REVIEW: Baptiste (S1 E6/6)


It’s been a long road to this final chapter of Baptiste – and it’s been a very bumpy journey along the way, beset with gigantic plot holes and paper-thin characters. How such a poorly constructed show could have been extrapolated from the brilliant elements that made The Missing such a hit is a mystery that even the erstwhile detective from both series couldn’t solve. To add insult to injury after doggedly wading through the tedium of this series for six weeks, viewers were treated to a finale which was on a whole other level of mediocrity, even by this show’s standards. It literally was the least the writers could do.

Now before we begin, remember this mantra. This is Baptiste, we don’t do logic here.

Pint-sized James Bond wannabe Edward Stratton tries his hand at interrogation with would-be assassin Nikolai in the aftermath of his ex-wife’s murder. Now I know Edward has been through the mill somewhat in these past weeks, but he seems remarkably calm in the wake of seeing his beloved Clare with her throat slit. Either way, Nikolai doesn’t know anything about Kristina’s whereabouts but does tell Edward that Dragomir might know, advising him of the gang boss’s transition into Kim Vogel. Edward leaves the caravan park (I hope he paid extra for cleaning) to travel back to Amsterdam by plane, even though last episode he had to leave the Netherlands by an illicit drug boat because both the Brigada and Europol were pursuing him. No watch lists needed. This is Baptiste, we don’t do logic here.

Elsewhere, we waste fifteen minutes doing a Maartje the Mole dance before arriving at the inevitable reveal. Baptiste and Genevieve – now inexplicably best buddies apparently – roust the poor woman outside her yoga class, but she is indignant they would suspect her of trading information with the Brigada. A few minutes later the pair are accosted by a gun-toting Brigada assassin in what resembles a knock-off version of a scene straight out of Bodyguard – my only conclusion being that Baptiste must have learned his driving skills in Formula One, and that his Volvo estate is clearly bullet-proof. It’s a ridiculous scene – but is immediately topped by the pair revisiting Mr Visser’s Secret Squirrel Spy Cave where they magically salvage a fully working computer from the pervert’s skip and immediately find incriminating CCTV footage of Niels dishing information to his buddy Constantin and ordering Kim Vogel’s murder, all with crystal clear audio. No search warrants needed. This is Baptiste, we don’t do logic here.

This whole debacle was eye-wateringly bad, but at least it dragged us to where every viewer had already been for weeks – that Nasty Niels was the real villain. The mucky mole visited with a random replacement beard in lieu of Constantin to order the murders of Baptiste and Genevieve. New Constantin duly sought out Genevieve’s apartment armed with a rusty meat cleaver (no chainsaw for him – he’s on a budget, what with that bag of money missing). Now I’m assuming this was written to build tension into the fact that the least likable character in the show might get swiftly murdered, but it was more flop than chop and went absolutely nowhere. Instead, Maartje tipped off Niels to the fact he had been exposed and the Brigada swiftly did whatever the criminal version of ex-communication is and cut off the entire Dutch arm of their enterprise, leaving Niels and his cronies on the run. Nope, this multinational trafficking ring doesn’t just replace or kill their rogue elements to keep business moving, they simply disavow them and damage their own financial standing as a result. No bag of Euros (or yacht invoice) needed anymore. This is Baptiste, we don’t do logic here.

Apparently the Brigada are totally cool with all these loose ends and lost money, so Genevieve tells Baptiste the coast is presumably clear, and that his family are therefore safe. Celia gets two lines and his daughter doesn’t even appear and get a reconciliation scene at all. There is literally zero emotional conclusion to this strand of the story, which leaves you thinking why have it there at all in the first place? But that’s fine, because we have twenty minutes left on the slate – plenty of time for an action-packed finale…

…except there wasn’t one.

Instead every single viewer was given the script-writer’s middle finger with the laziest plot device known to animal, vegetable or mineral. No real conclusion needed. This is Baptiste, we don’t do logic here.

Two Months Later.

Having run out of story, the script sees Baptiste meet Edward on a grey English beach. In flashbacks, Baptiste recalls the previous eight (busy) weeks. Firstly, the box that Kim left Greg contained – as predicted – all the vague plot devices to bring down the Brigada’s operations. It also contained exact coordinates for all of the trafficking dens that the gang ran. Baptiste (who you may recall is retired and has no official capacity in any active investigation whatsoever) helps the police bust every location – but their efforts are thwarted when it transpires Kristina has been sold on to persons unknown for a few hundred Euros. Maybe it’s a true reflection of a grim reality, but considering her fate was the sole purpose of the plot of this show it feels like viewers got incredibly short changed here. Would it have killed the writers to give her a happy ending?

