Money Heist: How Season 5 Changed the Series Forever

In a show known for its twists and cliffhangers, Money Heist somehow gave us its biggest surprise yet in Season 5.

The cast of Money Heist look up in a crowd of people in red
Photo: Netflix

This Money Heist article contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 5.

The long-awaited final season of Netflix’s most popular foreign language series Money Heist blew up everything we though we knew about the show. Every fan has been eagerly waiting to see Gandia (José Manuel Poga) get his just desserts for his cold-blooded killing of Nairobi (Alba Flores) last season. Season 4 ended with the gang chanting “For Nairobi!” at the end, a rallying cry for revenge. But the price of Gandia’s death was way too high. It cost the life of the show’s leading character, Tokyo (Úrsula Corberó), taking Money Heist in a completely new, much darker direction. 

Tokyo’s Death

Tokyo’s death is one of the most daring character kills ever seen on television. It’s even more of a showstopper than the death of Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) in Game of Thrones. The Mother of Dragons died towards the end of the series and wasn’t nearly as central a character as Tokyo. Money Heist still has another finale volume of episodes to go. 

Although Money Heist is an ensemble cast, Tokyo has always been the focal point. Corberó gets the first credit in the show’s intro. More importantly, Tokyo has been the narrator throughout the entire series. We’ve watched both heists through her eyes. Corberó’s sultry voice has guided us through the chaotic absurd plot twists and the edge of our seats cliffhangers that make Money Heist so addictive.  

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As a character, Tokyo’s charisma is spellbinding. She’s the ultimate bad girl: smart, sexy, empowered, and tough with attitude to spare. Tokyo has been the eye of the storm and the most watchable character of the show. Even the intro theme song, “My Life Is Going On” performed by Cecilia Krull, is inspired by Tokyo. Corberó brought to life one of Money Heist’s most unforgettable characters and her death is pivotal. 

Tokyo is an international breakout role for Corberó. Corberó has been acting in Spanish productions for nearly two decades. Since 2002, she has appeared in over a dozen Spanish television series. In 2007 she started working in Spanish films, as well as doing some voice work in the Hollywood animated features like Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, The Secret Life of Pets, and The Emoiji Movie. However, those roles didn’t give her the global exposure that Corberó deserves. Recently, in 2021, she grabbed some spotlight as the Baroness in the feature film Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins, stealing every scene she was in. But Tokyo is Corberó’s defining role to date. And Season 5 is so much about her.

Money Heist set us up for the kill by spending an inordinate amount of Season 5 revealing Tokyo’s tragic backstory. In flashbacks, we meet René (Miguel Ángel Silvestre), Tokyo’s first partner in crime. We learn how she found her true love in him, and then lost him when he was shot down before her eyes in a failed bank heist. We understand how that loss hardened her heart, making her into what she is in the series. It’s a brilliantly poignant storytelling device, one that makes us adore Tokyo even more as we marvel at her complexity. Plus it gives Corberó full range to show off her fierce acting chops. 

When her new boyfriend Rio (Miguel Herrán) desperately struggles to rescue her, and she knows he will fail, she tells him “But now is the first day of your next life. You’ve gotta live a lot of lives, my love.” Now knowing how she lost her love, and how that fed into her aloofness about her romance with Rio, it’s one of those gratuitously heartrending scenes that Money Heist delivers with such unapologetic style, twisting that knife at the devastating loss of one of the show’s most beloved characters.

Tokyo’s final seductive wink at Gandia when she reveals that she’s pulled all the pins on the grenades strapped across her chest is just so Tokyo. She goes out with a bang, a huge self-sacrificing bang that takes out the gang’s biggest threat. And in classic Tokyo style, she goes out on her terms. Money Heist has delivered so many death scenes now, each more moving than that last. We can only wonder what the finale season will bring, keeping our tissue box at the ready. 

How Will Money Heist End?

