REVIEW: Baptiste (S1 E4/6)

SPOILERS

It wouldn’t have been out of place to hear the familiar duff duff duff of the Eastenders closing theme tune at the end of last week’s episode, such was the level of melodrama on display – and it seemed it was met by the same level of incredulity from most viewers. Despite opening the season with a solid premise, a well-loved character and that genre-leading writing and direction team, Baptiste has unfortunately been a real mess of a TV show. With three episodes left on the slate you would usually hope to see the plot strands tighten up significantly leading into the final third, but instead, we were treated to an hour of absolute filler that instigated terrifying flashbacks to the mediocrity of Strangers and had me reaching for the vapours.

Our chief rogue Constantin continues to be about as threatening as a wet lettuce and spent most of this fourth episode letting his beard do the acting, while holding Edward in a variety of uncomfortable physical positions. He shows Stratton his trusty chainsaw. He tells him where his jugular vein is and how easy it would be for him to slash it. He threatens him with some loose cutlery. It’s pure cartoon villainy and is only compounded by Edward’s bizarre predilection for willingly placing himself in continual danger with the man.

Constantin’s ridiculous behaviour is only matched by the hand grenade of incendiary unpleasantness that Europol’s finest officer Genevieve deploys on everyone she meets, primarily based around the fact she couldn’t read a book to her illicit – and somewhat vegetative – lover when she got caught out by his wife. This bubbling volcano of rage was portrayed throughout the episode by Jessica Raine as if she had smelt something horrendous just slightly out of shot, and she was absolutely taking no prisoners. She tells off Maartje for being a lush. She walks into rooms and shouts at Edward for various reasons. She continually tells anybody within earshot she’s running this really big operation and doesn’t have time for ANYTHING.

But this is all small change in comparison to the worst offence the programme commits this week in robbing of us of the only interesting character in the show, Kim Vogel. Judging by column inches, Talisa Garcia has been the breakout star of the series and her background as the former Romanian gang boss turned good was compelling viewing. But this week Kim got short shrift when she was resoundingly rejected by her partner and then was unceremoniously dispatched in a particularly nasty manner. It was a dismal display of violence that did absolutely nothing to advance the plot, just like the demise of Natalie before her. Both women’s deaths were wholly unnecessary to tell this story and only served to have me mentally check out on my investment in this show for good.

The meagre whiff of a plot this week saw Baptiste on a wild goose chase through a smattering of suspects who might have Constantin’s ever-dwindling bag of Euros. De Boer tells the retired detective he suspects his local window cleaner has the cash – and after twenty minutes of purchasing bolt-cutters and stopping for a sandwich whilst his target inexplicably shopped for snacks, Baptiste breaks into the man’s home only to find his secret squirrel spy dungeon (second only to the overflowing cork-board of threaded pins and suspect photos in the Top Ten Terrible Crime TV Tropes). This hilariously over-baked scenario (“I am not a pervert!!!”)  leads Baptiste to find CCTV footage of the real culprit, local dentist and strip club enthusiast Jasper – who he promptly shakes down with the optional alternative of having his head caved in by a mob of angry Romanians. What did the nation that gave us delicious cabbage rolls ever do to deserve being the perennial villains in every crime show in the western hemisphere?

Baptiste eventually bags the cash and waits for Edward to nearly give himself a hernia attempting a rooftop escape from his hotel where Genevieve’s officers have him under observation. But Edward’s done a dodgy deal with Constantin, double-crossing both Baptiste and Genevieve in a bid to save his own life and pass the money back to the crime boss directly. Setting up a stalled vehicle so he can nab Julien’s car and the illicit cash, he races off into the night leaving Baptiste to sum up what viewers are thinking when he exclaims “Merde!!”. Well, you said it mate.

As you might be able to tell, I am actively leaning into the ridiculous nature of this show now as it’s the only way to save my brain from atrophy whilst watching. If we’re looking at it as a comedy, there are some great moments of silliness in this show that makes you wonder if the writers are equally aware as us that they are phoning it in. Genevieve’s professional recommendation to a man who is being relentlessly hunted by bloodthirsty gangsters to use the Spa and relax was a cracker (“Perhaps I’ll get my nails done”), as was the prolonged periods of silence followed by furious scribbling between Edward and Constantin that she failed to pick up on the wire. Add to that Kim’s inexplicable agreement to meet a complete stranger without backup, a Europol officer publicly telling Amsterdam’s Chief of Police she stinks of booze, prolonged scenes for no reason of a man buying crisps and Edward’s tentative trip among the wrinkled genitalia of a Dutch spa for a change of scenery and you have the recipe for a particularly odd concoction of a TV show. I doubt the BBC’s recommission department will be coming back for a second helping.

