Netflix’s Kaleidoscope is familiar in a lot of ways. It’s a traditional heist story with regular beats: old grudges, team assembly, smaller missions that set up for the big one. But there’s one key way Kaleidoscope differs from similar shows you might’ve seen. You can watch the episodes in any order.
The series dropped Jan. 1 and made it to the No. 1 TV show on Netflix right now. Without giving too much away, Giancarlo Esposito plays Ray Vernon (aka Leo Pap), the ringleader of a group plotting a multibillion-dollar job while settling an old score. Every episode tells a chunk of the story, focusing on Vernon’s motivations, or the planning of the heist, or what unfolds in the aftermath. The segments come in whichever random order Netflix decides to deliver them to you (with the exception of the actual heist serving as the final episode).
This isn’t the first time Netflix has experimented with nonlinear storytelling. In 2018, Black Mirror: Bandersnatch offered a choose-your-own-adventure take on a film about a computer programmer. The following year, viewers got to make decisions for adventurer Bear Grylls in You vs. Wild.
Kaleidoscope’s episodes are named for different colors, no doubt a nod to the series’ name, but also a way to easily track what order you’re watching and compare with friends. You aren’t obligated to watch the way Netflix suggests. Here’s what you need to know about how to watch Kaleidoscope.
And if you’ve powered through and need some help sorting out what happened, here’s the ending explained.
Do I need to pick an order?
Not necessarily. If you hit play on the show, you’ll see a quick primer on how it works, and then launch straight into the episodes. They can come in any order, with the exception of White, which is the heist itself, and is structured to be the series finale. That said, if you want to pick an order for yourself, you can.
How do I watch it chronologically?
In the spirit of the show, I’m going to skimp on episode descriptions as not to spoil anything. If you decide to watch Kaleidoscope chronologically, the episode order goes like this, starting with a young Vernon 24 years before the heist:
- Violet (24 years before the heist).
- Green (7 years before).
- Yellow (6 weeks before).
- Orange (3 weeks before).
- Blue (5 days before).
- White (the heist).
- Red (the morning after).
- Pink (6 months after).
If you decide to go this route, however, know that any big finale twists will hit in the White episode.
Are there alternative ways to watch?
If everyone has been doing the math correctly, seven episodes, with no repeats, that can be watched in any order should yield more than 5,000 options (there are even more options if you don’t watch White last). How many of those watch orders you want to try is between you and your calendar.
Netflix tweeted some order suggestions, if you’re interested in watching Kaleidoscope as a Quentin Tarantino film — ostensibly a reference to nonlinear Tarantino films like Pulp Fiction — (Blue, Green, Yellow, Orange, Violet, Pink, White, Red) or like a classic detective story (Orange, Green, Violet, Red, Yellow, Blue, White, Pink).
You could go rogue and follow the colors of the rainbow (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Violet, Pink). Or, you could start with the big heist right off the bat, if you’re feeling particularly rebellious.
What are viewers suggesting on social media?
Unsurprisingly, lots of folks are talking about the episode order they chose and which order is the best.
How did you watch it, person writing this article?
How thoughtful of you to ask. My order, as dictated by Netflix, was:
Oddly enough, my best friend’s Netflix account gave her this exact order. For me, this approach got off to a strong start, but having Orange and Blue, and then Red and Pink meant two sets of episodes in chronological order, with relatively small time jumps in between. In that section, I could feel my attention waning somewhat. Watching this show chronologically feels like missing the point. If I could go back and watch in a different order, I’d bump up Red (but leave Pink where it is) and flip Yellow and Green, as I think Yellow would be the strongest episode to start.
So, like this: