Netflix’s Criminal consists of four segments, separated into four European countries, and while there's no specific watch order for viewers, one particular order can amplify the viewing experience. The experimental procedural series' four segments are set in the UK, Spain, Germany, and France. Some people may be unsure about where to start, and if there’s an ideal or logical way to watch from beginning to end.
Created by Kay Smith and Jim Field Smith, Criminal plays out like a regular procedural, albeit with some innovative narrative twists. The collective storylines are primarily confined to an investigation room, where authorities question suspects while others watch and discuss the events on the other side of a one-way mirror. Whereas a traditional procedural series Law & Order takes place throughout New York City, Criminal shows little of the outside world, which not only creates a claustrophobic effect, but also leaves the viewer wondering about character motivations and dialogue.
Every Criminal episode stands on it own. Meaning, Netflix streamers can begin anywhere and not feel lost, but the best Criminal watch order is: UK, France, Spain, and then Germany. For a general tone-setter, Criminal: UK is the best first segment to begin with. For one, many viewers from across the world will immediately recognize performers such as David Tennant and Hayley Atwell, both of whom play suspects. Criminal: UK arguably doesn’t hold up as the best group of episodes, but it effectively demonstrates the balance between procedural rules and mini covers-up on each side of the mirror.
After Criminal: UK, move on to Criminal: France. The quality of these episodes may inspire a proper binge-watch, especially the intense first episode, “Émilie”, in which a suspect tries desperately to prove that she was at the Bataclan theatre massacre in 2015. Once Criminal: France reels you in further, Criminal: Spain will provide a wow factor, in terms of performance. The central highlight is the second episode, “Carmen”, led by acclaimed actress Inma Cuesta. Criminal: Spain features several notable Spanish performers, many of whom have collaborated with the iconic Pedro Almodóvar, but it's Cuesta who delivers the most powerful character interpretation.
Lastly, Criminal: Germany will provide the most visceral experience, at least for those who enjoy wild moments that seemingly come from nowhere, though each episode does indeed subtly build towards a big reveal. This group of episodes has everything: star power, Hitchcockian suspense, standout performances, and jaw-dropping twists. When it’s all said and done, you may feel differently about each Criminal section, but most Netflix subscribers will surely enjoy the journey from the UK to France, Spain, and Germany. Given that each segment can stand separately, though, viewers can decide whichever they want to start with, but the aforementioned one is arguably the best.