Baptiste episode 4 review: a busily engineered crime show

The cogs are turning on Baptiste in a complicated fourth episode. Spoilers ahead in our review…

This review contains spoilers. 

1.4 Vertrouwen

Have you ever taken part in an Escape Room? Fun, aren’t they? Solving puzzles and entering codes and yelling ‘LINDA! TURN IT THE OTHER WAY AROUND!’. Escape Rooms are such a craze that there’s barely an industrial estate in the country without one. 

Quality varies. Some Escape Rooms, through ingenuity and mastery of detail, transport you entirely away for the hour you’re locked inside. They’re thrilling and unpredictable and offer an engrossing escape from real life, as well as plenty of fodder for post-play dissection. 

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Others are less compelling. They’re structured the same, but feel mechanical, as if the makers’ heart wasn’t really in them. You complete the necessary steps, following the clues and entering the right numbers in the padlocks, but the escapist rush is missing. At some point, it starts to feel less like entertainment and more like admin. 

Where were we? Oh yes, the passing dentist. That was the answer Baptiste episode four gave to its ‘who stole the money?’ cliff-hanger. A passing dentist spotted the cash in the tulip farmer’s car, declared ‘finders-keepers’, and immediately began feeding it to a brace of pole dancers by way of celebration. Money temporarily waylaid and then retrieved – job done, box ticked, another episode moves forward. 

The one joy of the passing dentist solution (aside from the diverting idea that your annual check-up is being carried out by a frustrated brigand dreaming of living that 90s rap video life) was the opportunity it gave Julien to play heavy. Growly-threat Baptiste is one of the detective’s most enjoyable settings. This episode, he had the chance to do it twice, once with the dentist and once with Not-A-Pervert.

Not-A-Pervert’s storyline used the assumptions we all make about shifty-looking ponytailed men in shabby cardigans living solo in remote shacks to pull a ‘No, actually, his basement isn’t filled with trafficked schoolgirls actually’ twist, before reinforcing those assumptions by showing that he’d secretly installed a network of illegal cameras in his neighbours’ stairwells, kitchens and bathrooms. He’s not a pervert though, Not-A-Pervert insisted in a quite funny repeated line. He just likes the company.    

Luckily for Baptiste, the spy cameras led him straight to the dentist. Luckily for Baptiste, the dentist was ensconced in a lap-dancing club, allowing the camera to push its way past a titillating floor show of writhing female flesh. Like a PETA protestor wearing a fur coat or an EDL member reading a book, they must know that this sort of thing sends contradictory signals. A crime drama can either shake its head about the tragedy of sexual exploitation and human trafficking or it can perv at pole dancers, not both.

The strip club was a short scene in a busy episode that had no shortage of activity. The characters pinged back and forth, getting in and out and in and out of cars with each other, everybody’s secrets spilling out. 

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Niels is Up To Something. Marta’s drinking and her son’s true parentage are no longer hidden. Kim divulged her past to her boyfriend, in the process making the unhelpful suggestion that her gender dysphoria was the reason she’d become the murderous leader of a brutal people-trafficking gang, and then had her throat cut in the street. Genevieve’s affair with a married man paralysed by the Brigada was exposed. (Why she thinks reading aloud Thomas Hardy’s The Mayor Of Casterbridge would help is anybody’s guess. Perhaps she wants him to stay in the coma?)

Edward Stratton’s secret this week was a plan to double cross everybody and re-steal the Brigada’s euros, presumably to in order to buy back Natalie Rose’s sister. “Some good needs to come from this,” he said as he sped away with the cash, presumably having decided he fancied the odds that his ex-wife’s head would stay attached to her neck despite him having broken his promise to Constantin. Thinking straight, Edward? Perhaps you could have done with a bit longer in that sauna.