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.
FOR OUR EPISODE ONE REVIEW CLICK HERE
FOR OUR EPISODE TWO REVIEW CLICK HERE
FOR OUR EPISODE THREE REVIEW CLICK HERE