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One family. Two worlds.
From left to right: Emilia, Julia/Sara, Marta and Hugo.
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The Barrier (La valla in Spanish) is a Spanish dystopian series set in Madrid created by Daniel Écija. It was first released in Spain in January 2020 before seeing an international release in September 2020 on Netflix.

In an alternate version of 2020, Spain's involvement in World War III in a time of already-dwindling resources results in great environmental damage, limited availability of essential resources and a collapsed economy. New diseases emerge, overburdening hospitals. Just as a dictatorial government takes power, the army comes knocking at the door of a family of four as they are packing to leave their home. The father, Ramón, implants each of his young twin daughters, Julia and Sara, with a subcutaneous chip of unknown nature. The door can only resist assault for so long, and Ramón is taken away, leaving the girls in the care of their mother, Emilia.

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Twenty-five years later, the consequences of the political upheaval, coupled with the circulation of the deadly noravirus, results in movement between different towns being limited. In Madrid, the capital, there is a fortified wall, the titular barrier, separating Sector 1, which houses the government officials and other elites living in luxury, from Sector 2 and its population living on limited resources.

Sara has recently succumbed to the noravirus and passed down her chip to Marta, her ten-year-old daughter. Fulfilling Sara's last wish, Marta, her father Hugo and her paternal uncle Álex leave the Asturias region to move to Madrid, where Emilia and Julia live. When asked about Sara at checkpoints, they claim she’s still alive and will join them in a few days to keep out of trouble. As the three of them are getting registered, Marta tests positive for an unspecified blood test given to new entrants and is promptly taken away. Hugo and Álex are told by the first person willing to give them answers that she's being taken to a colony for the children of unemployed parents, and that she’ll be given back if Hugo can provide proof that he has a job in Madrid. Emilia calls her former boyfriend Luis, now the Minister of Health, who is fortunately looking for house staff. The coverup of Sara's death backfires when Hugo finds out that his would-be employers are looking to hire a married couple for the job during the interview. Unbeknownst to Hugo, the obvious solution of passing Julia off as Sara has a big drawback: Julia just recently killed a high-ranking military officer in self-defense, the sole direct witness fled the scene before she could, and she's being part of the family reunion only for the time it will take for her boyfriend Carlos to arrange an escape for the two of them. To top things off, Marta hasn’t actually been taken to a colony for the children of unemployed parents, either; she was taken to a scientific institute trying to Find the Cure! for the noravirus, headed by Alma, Luis' wife, who is willing to risk the life of children for The Needs of the Many.

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The above it the plot of the first episode alone, with the following ones having a similar average density of surprises in stock for the viewer. Because of this, it will be hard to read any further without getting spoiled.


For your safety, this series contains examples of:

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     Tropes A-M 

  • 20 Minutes into the Future: The series, which extrapolates trends from the late The New '10s, is set in a future in which liberty-restricting governments, recovery from an economic collapse and World War III, Climate Change, reduced availability of resources and The Plague are all happening concurrently. It turned out to be spot-on for that last one.
  • Abusive Parents: Enrique's father was abusive to the point that he drove his mother to permanently leave the family home. He keeps a photo of him in his office to keep the sort of person he was in mind.
  • Adult Fear:
    • Marta being taken away from Hugo at the registry turns out to be the among less underhanded means by which Alma acquired the children detained at the CIM. In several cases, they were checked into hospitals by their parents, and "died from [whatever they were brought in for]".
    • Thanks to New Spain being a dictatorship, the risk of being reported, arrested and/or killed for showing any sort of sign of not agreeing with the government is ever-present.
    • One's spouse having an affair with someone who's seriously considering Murdering the Hypotenuse.
    • On top of everything else, there is the looming risk of noravirus. The way those sick with it or exposed to it are handled apparently has a bad enough reputation that people go to great lengths to avoid it.
  • All for Nothing: Alma gets that sentiment about the vaccine she finds for the noravirus. By the time she and Alejo are ready to start deploying it, the President has gotten the idea that Alma had betrayed him and won't listen to her anymore. The President getting sick and the nature of the subcutaneous chips carried by Julia and Marta subvert this trope between them.
  • Almost Lethal Weapons: The bullet injury Luis gets in the finale merely requires him to cajole it for the rest of his screentime and allows him to still be alive in the epilogue. It's especially blatant because he was shot twice and the person who took the second bullet for him only had time of tearful farewell to their loved ones before dying.
  • Always Identical Twins: Julia and Sara are played by the same woman as adults.
  • Analogy Backfire: Clara's response to Luis telling her that she's safe with him because Álvaro was like a brother to him is to point out that this means that Luis' own brother was killed for knowing too much.
  • Angry Collar Grab: When Enrique sees Alejo's corpse, he grabs a random policeman's collar while angrily asking him to find the killer.
  • Apron Matron: Rosa, who heads the household staff in the Covarrubias home. She's a stern superior to Hugo, Julia and Manuela, but is also as caring towards them as she can manage without risking losing her job, and is stern in part because she knows they risk getting fired if they slack off too much. She's also a motherly figure to Iván, Daniela and Sergio, in addition to warming up to Marta as soon as she sees that she's been properly brought up.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: When faced with warnings of danger that he has trouble taking seriously, Luis is persuaded that his status as Minister of Health protects him and justfies Ramón being taken away by government agents to Emilia by the fact that he was an enemy to the government. Emilia can't help asking him a question:
    Emilia: And what was [person who died after trying to warn Luis he was in danger] becoming? What can you become?
  • Artistic License – Biology: Alejo treats the fact that Marta and Julia share a very rare trait despite not actually being mother and daughter to be the sign that the trait isn't actually genetic. Considering that Julia and Marta are still aunt and niece by blood, and that Julia and Sara were a case of Always Identical Twins, Julia sharing a rare trait with Marta shouldn't be considered odd at all.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • Antonio Mérida, the man Julia kills in the first episode, brought a minor into a brothel with the intent to rape her, drugged her, and responded to Julia trying to peacefully leave with her by attempting to strangle her. This makes it very hard to feel sorry for the man.
    • Emilia's two kills over the course of the series, a government informer and the President aren't the most sympathetic people, either.
    • Alejo has enough moments of being a jerk to some of the protagonists to keep his death from being a too much of a tragedy.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Many scenes make it look like something compromising for at least one person involved is about to happen, only for the situation to turn out to be different:
    • In the Distant Prologue, the chip implanter looks very similar to an actual gun with a silencer on it, and the chips are implanted on the back of the girls' necks. At first, Ramón can easily be mistaken for being about to do something much more radical in response to the army coming to take him.
    • During her first morning at the CIM, Marta notices that her necklace, which she's not allowed to have with her, has fallen out from under her mattress. One of the nurses starts scolding her due to seemingly noticing it. It turns out that the nurse is simply disappointed that she's not able to put her kerchief on herself yet.
    • When Hugo asks Alma about his work contract at the end of his first day, Alma tells him she doesn't hire without a trial period. This is a problem because it happens at a point of the story where Julia is only planning to impersonate Sara for one day before leaving. She promptly turns out to be willing to make an exception because she saw Julia bonding with Sergio.
    • Hugo succeds in the task of repairing a long-broken car on the same day that Julia finds both the CIM's location and a clue that Marta is detained in it. While Hugo tries to leave the Covarrubias property under the pretense of test driving the car after repairing it with Julia hiding in the back seat, Rosa asks to be driven to the store alongside Manuela, something that will have trouble happening without Julia's presence being discovered. Rosa suddenly realizes that she and Manuela are too busy to afford the time they would lose if the car broke down again and changes her mind, before anyone else tries to get inside the car.
    • There are two separate instances of the audience being tricked into thinking a specific character is inside a vehicle when it gets intercepted by the authorities, only to reveal that the person wasn't onboard after all.
    • There is scene in which the police is searching Emilia's shop while Jorge and Iris are hiding in an alcove behind one of the shelves. One of the policemen notices something strange about the very shelf they are hiding behind, but it turns out to be sacks of coffee for which Emilia doesn't have the proper papers. Being corrupt policemen, they happily confiscate the coffee alongside other goods, and promptly forget that they were called to look for an armed person Begoña caught a glimpse of.