Season 5 was just Volume 1 of the final installment. Volume 2 is the real finale, the final five episodes, due in December. But how can Money Heist go on without Tokyo? Will Tokyo continue to guide us, narrating posthumously like Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey) in American Beauty? Will Tokyo return via a ridiculous Disney death? Maybe this is all a bad dream, a hallucination, or some deviation in the multiverse. The latter seems very unlikely, even for Money Heist

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Many characters have died in the show already, most never to return. In the wake of Nairobi’s death last season, Flores reprised the role for Season 5 in one small cameo. It’s a sweet intimate scene, a foreshadowing flashback where she discusses what happens after death with Tokyo. However, despite all the impassioned chanting of “For Nairobi!” at the end of Season 4, Nairobi remains very dead. 

Berlin (Pedro Alonso) remains the only character that has “survived” his death in Money Heist. At the end of the first heist in Season 2, Berlin sacrificed himself so the gang could escape just like Tokyo (he had a terminal illness anyway, akin to Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince). Nevertheless, Berlin has been a reoccurring character throughout the second heist in flashbacks. 

In Season 5, there was a separate story arc devoted to Berlin and a new character, his son Rafael (Patrick Criado). That’s an entirely separate past heist where Berlin shows his son the ropes of thievery. It’s a dangling arc, which has nothing to do with the rest of the events in Season 5, so we can only assume that Rafael will come into play in the final five episodes. 

How Season 5 Changes the Money Heist Game

Season 5 can be characterized into three main intertwining story arcs: Tokyo’s backstory, Rafael’s indoctrination into a life of crime, and the battle at the Bank of Spain.  The tone of Season 5 is different than the previous seasons. This is all out war. The Spanish Army launches a full out military attack, sending in the special operative Sagasta (José Manuel Seda) and his black ops squad after the gang. It’s full of firefights, grenades and even a flamethrower. This season is by far the most violent. 

If someone were to just watch Season 5, it is a poor example of the series overall. Money Heist has been building tension for four seasons and Season 5 is the explosion. With the Professor (Álvaro Morte) chined up at gunpoint by Inspector Sierra (Najwa Nimri), his chess-like tactics aren’t in play and the gang only manages one significant win against their adversaries. Season 5 is more about the gun fights, explosions, and loss. Everything blows up. 

Conspicuously absent is the show’s revolutionary anthem “Bella Ciao.” The soulful WWII anti-fascist ballad gained renewed international airplay due to Money Heist, encapsulating the show’s attitude of resistance. The song has been echoing throughout the show, a reminder of the gang’s defiant struggle. However, Season 5 descends into all-out war. Whatever values the gang might have had going into the heist have fallen away and now it’s strictly about survival. 

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The Epilogue – Money Heist: From Tokyo to Berlin

After Netflix turned La Casa de Papel, the original cancelled Spanish TV show, into the international juggernaut that is Money Heist, they released a documentary Money Heist: The Phenomenon. This doc explained the show’s meteoric rise as a global influencer and symbol of resistance around the globe, as well as revealed plenty of ‘making of’ content, along with cast interviews. It went deep into the filming of the death of Nairobi, including Flores’ tearful reaction to leaving her beloved character behind. 

Money Heist: From Tokyo to Berlin capitalizes on a similar device, opening with behind-the-scenes footage of the death of Tokyo. It’s a much-needed salve for heartbroken fans who’ve just watched Tokyo’s death scene, picking up right where the season finale left off. The documentary begins with the filming of Tokyo’s death as the set crew announcement is overheard “Let’s say goodbye to Úrsula” sealing Tokyo’s fate. Then it cuts to Corberó’s signature narration where she says: “Yup, I just died.”

It’s nearly impossible to imagine Money Heist without Tokyo. She is such a central role. But Money Heist has conquered the impossible so many times before. Jesús Colmenar, the producer of Money Heist promises us one thing about the show’s future “We get this complete vision of everything and this is not the end of the bank robbery, but the end of Money Heist, which is quite a huge thing.” 

Money Heist Season 5 Volume 2, the final episodes of the series, comes to Netflix on December 3rd.