‘Kaleidoscope’ Heist, Explained: How Did Ray And His Team Break Into The SLS Vault?

The more unbreachable the vault, the higher the emotional stakes. Netflix’s “Kaleidoscope” is based on this theory, albeit in an incomplete manner. Rather than the emotional stakes, which are basically like those of all other heists, i.e., freedom from a past filled with struggle and pain, the breach somehow gains the spotlight in the show. This breach is what we are going to analyze in this article. Let’s begin.

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Spoilers Ahead


What Were The Key Components Of The SLS Vault?

SLS Securities is owned by Roger Salas, formerly Graham Davies, and boasts the most secure vault on the East Coast of the US and probably the world. Locked in almost every way fathomable, the vault is home to $7 billion worth of bearer bonds belonging to Stefan Thiele (CEO, Banque Brunner, and a Nazi), Suzanne Grosvenor (lead banker, Duncan-Welsh, and connected to the Queen herself), and Cho-Young Woo (number one shareholder of Korea’s largest private bank, Jongo, and related to Kim Jong-Un), together known as The Triplets. The question is: what makes the vault so secure?

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  • SLS armored trucks are encoded with custom-made radio-frequency transmitters to communicate.
  • Doors: Manned by armed guards at all times.
  • Two Elevators: One each for clients and valuables; Restricted Access; 24/7 video surveillance.
  • Lobby: Two armed guards; military trained.
  • Vault hallway: Gait Recognition Unit; Motion sensors; Infrared.
  • Vault Door with Temperature Sensors: Face-Recognition, a physical substance as key, and a code to turn off the temperature monitoring system [All Three Belonging to Roger Salas]; dual spindles to be turned simultaneously.

Who Were The Robbers?

We only know about Ray Vernon; we do not know about the other members of the team. This is what makes it difficult for the show to establish its bland characters. Something feels incomplete by the time you finish “Kaleidoscope”, and the open ending further adds to the uneasiness (for lack of a better word). We know what the different people do and what their role is during the heist, but more than that, we are unable to feel for the characters, which is very important for a show like this. Here are the different people and the roles they played in the heist.

  • Ray Vernon, AKA Leo Pap: The Captain of the Ship, former partner of Roger Salas, with whom he carried out multiple thefts, larceny, wire fraud, and more until the night Salas left Ray’s wife Lily for dead during a fire at a Christmas charity auction 24 years ago. Ray has escaped prison after 17 years, thanks to his cellmate, Stan Loomis.
  • Ava Mercer: A Lawyer expert in money laundering and arranging weapons. She was also a former associate of Ray who brought up his daughter, Hannah Pap after he went to jail for the Christmas Charity auction theft.
  • Bob Goodwin: The Safe Cracker
  • Judy Goodwin, Bob’s wife: The Chemical and Explosives Expert
  • Stan Loomis: A Smuggler
  • RJ Acosta: The Driver
  • Hannah Pap: The Head of Digital Security at SLS and Daughter of Ray

How Did Ray And His Team Plan To Break Into The Vault?

Hannah has already made her way up the chain at SLS and has become the Senior VP at SLS. She is thus able to convey all the important intel from inside to her father, Ray. Ava Mercer buys a floor at 505 Wall Street, the same building that is home to SLS, under the name Mallory Rosenthal, owner of Belgrano Industrial. RJ clones the RF transmitters in the SLS trucks by following one of them, courtesy of his cycling skills. 505 Wall Street Breach check.

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RJ uses his skills to get a digital blueprint of the plumbing, electrical, and ventilation systems of the area surrounding the SLS vault. The sewer line, the ventilation shaft, and the electrical supply reveal a map of the SLS offices, especially the vault at which all three routes intersect. Vault-map check. Ray breaches Roger Salas’s house at night and grabs his fingerprints from a glass. He then taps into the camera feed on Salas’s home computer, showing the vault. He also adds some kind of chemical to Salas’ lenses that later on causes itching in the eyes. Salas calls for an optometrist and in comes Stan Loomis, who uses his eye-testing equipment to scan Salas’s face. Biometrics check.

