No part of the world is free of terrorism. One of the banes of humanity’s existence, it has changed the course of history and defines some of the biggest (and also the worst) events in recent times. The sheer intensity of hatred it takes to kill people who you know nothing about is inconceivable to commoners, but there is a special bunch that has mastered this emotion, irrespective of their religion. Crashing planes into buildings, shooting down children in schools, ruining an entire country, there is nothing these people will stop at. Blinded by their own beliefs and enabled by influential figures, these people use whatever ludicrous excuse they can conjure to explain their murderous frenzy. Whether or not they accomplish their god’s purpose is unknown, but the one thing that they manage to succeed at is amassing hatred for themselves, which extends to all others that follow the same religion. The most common victim of this prejudice is Islam.
Islamophobia picked pace after the 9/11 tragedy and it has only escalated since. With terrorist organizations taking responsibility for heinous attacks, the situation has worsened for the innocent Muslims. In ‘Victim Number 8’, Netflix explores this territory by focusing on a terror attack in Bilbao which claims the lives of eight people. It follows the story from the perspective of the family of the victims as well as the family of the man held responsible for it. If you haven’t yet seen the series, catch it on Netflix. SPOILERS AHEAD
Summary of the Plot
Omar and Edurne have been in a relationship for a long time, but he hasn’t yet met her parents. She invites him for dinner the next day, and while Omar is nervous about it, he promises to show up. However, he doesn’t. Edurne and her parents patiently wait for him for an hour and a half, but Omar never arrives. The next thing they know is that he is being accused of a terror attack that killed seven people, with several others injured. The cops search for him, with Koro Olaegi leading the team. All the evidence points towards Omar’s guilt, but Edurne and Omar’s family refuses to accept it. As time passes, society begins to turn hostile towards his family. His parents lose their jobs and his younger brothers are bullied at school.
Meanwhile, another victim, Gorka, succumbs to his wounds and leaves behind a family that had already been in shambles. His brother, Gaizka, with whom he had a difficult relationship receives the hatred of his wife and parents. They blame him for being the one who took Gorka to the place where the incident happened. But that doesn’t stop him from taking over the company. Shocked by Omar’s involvement with a terrorist organization, Edurne receives an offer of help from a journalist, Eche, who promises to get to the bottom of the truth, no matter what it is. All the while, a completely different power has been fiddling with the lives of every character.
Who is Victim Number 8?
Seven people die in the attack that is supposedly led by Omar. But it is after the death of the eighth victim that the situation turns worse. Gorka had been outside a café with his brother Gaizka. He was supposed to be on a flight to Tokyo, but it was cancelled at the last-minute. Gaizka’s mom considers it a miracle that he had been inside the café when the attack happened, but we later discover that it was all pre-planned. The whole terrorist attack was a cover and the seven additional deaths were just collateral damage.
Gorka had always been the star child of the family. He was good-looking, talented and popular. His father preferred him over Gaizka and when the time came to announce his successor, he didn’t hesitate from choosing Gorka. Their mother might not have been so harsh, but she, too, didn’t miss any opportunity to tell Gaizka about how inferior he was to his brother. While Gorka knew how to convince people and get them to do his bidding, Gaizka was more reserved and often needed a nudge to move things forward. He didn’t show as strong resolve as his brother, and he was often rebuked for not taking responsibility.
Another problem arises for Gaizka when Gorka marries Almudena. Gaika had been in love with her, and both Gorka and Almudena knew that. To tease him even further, she would treat him bad and would make use of every opportunity to show him how much she disliked him. But then came a time when Gaizka couldn’t take it anymore. If his family thought he was such a chicken, he decided to prove them wrong. Everything that was wrong in his life was because of his brother. Everything that he wanted for himself, Gorka had it.
It was clear that Gorka had to die for Gaizka to gain everyone’s love and respect. But straight-up murdering his brother would only lead the suspicion towards him. He had to make it look like his death had nothing to do with him. This is when he turns to Gorostiza. He had worked for Gaizka’s family a long time ago, but then moved on to another life and ended up at the security service. From the looks of it, he had the job of cleaning up the mess of the family- hiding scandals and sweeping things under the rug. He advises Gorka to stage a terror attack because then, the cops would already have a culprit. They would never look towards him if all their resources were focused on a completely different guy. Moreover, giving it the façade of a terrorist attack would bring media attention and the anger of the public towards the case. Even if some cop thought about pursuing a different line of investigation, they wouldn’t be able to do so due to the pressure of capturing the terrorist. To a great extent, their plan was perfect and would have worked, had Omar not escaped at a critical moment.
How Did They Frame Omar?
Due to the tarnished image of Muslims, owing to the actions of a few who happen to share the same religion, it is easier to put the blame on them. Gorostiza and Gaizka use this to their own purpose. They find a perfect target in Omar, a young man from an immigrant family. It wouldn’t be a difficult task to show how he got influenced by radicals and became a member of the terrorist organization. Two weeks before the attack, they steal his wallet which also had his id. Omar mentions it to Edurne in texts but doesn’t file a report. The same id is used to rent the van that is later used in the attack. On the same day, they kidnap him and maybe even make him drive it for a while, which is why the cops find his fingerprints on the steering. They use a lookalike to do the deed and make sure to not get his face on the CCTV. The driver also wears Omar’s jacket to give the impression that it was him.
