“Kaleidoscope” is bent more on the heist itself than the characters. One might say that the creators understood or believed that for an eight-episode heist, exploring the characters would mean not giving the heist the deserved attention, especially since the show is about the heist. However, in doing so, they seem to have overlooked how a heist is connected to the robbers, not just financially but emotionally. Either way, let us find out more about the characters in Netflix’s latest heist drama, “Kaleidoscope.”
Ray Vernon, Alias, Leo Pap
It is safe to say that the heist in “Kaleidoscope” has a past. Twenty-four years ago, Ray Vernon and his partner-in-crime, Graham Davies, decided to rob a Christmas charity auction at Glen Hills Country Club. In the final moments of the robbery, Roger lit a fire to use as a distraction so that he and Ray could escape. Unfortunately, the fire spread to multiple rooms and ended up taking Ray’s wife, Lily, in its grasp. Roger could have saved her but decided to flee the scene as the cops had already been called. Ray somehow made his way to his wife, but it was too late. Surrounded by the fire, Lily died in Ray’s arms, and he was sent to prison. Seventeen years later, he escaped prison and decided to rob Roger, who had changed his name and was now Roger Salas, CEO of SLS Securities.
Even if we set Ray’s karma aside, going after Roger’s vault because he didn’t save Lily is a bit of an overstatement. In Episode “Pink”, six months after the heist, when Ray visits Roger, who has been sentenced to prison for 20 years for identity theft and grand larceny, makes it clear that Ray’s motivation is fake and further adds to our assumptions. Justice, which, according to Ray, is the reason he robbed Roger, sounds over the top if we think of Ray himself and all that he has done before being sent to prison for Charity Auction robbery. He robbed people, if not for money, then for the kick he got out of it. Roger tells him to his face that Lily’s death was just an excuse for Ray to rob the SLS vault. Maybe he was right. Ray was perhaps jealous of all that Roger had achieved and that he even had a family, none of which Ray had. It is true that Ray lost everything he held dear in his life after going to prison, but is it Roger’s fault? Roger tells Ray that he doesn’t know if he could save Lily that day. We saw what happened, and frankly, we do not know either. So basically, Ray, since his prison break, has been functioning solely on the hypothesis that Roger could have saved Lily but didn’t. And everything that follows is a result of that, including the lives of so many people ruined and many even dead. We admit that we feel for Ray, but his motivation is futile, and what’s worse is that he doesn’t even get his hands on the bonds that could have changed his life if even a little bit. However, he had lost his daughter in the process, and this was not Roger’s fault but his own. Is all this then a flaw in Ray’s nature, one that doesn’t allow him to admit his own fault? It seems like it. But just like a kaleidoscope, it is open to interpretation. At the end of “Pink,” we do not see Ray die, but we do hear a gunshot after the screen goes pink, which itself is after we see a guy following him and pulling a gun on him. The guy’s shirt tells us that it’s probably Roger’s son, Brad. It is unlikely that Roger told his son to kill Ray, so we can presume that Brad decided to kill Ray, if at all, all on his own. If there is a sequel, we will find out whether Ray is alive or dead.
Roger Salas, Alias, Graham Davies
The wealthy owner of SLS Securities, Roger Salas, has made quite a fortune in the last 17 years after the fateful night at Glen Hills Country Club. He was a good friend of Ray and made it to the top after changing his identity after Ray’s sentencing. Clearly, he had decided to put that life behind him and find something good to strive for. All that he has been able to achieve in 17 years is certainly commendable. He has a wife and a son. He has a company to run.
However, in his case, too, we have a catch. If we consider the possibility that he couldn’t have saved Lily, he also needs to consider the possibility that he could have, in which case, it means that he potentially left his friend and his friend’s wife dead. This was morally wrong on his part. Furthermore, six months after the heist, he also offered Bob Goodwin money to kill Ray. So we cannot say that Roger’s hands are completely clean either. Rather, it is this act that makes him Ray’s arch-nemesis. Ray never wanted to kill Roger but to make him pay. He reveals to Ray that he will be out of prison in 8 years, as per his lawyer. So, we shall see him again in the potential sequel. The fact that we do not know anything about the interim period of Roger’s growth makes his equation with Ray incomplete. It rather makes Roger’s character exploration leave you wanting for more. If we knew how he made his fortune and by what means, we could have been better able to judge him, and by extension even Ray.
