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Kaleidoscope is trusting

"…Because trust can be earned. It can be given and it can be stolen."

By 'Vive AkughaPublished 10 months ago 19 min read
Image Credit: Screenshot by me

Giancarlo Esposito, Paz Vega, Tati Gabrielle, Rufus Sewell, Peter Mark Kendall, Rosaline Elbay, and Jai Courtney are part of the cast of Netflix's Kaleidoscope.

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Image Credit: Screenshot from Netflix on YouTube

Kaleidoscope is a 2023 innovative Netflix series. It allows you to enjoy the story of a heist 25 years in the making in any order you choose. I initially wanted to watch it sequentially but I changed my mind. There are eight episodes each one giving insight into different motives, timeframes and more around the heist. 

However, the first of the nine episodes informs you of what you are about to watch and speaks of it's uniqueness as it says every episode is a piece of the puzzle. I liked the first episode, 'Black'. It reminded me of a warning before a ride begins or of the cinematic theatre trailers you watch before the movie starts. Each episode is more than 30 minutes. There are descriptions with each episode but they don't tell you too much. The titles of the episodes have the point in time you are as well as the colour appointed to it.

Despite the warnings not to trust anyone, everyone had an amount of trust for each other. The series also trusts the audience to enjoy and follow the story any way they join it. No one was completely disloyal, except Bob(Jai Courtney) to an extent but the discrepancies are not as bad as they may seem. For the crew, Leo looked for people he trusted or at least trusted to perform well. There are layers to the story and it's characters that are complex and humane. They all take a chance to trust each other.

Yellow (6 weeks before the heist)

Image Credit: Screenshot by me

*These are some of my descriptions and opinions of this episode.

  • You are welcomed into the episode. I like the welcome, it's pleasant and gets you excited about what's coming next.
  • I already like the cinematography, it's appealing.
  • Leo (Giancarlo Esposito) speaks of his experience in the industry and how he learned that a team is essential to success. He said, 'Lone wolves don't get far.'
  • Immediately, we're made to doubt everyone and everything. It's good so far. Upcoming twists and turns, as the black episode let us know, there will be betrayals.
  • We get a glimpse of Roger's (Rufus Sewell) personality and mindset as he says, 'Loyalty is worthless. Faith is dead' to Stefan (John Hans Tester). He says this among other words which helps to inform us of his view of himself and others. He seems ruthless as the scene ends to welcome us officially to Kaleidoscope (with a title card and some credits).
  • Haha, he really had his employee, Hannah (Tati Gabrielle) steal to prove a point, not a bad move tbh.
  • The song lyrics as he decides to put together a crew say, 'I won't waste my time'. They speak of Leo's personality and determination to this heist and to the game(of thievery). He doesn't believe being a thief is a waste but you should be swift and productive.
  • The 'I won't waste my life' line played in the scene with Stan (Peter Mark Kendall) describes his discontentment and possible swift acceptance to be part of the crew as we watch the scene progress into his still unhappy and unsatisfied current state as a butcher living with his Ma (Susan Varon)and girlfriend, Barbara(Stacey Oristano). After he yelled already answering their questions, the blender sound increased showing his fed-up state increased as well. The sound is swiftly cut off leading into the next scene as he looks calm and collected.
  • What a sweet genuine moment! Stan and Leo hugged. Leo visits Stan to offer him a position in the crew which becomes a joyous reunion. 
  • Stan declines and tells Leo, 'Don't get me wrong, man, I would love nothing more than to bow out of this shitshow and mix it up'. This decline does not last long though, Leo casually mentions the score of seven billion dollars and closes the store knowing he would be interested now. He was trying to be strait-laced as a butcher out of a sense of obligation and for stability but he's intrigued. He had said, 'Ma's a mess and Barbara's on me like a hawk'.
  • We learn the stakes, the people involved (The triplets)and the possible plan to acquire the unregistered bearer bonds of about $7 billion.
  • Roger's building is really nice.
  • Stan makes it known that Leo is not enamoured by fancy things as he questions why they would make such a big risk but Leo does not answer plainly.
  • He entices Stan with the possible position of being a chemist which got his attention.
  • HAHAHAH, the 'I'm a fucking moron' bit was great. Can't believe they still went on to the four guy after she said all that.
  • Bob, the 'I'm a fucking moron' guy is in a relationship with this Judy(Rosaline Elbay) (toxic it seems). Stan comes to see Judy. They were in a relationship that ended badly and Bob interjects to question Stan's presence. He learns that Leo wants to see Judy and they all go to meet him.
  • We see Leo's hand shake for the first time and Bob notices it.
  • Bob forces himself into the deal saying he and Judy or 'wifey' are a package deal. He also says that he's good with safes as an add-on.
  • Leo said he has someone on the inside and we're unsure who it is as a notice of someone gaining access through the firewall is brought to Roger's attention. He requests for eyes on Andrew(definitely won't be him?).
  • Hannah wants the Junior VP position. She's performing well and doing overtime. She tells her roommate and sister, Liz (Soojeong Son)about possible background checks and calls soon but when Liz calls her a thief she reacts shockingly as if found out. She finds out she's pregnant as well.
  • Ava (Paz Vega) is introduced as an old crew member aware of his plan for Roger Salas and seems to be in on it at the same level. She believes a job is done successfully with 90% preparation and 10% ammunition and she has an armoury bunker in her basement. Woww, but I respect it. You can't say she wouldn't be prepared haha. 
  • Leo said that he didn't want to go in with guns before he asked her why she would want to give some to the crew and she said for the billions of dollars (bucket list to do a job this big)and for their 25-year IOU which would make them square.
  • With her, they recruit RJ(Jordan Mendoza) who works for Leo and they form the team (Leo, Stan, Ava, Judy, Bob and Rj) as they plan how to crack this seemingly indestructible safe of Roger Salas.

