After last week’s simply superb double-bill, my hopes were high that this incredibly meaty, dense and cinematic series would carry on its intensity and intrigue. And more or less, it certainly didn’t disappoint.
You got the sense that episode five was almost a breather after all that action and craziness of the previous instalments – or at least in Paris Police 1900 terms – but episode six… goodness me, what an absolute thrill ride. It was choc full of thrilling set pieces, bloody retribution and a narrowing of the noose for several characters.
All this was played out in the socio-political ferment of a Paris on the brink of collapse. Actually, not just Paris, but France as a whole – Alfred Dreyfus had been transported back to France and was due to stand trial just over 200 miles away in Rennes west of the capital.
And you got the sense that the Dreyfus affair was really the touch paper for the whole story. Interestingly, Paris Police 1900 doesn’t really go into what happened there, but instead focuses everything on the repercussions, conspiracy and the skullduggery back in Paris. Especially now, as it narrows its focus on the Sabran family – who are in league with the Guérins, run the meat markets and are obviously a highly nefarious father-and-son team.
But let’s get to it…
Although it featured all of our favourites, episode five really focused on Madame Steinheil, at various times looking more and more doomed as time ticked by. She got into bed (sometimes literally) with almost every faction in this story – Puybaraud, the Lépines, and, of course, Sabran the younger.
We first saw her in the sack with Gabriel Sabran de Pontevès and she had obviously fallen for his dangerous charms. What they didn’t know was the Jouin had sneaked into their little bolt hole and clocked that the insignia on one of his shirts matched the shirt found in the case containing the body of poor Joséphine Berger.
Clearly enthralled by Sabran, their affair came to an abrupt halt (of sorts) when Monsieur Steinheil caused a scene at home when he met Meg’s latest ‘Aunt Nelly’, and Sabran saw that she had a daughter. But later, after she had more or less quit as Puybaraud’s informant, she was summoned by Sabran the elder – a small, Bond villain-like aristocrat who was out to protect his idiot son and his family name at all costs. By the end of their tense meeting in one of Sabran’s abattoirs, Meg looked all the world as if she would be turned into du bœuf.
Fiersi’s moral about-around was complete in these episodes, especially after he found that his boss – Puybaraud – had evidence of Gabriel Sabran’s connection to Joséphine Berger. He also, by the looks of things, had an inkling that his boss was setting him up, so he went to Jouin tell him about Puybaraud’s role in protecting the Sabrans.
But there was more to come from Fiersi.
The brute with a heart received a message from Monsieur Steinheil, who told him that Meg was in danger. So Fiersi went to the abattoir and took out Sabran’s men in bloody fashion, getting slashed in the process.
With Puybaraud issuing a warrant for his arrest, the conflicted Fiersi laid low nursing his wounds, waiting for the right time to re-emerge.
This guys really reminds me of Russell Crowe’s Bud White in the supreme LA Confidential (there’s that Ellroy connection again).
Police Chief Louis Lépine and Madame Lépine
The Lépines are an extraordinary couple. They really are.
Madame Lépine set out about taking revenge with inexorable fury on whoever drugged her and took incriminating photos of her. In another amazing scene, she repeatedly and mercilessly slapped the Comtesse across the face until she gave up Puybaraud’s name. She then set about stealing a gun from the police station… it wouldn’t surprise me if it’s Madame Lépine who will take out Paris’s answer to J Edgar Hoover.
Meanwhile, her husband faced some dilemmas. The leagues were uniting in order to take advantage of ‘the moment’ as Guérin called it. He was also made aware by the wily Cochefert that Puybaraud and Fiersi had engineered the confession from Joséphine Berger’s neighbour, which meant the suitcase killer was still out there. But after he had told the press that the case had been solved there was no way he could go back on his word.
So he told Cochefert to concentrate on finding that chimney sweep and the killer of Emil the butcher. Clever, you see.
But Lépine is stoney-faced to the last, and you just knew his taciturn demeanour hid more shrewd and inspired thinking as he realised that he was in a corner with shadowy figure plotting his downfall. So he slowly, skilfully manoeuvred the situation until Puybaraud was putty in his hands, and he was standing toe-to-toe with Guérin, almost forcing him to make a move that would nail him.
He’s just terrific.
The young Jouin really is hard to figure out. He’s super-sensitive, a hot head and his volatile relationship with Jeanne Chauvin ebbed and flowed in these two episodes.
However, it was the final scenes where he was involved the most – he was tasked with saving Joséphine Berger’s infant son from the convent from the clutches of the Sabrans, who wanted to get rid of this new, bastard heir to the family fortune. He pretty much succeeded, but there was a heavy price to pay – his mentor Cochefert was shot by the Sabran henchman.
READ MORE: OUR EPISODES ONE AND TWO REVIEW
READ MORE: OUR EPISODES THREE AND FOUR REVIEW