‘The Serpent’ is on its way to becoming one of the new Netflix sensations. Since its premiere on Friday, April 2, this co-production between the BBC and the streaming platform has been climbing positions among the most watched on Netflix, probably the result of those who dared to give it a try have recommended it effusively enough as for more viewers to be curious about it.
This eight-episode miniseries explores the true story of Charles Sobhraj, a clever serial killer who took the lives of several people in the mid-70s in Asia, impersonating their identities whenever he helped him slip from justice. In fact, the nickname of The Serpent came to him for that expertise to remain free, while his modus operandi also earned him the nickname of the Bikini Killer.
As expected, ‘The Serpent’ not a literal adaptation of his adventures, since he takes certain liberties to better convey everything with the format to better define his personality. Next, we’re going to go over everything that works and what doesn’t in this miniseries based on the fascinating case of Charles Sobhraj.
Everything that works
The choice of the ascendant Tahar rahim to give life to Sobhraj is the first great success of the series, since the actor is especially inspired when it comes to transmitting that cross between enigma and constant threat in the character to whom he has to give life. It is true that in the purely physical, the resemblance is more questionable, but the really important thing is to transform into it in the psychological and there Rahim’s work is flawless.
In addition, Rahim is very well accompanied by a very competent cast in which he also excels Jenna Coleman, which some of you will remember for his participation in ‘Doctor Who’. Her character presents a double challenge, since on the one hand she has to convey that submission she feels towards Sobhraj but without ceasing to have her own entity, but it is also that she nails the characteristic accent of Marie-Andrée.
Nor do I forget that at all times it shows that those responsible for ‘La Serpiente’ have had to have a large budget as a result of the collaboration between the BBC and Netflix, which gives rise to a generous use of exteriors and an irreproachable technical and artistic display to transport us back to the 70s. Everything is taken care of in detail, thus helping one to immerse oneself more in the story he is telling us.
However, the real icing on the cake is that the series knows how to turn Sobhraj’s story into an absorbing tale, adjusting what I think is convenient, something that I noticed especially in the final episode, where personally I think that the changes introduced help to close the circle in a more satisfactory way and in line with everything we have seen until then, since the way to proceed from the Sobhraj in fiction just fits.
Finally, I would like to highlight the decision not to lengthen the story longer than it should. They could perfectly have wanted to extend it over several seasons, delighting in the personality of its protagonist. There was material to do it, but they wanted to concentrate everything, offering a compact work that is always clear about what it is looking for, even when it occasionally pays more attention to the secondary characters.
Everything that doesn’t work (so good)
More and more series are betting on dodge a linear narrative when it is not always necessary. In the case of ‘La Serpiente’ it would be unfair to say that it is a mistake to choose that solution, but on more than one occasion it does seem that it is unnecessarily complicating a story with enough force in itself not to abuse this resource . And is that flashbacks are not always enriching and can serve more as a distraction.
The only other aspect where I see room for growth for ‘The Serpent’ is in the secondary characters. It is not that they are mere pawns in history, but beyond the two protagonists and the diplomat who becomes obsessed with Sobhraj, yes that one is left wondering about them, something that in turn translates into that facet Almost the leader of a sect of the protagonist is not reflected with enough forcefulness. Sometimes you even take a little too much for granted.