Most shows would save a confrontation between its Big Bad and its hero for the very last second of a season finale. But not Netflix’s Control Z. The villainous Raúl (Yankel Stevan) — aka, The Hacker everyone has been trying to find — confesses his many disturbing crimes to master teen detective Sofía (Ana Valeria Becerril) with 10 minutes remaining in Control Z's season 1 finale, “Public Enemy.”
The YA drama allows such an early revelation because “Public Enemy” has a much bigger surprise waiting for viewers: the cliffhanger shooting of a beloved character. In the final moments of the episode, reformed nice-boy Javier (Michael Ronda) is accidentally shot by Gerry (Patricio Gallardo). As Control Z season 1 fades to black, you're left asking, “Is Javier dead?!” While you can try to be optimistic right now, Netflix's Control Z puts in a lot of effort to make you believe the worst tragedy yet has struck the National School.
Unlike many of the horrible events that go down in Control Z, Javier’s shooting isn’t planned. Instead, Gerry is thrown into a mournful rage after Luis (Luis Curiel), the sweet, harmless loner of National, dies in the hospital at the midpoint of “Public Enemy.” Gerry is the one who viciously assaulted Luis — putting him on life support in the first place — but Gerry blames The Hacker for pushing him to such violence. Once Gerry finds out in “Enemy” that his “friend” Raúl is the one who has been playing puppet master all along, he rushes to the Noche Nacional party determined to get his revenge upon Raúl — with murder.
In the last scene of the finale, Gerry shows up to the party with one of his dad’s many guns. Second episode “Victims” prepared fans for this twist by unveiling the many firearms displayed in Gerry’s home. It was inevitable he would pick one up by “Enemy.” In Gerry and Raúl’s final showdown, the former blames the latter’s “stupid fucking game” for the death of Luis. Gerry begs Raúl to explain why he ruined so many lives. Rather than be honest, Raúl disrespects Luis by revealing the dead secret, telling Gerry, “I’m only gonna say that [Luis] liked you.”
Gerry snaps and tries to shoot Raúl. But, Javier steps in to stop him — and is shot in the process. This horrible turn of events feels like the dark twin of Javier's Control Z secret, which is that his soccer initiation process prior to the events of the series led to another teen boy’s death.
It is here that Control Z could leave a single breadcrumb to suggest Javi will survive his injury, which is a gunshot wound to the abdomen. However, it doesn't. It is obvious that no one has called an ambulance as precious seconds tick by for Javi’s recovery. Everyone merely stares at Javi as Sofía begs for help. Then there is the matter of Javier himself. Similar Netflix mystery series have recently gone out of their way to signal a main character is alive after a death-defying experience. Take Jen (Christina Applegate) and Judy’s (Cardellini) Dead to Me season 2 car accident: we see both women conscious before the close of that drama's finale.
Javi does not get the same suggestion of life. In the last shot of “Public Enemy,” we watch Javier’s lifelessly still body bleed out as his eyes stare blankly into the sky. There is no slight movement of his head or tiny blink to suggest some part of Javier is still holding on. Control Z wants you to believe Javier is dead.
If you need one sliver of hope that Javier could survive, we should think about how each prospective outcome of his shooting would affect a possible Control Z season 2. If Javier dies, the teen thriller would have to become a serious legal drama about the trial for Javier’s murder (particularly since Luis’ death will also be a factor in any future episodes). If Javier survives, on the other hand, he would be able to help Sofía with whatever inevitable new mystery pops up around National School.
If we’ve learned anything about Control Z over its first eight episodes, it would much rather be Prodigal Son Jr. than something as heavy as Law & Order: Teens.