipresent threat of unraveling stitches), and the color is clearly symbolic. Of what, you ask? I’m not a color therapist! But in a flashback Sara is often seen in yellow, she drinks a cocktail with a lemon garnish, and yellow flowers are placed by her grave.

This is a shot of Mariana’s (Claudia Ramírez) leg. She wears a black skirt and uses her red manicured fingers to attach a “cilice,” the garter-like metal chain used for self-flagellation.

Mariana (Claudia Ramírez)

Leg Bracelet or Torture Device?

What exactly is that torture device around Mariana’s (Claudia Ramírez) leg, and how is it connected to Tom Hanks? Glad you asked. It’s called a “cilice,” and it’s a garter-like metal chain with spikes that penetrate the skin. Wearing a cilice is a form of self-flagellation that has been used by people like Mother Teresa and St. Francis of Assisi. So, is Mariana a saint? Hell no — did you see what she did to poor Elroy (Héctor Jiménez)? But perhaps we’ll discover some connection to Opus Dei (the real-life sect also depicted in The Da Vinci Code that Tom Hanks’s Robert Langdon investigated), because their members have been known to wear cilices as penance.

Two men sit on a dock. Water sloshes beneath their dangling feet as one man films the other playing guitar. Beside the men are two sets of flip flops and beer bottles. The lake and mountain behind them make the scene idyllic.

Young Alex (Leo Deluglio) and young Chema (Polo Morin)

Where on Earth Is That Lake?

Yes, those metropolitan scenes are clearly shot in Mexico City, with its incredible skyline and profusion of luxury houses. But what about the stunning lakeside region where the covetable Lazcano vacation home is located? (And sure, also where Sara met her untimely demise.) I did some atlas work for you: Those scenes were filmed at Lake Avándaro in the town of Valle de Bravo, about 100 miles west of Mexico City. Valle de Bravo was also known as the Woodstock of Mexico in the 1970s, with two to three hundred thousand hippies gathering from all over the country for a rock festival in ’71. Incidentally, you know Mariana hated every last patchouli-scented one of them.

Sara (Ximena Lamadrid) parasails in a clear blue sky. Her contraption is purple, white, yellow, and green. Her figure is shadowy but you can sense her excitement from her hands framing her face.

Sara (Ximena Lamadrid)

Just How Dangerous Is Parasailing?

Maybe before you watched Season 1, you were toying with the idea of a beach vacation, daydreaming about trying parasailing for the first time. Maybe after you watched Season 1 and saw that terrifying shot of Sara plummeting to her death (over and over and over), you thought better of it. But you should know that unless someone is trying to kill you, parasailing is actually quite safe. The United States Coast Guard did a study of the pastime dating from 1992 to 2001 and found that in that near-decade a total of three people died, which roughly translates to pretty good odds for survival. (When the Mexican Coast Guard does their parasailing study, I’ll bring those results right to you.)

Álex (Manolo Cardona) holds a light brown chihuahua in his arms. The scene is dark, but his figure is illuminated. He wears a green long sleeved shirt and jeans and looks intensely at something off screen.

Álex (Manolo Cardona)

The Chihuahua Connection

Manolo Cardona has range: He’s played everyone from Eduardo Sandoval, the Colombian politician turned D.E.A. cooperator in Narcos, to Jesús (do I really need to explain?), in the Mexican alternate-historical fiction series María Magdalena. But don’t sleep on his role as Sam Cortez, either. Yep, Cardona played the landscaper husband of Piper Perabo’s Rachel in the underappreciated (or possibly over appreciated?)Beverly Hills Chihuahua. Mysteriously enough, Sam morphs into an entirely different-looking human being for Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2andBeverly Hills Chihuahua 3,and is played by someone named Marcus Coloma. Is there something nefarious behind an identically initialed role-recasting? Only George Lopez knows.

Lorenzo (Luis Roberto Guzmán) wears a white shirt, grey tie, and navy vest. He looks scared as he faces a man in the foreground of this shot.

Lorenzo (Luis Roberto Guzmán)

The Wrong Crowd

Rodolfo (Alejandro Nones) got a secret vasectomy. Elisa (Carolina Miranda) likes bold-patterned backpacks way too much. Álex is hell-bent on taking down one of the most powerful families in Mexico. And don’t even get me started on César (Ginés García Millán) and Mariana’s dysfunctional marriage. All of which is to say, what is poor, sweet Lorenzo (Luis Roberto Guzmán) doing mixed up with these nutjobs? He’s just a nice guy with a good job at a law firm; he wants a baby and to be able to throw the occasional dinner party without homophobic relatives in attendance. He should be on Suits, if that show were still around and if the people on it actually wore suits. Perhaps his one fatal flaw is his desire to move with Chema (Eugenio Siller) and their baby to Atlanta, of all places. No disrespect to the Peach State, but I feel like Lorenzo could make better choices all around.

Rodolfo (Alejandro Nones) lies on a wooden bench in the sauna with a towel over his eyes and behind his head. The red lighting sets an ominous glow.

Rodolfo (Alejandro Nones)

Can You Beat the Heat?

I’m all for a sauna in the home, unless of course someone you live with tries to lock you in there to murder you. As we know, Rodolfo escaped from his personal (dry) hell in time to down a ton of water while simultaneously being super obnoxious to Elroy. But scientifically speaking, would he actually have lasted as long as he did in there? In a 230-degree sauna (and we saw that temperature control go to the max), an adult would last just three to four minutes before needing a break. Maybe it’s time to switch to a steam room.

Dressed in a grey furry shawl and a black choker, Elisa (Carolina Miranda) looks at her white phone. Her face is slightly bloodied, although that doesn’t seem to concern the other passengers on the plane.

Elisa (Carolina Miranda)

Cabin Conundrum

The Lazcano family owns at least one casino, an amusement park, and multiple homes, and they’ve got an entire staff to boss around and/or take from an orphanage to groom, abuse, and enlist in murder. Also, they may run a human trafficking ring. In other words, that’s a lot of pesos. And unlike Chema, Elisa hasn’t angered the paterfamilias enough to risk being cut off. So when we see her on a plane headed for graduate school in Madrid, all we can reasonably do is mourn the absence of free cocktails and warm cookies. So what if she’s leaving Álex behind? That’s right, add to the long list of tragedies on this show that Elisa flies coach.