Ever since I knew that Money Heist would be ending this year I knew it was finally time for me to cruise through the show and check out what it is and why so many love it. The past many weeks have been spent exclusively for this show across my blog and this is my final wrap up with a spoiler free review of the show as a whole! And with that welcome to another edition of The Couch Potato / Explore With Me!
For all the other posts on the show on the blog, check out the main post on The Money Heist.
Before we start a review, here’s a look at my favourite tracks from the show. Obviously the Money Heist anthem – Bella Caio, the opening theme My Life Is Going On, Then He Kissed Me by The Crystals, and Fix You by Coldplay. You can listen to the complete playlist on Spotify as well on this link – La Casa De Papel – Official Playlist.
Title : La Casa De Papel (Spanish) (trans. The House of Paper), Money Heist (English)
Country of origin : Spain
Language : Spanish
Created by : Álex Pina
Starring : Úrsula Corberó, Álvaro Morte, Itziar Ituño, Pedro Alonso, Paco Tous, Alba Flores, Miguel Herrán, Jaime Lorente, Esther Acebo, Enrique Arce, Maria Pedraza, Darko Peric, Kiti Mánver, Hovik Keuchkerian, Luka Peros, Belen Cuesta, Fernando Cayo, Rodrigo de la Serna, Najwa Nimri, Roberto Garcia Ruiz, Fernando Soto, Juan Fernandez, Anna Gras, Fran Morcillo, Clara Alvarado, Mario de la Rosa, Miquel Garcia Borda, José Manual Poga, Antonio Romero, Diana Gómez, Pep Munné, José Manuel Seda, Patrick Criado
Seasons : 3 (Season 1 – Parts 1 and 2, Season 2 – Parts 3 and 4, Season 3 – Part 5)
Episodes : 48
Duration : 42-76 minutes
Status : Completed
Broadcasted during : 2 May 2017 – 3 December 2021
Broadcasted on : Antena 3 (2017) , Netflix (remaining)
Streaming on : Netflix
Genre : Heist, Crime, Drama
Related Shows/Documentaries : Money Heist (upcoming South Korean adaptation), Berlin (spin-off series), Money Heist : The Phenomenon (Documentary), Money Heist : From Tokyo to Berlin (Documentary)
The story across all the seasons is set across a group of robbers – each one specialised in their own craft headed by a criminal mastermind called “The Professor” where they plan and execute some of the biggest heists in human history.
Season 1 is based on the first heist whereas Seasons 2 and 3 focus on the second heist.
The first heist is headed by the Professor with Tokyo, Berlin, Helsinki, Oslo, Nairobi, Rio, Denver, Moscow as the gang that infiltrates the Royal Mint of Spain holding around 60 people as hostages while they print out a planned 2.4 billion euros and escape. As they execute the heist they must also prevent getting caught by the police headed by Racquel Murillo, Colonel Prieto, Angel, Suarez and others.
The second heist begins as Rio is caught by the police due to a mistake made by him and Tokyo while hiding on a remote island. The gang along with some new members such as Palermo, Bogota, Manila, Stockholm and others enter the Bank of Spain to steal the entirety of the gold in the vault and get Rio back as part of the negotiations headed by Colonel Tamayo, Alicia Sierra and others.
I, like many others out there, started watching this show out of the sheer hype and recommendations I got on the show and the immense fan base it had developed all across the world. I wanted to know what the whole deal was about and whether the show would be ruined for me because it got too hyped, or whether I will be onboard for the hype as well.
When I read the plotline of the story, I was sure I would love it because it’s right down my alley – crime, drama, suspense, intense plot and climax and everything in between. This isn’t the first time we are seeing a show or a movie centred around a heist, but this heist seemed to be the epitome of it all because what can top you printing your own money whose serial numbers are not known under circulation!
For me, out of all the many reasons that can be given for the love this show has received for me the real winner is definitely the plot. The idea, the immense detailing, the way the story wrapped around each character, and how it kept a pace to make sure it was just right but still made us lurch in our seats every time it throws a curve ball at us.