Leo and Ava

" Lone wolves don't get far."-Leo

Image Credit: Screenshot by me

Ava is Leo's dear friend and she has been helping him for years. She is a lawyer and operates as the middle person for many of their plans. She is intelligent and resourceful. Ava is always prepared. She has been consistent in his life but she often worried about him not only due to his diagnosis but about his dedication to the heists. She asked him when it would ever be enough and Leo said it's not about the money but she said it's a great consolation prize though.

Ava was a tremendous help to Leo and Hannah. She helped him when he escaped from prison and found her. She gave him shelter, protected him from the officers and faked his death. She helped clean his past and created a new identity. She helped him with his heist plans (past and present)and helped with his treatments. She helped protect him after she was cornered into becoming the mole of the operation. She was his comfort and they cared about each other despite the seemingly lingering emotions. While he was away, Ava took care of his daughter, Hannah. Hannah had no family. Her mother died and her father was imprisoned but Ava was there for her from the moment she shielded Hannah (Austin Elle Fisher) from seeing his arrest in the hospital.

Leo and Stan

"Your best friend isn't coming to rescue you."-Judy

Image Credit: Screenshot by me

Stan and Leo meet in prison. They support each other and become friends. Stan has a deep respect, trust and affection for Leo but Leo failed Stan. In prison, Stan expressed that he wanted to propose to his love, Judy. This fact encouraged him to join Leo's break-out plan. He feared he would lose Judy because she got tired of him being inside and she got tired of being his supplier. The break-out plan does not go well and he protects Leo by giving himself up. He did all his time and came out eventually. Leo visits him as a butcher and offers him a position in his new job. 

Despite his discontentment, he was unhappy and took up the offer especially as Leo waved the possibility of him being a chemist (which did not happen). After things go awry with the heist, he keeps reaching out to Leo for help but he's met with no response despite his unfailing hope in him. Judy attempts to ground him in reality when she says, "Your best friend isn't coming to rescue you". Judy and Stan got back together after Bob's disappearance but they were stranded for a while hoping for assistance at some point. 

I felt awful for Stan. He was fully alone now. No Ava, Leo, Ma, Barbara, or Judy. Judy took the money Bob stole from Leo and abandoned Stan to choose her own path. I mean, she could have left a stack or something somewhere (maybe in their room if she didn't want to say goodbye)because how was he supposed to go on? It's so sad seeing a supportive person abandoned. He was nice so many times. He was even nice to Bob during their first heist but it was not appreciated. He was there for Leo and despite his condition, Leo abandoned him. He could have told Ava to do something but he didn't. Stan cared about Leo but Leo gave him less in their friendship.

