Kaleidoscope: everything you need to know about the non-linear Netflix series

Kaleidoscope title card
Kaleidoscope is a very unique viewing experience! (Image credit: Netflix)

The first smash hit of the year for Netflix is already here, as Kaleidoscope has proven immensely popular for the streaming service. In its first week it amassed over 100 million views and it keeps going strong.

Kaleidoscope is being called a "Non-Linear Streaming Experience" by Netflix, and that's because you're invited to watch the eight episodes in any order you like, with the story making sense whichever way you go. At its core, Kaleidoscope is a heist story, but as with any good heist there are complications (beyond your weird and bendy viewing order).

Netflix offers a shuffle mode that scrambles your order for seven of the eight episodes, and always leaves you on White (the heist episode), but of course we have a guide on the best Kaleidoscope order if you want to have a more bespoke experience.

If you've seen the show, we've also got a meet the Kaleidoscope cast article as well as an ending explainer guide to help you make the most of the show. Or, you can read on to find out everything you need to know about Kaleidoscope. 

Kaleidoscope release date

The interactive special was put live on Netflix from January 1, 2023. 

Kaleidoscope plot

A board featuring heist members

Kaleidoscope is not your ordinary heist. (Image credit: Netflix)

The official plot states that each episode will help viewers piece together a puzzle, to figure out the truth about the crime, if it was pulled off successfully, and who was involved.

It reads: "Spanning 25 years, Kaleidoscope (previously titled Jigsaw) is an all-new anthology series following a crew of masterful thieves and their attempt to crack a seemingly unbreakable vault for the biggest payday in history.

"Guarded by the world’s most powerful corporate security team, and with law enforcement on the case, every episode reveals a piece of an elaborate puzzle of corruption, greed, vengeance, scheming, loyalties and betrayals. How did the crew of thieves plan it? Who gets away with it? Who can be trusted?"

How does Kaleidoscope work?

Two people wearing gas masks during the heist

Who can be trusted? (Image credit: Netflix)

As it's such a different concept, some viewers are already confused about how Kaleidoscope will work, but Netflix has given an episode run down ahead of the series launch.

Netflix revealed: "The compelling crime anthology series takes a non-linear approach to storytelling, building intrigue and suspense uniquely, with Netflix members each having a different immersive viewing experience."

It goes on to say that each episode is named after a color, and these can be watched in any order building up to the final episode, called White: The Heist.

They added: "Some members may start with certain episodes (like episodes Yellow or Green), then move deeper into their own personal viewing order with varying episodes (Blue or Violet or Orange, followed by Red or Pink) until the epic White: The Heist story finale."

Explaining why we choose different paths, the streaming service says: "All viewers will eventually see all episodes, but the order in which they watch the episodes will affect their viewpoint on the story, the characters, and the questions and answers at the heart of the heist. How will you experience the colors of Kaleidoscope?"

Kaleidoscope cast

The cast for Kaleidoscope sees Breaking Bad and The Mandalorian star Giancarlo Esposito leading as Leo Pap, and he's joined by a host of other great actors who play different characters that find themselves at the center of the heist.

So far, we barely know anything about the characters as we're invited to unravel the mystery as we go along, but we do have a list of their names which you can see below:

  • Paz Vega as Ava Mercer
  • Rufus Sewell as Roger Salas
  • Tati Gabrielle as Hannah Kim
  • Rosaline Elbay as Judy Goodwin
  • Peter Mark Kendall as Stan Loomis
  • Jai Courtney as Bob Goodwin
  • Niousha Noor as Nazan Abassi
  • Patch Darragh as Andrew Covington
  • Max Casella as Taco

Is there a trailer?

Technically yes, as Netflix has dropped a feature called Building Kaleidoscope: A Non-Linear Streaming Experience, where the cast gave some insights into how the series came to life.

You can watch the first look at Kaleidoscope below. It sounds very interesting!

Lucy Buglass
Senior Staff Writer

Lucy joined the WhatToWatch.com team in 2021, where she writes series guides for must-watch programmes, reviews and the latest TV news. Now she works for our sister site TechRadar in the same role. Originally from Northumberland, she graduated from Oxford Brookes University with a degree in Film Studies and moved to London to begin a career writing about entertainment.

She is a Rotten Tomatoes approved film critic and has a huge passion for cinema. She especially loves horror, thriller and anything crime-related. Her favourite TV programmes include Inside No 9, American Horror Story, Stranger Things and Black Mirror but she is also partial to a quiz show or a bit of Say Yes to the Dress