Warning – Spoilers Ahead for Money Heist
Within the first ten minutes of Money Heist (or La Casa de Papel, its original title), heist mastermind the Professor (Álvaro Morte) compares his band of robbers to Robin Hood.
The reason? “We’re not stealing anybody’s money,” he tells us, looking out into his makeshift classroom in Toledo. “Those people are going to see us as their damn heroes.”
His words have proved true.
Accordingly, many fans believe that the Robin-Hood robbers should and will end up on top, because what sensible writers’ room would let the Sheriff of Nottingham (Spain’s police and government) snatch victory?
The answer, it seems, might be Money Heist’s.
Creator Álex Pina has been widely quoted as saying: “We have spent almost a year thinking about how to destroy the band. How to put the Professor on the ropes. How to get into situations that are irreversible for many characters. The result is the fifth season of La Casa de Papel.”
Perhaps this contributes to the fact that supposedly optimistic fans also state that they have little faith in the writers’ decision-making. (It is also likely linked to issues many found with characterisation, plot, and pacing in Parts 3 and 4.)
But it’s not just a vague lack of faith: many have plausible fatalistic theories about the show.
The most prominent by far is the idea that Tokyo (Úrsula Corberó) will be the only survivor of the currently 11-strong gang (not counting Matías, who doesn’t have a city name). This theory is based on the fact that she narrates the series. Perhaps she is sharing her story with someone else, now there is no one else left who remembers what went on inside.
There are also concerns that a victory for the police would erase any lingering semblance of feminism, started by Nairobi’s iconic empieza al matriarcado line in Part 2 Episode 2. (New cast member Miguel Ángel Silvestre is rumoured to be the next police inspector heading up the tent.)
On top of all this, in Part 4 the Professor explicitly states: “You can’t get out of the Bank of Spain alive. It’s impossible.”
He does go on to promise that he will get the group out anyway, but it doesn’t feel like a good omen.
Because the thing is, the band of robbers have to win. The Robin Hood reference isn’t just a throwaway line—it’s something that the show embodies.
It’s in the Part 2 finale, where the Professor explains to Raquel Murillo (Itziar Ituño), through tears, how the heist is nothing more than a liquidity injection—where the profits go to his group of desgraciados rather than directly into the pockets of the rich. It’s in Parts 3 and 4, where they expose the corrupt heart of the police and government in the name of love. This has never been a show that is shy about being anti-establishment or anti-capitalist. The feeling is built into its soul.
So much so, in fact, that life has started to imitate art. Money Heist’s distinctive red jumpsuit and Dalí mask (i.e. Salvador Dalí, an anti-capitalist artist, at least until 1931) have made their way to pro-democracy, environmental, and feminist marches in Lebanon, Iraq, Chile, and France, among other places.
And, unrelated to the show, across the globe people are fighting against their governments and police forces for fair treatment and are being met with brutality. Think Black Lives Matter, End SARS, the Indian farmers’ protest, and the Myanmar protests.
Money Heist is the kind of show that can turn viewers on to these struggles if they weren’t paying attention already. So, with so much to fight for, it doesn’t seem right that our fictional, city-name rebels, should fail. We need some hope that la resistencia can and should prevail. And doesn’t the show owe some kind of hope specifically to the protestors who have used its insignia to fight for justice?
An ending where the robbers didn’t come out on top would be particularly crushing given the show’s form, too. True, it’s always had a high body count—four of the robbers have died for the cause so far—but it balances that with a firm streak of optimism.
There’s a moment in Part 2 Episode 2 between Tokyo and the Professor that seems to sum up the rationale of the show. He tells her: “There’ll come a time when you think everything’s falling apart. Everything’s going wrong. That you’re all alone. But I promise you that won’t happen. I have it all figured out. Besides, I’m a lucky man.”
He’s right: this is a show that relies on tricking the audience into thinking the robbers are losing, only to reveal at the last moment that they’ve planned for the situation, allowing them to sidestep the authorities at the critical moment. And time and time again love is the surprising saving grace—be it romantic, platonic, or familial. Mónica (Esther Acebo) saves Denver (Jaime Lorente) from being killed. Raquel ensures the Professor gets away. Everyone sacrifices their safety to save Rio (Miguel Herrán) from torture.
To remove these rose-coloured lenses would be to expose past victories as mere luck. If previously resistance and love had carried them to success, this would be a pivot to pure nihilism.
It doesn’t mean that that Money Heist needs to end like a Disney movie. We left the robbers at the end of Part 4 with a minor victory that the police will undoubtedly retaliate against, and with our mastermind with a gun to his head. A smooth, sunny resolution would be unlikely to fill 10 episodes, and Money Heist’s realistic bite is what makes its optimism special.
But still, it’s important, even if we must endure more loss to get there, that the majority of the gang gets away unscathed, with or without the gold.
As Helsinki (Darko Peric) says, as he and Palermo (Rodrigo De la Serna) sit amongst the rubble of a gunfight, sun pouring through the bullet holes:
“I lost Oslo in the Mint. I lost Nairobi. And I’m not losing anyone else.”
A release date has not yet been set for Money Heist Part 5, although it is predicted that it will be released in 2021. Filming started in August 2020 and appears to be ongoing (although lead Úrsula Corberó is currently in Argentina, while filming is based in Madrid).
Words by Naomi Curston
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