Streaming platforms have taken movies from the cinema and shows from the networks and brought them to a single platform. Apart from making content easily accessible, these platforms have pushed the boundaries of shows as well. Black Mirror: Bandersnatch allowed subscribers to choose the direction they wanted their show to head in, offering them multiple possible routes. As this proved to be an attraction, Netflix expanded on the same with many more shows. However, they weren’t content with just that and pushed the boundaries even further with Kaleidoscope. Quite an apt name for the series based on the concept of the namesake toy.
According to the Oxford dictionary, a kaleidoscope is a toy comprising a tube that you look through with loose pieces of colored glass and mirrors at the end. When the tube is turned, the pieces of glass move and form different patterns.
To boost my case, I’ll liken the episodes to the pieces of glass and the order of consumption as the different patterns. In an actual kaleidoscope, it all fits extremely well. This is exactly what the makers have tried to accomplish with his Netflix show, as the order of the seven episodes can be changed in any manner, thereby giving each subscriber a plethora of possible viewing options.
What’s crucial here is that the audience pays attention, as anything from any episode could be a clue. Given the unique order of viewing, expect the phenomenon of getting questions to answers that have already been given out. It’s just something you will face that some other viewers may not.
What’s important to note is that whatever order is followed, all questions and answers will be placed before the audience. Apparently, Netflix displayed the episodes in a different order. I cannot verify that, but it appeared on my screen in this order- Yellow, Green, Violet, Blue, Orange, Red, Pink, and White. I could have watched White first.
As I glanced at the episode titles on social media, I decided to watch it as a journey in a linear timeline. It appealed to me, as this would see a singular progression. Of course, this may have been envisioned by the creator. Audiences would have expected this and decided to watch it in the given order on Netflix.
Kaleidoscope (2023): ‘Netflix’ Miniseries Recap:
A TLDR of this show would be a tale of revenge by a betrayed man. He sets out to destroy the betrayer and pulls off one of the most intricate heists with his team.
In the order that I picked out:
In this episode, audiences get introduced to Leo Pap fka. Ray Vernon and Graham Davies, aka. Roger Salas. They are two heist artists who swindle and rob the rich. However, Ray has second thoughts as he wants to focus on his family, i.e., his wife Lily and daughter Hannah. Vernon informs Graham of his decision to walk away, and he invests in an auto repair shop. His wife continues to work at the local club, but things go south once the club staff manhandles Lily, who was found somewhere she shouldn’t have been. Ray was furious and made it known, but the staff terminated Lily’s employment. This saw Vernon head back to Graham and take him up on his offer- the one he had previously declined. On Christmas Eve, they headed to the club to rob jewelry, but Vernon got caught.
Graham rushed in to make the save and committed arson to enable the duo to cover their tracks. Once outside, Ray spotted Lily’s car and went back in to save her. She was trapped under furniture and behind a scalding hot door in the burning building. Graham could have made the save, but he fled and left Lily for dead. In the hospital, Hannah and Vernon had a moment where he sugarcoated the news of his imminent imprisonment. Ray Vernon instructed his daughter to head to Ava Mercer and go off with her. Once she left, the officers read him his rights and detained him.
The story jumped 17 years, informing us that Ray Vernon spent them all in prison. A model prisoner, he knew how to get others to maintain their distance. Once diagnosed with Parkinson’s, he decided to “self parole,” in the words of his cellie, who also had a reason to escape. They created a distraction with the help of magic mushrooms, made copies of key cards, and altered a visiting doctor’s car to facilitate the breakout.
Ray Vernon’s cellie allowed himself to be taken back to the cell to buy the old man some time. Pap successfully made it into the yard and squeezed into the backseat of the doctor’s car, and then stole the vehicle once it was parked inside the owner’s garage. He drove it to Ava’s house and asked for a meeting with Hannah. Ava refused as she revealed she had allowed the young girl to move on.
The old man then tried to meet his daughter outside her office, but she reminded him of the time he refused to see her in jail. She vowed to return the favor and forget him. Vernon then saw that his daughter was working with his old accomplice (the man who betrayed him) Graham.
