If Money Heist – which initially fizzled out on Spanish TV and then earned a revival with Netflix – ends on a satisfying note in the minds of the audiences, that may be the greatest heist of all.
The writers of Money Heist have made a pretty ballsy move (spoiler alert) by killing off arguably one of its most central characters in a hail of bullets followed by a huge explosion. The death of (seriously, spoiler alert) Tokyo will serve two masters: an appetizer ahead of the second half of season 5 which will drop on 3 December and a signal to the audience: sh%^ just got real.
The question that raced through my mind as I watched Úrsula Corberó’s Tokyo explode into a thousand pieces courtesy of a half dozen hand grenades was this: That was interesting. I just hope the writers can follow up.
The move, setting aside the trope that no TV character is really dead unless you see their body on camera, will also inevitably draw comparisons between other shows that frequently killed its darlings (The Walking Dead, Homeland, Dexter, Game of Thrones) while their final few seasons nosedived in quality.
Game of Thrones: Death, the beginning and the end
It was, after all, the death of an ostensibly main character in any other TV show (Ned Stark, perfectly essayed by Sean Bean), along with the fantastic character work and world-building by George RR Martin that the writers could steal from research that elevated Game of Thrones to from a hidden gem to must-see TV.
Ironic then that the final season of GoT—which many have charitably referred to as “divisive”, while others have called it a flaming pile of trash—went to that well so heavily with the deaths of characters fans loved (Daenerys Targaryen, Missandei, Lyanna Mormont) and loved to hate (Cersei Lannister) while completely losing the plot, on well, the actual plot (far too much detail to get into).
House of Cards: Dealt lousy hand
Let’s get one thing straight. While House of Cards, the show that built Netflix, was dealt a lousy hand with everything surrounding its star and main character Kevin Spacey, it did itself absolutely no favours. Sure, the original plan seemed to be setting up an epic Underwood vs Underwood brawl for power, but cocking up the story of Robin Wright’s deliciously icy Claire Underwood taking power as president after her husband resigned after all the scandals (the irony!) is almost unimaginable.
Except that we don’t need to imagine it.
From introducing a cartoonishly evil pair of billionaires to having Claire unceremoniously dispatch Frank’s right-hand man Doug Stamper (in the Oval Office, no less!), the final edition of House of Cards was a complete mess.
Dexter – Bloated corpse
The slow descent of Debra Morgan and her being killed off as an act of mercy at the hands of the show’s titular character almost perfectly encapsulates the past few seasons of Dexter. Much like Game of Thrones, the first few critically acclaimed seasons (1 to 4) gave way to seasons that were, in turn, boring and baffling that left the show as a bloated, stinking corpse of its former self (also, who knew Miami was the murder capital of the world?).
The upcoming Dexter revival is as much as an admission from the makers of the show that they completely botched the ending as one is going to get.
Homeland – Rudderless for years
With all due respect to Claire Danes’ Carrie Mathison, Damien Lewis’ turn as a tortured prisoner of war turned terrorist Nicolas Brody was the heart and soul of Homeland. The show’s first two seasons – its best by popular acclaim – and the cat-and-mouse dynamic between Danes and Lewis could never be recaptured.
By the time the show recently ended its lengthy run, Homeland was a shell of its former self and consigned to perhaps the worst fate in our pop-culture mad times: irrelevance.
Money Heist – An open question
The question is whether the Spanish drama can buck the trend of these high-profile shows tanking in their final few seasons. If the past is indeed a prologue, then history suggests otherwise. But if the brains behind Money Heist can end the show – which initially fizzled out on Spanish TV and then earned a revival after giving Netflix arguably its biggest worldwide hit – on a satisfying note in the minds of the audiences, that may be the greatest heist of all.