Andy D

FOR OUR EPISODE ONE REVIEW CLICK HERE

FOR OUR EPISODE TWO REVIEW CLICK HERE

FOR OUR EPISODE THREE REVIEW CLICK HERE

 

17 Comments Add yours

  1. Colin Cutter says:

    We are asked to believe that Baptiste would get out of the car leaving both Edward and the keys in it. Oh sure, my ****.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Elizabeth Macpherson says:

      Especially after Edward previously used Baptiste’s car keys. But – he is tired & not himself zzz

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Terrible. Disappointing. Horrendous. Andy, I agree that possibly the only way to continue watching is to view it as a comedy – I don’t know if I have the will. A shame.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Andy D says:

      You wouldn’t be the only one to think that way Elizabeth – it’s been shedding viewers since the premiere episode.

      Like

  3. Charlotte Carling says:

    I think you have a point there, Andy, best to view this as a comedy. For some reason I have an idea that Niels is going to turn out to be corrupt, meaning that the bonding between father and son will immediately be very awkward.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Andy D says:

      I think you’re right Charlotte. He always seems to be excusing himself from situations to run off somewhere. Not sure on the state of public healthcare in the Netherlands but I do wonder if he requires a lot of cash to rebuild his body since the operation,

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Charlotte Carling says:

        Yes, could be something to do with that.
        Like others I’m watching this without much enthusiasm at this point, but I’ll see the rest just to find out how they mean to tie this plot together.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. Stephen John Owen says:

    Absolutely nailed the nonsense this thriller i use that sparingly has produced is as you say laughable and the john simms ….laughable last outing is a good comparison…..thank god for traitors. ….history post war time fledgling service mi5 dealing with post victory threats from Russia and the wonderful Keeley Hawes. ..a welcome relief…..shame BBC didnt commission can do without the advertisements

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jane says:

      I’m glad someone else is enjoying Traitors as much as me. It seems to be under the radar.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Andy D says:

        This is on my list…glad to hear it’s a good watch!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Keith says:

    I have to say that I have now completely lost the plot with Baptiste. As in – where has the plot gone? The search for a missing person quickly came to nothing and, as Baptiste’s skills are finding missing people, the whole story became pretty much redundant at that point.

    Right now all that’s left is for him to make sure that his family is safe from Constantin and that will seemingly depend on Edward Stratton’s next move. If he takes the money to Constantin then everyone might be off the hook but if he does a runner with it then who knows?

    Genevieve is a thoroughly unpleasant character and unconvincingly acted anyway. With only two episodes left it’s hard to see how she fits into what remains of the ‘plot’ although bringing her into the series halfway through suggests there is something waiting in the wings.

    There’s not much time left (good or bad?) for this to either explode into a great denouement or flop into the canal. Sadly I can’t decide which is the more likely…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Andy D says:

      Exactly Keith. One thing I didn’t mention in the review as I’m waiting to see what happens is the actual “plot” is supposed to be that the money was originally going to be used as leverage to free Natalie’s sister, Kristina. Yet we’ve had a maximum of two scenes with her so there is no sense of her as a character, or that her situation is perilous – and really no sense that her freedom is the endgame for this show.

      Like

  6. Dan Campling says:

    I had high hopes for this after Episode 1. Unfortunately it’s turned out to be total stoolwater. However, on the positive side, iplayer have put the first 4 series of Line Of Duty on their Box sets section so I think I’ll have a rewatch before Series 5 starts. This should make up for the 4 hours of my life I can’t get back from watching Baptiste.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Barbs says:

    Such a waste of Tchéky Karyo.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. paul says:

    So, the Police, Europol and everyone else is quite happy with a large sum of illicitly gained money being returned to organised Criminals by whoever can find it?
    So, it had to actually be the actual bag of actual Euros that had to be returned ? How on earth could anyone know whether it had all or partly been spent ( which actually it has), that the various finders would keep it conveniently in the same bag and definitely not try to conceal, Bank or spend it? Wouldn’t a viable alternative have at least been considered, to raise, borrow or steal an equivalent amount rather than try to find the exact same cash?

    So, the main suspect very helpfully had private CCTV installed which could rewind to any time, and capture in sound and vision the actual stealer of said bag? Surely the writers couldn’t be so lazy as to trace him this way??

    So, Edward absolutely knew the route and time that Baptiste’s car would take, that Baptiste himself would get out of the car and not ask Edward to, or just reverse the car up, or drive around it, or turn around?

    Andy, I am with you, it is utterly ludicrous and now laughable.

    Genevieve seems to only be there to extend the timeline, no one can be arrested and it can’t be solved after episode 2,3,or 4 because there’s a ‘bigger game at play’ . I doubt we’re going to see that resolved in two episodes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Keith says:

      Absolutely right Paul. I thought it was all-too convenient that Stratton had managed to find a random friend to block Baptiste’s car when he wasn’t able to escape the hotel.

      Having said that, the climb along the roof was sweaty-palm stuff for me although there were moments when I wished he’d simply fallen off and put everyone out of their misery!

      Liked by 1 person

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