Ava faked Ray Vernon’s death and then gave him the identity of Leo Pap. However, a desperate Leo took one final shot at convincing his daughter to join him and abandon her boss. His letter to her initiated doubts, and the episode ended on a cliffhanger. Would Hannah trust her father after he “abandoned” her 17 years ago?
Roger Salas talked about loyalty and claimed the only thing that mattered is if one could be manipulated better than they could manipulate someone else. Leo Pap had planned what could be described as an impossible heist, but he knew anything could be pulled off. All that he needed was to have people he could trust by his side. Hence, he recruited his old cellie Stan, who brings Judy on board. Bob, Judy’s husband, joins them, as they are a package deal.
To get capital, the group pulled off a diamond heist where Bob took a bullet in his hand.
Hannah lived with her adopted sister and learned that she was pregnant. Salas came to know of this, but that didn’t stop him from promoting her to the VP post. He said pregnancy wasn’t a problem for him, and she was the best choice to replace Andrew- the employee handed a pink slip for leaking data.
Leo and Hannah met near the sea, and she spoke about the heist timing being poor. She also tried to dissuade her father from messing with a dangerous group of individuals, such as the triplets. It was because the security would be compromised just weeks after she had finally broken through in her job and career. Pap reminded her that they were in on this together and subtly brought up the truth about Graham.
An FBI agent close to the diamond heist case spotted certain persons of interest. The authorities further piqued her interest as a fingerprint of a bullet recovered from the diamond heist belonged to Ava Mercer, i.e., someone who had a history with Nazan Abbasi.
Mercer set up real estate for the heist in the same building that housed the SLS offices. She then visited the FBI office and explained why her prints were on a recovered bullet. Clearly, she covered her tracks well, as she left without any issues. On her way out, she spotted Abbasi and informed Leo about it. He urged caution and suggested burners and doubling back to check if they had a tail. Ava even pulled herself off the job to distance herself from the group and ensure the FBI didn’t get wind of their plans.
The FBI higher-ups ordered Abbasi to stay away from the diamond heist case, as she was too close to it. She didn’t comply and parked outside Ava’s house, where Bob came to bargain. Abbasi photographed the exchange and sped off once she got a call reminding her she was due in court. Ava looked alert when she heard and saw the speeding car.
In the bureau, Abbasi told her partner about why she got into the FBI and what her job made her do. She then pursued Mercer to an exhibition, but it turned out to be a trap. Law enforcement handcuffed Abbasi as she was in possession of drugs and was using a firearm in a public place.
Abbasi began examining her pictures and recognized the woman she tailed as the one who walked the dogs in front of Ava’s house. The ICE then detained this elderly woman, and Abbasi summoned Ava for a meeting. She subtly threatened the deportation of a non-citizen and had Ava turn a mole for her side.
A devastated Mercer agreed and got back onto Leo’s crew.
Leo informed his squad that the robbery would have seven steps. The catch was that without the successful completion of one step, any subsequent step would be impossible.
Bob and Judy decided to take all the money and split. Later, Leo breaks into Graham’s house and sees a family portrait. It pained him as a family is something his former accomplice snatched from him.
At the SLS office, Salas met the triplets. They wanted him to exchange their bonds for a cleaner asset, as the current one was problematic. He informed them he couldn’t, but they urged him to think about it. Sitting at his desk, he got a call blackmailing him for money. It came from a distorted voice, along with an email. Salas traced it to Andrew and visited him at his new place of employment. Andrew confessed to the blackmail and stood firm on his position of three days or else.
Roger Salas found a backdoor, but Hannah talked it down as bad firmware. She brought up the seven-year elaborate plan as a rather far-fetched thing. The group within the company closed the backdoor. Ava spotted it and stunned Leo when she passed on this information.
Leo then came up with another way to get through the backdoor. The group would use the impending hurricane to overcome the temperature barrier and get into the vault. The FBI was in on this as Ava leaked the information.
