Money Heist (Season 5, Part 2)
The (seeming) conclusion to the pioneering series sleepwalks through its cliches
It is suggested in the final scenes of Money Heist – Season 5: Part 2 (2021) that the global phenom has finally come to an end. I certainly hope so, as the perfect ending after season 2 was truncated with a money-grabbing desire to extending the story through three unnecessary seasons. Given the popularity of this IP, however, I wouldn’t be surprised if Netflix decided to continue to milk it, with spin-offs or direct sequels.
This entry of Money Heist (2017-2021) wraps up the heist that our group of favorite robbers were undertaking in the National Bank of Spain. After the tragic death of a major character (no spoilers here), the Professor (Alvaro Morte) seems to be constantly on the backfoot. However, as always, his wit manages to make him squeak by episode by episode, but will it be enough for him to end up on top?
The newest heist that comprised seasons 3 through 5 has left viewers both positives and negatives. We were introduced to some exciting new characters such as the ruthless Alicia (Najwa Nimri), the tender Bogota (Hovik Keuchkerian), and the complex Palermo (Rodrigo De la Serna). However, there were also blunders, such as unnecessarily extending the heist through the seasons with an overreliance in uninteresting and irrelevant flashbacks, whose sole purpose was bringing back fan-favorite Berlin (Pedro Alonso). This decision seems to have backfired for Alex Pina, as Berlin has become more of a nuisance rather than a scene stealer. His subplot relating to his son (Patrick Criado), is clear filler and tied sloppily with the main storyline. While the use of Alicia as a villain worked brilliantly at first, her sidelining towards the end had Colonel Tamayo (Fernando Cayo) filling in her shoes with loud and unmenacing overacting. There were also the issues relating to the problematic transgender character cast by cisgender Belen Cuesta (an excellent actress in her own right who is horrendously wasted here), and the complete lack of character arcs for many returning characters (Monica (Esther Acebo) among the most prominent). Thus this newest heist has proven to be a mixed bag with a diminishing returns.
Creator Alex Pina has shown to be incredibly talented, his ability to keep up tension and general quality through three unnecessary seasons is laudable. However, even he can’t continue juggling such an expansive storyline. You sense the fatigue in this Part 2, as Pina halts any further character development and resorts to increasingly implausible witticisms from the Professor. The last five episodes seem to be more pat-on-the-backs than any real attempt at surprising viewers or bringing a fulfilling finale for the characters. This is rather disappointing as it was a chance to capitalize on the likeability of so many characters, but at the same time, Pina might have been desperate to simply move on.
Before Squid Games (2021-) broke viewership records, Money Heist was a pioneer in promoting international TV throughout the world. It has helped create a hub and an influx of investment in Spanish filmmaking and television that has rippled throughout Europe and the world. Thus, the legacy of Money Heist is a much more inspiring conclusion that what its actual narrative. As such the series should be hailed for being such a champion for subtitled (for non-Spanish speakers) content everywhere. I would even wager to say that without Money Heist showing the appeal of regional content worldwide, we might not have had a Squid Games or Parasite (2019).
In the end, Money Heist – Season 5: Part 2 is sleepwalking through its conclusion and sendoff, and while that might be enough to fulfill rabid fans, it will leave most viewers feeling cold. However, if this truly is the end of Money Heist, then we should celebrate the seismic impact it’s had on the streaming world. Perhaps, now unshackled from his original creation, Pina will be able to shock us again with something entirely new.