Money Heist is the slick, stylish Spanish heist show that’s taken over Netflix since its first season premiered in 2017. While the English-language title pretty much explains what the series is about, there’s more to it than bank robberies. The show can also be viewed as a critique of ultra-rich capitalists and the various economic recessions of the past two decades. And it’s a soapy ensemble drama with juicy romances that earn comparisons to telenovelas.
But Money Heist still delivers what fans of the heist genre want to see. The leader of the robbers, the Professor, is a criminal mastermind whose schemes are so full of misdirection and deception that not even the robbers are fully aware of what’s going on. His plans are meant to be so clever that nobody will suspect anything until it’s too late. But the problem with a plot like that is it can leave the audience just as stumped as it leaves the cops on the show.
So far, the Professor and the gang have worked two big heists. The first took up the show’s first two seasons, while the second heist covered seasons 3 and 4 and will continue into season 5.
Here are the Professor’s heist plans explained in a way that all of us can understand.
The Professor’s plan in seasons 1 and 2 of Money Heist
Money Heist is all about subverting the tropes of the heist genre, and the gang’s first heist did that in a major way. Instead of robbing a traditional target like a bank or a jewelry store, the Professor and his crew break into the Royal Mint of Spain, where money is printed. Rather than steal money that already exists, the robbers instead print brand new money themselves. Is that even really stealing?
Of course, the gang can’t just walk into the mint and start printing, so there are a few more steps. The robbers take the entire mint hostage and dress their hostages in the same red jumpsuits and Salvador Dali masks they are wearing to make them indistinguishable from the police. That gives them enough time to print out the €2.4 billion they came for, a process that takes 11 days.
The other major wrinkle is the escape plan. Spanish police surround the Royal Mint almost immediately, so escape by conventional means is impossible. Instead, the robbers tunnel out and escape to an airplane hangar.
Of course, not everything goes according to plan. The most unpredictable factor is always the human factor, and many of the robbers fall in love with people they aren’t supposed to: Robbers Rio and Tokyo fall in love with each lover, robber Helsinki falls in love with one of the hostages, and the Professor falls in love with Raquel, the cop who is leading the response to the heist. All of these indiscretions lead directly to the predicament they find themselves in next.
The Professor’s plan in seasons 3, 4, and 5 of Money Heist
Season 3 picks up three years after the Royal Mint heist. Rio and Tokyo have broken up, but when Rio calls Tokyo, Interpol traces the call and catches him. Tokyo convinces the gang to get back together and rescue Rio by doing what they do best: another heist.
The goal of the heist is to force the police to give up Rio. But the Bank of Spain is also home to a large gold stockpile that is too tempting to pass up. It’s housed inside a vault that immediately floods if the bank is breached, which is based on the real-life bank’s security feature, according to Bloomberg. The robbers get around that obstacle by cutting a hole in the roof of the vault and scuba diving down to the gold. If that isn’t tricky enough, the Professor also decides to melt the 90 tons of gold down into small pellets for easier transport.
But again, the human factor makes things even more complicated. The police do give Rio over to the robbers during season 3. But shortly after the reunion, Raquel (now working with the robbers and going by “Lisbon”) is captured by the police. Their new adversary, Alicia Suarez, is just as devious as the Professor. She makes the Professor think she actually murdered Lisbon, which drives him to lose his cool and order an attack on the police. Eventually, the Professor uncovers footage of Suarez’s subordinates torturing Rio, which gives them leverage and forces the police to release Lisbon.
When season 4 ends, the robbers are all still inside the bank and Suarez has just tracked down the Professor. Whenever season 5 comes back, there’s no doubt it will be just as complicated as the first four. But fans wouldn’t have it any other way.