    • A vehicle that briefly looks like it's about to run into Alicia turns out to be Fernando, who was following her out of worry.
    • While trying to force Alejo to figure out a way to cure Manuela, Hugo spends a lot of time holding him at gunpoint while being in a mindset that make a lot of what Alejo says or does anger-inducing. Quite a few close calls happen, and the one time Hugo actually does pull the trigger to release some of the accumulated stress, he purposefully points the gun away from Alejo.
    • After Luis turns on the government for good, Luis discreetly returns to his home to pick up Sergio and give a couple members of the household who weren't included in his escape plan a chance to join them. After his attempt to convince Alma fails, Alma starts calling for the leader of the police detachment currently searching the house, making it look like she's going to hand Luis over to him. When she actually leaves the room in which she had been talking to Luis to meet with the policeman, she instead asks him to be very thorough in his search and announces that she'll show him a few papers that he missed. While it's still bad news for Luis in the long term, on the short term it lets him leave while the police is disctracted, do his other errand an give another person the chance to come with him.
    • The previous incident is soon followed by Luis being forced into a police car at gunpoint. The policemen who "arrested" him are actually members of the force who have rebelled against the government and wanted to grab Luis to help him before their still-loyal colleagues found him.
  • Bearer of Bad News: Regularly used, since, when Learned From the News isn't used, either the police or one of the two main families finds out about something a significant amount of time before someone else who is entitled to the knowledge.
    • When Enrique's reason to visit the Covarrubias household is to bring news, it tends to not be good news. A scene of the second-to-last episode has Luis telling the President that he has been seeing a lot of Enrique recently and that he has come to associate Enrique with bad news for reasons he's unsure of.
    • Begoña takes it upon herself to inform Emilia of the death of Sergio/Juan's biological parents.
    • A female character who was established to be pregnant and to have been in close proximity to a confirmed case of noravirus within the same day finds herself breaking the latter news to the father. Right after he comes to tell her that he's willing to give raising the child a try if she wants to keep it.
  • Best Friend: Álvaro, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, is Luis' closest friend. Since many of the other people Luis can call friends are friendly to him only because he's a minister, the situation verges on Only Friend.
  • Big Brother Is Watching: Sector 2 has surveillance drones flying over streets, government informers in every block and undercover policemen in the most unlikely places. One of the side effects of people having to use public phones is that there are often other people around to overhear the conversation and meeting in person is the only option if neither side has a phone to call their own.
  • Blood from the Mouth: A character who has been shot starting to bleed from the mouth is used to indicate that the wound is much more serious than for the person who was shot right before them and subject to Almost Lethal Weapons.
  • Bookcase Passage: Emilia has a hidden room behind one of her shop's shelves. The shelf itself contains controlled goods for which she doesn't have the proper papers, making a perfect Infraction Distraction for eventual police forces coming to search the store, as this means the goods have to be confiscated.
  • Book-Ends: The series starts with agents the newly installed regime taking Ramón and some of his electronic devices away, implictly because he's known to oppose the new government. The finale includes the Covarrubias household being searched and Alma soon to be taken to the police headquarters because Luis is now openly opposing the government. The people who contribute to changing his mind about the government during the series include Ramón's own family.
  • Boom, Headshot!: Alejo dies by being shot in the head.
  • Born Lucky: Rosa considers Hugo and Julia to be born under a lucky star between getting their jobs in the first place and managing to keep them. Rosa has a point since Alma is implied to sometimes fire house staff over minor mistakes, while Julia and Hugo keep needing Luis to bail them out of compromising situations.
  • The Brute: Rai, the Covarrubias household's usual driver, is also the house employee usually called upon for tasks that require physical strength. He's usually an obstacle for whatever Hugo and Julia are trying to accomplish and what little characterization he gets includes a failed attempt to become Hugo's workplace bully.
  • Bury Your Disabled: When a group of people with whom Julia is meant to escape Madrid is raided by the police, Julia briefly hides from them alongside a disabled man and his elderly father. When their hiding place is found, the fact that the two other people are killed first is what lets Julia live long enough for Hugo to show up with their employment documents and help her talk the police into letting her go.
  • Canned Orders over Loudspeaker: There are many louspeakers on the streets. Recurring messages include reminders to not drink water from unsanctioned wells, to social distance in all but name (implictly because of noravirus) or that the curfew is coming up.
  • Can't Kill You, Still Need You: After getting mistaken for a traitor, Alma start fearing for her life and genuinely wondering how much time she has left to live. She's saved partly because a situation in which she's the only person able to help, the President catching noravirus, showing up.
  • Cassandra Truth:
    • Luis initially ignores attempts to warn him about some of the government's more nefarious plans, including getting rid of him permanently, thanks to the people warning him potentially not being in their best mental state (too much to drink, running a fever). He gets the message after a sniper tries to kill a person he's helping while he's in the same room as her.
    • Clara's claims get zig-zagged in that Luis initially doesn't believe her, but the members of the Mújica-Noval family present to hear them do because they know what sort of thing the government is capable of. The aforementionned sniper bullet soon brings Luis to his senses.
    • Alicia was unable to convince those around her that she had seen her officially dead son at the registry.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Events of the series leave Julia and Carlos' appartment unoccupied quite quickly. When a place is needed for the parents of children detained in Alejo's camp to meet, its existence becomes very convenient.
    • Iván is sometimes seen in a lime green convertible, distinct from both Luis' car and the one Hugo was asked to repair. Iván later uses that car to take a sick Manuela to Alejo's camp.
    • The footage of Alejo's camp that Julia finds Marta and Sergio watching allows her to recognize the place when she and Hugo wind up in it.
    • Luis asks for the ambulance that was used to bring a sick Iván from Alejo's camp to be parked behind the house so neighbors won't see it. It's later used to smuggle Luis out of Sector 1 after he uses his televised speech to alert people of the government's true intentions towards their children.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: After Marta is no longer among the children detained for Alma's research, one of the still-detained child to whom the audience's attention is drawn is a boy named Pedro. Pedro's parents turn out to be a woman who sometimes has cleaning work at the registry and Fernando, a fact that gives the Mújica-Noval family very precious allies by the end of the series.
  • Climate Change: It takes a backseat compared to the other changes that have happened since 2020, but it's still affecting people's daily life. The presence of droughts is heavily implied by the fact that water in Sector 2 comes out of plastic jugs, one of the pieces of Graffiti of the Resistance from the opening credits being "remember the rain" and the fact that Sector 1's running water is desalted sea water. There is also a 2020 flashback of Luis and Álvaro going to visit a lake one last time before it dries up that cuts to the lake's dried up present counterpart.
  • Compromising Call: After a concerned Luis gives her a cell phone, Emilia gives out its number as a means for the parents of children detained in Alejo's camp to contact her. The first person to call her does so while Begoña is in her store.
  • Conflict Ball: After making a case to the boy's biological parents and grandfather as to why it's best to bring Sergio back to Sector 1 and have a talk about the situation with Luis whenever he comes back, Hugo and Julia change their minds about doing just that and bring Sergio back into Sector 2, this time without the permission that was granted to the initial trip. All it ends up accomplishing is making their relationship with Alma more difficult than it needs to be and getting them fired just long enough to have trouble getting back into Sector 1 to talk to Luis.
  • Connected All Along:
    • Emilia and Daniela turn out to both know Jorge and Iris from La Résistance.
    • Fernando, who is part of the plot from Episode 1 onwards, turns out to be married to the first woman to call Emilia about the missing children.
  • Conveniently an Orphan:
    • Manuela conveniently doesn't have any living relatives, which limits both the places where she can take refuge and the number of people who need to be put in the loop when she goes missing after catching noravirus.
    • The fact that this is not the case for many of the children detained for Alma's research eventually becomes a plot point. In addition to this, when she eventually tells Luis about them and tries to claim they are mostly orphans for whom she's providing, Luis promptly asks about Sergio, whose biological parents were killed soon after they found him again.
