Review: Spiral (S5 E5&6/12), Saturday 24th January, BBC4

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7937193-low_res-Although this series of Spiral hasn’t attempted to tackle Big Issues such as immigration or terrorism (although they’re always on the fringes), it has still full of twists and shocks, and has ramped up the personal pressure on the protagonists to an almost painful degree. If you have tears, prepare to shed them now – episode six, in particular, was an extraordinary rollercoaster ride, elevating Spiral right up into dramasphere. It was one of those game-changing weeks that will send crime drama fans into meltdown.

Investigating both the murder of a woman and child, and a series of ram-raids on cash machines, Berthaud has skipped her appointment at the Belgian termination clinic to meet with informant Djibril Merini, who says he has discovered the identity of the ram-raider Blanco. Tracing Blanco’s phone, Berthaud and Gilou manage to crash into the suspect’s car, an embarrassment, but it does allow them to get his fingerprints. But they don’t match those found on the dead girl’s slipper, so they must belong to another member of the gang.   

Blanco is in touch with another ex-convict Zach, and is seemingly buying explosives for him; but when the deal falls through, Blanco is beaten senseless. Berthaud and Gilou try to pressure him into linking the suspect Jaulin and the gang, but are surprised when he identifies a photo of Jaulin’s dead wife as a contact of gang member Zach. So was her murder linked to the gang rather than to her husband?

Meanwhile, the pathetic Jaulin, on remand for the murder of his wife and child, has attempted suicide. Judge Roban is still seemingly convinced of his guilt, so much so that the bawls out Berthaud for not revealing that she has linked Jaulin and Blanco, who worked for the same car hire firm. Roban’s fury brings on a nosebleed – he’s clearly ill, but won’t admit it.

Lawyer Josephine Karlsson takes on the case of a street kid who has been charged with possession of cannabis, and sensing in her a determination to go straight, has won her case. It’s a personal triumph for Karlsson, who needs the reassurance that her career isn’t on the skids, but her confidence takes a knock when her lover Pierre Clément is elected to the Bar Council, and she is sidelined by jealous colleagues. In a sulk, she goes off with a slimy admirer.

The squad’s increasingly unhinged boss Herville has insisted on organising a raid on a mansion that he thinks is the headquarters of a gang of jewellery thieves. The raid’s a grande affaire with armed cops and TV cameras everywhere, and turns into a PR success, with a huge haul of illicit gold found. Unfortunately for him, the TV coverage hinges mainly on a shot dog, all of which makes him more determined to recover his reputation by solving the double murder.   

Gilou bonds with informant Djibril over a boxing bout, but Tintin doesn’t trust Djibril, probably with good reason, and fights with Gilou. But the two have to work together when they examine a flat rented by the dead woman, apparently for gangster Zach.

Karlsson’s young client falls in with Zach, whose plan emerges. He uses her to entrap a cash machine engineer, and in a tense climax, the cops realise that Zach’s plans involve a fake bomb, and contact all the cash businesses in the city to find out if anyone’s missing an official. But by the time they race into action, it’s too late to capture Zach or to save the kidnapped engineer. 

Just when you think the action couldn’t become any more tense, there’s a shocking end scene. Pierre Clément takes the increasingly unstable Stéphane Jaulin in front of Judge Roban, in the hope that new evidence will free him. Jaulin just wants to see his child Léo, but Roban is unbending; Jaulin goes berserk, grabs a letter-opener and threatens to stab Clément. A guard intervenes, a shot is fired, but it’s Clément who takes the bullet. Berthaud and Karlsson rush to hospital, Clément’s heart stops, and the two women are united in grief.

It’s almost impossible for the viewer to grasp that sturdy, handsome Clément (Gregory Fitoussi, currently appearing on ITV in Mr Selfridge) might be dead. He’s the heart of the legal side of Spiral, the conscience that keeps Karlsson in check, and complements Roban; he’s one of the factors keeping Berthaud on the straight and narrow, and whether she admits it or not, she’s probably more than a little in love with him. Without him, both Karlsson and Berthaud (already reeling from the loss of Sami) might be unable to continue – and his death would be a blow to the ailing Roban. Needless to say it also throws the Jaulin case into disarray.

Whatever the outcome, the rest of the series will take place under the darkest shadow we’ve yet seen over Spiral.

There’s everything to play for in next week’s double bill – will Berthaud go through with the termination, or bow to Gilou’s pressure to keep the baby? Will Tintin rescue his disintegrating marriage, will Karlsson be able to rebuild her shattered life and career, and will Herville be honoured or disgraced? Most crucially, will Jaulin or Zach be found guilty of the double murder?

Our tip? Keep an eye on the dead woman’s parents. It’s always the quiet ones. 

Chris Jenkins

For episodes one and two review, go here

For our episodes three and four review, go here

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