The episode took us to the day after the SLS heist. It showed Leo, Ava, Stan, and Judy on a boat with the information that something had gone wrong. The audience learned that the truck had vanished for a bit, and the crew realized that there was a rat. Ava then showed up with the getaway truck and told the group that she saw Bob sprawled out on the street.
The FBI showed up at SLS to check the vault, but Roger refused to let them in without a warrant. He did divulge that the storm had seeped in and caused some problems. The audience also learned that Roy Junior Jr and Bob were missing.
The crew wondered if anything was left behind when Judy enquired about Stan’s glasses. He had left it in the vault, and Roger traced him through them. Meanwhile, in the shop, the gang was at loggerheads and had their guns trained on each other as they had just discovered the colored paper in the boxes instead of the bonds.
Salas sent his men to their hideout. A shootout ensued where the goons got hold of Stan and Judy broke. She led them to a room in the back and opened the door to reveal Leo with a loaded gun. He fatally shot the two and helped his people escape.
Abbasi began digging into Roger Salas and saw that things didn’t quite add up. She drew the connection between Salas’ past identity of Graham Davies and Ray Vernon. The FBI got their warrant and visited SLS to search every vault. An inspection of Salas’ personal vault revealed something that made him want to call his lawyer.
Set six months after the heist, Abbasi kept investigating the diamond heist and connected it to the SLS incident. She deduced that the first robbery funded the second. The FBI successfully identified and profiled each gang member.
Bob, who survived, paid a visit to Salas in prison. He made a deal and was rejected as it wouldn’t help Roger/Graham get out of a 20-year sentence. Salas had just one instruction for Bob, i.e., kill Leo Pap.
Judy and Stan got back together and set up base in South Carolina. The former unwittingly left a breadcrumb, and the FBI traced them there. Leo and Ava suspected something was off, especially as their fence was killed. When they tried to flee, Bob showed up and knocked out Ava following a 3-on-1 shootout. Leo wasn’t on the premises as he had gone to take care of things.
He returned and saw Bob and his goon standing over Theresa and Ava. Leo broke when given a choice and ratted out Stan and Judy. The FBI picked up on the call and went to South Carolina to get Leo. However, they settled for Bob.
Judy and Stan were nearby and stopped for tacos before the rendezvous. Judy went for a walk and saw Bob’s handwritten notes of remorse and the money Leo had given him- the few thousands the crew took and escaped.
Leo, Ava, and Theresa broke free. However, Bob’s goon shot Theresa and Ava. Pap killed him and shared a moment with his associate. He then went to New York, video-called Hannah, and met his grandkid virtually. Audiences also learned that Ava’s dogs were with Hannah at an undisclosed location.
The episode ended with Leo Pap walking down a tunnel and someone following him. The unknown individual whipped out a gun and fired a shot as the pink backdrop presented itself on the screen.
White showed the actual heist. The group got into SLS, tricked the gait detector with bees, and used the storm to fool the temperature barrier. Leo even used a face mask to show the machine that he was Salas.
Stan and Bob worked in tandem to crack the safe. Leo was aware of Ava being a mole and the group planned for that. They lured the FBI to somewhere else in the building at just the correct time. Abbasi was furious when she discovered that and ended up finding the groups set up to feed Salas false data. When she smashed it, Salas got to view the actual recording and hastened back to the office. Hannah’s feed didn’t have this break in, which could have meant two things. 1. She was lying. 2. The group planned for Abbasi to find it, disrupt the feed, and lure Salas in.
The group fled the scene of the crime, but Leo stayed behind. Ava told him not to drown in her. Bob tried to take Judy and run, but things went south, and his part in this episode ended with him lying flat on the tar.
Judy and Stan got away from SLS, and Nazan Abbasi managed to get to Ava. She ordered Mercer to stop the truck with a threat that she would report Theresa. However, Ava replied she had taken care of it and drove. Abbasi managed to hit Ava with a bullet.
Salas’ man cornered Leo and had him at his mercy till Hannah struck him with a fire extinguisher. She then informed her father about a small change she had made in the plan. Leo went back into the vault for one final task. This gave us an insight into why he broke into Salas’ home in Blue.
