It was only a matter of time until Netflix fans found a new steamy outlet to satiate all the thirst they’ve acquired while sheltering at home. First, there was 365 DNI, a film that teetered right on the line between “run-of-the-mill cheesy movie” and “actual porn.” Now, one month later, we have Dark Desire, a Mexican-made erotic thriller, to scratch that same itch.
While 365’s story wraps up in less than two hours, Dark Desire takes its audience on an immersive murder mystery over 18 episodes. The grim objective at hand is figuring out who killed Brenda Castillo (María Fernanda Yepes), best friend to Alma Solares (Maite Perroni). In second episode “One Last Night of Passion,” Brenda is found dead in a bathtub. While detectives rule Brenda’s death a suicide, Alma becomes convinced her friend was murdered. Over the course of Dark Desire season 1, multiple suspects seem like the obvious culprit, including Alma’s husband Leonardo Solares (Jorge Poza), who is also secretly Brenda’s lover, Alma’s brother-in-law Esteban (Erik Hayser), who is less secretly Brenda’s lover, and Alma’s own lover Darío Guerra (Alejandro Speitzer).
Dark Desire’s finale, “The Answer Was Always There,” reveals none of these men actually murdered Brenda. Instead, the truth is much more upsetting — and just one part of Dark Desire’s tragic framework.
Despite all of Dark Desire's detective work, the reality of Brenda’s death is devastatingly simple: She died by suicide soon after Alma left her home. The police were correct. Therefore, all of the horrible secrets of Dark Desire’s central love pentagon — which include affairs, cover-ups, and criminal collusion — never truly needed to come out, as they do during Alma's dogged search for her friend's killer.
Penultimate episode “We Kill What We Love” sets up this reveal by showing viewers a flashback of Brenda’s final conversation with Leonardo. During Alma’s visit, she complained to Brenda that she believed Leonardo was cheating on her with his secretary, Edith (Paulina Matos). Once Alma returned home, Brenda summoned Leonardo to confront him over his alleged affair. Her issue, Brenda explained, is that Leonardo ended their affair to commit to Alma — so why is he sleeping with someone else again?
In the ensuing argument, Brenda finally confessed her love to Leonardo. He attempted to rebuff Brenda, but ended up having sex with her instead. During the encounter, Leonardo passed out, seemingly leaving Brenda feeling alienated all over again. Brenda was so rocked by the lack of love her in her life, she called Esteban — the other Solares brother she was sleeping with — to confess her loneliness and desire to end her life. “I’m tired of not being loved. Loneliness bites the soul” she admitted to Esteban, who also is in love with Alma despite his sexual relationship with Brenda. Dark Desire then unveils an unnecessarily extensive scene of Brenda’s death by suicide.
Finale “Answer Was Always There” confirms these are the distressing events that actually led to Brenda’s death, rather than another one of the hypothetical murder sequences shown throughout Dark Desire.
Brenda’s voicemail leads the series to ask one more chilling question in “Answer:” Why did Esteban stoke the fires of homicidal suspicion around Brenda’s death when he had the voicemail all along? Esteban explains his reasoning in the second half of “Answer,” when he drugs Alma and holds her captive in her backyard. Although Brenda’s death is an unmitigated tragedy — influenced specifically by the romantic cruelty of the Solares brothers — Esteban saw it as an opportunity.
First Esteban considered framing Dario for the “murder” as retribution against the younger man for his prolonged relationship with Alma. After all, as we learn earlier in Dark Desire, Esteban hired Dario to seduce Alma and break up her marriage — not fall to in love with her, too.
Then Esteban realized his “true rival” was Leonardo. So Esteban decided to set his brother up to take the fall as the killer. Leonardo makes this paranoia-inducing work easy for Esteban, since Esteban uses his powers as a judge to exhume Brenda’s body to hide the fact that his genetic sample (read: semen) may still be on her corpse. Only guilty people traditionally go to such great lengths to destroy evidence. Esteban’s plan works so well, he is able to convince a hospitalized Leonardo in fifteenth episode “We Never Talked About Love” of his own murderous culpability.
Brenda’s suicide note voicemail is the only piece of evidence that reveals the true details of her death. While Brenda requested no one bring flowers to her grave — she’s allergic — she deserves some sort of momentous tribute as recompense for the abuse of her memory by the Solares brothers. That’s why a prospective Dark Desire season 2 should open with Alma pouring out a shot of Brenda’s beloved tequila for her late best friend.
If you are thinking about suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or the Suicide Crisis Line at 1-800-784-2433.