Netflix’s Recurrence (Pipa) follows the excursions of former cop Manuela “Pipa” Pelari who is now settled in the small town of La Quebrada in the north of Argentina. However, the murder of a local girl sets an investigation in motion that drags her back in the muck of crime and secrets.
Pipa is the third film in a trilogy, following Perdida (2018) and La Corazonada (2020).
Warning: This article contains heavy spoilers
The film opens in La Quebrada where a young Indigenous American girl named Samantha “Sami” Sosa is found burnt to death. The cops rule it out as an accident and think nothing of it.
Meanwhile, Pipa lives a quiet life with her son Tobias and often spends time with her aunt Alicia. We see flashbacks to a party being organized at the Carrera mansion where Sami is hired as a server one day ago.
The same night, after attending a local festival, a man named Luis Paredes calls upon Pipa to ask her if he can pass through her land as he’s hunting a cougar. She lets him and decides to stay out for a smoke.
A strange noise attracts her attention and she goes to investigate in her shed. She sees a scared Sami hiding there but cannot say anything as Tobi shows up. Sami takes this opportunity to run away.
The next day Pipa gets to know of Sami’s death and heads to the police station to see her friend and former lover Rufino. They discuss the events and the cop tells her that Sami stole a valuable necklace from the party.
The night of Sami’s death, an Indigenous American (from the Qulla community) leader Nahuel Mamani is also arrested violently. As Pipa and Rufino talk, Nahuel’s wife Luna comes to see him. Rufino being a Native American himself empathizes with her but refuses a meeting.
Pipa is bothered by Sami’s death as it reminds her of losing her friend Cornelia Villalba. Fortunately, Alicia is an activist for the Native Americans in the town and she asks for Pipa’s help in investigating the case.
Her cop instincts come to forefront and she starts snooping around. Meanwhile, the town’s mayor is mad at the police chief Mellino (who is on his payroll) for letting the arrest get so sensationalized alongside the girl’s death.
Later, Rufino briefs the chief on his report and leaves the stolen necklace with him. Mellino goes to return it and has a small yet heartfelt conversation with Mrs. Etelvina Carrera.
Pipa talks to Sami’s friend who works for the Carreras and was responsible for recommending her for the job. Elsewhere, Rufino has an idea and decides to track Sami’s still missing phone but is unable to locate it.
One night Pipa comes home and is attacked by a masked man. He suffocates her into unconsciousness but she manages to stab him in the leg before she blacks out. Mellino later drops by to take a statement and Pipa lets him know that she used to be a cop.
We then get an insight into the lives of the Carrera siblings, Cruz and Mecha, who share a close relationship. Mecha is soon to be engaged to the mayor’s son Agustín while Cruz is severely addicted to hard drugs.
Pipa’s attention is reverted back to her son when Rufino shows her a video of him skipping school and learning how to shoot guns for hunting. She confronts him and the two have a slight falling out.
Recurrence ending explained in detail:
Who killed Sami?
Pipa continues her investigation and manages to procure photos of Sami dancing with Cruz at the party. She also convinces Rufino to help her solve this case.
Sami’s friend tells Pipa that Cruz gave her the necklace and was having fun with her to make his sister jealous. The former cop heads to a gathering being organized by the Carreras to announce Mecha’s engagement. There, she subtly confronts the young man and Cruz is shocked to realise that Sami is dead as Etelvina interferes.
The two have a cold exchange and Pipa departs. Pipa even asks Luis Paredes about the girl as she finds out he works for the wealthy family. He denies his presence at the party.
However, Pipa has an epiphany later and realises that Luis must have lied since he had nice clothes on when he came to her house asking to pass.
She goes to confront him and he confesses to killing the girl. The catch is that he never intended to. He was ordered to go after her by someone and while trying to stop her from screaming, he shut her mouth for too long and suffocated her.
Pipa asks Luis to surrender but he escapes as Rufino arrives.
How did Nahuel’s arrest impact the case?
One night Luna comes to Rufino at the police station and requests to see Nahuel on the pretext of their son’s birthday. Turns out, she recorded a video in which the leader explains that his arrest was illegal and not peaceful.
His beaten up face adds to ruining the image of the police and the politicians. Luna leaks this video to news channels along with a photo that shows Agustín with Sami.
The news breaks during the Carrera’s gathering and Agustín is furious with his father. A drugged-up Cruz teases him and gets a punch in return.
The mayor has to hold a press conference alongside Mellino and Rufino in a desperate attempt to save his election campaign. To save face, Mellino states that Rufino has been the in-charge of the Samantha Sosa investigation.
He hopes that since Rufino is also a member of the Qulla community, telling the press that he’s leading the case would act as a countermeasure to the allegations of police brutality against Nahuel.
The Qulla activists in-turn plan to use this case against the powerful and exploitative people like the mayor and Etelvina, to take their lands back.
Who had the phone and what was on it?
The phone is a major plot point throughout the story and is eventually revealed to be in the possession of Tobias who finds it near the shed.
He takes it along with him as the local boys hunt the cougar. Meanwhile, Luis makes his way to Etelvina and the two talk about Sami. Cruz overhears them and threatens to tell on her mother. She responds that she only did what she did to protect him.
All things fall into place when Cruz is told to go home by Mellino as no one would take his statement. The police then head out to look for the phone as it comes online again.
Rufino notices this and realises that it was a police officer who attacked Pipa as they have been looking for the device on Etelvina’s orders.
The cops find the boys hunting and Tobi accidentally shoots a police officer (non fatally) and runs back home to Alicia. He gives her the phone and hides as Mellino and his corrupt cops make their way to her place.
They threaten her to give up the boy and the phone but she points a gun at them in return. Mellino shoots her as Tobi escapes and finds his mom.
Pipa sees a video on the phone that reveals two very shocking and important details. Sami was snooping around the house when she recorded the Carrera siblings having sex, confirming their incestual relationship.
Furthermore, a friend walked in on them and Mecha killed him to protect the secret from coming out. However, she noticed Sami recording and asked her mother to handle the situation, leading to her death.
Back at the Carrera household, a guilt-ridden and drugged-up Cruz drowns himself in the swimming pool as he is unable to get closure.
What happened to Pipa and Tobi?
Mellino leaves one cop at Alicia’s house and moves out with the rest to look for Tobi who is hiding in the backyard with his mom. The remaining officer teases Pipa’s dying aunt and she responds by stabbing him to death. Unfortunately, she gets shot in the stomach as well.
Initially wanting to take Tobi to the border, the duo changes course as a police vehicle chases after them. Pipa calls Rufino and brings him up to speed on the events. She asks him to meet them at the abandoned mines. Mellino and his crew are alerted to the mother and son’s location.
Pipa and Tobi hide in the mines and the former orders her son to escape at the first chance. She instructs him to find Rufino and give him the phone.
Rufino arrives and saves Tobi from being captured as he guns down a corrupt colleague. Meanwhile, Mellino confronts a wounded and immobile Pipa for the phone. There, he reveals to her that Cruz was his son.
Tobi comes back and surrenders the phone on his mother’s orders. However, as the police chief lets his guard down, Pipa shot guns him to death.
The film ends with Rufino testifying against the Carreras. Elsewhere, Tobi looks upon the scenery as his now recovered mother hugs him.
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