  • Conveniently Timed Attack from Behind:
    • A thief trying to mug Hugo gets bludgeoned from the back by Carlos, whose presence in the area was unknown up to that moment.
    • Alejo finds Hugo alone in a location to which he is known to have come with Julia and holds him at gunpoint. When Julia reappears, it's to bring a blade in close proximity to Alejo's neck from behind an make him drop his gun.
  • Conveniently Timed Distraction: While Hugo and Julia are trying to get into Sector 1 despite their passes being invalid due to having been fired, a person sick with noravirus turns up at the gate, causing the guard who has seen them commute before to give them the benefit of doubt and have them let through the gate so he can help his colleagues on the Sector 2 side deal with the presence of the sick person.
  • Cool Uncle:
    • Álex has moments of acting more like Marta's older brother than her father's brother, such as providing a fake voiceover for the the news to amuse her or deciding to tickle her out of nowhere.
    • Julia is the aunt variant, though she has less leeway to be a "fun" realtive than Álex due to passing herself off as Marta's mother and not planning to stay long for about the first half of the series.
  • Cruel Mercy: In a setting where people arrested by the police may be killed at the drop of a hat, Fernando threatens Emilia with life in prison if she doesn't dismantle her meeting group for the parents of missing children.
  • Day of the Jackboot: The Distant Prologue takes place on the day the dictatorial government takes over in Spain. In addition to the announcement on broadcast television, there is fighting in the street and soldiers show up to take Ramón and whatever may be containing his research material away.
  • Dead Person Impersonation: Julia is doing this while pretending to be her dead twin Sara.
  • Death of a Child: Not all children at the CIM survive the experiments done on them.
  • Deceased Parents Are the Best: Both Ramón and the real Sara have a squeaky clean record as parents.
  • Denied Food as Punishment: After Fernando tries talking to Pedro through a bathroom air vent, the nurses keep Pedro from eating as long as he refuses to repeat what Fernando told him. It's both a punishment for breaking the rule against talking to an adult other than the nurses and a mild form of Food Interrogation.
  • Dies Wide Open: The death by Boom, Headshot! is shown to have died with their eyes open.
  • Distant Prologue: The first scene of the series take place in 2020, when Julia and Sara are still children and so close to the actual start of the dictatorship that the family is seen starting to pack to escape it.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: If one pays attention, Pablo is the first child whose photo is shown in the "unique subjects" presentation about children detained at the CIM. The presentation is first shown to the audience before his proper introduction, which is the scene in which Marta recognizes him in the footage from Alejo's camp she and Sergio mistook for a movie.
  • Empathic Environment: A storm starts right around the time the revolutionaries get into Sector 1 and start marching towards the President's residence.
  • Enhanced Interrogation Techniques: The Police Brutality prone authorities practice said brutality in the interrogation room, as well.
  • Entertainingly Wrong: After Daniela helps Luis doing something she doesn't approve of, Alma assumes Luis manipulated Daniela into helping him. Luis actually asked for Daniela's help because she has been the sort of person who would carry out the plan for much more of the recent past than he has. The situation is partly justified by the fact that manipulative parents often respond to their children doing something they don't approve of by assuming the child got roped into it by a third party.
  • Ethnic Menial Labor: Manuela, the only black regular character, is one of the maids in the Covarrubias house.
  • Exact Eavesdropping: Enrique drops by Fernando's office and says he wants him in his office in a couple minutes. On the way to his own office, Enrique is met by one of the nurses watching the detained children, who has come to tell him about "one of his men", actually Fernando himself, approaching the children without permission. The short notice given by Enrique, combined with a convenient angle in the hallway, allows Fernando to hear most of the conversation without being seen by either participant and figure out that his best option is to ditch the meeting with Enrique and not stay in the building much longer.
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: Hugo, while remembering the evening he first saw Sara and fell in love with her, tells Julia about seeing her dancing in a night club style bar, not being able to approach her that evening and asking her out after running into her in another place. As he ends the story, he brings up the fact that he saw Sara dance multiple times ever since, but never in the same way she danced the first time he saw her. When he remembers seeing Julia dancing to street musicians earlier in the day, he realizes he made an Identical Twin Mistake more than ten years ago.
  • Faceless Goons: The full raid gear of policemen and guards includes their face being covered. This works in the protagonist's favor at some point in the finale because Carlos had no trouble getting his hands on a set, so he could walk around the police's headquarters unnoticed.
  • False Friend: Iván considers that Luis doesn't have any true friends, as shown by his response to being told that Luis lost a friend.
  • Fake Kill Scare: The police spends some time trying to draw Julia out of hiding by faking Carlos' death.
  • Fake Relationship: Hugo and Julia are pretending to be married to each other for most of the series. The fake aspects stop at those induced by the fact that Julia isn't actually Sara, as she otherwise cares deeply about Hugo and Marta.
  • Faking and Entering: After Emilia kills the nurse from the registry in the latter's own home to save Álex's life, she and Álex ransack the woman's appartment to make it look like a robbery that went wrong. During the process, Emilia finds an item that has value to her and steals it while she's at it.
  • Fascists' Bed Time: Madrid has a curfew, during which electricity is turned off in Sector 2 homes as part of the electricity rationing. It's a surprise to Álex and Marta, who haven't been to Madrid before the beginning of the series. The extent to which the main characters respect it varies greatly, ranging from a reason to spend the night somewhere to a good time span during which to have secret meetings. Considering the sort of government New Spain has, being caught breaking curfew is implied to be something that should be avoided.
  • Fling a Light into the Future: Ramón did this by leaving his two first vaccines for the noravirus in Julia and Sara's care.
  • Flipping the Bird: Near the end of the series, Emilia gets so angry at Begoña for letting Rai into her appartment so he could kidnap Marta that when Alejo and Manuela are brought in, she walks to Begoña's door and flips her middle finger at her because she knows she's watching through the peephole.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • There are a few signs that Daniela is more aware of what people in Sector 2 have to deal with than the rest of her family. When Iván suggests directly asking Hugo and Julia what they would need to be happy, Daniela jumps in an tells them they don't have to answer if they don't want to. Later, when she realizes she gave Hugo the wrong work papers, she leaves for Sector 2 before her family sits down for breakfast to bring Álex the right papers. While doing this, she makes an announcement stating why the heavily armed guards at the registry are looking for Álex when he doesn't answer their summons. Álex eventually runs into her in one of the last places one would expect to find a minister's daughter.
    • There are some hints on the nature of the chip. It turns out that Marta's clean bill of health, the statement according to which Sara saved Marta's life and the price of her own and the fact that she died specifically from the noravirus are related. The fact that Julia belives that noravirus isn't actually that easy to catch points towards this, as well.
    • The nurse Álex meets at the registry has a "pretending to be loyal to the government" act that includes a manner of speech that resembles Begoña's a little too much, hinting that she's an informer, not a La Résistance member covering up her true allegiance.
    • When trying to goad the Mújica-Noval family into making Julia give herself up to the authorities (and being one of the people buying the "Sara" masquerade), Begoña follows her platitude about it never being too late to find the proper path with a statement that Emilia should be the first to know it.
    • When showing Marta the way to Sergio's room Alma calls Sergio "[Marta's] new friend". New arrivals at the CIM are always introduced as "new friends" to the existing ones.
    • When Clara is being smuggled out of Madrid with Jorge and Iris' help, Iris isn't shown returning to the truck. It turns that she was the hooded person Hugo and Álex were escorting to the truck and a decoy to distract the authorities while Luis smuggled Clara out in his own car.
  • For Your Own Good: Begoña seems to be genuinely convinced that her informer job works for the greater good of everyone, including the people she reports. The other informer shown in the series, the registry nurse, seems to think that it's better for people to be dead than part of La Résistance. Many of the Canned Orders over Loudspeaker being prefaced with "For your safety" or "For your health" hint at this being the government's overall attitude towards the general population.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Pausing right when a document is onscreen is the only way to see the full name of some characters. This also valid for the few in-series hints that most of the plot is happening in 2045, such as the "unique subjects" presentation listing Marta's birth year as 2035.
