A high-energy, Western-hued black comedy about two women who, marginalized by society but bonded by friendship, accidentally stumble into a whole mess of very thorny problems definitely not of their making but that they will ultimately untangle? Yeah, that’s right. You might just want to slip on your favorite Binging Britches for the Spanish series No Traces (Sin huellas).

The story starts in the middle, with Cata (Camila Sodi) and Desi (Carolina Yuste) gripping each other’s hands in the backseat of a taxi as it barrels down an empty two-lane highway in Alicante, Spain. Quique (Bruno Oro), their genial cab driver, is expressing his opinions on music until Cata asks him to step on it. Finally, they arrive at a garage, where Desi pays Quique directly from a large sports bag, which appears to be quite heavy and possibly filled with cash. Cata and Desi, hands clasped together, walk toward a lit doorway that reads Poliakoff Car Mechanics. Twangy music plays as they make their way inside the garage. The wan blue light from bare bulbs drains the color from most things. Three men emerge from the back—two walking and one bound to a rolling desk chair, his head covered by a sack. One man casually grabs a gun off a truck’s tailgate on his way by and tells Cata and Desi to be quiet in Russian accented Spanish. When she sees the bound man, Cata moans her husband’s name. What starts as a simple exchange—the bag for the man—will, of course, go entirely sideways. 

Cara and Desi riding in the backseat of a taxicab. They are looking very worried and serious.
Cata and Desi headed to what they think is the end of their troubles, but it’s really only the beginning.
Desi and Cata standing in front of the lit doorway to the garage. Their heads are turned to look at each other and their hands are tightly clasped together.
I absolutely adore moments like this one where they clasp hands before they move forward with doing something scary or overwhelming. When they go through that door they angle their bodies they can continue to hold hands. I don’t know, it feels both realistic and just such testament to bond of friendship.

But before we see what ultimately happens, we pop back in time to before all the trouble kicked off. Here, we watch Cata methodically getting ready for work and video chatting with her daughter and mother in Mexico,  juxtaposed against Desi finishing a night of clubbing and making out with a woman. When Desi orders a shot at the bar, Cata knocks back a capful of mouthwash. Clearly, it doesn’t take a PhD in television studies to figure out that Cata is the upright rule-follower and Desi is the loosey goosey rebel. The two meet, grousing and arguing, at the front door of their apartment building in time to leave for their job as cleaners. As they’re loading up the car, the building super stops them to ask about several months of overdue building fees, which it seems Desi spent on a fancy new vacuum instead of paying. (The company they work for makes them buy all their own cleaning supplies, which is a very real and disgusting thing that happens.) Cata begs for more time to pay the money, but the man is less than sympathetic. 

Desi from above as she leans back to take a shot.
Their parallel mornings also shows how interconnected their lives are…
Cata as she stands her bathroom to swig some mouthwash.
even if they seem very opposed in what they’re doing.
Desi hugging Cata who is making a face and sicking out her tongue.
I mean, look at the chemistry between these two? How are you not going to want to watch an entire series about them?

Then, when they get to work they find their company has suddenly closed. Just declared bankruptcy overnight and turned the employees out into the street without further notice, leaving all of them in the lurch. Desi and Cata are at a loss as to how they’ll pay their bills until an incredibly sweet cleaning job in a huge mansion, which lands in their lap as if by magic. There’s just one wee catch. When they’re cleaning the last room, they find a woman, who is very dead, shoved underneath the bed. Oops! And before they can even process their shock, they hear someone else in the house. In a panic, they decide to escape by jumping from the second floor balcony, but before they do, they stick their precious vacuum cleaner in a sports bag they find lying around to protect it from the fall. Once out of the house on the road again, they argue over whether to call the police. Cata wants to make an anonymous call, but Desi insists to them they’ll just be seen as a “fucking gypsy and sudaca pig.” But before they can settle their argument about whether to call the police, their car is rammed from behind by another car, whose occupants then begin shooting at them. Although they don’t know it yet, these are the same Russian brothers who they will soon be meeting in a garage with the sports bag that they will soon learn is filled with a whole bunch of cash. And that’s just the beginning of their problems. For example, because they cleaned so thoroughly, the only forensic traces left at the mansion— which turns out to belong to one of Alicante’s richest and most powerful families who also own the cleaning company from which they were just laid off—will implicate Desi and Cata in the crime. Cata’s good-for-not-much estranged husband will show up unannounced from Mexico. Desi’s ex-girlfriend who works as a cop will be assigned to the homicide investigation of the woman under the bed. An unwanted building project in the neighborhood where Desi’s semi-estranged family lives will also somehow be connected to all this as well. 

