Is Kaleidoscope’s Episode Order Truly Random?


Kaleidoscope is Netflix’s first big release of 2023, and it hasn’t disappointed audiences around the world. The crime drama stars Giancarlo Esposito as the leader of a team who is trying to pull off the biggest heist in modern history, one that was partially based on real events that happened in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in 2012. The main draw of the show that has been pushed hard by the Netflix social media and marketing teams is that you can watch the eight episodes of the show in whatever order you want and still understand the story once you’ve completed the season. The gimmick even has star Esposito tweeting asking for fans’ episode orders and how it affected their enjoyment of the series. 

Now that people have gotten the chance to watch the show and potentially even rewatch it in a different order than the one Netflix gave them, fans are curious whether the probability of getting a unique order is really all it was made out to be. Caitlin Welsh at Mashable decided to get to the bottom of the episode order mystery and her findings suggest that Netflix may have separated the show into three different episode blocks, with the same episodes being placed at the beginning, the middle, and the end: 

“Having collated the order lists for myself, some colleagues and friends, and a wide selection of Twitter and TikTok users who have shared their Netflix-dictated random order, almost every one of these report being served “Yellow” and “Green” first and second, sometimes swapped; followed by the trio of “Blue”/”Orange”/”Violet” in any order, and then “Red”/”Pink”/”White”, always in that exact sequence. (A couple have reported being served “Red”, “Violet”, or another episode first, though I haven’t seen this confirmed in any screenshots.) I also ran a brief and highly unscientific Twitter poll, and nearly 80 percent of respondents had either “Yellow” or “Green” as their starter.”

How you start the show is very telling because this gives you a first impression of the characters and the plot lines. The streamer clearly felt there was an extra significance to seeing “Green” or “Yellow” before the other episodes. Even the actors from the show have acknowledged that they received these traditional orderings when they sat down and watched their own work. 

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Peter Mark Kendall, who plays Stan Loomis, told Den of Geek that he also received the “Green” episode first. He says castmate Paz Vega, who played Ava Mercer, also got this episode before the rest in their Netflix queue.

“I think Paz and I both started with ‘Green,’” Kendall says. “And of course it ended with White. I can’t remember exactly the order of the middle episodes. But again, there is no right order. So however people consume it: that’s perfect. You’re doing exactly the right thing.”

Niousha Noor, who portrays FBI agent Nazan Abassi, also talked to Den of Geek about her viewing experience and she got “Green” followed by “Yellow”.

“My order was actually ‘Green’ first. And then it was ‘Yellow.’ And then I don’t remember the rest. I think I kind of just jumped around even though Netflix randomizes the order for you. But I was just so curious to see them because I hadn’t seen all the episodes before the premiere.” 

Noor reiterates that the randomized order being advertised by Netflix really encourages viewers’ curiosity. Rewatchability is something that should bring clarity to storylines people are confused about, or simply allow people at home to see the plot in an unexpected way, especially depending on where you begin the journey. 

“I rewatched it all ‘in order’ because I wanted to. It is that kind of show where it’s good to go back and rewatch everything. Depending on which color you watch first, you have a different idea of what the show is going to be about or who it’s focused on.”

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Noor went on to tell Den of Geek how the perception of her character in particular might change depending on where you pick up on her story first.

“You kind of just put together what she must have gone through to get to where she is, and I really liked her arc in ‘Orange’ because, you know, if you watch ‘Orange’ first, it’s just a different experience than if you watch ‘Green’ and are introduced to her that way,” she says. “In ‘Orange’ she’s clean, she’s driven, she’s back. You can kind of get an idea of ‘okay, she was not in the space and state of mind years ago.’ I think there’s plenty for people to piece together, but it may take a couple of viewings…”

So if there is anything to be truly gleaned from the viewing gimmick, it’s that Netflix probably was more concerned with piquing attention for a potential rewatch than anything else. The show is most likely randomized in the most ideal way for folks to understand what is happening at any given time. 

Throwing more curveballs at fans might lead to the discourse between different viewers getting too confusing. If nobody knows what’s happening, how can the show be enjoyed to its fullest? For the more adept or observant viewer, getting the series in one of the orders not commonly suggested by Netflix might change how you feel about the story. This makes Kaleidoscope a great show for analysis, and potentially a series with more meat on the bone than some might have expected. 

All eight episodes of Kaleidoscope are available to stream on Netflix now.

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