Money Heist Season 1 & 2: Entry and Escape from the Royal Mint

I initially planned to do a review per season of the Spanish series La Casa de Papel or Money Heist but found myself continuing immediately to the next season after leaving the events of Season 1. Honestly, Money Heist has been sitting in my TBW pile since last year but I only got around to watching it last week because my brother told me it was great. I completely agree. This has been one of the most engaging series that I have seen and its a good thing I started late because I don’t know what I would do if I could not binge to the next episode straight away.

Synopsis: The Professor (Alvaro Morte) assembles a group of talented criminal misfits to pull off one of the biggest and most brilliant heists in the history of Spain. For five months, they train to perfect every aspect of the plan cloaked only with names after world cities. Waned bank robber Tokyo (Ursula Corbero), computer whiz Rio (Miguel Herran), ex mercenaries Helsinki (Darko Peric) and Oslo (Roberto Garcia), father and son Moscow (Paco Tous) and Denver (Jaime Lorente), counterfeiting genius Nairobi (Alba Flores) and the eccentric team captain Berlin (Pedro Alonso). Together they enter the Royal Mint of Spain to pull off the most eleborate heist intended to make a statement for the rest of the world.

I loved Money Heist straight off the bat and hated the main character Tokyo almost immedately. While she was touted as the series’ lead, I felt like her volatile temper was the cause of much of the group’s mishaps. While she was quick on her feet when it comes to responding to emergencies, she was more a liability than an asset to the team. Her beau Rio was much worse. He was childish, emotional, gullible and more often than not, complicated the plan rather than helped it along.

Adding to the list of annoying characters is Arturo (Enrique Arce), a spineless blowhard who talked big but was generally a coward when push came to shove. The love story between the Professor and Inspector Murillo (Itziar Ituño) was also an annoying yet interesting plotpoint that made me want me tear off my hair on more than one occassion.

With my ranting out of the way, there were also characters that balanced out the annoyance throughout the series. My favorite characters for the first two seasons were, hands down, Moscow and Denver, whose father and son relationship really tugged at my heartstrings. I cried buckets when it came time for this duo to part (no spoilers there) but always felt a ganuine connection between the two characters with every interaction. I also liked Denver’s dynamic with Monica Gastambide (Esther Acebo) and she really brought out the endearing dimensions of Denver’s character. That kid was the only pure thing in the entire operation and he really deserved a partially happey ending at least. Berlin, while he appeared eccentric, and callous was also a fan favorite character for good reason. I liked his sense of unflappability and of course, some initially thought of him as a sociopath. However, when it came time to reveal his relationship with the Professor, one cannot help but sign up for his team.

Nairobi and Mr. Torres were by far, the silent MVPs of the heist. Nairobi’s levelheadedness came at a time the gang needed it and I would pick her over Tokyo any day. Again, Arturo sucks. That just needed to be said.

The main strength of Money Heist for me was the great story that was fleshed out in a way that connected viewers to the heist. As the Professor explained the goals of the Royal Mint invasion, viewers also found themselves roped into the role of the Spanish public who sympathizes with the robbers more than the police.

The series gets viewers invested in the characters as it interweaves the events at the Mint with their time at the Toledo house giving more insight into their insights and motivations. By the time they take the hostages, viewers understand what they intend to do and are completely on board with every aspect of the plan.

The plans were brilliant and out of this world and the fact that the Professor and Inspector Murillo were playing a cat and mouse game with their quick wits and amazing skills, all while trying to set up and figure out the puzzles was an experience in itself. Frankly, there were times when I felt I had to take a break because the tension was too high.

I was a big fan of Plan Valencia and Plan Cameroon which were brilliantly executed by the robbers. If Arturito stopped being an a*s, it would have been more peaceful but I acknowledge that without him, the sense of danger would have been minimized.

I loved the series’ flair for delivering dramatic revelations when it counted most. Just when one side gets ready to pounce, it was always exciting which plan the robbers will put to action. Don’t get me wrong. I admire Angel and Suarez and their dedication to saving the hostages but the way the heist was planned was something straight out of a chess game. The fact that the tension rises and falls with the great use of music and cinematography just raised viewers enjoyment of the outcome. It was masterful.

There were a lot of close calls that raised the stakes of the heist but I loved the fact that this also raised the level of uncertainty that set the tone of the series. No one is actually safe, and because fans have already become invested in the characters, they root for the outcome of heist as if they were part of it. I also loved how the series injected the imperfections of the characters and how it contributed to a series of loose ends that endangered the plan countless times.

By the end of Season 2, Money Heist could have already closed off the series but I was glad to find out that there’s actually a third season that I will begin to see later. As I mourn the characters that are already lost, I look forward to see where it picks up. Kudos to showrunner Alex Pina for killing it with this show.