Leo and Hannah

"I hoped to get you back one day"-Hannah

Image Credit: Screenshot from Netflix on YouTube

Hannah has been through a lot. However, she is resilient and successful. She works in a high position at Roger's company. Ava honoured Leo's request and helped Hannah get into an adoptive family that raised her. This was supposed to cleanse her of all she had experienced while giving her a new opportunity but she never forgot her father. At a young age, she endured a tedious route to jail when she went to visit him but he rejected her. He returns back into his life but not in the way she wanted. Ava had questioned his motive for getting in touch with Hannah since he wanted her to forget him. He informs her of a couple of things including his previous partnership with Roger.

He added her to the crew as an inside man in Roger's company and they met up to discuss updates. Eventually, the heist came and passed but it was revealed that Hannah decided to adjust the plan. She made a separate plan with the Triplets so they get their bonds back while they get to live. Before I knew it was to protect him, I thought it was to teach him a lesson. I typed, "Makes sense that she took it. She is her father's daughter and excellently pulled off the solo one in the beginning. She is a 'tricky little squirrel' after all". She had to protect him since her warnings didn't work.

She makes it known to him and she's done trying to change him. She says that she is done trying to talk about who they are and aren't and that she will find a way for herself as she always has. It was a sweet and hopeful moment between them as she reminded him of the sayings they used to empower themselves. Hannah kept the door open to talk. She spoke her mind, felt freed and still had faith in him. She decided to detach herself from both of them (Roger and Leo)while she figured things out for herself. Despite her disapproval of his choices, she still loved him and wrote to him when he went off the grid after the heist. I wondered if she retired from her job. The house was interesting. I wondered if she acquired it with time, if it was from her savings, if it was from the pay increase of her promoted position, or if she kept some of the bonds for herself. 

Leo had a chance to come back to her as her father, as Ray Vernon but he didn't. He had a new identity and he wasn't being looked for again until he started the plans for the heist against Roger, so technically, he was in the clear. He discovered he had Parkinson's in jail and instead of gifting his daughter some time with her, he spent time working on this plot and communicated with her through it. He should have told her he had it too but at least he got to talk to her and see her daughter before he died.

Leo and Roger or Ray and Graham

'Welcome to the wonderful world of crime'-Judy

Image Credit: Screenshot by me

Ray and Graham now known as Leo and Roger were crime partners and great friends. We see the fondness and extent of their relationship as Roger interacts with Hannah and Leo's wife, Lily(Robinne Lee). Leo tells Roger that he's done for good after Roger says he should take a break. Leo makes it known that he's taking a lot of risks. He said, 'What do you think happens when they see a black man breaking into a white man's house? I'm the one who's jumping out of the windows and you, you get to walk out the front door". Despite Leo's thrill of the gig, his discussion with Lily made this feel necessary. However, Roger felt abandoned because to him, it felt random especially since they said this gig was temporary 15 years ago.

Roger attempts to rope him back into the heists but it's not successful until Lily loses her job. Roger and Leo plan to steal some precious jewelry being auctioned. He felt it would help his failing auto shop and his family. Roger also needed the money. Roger helped Leo as he got stuck during the heist but he left and didn't help Leo as Lily was trapped in the room. Roger escapes and Leo is arrested (presumably because he was caught before Roger came to help).

When Leo escapes from imprisonment he hatches a plan against Roger and his company. I felt this was unnecessary and exceedingly risky. At a point, I felt Leo was taunting Roger and I felt they could have continued with the mind games instead. To me, it would be more impactful. Also, Leo had followed Roger all the way into his company sauna. He attempted to strangle him but instead, he got a clue for the heist. He could have killed him but he probably wanted him to suffer.

One of the times Leo went surveilling, he went into Roger's family home. He saw an Audemars Piguet watch he kept. It was the same one Leo stole for him years ago. Roger wanted it on one of their jobs but Leo told him to leave it before he revealed that he still got it for him. The fact that Roger still kept it showed it had some sentimental value to it apart from his admiration for it.

