What I thought about: The Minions of Midas

I am simply not smart enough to understand the plot. This Spanish thriller starts off with a bang, but its twists morph it into something that, right to the very end, had me scratching my head.

Victor has two expressions. His shocked face, which is this one, and his thinking face.

What’s it about?
Victor Genovés, an executive at media conglomerate the Malvar Group, has recently become the company president after being named heir to the late owner’s fortune in his will. Shortly after, he receives a letter at his office, closed with a traditional wax seal. It’s from the Minions of Midas or Los favoritos de Midas, a shadowy group who want to engage in a business transaction with Victor. That’s a very polite way of putting it – for in reality they are extorting him to the tune of 50 million euros. The consequence if he doesn’t pay? A stranger will die – and they give an exact time and place for the murder.

Like any self-respecting millionaire, Victor is a little spooked by the letter but ultimately ignores it. Sure enough, a woman is killed in a hit and run at the exact time and place specified in the letter. Unlike any self-respecting millionaire, however, he refuses to cut the loss-making Observer newspaper from the Malvar Group. This upsets the board of directors and they assemble enough votes to ditch him – that is, until another letter from the Minions shows up. “We have some information that can help you keep your position in the company,” they say, “remember, your gain is our gain”.

How mysterious.

What do I like about it?
The first half makes for a great thriller. The police scramble to hunt down the Minions as, every five days, exactly where promised, another seemingly random stranger is killed. It’s also mind-bending at times – some of the murders are arguably not caused by the Minions at all but rather by the police themselves and the hysteria invoked by the shadowy organisation.

The other events of the show are also pretty good – and pretty bleak. Victor’s love interest, Observer journalist Mónica Báez, uncovers the Bank of Madrid’s shameful financing of the Syrian regime, and there are mass protests verging into riots across Spain moments before they are due to host the European Summit. The polarisation of Victor’s penthouse apartment and the rioters below him make for a stark image of class divide, and tie in somewhat well into the extortion plot.

What do I not like about it?
This is probably just me but… I didn’t get it? I don’t want to spoil the plot but, towards the end, Victor changes how he reacts to the Minions and makes decisions which are unlike his character in the first half of the show. I just can’t quite work out what it all means – and I’m one of those people who longs for at least some kind of closure.

Worth a watch?
Probably not, unless you like the idea of it. Not to sound weird or anything but there wasn’t a lot of death and violence in it to make up for the slow parts.

By the way…

  • There is some nudity.
  • This is a limited series – it ain’t coming back.


What I thought about: Money Heist (Part 1)

Oh. My. God. This show is one of the best thrillers I have ever seen. I’m disappointed in myself for taking so long to press ‘play’ on a show that almost everyone has already seen by now. In case you haven’t yet, let me tell you why I love it.

Not the only masks you see in the show, so look out for that

What’s it about?
A group of criminals and outcasts, each with their own individual talents, have been assembled by a seemingly awkward and introverted man known only as the Professor. Over a period of months, they have lived together and trained together to prepare for the greatest bank heist of all time.

I can’t say much more without spoiling the fantastic twists, turns, and overall brilliance of the Professor’s plan. But I can say that this show is truly thrilling, and not at all in the same way as Uncut Gems, a movie I couldn’t finish watching for all the anxiety it was giving me.

What do I like about it?
There’s so much to like here. The way the show unravels the plan – slowly and in time with the action – always keeps you guessing. Something bad happened? Is it all over for the robbers, or did things go exactly to plan? In a poorly made show, you might be able to shake off this gimmick and relax yourself as disaster after disaster is averted at every turn. But Money Heist is not a badly made show. Things do go wrong – and the robbers don’t always recover from them.

Perhaps the best part of the show is the way it portrays the backstories and personal lives of the characters. You don’t get lengthy flashbacks a la Orange is the New Black, instead you are drip fed small, relevant, pieces of history, just enough to plant seeds of empathy in your head before the show snaps straight back to the action. With those seeds planted, you’re suddenly concerned for all sorts of different characters on different sides of the action. With every tense moment, you have to make a split second decision about which of the characters you’re rooting for, and start praying that it works out in their favour. That task in itself is thrilling, let alone the action happening on screen at the same time.

What do I not like about it?
A small handful of characters are a bit too goofy for what should be a gritty drama. They’re incompetent, or annoying, just enough to detract from the rest of the show. Also, as good as the Professor’s plan is, some things they get away with are a little too unrealistic.

Worth a watch?
ABSOLUTELY. But do know that this is a long show. The first part is 13×45-minute episodes. It took me a while, and sometimes it’s an exhausting watch.

By the way…

  • As another Spanish Netflix show, I was expecting someone from Elite to show up in the cast. Instead, I counted five. FIVE. There are FIVE actors from Elite in this show.
  • The show originally aired in Spain with fewer, longer, episodes. Netflix re-cut the show into shorter episodes, and I’m grateful for it.