Desi and Cata standing inside a very large room that is painted bright blue and has large, floor to ceiling windows and many polished surfaces.
Excuse me, but I am exhausted just thinking about cleaning all that space. I hope they’re getting paid really fucking well, but I also very much doubt they are.
Desi sitting on the floor of a bedroom holding a cordless vacuum as she looks at the body of a white, blonde woman whose has been sucked up by the vacuum and her body partially pulled out from under the bed.
I mean, Desi was right when she said it was an impressive vacuum, right? If it has the suction power to vacuum a whole dead body out from under a bed? That a new angle for marketing it, perhaps.
This choice right here to stuff the vacuum into this bag changes the course of their lives. [Insert very dramatic music.]
A red-haired man sitting on the edge of the passenger window in a moving car as he holds a pistol at his side. The subtitles read "¡Para el coche, perra!" (Stop the car, bitch.)
As you can see, these guys are very reasonable and just want to talk things out over a cup of coffee.
Ubaldo holding a large bouquet of flowers standing in front of mariachis.
This is when Ubaldo (Leonardo Ortizgris) shows up and, well, I think you can see for yourself.
Irene standing in the mansion with people in forensic suits behind her.
Irene (Silvia Alonso), Desi’s ex, doing her job, unaware that she’s about to get all entangled with…well, I’m not going to spoil it for you.

There were points toward the end of the series where things got so twisted and turned that I was confused as to exactly who had committed which crime and how certain nefarious things connected to other heinous things. But, in the long run, it doesn’t really matter because all of the players were up to a lot of no good shit and they were all lying liar faces. On the other hand, I’m still slightly irked that I don’t have everything completely squared away in my mind. Is that my confusion? Or did the show fail to make all the connections?

Nestor in a dark suit, his face half in shadow, staring intently at something.
Néstor (Borja Luna) is a man who is up to no good. But it is fair to say that his face is up to some good.
Eduardo wearing a tan suit and sitting on a chaise lounge by the pool.
Eduardo (Álex Gadea) is also up to no good and you should never trust a greedy man who purports to be as hangdog as does.
Lucrecia a blonde woman on a boat smiling while holding a champagne glass.
Don’t let this smile fool you. Lucrecia (Adriana Torrebejano) here is ruthless when it comes to getting what she wants.

Now, two working-class women in an action series where they’re largely surrounded by men? Are you holding your breath wondering how sexualized a gaze you’ll be contending with while watching this series? Well, breath easy, my friend, because the answer is absolutely none. This series is refreshingly free from all the sexualized stereotypes and tropes. Cata and Desi walk around in comfortable, regular clothing, befitting of their personalities. Even during an extended scene when they are in a place with actual sex workers, it is not played for laughs or ogling looks. No, people are treated with respect. Mmmm. Doesn’t feminism feel great in your lungs?! The focus of the series is on the women’s friendship and their journey toward greater independence, which I realize sounds odd to say about a show concerning murder most foul, blackmail, crossings and double-crossings, greed, and corporate espionage, but it’s absolutely true. Cata gave up a career in forensic medicine after she got pregnant (and her husband was a cad) and moved to Spain in the hopes of ultimately giving her daughter a better shot in life. Desi gave up on school when she couldn’t afford to live independently and pay for classes, choosing to work as a cleaner full-time instead. Both women, because of their ethnicities, are marginalized and disparaged by society, meaning they have to work harder to be seen or earn respect. The series takes all this and uses it to weave a story with humor and social consciousness about two women who are caught in a huge mess and are looking for their own kind of justice and freedom. And they’ll be the ones to save themselves. There are no saviors swooping in. No knights in shining armor. No one grabbing their glory at the last minute. These women will get shit done in their own way and in their own time.  

Cata peaking out from behind a piece of furniture. While Desi lies on her back to peek out.
They also get to be pretty hilarious.

Finally, there’s a very small moment early on in the series that I love for its absolute lack of subtlety. The two women need to sneak into a building that is crawling with police, and Desi says to Cata, “If only we were invisible.” Then, in the next shot, Desi and Cata are calmly walking into the building dressed as cleaners while no one gives them a second glance. It’s perfection. But I’m also so glad these women aren’t invisible to us. Instead they’re vital, whole, fantastic characters who are busy de-centering men and reimagining the way high energy, violent action stories can be told. 

Overall Rating on the Chronically Streaming Pain Scale:

1-Comfortable: Maybe there are some annoying twinges here and there, but overall the good outweighs the bad.

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