‘Money Heist’: Why Berlin Was a Controversial Character for the Series
Attachments are not a good thing in Money Heist (La Casa de Papel). It’s the reason the Professor gave everyone cities as their code names. It was part of the rules, but if you’ve been watching the series from the beginning, you know that the attachment rule was broken.
Fans haven’t adhered to the rule either, choosing which thief they like the most and rooting against their least favorite. Tokyo is strong but irritating, Helsinki and Nairobi are loved, Denver’s protective nature won him fans, and the Professor is the brains, the mastermind.
The others have their charming and/or terrible qualities as well, and fans have become attached to some.
But there’s one character who makes people straddle the fence, and that’s Berlin. Did you know he was a red flag for the series’ writers before the show even got off the ground?
[Spoilers ahead: This article contains some spoilers for Money Heist/La Casa de Papel]
Berlin was considered one of the leaders
Viewers first met Pedro Alonso’s Berlin in part 1 of Money Heist. He was the arrogant de facto leader of the bunch when the robbers commenced their first heist at the Royal Mint. Although Professor is the boss, in the field, Berlin was in command.
During his time with the crew, he threatened to kill a pregnant hostage, tossed Tokyo (perhaps deservedly) out to the police, and seduced one of the hostages only to toy with her later – at gunpoint. As the Professor’s half-brother, he would sometimes make executive decisions during the heist without consulting him.
Berlin was known for being mean and apathetic, but by the end of part 2, he gave his life so the others could escape.
Fans have a love-hate relationship with him
Given his behavior and attitude, Berlin didn’t make it easy for viewers or the Money Heist robbers to like him. Though the character was killed off in part 2, his backstory and role in both heists has been explored through flashbacks in every other season, including the now-streaming part 4.
Berlin was ill with a terminal disease which made some fans empathetic toward him, and for some, his no-nonsense, sarcastic, brash behavior made – and make – him likeable. As seen in the current seasons, he loved but he was also cruel (he stabbed a man in the crotch with a fork).
There’s a camp of fans who despise Berlin for his treatment of women, his bullying, and his narcissistic personality. While they recognize his intelligence and contribution to the mission, they do not like him at all. But it is proof that the character is well-written.
The team behind ‘La Casa de Papel’ had their own feelings about Berlin
One of the things we learned from Money Heist creator Alex Pina is that Berlin was somewhat controversial. When discussing the character in the documentary, Money Heist: The Phenomenon, Pina said it’s unbelievable Berlin is always in the top three favorites, even though he has a “derogatory nature.”
Alonso himself joked that he tells people to look out for him because he’s sure this “is not the kind of character you’d want your daughter to marry.” Pina shared that he was told that the way Berlin was written could be a problem for today’s society and that he shouldn’t be in the show at all.
Described by Pina and Alonso as deplorable, misogynistic, racist, and a sometimes-psychopath, he served a purpose in the narrative.
Pina chose to include him in the story to allow the audience to decide for themselves. He said it is up to viewers what to do with the character.
As writer Esther Martinez Lobato put it, Berlin started out very hostile, but he also adds mystery to the show. No matter which side of the Berlin argument you stand, you have to admit he brings something to the series.