Money Heist, also known as La Casa De Papel (House of Paper), is another Netflix series that takes an overused plot and spins a unique story from its common thread. A genius, named Professor, contracts eight people with nothing to lose and enfolds them into a plan to occupy the Royal Mint of Spain, kidnap a couple dozen citizens, and print hundreds of millions of dollars.
To keep everyone’s identities a secret, the newly contracted bank robbers are named after cities and told to keep all personal information to themselves. However, how interesting would the story be if everyone followed the rules?
One misstep after another leaves eight robbers with good intentions, and an airtight plan, left to adapt to all that could go wrong… and does.
A story about a bank robbery gone wrong sounds familiar, right? Yet, this story is anything but trite or routine. That’s because it’s hard to tell an ordinary story that’s embedded in humanity and love.
Anyone who frequently reads my reviews knows I’m a sucker for character-driven stories. To me, they are the best vehicles for surprising narratives that best reflect the human condition.
Our lives are not plot-driven. Life happens, and we, as people with our own biases, shaping experiences, and second-nature tendencies, react to life. Resultingly, life becomes full of surprises and stories entrenched in this narrative become even easier to connect with.
This idea holds true unless a person is predictable, shies from the unknown, and adheres to specific routines. And then, the only recourse to knock them off-course is love — the same epicenter of Money Heist.
The love of their friends. The love of new and old lovers. The love of money and power. The love of their parents.
Love makes these characters whole and propels their worlds until they all collide in a big bang. And that’s a perfectly accurate way to describe this tale–a big bang. One explosion after the other leaves the Professor (Álvaro Morte), and police inspector, Raquel Murillo (Itziar Ituño), playing chess to see who will be the ultimate victor.
As is seemingly common with all Netflix Originals, it’s hard to pinpoint a villain because you can understand both sides. You get caught up in the game of mental chess (or better described as battleship), in an awkward position where you’ve come to love the people on both sides, and you’re left hopelessly wishing that, somehow, both teams would win.
However, there’s one character that has failed to show any nuance and it really bothers me: Arturo Román.
Obviously, there are characters who annoyed me at some point in time, such as Río (Miguel Herrán) and Tokyo (Úrsula Corberó). However, they’re still balanced in a way that I can understand why they make the stupid decisions they do (although it doesn’t make them less aggravating).
But with Arturo, he’s just a selfish coward. This vastly contrasts the nuance in literally all the other characters shown in the series and, because of that, his character agitates me. I can’t pinpoint whether his character’s flatness is purposeful or not.
Everything this character does is for his own selfish needs and almost always ends in disaster for others as he goes off unscathed. When it seems like this pattern would end after Arturo’s latest plan turns deadly — it doesn’t.
Quite the opposite. With a red, metal pole inches from crushing his skull, Arturo gives a speech that has hardly any truth to it and is punctuated with dramatic music playing in the background like he’s some sort of hero.
The scene has a huge amount of dramatic irony, because we know everything coming out of his mouth is crap. He concocts reasons for why he puts people’s lives in danger to make himself feel better when they go down.
And while his cheeks are shaking and tears fill his eyes, all I can think is… I hope he dies in the end.
I don’t usually wish death on characters. I actually believe death is a lazy plot tool that rarely ends in an impactful reward for the audience or the narrative. And yet, this character has me acting out of character.
Part 2 (or season 2) of this series is coming out soon, and I hope they give me a reason to like this character as much as the writers of Money Heist apparently do, because he’s falling completely flat as of right now.
Lasting Questions & Thoughts:
Raquel seems to have finally sunk the Professor’s big ship when she stumbles onto the house where they planned the heist. Honestly, I was biting my nails off thinking he had some remote detonator that he planned to use to blow up the building, but he seems so at a loss and scared in the car that I doubt he has that up his sleeve.
The question leading into the second season remains — how will the Professor get out of the last pickle we see him in?
Another question is — what does the Italian Resistance Song have to do with the narrative? The season ends on Bella Ciao’s hauntingly beautiful music in a heartwarming scene between Berlín and the Professor. However, the professor has already said he got the robbery idea from his father and this seemed like more of an ode to the former robber who died in a standoff with the police.
Is there another, much bigger reason for this robbery? Does the Professor’s constant references to Robin Hood stem from more than his wish to avoid bloodshed and gain the public’s love? I’m so exited to find out in season 2!
I have a few key favorites I want to see make it out of this story, no matter what characterization or plot progression payoff their deaths could have: Denver, Berlín, Nairobi, Mónica, the Professor, and Raquel.
Everyone else is up for grabs.
All thirteen episodes of this Spanish language series, with English subtitles are available on Netflix. Have you watched Money Heist yet? If so, how do you like the series so far? Who are your favorite characters? Start a conversation and share your thoughts in the comments section below!