REVIEW: Baptiste (S1 E6/6)

SPOILERS

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

FOR OUR EPISODE ONE REVIEW, CLICK HERE

FOR OUR EPISODE TWO REVIEW, CLICK HERE

FOR OUR EPISODE THREE REVIEW, CLICK HERE

FOR OUR EPISODE FOUR REVIEW, CLICK HERE

FOR OUR EPISODE FIVE REVIEW, CLICK HERE

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18 Comments Add yours

  1. Keith says:

    Given the appalling writing of this show I half expected that Baptiste having his arm in a sling would not actually be explained…

    However, it is clear that the door has been left open for another tale in the future when he declined to answer Edward’s question about retirement. Right now I can’t work out if this is a good thing (a chance to make amends…) or a bad one (yet more drivel).

    Anyway, thanks for sticking with it. We all feel your pain.

    Until next time…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Andy D says:

      I wouldn’t be surprised if it got a second season. Even though it lost a chunk of viewers by the end it was still performing solid enough to warrant recommission – like you say, it would be a good chance to wipe the slate clean if so!

      Like

  2. malerogue says:

    Which was worse….this or Rellik….steer clear of the writing team. What a waste of good actors and an insult to viewers intelligence. Whilst I am at it you couldn’t take Killing Eve seriously as well as this rubbish

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Colin Cutter says:

      Killing Eve, with its tongue in cheek, is head and shoulders above this tripe.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Andy D says:

      Since the Missing they have become very popular with both BBC and ITV. Rellik, Baptiste, Liar, Strangers…all of those shows share the same DNA for better or worse.

      Like

  3. welzen says:

    What a pity. This show could be very good, at least the first chapter suggested it but everything starts to be wrong quickly. When you discover what is happening to Edward Stratton the show lost its mystery because since this moment the whole characters start to move around the plot without sense and taking weird decisions. I would not recommend this show, I enjoyed much more with “Trapped”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Andy D says:

      This is it – the set up in Episode 1 was great but by revealing Edward’s story so soon it lost all momentum.

      Like

  4. Mark Andrew says:

    “This current fashion in drama entertainment for soap-style plot twists at every conceivable juncture is partly to blame.”

    That is so true, Andy D. The sort of “commissioner’s notes” that you are given when developing or writing a show can be soul-destroying:

    “Our audience needs to know what our hero wants and what are the obstacles standing in her way… unless our hero is overcoming an obstacle every ten pages in the script, we’ll lose our audience… the show needs to be less BBC Four and more BBC One… ”

    So soap-style plot twists and generic storytelling are the order of the day. Because commissioners are terrified of alienating their audience and small independent production companies are terrified of losing their commission. It’s a merry dance of death.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Andy D says:

      It’s amazing anything gets made with those kind of restrictions! I get that commercial entertainment needs to fit into certain parameters but it saddens me to see so much generic content being pumped out.

      Like

  5. Tom says:

    ‘Avoid flashbacks.’

    The words of my favourite creative-writing instructor rang in my ear as I watched the denouement in disbelief. I couldn’t help but feel robbed after having sat through five hours and fifty minutes of drivel that the show’s creators had run out of time to properly dramatise the ending.

    I did find the car chase pretty exciting – it knocked me from my torpor for a couple of minutes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Andy D says:

      I think the shock of the car crashing into theirs definitely woke me up! For me it kind of came in a bit too late in the series, that implied threat the Brigada could get at you anytime, anywhere.

      Like

    2. Colin Cutter says:

      Flashbacks, in time or effedrtively in place, are an abonimation especially when one has to work out that that is what is happening – which Baptiste and The Missing were full of.

      Like

  6. Mike Sargent says:

    Surely Maarte shot herself with a gun she had in her bag…. And Baptiste’s car was a Jaguar not a Volvo.
    But you’re right, it was over all, hugely disappointing. Baptiste and Snowdog were fine, but I thought Genevieve’s acting was poor.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Keith says:

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who thought Maarte had shot herself!

      And what happened when the Brigada guy broke into Genevieve’s house and stayed long enough for us to see the machete he was carrying and then disappeared. Talk about ‘Conan the Librarian’…

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Andy D says:

      I would have to re-watch it, she was rustling in there for quite a while. Good spot on the car! I think Jessica Raine is a fine actor but here was simply miscast – that role needed to be somebody slightly older and a bit tougher. I just didn’t buy into her interpretation of the role.

      Like

      1. Keith says:

        It seems that every character needed to have a dodgy back story and so everything lost focus.

        And (as I seem to have completely forgotten this bit…) what happened to Baptiste’s family? When the series started he was living happily in Amsterdam with his wife, their ex-druggie daughter (that thread fizzled out quickly), her partner and child. They all moved away for safety but by last night only Mrs B was at the safe house. Did they get bored too..?

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Andy D says:

    Keith that whole plot line was a waste. In a nutshell, his daughter and her partner were living in Amsterdam, Baptiste and his wife Celia were visiting them on holiday from France (it wasn’t made very clear at all). They got moved from one safe house to another. I am assuming we were to intimate everybody was at the safe house in the last episode, but they obviously chose not to feature the daughter in a scene to this end (or it was cut). This was very puzzling to me as they’d made heavy weather the previous episode of her arguing with Baptiste about their situation.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Sara Latham says:

    I gave up on this episode after 20 mins, the whole thing just became ridiculous and not even entertaining! Shame.

    Liked by 1 person

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