Leo wanted Roger to serve his sentence too, even though it may not be as long as 17 years. So, after the heist, he puts the most expensive necklace from the jewelry robbing into his safe to incriminate him. Roger is arrested. Leo visits him and they have an honest discussion. Leo asked him if he could have saved Lily and Roger said he didn't know if he could. When you think about it, Leo has no reason to be angry or vengeful against Roger because he wasn't even sure he could save Lily, and he didn't tip off the police about him.

Image Credit: Screenshot from Netflix on YouTube

When I saw the scene when he left, I thought it was one of the coldest things I had seen because it looked like Roger looked straight in his eyes before leaving. Therefore, it seemed intentionally evil but to watch both of them unsure about that moment and the possibility of assistance is kind of insane. It would be different if Leo was sure that she could be saved and he was angry Roger didn't but he wasn't sure despite appearing so. 

It occurred to me that Leo was just angry that when he had a family, things were not going well for him like they were for Roger. Roger's successful, rich and strait-laced(as best as he can be). He was able to rebuild himself with a new reputable image. Leo is angry that Roger keeps drawing him back to steal but Roger tells Leo to own up to the fact that he's a thief and he should stop blaming him for everything. Leo tried but he reverted back similar to how Stan reverted back. Leo also felt that Roger took everything from him and couldn't take his daughter too but Roger was watching over her and he didn't outright take anything from him. He made the conscious decision to look for Hannah and watch over her while he was away.

Roger asks him if all that time, revenge and justice he speaks of was worth it in the end. The revenge he wanted was not as joyous as he planned it to be. He was getting worse and he didn't have the bonds they planned to steal. So, Roger was right to ask if it was worth it because it really wasn't. Roger's arrest will not be for long and everyone knows that. He is wealthy and he has advantageous connections. 

Funny enough I feel like Roger could have helped him if Leo looked for him and talked kind of like this but anger and revenge blind you. Roger is hurt that Leo did all this and for what? Their friendship turns sour and he makes a deal with Bob to kill Leo. However, that deal is unsuccessful as Bob dies but someone else kills Leo. 

Graham's son, Brad (Nate Katsuki) killed Ray. I felt he and Graham may have struck a deal for a seat at his company. Graham told Brad that he prefers college graduates for his company when Brad said he was considering a job there. I don't think he would have done it out of concern for the length of his arrest because it's not a worry to anyone.


"I made promises. To Ava, to Stan…'-Leo

Image Credit: Screenshot from Netflix on YouTube

I do not feel bad for Leo. I feel bad for Lily, Ava, Hannah, and Stan though. The fact that he had a new chance to live but still couldn't help himself with this revenge plot annoys me. Am I supposed to root for him? He made promises to everyone and followed through with few to none. Many times he was not explicit with the plans for the heist as well. Leo is selfish. Being selfish is not always bad but there are so many things he could have done instead but that's what makes him flawed. He was driven by jealousy which made him angry and often illogical as his Parkinson's worsened.

The planning, execution, and thrill of the gig all give him joy. He didn't know if he could stop this lifestyle but he loved his family and wanted better for them so he pushed Hannah away to save her. This is not bad but it just hurts her because, at some point, she didn't care about his path as much as she needed his presence. 

The nature of the gig is demanding but also high-risk. We see the clashes between his professional and personal life when he gets back from Chicago a couple of hours before Roger calls him to go to Vegas. However, he wanted to spend some more time with the family. Most people that do this type of job, don't have families like Roger and Ava. He decides to give up this gig to focus on his family. He brought up to Lily that he wanted to do Auto parts. He said he wanted something solid, and stable. He said that he could start a business doing that and repairs. Lily supports him. She asks him if he really could stop and he nods optimistically.

However, he returns to professional theft when she loses her job and he takes up Roger's offer for a job. Before he goes for it, Lily decides to go fully into the business. She says they should forget the club as long as he's betting on himself. However, she dies and he gets arrested. While he's away, his friends, Roger and Ava take care of Hannah in their own ways. Seeing that he's going to be who he is, Hannah says she's done trying to change him. Also, Roger tells Leo to own up to the fact that he's a thief.

