Money Heist, into its 5th season or part, has been about two heists up till now. The first two seasons were about a meticulously planned robbery at the Royal Mint of Spain that culminated with our protagonists led by the awkward but charismatic Professor (Álvaro Morte) making their way out with the largest loot in the history of mankind dwarfed only by what the British looted from India during their oppression and subjugation of the country. In the 3rd and 4th seasons, we witness the thieves making their way to different countries and enjoying their lives for the next few years before one of the team members, the detestable and annoying “Mary Sue”, Tokio (Úrsula Corberó) gets bored of her blissful life in the tropics with her “puppy dog” fellow thief and boyfriend Rio (Miguel Herrán). Tokio drifts away from Rio and tries to live the life of a “bad girl” that she always wanted to. Rio can’t put up living without her and makes the foolish mistake of calling her on a satellite phone. He is discovered by the authorities and is quickly arrested and shipped off to a black site for interrogation.

Rio is tortured over the next few months for information by Alicia Sierra (Najwa Nimri). The Professor understands the importance of taking him out of captivity before he succumbs to the torture and sets an old plan into motion. After months of meticulous planning and assembling a team that is an eclectic mix of his old and new companions, the thieves led by the Professor enter the Bank of Spain for a robbery that is bigger than what they had pulled off in the Royal Mint. The Professor’s plan is to manipulate and blackmail the authorities into releasing Rio and at the same time make his way with tons of gold that would also facilitate and ensure his team’s safe escape. The 4th season of the series ended on a cliffhanger when the Professor was able to burst out his wife Lisbon (Itziar Ituño) from captivity and place her back in the bank but was himself discovered and incapacitated by Alicia.

The 5th Season has 5 episodes and it is about four essential story tracks. The thieves held up inside the bank have to face two major challenges. One – the hostages led by Arturo Roman (Enrique Arce) pull of a violent coup turning the thieves’ weaponry against them. Two- the authorities finally decide to bring in the military and 8 morally bankrupt and mentally disturbed murdering psychopaths are sent into the bank guided by the equally insane Gandia (José Manuel Poga) who is looking to settle his personal score with Tokio.

The next track is about how the Professor and two of his cronies are incapacitated by Alicia Sierra and whether or not he is able to escape from her clasp and aid his team. The third track involves a flashback where we see, the now-dead Berlin (Pedro Alonso) introduces his son to the world of heist through a daring robbery also involving Berlin’s wife Tatiana. His son is evidently smitten by her and she is interested in him too. This part of the story is inconsequential to this volume but will definitely assume importance in the final part. The fourth track involves Tokio and flashbacks from her past life with her one true love, Rene before she joined the Professor and met Rio. It is done to flesh out the character and shed some light on her skewed perspective on life.

On paper, all of this seems to be great material for simmering drama and pulse-pounding action but that is never the case here. There is such an utter lack of believability, sense, logic, and realism in the proceedings that from the very first episode, the series becomes laughably inept at everything it tries to achieve. Many will cite the genre and the better made previous installments and reason with the argument that in a series like this, suspension of disbelief is necessary as its inception is anchored on over-the-top and implausible ideas. I agree but that suspension of disbelief must be warranted and the makers atleast have to try to make the audiences believe their bluff. There was an honest attempt at enveloping the audiences into their wild world and impossible coincidences in the previous installments. Sadly in this season, the makers seem to have taken the audiences for granted and went ahead playing with their wildest fantasies without a care in the world. They didn’t stop to think if at all their approach and creative decisions suited the mood and characteristics of the story.

There are so many issues with the series that I could practically talk about any scene and there would be some anomaly there. The heavily pregnant Alicia Sierra incapacitates a fit professor who is shown to practice boxing from time to time. She then incapacitates two more people in the most laughably inept manner possible. She hangs the professor from a bridge using chains (shown in the trailer) and then lifts him up (off-screen) to interrogate him. Even a pregnant She-Hulk wouldn’t have the power to do this. There are two major battle sequences wherein bullets are pumped in Kgs across the room but no one hits anyone. Guns never run out of ammo and no one is ever hurt by them except for minor scratches. When grenades are lobbed they wait for the people to take cover before they go, boom! People who are shot 5 times or more walkabout and talk as if nothing had happened. People shot in different limbs forget that they are shot and move about normally. Characters die only after they have been milked for the last ounce of drama, which by the way doesn’t work.

At the height of this mindless action and mayhem, the makers strangely chose to intercut prolonged sequences of interpersonal drama between either Tokio and her Ex or Berlin and his son. We are expected to be amused by these farcical sequences and take the words and wisdom of thieves seriously as if they were divine teaching. The naïve audiences might have if these characters and the drama between them were built up efficiently and had the necessary emotional weight behind them to merit the needed attention and reverence. Sadly that is not the case. If all this was not enough to ruin a perfectly fun series, the forced left-wing messaging is shoved down the throat of the audiences with such ferocity that it is hard to ignore. This doesn’t serve the series well and since it’s so obvious, it is bound to invoke vituperative criticism from the ones who don’t abide by it.

The only thing that I liked about the series was the character of Gandia and his unabashed villainy if at all it can be called that. He is the only one who looks the part that he is playing. This time in the company of some more psychotic and violent souls, he yet again proves to be not only a major threat to the protagonists but also a source of genuine but sick comedy resulting from his sarcastic one-liners that are well written and better yet timed. José Manuel Poga is once again terrific as the character of Gandia and this role will definitely open up new doors for him.

Money Heist Part 4 Vol. 1 was a major letdown for me. The series has lost its smartness and has metamorphed into a mindless South-Indian masala film that is injected with a concoction of steroids and is directed by Prabhudeva. It is no longer a heist series but a mind-numbing action juggernaut wherein I couldn’t connect with any of the characters or feel the loss of any. For a series that began so minimalistically and where the smartness of the protagonist was the biggest source of awe and charm, it has metamorphed into a tragically unintelligent and brutish way of doing things. I have lost interest in the final volume that will be out on 3rd December.

Rating: 2/5 (2 out of 5 Stars)

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