It is indeed interesting how peer pressure can make you do things that you have a strong stand against. I am aware that there are two schools of thought on this. I'm no one to judge one as good or bad. In fact, I'm against all kinds of labelling stuff. Call it lack of self-control or plain cowardice, I did watch La Casa de Papel a.k.a. Money Heist.
When I watched the first four parts last year it was just to "evaluate" if the series was "worth" the hype and coverage that it got from the media. From 15-year-olds to adults, almost everyone I knew spoke with references from the Spanish television series. I had practically sworn to myself that I won't watch it just because it is hyped so much. But I caved. Worse, I got hooked to the series.
Well, at least in the beginning. Of my limited experience of watching series of varied genres, this is one of the rare ones that had kept me hooked throughout the run-time of the episodes. I am that kind of a person that appreciates the drama behind the high-octane action that unfolds. To elaborate, the motivation of the characters behind their action or behaviour (The Professor's almost obsessive adherence to restrain or the reason behind why Tokyo is such a loose cannon, for instance) interests me as much as their actions (if not more) themselves. Therefore, when a story, thanks to the structure, explores the psyche and psychologically deconstructs every character, I was hooked.
The first two parts (I have never really understood how parts constitute a season, somebody enlighten me on that) provided with a lot of material to mull over on that front. My favourite highs are the points where every time the gang hits a snag, the story goes back in time to reveal how the Professor has provided for practically eventuality. Watch out for the scene between the Professor and Alberto where they have a messy and even funny (to an extent it was funny) face-off of brawn vs brains. It does get exhausting at times because for someone to have almost a complete grasp of every person's emotions and behaviour in the opposition feels a bit stretched. But since, in my opinion, it is still in the gray area of possible and probable, I didn't really mind.
The character back stories are either narrated in a flashback or over dialogues. I think this is yet another great choice of taking the story forward. It would indeed be tedious to cut to a flashback right in the middle of a high-adrenaline heist or bore the people with long drawn-out expositions of the characters talking about their pasts. In the way we are introduced to their back-stories we don't really decide who is the main character. Of course, the obvious ones can be made out. But it is when we start to root for characters like Berlin and Nairobi is where we fall for the writing of the series.
Berlin has dedicated episodes where we go to the past and understand why he is the way he is. Whereas Nairobi, wins our hearts with her attitude, grit and sheer courage. We get to know about a dark part of her past through a shocking turn of events. But to make us understand the person behind the Dali masks we get to see how Nairobi bonds with the Professor and Tokyo. It is also important to notice that up until Part 5, we see the story through the eyes of Tokyo. I have always conducted various thought experiments and what-if scenarios in multi-starrer and multiple POV films and scenarios. It would be interesting to find out in whose POV the series moves forward hence forth.
With the casting, dialogues, music and the editing working in the favour of the makers, Part 3 and 4, despite being largely repetitive in terms of the way the narrative unfolds becomes bearable. I say bearable because the structure of narrative is the same and the scope for convolusions and surprises become scarce. I have wondered if there were any other ways to keep the audience engaging other than just wantonly "twisting" the plot. I would like to bring to your attention Sex Education. A fantastic example of throwing in surprises eventhough the structure of every episode is just the same. However, to be fair, it is a drama series which means that human behaviour and emotions have a lot more to explore. But I'm sure there is definitely a lesson or two to take for the makers of Money Heist. I think even Part 5 is the reason why wasn't as enjoyable for me. The structure was fixed. Other than the presence of a few mules in the hostages there wasn't much of a difference.
Definitely the Part finale has a lot of questions waiting to be answered. What would Rio do? How would the Professor take things further now that he also has the sympathy of one of his arch-nemeses? How would Monica a.k.a. Stockholm (loved the way they explored Stockholm's Syndrome in the first two Parts) come to terms with her action? Will Helsinki make it? What would Tamayo do now to get the robbers out? Would the governor take the place of Arturo? How would the relationship between Manila and Denver change? Would Palermo get back to normalcy any time? These are just a few questions, off the cuff, in just one watching of the Part 5. I'm sure the makers have answers to a substantial number of questions.
But I guess it is important to come up with a new narrative structure to engage the audience. Else, get ready to see this series reach the sorry fate of the Muni/Kanchana franchise. I sincerely hope there is a visible end to the series because if there is going to be another heist after this neither would I have the patience to watch it nor write about it (irrespective of the potential PR the next seasons or parts have).