  • Friend to All Children: Julia gets along very well with both Marta and Sergio. She's also implied to have grown attached to the baby during the little time she cared for it. It's shown to be a factor in her masquerade as Sara being believable, as Alma interpreted Julia's first interaction with Sergio as her using parenting skills.
  • Graffiti of the Resistance: The opening credits consist of various shots of the walls surrounding Madrid that are panned with a localized highlight effect to show colorful murals that include the sort of message La Résistance would want to convey in-universe. The bits of sky visible in the highlighted portions of the shots are also bluer than in the non-highlighted parts.
  • He Knows Too Much: The Government doesn't take well to moral people knowing about its less moral plans and secrets. People who get silenced permanently include Álvaro and Sergio/Juan's biological parents. Clara survives an assasination attempt, as well.
  • Heroic Suicide: Carlos decides he needs to leave Madrid, but won't leave without his mother. His mother, who is already old and invalid, has a I Will Only Slow You Down attitude about it, but he's having none of it. His mother responds by deliberately creating the only situation in which he'll accept to leave without her, by letting herself fall out a window.
  • Hitman with a Heart: Both of the snipers working for Enrique are shown to avoid killing anyone who isn't their target to the extent that they can get away with. Though Enrique is pratically asking for this to happen with one of them being Carlos, while his targets keep winding up with Hugo as an escort.
  • Hospital Hottie: Álex flirts with one one of the nurses drawing blood at the registry. While talking about her at a later point, he says that she's pretty.
  • Identical Twin Mistake: One case of this turns out to have happened in the past. Hugo first fell in love with Sara during an occurrence where he couldn't approach her and she didn't notice him. He later ran into her and asked her out. When Hugo first saw Sara, the pendant necklace she got from her father was hidden under her top, she was wearing braids and she was in a place that Julia fondly remembers all while being surprised that Sara would ever go to it. Guess who Hugo turns out to have actually seen that evening.
  • I Don't Pay You to Think: When Fernando decides to look into the murder of Sergio/Juan's biological parents and tells Enrique about it, Enrique brushes him off by telling him that he's not paid to investigate on his own, or even think on his own.
  • If Only You Knew: After someone close to Luis dies, Hugo tries to have a few reassuring words for him and mentions how hard it is to lose someone important in one's life. Luis, who is among the people who think Sara is still alive, claims that Hugo is too young to really understand it.
  • I'll Pretend I Didn't Hear That: While the Covarrubias house is being searched for a both sick and pregnant Manuela, Rosa finds her in the garage moments before the members of the search party who intend to try a more humane solution to the situation than the system currently in place to handle noravirus patients. When asked about her progress from another room, Rosa claims that the garage is empty, but that she heard noise coming from another part of the house. She then leaves the garage all while giving Manuela's allies a stern look.
  • The Immune: Considering the nature of her job, Alma is actively keeping an eye out for people who are immune to the noravirus. All she's been able to find is children who have developed antibodies after being exposed to the virus in the past.
  • Imperiled in Pregnancy:
    • Álvaro's mistress Clara has a pregnancy complication while preparing to go on the run from the authorities, resulting in Hugo taking her to Emilia's appartment rather than the hospital. The scare of possibly losing her child, combined with spotting a photo of Marta while in her weakened state, results in her spilling the secret of because of which he's at risk for a She Knows Too Much death.
    • Manuela catches the noravirus after being established to be in the relatively early stages of pregnancy.
  • Implied Death Threat:
    • Jorge responds to the passengers of a transport for which he's responsible being gunned down by coming into Emilia's store while Álex is running it and preparing to kill him due to suspecting him to be the one who informed the authorities. Emilia's response is to point her own gun towards Jorge and tell him that in her store, people only pay for what they purchase, implying that she'll kill him if he kills Álex.
    • Hugo, while being held at gunpoint by Alejo, asks his for help with curing Manuela from noravirus. Alejo replies that Manuela is going to die soon, and that she may not be the only one.
  • Improbable Infant Survival: The baby from the fifth episode is the only survivor of the police gunning down everyone else inside the transport taking him out of Madrid.
  • Insignia Rip-Off Ritual: In the finale, several policemen who no longer wish to serve the government are seen taking the New Spain triskelion off their uniforms.
  • Instant Death Bullet: The President is declared dead within seconds of getting shot.
  • Instant Sedation: Yogurt laced with sedatives, injected sedatives and chloroform are all used over the course of the series, none of them take more than two minutes to kick in.
  • Internal Reveal:
    • After getting her hands on a copy of the "unique subjects" presentation and seeing Marta and Sergio among the photos, Emilia figures out that Marta was possibly taken away for reasons other than Hugo being unemployed at the beginning of the series.
    • Upon handling and unconscious Marta, Alejo winds up being the first person working on the noravirus cure to notice her chip implanter scar.
    • After the children from Alejo's camp are transferred to police headquarters, Pedro winds up having a brief discussion with Fernando, during which he's informed that the man he's talking with may be his father.
    • When Enrique gets around arresting Julia, he pointedly calls her by her real name after having called her Sara during previous encounters, lifting all doubt in Julia's mind that he knew of the masquerade all along. There also happens to be people who were genuinely convinced that Julia was Sara up to that point within earshot when this happens.
    • In a combination of two of the previous cases of the trope, Alma finds out about the "Sara" masquerade when Alejo calls her about the chips and refers to Julia as Marta's aunt.
  • Incurable Cough of Death: This is a symptom of the noravirus. Coughing at a checkpoint can ruin one's day.
  • I Resemble That Remark!: At some point during the fallout of Álvaro's death, Luis is offered tranqulizers by Daniela on Alma's behalf. Luis snaps at her while claiming he doesn't need them.
  • Irony:
    • After Hugo and Julia find out Marta is detained in the CIM thanks to a couple chance events, Alma buys time by playing dumb about that particular subject. The investigation of Hugo and Julia's claim results in the latter being alone with Alma, who tells her that herself, Luis and their children are important, while Julia and Marta are interchangeable with just about any other Sector 2 mother-daughter pair. Considering what the chips implanted in Julia and Marta turn out to be later, Alma couldn't be more wrong.
    • A flash-back shows Luis and Álvaro scrambling to make it home from a lake trip because Iván was born a month earlier than planned. Álvaro asks Luis to not drive too fast, because he'll have to raise his child if he dies. The reason that Luis is remembering that day in the first place is that Álvaro ended up being the first of the two of them to die, and Luis has just helped Álvaro's pregnant mistress leave the country.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Iván is an immature hard-drinking partier who seems to spend more nights outside his home than inside it and is prone to Open Mouth, Insert Foot when drunk or hungover. However, he is by no means malicious, is quick to ask what's wrong if he sees his family members genuinely distressed and attempts to be Nice to the Waiter.
  • Joke and Receive:
    • Alma at some point quips that she'll go down in history in a role more important than Luis'. By the end of the series, she's the newly elected President.
    • During the party celebrating her promotion, Alma makes Luis move the champagne bottle a little before uncorking it to make sure Álvaro isn't in the cork's trajectory, jokingly asking him to please not kill the guest. The party winds up being the last time Álvaro is ever seen alive.
  • Just Following Orders:
    • Tomás, Alma's second-in-command when it comes to the noravirus research, is shown to have reservations about the aspect that puts the lives of children in danger, but carries them out because Alma wants him to do so. When Alma's response to Hugo and Julia finding the children at the CIM is pretending she had no idea they were there, Tomás' first line of defense is showing the person investigating him Alma's signed orders.
    • The policeman lieutenant guarding the checkpoint between Sector 1 and Sector 2 in the finale is ordered to have anyone trying to go trough it shot down. When asked to please not shoot the crowd that shows up asking for the detained children to be given back to their families, the lieutenant replies that his orders are to shoot.
