With Money Heist (La Casa de Papel), Netflix landed a winner. Since its release in 2017, the Spanish-language crime thriller has had all the right twists and turns, but now we get the final twist, and it does not disappoint. It is truly special and rare that a series can keep us engaged throughout 36 episodes spread over 5 parts. The fifth and final part is split into two chapters: the first aired in early September, and the second arrived, like an early Christmas present, this past week. Money Heist ends with the same sublime fluidity it initially began with.
The last chapter left the team, both outside and inside the bank, in a state of disarray. With the loss of central character Tokyo (Úrsula Corberó), the fabric and minds of all involved were explosively pulled apart, and this new chapter continues just as the last one ended. But, it fires into an overall roller coaster, becoming a more emotive and intense thriller with a depth usually found on the cinema screen. Part of the magic of Money Heist is the clever storytelling and skillful character development, where the anti-hero becomes a lauded figure. That is expanded in this new chapter, and these final episodes are actually the best yet and worth navigating through all that came before for newcomers. It now seems so long since the important imagery of Salvador Dali masks with red jumpsuits.
The reason for this is the multitude of storylines being intertwined and paralleled. These layered threads are equally important: the first follows what is happening within the bank itself and explores how relationships and, indeed, minds are breaking down. The second tracks new character, Alicia Sierra (Najwa Nimri), and what is happening outside the bank with The Professor (Álvaro Morte). The relationship between both spirals into a necessity for survival. As Sierra has given birth, The Professor becomes part super-brain, part carer. It is an explosive dynamic between the two, and the first two episodes focus on them as much as the heist itself.
The third and most worthwhile narrative-thread is that which happens in the past. This is more than just some backstory, it is essential in order to understand how things unfold in the future. It also brings back one of the most popular characters, the brother of The Professor, the psychotic romantic Berlin (Pedro Alonso). He is the one character you do not want to love nor root for, but he is played so exceptionally by Alonso that there is KP escaping his aura. In this chapter we find a more human Berlin, one that can be broken and emotionally hurt and also has that anger which explodes. In truth, you get some of Berlin’s best scenes since the original chapters (for obvious reasons). How the story teeters from the past to the present to explain how things happen is nothing new in a thriller, but here, it is simply stylish and the timing is on the money.
Other episodes slumped slightly during those immersive character developments, but all that seems in the past. The pace is steady throughout, and this is binge-watch gold, which is a problem as you find yourself coming to the end, fueled by the same adrenaline as those on screen. Not to give the overall final twists away, as there are some ambitious and clever surprises in store, but, rest assured, it all acts as fitting tribute to all involved. There is no Sopranos-styled fade to black, and no questions left unanswered. Yes, the creator and executive producer Álex Pina himself has more or less stated they have ‘exhausted’ the overall franchise through the important character arcs.
Ending it here is actually the right thing to do, and proves that this year’s Squid Game was not a fluke when it comes to non-English speaking series – though, the same can’t be said for Lupin, which burnt out after one season. It is best, then, to leave Money Heist here before it becomes a mundane caricature of itself. Overall, we should just remember it for what it is, and I’m sure it will only benefit from a rewatch. As for Pina’s next project, along with Sky Rojo, it should be very interesting, if not very clever.