Netflix’s Kaleidoscope took a colorful crew of thieves and gave a fun spin to the typical heist drama, by detailing past motivations as well as chronicling the aftermath. Did the eight-episode series successfully steal your attention?
Kaleidoscope stars Giancarlo Esposito as Ray Vernon aka Leo Pap, a onetime burglar who escapes prison in the midst of a 25-year sentence to mastermind the robbing of an impenetrable vault containing $70 billion in untraceable bearer bonds. His crew includes Ava Mercer (played by Paz Vega), prison pal Stan Loomis (Peter Mark Kendall), chemical/explosives expert Judy Goodwin (Rosaline Elbay) and her safe-cracker beau Bob (Jai Courtney), wheel man RJ Acosta Jr. (Jordan Mendoza), and “man inside” Hannah Kim (Tati Gabrielle) — aka Ray’s daughter.
Rufus Sewell plays Roger Salas, CEO of SLS, the top-shelf security corporation that created and safeguards the aforementioned vault, and who regards Hannah as a protege. The cast also includes Niousha Noor as Nazan Abbasi, the FBI agent semi-hot on Leo Pap’s tail; Bubba Weiler as Abassi’s partner Samuel Toby; Hemky Madera as SLS goon Carlos Sujo; and Soojeon Son as Hannah’s roommate/”sister” Liz.
Following an intro asset titled “Black,” the eight episodes — served by Netflix in a semi-random order — were titled:
“Yellow: 6 Weeks Before The Heist”
“Green: 7 Years Before the Heist”
“Blue: 5 Days Before the Heist”
“Violet: 24 Years Before the Heist”
“Orange: 3 Weeks Before the Heist”
“Red: The Morning After the Heist”
“Pink: 6 Months After”
“White: The Heist” (finale)
If we go with the easy Ocean’s Eleven comp… Salas was Ray’s Terry Benedict, a man against whom he sought revenge by away of a devastating financial setback. The difference with Kaleidoscope is that we got a whole episode (“Violet”) that established the men’s previous friendship/criminal alliance… followed by the tragic event that forked their paths, when Roger chose to flee the scene of a bungled burglary rather than possibly save Ray’s wife from a fire. (Knowing he’d be arrested soon after, Ray turned a wee Hannah over to Ava, who would find the parent-less lass a new home.)
Back in the present day, “Leo” assembled a crew of thieves both known (Ava, Stan, Judy, Hannah) and new (Bob, RJ), with “love triangle” tensions between Stan, Judy and blowhard Bob often disrupting the team’s flow. Following a diamond district robbery designed to get the crew some fast seed money, Ava drew the attention of Abassi, a disgraced FBI agent with whom she’d crossed paths years prior. Abassi soon threatened to deport Ava’s longtime nanny unless she tipped her off to the crew’s movements.
The episodes “Pink” and “Red,” both set after the heist, offered hints about things that had gone wrong and lives possibly lost, yet stopped short of spelling everything out. “Pink” in particular revealed that immediately after the heist, Judy choked out Bob and left him for dead, after he led her to kill RJ and almost killed Stan. Bob, though, actually survived, albeit without a working voice box. He then struck a deal with an imprisoned Salas and recruited two goofball henchmen to hunt down Leo/Ray, and ideally also Stan. Ray, though, set a trap in which Abassi & Co. cornered and gunned down Bob. As for Ray himself, he was last seen quite afflicted by his Parkinson’s. And after giving new mom Hannah a promised FaceTime call, he was ambling through Central Park when a man came up behind him, pulled out a gun and…. A gunshot rang out, after the screen faded to pink.
Is Ray now dead? Portrayer Giancarlo Esposito told TechRadar, “I want Ray to walk through that tunnel and see Hannah again. I want him to have that final hug. Parkinson’s is a devastating, uncontrollable disease, but you can fight it and Ray has that fight in him again. [Y]ou don’t know if he makes it but, at this point of his journey, he doesn’t want any more loss. He just really wants to live.”
On, and the heist itself? The “White” finale filled in many blanks about how the vault’s umpteen safeguards were bypassed — using a swarm of bees (!) to foil the gait sensor, office plants distributed by Liz to spritz knockout gas, a plastic mask to dupe a facial scan. There was some drama when Judy was slow to plant the explosive that would rush in hurricane rainwater to short out the temperature sensor, and Ava had to blindly detonate it, but Judy made it out fine. Bob and Stan then got to safecracking, while the others loaded the waterproof bins of bonds into a dolly, which Judy sent up in the elevator to RJ.
But along the way, Hannah secretly intercepted the cab and, working with Liz, quickly swapped in bins loaded with colored paper, then sent the dolly up to RJ. It was only after, in “Red,” that the crew realized the bonds were missing.
And as the “White” finale revealed, only Ray ever knew that Hannah had made the switch. She revealed it, and her reasoning, to her father shortly before he dove back down into the flooded vault to plant inside Salas’ personal safe the valuable gem from their bungled, decades-ago heist — to eventually tip off the Feds that he was not who he says he is!