Game Over – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Berlin’s Wedding – | Review Score – 3/5
Anatomy Lesson – | Review Score – 3/5
Pasodoble – | Review Score – 4/5
5 Minutes Earlier– | Review Score – 2.5/5
TKO – | Review Score – 2.5/5
Strike The Tent – | Review Score – 4/5
The Paris Plan – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Whenever you go to a party, there’s always that one person who livens the party up but ultimately outstays their welcome. Sure, they encourageg everyone to get involved in the drinking games and get people dancing to EDM until the early hours of the morning but eventually you’ve had enough and want to just chill out for a bit. Your legs can’t take any more dancing and you’re past the point of enjoying the buzz from the alcohol and yet, our party-loving friend continues to try and get you invested in the night, as you smile wearily and try to press on regardless. Season 4 of La Casa De Papel feels like the personification of that friend.
When it burst on the scene all those years ago, La Casa De Papel was an International success. It scored a home run and followed that up with a conclusive curtain call that satisfyingly paid tribute to all those characters we grew to love. Against the odds, the show managed to successfully reinvent what made it so endearing to begin with, offering up an exciting and lavishly presented heist in its third season; one that’s bigger, bolder and had higher-stakes than ever before. The bank offered up a perfect backdrop for this to take place in and as the season came to an end, big question marks remained around the direction of the show going forward.
Season 4 then is an odd kettle of fish. On the one hand, it feels like a natural extension to the third season, one that’s essentially a continuation of the same story but plays out like the middle slog of chapters in an epic novel. The characters are fleshed out a little but the pace slows down to a methodical crawl during the first half of episodes. It’s not until around episode 5 where things actually start to pick up. Ordinarily this would be fine when the season is a continuous 16 episode story but as a separate fourth part, this does make the show feel lethargic and off-the-mark.
The other problem with this ultimately comes from the plot itself. Much of this year sees the heist take a back-seat in favour of a more incredulous and unbelievable plot mechanic in the superhuman antagonist of ex-mercenary Gandia. Two and a half episodes are dedicated to the gang trying to stop him from murdering them all and without spoiling too much, the show completely undermines its own premise during these segments in favour of a more John Wick-esque/ Bollywood type production that just doesn’t work in this context.
Part of what made La Casa De Papel so endearing and appealing over the previous seasons came from the characters and how believable their struggles were. The Professor was a nerdy, flawed but ultimately brilliant man who pulled the strings meticulously and had an answer to everything the police threw at him and his team. Tokyo was the emotional but intriguing front-runner while the slew of colourful supporting characters alongside her helped to paint a colourful and varied gang for us to get invested in.
This year however, there seems to be a desire to try and subvert expectations with these characters but in trying to be clever, the main crux of the series feels broken and distorted from what it was before. The Professor spends much of the time out of his comfort zone and away from pulling the strings until the final two episodes while Tokyo is given a big task of leading the team – which the others happily agree to. It all feels a bit clunky and awkward and it’s not until the final couple of episodes that the series starts to slot back into a familiar rhythm. By then though it does feel too little too late.
That’s not to say there’s not enjoyment to be had here and there are certainly a few stand out moments worth watching. If you’ve come this far then no doubt you’ll watch through to the end but the desire to try and change the show from its traditional format into something new ultimately backfires and plays out as a missed opportunity. There are a few big moments and inevitably the show ends on a cliffhanger too, leaving plenty of scope for a fifth season to follow. However after so many episodes, is this another example of a show that’s past its sell-by date now?
Much like our characters this year, La Casa De Papel feels like its lost its way, dancing too long and losing the rhythm and momentum it managed to sustain for such a long time afterwards. Sometimes it’s best to end while you’re ahead but in the case of La Casa De Papel, it looks like there’s plenty of steam left in this one going forward. Whether that’s a wise move or not remains to be seen but this year feels like a disappointing effort and a far cry from the excellent quality we’ve come to expect from this show.