Evil Genius: The True Story of America's Most Diabolical Bank Heist: Season 1 (2018)


Season 1
Evil Genius: The True Story of America's Most Diabolical Bank Heist

Critics Consensus

Evil Genius makes up for a lack of conviction and nuance with an intriguing sense of discovery and plenty of entertaining insanity.

80%

TOMATOMETER

Critic Ratings: 30

84%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 234

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Episodes

Air date: May 11, 2018

On Aug. 28, 2003, a strange bank robbery in Erie, Pennsylvania, ends in a grisly, unpredicted manner as the perpetrator -- an amiable neighborhood pizza delivery man named Brian Wells -- dies when an explosive device locked around his neck detonates while news cameras are rolling. The case becomes FBI major case No. 203, and its many strange elements fascinate Erie: Wells' odd behavior that was captured on bank security cameras; a note Wells was carrying that was to lead him on a "scavenger hunt"; a subsequent death that seems as if it may be connected. But which of these are red herrings? And is there a "mastermind" behind the case? Then a tip is called in about a body in a freezer....

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Air date: May 11, 2018

The body of a man named James Roden is discovered in a freezer. The FBI isn't sure yet if the corpse has a connection to the bank heist, but Roden does have a connection to Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong, a local woman with multiple college degrees who was once considered one of Erie's "town beauties" -- but who in 2003 is known for her angry persona and public struggles with mental illness and a separate infamous murder case in Erie almost two decades years earlier. Interestingly upon being arrested for killing James Roden, Marjorie tells police they should focus on William "Bill" Rothstein, a former fiancé of Marjorie's whom she now calls "a filthy liar." Rothstein, raised rich in a prominent local family and an often-aggravating know-it-all who thinks he can outsmart anyone, actually contacts and meets with authorities -- and his presence in the case provides investigators with yet another person of interest: Floyd Stockton, Rothstein's former roommate who had been previously charged with rape. Then Marjorie makes a move.

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Air date: May 11, 2018

Marjorie, held at a prison in Muncy, PA, for the murder of James Roden, dangles information about the Bank Robbery case to the FBI in hopes of getting moved to a prison closer to Erie, but even with her mind games, the Feds develop information implicating Marjorie as a major player in the bank heist, along with several others: Rothstein, and Stockton, as well as a seedy local pimp and drug dealer -- and "fishing buddy" of Marjorie's -- named Ken Barnes, or, as he proudly calls himself, "Cocaine Ken." A connection between Barnes and the doomed bank robber/explosion victim Brian Wells is made. New eyewitnesses come forward who can place someone at a phone booth placing a call to the pizzeria where Wells worked. Co-director Trey Borzillieri begins an intense personal relationship with Marjorie Diehl to find out what she really knows about the heist. Then an astonishing development comes from inside prison walls.

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Air date: May 11, 2018

An insider's confession reveals what really happened in the planning leading up to the bank robbery and Brian Wells' killing, and soon Marjorie is charged. The reason for the "pizza bomber plot" is laid out -- but controversy arises regarding Wells' involvement. Marjorie is eventually deemed competent to stand trial in "Erie's Trial of the Century." As co-director Trey Borzillieri's communications with Marjorie continue during her prison term, she reveals shocking aspects of the case. But her rants contradict a dramatic, eleventh-hour interview with someone whose testimony to the filmmakers spins the facts of the case completely around -- making for a shocking conclusion to one of the most extraordinary true-crime stories ever told.

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Tv Season Info

Critic Reviews for Evil Genius: The True Story of America's Most Diabolical Bank Heist Season 1

All Critics (30) | Top Critics (11)

If you want a gripping, at times frustratingly odd story told well, Evil Genius does the job.

May 30, 2018 | Full Review…

This fascinating four-part Netflix true crime doco investigates the 'Pizza Bomber' case, a bizarre bank heist which occurred in the town of Erie, Pennsylvania in 2003.

May 18, 2018 | Rating: 3.5/5 | Full Review…

For a series that features, by its own description, a "master manipulator," Evil Genius feels more like a confused, unwitting pawn than an adversary worthy of taking on the challenge to uncover the truth.

