The Mess You Leave Behind, Synopsis And Ending, Explained

‘The Mess You Leave Behind’ is a Spanish psychological thriller directed by Carlos Montero. It released on Netflix on December 11, 2020. The mini-series is based on Montero’s award-winning novel of the same name. His directorial debut follows his work in the critically acclaimed Netflix Spanish hit, ‘Elite’ which he co-wrote. The cast includes Inma Cuesta and Bárbara Lennie as the protagonists Raquel and Viruca, respectively.

Other members in the cast include Tamar Novas, Roberto Enriquez, Aron Piper. The storyline of the show takes the audience on a wild ride through suspense and a bunch of twists. It portrays Raquel’s efforts to disclose the truth behind what she thinks is cold-blooded murder. The finale leaves the audiences somewhat satisfied but perplexed. Here, we will take a deep dive into the ending and answer the questions that might be tickling your head. SPOILERS AHEAD!


The Mess You Leave Behind Plot Synopsis

The Mess You Leave Behind begins with a scene that predicts the murky nature of the show. Viruca’s supposedly ex-husband, Mauro, is seen troubling her at the door of her apartment as she tries to erase what looks like evidence. This particular piece of evidence will soon turn out to be related to her death. On the other hand, Raquel is preparing to move to a new location with her husband and their dog, Nanook. She seems to have intermittent hallucinations and nightmares, where she sees her dead mother.

On her arrival, Raquel’s zeal towards her new job soon erodes when she learns about the untimely death of her predecessor, just three weeks prior. Based in rural Galicia, the series tries to swing between two timelines, each belonging to either of the protagonists. In an attempt to find the truth behind Viruca’s apparent suicide, Raquel ends up being entrapped within a devious plot designed to cover up a huge secret.

The Mess You Leave Behind. Image:

The Mess You Leave Behind Ending

The finale of the mini-series embarks with Raquel finding out about Mauro and Viruca’s conspiracy. The couple had forged their marital problems as a part of their scam to steal money from Iago’s father, Tomas (Alfonso Agra), to clear a huge debt incurred by both their parents. After Viruca encounters a controversial video, handed to her by Iago himself, the couple decides to exploit it to blackmail Tomas. Mauro says that he suspects Tomas to be Viruca’s murderer as she had threatened him with the video. Despite appealing to the courts, Mauro’s statement had been overruled because of Tomas’ strong alibi.

Who Killed Viruca?

Mauro then assures Raquel that he did not murder Viruca. Although, he confesses to killing Raquel’s dog and sneaking into her house to find Viruca’s phone that Raquel discovered in a previous episode. Mauro feels that the phone might contain evidence that can trace his wife’s death back to Tomas. He also tells Raquel about Iago’s significantly increasing obsession with Viruca, which implies he had an aggressive behavior towards her once he found out about her and his father’s affair. Back at home, in the past, Iago’s father enquires him about the video he leaked to Viruca.

Iago shows his father the video, and Tomas is seen running outside their house, probably on his way to kill Viruca, who now knows too much. Later in the episode, we see Raquel replicating Viruca’s thoughts on surrendering the evidence against Tomas to the police. Both of them eventually counteracted it. After this, Raquel meets up with Iago offering him help because she is certain about his innocence. The episode then goes back in time to show Iago confronting Viruca about the video he had handed-over to her. He informs her that the video was meant for revealing his father’s true identity to her and not for blackmailing purposes.

the mess you leave behind, The Mess You Leave Behind, Synopsis And Ending, Explained
Creator Carlos Montero with the lead cast. Image:

In the present timeline, Raquel gives Viruca’s phone to Concha for guarding it because she fears that her fate might turn out to be same as Viruca. Raquel then finds the copy of the video Viruca had made by following a code left in her phone, which translated to the GPS coordinates of the precise location of the hard drive. Just as Raquel is about to watch the video, she is led away by Gabriel (Xose A. Tourinan), who tells her that German has tried to commit suicide.

What Will Be Raquel’s Fate?

With Raquel in the car, Gabriel locks the doors and drives her to Tomas and Iago in an abandoned factory. The three of them then try to kill Raquel by forcing her to drink spooked water to fake it up as a suicide. After she becomes unconscious, they dump her in the trunk of their car to dispose off her body in the lake. The abduction and murdering process seems to be the exact depiction of how Viruca was killed, yet another aspect of mirroring of the two characters.

However, Raquel manages to regain her consciousness. Iago’s guilt conscious makes him help Raquel. He presses the button in the car that opens the trunk, and Raquel moves out. Concha and Mijail then rescue her by calling an ambulance. Meanwhile, Iago, in an impulsive state of mind, purposely drives the car into a tree, injuring himself. Paramedics rush to the scene, and take both Raquel and Iago for medical care. The police promptly arrest Tomas and Gabriel, and investigate Tomas’ house for more evidence.

At the hospital, Raquel wakes up after three days. She finds Tere beside her. Soon, German informs her that Iago has accepted everything. The video Iago had given Viruca contained evidence of the extensive prostitution racket that Tomas and Gabriel had established and were running. Tomas had been using his own son for prostitution since he was a child. The episode also shows how Gabriel and Tomas had mercilessly killed Viruca by sedating her and then dumping her semi-conscious body in the lake.

What Happened to Iago in The End?

Iago’s past trauma seemed to have shaped his personality throughout the show. In the final episode, he recognizes his mistakes and apologize to Raquel. He seems to have recovered entirely from the crash. The show sheds light on Iago’s real personality through the eyes of both Roi (Roque Ruiz), his best friend who is clearly attracted to him, and Viruca, who has seen him in his most vulnerable state. However, the ending does not show if Iago was able to continue his normal life as a school student.

Aaron Piper as Iago in The Mess You Leave Behind. Image:

What Happened to Raquel and German?

Raquel comes back to her mother’s apartment, where the show had first shown her. She tells German that she needs to live alone to overcome her fear of being without anyone. The show had previously shown various issues in their marriage due  to German’s drug addiction. In the end, Raquel finds herself seeking her love for literature, which she utilizes to write a book.

Her experiences through the eight episodes help her to face her inner evil and allow her the scope to redeem herself. She gives Nerea (Isabel Garrido) a book that will apparently teach her how to forgive herself. The act is a depiction of what Raquel seems to have learned recently. The finale ends with her talking to German over the phone as German gives her some feedback about her book.

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