    • During the finale, Enrique's first reaction to learning that the President is dead is to holster his gun, as his duty to protect the deceased was the only reason he had it out in the first place.
  • Just in Time: Used on a quite regular basis. If a tense situation can be defused by a specific person or group of people showing up, they have a tendency to arrive within the last few seconds before something very unfortunate would have happened.
    • After Julia initially refuses pass herself off as Sara, Hugo tries to go back to the Covarrubias house by himself, but gets in trouble with the guards because his pass is marked as being one half of a married couple's pass. Julia, who has changed her mind, shows up and calls to him right when the guards were about to make him leave the line by force.
    • Hugo returns Julia's own opportune arrival on the same evening, when he shows up with their work documents in time to help her convince the police to let her go.
    • Emilia knocks on the registry nurse's door right when she's pointing a gun at Álex with the intent to kill him.
    • Álex's timing in keeping Clara from being killed by a sniper is so split-second that the bullet reached her head's former location right after he made her move.
    • Álex enters Emilia's store right when Fernando's attempts to have Emilia shut down the meeting group for the parents of missing children start involving a threat to put a bullet in Emilia's skull.
    • Álex is too late to prevent Marta's abduction later in the series, but has the right timing to catch the kidnapper's face before he drives away.
    • In the finale, there is a standoff at the checkpoint between sectors between a police detachment that has been ordered to shoot anyone trying to go through the checkpoint and a crowd mostly made of Sector 2 inhabitants whose main revendication is to have the children detained for Alma's reasearch given back to their families. Meanwhile, it just so happens that another set of characters has freed the children. The leader of the checkpoint's police detachment gives the crowd a few seconds to disperse before shooting starts and starts a countdown, which he almost finishes before getting interrupted by a greeting from the fastest runner among the children. Whose parents happen to be close enough to the front of the crowd for them to see each other, to boot.
  • The Kindnapper: Alma's Blue-and-Orange Morality towards the CIM children and Sergio includes considering herself this. Since they are all from Sector 2, she considers that their living conditions in the CIM are always an upgrade to whatever they had back home and that those who die from the experiments are getting a Mercy Kill. To complete the picture, she always turns her "kind" persona on when she interacts with them.
  • Knockout Gas: The truck transporting a group of children between the CIM and Alejo's camp has its back filled with gas that makes everyone in it fall asleep, except for a guard wearing a gas mask.
  • Lap Pillow: Marta and Julia spend some time alone in a cell, during which Julia lets Marta use her lap as a pillow to catch a little rest.
  • Last Kiss: Alicia and Fernando share one last kiss after the latter has been fatally shot.
  • Learned From the News: Characters tend to find out a lot of things via the news:
    • The news of Carlos' arrest being broadcast is what prompts Hugo to look for Julia, allows him to find her before the police kills her, and allows Álex and Emilia to know what's going on by the time the two of them show up at the appartment.
    • Just about everyone involved with the transport taking the baby out of Madrid, which was almost taken by Julia, as well finds out about its ultimate fate from the news.
    • Hugo and Julia find out about the death of a party guest they encountered in the Covarrubias house from the news.
    • Emilia and Hugo at some point get dispappointed at Luis for refusing to give Marta back after Alma has her abducted a second time and making a speech to convince people to hand their children over to the state after seemingly shaping up to be an ally among Sector 1 residents. Because of this, they are crossing the checkpoint back into Sector 2 at the time the speech is being made. As a result, they only discover Luis' real reason for his previous actions, using the speech to warn everyone of the government's true intentions towards their children and start a revolution, because there's a public screen at the checkpoint.
  • Legally Dead:
    • The variant involving a living person declared dead is exploited by the police by giving the person a deal that boils down to "either you do dirty work for us or we make you dead for real".
    • This turns out to be the case for several of the children detained for Alma's experiments, who were often declared dead after being taken to a hospital.
  • Like a Son to Me: Álvaro, whose marriage has never produced any children, views Luis' children as being as good as his own. In turn, Luis extends the sentiment to the son Álvaro produced with his mistress Clara.
  • Lockdown: Discussed. When worrying news about the noravirus epidemic is announced, Julia mentions the risk of Madrid going into lockdown in response, which would cause supply problems.
  • Locked Out of the Loop:
    • One of the early warnings that his life is in danger that Luis gets is being told that he's being kept out of a government plan because it's known he's among the people who wouldn't approve of the plan if they knew of it.
    • A decision eventually gets made to never tell Sergio/Juan that his biological parents are still alive. It doesn't matter for long as they are quickly killed.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: Looking into a suspiciously timed accidental death is one of the things that bring Luis closer and closer to He Knows Too Much territory.
  • Manchild: Iván is out partying all night on a regular basis and frequently displays immature behaviors. At some point, Manuela spells out to him that both her and Luis love him, but would really like him to grow up a little.
  • Match Cut: One episode starts with a flash-back to Luis and Álvaro cutting a trip to reservoir lake short because Iván was born one month earlier than expected. The transition back to the present day is done via a still shot of the lake changing into a version in which the lake itself is dried up and the surrounding infrastructure is showing visible signs of neglect.
  • Missed Him by That Much: At some point, two vehicles cross each other at the barrier's checkpoint. One is an ambulance leaving Sector 1 driven by Álex, with Luis, Iván and Daniela in the back disguised as the patient and medical personnel, one is a police car entering Sector 1 with Julia in the back. The ambulance's driver and the person in the back of the police car don't see each other because the two vehicles have their windows at completely different heights and have no reason to even suspect each other's presence in the other vehicle.
  • Mistaken for Betrayal: When Luis commits the act that puts him at odds with the government for good and gets him branded a traitor, the President assumes that Alma is in on it and treats her as an accomplice. Alma is actually just as blindsided as the President is when the act is committed.
  • Mistaken for Romance: Alicia mistakes Daniela and Álex for a couple at a point where the two of them are sticking together for purely practical reasons. They have a Sure, Let's Go with That reaction to the assumption, but are clearly awkward about it once they are alone again.
  • Mistaken from Behind:
    • When Sergio gets taken away by his biological grandfather almost under Hugo and Julia's noses, there just happens to be another child who looks like him from behind nearby, resulting in Julia briefly mistaking the other child for Sergio.
    • Defied by Alicia, who only really saw he supposedly dead son from behind while cleaning at the registry, but is still dead certain that it was him. Since he turns out to be one of the still-alive children, chances are that it was really him.
  • Mixed Ancestry: Manuela and Iván's child is shown in the epilogue. Since one of the child's parents is one of the few black characters, this is a given.
  • The Mole: The nurse from the registry tricks Álex into coming to her appartment by pretending to be part of La Résistance. She turns out to be an informer ready to use radical means to keep him from joining the real resistance.
  • Multigenerational Household: The Mújicas moving into an appartment initially only occupied by Emilia quickly turns the place into this.
  • Mundane Luxury: Things that are easily accessible only in Sector 1 include running water (both hot and cold), properly watered urban vegetation and gardens, any sort of coffee product, meat, liquid soap, cell phones, tablets, individual home phones, toys that require electricity to work and cars. It also has electricity 24/7, unlike Sector 2 that has it turned off at curfew. Hugo is amazed merely by what he gets to see on the way to his job interview.
  • Murder by Suicide: The exact variant is unclear, but the fact that the flash-back to Tomás' suicide shows him hanging himself while Enrique is in the room watching him do it indicates that he was coerced to an extent.
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
    • Hugo has a moment of this after finding out that Sergio's biological parents were killed, as he's the one who encouraged them to properly meet with Alma and Luis to iron things out.
    • Julia's turn comes upon discovering that helping a sick Manuela and a healthy Iván escape medical custody only resulted in the two of them being found anyway and Iván being infected in addition to Manuela.
    • Pedro gets very loud slap from the nurse caring for him for breaking the rules by interacting with his father. His father is leaving the scene and can't turn back without getting into more trouble, but close enough to hear the incident. He's clearly made uneasy by the fact that interacting with his son resulted in him getting hit by one of his wardens.
