How I went from loving 'Money Heist' to absolutely hating it

The latest season of ‘La Casa De Papel’ succumbs to powerful women falling apart like bread crumbs

Rida Lodhi September 11, 2021


It wasn't until 2018 when Spanish thriller La Casa De Papel – popularly known as Money Heist made waves in the streaming culture. The crime drama that was picked up by Netflix for a paltry sum of $2 and is now their most-watched foreign show.

The hype surrounding the show is too massive to miss and with a new season in tow, creator Alex Pina had high hopes of wowing the audience once more with the infamous Money Heist cliffhangers.

After a dull fourth installment of the series and the death of a fan-favouite that moved the audience to the core, viewers hoped for redemption and they just kept on hoping. While the first volume of the fifth season partly did justice to the thrill of an otherwise fleshed-out show, it just didn't live up to the expectation of the first two seasons.


Of emotions and women

The way Money Heist had portrayed women in the show was truly a breath of fresh air. Be it Tokyo's unabashed sexuality or Nairobi's calm but courageous persona, the first two seasons of the show were an out-and-out win. When Monica joined the gang in the first season, her addition added more of a human angle to the group. Monica, later renamed Stockholm, was vulnerable but fiercely loyal. Even Lisbon as Inspector Raquel was well-equipped to call the shots and brilliant at thinking on her feet.

The fifth season is completely steered by a mix of new and old women of the gang with Tokyo, Lisbon, Manila and Stockholm being the saving grace and fatal flaws of the show all at the same time. While Lisbon and Tokyo's characters come full circle, we saw Stockholm and Manila struggle to survive the current heist.

Manila's character, which in the previous season revelled in ‘badassery’ succumbed to a far too common rationale - love. Her feelings for Denver took over, resulting in her confessing them smack in the middle of the biggest rumpus the gang had to face yet.

Stockholm, however, was no better. She managed to critically wound Arturo (brownie points to the writers if they kill him off completely). She then struggles with the guilt of her very first kill. While treating Helsinki of his wounds, the very culpability takes over and she decides to inject herself with morphine.

The sudden dismantling of the otherwise, cleverly cut, female characters brought back the stereotypical recollection of how, at the end of the day, women are irrational beings surrounded by emotions.

Let's get one thing right: the show is second to none when it comes to bringing in the big bucks. With 43 episodes on the biggest streaming giant, the cast of the Money Heist is rolling in millions, on and off-screen. But as someone, who caught on to the show rather early on, the plot of the latest season seemed entirely underwhelming.

The first half of the series was rather offhand about relationships. Yes, there was obvious chemistry between certain characters (we're looking at you, Tokyo and Rio), but the printing and taking out €984 million was never compromised regardless of the cost. Berlin sacrificed himself for the heist and emotion was never a reason in the gang's plan.

But it all changed at the beginning of the third season when Tokyo vowed to get the team back together to have Rio released from custody and this Bollywood-style romantic challenge was here to stay as a permanent trope for seasons to come.

In complete shambles

Things had already taken a turn for worse when season four cliffhanger showed Sierra taking charge after taking the Professor hostage. As the team's contact with the mastermind cuts off, they look for alternatives. Lisbon partly manages to take control of the situation but is clueless about how to keep her gang members motivated as the army ambushes the royal mint. The distorted storyline becomes boring at this point as panic takes over. The robbers try finding a way out to stay alive while General Tamayo works for personal gains. He calls off the army backup in the middle of a bloody war.

Season 5 also sheds light on the backstories of Berlin, Tatiana and the former's long-lost son Rafael. We are yet to see whether Berlin's backstory, which has been dragged for the last two seasons, will reach any fruitful conclusion. We also see Tokyo's one true love, Rene. Tokyo's past life comes into play, as we see her character more closely and how she caught the eye of the Professor in the first place.

Saving grace

The latest offering, however, introduces us to Sagasta - a ruthless army leader. If you thought Gandia was the assailant the gang would be fretting over, Sagasta laid out a map that ended up in a death that neither the fan base nor the cast saw coming.

The last sequence of the show brought back Tokyo who is cunning, ruthless and a tease. The Tokyo who was a team player, the Tokyo we all had terribly missed. She lures Gandia into the kitchen, giving her own life to save Manila, Denver and others in a nail-biting fight. The show ends as the Professor, shattered and inconsolable over the demise of his toughest soldier, breaks down altogether.

At this point, most of us are watching the show to see how it concludes. The brilliance of the show, which several critics had raved about in the past, seems to have been taken over by dodgy plotlines, too many backstories and a frustrating downfall of the strongest characters.


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