Note: The show aired in Spain as one season comprising fifteen 70-minute episodes. Netflix re-edited them into 2 seasons worth of episodes (the first season being 13 and the second being 9). It’s unnecessarily confusing because people assume the show is two seasons, when it is in fact a one-season show.
It’s been a while since a TV show took the world by storm, and La Casa De Papel (also known as Money Heist) is doing exactly that. But does it deserve all the hype?
The short answer is yes! While it’s not perfect TV by any means (think The Good Fight, Game of Thrones, Alias Grace), it’s an incredibly entertaining production that’s both thrilling, and remarkably easy to watch. Casa is made to be bingewatched, particularly because its story is very self contained: a mysterious man named The Professor recruits a gang of eight to pull off the greatest robbery the world has ever seen. It’s a simple premise, but it hooks you right from the start without wasting any time. In fact, The Professor’s ingenuity reminded me of Michael Scofield’s brilliance in Prison Break (season one at least, before the show went off the rails and straight into endless ridiculousness). The constant surprises keep you on your toes, and the many cliffhangers are expertly deployed. Bravo!
A Spanish Blockbuster
The thing that’s most impressive about Casa is that it doesn’t feel like a European production. The cinematography rivals that of Hollywood’s most prestigious creations, the music is exceptional, and the performances are outstanding across the board. This is high quality TV – and you can’t fault a single aspect from a technical perceptive. The script on the other hand…
It must be said that Casa is far too long for its own good. I was never really bored, but I did wish the show was shorter. Compact series like The Night Of, Big Little Lies, and The Handmaid’s Tale, have proven that TV is much more gripping when the drama isn’t needlessly stretched out. Casa loses a bit of momentum in the middle, and I am certain it would have been even more impactful if a few episodes were trimmed off.
The greatest thing about Papel is that the show’s gang of misfits is perfectly cast. As inspector Raquel Murillo, the heroine at the center of the story, Itziar Ituño is both charismatic and relatable. Leading the other end of the story is Alvaro Morte as the above-mentioned Professor. His antagonist is wonderfully layered, and his scenes with Raquel are especially memorable. However, my personal favorite performer of the show is Alba Flores who plays Nairobi, a sharp-tongued and often-hilarious robber who steals (pardon the pun) all her scenes. Other standouts include Pedro Alonso’s brilliant turn as Berlin, the show’s complex baddie who injects a delicious sense of menace throughout.
An Uncertain Future
Unfortunately, Money Heist has proven to be such a gargantuan hit that Netflix has decided to bring the show back for a “third” season. I honestly can’t see the series sustaining itself organically for another year, especially after a pretty perfect ending. I’ll be watching of course, but I’m nervous that money-hungry Netflix will tarnish the show’s legacy in the process.
– Warning: this section is packed with spoilers so avoid until you’re done with the show.
– Raise your hand if you loved the show’s opening credits and theme song. Listen here.
– How great were Denver and Stockholm (Monica)? Although it’s a bit insane that they “fell in love” in the span of a few days, they were certainly my favorite couple on the show.
– I never really loved Tokyo as a character, but her motorcycle crash into the bank was super cool.
– Berlin’s dynamic with Ariadna REALLY disturbed me.
– One of my favorite scenes of the year: The Professor about to murder Raquel’s mom until he realizes she has dementia and spares her.
– Is Arturo the most annoying character of all time?
– The coolest thing about the show: the fact that the characters are named after cities.
– I wish the show killed off Helsinki and not Oslo. That would have left more impact since we knew the former more and would have actually felt something. Moscow’s death was a bit more effective, but I still think he could have been developed further.
– Berlin’s death was just perfect.
– The show’s ending with Raquel and the Professor at the bar, echoing their first meeting, was the ideal way to end the narrative. Although I had issues with pairing them together – it’s too “Hollywood” to have the lead inspector fall in love with the kidnapper – the actors made it work! Now let’s please end the story here!
It’s not perfect, but La Casa De Papel is an impeccably produced thrill-ride that features likeable characters and compelling plot twists.