Baptiste episode 3 review: more twists than a helter-skelter

At the halfway point, Baptiste’s investigation leads him to make an unexpected discovery. Spoilers ahead in our review…

This review contains spoilers.

1.3 For Blood

Now we’re motoring. After two episodes of twirly-whirly-is-he-or-isn’t-he a baddie, the real Edward Stratton is finally standing up. Tom Hollander’s scenes are no longer hamstrung by the need to leave the possibility on the table that his character may or may not be a cackling supervillain. He isn’t one. Fact.

No, Edward Stratton isn’t a supervillain. He’s just a man who helped the sex worker he was platonically visiting because she reminded him of his dead daughter to steal a million euros from a Romanian people trafficking gang with which to buy back her fifteen-year-old sister, and whose father was beheaded when he couldn’t return the million euros because his accomplice in the robbery had gone into hiding where she drowned accidentally while trying to evade capture, having buried the cash on her son’s father’s father’s tulip farm with instructions to use it to raise her boy should anything befall her (though it’s already been nicked). Answers! Episode three provided those generously. 

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That wasn’t all it provided. There was also a brand new character in Europol’s Genevieve Taylor (Jessica Raine) and un twist énorme for Julien, who discovered that young Niels Horchner is his son. It was quite the move to pull in an episode already packed with action and revelation, not unlike delicately placing a cherry on the crest of an ice-cream sundae, and then whacking an entire Sara Lee double chocolate gateau on top of that. You like twists? Baptiste is handing them out two-for-one. 

Before the secret son excitement, episode three was a gloomy one. Discovering the not-a-villain truth about Edward flicked our sympathy switches from ‘off’ to ‘on’, and boy, there’s a lot to feel sorry for him about. He’s lost his daughter, his marriage and his father (until this week, there was every chance that the decapitated beachcomber was actually a people-trafficking bastard, but knowing that he was simply another casualty of the Brigada is, to use a technical term, a total bummer). Edward also risks losing his ex-wife if that money isn’t found soon. 

Edward and Julien were back on their episode one Sherlock and Watson footing this week, and shared some nicely understated dialogue. “It’s pathetic, isn’t it?” said Edward about his morbid fixation on Natalie, “No, it’s human,” Baptiste replied. “Same thing,” shrugged Edward.  

‘Cherchez la cash’ has replaced ‘cherchez la femme’ as Baptiste’s mission. New arrival Genevieve’s Europol mission is to cherchez the Brigada, introducing a familiar complicating element for Julien, who has always run his own investigations separate from the establishment. Will Genevieve prove a help or a hindrance to Julien? 

Jessica Raine’s character brought her own mystery in the story of Lucas, a young paralysed man for whose situation she feels responsible. Is he relative, former lover or colleague? And did the Brigada play a role in his current condition? Her monologue about cut grass screaming in pain was another quietly bleak scene. 

The only thing that helped to distract from the bleakness of Edward’s desperate tale was a rising sense of ‘oh, come on, really?’ at the flashbacks’ insistence on Natalie Rose’s lack of clothing. Actor Anna Prochniak was paraded gratuitously in front of the camera in her underwear multiple times while Natalie and Edward hatched their theft plot. She’s a sex worker, but those weren’t sex scenes, so in a drama ostensibly about the sexual exploitation of children and young women, how about a dressing gown for the dead girl? 

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