Money Heist, Netflix’s hit Spanish drama, is back with bang after bang. The eagerly anticipated fifth season does not disappoint – Álex Pina once again uses his tried and tested formula of fast-paced action scenes, emotionally charged dialogue and numerous cliff-hangers to keep viewers on the very edge of their seats and desperate for more from the enigmatic Professor and his eclectic band of misfits.
The fifth season picks up right where it left off: both the characters and the audience are left reeling from the brutal murder of fan-favourite Nairobi, nonetheless there is a renewed sense of hope amongst the gang inside the bank. Having hoodwinked the police yet again and succeeded in breaking Lisbon out of prison right under the nose of the ever-frazzled Colonel Tamayo, things are finally looking up for the robbers. However, their joy is short-lived as, unbeknownst to Tokyo and co, the brains behind the operation has just been discovered by the heavily pregnant and recently disgraced police negotiator Alicia Sierra.
Equal parts ruthless and vulnerable, Sierra, having been scapegoated by the authorities, has proven herself time and time again to be more than a match for the Professor. Sierra is one of the most compelling characters the show has to offer; we are torn between hating her for her cold-bloodedness, pitying her for the loss of her husband whilst pregnant, and grudgingly admiring her for her sheer tenacity. At first, the situation appears hopeless for the Professor – he is completely at Sierra’s mercy, he openly admits he has no ‘Plan B’, and Sierra is intent on bringing him in so as to restore her ruined reputation – and yet a well-timed press conference from Tamayo, labelling her a traitor and fabricating evidence to corroborate her being in league with the Professor leads Sierra to reconsider where her loyalties should lie.
The tension is further compounded by Sierra suddenly going into labour in the Professor’s hideout. Here, we see her at her most vulnerable and it is only at the last minute that she accepts help, allowing the Professor to assist in delivering her daughter. It will be interesting to see how this newfound, albeit uneasy, partnership develops, particularly as one could imagine the Professor and Sierra to be a formidable force when working together against the police.
We are introduced to a brand-new character through the classic flashback scenes that Money Heist is so well-known for. Rafael is the son of Berlin (the Professor’s older brother who died at the end of the first season), although from what we have seen from him so far, he appears to be far more similar to his uncle. A graduate from MIT, Rafael insists that he wants nothing to do with his father’s life of crime, however after pulling off a daring heist together, it is clear that it is in his blood. As of yet, Rafael has not appeared in any scenes set in the present day, leading to speculation as to what role he could potentially play in the final episodes. Already established as a gifted hacker, could Rafael be the key to saving the Professor and those inside the bank? Is he the supposedly non-existent ‘Plan B’?
Having lost Nairobi to the monstrous Gandía at the end of the fourth season, we should have realised that no one in the gang is safe. Yet there was an unspoken understanding that there was one invincible character, one who was untouchable, one who would always come out on top no matter what outrageous situation they managed to find themselves in. I am, of course, referring to Tokyo, the most unpredictable and indomitable member of the group.
Part of the reason for this surety is that Tokyo is the sole narrator; the story started with her, and we see everything through her eyes. Therefore, Tokyo’s death comes as an even bigger shock than that of Nairobi, once again demonstrating how Pina isn’t afraid of breaking conventions by killing off key characters. In hindsight, Tokyo’s death was set up from the start of this season; the focus on her backstory with her late boyfriend and a poignant conversation between her and Nairobi discussing their beliefs about life after death both should have registered as signs of her impending demise. Of course, in true Tokyo fashion, she refuses to go down without a fight, sacrificing herself to take out the soldiers and, most importantly, Gandía. Although it remains to be seen how the dynamic of the group will change without Tokyo, we will no doubt still be seeing her in the coming episodes through flashbacks.
As we await the final instalment of the series that has gripped the world, there is a certain degree of trepidation as the story of the Professor and his odd bunch of rebels comes to an end. If there is one thing that we’ve learned from the first half of season five, it’s that none of the characters we have come to love are safe.
Illustration: Anna Kuptsova