So it’s time to say goodbye to Julien Baptiste and in what at times has been a brutal series, we finally get to find out what happens to our favourite obsessive person finder.
The big question was this: as he and Emma Chambers closed in on the plot – with her son Will at its heart – would Julien’s ultimate redemption be death, or would he come out of all of this not only alive, but healed?
To begin with we were treated to a flashback sequence (because Baptiste wouldn’t be Baptiste without a cheeky flashback), showing how Andras Juszt had played them beautifully, manipulated Kamilla Agoston and basically preserved his identity as Gamorrah.
Now knowing how he had done all of this, it was time to focus on the present day. That meant Will and Andras’s heinous plot to finish the job off. Soon, we found out that meant destroying a nearby refugee camp, where the two right-wing operatives had been posing as kindly charity workers (bit much too much to swallow that one).
Before they got to the inevitable end-game there was a very good scene where Emma and Julien debated whether she should go public with what part her eldest son Alex played in the Baross Józsefváros massacre. She was adament she wanted to and take everything that comes with the admission, while Julien was against it because he was worried what might happen to him in the harsh glare of the media.
As Emma saids it was not about him, and Julien bit back and saying it was very much about him. Or at least as much was it is about him as it is about her.
This gave us a fascinating insight into his motivations and personality. Julien, as he gets deeper and deeper into cases, does err on the side of martyrdom and narcissism and he’s often desperate for thanks for his obsessive dives into the cases of others. It’s classic anxiety – deflect what’s happening under your own nose and what’s happening in your own life to become part of others.
And so to the dramatic end game. As Julien suspected (he always suspects), there was something fishy at the refugee camp and things didn’t add up. It played out like this as Juszt decided that enough was enough and Will wasn’t to be trusted, and beat him to a bloody pulp.
Julien and Emma weren’t far behind, and a two-hander developed at Juszt’s hideout – Julien doing (rather brutal and violent, it has to be said) battle with him in the woods, and Emma crawling out of her wheelchair to go to Will inside the cabin. While I didn’t buy Julien becoming an action adventure hero and prevailing against a (much) younger man (to say the least), Emma using sheer will and every once of strength to get to her son was very moving.
However, Julien had been stabbed during the fight with Juszt, and we were left with a little cliffhanger – would Julien survive?
Yes, yes he did. His martyrdom would not be ultimate, but now he faced a new challenge – to live life in Paris without the thrill of the chase, without purpose. We saw him clean his apartment, take up cookery lesson, learn magic tricks… whatever he could to keep his mind occupied. Crucially, he began to spend more time with his family – his estranged wife Celia, and his granddaughter. This was now his purpose; a purpose that existed right under his nose all along and a purpose that kept his daughter’s memory alive.
A fitting end for a character we’ve grown to love and wish the best for.
So as a finale it had a bit of everything – action, tension, some silly bits, some more silly bits and some interesting character development and emotion.
(One of the other things I didn’t buy was Kamilla Agoston and her ne’er do well husband. We were expected to feel sorry for them as they embarked on another round of IVF. After what they’ve been playing at, it was hard to take.)
As for this series, and this character – who we first met around a decade ago in The Missing – it was a fond farewell. This second series was much better than the first, and while flawed it really did have its moments.
And, aside from Tchéky Karyo’s reliable performance, it was Fiona Shaw as Emma Chambers that really stole the show thanks to an incredible turn. In an intensely emotional and physical performance she really was at the top of her game – nuanced, stoic, strong and vulnerable all at once. A great part and a powerful performance, despite everything being thrown at her.
(Whether you can generate any sympathy for her, and her sons and what they did is another matter entirely.)
As this pair said their goodbyes, and we said our goodbyes to Julien, it ended on a downcast note – despite Gamorrah being destroyed, their acolytes filled the void. And this is the lesson to Julien: as much as you think you can help (and you can to an extent), you can never help everyone; solve all of society’s ills. The world still turns, and bad people will always exist.
READ MORE: OUR EPISODE ONE REVIEW
READ MORE: OUR EPISODE TWO REVIEW
READ MORE: OUR EPISODE THREE REVIEW
READ MORE: OUR EPISODE FOUR REVIEW
READ MORE: OUR EPISODE FIVE REVIEW