Tokyo’s cold seductive voice-over whispers at one point in the new part of Money Heist on Netflix: “Don’t fall in love in a heist… It only brings bad luck.”
Well, if you start thinking about it, love is all around… around almost all the characters of the show. Tokyo with Rio, Denver with Stockholm, The Professor with Lisbon, Nairobi with… Well, I don’t want to spoil the new episodes for you but let’s just say, love is as important to the Dali mask-covered red jumpsuit-wearing criminals as the gold they are trying to get away with from the Bank of Spain.
Besides all the bad luck, the relationships have also snipped the edge off the sharpest of the criminal minds. The Professor (Alvaro Morte) is just a frustrated witness for a large part of the fourth part. At one point he confesses that all the attachments he’s formed in the recent times have really got the better of him. Raquel aka Lisbon (Itziar Ituno) is his lady love plus he wants to father Nairobi’s (Alba Flores) child. The heart is clearly ruling the (master)mind.
While The Professor is still operating from the outside – he’s got this brilliant new sidekick in Marseille (Luka Peros) – there’s chaos inside the bank. Again, the subject of chaos is always the same – who will lead the pack? Tokyo (Ursula Corbero) takes over from Palermo (Rodrigo de la Serna) and herself operates on Nairobi who took a bullet in the lungs in the last episode of the third part.
The new chief antagonist is not the police – the top cop Colonel Tamayo (Fernando Cayo) and the negotiator Alicia Sierra (Najwa Nimri) – in the tent outside. It is Gandia (Jose Manuel Poga), the bodyguard to the governor, who frees himself from the handcuffs and plans to gun down every member of the Professor’s team with his bottomless artillery and secret access to the panic room.
The Spanish show, originally titled La Casa de Papel, was meant to be a two-part limited series for a Spanish network before it exploded on Netflix and became an international favourite. So, things obviously had to be stretched and new heists with new gang members and, as is the norm with most shows, every narrative decision had to be made to try and reprise the success of the first heist.
So, not only are the conflicts similar but also the structure of the show – the constant flashbacks to the times they were planning the heist – remains the same. But what’s charming the first time, doesn’t have the same pull every time. Especially when the characters are not as strong or charismatic and your piece de resistance – the brilliance of The Professor, of course – is held back for far too long. The tent interrogations especially are so drab and some of the romantic yearnings of the young guns too flaccid.
That’s not to say there are no thrills in the new part. The action is explosive. Literally. Rodrigo de la Serna, who played the other kid in The Motorcycle Diaries, is terrific as the unpredictable Palermo. Although you do miss Pedro Alonso’s Berlin (who again appears only in flashbacks) in the red jumpsuit. Ursula as Tokyo is still the weakest acting link of the show. She works fine as the unreliable narrator but in front of the camera, the supermodel is still painfully self-conscious.
Do any of the main guys die? Well, unlike Game of Thrones, where the death of one of the main characters almost felt like a personal loss to the show’s followers, Money Heist fans are not so attached to the characters, rather to the plot and the adrenaline rush it delivers episode after episode. And so the attempt to really build up a death in this new part doesn’t really work so much as the emotional appeal of the show has never quite soared in these four years.
Anyway, they are locked inside. We are locked inside. If you haven’t seen any episode of Money Heist, start bingeing from the first part, which was the show at its absolute best. And for those who never really warmed up to the second heist and are undecided on whether to check out the new part, well, if you are in the mood for action, you can give it a go. But there’s not much food for thought. Because the Professor’s mind missiles take way too long to take off in this one.
P.S. Don’t forget to abuse Arturo every time he appears on screen.