Elite season 1, episode 1 premiere recap: ¿Quién está muerto?


Netflix’s new teen murder mystery Elite has Gossip Girl and Big Little Lies vibes, but the compelling Spanish-language drama also stands on its own merits.

If you thought the high society teen drama or murder mystery teen drama had been played out, allow Netflix’s Elite to prove you wrong. The thrilling, time-jumping premiere of the eight-episode first season, which dropped today, hits all the right notes to hook viewers and keep them tuning in for more.

The episode opens very ominously with teenage protagonist Samuel (Itzan Escamilla) walking around dazed in a blood-stained prep school uniform. His cheek is also smeared with blood. Cut to a police interrogation room: Samuel, now cleaned up and wearing sweats, is being questioned by a detective (Ainhoa Santamaría). But she assures him, “Todo va a ir bien.” (“It’s going to be alright.”)

Like Big Little Lies, Elite jumps between flashbacks prior to the murder and present-day scenes of characters being interrogated about the murder.

Flashback to four months earlier: It’s Samuel’s first day at Las Encinas, an elite bilingual prep school. After the roof of his old public school San Esteban collapsed, the construction company paid for three students to transfer to Las Encinas as a PR stunt.

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Samuel is joined at Las Encinas by fellow newcomers Christian (Miguel Herrán), an irreverent class clown, and Nadia (Mina El Hammani), a high achiever who faces discrimination not only from classmates but also from the principal for being Muslim. Under penalty of being expelled, Nadia is forced to not wear her hijab at school.

Christian is looking to get in with the cool crowd, while Nadia and Samuel just want to be left alone. But reigning queen king and queen bee Guzmán (Miguel Bernardeau) and Lucrecia (Danna Paola) aren’t making any of their lives easy.

One person does go out of their way to try to make the new kids, especially Samuel, feel welcome — Marina (María Pedraza). She readily stands up for Samuel to Guzmán, her brother.

Samuel has a brother of his own, Nano (Jaime Lorente), who has just been released from prison on parole. It’s unclear what he went away for, but he thinks his sentence was unfair. He’s also angry about San Esteban’s roof collapsing and out for revenge. He takes his unwitting younger brother on a motorcycle ride to the construction company owner’s house and tags an outer wall, despite Samuel’s protests.

Back at school, Marina invites both Samuel and Nadia to her coming-out-to-society party, to the chagrin of their classmates. Marina finds the extravagant right of passage ridiculous and embarrassing. However, since her parents Ventura (Ramón Esquinas) and Laura (Rocío Muñoz-Cobo) are really throwing the bash for themselves, she can’t put the kibosh on it. Ventura had encouraged her to invite one of the new kids, but he has an ulterior motive Marina is unaware of.

Christian scores an invite thanks to his new friend Ander (Áron Piper). Ander saved Christian from getting caught with weed at school in exchange for Christian subsequently hooking him up with his dealer. However, they soon start bonding. Ander feels like an outsider, too, because he’s not actually rich. He got into Las Encinas because he’s the principal’s son.

Ander also happens to be gay and is seemingly in the closet. He leaves Marina’s party after getting an offer on Grindr. But when he gets to the meet-up, he sees a familiar face. It’s the same guy who sold him the weed. Ander doesn’t seem spooked, but his would-be hook-up partner runs. While Ander never learns his name, viewers by then know him as Omar (Omar Ayuso), Samuel’s friend from San Esteban and Nadia’s brother.

At the party, Samuel finds himself in a bind. As it turns out, Ventura is the head of the construction company and knows what Nano did because they’re so rich they have security cameras. Ventura blackmails Samuel into taking a picture with him as another PR stunt. While Marina is furious with her father, she’s also disappointed with Samuel for giving in to his demands, though she doesn’t know he’s covering for Nano.

The episode reaches its climax during a subsequent fight between Marina, Guzmón and their parents concerning Samuel. Ander had earlier told Christian that Las Encinas’ scholarship program had been suspended for a year after “something happened… with the son of one of the cooks.”

What happened was Marina dated that student, Pablo, and contracted HIV. Marina insists that Pablo “did not mean to hurt” her, suggesting he was unaware of his positive status. Guzmón blames Pablo, though; and Laura refuses to speak about the matter altogether, which frustrates and devastates Marina.

TV shows rarely address HIV at all, let alone teenagers battling HIV. Props to Elite‘s creators Carlos Montero and Darío Madrona for bringing to attention to what remains, even today, a dangerously taboo subject.

As the party winds down, Nano arrives and gets into a fight with the equally hot-headed Guzmán. In retaliation, Guzmán threatens to tell everyone at school that Samuel is a “delincuente” (on account of the vandalism) and get him expelled. Samuel is actually more angry with Nano, though. When they get home, he yells at Nano for making things worse for him. Nano fires back that he was trying to protect him.

Fortunately, Nadia comes to Samuel’s aid by blackmailing Guzmán. Nadia had accidentally walked in on him and Carla having sex in a school locker room. The pair had tried to suck up to and (on Guzmán’s part “seduce”) Nadia in order to keep her quiet, but she sees right through them and plays her ace at the perfect moment. Guzmán agrees to keep quiet about Samuel.

The next day, Marina goes to Samuel’s house to let him know that Guzmán won’t be an issue. It’s Nano who answers the door, though, and sparks start flying as the two banter. After Marina leaves, Nano relays her message, and Samuel returns to school, which thrills Marina. At least one of the brothers seems set to be Marina’s love interest, but maybe it’ll be both.

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Unfortunately, that arc will end in tragedy either way. Marina is the person who’s been murdered, seemingly struck with the trophy that’s annually awarded to the school’s best student (a throwback to How to Get Away with Murder‘s first murder). The only questions now are: Who killed Marina? And why?

What do you think of Elite so far? Are you hooked on the new Netflix original series? Be sure to check back here for recaps of the entire first season!