Spoiler alert: This review contains minor spoilers from season five and major spoilers from seasons one through four.
I have always been a sucker for TV shows about heists, and when I walked in on my roommate watching La Casa de Papel in 2019, I knew I had to carve out some time to watch it. After the first episode, I was hooked, and now it has become my favourite TV series of all time.
This final season of La Casa de Papel has it all: a gripping plot, astounding character development, and a myriad of twists and turns, which often resulted in my jaw dropping in disbelief. What started out as an unsuccessful Spanish network TV series has turned into a Netflix hit and a global phenomenon extending far beyond the series itself.
La Casa de Papel centres on a diverse band of misfits who unite under the guidance of a man who calls himself “The Professor” to rob the Royal Mint of Spain in seasons one and two and the Bank of Spain in seasons three through five. The robbers have nothing to lose and are ready to risk their lives for a shot at millions of dollars to spend the rest of their days with.
The final season was released in two parts on Sept. 3, 2021, and Dec. 3, 2021, and focuses on the final battle between the robbers and the police. Up until the last five minutes, it is unclear who will win. The season is full of surprise attacks, unexpected romances between characters, new alliances, and deaths that change everything.
Tokyo and Berlin remain focal points of the backstory snapshots in each episode, as well as Berlin’s son Rafael and wife Tatiana. The rest of the gang members, Lisbon, Rio, Stockholm, Denver, Manila, Palermo, Helsinki, Bogota and the Professor, are front and centre in the battle, and antagonists Colonel Tamayo and Alicia Sierra are also not relenting.
For the last time, you once again find yourself rooting for characters who are undeniably selfish, criminal, and at times overtly misogynistic (looking at you, Berlin). This is the beauty of La Casa de Papel; up until the last moment, you remain loyal to the criminals even though they are not “good” people by definition. Through the back stories, you come to realize that they are also strong-willed individuals fighting against capitalism and injustice through their heists.
This season, I especially grew more sympathetic towards Berlin, who sacrificed his life for the gang in season two. We really get to see his pain and suffering first hand throughout season five, and it becomes easy to ignore the fact that he is a profound narcissist.
Although there are a few storylines that I feel could have been developed more, there is only one thing that I actually disliked in season five, which is the absence of robber Nairobi, who was executed at the end of season four by the head of security for the Bank of Spain. Her tenacity and sensible head brought balance to the other characters, who are all more easily distracted from their roles in the heist by small quarrels and personal issues. I can’t write this review without mentioning Nairobi because she brought a real equilibrium that was lacking in the final season.
Besides the characters, there were a lot of production choices that really made this season pop.
One of the things I like best about this season is the soundtrack. Every song is purposefully chosen and matches the scene perfectly. The music ranges from the Arctic Monkeys and Coldplay to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. They use songs that are recognizable and that arouse passion and emotion. Throughout the series, the robbers sing the Italian resistance anthem “Bella Ciao” when a breakthrough happens in the heist. This is something viewers can look forward to hearing again in season five.
La Casa de Papel is also known for its symbolism. There is especially powerful symbolism in the clothing choices for the robbers. They wear bright red jumpsuits and Salvador Dali masks to remain anonymous. Red is a global symbol of resistance, fury, but also passion, reflecting the robbers’ fighting spirits. The masks are a nod to the Spanish artist Salvador Dali, a surrealist painter who was known to be a rebel with his mind-boggling art and controversial political views.
The spirit of resistance is the main theme in La Casa de Papel and has inspired people worldwide to fight for what they believe in. Netflix recently released a documentary called Money Heist: The Phenomenon illustrating how the fictional heists inspired thousands of people across the globe to fight for their own causes. For example, in 2018, Justin Bieber’s music video for “Despacito” was hacked, and the video was replaced with a still from La Casa de Papel with a message to free Palestine.
In conclusion, This is hands down the best series I have ever seen, and I will shamelessly give it a 4.5 out of five. I love that it’s a break from the North American television that we are used to and really brings in cultural aspects that can only be present in a country whose history goes back thousands of years.
Something to look forward to is the spinoff series coming out in 2023 that will focus on the character Berlin. For now, you will find me rewatching La Casa de Papel as truly nothing compares.
Note: As I don’t speak Spanish, I watched the series with voice dubbing, but subtitles are also an option.