But the plan doesn’t stop just here. Using his connections, Gorostiza hacks into the social media and other accounts of Omar. He inserts incriminatory chats in his video games to make it look like the place where he first came in contact with the organization. This is enough to convince everyone that Omar was behind the attacks. What they don’t anticipate is the reaction of Edurne. She realises that the person in the CCTV footage is not Omar because he had been limping a day before due a sprain in his ankle. She even tries to persuade Omar to give himself up and let the truth come out. But his mother is apprehensive of the cops. She knows that whether or not they accept it, they too are prejudiced towards him and will not hesitate to kill him first and ask questions later.
Gorostiza puts Omar’s family and his girlfriend under surveillance to find out if they have anything that can prove his innocence. Another hitch in the plan comes when Omar flees before they can kill him and end the case once and for all. They know that he will try to reach out to his family for help, so they tap everyone’s communication. When Omar realises this, he calls at his brother’s school, because that is the channel that no one would listen to. He asks Edurne to meet him, but she knows that she is being followed by the cops and sends another friend in her place. Meanwhile, Gorostiza comes to know about the chat where Omar had mentioned the theft and gets it removed from her phone. He also sends his men to get Omar before the local cops can when he surrenders. They kill his friend and force him to make a video where he accepts his affiliation with a terrorist group and takes the blame for the attack. However, loopholes begin to emerge in their story, and with Edurne’s help, Eche discovers the whole truth.
Victim Number 8 Ending: Will the Truth Come Out?
In the end, Gaizka’s secret is revealed and Olaegi realises that Gorostiza had staged all of this. She tries to help Omar, but they are caught, along with Adila and Edurne. Before Gorostiza can kill them, Olaegi’s team arrives just in time to save the day. Meanwhile, Eche shares his revelation with Gaizka’s father and makes a deal where they give him the money to get his treatment and not reveal the secret. He then uses his influence in the government to keep the story of the terrorist attack intact.
Moreover, the security service doesn’t want the world to know that one of their men was responsible for the attack. Omar is sent to jail, and Edurne also has to serve time for collaborating with him. Olaegi is infuriated by this and leaves the service. Omar’s family moves away and Eche gets his treatment. Three months later, he meets up with Olaegi to share a piece of evidence with her that could change everything.
Eche was the first one to figure out that the story of a terrorist attack was a complete sham and it was Gaizka who had orchestrated this. He shared this information with Almudena, who had mistakenly believed that Gaizka was trying to avenge his brother. In order to cover up his lie, Gaizka asks her to run away with him to Tokyo for a while. But when she discovers the truth, she gets him to confess and sends the recording to Eche. He shares it with Gaizka’s father to get money for his treatment and makes a pact to never allow the evidence to see the light of day. But if there is one thing we know about Eche, after all this time, it is that he is not the one to keep promises. He shares the evidence with Olaegi and she realises that there is still a chance to help Omar and Edurne. But is the evidence enough?
The cops had enough evidence the last time but they decided to coverup the whole thing. They were more concerned with their image rather than the lives of two innocent people. They allowed Omar and Edurne to take the blame they were not at all involved in rather than tell the world that one of their agents had staged the whole thing. Even if Olaegi and Eche decide to go forward with this evidence, they would have to be very sharp about it. They don’t know who they can trust with this and their best option is the media. They can get the audio leaked which will help change the perspective of the public and will prod the government to take stern action. But they will also have to prepare themselves for an attack from the security service. They can go to great lengths, as was evident from Gorostiza’s actions, and it won’t be difficult for them to turn the whole thing around and blame Eche and Olaegi for yet another thing that never really happened.
On top of that, Gaizka’s family would not want their family name to be tarnished. They have great influence with the Secretary of State, and they can use this influence again to keep the truth a secret. They can use Olaegi’s affair with Gorka against her. They can concoct a story where Olaegi claimed a piece of Gorka’s wealth in the name of their illegitimate child and when they refused to do so, she tried to get back at him this way. In a similar manner, they can also use Eche’s difficult career against him. They can use the last case he pursued as a professional journalist to attack him. He tells Edurne about a case he took a long time ago, quite similar to Omar’s. The person of interest was innocent and only Eche believed them. He tried to make a case for them, and the failure to do so cost him his career. Moreover, we know that Eche doesn’t have a stark moral boundary. He has indulged in shady deals in the past and his personal life hasn’t been so remarkable either. All of these things can be used to make a personal case against him, to destroy whatever remains of his career now.
Victim Number 8 Season 2: What to Expect?
In the second season of ‘Victim Number 8’, if Netflix’s decides to go forward with it, we will witness Olaegi fighting the system she was once a part of. With the responsibility of a child now, the stakes are even higher for her because all the personal attacks will also pose a danger to her child’s safety. Innocent blood has been shed before and there is no doubt that it will be shed again if she decides to help Omar and Edurne. Speaking of whom, we might also get a glimpse into life in prison for both of them. Omar has been tagged as a terrorist and prison isn’t a place where he would be considered popular. Same goes for Edurne. She would not only receive hatred for collaborating with a terrorist but also for being in a romantic relationship with Omar. Not to forget, how will Gaizka try to get back his position in the family and the company? Will he try to eliminate his father this time?
The first season of ‘Victim Number 8’ cleverly tackles the issues of xenophobia, and we can expect similar treatment for the second season. With Omar gone, his family have to face the societal hatred of raising a terrorist. Even if they move away, the event made headlines nationally, which means they have nowhere to run. If they continue to receive such treatment, could one of Omar’s younger brothers be enticed into joining an organization that promises him revenge? This arc could bring in the “terrorist made by the society” factor into the story. There are a number of ways in which this story can progress. ‘Victim Number 8’ has proved to be a socially relevant thriller and with the next season, the expectations would be higher.