If you are in need of a new show to watch, then you should definitely check out Netflix’s Carmen Sandiego. Yes, it is a cartoon, but it is quite a good one. It takes the the original and flips the script with a beautiful art style.
Other pluses to the show include an eccentricity diverse cast of characters, educational aspects about each country which is great for kids; and a strong female lead that is taking her own life in her hands and getting back at those in her past who are harming the world.
This version of Carmen is voiced by Gina Rodriguez and this is definitely the perfect match. This version of Carmen starts out under the name of Black Sheep on the Isle of V.I.L.E where she is raised by what she believes to be a team of thieves. She eventually decides to join the school and after the year long program she is not chosen to become a full member of V.I.L.E. She sneaks on the caper of her former classmates and discovers not all is as it seems to be. She then decides to bide her time to leave the island and would eventually become Carmen Sandiego, the thief who steals from V.I.L.E and gives back.
Her original backstory is that she is found by ACME and then eventually become the head of V.I.L.E. Ivy and Zack were the detectives trying to catch her all over the world. I quite enjoyed change in character because it all felt very organic. She wasn’t quite a hero, but she was quite a ways close to it.
So we start with a mix of present and the past. We are introduced to a whole slew of recurring characters. I’m going to start with the annoying Chase Devereux who spends the whole season just mucking everything up whether he realizes it or not. He leads the present day story line and eventually we are introduced to Gray or Crackle. This leads us into Carmen’s past. In the end, I did not expect where they decided to take Gray’s character, but I enjoyed the conflicting emotions Carmen has towards him through different parts of the story.
We are also introduced to Julia Argent, Devereux’s partner that he shoves aside and ignores. Who is among one of my favorite characters of the series. I just wanted Chase Devereux to just listen to her at some point. She seems to be the only character that has some insight into who Carmen actually is even with it just being speculations.
Player (Finn Wolfhard) is also introduced in both Carmen’s present and past. He became her only lifeline to the outside world before she left V.I.L.E and then becomes her techy right hand man in her quest to stop them.
Spoilers below this point
There were some great amusing capers like Dr. Sarah Bellum’s plan to ruin the rice in Indonesia so that they would have to buy Vile’s disgusting rice. I loved that Countess Cleo was a stolen art collector because her character design really showed that. That is also a great episode that allows side characters to shine.
I enjoyed the dynamic that Carmen had between her team. Player, Ivy, and Zack all complemented her well and had their different strengths. Even her differing dynamic with the other V.I.L.E agents like Tigress and Paperstar. Tigress was her rival where as Paperstar was just an enemy she was facing.
There is a moment in episode 8, that allows Carmen to finally make up for a moment that has been haunting her. It didn’t help that Tigress was taunting her with her failure of failing Shadowsan’s exam. Plus we get the fight at the top of the beautiful golden gate bridge.
Liam O’Brien as insane Prof. Maelstrom was amazing, but that is another obsession for another time. Plus his prodigy Paperstar really reflected who he is as a character. The episode where he wanted the coin not because he wanted the potential money for it, but because he wants to make it into a cuff link furthers that insanity.
Coach Brunt and Shadowsan are complete opposites through the entire season, so it makes the twist at the end so much sweeter. I would say that my favorite episode of the whole season is the finale because it just flips everything you thought you knew on its head. Shadowsan is the one who found her as a baby and in turn he felt very protective of her.
He never wanted her to attend the school because he knew what would happen to her if she became a V.I.L.E member. She would never choose the path of evil and so when the time came, he made it so she would fail the school year. He would go on to help her escape and eventually tells her that he wanted to join her on that night. The season ends with him leaving the next “book” for Player to decode after saving her from Coach Brunt.
I would definitely give this 4.5 out of 5 stars because it definitely has more room to grow and expand. I can’t wait to check out what season 2 has in store.