Review: Money Heist - how did they pull that off?

If you want a thrilling watch with non-stop tension, Money Heist is the show for you.

Jon Deery
14th December 2021
Image Credit: IMDb
No spoilers for season five in this review: I wouldn’t want to rob you of the thrill this season’s plot twists bring.

Against the odds, the team managed to pull off the impossible. Most of their major decisions were made under extreme pressure; not only were thousands of people worldwide rooting for their success, the nature of the task they’d taken upon themselves demanded that all of their make-or-break decisions were made with little time to deliberate. In the face of how difficult their task was, it is even more impressive that Alex Pina and the rest of the production crew managed to steal our attention so rewardingly to pay off the narrative gold of Money Heist (2017-2021) in its final episodes.

Money Heist has incredible storytelling efficiency; the characters drive the plot, and the plot changes the characters.

Running a TV show is like running a heist. It is an effort of immense collaboration. Money Heist has a huge ensemble cast and attempts to provide each character with satisfying development, in relation to their interactions with other characters. There are sympathetic and unsympathetic characters on both sides of the law. Sometimes they even switch sides. Balancing a huge number of characters like this involves great storytelling efficiency; every step in the plot needs to occur as a result of the agency (and individual personality) of one or more characters. And Money Heist, largely, manages to achieve exactly this: the characters drive the plot, and the plot, in turn, changes the characters.

There's essentially non-stop tension and drama in Money Heist. Credit: IMDb

Writing a show set almost entirely during a heist allows for essentially non-stop tension and drama. This is no tranquil Money Heist - characters are continuously facing ticking clocks, arguing with each other, falling dramatically in love, and (occasionally) dying in dramatic fashion. The premise allows for extreme drama without sacrificing realism. We’d all probably be pretty emotional and on edge too, in such a situation.

That’s not to say it’s entirely believable. Characters sometimes make bizarre decisions, often going off to have sex in a vault when they’re still under siege. They rarely ever seem to feed the hostages, and the dialogue in many scenes can devolve into unintentionally comical ‘deep’ conversations about the themes of that week’s episode. As The Courier’s deputy editor himself put it: ‘for a show localized as Money Heist, there sure is a lotta giving each other speeches in the bathroom and very little heisting of money’.

Credit: @sickhoop on Twitter

For all its cheesiness, for all its strange musical choices (Coldplay in the climactic moment of the final episode? Really?), and its obvious budgetary restraints in the first few seasons, this series is still one of the best on any streaming platform right now. It gets better with every season, continually pushing each character into new challenges, balancing sentimental romantic dramas with all-guns-blazing action scenes; this is pure entertainment.

Alex Pina says it took him 33 attempts to write the ending to season five. However, the ultimate testament to his writing ability and the ability of the entire production team, is that, like one of the Professor’s plans, this finale was pulled off so immaculately that it looks like it was planned from the very beginning.

To a series I have been gripped by for five years, I now say bella ciao

Though sad that the journey has come to an end, I am glad the end was so spectacular; five episodes of pure suspense that stole my breath more than once with their masterly twists, and resolutions to the arcs of most of the characters done at least well. To a series I have been gripped by for five years, I now say bella ciao

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