An empty water tunnel runs under the Wall Street subway and above the SLS vault. The plan is to use lots of water, courtesy of a storm that is about to hit New York and maneuver the water from the flooded subway to the tunnel above the vault using C4 charges. Here’s where Judy’s cesium, already set up over the vaulted roof, will be hit by the water, thereby blowing up the roof, filling the vault, and also messing up the temperature sensors. Vault-access check. If anything goes wrong, the team will meet at the Tupper Lake cabin in 3 days. Ava Mercer will provide everyone with new IDs and passports at the cabin. Everyone will become someone else for the rest of their lives. Disappear check.

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How Did Ray And His Team Crack The Vault?

It is nighttime, and it is raining heavily. The team arrives at the SLS building. Judy heads into the tunnels to set up the cesium charges. RJ pulls the SLS branding off the truck, turning it into another regular truck that is unrecognizable. Ray, Mercer, Stan, and Bob breach the floor, take the guards down, and reach the gait detection hallway. They release bees that Stan and Bob had brought in hidden inside their gear into the hallway, which messes up the gait detection system. Ray makes his way through the hallway in a protective suit. His mask, which has Salas’s face map on it, opens the first lock. A replica of Salas’s key that Ray had made opens the second. The water does the rest, taking the temperature down from the threshold of 73 degrees. Ray, Mercer, Stan, and Bob open the vaults and load up the bonds on the elevator, sending them up to Judy, who has meanwhile arrived upstairs. The catch is that Mercer has notified FBI agent Nazan Abbasi about the robbery because she has Mercer’s nanny Teresa in her custody. Nazan reaches the building on the floor Mercer had previously bought and finds a full set-up room with computers. She and her assistant pull out all the wiring that reveals the true feed on Salas’s computer back at his house. Salas is shocked to see his vault being robbed and rushes out on his way to the building amidst heavy rainfall. Nazan and her assistant are also on their way down to the vault. Salas also informs Hannah, who then informs her father, Ray, that Salas knows. Judy sends the bonds to the loading dock, where RJ is waiting. However, the elevator is intercepted by Hannah, who replaces the boxes with those filled with printed paper.

Meanwhile, Bob decides that he has had enough of the vaults and decides to leave the other three and return to Judy. On the way, he closes the vault, intending to take all the bonds for himself and Judy. Upstairs, after being forced to kill RJ, who was pointing a gun at Bob for his rude behavior, Judy joins Bob but ultimately knocks him out too before he can kill Stan as well. Mercer escapes with the boxes in the truck, not knowing that all that is inside them are colored pieces of paper before Nazan can stop her. Hannah meets her father, Ray, and tells him that she made a deal with the Triplets about the bonds. They could get them back in exchange for her father’s life. Ray, emotionally broken, decides to keep the pendant, which he had stolen 24 years ago at the charity auction the night his wife Lily died, inside Salas’s personal locker inside one of the vaults, to remind him of his sins as well as make peace with his own past and move on just as Hannah wanted him to.

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Bottomline

The storm has passed. Ray arrives at their hideout, followed by Judy, Stan, Mercer, and her truck. Unfortunately, the boxes are all empty. The bonds are gone. With nothing else to do, the four decide to escape. But that, too, isn’t easy, as Salas has found Stan’s glasses inside the water after the FBI drained the water out. He tracks down the glasses that belonged to the optometrist who had come to scan him. He sends his bodyguard, Carlos, to Stan’s house before heading to the hideout. There, Ray and the others kill Carlos and his men and waste no more time leaving the city using the waterway.

“Kaleidoscope” is not as confusing as it seems or is made to seem. It is like the first time you saw Christopher Nolan’s “Inception.” However, while “Inception” was truly mind-bending, this show is an illusion of what mind-bending really is. But isn’t that the very point of a kaleidoscope?

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Shubhabrata Dutta
Shubhabrata Dutta
Shubhabrata’s greatest regret is the fact that he won’t be able to watch every movie and show ever made. And when he isn’t watching a movie or a show, he is busy thinking about them and how they are made; all while taking care of his hobbies. These include the usual suspects i.e. songs, long walks, books and PC games.

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