Updated: Feb 15, 2021
I have a deep appreciation for heist movies. Give me Entrapment, Tower Heist, The Sting, The Shawshank Redemption, The Spanish Prisoner, The Town, Logan Lucky, and Ocean’s 8, 11, 12, and 13 any day of the week. If you promise me it has someone cutting a circle into a window, and then applying a suction cup and removing the cut part and crawling through it, I will drop everything to watch it. If you guarantee me an old run-down mansion where the brilliant mastermind gathers a group of ne’er do wells—all strangers who will soon be willing to die for one another—I’ll neglect my children and bodily functions to binge it.
So when my sister recommended Money Heist, an original Netflix Spanish series (dubbed in English), I didn’t wait a single day to start it. And it has everything a lover of the genre would ever want: a big, old, creaky house where the band of misfits gathers; a mastermind who is as creepy as he is smart; a group of hostages who vary in bravery; a tough but vulnerable police negotiator who wears fitted, low cut suits; a warehouse; baits and switches; sex; drugs; and a loot so enormous it makes all the other drama (Those pesky hostages! Those annoying gunshot wounds!) worth it. The show is so grippingly good—well, for a heist obsessive anyway—that I literally clock the number of hours I have until our kids go to bed and we can watch a few more episodes.
And yet, I wonder if there’s a way to live the heist life, rather than just salivate over it on a screen. If I turned my energy away from the television and put it into my own orchestrated con, I would only have to come up with what I would steal. But as for a rag-tag group of criminals—I have already assembled the perfect team:
The Professor: Meg, a plucky, energetic leader, assembled the team and reigns comfortably as the one in charge. Her command of the group ensures they stay in line and on task. As the ringleader, she assigns the other members their duties and demands they all bring their best to the table. You may suspect at some point that she’s the kind who will pull a heist on the group and run off with their shares in the end, but you’ll soon learn she’s too extroverted and social to flee to Zihuantenejo by herself. Though one day she would love to pee in private. But, despite pack-animal characteristics, she can be a hard ass. This means there is no time for whining about snacks, or taking forever to leave the compound, or not keeping track of your shoes. She’s also oddly jazzed about the matching outfits and taking lots of selfies (#heistfamily), but it’s only so she can remember this precious time. Her weaknesses are that she has a small bladder and is quick to tears, but that’s why she brought in The Strategist.
The Strategist: Jim, the level-headed, bespectacled nerd of the group, makes sure the plan is created, and then double-triple-nipple-checked. He will check the plan so damn much that the crew will tire and lose interest in the loot, which will, at that point, be worth less because of inflation. But that’s part of The Strategist’s strength—he will build a plan so air tight, so flawless, so buttoned up that no police negotiator will see it coming. Cut to the negotiator ripping his/her phone headset off and screaming to everyone in the command center, “He’s always a step ahead of us!” He will also plan a helluva heist playlist, but it will invariably contain too much Elton John. His weakness is his stubborn inability to be rushed, which, let’s face it, is crucial in a heist. Luckily, The Professor knows his ticklish spots, which tends to get him to move quickly.
The Thief: Lucy, technically a golden retriever, is the one who will fetch the loot. She is so expertly trained at this from extensive experience snatching food from tables, counters, the pantry, and out of small hands before anyone is aware. Just last week a bagel was no more than sprung from the toaster and sat on a plate awaiting a spread of cream cheese, than it was snatched and swallowed before someone was able to take a butter knife from the drawer. A calming presence for the group, The Thief will not only retrieve the prize, but she’ll make sure all the angst of carrying off a heist doesn’t get too overwhelming. Her weaknesses are food and belly rubs, so everyone just has to be sure to withhold either until her task is done.
The Performer: London, the youngest of the group, is an expert in distraction. By capturing your attention with a sweet face and pouty lips, your bagel will be long gone before you can peel your eyes away. Once at dinner, she ate all of her green beans but wanted more. Instead of just asking, she came over to The Professor’s chair and asked for a hug. The Professor—the weakest in the face of The Performer—obliged. The hug was so loving The Professor didn’t notice the handful of green beans London scooped off her plate and into her mouth. Further, The Performer is a great singer, dancer, and comedienne. This will be particularly useful in the heist when The Thief needs a good distraction, or if we need to entertain the hostages so they don’t revolt. Keep in mind, The Performer needs more sleep than anyone else on the team, and if she shows you something she drew and you don’t correctly guess what it is, she will likely break a beer bottle over your head.
The Acrobat: Lowery is 45 pounds of sheer muscle. This is partly because she never stops moving. She does push ups, chin ups, sit ups, burpees, and jumps rope for fun. She runs to blow off steam. She practices yoga when she’s overwhelmed. This makes her perfect for fitting into tight spaces, jumping up on roofs, crawling through vents, or scaling a wall (if that is somehow needed). She can twist her body into pretzel-like shapes, which will be helpful in sneaking her into a hotel room by hiding her inside a room service cart. She can also run like lightning, which will be handy when it comes to moving the money/jewelry/data quickly away from the bank/hotel/warehouse. She also has oddly good eyesight. The Professor briefly considered naming her Eagle Eye, but figured her arm, leg, and stomach muscles meant more to the plan than her eye muscles, but still, it’s nice to have well-rounded members. Now, the thing about The Acrobat is, she’s a talker. And when everyone is sitting silently inside the vault and/or underground tunnel, quiet is key. The Professor knows the trick here is a magazine and a stick of Juicy Fruit.
The Escape Artist: And finally, the one who can get us out of any jam we get into—a 20-pound French Bulldog by the name of Daisy. The Professor and The Strategist first noticed this strength when they went out into the backyard and realized Daisy was gone. It took calling every neighbor on the street to track down someone who had seen her racing headlong into traffic before being picked up by a black SUV. Tracking down the SUV led The Professor and The Strategist to a vet clinic five miles away, where they found Daisy, wagging her tailless ass as if she had done nothing wrong. It took an hour of scouring the fence line in their backyard to find the tiny hole she had dug. Eventually, The Professor and The Strategist had that line of the fence replaced as the boards were so warped Daisy could practically use them like swinging doors. But that brand-new, double enforced fence line didn’t keep The Escape Artist in. It just made her dig at another spot along the adjacent fence line and escape again. This time, she was caught by a group of mothers who saw her by a school at pickup time. Needless to say, if we can get in, The Escape Artist can get us out. Her weakness—perhaps easier to manage than others—is eating crayons. So the solution is to have The Performer and The Acrobat put away their damn crayons, but not all of The Professor’s commands are followed.
You won’t see us coming (though you might hear The Acrobat). You won’t know we’ve stolen it (The Thief is that sneaky). You won’t know when we did it (you will have been distracted by The Performer). You certainly won’t understand how we did it (thanks to the relentless fastidiousness of The Strategist). You won’t understand how we got away (though you may suspect The Escape Artist used some sort of digging). But more than anything, you’ll wonder why the hell we did it.
And that, my friends, is for The Professor alone to know.
If she ever really existed at all.
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