mon 02/08/2021

Baptiste, Series 2, BBC One review - powerful comeback for the sorrowful French detective | reviews, news & interviews

Baptiste, Series 2, BBC One review - powerful comeback for the sorrowful French detective

Baptiste, Series 2, BBC One review - powerful comeback for the sorrowful French detective

Another knotty missing-persons mystery from Harry and Jack Williams

Tchéky Karyo as Julien Baptiste, Fiona Shaw as Emma Chambers

Baptiste (BBC One) has two powerful weapons in its armoury, in the shape of its stars – Tchéky Karyo as the titular French ‘tec, and Fiona Shaw as the central character in this second series.

Both of them are astonishingly persuasive at conveying unfathomable depths of pain and loss, and it looks like they’ll have plenty of opportunities to prove it across these six episodes.

Products from the Harry and Jack Williams thriller factory can be erratic in quality (remember The Widow?), but this one gripped with steely fingers right from the off. Emma Chambers (Shaw), the British ambassador to Hungary, was on a hiking holiday with her husband Richard (Adrian Rawlins) and two sons in the mountains. Superficially it looked like a happy family occasion, though troubling undercurrents soon began to reveal themselves. “She would have loved this,” said Emma wistfully, gazing at an expansive mountain view, evoking the ghost of her lost daughter Laura. At dinner at their hotel in the evening, her son Will was permanently engrossed with his phone and never spoke. When Emma invited a British couple to join them at the dinner table, Richard was furious with her for spoiling the family togetherness which had apparently begun to split apart at the seams.

Unfortunately bridge-building and reconciliation were not on the agenda, since, when she woke up the next morning, Emma was baffled to find her husband and two sons had already left. Nobody was answering her calls, and when Emma found that phone-junkie Will had left his own phone behind alarm bells started to jangle. Before you knew it, the local police were combing the countryside for clues.

It was seeing Emma’s appeal for information on TV that prompted Julien Baptiste to get involved in the case. Karyo plays him like a broken veteran of an interminable war, a man for whom even his seemingly loving relationship with wife Celia (Anastasia Hille, pictured above) can never hope to heal the gaping fissures in this soul. Like a faith healer or a Biblical prophet, he’s drawn to missing-persons cases by forces he can barely understand, but can’t deny. Within seconds, he had materialised on Hungarian turf and was sniffing about like a bloodhound. “I find people, Mrs Chambers,” he announced quietly to Emma, who understood him immediately.

In finest detective-drama style, Baptiste was soon winkling out clues overlooked by the local plod, who frankly may as well not have bothered to turn up. It was he who uncannily discerned that Anna, the hotel chambermaid, had sent the investigators off in the wrong direction with her faulty recollection of events (or did she do it deliberately?). This immediately brought about massive and extremely disturbing developments in the case. It was Baptiste, too, who was able to make a critical deduction from the hotel’s dismally poor-quality CCTV footage, perceiving with Poirot-like acuity that the fuzzy figure in the frame was the British hotel guest Benjamin (Rhashan Stone). While conducting a sneakily disreputable liaison with the family’s nanny, Benjamin had chanced to cross paths with the missing-persons perpetrator.

But Baptiste’s dedication to his craft can’t help him rebuild the wreckage of his personal life, scarred as it is by the death of his own daughter and a son in prison. A flash-forward sequence previewed the dire fallout from the Chambers case, with Celia sorrowfully telling him he should never have taken it on as she handed a ragged, hungover Baptiste their divorce papers to sign.

But it’s not over till it’s over. We also got the news that a scarred and shrivelled Emma had been continuing her own dogged investigations, and she turned up at Baptiste’s front door with an astonishing discovery…

Baptiste was soon winkling out clues overlooked by the local plod, who frankly may as well not have bothered to turn up

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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Comments

Baptiste didn’t “discover that he has a long-lost son in prison”. He discovered that the young Dutch policeman working with him in series 1 was his son, who subsequently turned out to be working with the criminal gang and was sent to prison.

Thanks. I've modified the text accordingly.

Seriously? The actors are charismatic but hammy, the script woefully overwrought. The only interest is in what happens next.

If you're interested in what happens next, it might be said to be a success, surely?

A very partial success. The same might be said of Jeffrey Archer novels (not that I've read one). This is aiming high in its study of berevaement, and I'm finding that a bit hollow.

I totally agree which Robert’s summary here. I really enjoyed The Missing and the first Baptiste . This series seems to have the theme of bereavement weigh so heavily on it , it overshadows everything else. Tchéky Karyo is now playing Baptiste as a cliched detective with baggage. I’ll watch this just to see what happens but I won’t be investing in another series.

Like most other tv dramas in this genre, the heroes unnecessarily put themselves into ludicrously dangerous situations and made wildly unfeasible escapes. Similar tropes abounded. That said, I was deeply impressed by this series. There was an astonishingly good exploration of moral ambiguity. The 'villains' were far from the usual cardboard cutout 'baddies'. An ultra-nationalist politician and her dodgy businessman husband are seen in the painful pursuit of IVF. Two young 'terrorists' turn out to be the traumatised children of one of the 'goodies'. Even the main malificent character was given a half sympathetic back story. I thought this elevated the drama well beyond the everyday tv thriller

yet again series makers feel that jumping forwards and backwards in time increases the dramatic tension... but as usual it it overplayed to the point where the confusion trumps the drama. a progressive narrative with perhaps one, or at a push two, flashback or forward sequences might not screw over those who don't study their TV screens like it's a matter of life and death...

Just watched series 2. Sorry I wasted my time on such a pathetic show. Would have been better in 4 episodes rather than six. Would also have benefitted if we weren’t expected to believe the hero’s macho performance against Andreas.

Well, you've saved me the bother of watching the final three episodes. The first three were a complete waste of time. The timeshift approach was confusing to the point of distracting from the plot - although that "plot" seemed to be a trite attempt to be ultra-topical. I found I had no empathy with any of the characters and lost the will to to follow any story line. Awful TV.

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