Review: Spiral (S5 E7&8/12), Saturday 31st January, BBC4


Last week’s episode of Spiral really left us on a knife-edge. This series we’ve been much more invested in the emotional stories of the characters, and that investment usually means that something bad is about to happen to them, and so it proved. We clung to the hope that lovely Pierre Clément (Gregory Fitoussi) might survive the shooting caused by Stéphane Jaulin’s escape attempt, but no; he died on the operating table, and we, like Berthaud and Karlsson, will have to cope with our grief.

Bertaud tells Gilou that it seemed wrong for him to be there – that he looked as if he’d get up from the morgue slab.

For the first time Berthaud and Karlsson, former adversaries, are united in grief – such was the power of Clément’s goodness in a dirty world.

Berthaud seems to face up to the tragedy remarkably well; despite her raging hormones, she doesn’t shed a tear for Pierre, possibly too caught up with the puzzle of the double murder, and the pressure to capture Nutjob Zach after the ATM raids.

Karlsson, in contrast, is in bits, her grief compounded by the realisation that Pierre’s parents hadn’t even been told of their relationship. It’s some comfort that she hears his final declaration of love on her voice-mail, but it doesn’t stop her weeping, wailing and sniffing his clothes and leaving the love-token of a lock of her hair in a suit pocket. It is probably the first time we can remember her displaying her feelings so overtly – dissembling is her default position. For once we actually feel sympathy for the spiky red-head.

Karlsson’s declaration to Roban that she intends to quit the job comes as little surprise, then (she has threatened this before over the immigrants case in a previous season – it was only grandstanding), but he is passionate in his insistence that she should persevere. He has his own problems; he’s consumed with guilt over Pierre’s death, even his own faithful clerk Marianne, his ‘second’ for many of his struggles with colleagues, blames him for the tragedy and walks out, and his nose-bleeds must be signalling him that some physiological cause is at the root of his increasingly extreme behaviour.

All this unfolds while Berthaud realises that the murdered Sandrine’s relationship with Zach must be the cornerstone of her killing, and that of her daughter. When it’s discovered that Sandrine bought mobile phones used by Zach, the connection is made clearer, but a botched attempt to trap him results only in his partner and the cash being recovered. Berthaud comes close to being killed, and has to face the fact that her pregnancy means she can’t take the risks she used to.

Tintin is desolate that his wife has left him, taking not only the kids, but his police car; we get the feeling he misses the car most. But we’re still finding it hard to figure out whether Gilou’s offers to co-parent with Berthaud are sincere, or whether he’s just trying to remind her of her responsibilities; we can’t really see him pushing a pram, but he is on the right track when he points out to her that only responsibility of a mother is to love her child – when did he become so wise? This is the guy who once sold his gun to a hood.

Anyway, we reckon Gilou is heading for a pash with slimy Djibril’s glamorous girlfriend Cindy; while he gets closer to Djibril, using him to borrow a car, and listens sympathetically to her complaints about being beaten up, this doesn’t stop him from binning Cindy’s complaint to prevent Djibril from being sent back to jail.

Djibril’s now central to a plot to lure the desperate Zach into doing another job, this time knocking off a consignment of printer cartridges (they must be even more expensive in France than they are here). But Djibril himself is also looking more and more suspect; Roban investigates a case of Libyan businessman mistreating his servants, and it appears that he’s a contact of Djibril. Too much coincidence? Well, the series isn’t called Engrenages (cogs) for nothing.

With Gilou being arrested by Internal Affairs in the final scene, it looks like his misdemeanours might be his downfall, as well as derailing the Zach sting. But he’ll wriggle out of it, just you see. Maybe even his ghastly boss Herville – who was only last week singing Gilou’s praises and promising promotion – will come to his aid.

Karlsson’s apparent seduction by the power and money of sleaze-bag Edelman’s company seems to put her on a new track, while Roban’s partnering with the young, no-nonsense Judge Mendy might revitalise him – or will it prompt him to step aside once and for all?

Finally, what did we say about keeping an eye on Sandrine’s creepy parents? Yes, it turns out that Dad’s a kiddy-fiddler, and Mum must have known about it. The final revelation that Zach is the father of Sandrine’s murdered child raises more questions than it answers. Does this make him more, or less likely to be the killer?

If there’s a theme to this season, it’s family responsibility; Tintin’s is disintegrating and every twist increases the pressure on Berthaud to face up to hers, but with her pregnancy no longer a secret, it seems like she’s heading for a desk job, if not departure. But can she crack Zach first?

Chris Jenkins

For our episodes one and two review, go here

For our episodes three and four review, go here

For our episodes five and six review, go here


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