Kaleidoscope (2023): ‘Netflix’ Miniseries Review
Kaleidoscope is written and presented well enough to keep audiences hooked no matter what order they pick/are presented to them. However, for the sake of a linear flow and to avoid the frustration of numerous time jumps, chronological order is recommended.
The viewing experience would be inferior for those who may end up watching it in the wrong order. There is no wrong order, but it would be fair to label such a thing as an inconvenient order. Also, there should have been a restriction on White. There wasn’t anything stopping me from watching White first and knowing the entire story. The seven other episodes would have then served as an explanation. However, Eric Garcia designed that last frame as a mystery that may have ruined an earlier episode.
The characters are exactly the ones that fans would expect from heist shows or films. There is the geek, the grizzled veteran, an enemy who betrayed the veteran, a couple, a free talker, and one who orchestrates the logistics.
Each of the episodes forms a pacy watch. It isn’t as mind-bending as Money Heist, as Leo Pap is no Professor. This works well as audiences won’t feel the show’s run time.
Two cast members that stood out in Kaleidoscope were Giancarlo Esposito and Tati Gabrielle. Giancarlo Esposito brought an aura to Leo Pap’s character that led audiences to buy into him as a leader who could control such a volatile group. Gabrielle’s character had to maintain a facade for years, and the subtlety with which she achieved it was truly remarkable. There were no hints of betrayal on her end from either side, making her the perfect inside man.
What I liked were the references to numerous films and shows from the past. I spotted nods to Prison Break, Shawshank Redemption, Die Hard, Reservoir Dogs, and The Italian Job. Another good thing was the sports reference to show how quickly their seven-step plan could unravel. Finally, I liked the nod to elements of the 80s that were included in the one episode that provided the show writers the opportunity.
What was disappointing was how every robbery movie/series positions safe crackers as people with good hearing who turn knobs. It did fit with that particular character’s personality.
Kaleidoscope (2023): ‘Netflix’ Miniseries Ending, Explained:
Tasked with an ending explainer, I’ll call this White explained. White had to be watched last. However, in chronological order, Pink is the real ending explained.
Sooo.. about White.
Where did RJ Jr go?
Bob wanted to flee with Judy. However, Roy Junior Jr. stopped them and received a blow for his efforts. Judy checked on RJ Jr. and saw her husband’s butt get shot. She backed away and saw RJ get ready to unleash a fatal shot. As an act of loyalty, she killed RJ, and the couple then stashed his corpse in the dumpster.
Who attacked Bob?
Bob roamed the streets with an open challenge to Stan to come and face him man-to-man. A person grabbed him from behind and strangled him. The duo struggled and fell to the ground. Once the vertical base got compromised, Bob was powerless until Judy released her hold.
Why can’t Bob talk?
Bob couldn’t talk as Judy’s attempts to strangle him failed. However, she damages his vocal cords badly.
Who killed Leo Pap?
The triplets got their money and wouldn’t have pursued Leo Pap. However, Bob’s information and Salas’s realization of the origin of the sapphire in his vault will have shown him the identity of the man who framed him. With his henchmen dealt with and his empire ended, only one person could help Salas. Or rather, only one person who had the motive to kill Leo. Who? Roger.
Who stole the bonds?
Red saw the group discover that they had been duped with colored paper. They turned on each other, with audiences believing it was Bob or Roy Junior Jr who had taken them. However, the real mastermind behind this bond was Hannah. She didn’t even let her father in on her plan alternation until it was already done.
Why did Hannah dupe the gang?
Hannah pulled this off to save her father from the triplets. She earned them about the gang in Yellow. A few episodes later, Salas informed her how people like the triplets work, and audiences got to see this once they dealt with Abbasi for digging in too deep.
One member of the triplets requested to swap the bonds for something else, and Hannah came up with the ruse. The trio used the storm as a claim for insurance and remained rich in a different way. Meanwhile, Hannah kept the bonds and lived peacefully. It achieved multiple objectives.
- Destroy Salas’ reputation and help her father get revenge.
- Give the triplets what they want.
- Allow her father not to have knowledge of the missing bonds once the group discovers it.