REVIEW Baptiste (S2 E3/6)

We’re at the half-way stage of this final series of Baptiste, and by the end of it my head was spinning after an incredibly savage massacre scene, big questions answered and a helluva twist.

Before that, however, and you got the impression that it was a quieter episode with plenty of build-up. As it turned out, the calm before the storm.

Once again we were toing and froing between the two timelines, but at this stage it was proving to be a valuable device – the constant push and pull between the two never felt like a gimmick like previous Williams brothers’ series. No, each segment in each timeline served a purpose: to keep the story moving and to keep us on the edge of our seats at all times.

There were constant set-ups. In the present-day timeline we were always told pieces of information about events that were yet to happen. And then, in the flashback segments, we saw those events unfold.

If you can forgive the odd line of brilliantly awful dialogue (tonight’s favourite? In bar, Julien sensed a couple sitting nearby were on the verge of breaking up. When they did, Zsofia asked: “How did you know? You don’t speak Hungarian.” “I speak people,” Julien replied), it was a tense and gripping episode.

Right at the beginning of the installment, we were introduced to two new characters. Interestingly, we felt sympathy for them – a man and a woman (husband and wife) suffered the heartbreak of losing a baby. By the end of the episode, that sympathy had ebbed away in spectacular fashion. The woman was Kamilla Agoston, leader of the far-right party, Hungary First, who were intent on dividing the country with fierce, racist rhetoric, fanning the flames of hate and agitating its supporters to push out the migrant community.

A member of that community was Zsofia’s father who, we had seen in past episodes, become the target of a far-right gang. Thanks to information in the present-day, we also knew that the tensions in the country bubbled over spectacularly in the flashback timeline. Zsofia referred to Julien as the ‘hero of Józsefváros’ and we were eager to find out what happened and why.

We soon did.

In the present-day, we saw Emma, Zsofia and Julien push Andras Juszt to get closer to Gamorrah. He met with Kamilla Agoston, and was soon taken hostage by her and her thugs who didn’t buy that Juszt wanted back into their gang after so much time away. All this was happening with Julien in the basement of her apartment, where he found irrefutable evidence that she – or at least an inhabitant of her apartment – was Gamorroah him or herself.

But the real action was to be found in the flashback timeline. Emma was handed her son Alex’s laptop back from the police, and she was eager to use it as a way to connect with her missing son, presumed dead. What she found in her emails caused her to call Julien immediately.

A series of emails from a mystery woman, living in Melbourne, Australia piqued their interest. These were no love letters – they were terse, to-the-point instructions telling Alex to meet at a certain place on a day at a certain time.

Baross Józsefváros.

That date and time was happening on that day, so the pair – realising that there was something fishy going on with the email correspondence – raced to the scene. The same scene where Kamilla Agoston was to give a rally to her supporters.

The ‘hero of Józsefváros’. Whatever was coming, was definitely coming.

I liked this build up and I liked the foreshadowing but nothing – nothing – prepared me for what was going to happen next.

As Julien and Emma stood in the middle of a separate part of square – teeming with a market populated by migrants – snipers from a building opposite opened fire. Many, many people died in the carnage.

It was awful to watch. Extremely well choreographed and edited from a production perspective yes, but it was like nothing I’d ever scene on television before. Almost like a shoot ’em up video game.

It really was gruesome, terrifying and well, for some people, quite triggering I would imagine.

During this scene Emma was shot in the back and Julien, slumped in a daze with death and destruction all around him, was aghast. However, he summoned some sort of ‘not on my watch’ energy, got to his feet, and limped back out into the fray. He unfurled his pistol and shot dead one of the snipers.

It was Alex Chambers under the mask.

So we now know why Julien took to drink and grew an enormous beard, we now know why Emma was in a wheelchair, and we now know what really happened to her eldest son, Alex.

I had to suspend disbelief when Julien turned into Jack Bauer for a few minutes, but wow. This scene really was astonishing in so many ways. Did I like it? I’m not sure. It certainly was gripping and extremely intense but it was also totally awful to watch, perhaps too much.

With so many questions being answered, I do wonder whether the massacre will more or less close this flashback timeline, and the final three episodes will be spent in the present day, where the trio of Julien, Zsofia and Emma will track down Will and nail Gamorrah.

We’ll see, but for now I need to sit in a darkened room for a little while.

Paul Hirons

Rating: 4 out of 5.



4 Comments Add yours

  1. Kate Day says:

    I agree. This is one of the better crime dramas of the last few years… So far! Massacre scene was truly jaw dropping and more believable than I would have liked.

    Liked by 1 person

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