May 11, 2018 | Rating: C- | Full Review…
Top Critic

The case of true crime storytelling that can be too easily classified as merely satiating the supply-and-demand for such unconscionable tales.

May 10, 2018 | Full Review…

Only becomes more captivating-and bizarre-in the final episode when a crucial witness makes an appearance.

Dec 15, 2018 | Full Review…

It's the perfect story for one of the streaming service's true-crime deep-dives.

Dec 15, 2018 | Full Review…

The whole thing is far sadder than it is mysterious.

Dec 15, 2018 | Full Review…

As fascinating as it is messy.

Dec 15, 2018 | Full Review…

There's a noticeable lack of polish in Evil Genius and although it's a compelling journey, it's not a particularly pretty one to watch.

Nov 29, 2018 | Rating: 6.5/10 | Full Review…

The twists, turns and unreliable accounts in this true story make this documentary series stand out.

Nov 24, 2018 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

I couldn't stop watching... It hooks you from the first minute into the documentary.

Sep 13, 2018 | Full Review…

One of the most interesting watches of the year.

Aug 26, 2018 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Evil Genius: The True Story of America's Most Diabolical Bank Heist: Season 1

  • Mar 26, 2020
    Not much to add if you already know about the pizza bomber case.
    familiar s Super Reviewer
  • Aug 29, 2020
    A few spoilers below. In the vein of other apparently wildly popular events that happened in the United States years ago, about which I was completely unaware, a la "Wild, Wild Country," this one was just as bizarre. I appreciated the numerous interviews with law enforcement, as well as the recorded conversations with suspects. By the third episode, the narrator became more obviously involved. I'm not sure this harmed anything, but I'm not sure it helped, either. The interview with Jessica at the end was supposed to be ground-breaking, but it felt like it fizzled out. This was interesting enough, even tense during the first episode. However, just because something was broadcast on television (accidentally) doesn't mean that it needs to be shown, intentionally, after the fact. The biggest misstep, in my opinion, was showing the actual explosion and its gruesome aftereffects. That was horrific and unnecessary to draw viewers in to be transfixed to the TV right at the moment the man dies in a terrible way. Then, since we've established that right in episode one, each subsequent episode decided to revisit the scene and either keep us guessing whether they were going to show the event again or just cut straight to the scene of his lifeless body afterwards. This was tasteless enough, but they saved the best for literally two minutes before the end: we turned off the television, because we were convinced that they were going to show the explosion again... when we turned the television back on, we saw smoke clearing, and we surmised that they had shown it again... but the kicker was that they showed something heretofore unseen in this series: THE GIANT, GAPING CHEST WOUND CLOSEUP. Why on earth this was necessary to show is a bigger mystery than the subject of the documentary. I really liked this documentary. It was short, shocking, like a mystery, trying to figure out who's lying and who's telling the truth, even showing bare admission by law enforcement that they made missteps, but at the end, it was marred by the unnecessary few seconds of horrifying gore that might well give someone nightmares.
  • Jun 14, 2020
    The movie goes in 1 direction and never really diverts, lacking any real intriguing twist, or maybe there were twists that simply werent properly dramatized.
  • Apr 27, 2020
    Outstanding! Well crafted journey into a field of disturbed minds and super egos. Truthful tales from those who lived it.
  • Feb 05, 2020
    I love how the black guy is like, ain't no black guys involved. Couldn't have been no back guys. Even though he didn't lie about the bomb on his neck, he has to be lying about the guys being black. Gotta protect the bois, you know. LMAO, more worried about if it was a black guy or not than the guy having his head blown off.
  • Dec 24, 2019
    Great documentary a must watch very interesting.
  • Dec 28, 2018
    Amazing plot, creepy characters.
  • Dec 23, 2018
    A stunning look into the sordid tale that cost Brian Welles. Its a 4 hour part documentary that gets interviews from all parties involved (law enforcement, the conspirators, people who knew the conspirators, jailhouse snitches, etc), getting facts and assertions. Its a pretty fair and objective piece that shines a spotlight on this tragic and sad case.
  • Aug 30, 2018
    Love, love, LOVE it!
  • Aug 03, 2018
    unheard of story in my books but this was a very interesting watch.

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