After a handy 2 minute recap showing the events that transpired last year, La Casa De Papel begins right at the final frame of the previous season. Raquel’s (Itziar Ituño) investigation has led her to the house the thieves used to plan the heist and the police seem to be closing in on them as they begin investigating. Blissfully unaware that her latest love interest is none other than The Professor (Álvaro Morte) himself, the game of cat and mouse continues as The Professor, in his newfound state of desperation, plays a dangerous game with Raquel and the authorities that sees him more exposed than ever before as he tries to thwart the investigation any way he can. This growing desperation spills into events inside the Factory of Moneda and Timbre too as Tokio (Úrsula Corberó) begins to question the validity of The Professor’s claims, contemplating throwing in the towel or instigating “Project Chernobyl”.
If you haven’t seen the first season you’ll be severely lost here as the 9 episodes act as a third arc to the overall story and play on the characterisation built during the first 13 episodes. For those unhappy with some of the archetypal characterisation last year should be happier as almost every character, perhaps with the exception of Nairobi (Alba Flores), see a decent amount of work done to flesh their personas out. This is especially true for Berlin (Pedro Alonso) who’s easily the stand out character this year and his journey from start to finish is arguably one of the best. Despite the shorter run time this time around, there’s plenty of twists and turns along the way that keep you guessing right up until the finale but this year is all about the ending and seeing whether the thieves can make it out with the money before getting caught. In doing so, the dynamic of the show shifts slightly from wondering how long they can stick it out to whether they’ll survive or get caught. In doing so, this subtle change shifts the focus from slow-paced tension to fast paced action which seems fitting for such an explosive ending but also loses a little of the effectiveness this had over the story last year.
Although Tokio’s continuing narration over the events that occur this year paint her squarely as the main protagonist for most of this season, midway through there’s a pretty shocking turn of events that see the focus shift from Tokio to Berlin and then to Nairobi. This dynamic power struggle typifies the growing distress between the characters and as can be expected from such a suspenseful crime thriller, there are casualties along the way. La Casa De Papel does an excellent job of preventing any character from feeling safe or wrapped in plot armour and this really helps elevate the tension a second time around.
The excellent cinematography is solid again this year and there’s some smartly worked editing used to continue the slick, polished feel the series had the first time around. Although unaware at the time, there is an option to watch La Casa De Papel in English and having gone back and re-watched parts of the first season in English, the dubbing is surprisingly not bad. While it’s obviously more authentic to watch this one in its native Spanish tongue to really appreciate the excellent acting, the English dubbing does a good job of bringing you into the story for those who don’t fancy reading 7 hours’ worth of subtitles.
Why Netflix didn’t just choose to make La Casa De Papel one 21 episode season rather than splitting this into 2 distinct parts is anyone’s guess but as one single flowing story La Casa De Papel fires on all cylinders and manages to nail almost every element of its design. As 2 separate seasons, the first plays out as a beginning and middle arc with the second season’s 9 episodes all about building toward the ending. Some may find the final 10 minutes of the final episode a little clichéd or even contrived but given what transpires across the 2 seasons there’s enough here to bring an end to all the characters in a believable way. Personally, the ending really helps to drive home the overall theme of the show which asks questions around what really constitutes as good and bad and what’s right and wrong and this added dimension of thought-provoking questions elevates La Casa De Papel way beyond other crime thrillers. The third act isn’t perfect but much like the first season, there isn’t anything quite like this on TV making La Casa De Papel an incredibly endearing series and one of the best heist stories out there.
Verdict - 9.5/10