  • My Master, Right or Wrong: Rosa is shown to be like this towards Alma, whose worse traits she's shown to be very much aware of. A lot of Rosa's sternness consists of keeping her subordinates from doing things that might set Alma off and she's always surprised when Hugo and Julia do forbidden things without getting Alma angry. Yet, even after the entire rest of the family has joined the rebellion and Rosa has gone as far as helping Luis take Sergio/Juan with them, Rosa can't bring herself to leave Alma's side.

     Tropes N-Z 

  • National Anthem: New Spain has a new national anthem, titled "Volveremos", which the children detained by Alma are made to sing on a regular basis. A snippet of it also plays right before a televised announcement from the President in the finale. The gist of the two verses that have been sung onscreen is "we are getting a chance to restore our country to its former glory, let's work on it together". The government's idea of "former glory" is heavily implied to be The Franco Regime.
  • Nephewism: Sergio is Alma's nephew and apparently lives in the Covarrubias home because his parents aren't around. He turns out to be one of the first, if not the very first child to have been taken away from a Sector 2 family because he could produce noravirus antibodies.
  • NEET: Álex downplays this. He's technically jobless, but he's frequently seen helping out in Emilia's store and ends up becoming a general errand boy for the Mújica-Noval family. Early in the series, he points out that his lack of job gives him time to do the legwork necessary to help Hugo get Marta back, no matter how difficult and time-consuming the government tries to make the process. Later, when a policeman expecting him to be part of some sort of organization asks him who he's working for, he's technically being truthful by claiming he's working for nobody.
  • Never Mess with Granny: It's a bad idea to harm any member of the Mújica-Noval family. Emilia owns a gun and won't think twice about using it.
  • New Child Left Behind: Part of peoples' motivation to make sure Clara is taken to a safe place comes from the fact that they either knew her unborn son's father or at the very least approved of what he did before getting killed.
  • No Bikes in the Apocalypse: Averted. The first shot of an adult Julia is of her riding a delivery bike, implicitly because people in Sector 2 can no longer afford to have cars. Several background characters are shown to be making a living selling bicycle parts. She's also shown bike racing with Sergio in the Sector 1 park.
  • Nosy Neighbor: Emilia's neighbor Begoña is the block's government informer, so being far too curious and "just checking on her" right when things best kept hidden are going on is her job.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • The overall reaction when the Mújica-Noval family get their hands on a copy of the "unique subjects" presentation and see Marta's photo in it.
    • Hugo and Julia have a moment when they expect both Iván and Manuela to be brought back from Alejo's camp, but only the former shows up.
  • On the Next: A montage of various scenes from the next episode follows each one. Scenes that are misleading when out of context or telling only part of the story are frequent. The last episode ends with a montage of snippets from the entire series.
  • Open Mouth, Insert Foot: Iván is prone to such moments when drunk or hungover.
    • Upon meeting Hugo when he shows up for the job interview, he heavily implies his own family is a Dysfunctional Family and that Hugo would be hence lucky to not get the job.
    • He makes very snide comments about Carlos' photo on the news while Julia is masquerading as Sara right next to him.
    • He decides that being told that his father lost a friend, who was incidentally one of his very few remaining true ones, is a good time to make a comment about the fact that the vast majority of his father's friends qualify for False Friend.
    • Of all people, he decides to blame his less likable traits on genetics in front of Manuela, with whom he's in a relationship, shortly after she has found out that she's carrying his child. The latter situation also makes it a very bad time to offer to take her along next time he goes out partying after he has rested off the hangover.
  • Outliving One's Offspring:
    • Emilia is currently outliving the real Sara.
    • There are two separate instances in Sergio/Juan's biological family: his older brother died of noravirus (making him outlived by his parents), then his parents were later killed while his paternal grandfather was spared.
  • Palette Swap: The "unique subjects" presentation does this to some of the children's photos. Felipe's hair is changed to a blond much lighter than his real hair, while Marta's is made significantly darker.
  • Pants-Positive Safety: In the prologue, Ramón is shown putting the chip implanter in the waistband at the back of his pants. It's not as dangerous as with an actual gun, but this happens when the audience still has every reason to believe it's an actual gun with a silencer on it.
  • Papa Wolf: Hugo is generally a quiet and mild-mannered man, but being the most obvious obstacle between him and Marta's well-being, or worse, actively harming her, tends to be the best way to put one's physical integrity in jeopardy. Damage is usually limited by the presence of Julia, or occasionally other members of the family.
  • Parental Substitute: In a flash-back to the time of Iván's birth, Álvaro assures Luis that he'll make a good father. Álvaro's rationale for so sure of this it that Luis is the closest thing he has to a father and he thing Luis did a good job at it.
  • Pay Phone: Most people in Sector 2 don't have a phone in their own home, so they need to use public pay phones to make calls.
  • Pistol-Whipping: Alejo uses his gun to hit Julia at a point where he has her at his mercy, right after threatening to shoot her if she wans't compliant.
  • The Plague: The noravirus fills this role, complete with being a death sentence to those who catch it and not having a cure yet.
  • Platonic Life-Partners: Pretending to be married to each other in a time of both needing some emotional support results in Hugo and Julia spending a lot of time alone together and having quite a few heart-to-heart discussions. By the end of the series, Álex starts expecting more than just talking to happen during their outings and Emilia suspects their relationship isn't quite platonic anymore.
  • Playing Nice for Now: Any sort of dispute happening inside the Mújica-Noval family's appartment or Emilia's store can only last for so long without attracting Begoña's attention. As Begoña finding out about whatever is going on would usually be bad for both sides of the dispute, cooperation in making her leave and ensuring that she doesn't come back anytime soon will temporarily take priority over anything else.
  • Plot Hole:
    • When Hugo and Julia storm into the Covarrubias home to demand an explanation as to why Marta is detained in the CIM, one of Hugo's angry rants to Alma includes claiming she lied to him about Marta being in a colony. Begoña is the one who suggested Marta had probably been taken to a colony. What Alma actually did on that particular subject was implicitly make the same assumption as Begoña upon hearing Hugo mention that his daughter was taken away at the registry; at worse, she's guilty of not considering the possibility that the daughter of her new employees could be in the CIM's custody. During the same event, Julia somehow knows that Marta and the other detained children at the CIM have been medicated, while neither the dead children they saw nor the brief exchange Hugo had with Marta gave them any sort of direct evidence this had happened.
    • During the debacle with the baby, Álex can use the temporary pass he was given earlier to enter Sector 1, but gets in trouble while trying to use it to leave because its exit code isn't activated. The pass was initially given to him so se could leave on his own after driving Luis back to his home, so he's having the complete reverse of the problem that he should be having.
    • One scene relies on Álex recognizing Rai, whom he was never seen encountering during his visits to the Covarrubias house.
    • How Emilia was let into Sector 1 in the penultimate episode, especially without anyone in the Covarrubias household knowing in advance, at a point where security was tighter than usual, is never addressed. Any previous occurrence of Hugo and Julia going in or out with someone else, barring one with a conveniently timed noravirus patient in the line, has required calling someone from the Covarrubias household to sort the situation out.
  • Police State: Luis' friend Álvaro tries to warn him about the police gaining too much power before getting killed. Corruption and casual Police Brutality are already a reality for Sector 2 dwellers.
  • Posthumous Character: Both the real Sara and Ramón are a little too dead to get development outside of flashbacks and people talking about them. A lot of Álvaro's characterization happens after his death, as well.
  • Premature Birth Drama: A flash-back reveals that Iván showed up one month earlier than planned. It doesn't seem to have affected Iván's health in any visible way, but Luis has to cut short a fishing trip he was taking because he thought the birth was still a month away.
  • Previously On…: Each episode starts with a recap. It's very much needed due to how quickly things change and the fact that the specific previous events one needs to have in mind to understand the episode can vary greatly. For instance, the recaps preceding the episodes focusing on Sergio/Juan's biological family will remind the audience of everything that has been revealed about Sergio up to that point, while the recaps of other episodes won't focus on him nearly as much if they mention him at all.
