[Contains concealed crayon drawings and SPOILERS!!!]
With Xmas just around the corner (sorry, but it’s true!), I thought I’d treat myself to the third “saison” of Spiral (aka Engrenages) (2010), which saw Captain ‘Laure Berthaud’ (Caroline Proust) and her trusty-ish team chasing a sadistic serial-killer nicknamed “The Butcher of la Villette”, while jostling with the Crime Squad for clues and control of the investigation. Meanwhile, ‘Joséphine Karlsson’ (Audrey Fleurot) attempted to distance herself from her shady employer, ‘Szabo’ (Daniel Duval), in hopes of establishing her own shiny new firm with freshly-minted “white knight” lawyer ‘Pierre Clément’ (Grégory Fitoussi). I’ve written about the merits of this superior “policer” and my admiration for both of these fascinating (but rather flawed) femmes in previous posts, so there isn’t much more to say about that here… although this season did give us a remarkable scene in which their mutual animosity melted away, as they bonded over their concerns for Pierre, who had been (wrongly) accused of raping a juvenile delinquent he’d befriended and then spurned. For one brief, glorious moment, Joséphine was able to see Laure as a human being, rather than a badge, and the two of them could share a smile and a friendly joke. Bless. Of course, I’ve already seen Season 4, so I know their temporary truce ended as soon as the scene did… but it was sweet while it lasted!
‘Ronaldo Fuentes’ (Misha Arias de la Cantolla) made for a very creepy villain, and the twists and turns in the investigation kept me hooked to the very last second. I was also rather relieved to see that Laure was far less at fault for killing him than it appeared at the start of the following season. I mean, it’s true that he was unarmed when she opened fired… but the pistol they tossed into his hand wasn’t a “plant”, as such. It was his gun, in the sense that he brought it with him to the warehouse, and he was reaching for it at the time… just very, very slowly to taunt her. Yes, Laure was a little too trigger-happy there, but it still might have played out the same way, even if she had ordered him to stop, or waited for her colleagues to break down the door. I mean, the guy was bat-crap crazy, so who knows what would have happened? Point is, I didn’t lose any respect for her, as a character… though I might feel differently if she were a non-fictional police officer, impatiently executing untried suspects in the real world. The earlier scene where she and “Gilou” (Thierry Godard) drunkenly harassed Ronaldo in his hospital bed was pretty hilarious too… totally unprofessional and unethical, of course, ut a lot of fun to watch all the same! Rather less light-hearted was Laure’s ambiguous and illicit relationship with the head of Crime Squad, ‘Vincent Brémont’ (Bruno Debrandt)… I’m inclined to believe that she was genuinely attracted to him, and not just seducing him so that she could sneak evidence out of his office, and such… but there was so much distrust and deception going on there, it’s kinda hard to tell what either of them was really after! Ah well, they got to have lots of sexy sex and catch the bad guys together, so they didn’t do too badly, I guess!
As for the supporting cast… Shemss Audat joined the DPJ team as ‘Nadia’ (aka “Nana”), a young officer who spent much of her screen-time looking rather confused or frustrated by her superiors’ behaviour (and rightly so!). Céline Vitcoq appeared in two eps (#3.4/5) as ‘Christine Lelièvre’, the first client of Joséphine and Pierre’s law-firm, who was looking to divorce her husband so she could continue an incestuous affair with her estranged father! Vitcoq made the character seem extremely likeable and sympathetic, despite the bizarre nature of her case… though apparently incest is legal in France between consenting adults, so she wasn’t technically committing a crime (as she would be in many other countries, including this one). And Rosemarie La Vaullée also gave a very strong performance as ‘Valérie Courcelles’, the wife of a corrupt mayor being investigated by the tenacious ‘Judge Roban’ (Philippe Duclos)… who tried to confiscate her designer clothes and shoes as “stolen property” to shame her into helping him! Harsh. (#3.7-9)