Kaleidoscope—A heist series that will surprise you
Understanding the advantages and disadvantages that come with watching a series with a customized episode order.
Kaleidoscope (2023) is an eight-part Netflix series about a team that is planning a heist, breaking into one of the most secure vaults to steal bonds that are worth up to $7 billion. The series is reminiscent of Ocean’s Eleven (2001) and—for Bollywood watchers—Happy New Year (2014). What sets this series apart is not its plot, but the fact that you can watch its episodes in almost whatever order you want.
Supposedly, the order that you watch the series in will change your interpretation of the story line. When I first heard of this concept, I was excited but also curious about how effective this approach would be.
Each of the episodes is titled after a colour. In chronological order, they are “Violet,” “Green,” “Yellow,” “Orange,” “Blue,” “White,” “Red,” and “Pink.” A brief introductory episode titled “Black” also falls into the mix. This order, however, is not listed on Netflix. The show is not meant to be watched as a “linear” story—Netflix customizes a different order for each account holder.
I watched the series in the following episode order: first, fourth, sixth, seventh, fifth, second, third, and eighth. The only “rule” when watching is that you must watch the episode titled “White” last. I learned this from a TikTok.
I thought a lot about why the show’s creators would name each episode after a colour. My theory is that each colour relates to light and enlightenment. When you watch the episode “Black,” you are quite literally in the dark—having little to no clue of what the series will be about. Scientifically, all colours on the colour spectrum create white light. Since viewers are supposed to watch the episode “White” last, when we do, we begin to accumulate answers and receive all the information that make the other episodes fit—kind of like a puzzle. We become enlightened as to what the show is truly about.
As I mentioned, watching the series reminded me of Ocean’s Eleven. The way each team member is introduced, how they break into the vault, and their hunt for revenge is similar to the film—making the show quite predictable. As such, I think this series works because it is essentially a deconstructed action film.
Based on my viewing experience, there were moments when I felt detached from the show. New characters kept randomly popping up, and I didn’t know enough about each character to feel any empathy for them. I found that jumping between “24 years before the heist” and “six months after the heist” made the show slightly confusing. However, as I watched more, everything felt like it was coming together, and I grew more interested.
Now, the biggest question that critics have been asking: will the order you watch the episodes in change your perspective of the story? In my opinion, not really. If you and your friend watch the series in different orders, you will still have all the same information and the same conclusion—the only aspect that changes is which information you receive first.
Overall, the Kaleidoscope series is an interesting concept and was executed well. While it is chaotic and confusing, by the end of it, you will understand the story. If you enjoy action films and are looking for something to binge, I recommend the series—it truly takes you on a unique journey.