It’s been a minute since Money Heist reminded us that the genesis for the Bank of Spain heist was not just Palermo’s fertile mind but also his hope of impressing Berlin, object of his unrequited love. This episode’s flashback takes us back to the night that, after Berlin gave his brother the broad strokes, Palermo really got into the weeds to answer all The Professor’s questions about the physics of moving gold grit through 100-year-old pipes and whether a plan in which a stormwater tank is a crucial staging ground is too risky in the event of rain.* Obviously, we know that Palermo was convincing, since … you know, we’re knee-deep in the heist. Still, the point of the flashbacks is to show us how passionate Palermo was about his scheme in those long-ago days and the giddy delight he and Berlin took in teasing out and solving for all the possible contingencies.
Marseille, having located the barn where Sierra captured The Professor, finds The Professor’s earpiece and reports the news to Benjamín, who lets Lisbon know. When she relays this to the rest of the top team and asks what they should do with the gold now, Palermo is furious: He’s not subjecting his beautiful plan to a “referendum,” nor debating it with people who solve disagreements with guns. Instead, he will pull his gun first and insist that they stay on track. Denver wants to know how they can be confident the cops will not be at the other end of their pipeline waiting to seize their spoils. Palermo insists that they won’t be, but it’s not his declarations that carry the day; it’s Lisbon’s affirmation. Only two people know how the gold is getting out of the bank, she says: The Professor won’t tell anyone, and Sierra will use it to negotiate for herself, which will take hours. Suddenly, Palermo is not just resolved but elated about the plan in a way he hasn’t been since that night at the monastery.
So it’s on! There’s a long moment of suspense as no one knows whether Palermo’s down-to-the-second calculations were wrong or if the pipes and pumps will actually work, but after Palermo coos a pep talk directly to the pump at his end, grit starts raining down before Benjamín and his crew of smelters, who get to work making what the characters call “ingots” but which anyone who’s ever watched a cartoon probably thinks of as gold bars.
This is not the only job Benjamín’s crew will have to pull off on this day, however! Let’s revisit the point where we left off: The Professor, Sierra, and Victoria holing up in Tamayo’s neighbor’s apartment. As they hear SWAT yelling plans to each other in the hall (way to maintain operation security, dopes), The Professor assures the neighbor that she won’t be harmed. Perceiving that this would be more convincing if Sierra’s badly shaking hand weren’t waving a gun in the woman’s face, The Professor gently guides the gun downward, takes Victoria, and asks for his glasses back so that he can make a daring escape: He fashions a sling for Victoria out of a curtain before he and Sierra rappel down a clothesline into the courtyard, cut through a restaurant kitchen, and make it out to the street. They even walk through a knot of cops who don’t clock them.
Tamayo having, by this point, declared martial law, The Professor pulls Sierra into the first apartment-building door that opens and uses an overflowing mailbox to guess which unit may currently be empty. When Sierra gets them inside — resourcefully using her earring posts to pick the lock — he turns out to be right, but as soldiers mass in the street, he comments that it’s starting to look like the Warsaw ghetto. This may be what leads him to a German occupation–era solution: He pulls the springs and stuffing out of the couch and climbs inside with Sierra and the baby, restapling the lining and replacing the cushions over them.
They even reset the cat bed over their faces. The soldiers have cleared the place and are already heading out when Victoria makes one tiny chirp that brings them back. As Sierra gets her to latch, The Professor slightly displaces the cat bed, just enough to make it mewl in irritation and convince the soldiers that the first noise they heard was just a classic cat scare. (As a dog person, I appreciate this method of making a cat’s fussiness useful.)
Once the coast is clear, The Professor asks an exhausted Sierra when she last ate. (Sierra: “What day is it today?”) He makes her some eggs, and his consideration sends her into a reverie about the last person who took care of her: her late husband. Since his death, she’s just been charging ahead, thinking that if she chased The Professor fast enough, she could outrun her grief. “Can we pretend you’re a friend who came over to cook and see the baby?” she asks. “This may be the last normal day we have in the next 25 years.” (She makes sure to add that this doesn’t mean she’s his friend for real: “I’ll never be your friend.”) In response, The Professor says he’s recently lost two people who were very important to him, so he’s not going to let anyone else go down for this heist — not even Sierra. She won’t arrest him, either, then. I’m not sure he should take the word of a professional torturer — nor am I ready to accept a redemption arc for her, frankly — and she doesn’t necessarily believe him. Still, it does make sense for them to give one another whatever assurances will keep them out of police custody as long as possible.
Eventually, The Professor finds an old cell phone and contacts Benjamín, who then pulls a few people off ingot-smelting duty for another gig: stealing and then modding a garbage truck, which then easily gets through the police perimeter around Tamayo’s building. At their end, Sierra and The Professor cut the bottoms out of two garbage bins, hide inside them, get picked up by Benjamín’s guys, and return to the hideout in the back of the truck. As he walks them in, Benjamín apologetically says he did his best in The Professor’s absence.
Benjamín’s best is, it turns out, pretty good! The Professor radios Palermo to deliver a jubilant update: “There’s a foundry in the stormwater tank! The gold is coming out!” “This one’s for you, Andrés,” says Palermo emotionally …
… but we’re not done yet: In the flashback, The Professor, like Denver in the present, would like to know how they keep the cops from finding the gold right outside the tank. “The answer is the difference between a white-collar thief and us,” says Berlin. “The difference between being good and being a genius,” Palermo adds. But we won’t learn what that means quite yet.
• As the surgeon works on Helsinki — he refuses general anesthesia as she rebuilds his bone, getting an epidural instead — Lisbon, Manila, and Stockholm discuss the future. Lisbon says the worst part of a 25-year sentence would be the lack of physical touch and that she doesn’t expect her relationship with The Professor to survive a separation that long. (Which, fair: If either of them does end up incarcerated, it’s not like the other can visit.) This sends Manila to babbling about her own 25-year sentence of yearning for Denver, which she’s only just realized was pointless. She confesses to Stockholm that she kissed Denver, but only because it confirmed that there really was nothing between them. Stockholm staggers away, asking the surgeon if she has anything for “stress.” Helsinki recommends an antipsychotic. From morphine to Haldol: Stockholm’s really putting her brain through it today!
• Speaking of doomed love: Matías saw Lisbon twist Rio’s arm and it made him super-horny; do the guys know what her situation is? Amused, they urge him to go for it — and aggressively, too — but Denver doesn’t think it’s so funny and guiltily unburdens himself to Bogotá about kissing Manila. (Whining that he kissed Stockholm right afterward so that her spit and Manila’s mingled in his mouth is a detail no one needed.) He doesn’t know how he will tell Stockholm, but Bogotá says he’s not going to; in fact, if Stockholm even catches him naked in bed with someone else, Denver should say she’s hallucinating. Like she hallucinated Arturo for several episodes in the first half of the season? SEEMS LIKE BAD ADVICE.
• Remember Arteche? She’s in the ducts, with Ángel directing her over the radio. When she drops down to the floor, blood starts dripping onto her boot from a wound on her right side that seems to be worse than she realized (or let on), but she forges ahead to the loading bay/former armory, unguarded except for a laser security system people are probably putting too much faith in!
• *We did see rain starting amid the chase sequence in “Escape Valve,” but as far as we can tell here, it’s not a factor, and Berlin’s faith in “hopeful science” was well-founded!