  • Prim and Proper Bun: Julia and Manuela both wear a bun while working as maids. It's implied to be mandatory to an extent, since the uniform they wear while serving at parties includes a hair ornament that requires the wearer's hair to be bunched up on the back of their head.
  • Professionals Do It on Desks: Alma and Enrique tend to favor desks for having their affair when beds aren't available.
  • Propaganda Machine: There is only one thing to watch on broadcast television. It's a government-controlled news channel. The only printed newspaper is a product of the government, as well.
  • Quick Draw Decision: Alma presents the President with a plan, expecting him to have to make a very difficult decision about it. She's pleasantly surprised when he promptly signs off on it.
  • The Quiet One: Rai, the Covarrubias family's usual driver, is a man of very few words. His longest line of dialog is quite early on, when Hugo is asked to try repairing a car and Rai tries bullying Hugo into being submissive to him while he's in the garage.
  • Rage Within the Machine: Luis' character arc after Álvaro's death essentially has him distancing himself from the government more and more, with the subsequent attempts to assassinate Clara and discovery of Sergio's real situation not helping his opinion of the institution. When Fernando starts having every reason to walk the same path, but doesn't, Luis understands and explains to Emilia that those who are part of the system are the most confused when they discover its dark sides.
  • Rebel Leader:
    • Jorge and Iris are the leaders of the pre-existing La Résistance.
    • By the end of the series, Luis ends up being presented as this trope in the media and being considered this by many due to being the person who tells the public about the government's most nefarious plans, already being a known face to the parents of missing children, and getting the support of many law enforcers.
  • La Résistance: This is a Police State dystopia, after all. Emilia used to be part of it, and hence knows who to contact in pinch. Outside of the eventual uprising, they are mostly shown to be involved in smuggling people out of Madrid and warning people who are at risk of getting arrested for political reasons.
  • Red Shirt: Defied. When a baby briefly cared for by some of the protagonists becomes a case of Improbable Infant Survival, the character who gets the news that the baby survived is less enthusiastic about it than the giver of the news expects her to be. She points out that ten other people died in the event that the baby survived.
  • Revealing Cover-Up:
    • Luis intially didn't believe Álvaro and Clara's warnings about the government's nefarious future plans and started to take them seriously only after the former died in an accident and the latter came close to losing her life to a sniper.
    • Sergio/Juan's biological parents being killed only results in Luis paying more attention to the boy's already suspicious circumstances.
  • Rich Kid Turned Social Activist: Daniela is part of La Résistance because she wants to help those worse off than her.
  • Right Behind Me: Iván's insensitive response to being told that Luis lost a friend doesn't mix well with the fact that Luis enters the room behind him just in time to hear the worse of it.
  • Second Love: Luis and Emilia both genuinely love the partners with whom they had children, but their past relationship with each other is heavily implied to have been very meaningful for both of them. Luis is shown to not be completely over the day Emilia told him she was going to marry Ramón more than twenty-five years later, while Emilia's response to a visit from him is to start preparing a dish she used to make for him, minus the meat that has become scarce.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Sergio/Juan's biological parents get killed at the end of a sequence showing them preparing to properly visit him for the first time. The circumstances of their deaths result in a present they were shown buying, a cake for which they were shown purchasing the ingredients and a letter whose contents were given via Voice Over Letter being sprawled out on the ground, unlikely to ever end up in the hands of the person they were intended for.
  • Shower of Love: Enrique and Alma's affair is established via a depiction of them having a very intimate shower.
  • "Shut Up!" Gunshot: The President's guards shot in the air in hope of driving the crowd marching on the President's residence away.
  • Slipping a Mickey: When Alma needs the CIM children or Sergio sedated, she'll usually have the sedative put in their food.
  • Sigil Spam: The government's triskelion shows up in a lot of places. It has even replaced the coat of arms on the national flag.
  • Sins of Our Fathers: Inverted between generations. Carlos' elderly mother used to have neighbors who helped her out, but they have all bailed out on her after her son was arrested for the murder comitted by Julia.
  • So Proud of You: When Luis takes his first real step towards distancing himself from the government's activities in favor of helping its victims, he praises his daughter Daniela for the fact that she's already been doing just that for a while.
  • South Asian Terrorists: After the gunning down of the passengers of the resistance-operated transport Julia almost used to leave Madrid is framed by the Propaganda Machine as the takedown of a terrorist cell, Begoña is shown to conflate people of South Asian descent with terrorists. Within one statement, she claims that before the dictatoriship took over, terrorists walked around freely, she had trouble running into a white face and Madrid looked like New Delhi.
  • Status Cell Phone: Cell phones exist, but are too expensive for Sector 2 residents, who have to share public landline phones. People who have cell phones are rich, high-ranking or someone who has been provided one by a member of the two former categories.
  • Storming the Castle: The finale involves a group of revolutionaries breaking into the President's residence.
  • Suppressed History: The government has been actively doing this for twenty-five years. By the end of the series, people are actively working on reversing the process.
  • Suspiciously Specific Tense: Subverted. While staying in the Covarrubias house and still getting used to pretending Julia is Sara, Marta mentions her mother "was" a teacher to Rosa and Sergio. Luckily, both of them clearly assume she's saying her mother used to be a teacher before working as a maid.
  • The Stool Pigeon: The whistleblower variant, that denounces people who break the rules to the authorities, is what government informers are expected to do; the job is even translated as "whistleblower" in the English subtitles. The two informers that are shown are Emilia's neighbor Begoña who acts like the creepy version of a textbook Nosy Neighbor and the nurse from the registry.
  • Stranger in a Familiar Land: Discussed. While driving Luis in streets of Madrid that he hasn't seen in years, Hugo asks him if finds the city changed. Luis responds that he's unsure whether the one that has changed is the city or himself.
  • Taking the Bullet: When a second bullet is fired at an already injured Luis, Fernando takes it instead.
  • Talking to the Dead: The epilogue is framed as Emilia talking to Ramón, who now has a proper grave.
  • Tap on the Head: Jorge and Iris knock Álex when he shows up at their appartement and they suspect him of being an informer. Álex is out for long enough to be tied to a chair and require a Water Wake Up to be interrogated.
  • They're Called "Personal Issues" for a Reason: Rosa, Hugo and Julia's higher-up in the Covarrubias home, has that stance about personal problems: they are allowed to exist, but they should stay at home and not affect one's work.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Julia and Sara have this going on, at least clothing-wise. When they are children, Julia has her hair in a braid and is wearing an outfit with pants, while Sara wears her hair down and a dress. As an adult, Julia still favors outfits with pants and the nature of maid uniforms means that she's always wearing a dress around people who think she's Sara. Some photos and flashbacks of Sara show her to have continued favoring skirts and dresses into adulthood.
  • Trading Bars for Stripes: Carlos is given such an offer, with a Police State flavor to it: he does dirty work for the police and in exchange Julia isn't arrested and his mother is cared for.
  • Truth Serum: The police is shown injecting some people they interrogate with a substance that seems to make it much harder for them to keep their mouths shut.
  • Tyrannicide: Does this look like the sort of show where where the President is still alive by the time the end credits of the finale roll in?
  • Unbroken Vigil: To put emphasis on how close a friend Álvaro is to him, Luis tells Hugo of his younger brother getting sick and spending an entire month in the hospital before dying. Luis was at his brother's side day and night. Álvaro was constantly at Luis' side for exactly the same amount of time.
  • Undercover Cop Reveal: While putting up the poster with the photos of CIM children, Álex is noticed by a homeless man. The man is next seen accosting him and showing a police badge.
  • Universal Driver's License: Álex is at some point asked drive an ambulance, something he has no known experience with. He manages to do it perfectly fine.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: Luis' plan to use the speech he agreed to make on live television to help the President and Alma to tell everyone of the government's real plan and start a revolution works because he's never seen discussing it with the people who are in on it. He also has to pretend to not have it around Hugo and Emilia because someone who was going to disapprove was in the room, as well.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Thanks to how much the characters have on their plate at a given time, some actions that should have only affected one plotline on paper end up having negative knock-on-effects the person comitting them couldn't have predicted:
    • Fernando's choice of time to bring Julia in for interrogation as Sara and Hugo wanting to come with her results in Álex being the one to drive a visiting Luis back to Sector 1. While there, Álex bumps into the Rich Kid Turned Social Activist member of La Résistance, who's keeping her activities secret from those around her.
