By: Prabhdeep Dhaliwal, SFU Student
The Carmen Sandiego franchise goes way back, beginning with the 1985 video game “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?” and expanding to include a children’s game show, two series of books by John Peel and Melissa Peterson, four comic books, and various board and card games. The newest addition to the franchise is an animated Netflix series featuring Gina Rodriguez (of Jane the Virgin) and Finn Wolfhard (of Stranger Things).
For those of you who have never heard of Carmen Sandiego, here’s a quick synopsis: the Netflix series follows Carmen Sandiego (Rodriguez), a former thief, as she travels all over the world stealing historical artifacts and valuable items. With the help of her hacker friend Player (Wolfhard), Carmen Sandiego seeks to retrieve these items before the infamous agency V.I.L.E. (Villains International League of Evil) can steal them. She then returns the items back to their rightful owners, continuously trying to foil V.I.L.E.’s evil plans while simultaneously being chased by two Interpol agents. Carmen Sandiego is recognized by her long red trench coat, big red hat, and tousled red hair.
Each episode starts by presenting the audience with some historical facts about the country or city Carmen Sandiego is in before she launches into her plan to stop V.I.L.E. Using intel from Player, as well as her own agility, quick reflexes, and ability to think on her feet, Carmen Sandiego time and time again manages to stop V.I.L.E. during their capers.
Season 1 was released in January 2019 with nine episodes. During the first two episodes of the season, we learn about Sandiego’s transformation from a former thief into a kind of Robin Hood. As the season progresses, two allies, brother and sister duo Zack and Ivy, are introduced and join Sandiego’s mission. In these episodes, Sandiego is confronted with her past as she fights former thieves she had trained with. The audience also sees Sandiego struggling to find out about her roots in the first season. Season 1 ends with an unlikely accomplice helping Sandiego escape from V.I.L.E.
The second season of the show was released in October 2019 with 10 episodes. Season 2 follows Carmen Sandiego, Player, Zack, Ivy, and their new accomplice as they continue to foil V.I.L.E.’s plans. As this season came out just last month, I won’t go into too much detail so as to not spoil anything, but there are many twists and turns, and each episode keeps you wanting more. Season 2’s last episode ends on a cliffhanger, leaving viewers impatiently anticipating a third season — although it has not been confirmed yet.
I would give this Netflix series a 9/10 review. Though it is geared towards a younger demographic, adults will still find it entertaining. Carmen Sandiego offers the audience history tidbits about different countries and cities, and it has likeable characters, humour, and an overarching theme of good winning over evil.