By Michelle Anne P. Soliman, Reporter
ON New Year’s Day Netflix dropped a new heist crime drama with a gimmick — the viewer makes their own choice of the order in which to watch the episodes. The intended finale is not necessarily the denouement.
Created by Matchstick Men author Eric Garcia, the show centers on Ray Vernon/Leo Pap (played by Giancarlo Esposito) who broke out of prison and starts to build a team to commit a heist in New York City’s Wall Street. The goal is to rob a highly secure vault with $70 billion at SLS, a finance company owned by Robert Salas (Rufus Sewell) — a former friend and partner in crime. Ray Vernon assembles a team of five people — Ava Mercer (Paz Vega), Bob Goodwin (Jai Courtney) with his wife Judy (Rosaline Elbay), Stan Loomis (Peter Mark Kendall), and RJ Acosta (Jordan Mendoza) — each with special skills for a successful heist.
While I was aware of the popularity of Money Heist and Netflix’s interactive Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, this was my first dive into a heist drama and interactive story. I spent the entirety of Tuesday evening watching the series to see if I’d get hooked. And I did, after three episodes.
The first episode is “Black” where the rules of the series are explained in 50 seconds. Afterwards, which episode to watch is up to the viewer. If the viewer follows the rules and saves “White” as the intended finale, then there are 5,040 possible combinations of the seven episodes.
As Netflix described, “All viewers will eventually see all episodes, but the order in which they watch the episodes will affect their viewpoint on the story, the characters, and the questions and answers at the heart of the heist.”
Show creator Eric Garcia told Yahoo! Entertainment about his excitement for the audience discourse. “I actually think it’s one of those shows that engenders conversation, because if you watch it in a silo, you’re watching it your way, and hopefully, you’re learning different things and seeing it different things, but it’s not until you either watch it a second time or discuss it with somebody else that you start to recognize that there are things that you may have missed, by watching it the order that you watched.”
The eight episodes are titled with different colors. The color assigned to an episode is detailed onscreen through various elements such as the characters’ costumes, set design, or props.
I saw it in the order Netflix has it laid out — “Black,” “Yellow,” “Green,” “Violet,” “Blue,” “Orange,” “Red,” “Pink,” “White.” Before the episode begins, the screen flashes with the respective title color and text explaining when the story took place, which can be months, years, or days, before or after the heist. However, I don’t think the specific-colored objects in each episode function as easter eggs for the story.
As I continued watching in the chronology I received on my account, I only realized rather late that it was after all a revenge story, with vengeance committed through a heist.
Since it is a story that spans 25 years, I wish I had started with the episode with the backgrounder of the two main characters, Ray Vernon/Leo Pap and Robert Salas.
I had to go back to two episodes before the heist to review the backgrounds of some characters. And then, I ended with “White.” Despite not choosing to change the color sequence, there were interesting and unexpected revelations about some characters during “White.”
Based on the ending I watched, it would be interesting to follow up the series with a new season as some elements remain unresolved. A planned solo watch (in your choice of episode order), and a discourse with friends afterwards would be entertaining.