I may not be a genius on that point, but I love reading and theorising and understanding the not so straightforward shows that we have out there. I’ve often published my own “theories” or “thoughts” on other shows like that as well. It’s easy to have shows that replicate a style of complexity often that we might get bored but on that note, La Casa De Papel maintained an originality that I thoroughly enjoyed. Every curve ball had The Professor serving us another of his ingenious “plans”. In hindsight a man who has a solution for every problem may seem tiring but for me it was so exciting to see what the Professor had in store for us next. There were also enough moments in the story where the Professor improvised a solution and sometimes those parts of the show were even more exciting than the planned/expected ones by the Professor.
And that brings me to the second most important factor – the characters. They were the perfect vehicles to carry the plot and present it to us in a way we enjoyed so much. A lot of people have already said this, and I will mention it again – the characters are not perfect humans but rather as imperfect and messed up as many of us. Some of the other characters are downright scary but eventually became loved so much by the fans. In a documentary based on the show Pedro Alonso , the actor who played Berlin mentions he was quite shocked that so many people loved Berlin so much as he wasn’t the most “righteous” character. The show isn’t one that promotes good values or messages but is definitely a crime, or a resistance as it became later on and the viewers like me embraced that resistance and enjoyed the show.
The setting of the show was mostly centred around the sites of the heists – The Mint and later the Bank excluding the places the Professor and others operated from, the police and the flashbacks.
It was later detailed in the documentary that the first season about the first heist did not do as well until Netflix added it into their catalogue with basically zero promotion which eventually led it to become a worldwide phenomenon. This led to the show being renewed for a second heist and two more seasons. Naturally, the budget for the show increased considerably with the revamp and that also influenced the quality of the sets and scenes as well, especially the ones with the explosions, ammunition etc.
With a show as expansive as this one, there were bound to be some crowd favourite characters. But whether they were the lead or supporting actors they fell into place like a jigsaw puzzle supporting the entire storyline. The casting for the show was perfect – I do not have any complaints with regards to any of the characters at all!
For me, as exciting as the sheer size of the show was for the second heist, my favourite is definitely the orginal heist on which Season 1 is based on. By the second heist the gang had a rather large budget and resources available for the second heist which did not lack in excitement but the nobody’s who completed a heist on the Royal Mint just felt special. The second heist was definitely longer, and relied ever so slightly more on epic scenes, fights and sequences (which were well executed). However, the second heist had a tightly knit series of flashbacks that tied with the heist and some new and fresh characters as well. Despite all that, my heart goes to our OG gang and the first heist although the second one sits below by a very slight margin.
For the little nerd in me, the technicalities of the heist were also a highlight. It sort of answered all the questions of “suppose this happened in real life” well. There was a lor of genuine use of science and engineering that I appreciate. Sometimes some movies/shows use some scientific principles in really wrong ways which for me, kills the entertainment in the show.
Coming to music, I think a song that’s as famous as the show probably is “Bella Caio” which means Goodbye, Beautiful in Italian. It was a folk song used by Italian workers to protest against harsh working conditions at the time and later became the heart and soul of the “resistance” that money heist envisioned. Along with the several sequences the song was played, all in different ways, it somehow fit the show with perfection. It’s strange how a song used decades ago for protests came back to us in this form. Time sure has a strange way about things!
The show has a long list of songs (I’ve linked the playlist at the top) and I’d like to highlight the point they decided to use “Fix You” by Coldplay in the show. I swear that song is never going to be the same again!
And so to wrap up this review, if you like suspense, thrills, crime and drama all rolled into a story filled with unexpected points that make you go “what the-” , then this is the show for you. Personally I really feel you would enjoy the first heist more than the second which was ever so slightly lagged – but mind you the ending episodes for the second heist were better than the first heist!
What did you think of the show? Let me know in the comments!