The FBI agent who has been tracking Ray Vernon is another person of interest. She has lost custody of her son after being found to be using drugs. This has earned her quite a reputation at work and often turns up as a hindrance. She has been visiting therapy sessions to come out of her former self while fighting the case for having her son’s custody shared. Unfortunately, when she investigates Ava Mercer, Ray’s accomplice, she discreetly plants a pouch of drugs in Nazan’s pocket. Undercover as she is, the cops find her and take her into custody after recovering the drugs on her. This, along with her history of drug abuse, makes her lose the court case. She then gets the ICE (US Immigration and Customs Enforcement) to pick up Ava’s nanny, offering her release to Ava only in exchange for intel about the crew by becoming a mole. Ava only makes a fool out of her, as we see, but not all is lost, as it is Nazan’s investigation that sends Roger to prison. However, she knows that the bonds are missing, and only after recovering them will she come to know the truth of what really happened during the heist. At the end of the show, in “Pink,” she collapses in the middle of the road after shaking hands with an old man. The bonds are with the Triplets, as per Hannah, and we know that they will do anything to protect them. So it is safe to say that the old man was sent by them to take down Nazan. The man probably had some kind of chemical on his hands that, when it came in contact with the blood, took a toll on the senses. He must have pricked Nazan lightly in her palms, the handshake preventing her from realizing it. We can’t say for sure whether she is alive. Only Season 2 shall reveal that.
This is another of those conflicted cop scenarios in which one is trying to get over the past by means of delivering in the present. Nazan has a history of drug abuse for which she has been paying the price, i.e., the loss of her son’s custody. Her service to the nation is a way to atone for her past actions, but it isn’t enough as time and again she is forcibly reminded of them, and that pulls her away from her course of action. Unfortunately, she, too, pays the price at the end of the show. But did she deserve it? Well, it’s a kaleidoscope of judgments all over again.
Ava Mercer And The Crew
Ava Mercer, Ray Vernon’s accomplice for more than two decades, has her hands in many pies. Her specialty is money and weapons. She helps Ray in every way she can, and despite being threatened by Nazan regarding her nanny’s deportation, she only makes a fool out of Nazan, strategically feeding her intel without compromising the heist. Ultimately, Nazan is unable to catch her, and she escapes in a truck from the SLS building. Unfortunately, she is killed by one of Bob Goodwin’s henchmen six months after the heist.
We do not know what brought Ava and Ray together. Trust is the bond that holds them together, and it is clear that neither of them would do anything to compromise the other. If only we knew more about Ava’s past with Ray (24 years before the heist), things would have been clearer. Relationships matter a lot in shows involving heists, but this aspect is not given much attention in Netflix’s “Kaleidoscope.” Hence the deficit in the sufficiency of the plot’s effectiveness. As for the crew, Bob Goodwin is fooled by Ray Vernon and ends up being shot by the FBI. RJ Acosta died right after the heist (during the escape). He was shot by Judy, who was trying to protect her husband, Bob. The only people whom we can be certain are alive are Judy Goodwin and Stan Loomis.
None of the above-mentioned characters was explored in terms of their past but received only a mention of what they did for a living. Bob Goodwin was a safecracker with a knack for beating people to a pulp at the slightest temptation. Judy Goodwin, a demolition expert, likes to live her life on her own terms and is independent. The fact that she is able to be Bob’s girlfriend is proof enough of her headstrong attitude. Stan Loomis is a small-time smuggler who came to know Ray Vernon during his time in prison. After the heist, Judy and Stan decide to stay together, trying to leave the country and looking for the means to do so. Even if there is a second season, it is unlikely that we will find out about all their pasts, maybe only Ray Vernon and Ava Mercer, if at all. Either way, what’s important is to find out if Ray and Nazan are still alive or not because that would mean that the game is still on.
See more: ‘Kaleidoscope’ Heist, Explained: How Did Ray And His Team Break Into The SLS Vault?