For the past week, Money Heist (La casa de Papel) has been trending, in anticipation of the fourth season’s release today. The Spanish drama series has all the intrigue and suspense viewers seems to enjoy — action, intrigue, romance, humour, sticking it to the establishment… All of these feature in abundance as the current season begins in chaos.
We left the masked robbers in one of the toughest situations they have faced — Lisbon, formerly Inspector Raquel Murillo (Itziar Ituño) is assumed to be executed, they’ve set off missiles in the heart of the city in retaliation, and Nairobi’s (Alba Flores) life hangs in the balance. Where do they go from here? For the viewer, the moral question of who we should be rooting for continues to puzzle at every turn.
Inspector Alicia Sierra (Najwa Nimri) is relentless in the command centre, at times, even defying Colonel Luis Tamayo’s orders. The Professor (Álvaro Morte), it seems, has lost his mojo. And within the Bank of Spain, relationship troubles seem to be putting the entire operation in peril. There are several textbook examples of why working with your significant other is not the best idea — perhaps made more relatable by the current WFH scenario.
Lessons through flashbacks
Even in part three, Rodrigo De la Serna as Martin/Palermo exhibited the sort of controlling tendencies that made him a questionable leader. This time around, he channels a frightening instability that the gang is increasingly uncomfortable with. Through flashbacks featuring Berlin (Pedro Alonso), we get some clarity to the situation — Palermo’s loyalties lie with his plan, not with The Professor, and he will do whatever it takes to make sure everyone is in line. To this end, new alliances are formed and broken, putting everyone in the bank in a precarious position. If Tokyo’s (Ursula Corbero) irrational decisions in previous seasons were frustrating to watch, Palermo’s antics are equally grating.
One would think that a high-pressure hostage/heist situation requires cool heads and calculated, logical reasoning. What makes Money Heist so captivating is that it allows human emotion to rule over all. Rio’s (Miguel Herrán) post-traumatic stress disorder (from being imprisoned and tortured by Sierra) is an expected response. For people who put their life in danger to rescue him, the team, especially Denver (Jaime Lorente), is quite unsympathetic to his condition. This cavalier attitude to someone they consider important enough to risk everything should have been handled better. Lorente’s role and responses also seem predictable: one would expect Denver to have grown as a person. Stockholm — the most apt moniker of all — has a great arc, and Esther Acebo runs with it.
The best laid plans…
Another character that has been developed well is Tokyo. Her volatile nature notwithstanding, she attempts to do the right thing for everyone involved. However, it does not diminish her sometimes crass wit. The Professor, on the other hand, seems too far off the mark from what has been established in previous seasons. It is good to see a human side to him, grieving for Raquel. But he is also the man who cut himself and looked like a drunk vagabond to escape from the police — it would have been interesting to see more of that. Luka Peros as Marseille is the perfect sidekick, not hesitating to trade punches if it means his boss gets back on track.
In all, part four is more fast-paced and features surprises in every episode, coupled with a racy soundtrack that interestingly features English hits from the 80s. Expect a lot of frustration and yelling at the screen as well — sometimes, it feels like you are watching a horror movie where the character is doing something absolutely unnecessary. You hope they take the right decisions and don’t react based on their emotions. You hope they are around for one more heist. With rumours of a part five (yet to be confirmed by Netflix), it looks like we won’t have to sing Bella Ciao to the gang any time soon.
Written by Susanna Myrtle Lazarus for The Hindu. Click HERE to read