But all that pales into insignificance against the frankly ludicrous endgame for Niels. Meeting with his mother in a crowded marketplace, he soon realises she has sold him out to her colleagues and subsequently holds her hostage. Inexplicably, Baptiste is allowed to lead the negotiations – only for his son to accidentally kill Maartje and wound his father (and a week before Mother’s Day too, the cad). How many women has this show brutally killed for no reason now? I’ve lost count. I can’t even begin to explain how terrible this ending was – it was both an insult to the audience’s collective intelligence and some of the most ham-fisted writing I’ve ever had the misfortune to sit through.

As we’ve all lamented in the comments section each week, there were the embers of a good series in here somewhere. I even actively petitioned the boss to review it, thinking I was going to be treated to a show on a par with its parent’s quality. There was an open goal of a premise to score from, and all the components present to construct a great show – seasoned actors, a celebrated writing team and a proficient director. How those ingredients resulted in this flaccid mess is anybody’s guess, but this current fashion in drama entertainment for soap-style plot twists at every conceivable juncture is partly to blame – something that bears heavy on the twist but forgoes the actual plot part of the equation. It’s not enough to string a show together based on the moments where you try and retain your audience for the following week – you actually need to have something in between rather than be all talk and no trousers. Or in the case of Baptiste, tout parler et pas de pantalon.

Andy D







The 10 best crime dramas this week (Monday 25th – Sunday 31st March)

The big headline this week is to do with AC-12: yes, Line Of Duty is back. Elsewhere, Enid a Lucy finishes and, well… that’s about it. It’s as you were. Enjoy!

S5 E1/6
An attack is made on a police transport carrying seized drugs, leaving three officers dead. Suspicion immediately falls on the head of a criminal syndicate, who is suspected of having police officers on his payroll providing him with information. AC-12 are assigned to investigate and root out the corrupt cops – but realise they are up against their most destructive adversary yet.
Sunday 31st March, 9pm, BBC One

S1 E2/6
With the Meredith family reeling from Dylan’s death and Sean’s arrest, Lisa is charged with finding his alibi and makes a game-changing discovery. Suspicions are raised about another Morecambe resident’s involvement with the twins and the police rush to find them. Abbie grows closer to newcomer Vincent, whilst Rob agrees to take on a risky dare. Frustrated by the police investigation, Sean takes matters into his own hands. 
Wednesday 27th March, 9pm, ITV

S1 E4/8
With no prospect of returning to the role he has spent his life preparing for, Caden feels that has nothing to live for. He spirals downwards until his equally unhinged companion Orla suggests a suicide pact. Meanwhile, Kathryn learns the dark secrets of Max’s media empire and has a fateful decision to make, and Max weighs the political candidates as the general election looms, but has his judgement been impaired by his son’s illness?
Wednesday 27th March, 9pm, BBC Two

S1 E4/4
The duo arrives in London, and Lucy thinks her dreams could finally come true. But Sid, Denfer and Majewski are watching them and the cartel is on their trail. 
Sunday 31st March, 9pm, S4C

S1 E2/20
Nolan has a dramatic encounter with a distraught runaway bride, and training officer Talia forces him to confront his moral instincts after he encounters a kidnapping victim.
Thursday 28th March, 9pm, SkyWitness

S1 E3/12
A pregnant woman is kidnapped in broad daylight in front of her husband. The team soon has a suspect, but finds that no one involved in the case is who they seem to be.
Wednesday 27th, March, 9pm, 5USA

7 Murdoch Mysteries *NEW UK PREMIERE EPISODE*
S12 E11/18
Crabtree and John are transporting a convicted axe murderer to prison when she escapes to exact revenge on those who testified against her.
Monday 25th March, 9pm, Alibi

S2 E10/10
When a magician’s assistant is killed, Frankie goes undercover to find the culprit. But can she see clearly through the smoke and mirrors?
Tuesday 26th March, 9pm, Alibi

9 Midsomer Murders *REPEAT*
S17 3/4
It’s the day of the Little Crosby Folk Festival and organiser Toby Winning is found dead, having drowned in a bowl of eggs and live eels. The murder seems to have been inspired by a ballad made famous by the late, lamented star Johnny Carver. Then it comes to light the victim recently announced plans to move the event to a new location, which would have cost local entrepreneur Frank Wainwright dearly. Toby’s estranged wife Alice also comes under suspicion, before two further killings take place, echoing more lyrics from the song.
Friday 29th March, 8.30pm, ITV

10 Rosemary & Thyme *REPEAT*
S1 E1/6
Horticultural lecturer Rosemary Boxer is hired by a wealthy but ill businessman to help cure a disease causing his trees to lose their bark. She gets to know Laura Thyme, who turns up after a friend is killed in a suspicious car accident, and when the pair find the lord of the manor unconscious beneath his bedroom window, they must decide whether depression led him to attempt suicide or if there is a more sinister explanation.
Wednesday 27th March, 8pm, Drama