    • Carlos breaking into Marta's room to drop off an item he wants Julia to find results in Hugo getting worried enough to want to take her to the Covarrubias house for the day, giving Alma the means to continue exploiting Marta for the purpose of her research in the process.
    • Álvaro being killed when he is results in Sergio being underfoot during the aftermath and Alma wanting Julia to watch him on her time off. She and Hugo compromise by taking Sergio to Sector 2, where one of Emilia's customers spots him and tries to kidnap him, starting a chain of events that results in the death of Sergio's biological parents.
    • Enrique bringing Fernando along for an emergency evacuation of Alejo's camp results in Fernando running into his own officially dead son and no longer being able to dismiss the legitimacy of the meeting group for parents of missing children.
  • Uptown Girl: There are several couples dating across class lines:
    • Iván and Manuela are established to be in a relationship as early as the first episode.
    • One of the single-episode plotlines happens because a deceased resident of Sector 1 had a mistress in Sector 2.
    • Daniela and Álex are together by the end of the series, and the epilogue implies this is going to last. Approval seems to be the baseline response to the relationship.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: The man who throws up on Manuela's clothes does so completely on-camera, which makes her grossed-out reaction more than justified.
  • Water Wake Up:
    • Jorge and Iris give Álex one after he shows up in the La Résistance headquarters, fumbles the password and refuses to tell them who sent him, which results in them suspecting him of being an informer and knocking him out.
    • Manuela uses a glass of water on Iván for that purpose when she finds him sleeping on a deckchair near the pool after yet another night of partying and needs to talk to him before starting work.
  • Weirdness Magnet: Álex's perspective is definitely one through which the plot becomes downright weird. His first three days in Madrid alone are quite a romp. His niece is taken away because his brother is unemployed, his brother ends up working for a minister because his mother-in-law used to date said minister and the authorities show a suspicious reluctance to give his niece back after Álex brings them proof that her father has a job. His sister-in-law's boyfriend is arrested for terrorism and he now has to pretend she's his other sister-in-law. He's saved from being killed by a fake member of La Résistance only to end up needing to bring information to the real resistance. The real resistance refuses to believe he's not an informer and he only gets his story backed because a person he has crossed paths with before is part of it, as well. Since he mentions that cricket hunting was the most exciting thing he got to do in his hometown, one can't really blame him for bieng very weirded out by Madrid.
  • Wham Line:
    • The fact that Álex promised Emilia to not tell La Résistance she sent him clashes with Jorge and Iris' Properly Paranoid measures to avoid being discovered by the authorities. At some point, a third member of La Résistance shows up at the appartment, spots Álex and tells Iris she knows him. The new person is not the one who told Álex about La Résistance in the first place.
    • Álvaro explaining a government plan for which he and Luis have been Locked Out of the Loop: "Demographic reorganization", aka killing many people under the pretense that there aren't enough resources for everyone, that's going to be sold to the public as something else.
    • Rosa finds Alma having a midnight glass of water, which she explains by having just treated Sergio for a disease the viewer is hearing about for the first time. Rosa and Alma have an exchange about the treatment that makes it sound suspiciously similar to something shown in an earlier episode:
      Rosa: Poking children makes me so sad...
      Alma: No worries, you know Sergio. When he's asleep, nothing can wake him up.
      Rosa: Does [the treatment] work? He looks so skinny...
    • Álvaro's mistress Clara, after having stress-induced blood loss, seemingly has a fever-induced moment of paranoia that her baby will be taken away from her after his birth even if she doesn't miscarry him. Emilia tries to reassure her it's not going to happen. Clara's reponse indicates not only that it's not pure paranoia, but that she knows the information that her baby's father was trying to spread before his suspiciously untimely death:
      Clara: You're kind, but you know nothing.
    • The old man who attempted to kidnap Sergio earlier in the episode shows up at the Mújica-Noval's appartment, this time with a middle-aged couple in tow. They ask to be allowed into the apparement and they are refused for obvious reasons. The woman makes a plea that gives the scene a whole new spin:
      Woman: Please. We believe our son is inside.
    • While discussing test results with Alma, Alejo mentions that one set of results stood out, even within a group of children selected for their capacity to produce noravirus antibodies. He promptly goes on to mention that the child with odd results is currently not in his custody, which means it has to be Marta. Not only does the nature of the results they are discussing finally give the audience an idea of what the chips do, but that difference also means that Julia's chip has been having that same effect on her all along.
    • While Julia is trying to get away from Alejo, a policeman in full raid gear comes behind Julia and covers her mouth right as she's insulting Alejo. Alejo responds to the event by daring Julia to repeat her insult, only to hear the policeman do so, revealing him to have been someone who was on Julia's side all along.
    • The President having a coughing fit during a call with Enrique.
  • Wham Shot:
    • After spending some time playing in Sector 1's park, Sergio gifts Julia an item he found. The item turns out to be Marta's necklace, which was last seen being given to a CIM nurse to be discarded. After this, it becomes very easy for Julia to find out where Marta actually is.
    • Carlos being shown in a police transport very much alive after the audience was lead to believe that they had watched the person's ashes being scattered.
    • After disappointing Emilia and Hugo by refusing to give Marta back after Alma has her abducted a second time, Luis makes a speech on live television that is intended to help Alma and the President further their plans to get more children to use as noravirus antibody producers. Due to Alma monitoring how things look onscreen from another room and Iván resting, Daniela is the only member of the family in Luis' office during the speech, seemingly reluctantly due to being angry at him from a previous discussion. During the speech, Luis gives Daniela a quick glance, to which she responds by walking to a touchscreen and doing a manipulation on it that locks the only door Luis' office shares with the rest of the house. This indicates both that Daniela was intended to be in the room during the speech all along and that Luis is going to do something at least one person present in the house isn't going to agree with.
  • Who Watches the Watchmen?: Luis' friend Álvaro is shown to worry about who is going to protect people from the police if they have too much power. Since New Spain is already a Police State in practice as far as people outside Sector 1 are concerned, he has a point.
  • With a Foot on the Bus: Both of Julia's serious attempts to leave Madrid to avoid arrest and possibly death get cancelled.
  • Workplace-Acquired Abilities:
    • Carlos mentions having been in the army in an early episode. The skills he acquired during that time become useful for the odd jobs he does for the police after his death is faked.
    • Emilia's defunct La Résistance membership enables her to know exactly how to proceed when she starts a meeting group for the parents of children detained in Alejo's camp and to make its members aware of the risks entailed from the get-go.
  • World War III: Here, it broke out in 2020 because too many countries elected the sort of government that is prone to starting wars at the same time. It lasted five years, as an announcement dates its end to twenty year prior to the proper beginning of the series.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Different degrees of this are present, ranging from Alma and Alejo's "would let multiple children die for science" to the President's "would order a bunch of children to be killed because their existence inconveniences me".
  • You Didn't See That: When the Rich Kid Turned Social Activist member of La Résistance finds out the hard way she and Álex have mutual acquaintances in their everyday lives, she asks Álex to pretend he never saw her in the resistance headquarters.
  • You Don't Want to Catch This: Though it doesn't work as well as they hoped, some characters try to leave Sector 1 incognito by posing as the paramedics operating an ambulance transporting a noravirus patient. They are implied to have hoped that the guard would be too scared to get close to the "patient" (a completely healthy member of the group) to insist upon checking the back.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: The police doesn't seem to care much about people surviving their Enhanced Interrogation Techniques, as long as they get the information they need out of the person. When Álex is taken out of the interrogation room by Fernando, the latter gets him to tell him what he knows about the missing children by threatening to send him back to the interrogation room, implying he has limited chances to come out of it alive.


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