REVIEW Baptiste (S2 E6/6)

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.

Paul Hirons

Episode rating

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Series rating

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.






3 Comments Add yours

  1. Keith says:

    Sorry but I found this series to be well below anything that had gone before and the ending to be full of cliches and improbabilities.

    Are we seriously expected to believe that two people who had been beaten to a pulp and one stabbed multiple times all survived (one albeit in a coma)?

    For cliches, there was the moment when it seemed that Andrasz wasn’t Gommorrah after all when Zofia’s ‘victim’ puled on the hood and was clearly about to go online. And even the final moments when, despite seemingly carving out a new life for himself, Baptiste was reconciled with his wife.

    Baptiste is a great character and one you can really love but somehow I didn’t feel this series did him any credit and it ended in something of an anti-climax for me.


  2. Ruth Steinholtz says:

    There was just too much that was totally unrealistic in this series. First and foremost do we really think that the Ambassador would have no assistance from the Foreign Office/ Intelligence services in a situation like this. In the last episode how the heck did she get ghee wheelchair out of the back of the car? How did Baptiste develop super human strength? And I think Gomorrah beat up Will to cause outrage- obviously he was going to blame it on the refugees- not because he had had enough.

    Just a bridge too far for me…


  3. Helen Gregory says:

    I thought the whole series was unwatchable and rubbish only good points were that is was filmed in beautiful Budapest


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