Hannah hopes to still discuss and build a relationship with her dad but he is killed. He walks through a tunnel but he's followed by an armed man into a pink world(blissful death or blissful afterlife) as the song lyrics say 'none of us are free'. The song lyrics also say, 'One of us is chained' which refers to his thievery profession and how he's always on the run, never truly free. It could also refer to the fact that he's unable to quit it. He was seemingly going to see his daughter as he carried luggage but sensed someone around and he couldn't protect himself. He is aware it's going to happen. From his facial expression, he seems scared but ready.


Image Credit: Screenshot by me

*For my other thoughts while watching the series

  • I felt bad for Andrew(Patch Darragh). They keep putting things on…oh. Well…he did do it this time. The calls and taunting were him. I thought it was Leo. Are you kidding me? yeah, Roger's gonna kill him. Oh, he's not a killer but Carlos (Hemky Madera)is.
  • I felt bad for Ma and Barbara. Stan made a choice to get involved in the heist despite their efforts to prevent danger in their lives and they were killed. That was brutal.
  • I was sad Ava died, that was tragic but I was happy Hannah's doing well.
  • Nazan (Niousha Noor)also gets her break (dies) as she falls on the pedestrian crossing after a man shakes her hand. Her things are packed by Samuel (Bubba Weiler). She was out of bounds and was fired. Samuel is told not to blame himself and that people often throw themselves into their work. Despite the repercussions, he supported her throughout but she kept going.
  • Little to no talking happens at the beginning of the main heist episode.
  • Yeeshhhh, Stan read Judy. He said she needed to deal with it and clarified saying, "No, I'm not talking about Bob. I'm talking about whatever's inside you that makes you want to be with him".
  • Judy killed RJ (RIP RJ)to protect her husband, Bob. Damn, and she tried to kill Bob too.
  • I can't believe Judy wanted to kill Bob to protect Stan but she was partially indecisive about them. She protected Stan more as Bob pointed out and Bob (obviously) didn't like it. He was insecure about it but he really loved her, to the point of death. 
  • Despite his temper, Bob's anger never transferred to her even though there could have been a possibility but he was not abusive to her, just to others. He wanted a long fresh start with her and he still fought for her. He felt like 'she chose wrong' to be with Stan and he just wanted her back. On his way to get her back, he wrote down his feelings. The paper was right beside the bag of cash she took. She could have read the letter Bob wrote to her but she didn't. I was surprised she didn't read it. It felt kind of cold and I felt bad for Bob. She left both guys but it's good for her to choose herself because she needed a break.

Final thoughts

Image Credit: Screenshot from Netflix on YouTube
  • The Devils Plans song by Dominic Lewis & Charles Jones will stay in your head for a while but it's a good song. "I won't waste my life…"
  • In the end, only three people from the crew are alive-Judy, Hannah and Stan.
  • The colours that title each episode represent something but apart from pink, I have no clue. I did think they refer to the colors reflected in a Kaleidoscope and it could refer to the reflection on the characters. Although, I watched a video from Brian Pilot on YouTube that gives some insight into the meaning of the colours
  • Favourite characters: Hannah, Stan and Ava.
  • Hannah is incredibly resilient, optimistic, intelligent and forgiving.
  • Stan is positive, hopeful, trusting and loyal.
  • Ava is resourceful, loyal, powerful, and diligent.
  • If Ray came back Graham maybe could have helped him regardless of both being a constant reminder of their past life. They could have changed things together if possible but maybe that's being optimistic. 
  • Giancarlos and Tati were great.
  • Naznan was emotionally shattered. She was used as a token officer to arrest her people, 'radicals' which weighed on her. She started using and things went downhill for her. Things got better for her with the case of this heist and fighting to be with her child. She was warned to abandon the case and told that she could focus on other things but she didn't listen and was killed. Another child suffering from the actions of their parent's selfishness.
  • Graham is not technical as we see. He hires people or works with people who have the talent. He said he's a genius because he knows the right people to hire. He needed Ray for all the technical aspects and he did the talking. The fact that he was a career criminal and created a safety company was kind of ironic but smart as well.
  • The club really called Lily after the micro-aggressive statements. Despite being fired, she showed up to help but the act wasn't even appreciated.
  • The series shows that Hannah has more than enough skills to be like her dad but chooses to do better as Graham did.

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About the Creator

'Vive Akugha

I write on various things: social issues, well-being, cinema and out of curiosity. More!

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    'Vive AkughaWritten by 'Vive Akugha

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