Money Heist: Part One: Episode One: Afectuar lo Acordado
Nine thieves with different areas of expertise, led by one criminal mastermind, known only as The Professor (el Profesór), going only by the names of cities around the world, work together to orchestrate a massive heist at the central mint of Spain, in this smart, populist, easy to love Netflix thriller, but this heist is like no other, and it’s been decades in the making.
Immediately, upon watching the first scene in the first act of Money Heist (La Casa de Papél, or, in English, “House of Paper,” if translated directly) part one, it is apparent that I am in for a treat. Money Heist is a show which keeps you guessing at every turn. Who are the good guys? Who are the bad guys? And is there any such thing?
Scene one opens with a woman who goes by Tokio (the Spanish spelling of the Japanese city) waking from a restless sleep and immediately pulling a gun and pointing it toward the camera. Tokio is a restless soul. This is clear right away. She’s trying to escape from something. Tokio, it turns out, was part of a bank heist with her boyfriend, who she describes as the love of her life until things go badly, and Tokio is left on the run from the law, without her love. Tokio is a wanted woman and one that bears a striking resemblance to Mia, Uma Thurman’s character from Pulp Fiction in both looks and bearing.
Tokio quickly finds herself relegated to rough, cash money jobs, like the one she is about to start today, in the kitchen of a Chinese ship. On the way to work, she calls her Mom one last time, only to find out that her Mom is surrounded by police, who are likely watching her comings and goings 24/7. Sadly, Tokio walks the rest of the way to the docks, her head hung low when fortune strikes. The Professor pulls up in an unassuming sedan. At first, Tokio is skeptical, but as the Professor continues with his offer, she can’t help but show some interest. Tokio accepts a ride to the secret hideout the thieves are using to plan the heist, where she meets the other Dalís, who are introduced to one another by their chosen city names.
Tokio is soon confronted not only with the toughest job she’s ever had to do but a personal choice she never thought she would have to make again. Tokio falls in love quickly with Rio, a young, handsome, shy tech coordinator who has been an expert level hacker since the age of six. Rio’s open, loving nature contrasts with Tokio’s more closed off personality. Tokio has lived and learned, and her boundaries are a reflection of this, whereas Rio has yet to go through the loss and heartache Tokio has, making him more prone to experimentation and a lack of fear of the worst possible consequences life can offer. Together, Rio and Tokio, two people who, like the respective cities for which they were named, are on opposite sides of the globe both personality and life experience wise from one another, make for a spectacular couple. Audiences can see where things may ultimately be beheaded, without being able to predict the twists, turns and ultimate life lessons Tokio and Rio will end up experiencing, based on their relationship.
And that leads me to the plot. The Professor has been planning a simple but revolutionary heist for years. The gist? Rob the Royal Mint of Spain by simply borrowing it, and the people inside in order to print their own money. If the team, known as Dalí’s due to the realistic Salvador Dalí masks and red jumpsuits they wear is successful, this will be the boldest heist in human history, and the beginning of a movement to take from the rich (or, in this case, use what the rich have to make money to keep and to give away) and give to the poor.
Unfortunately, while The Professor is able to predict and plan for most eventualities, he can’t plan for every single possible outcome, and this shows when his team meets two pregnant women within the confines of the mint, one who nobody knew was pregnant because she’s only a couple of weeks along—with her boss’ baby, no less! This is Monica Gastonbide. Monica Gastonbide has served the production manager, Arturo Roman faithfully, as a secretary and a lover for years. Monica is getting tired of Arturo’s indecisiveness and has just informed him of her accidental pregnancy when the Dalís arrive to take over the mint.
Monica soon becomes caught between Denver, a friendly, carefree underdog who is here to improve his family’s future and get out from under the hand life dealt him, who seems to have empathy and compassion for Monica, and Berlin, an egomaniacal, over the top narcissistic sociopath, who will stop at nothing to take this newly printed money and run, securing himself some fame and prestige in the process, who thinks that Monica is a liability.
Meanwhile, the Professor, who banned the notion of personal relationships between the Dalís, has gone head to head with Raquel Murillo, a hard-nosed, no-nonsense negotiator for intelligence who never fails to negotiate her way out of even the worst situations. The Professor, intrigued by Inspector Murillo, pushes the boundaries and endangers the operation, by falling in love with Murillo, all the while, neglecting to mention his biggest secret—that he is the man Murillo has been going toe-to-toe with—the man who has planned the boldest heist in modern history—the man who is aiming to defeat Murillo at every turn.
Will the Dalí’s come out of the mint as billionaire Robin Hoods? Or will they survive even one day inside the mint?