“The Transy Book Heist” tells exactly what the episode is about—it follows four students at Kentucky’s Transylvania University who come up with a scheme to steal over $10 million in rare books from their school’s library. “Million-dollar thefts don’t happen in Lexington,” a now-retired police officer tells the audience, and the ball is rolling.
Tonally the episode is completely different from the prior “All The President’s Money” because it focuses on people who weren’t career criminals. But ironically that’s where the story stumbles, and it may not have the same impact.
“The Transy Book Heist” lends a sympathetic ear to the perpetrators by having one of them talk about how he wanted to be a cop and was trying just to find a way out of Kentucky. But that has the opposite effect in the episode; it’s hard not to shake the perception that these were young men who had other options, and saying that you “read every FBI book” doesn’t cast them in any better light.
Conversely “All The President’s Money” was about people who were already established bank robbers and the California bank vault was just their next score. There were no excuses made for their crime and they weren’t trying to pretend to be anything. The historical angle, too, involving President Richard Nixon and Jimmy Hoffa made the case more appealing to a broader audience.
“The Transy Book Heist” is entertaining enough, but it doesn’t have that larger relevance. While it may have been shocking within the city of Lexington or the state of Kentucky, the players don’t demand our attention in the same way. The most interesting is the librarian who gets caught up in the theft. It’s a big heist in terms of the bottom line but it may not quite be “super.”
One fun note for TV buffs is that this episode features some comments from Rebecca Romney, the rare book expert who was previously a staple on History‘s reality series Pawn Stars.
CNBC has released the first 10 minutes of this Super Heists episode; true crime fans can watch it below before tuning in to see the full story. Viewers who missed last week’s series premiere can also see it in reruns or through CNBC on demand.
Brittany Frederick has worked 20 years as a professional journalist, reaching millions of readers worldwide with thousands of articles. Her one goal is to meet Jonathan Groff, but she’s sung with Adam Levine and gone 200 MPH with Mario Andretti. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @tvbrittanyf.