Baptiste episode 5 review: a penultimate episode filled with murder and betrayal

Spoilers ahead in our review of Baptiste’s tense, unpredictable penultimate episode…

This review contains spoilers.

1.5 Measure Of A Man

Stabbed to death in a static caravan? Oh, the world of Baptiste is a cruel place. Unlike episode five’s other victim, Constantin (with just an hour to go, the show is swinging its scythe with abandon), Clare and Carl didn’t deserve to die. Nobody deserves to meet their end on a gravel pitch next to a loo block.

By culling its supporting cast, Baptiste is streamlining itself for a finale that (speculation alert) may turn out to be a family affair. Yes, the cliff-hanger showed Julien suspecting Marta of having betrayed Edward’s location to the Brigada Serbilu, but really, wouldn’t it make more sense if it had been Niels? He’s the one who’s been acting shifty and whose brush with death left him wanting to seize the day. Did it also leave him wanting to seize a load of bungs from a criminal gang?

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If Niels turns out to be the real villain of the piece then this whole secret son business will make sense. The good father, the bad seed… it’s biblical, it’s mythological, it’s Star Wars. White-hatted Julien has a black hat for a son, and the finale is going to see them face off. If that’s not the direction of next week’s episode, it’ll be an opportunity missed.

Baptiste didn’t miss many opportunities this week. There was real tension in Cristina’s (sadly unsuccessful) escape, and a satisfying sense of ‘aha!’ about Greg decoding Kim’s letter from beyond the grave. “The truth behind the make-up” indeed. What could be in that envelope? Hopefully, evidence to take down the Serbilu Brothers and their filthy sex trafficking operation once and for all. If Kim’s death freed her up to release evidence that could save that basement of girls, then her untimely exit won’t have been in vain. Come on, Greg, pass that envelope on to Genevieve.

It might calm her down, for a start. Jessica Raine’s character appears to be in a state of permanent rage. She’s livid with Edward, Julien, Marta… even Constantin, a man it’s wise to treat with some care due to his propensity for cutting off people’s heads with chainsaws. Her anger is understandable in the circumstances; bringing down an international criminal gang is a tall order, especially when all you have to work with is a drunk, her potentially corrupt son, an Englishman with nothing left to lose, and a softly-spoken Montaigne-quoting maverick genius.

Baptiste’s softly-spoken genius was on show this week with his cheeky yacht plan. Stitching up Constantin with his bosses was an excellent move, both for Julien and the show. For five weeks, Constantin has been the big baddie. Now that he’s just a stain on the pavement, the finale is suddenly much harder to predict. Where will the threat come from?

For Edward, the answer to that’s obvious: the massive stabby bloke in his caravan. Luckily for our man, that little yellow knife Clare had sharpened came to the rescue. Before Clare was killed, she acted the priest, heard her ex’s confession and absolved him of his guilt over their daughter’s overdose. It may have been short shrift for Clare Calbraith’s character, but it moved Edward another step along in his journey.

A journey to where? The odds are: death. What future can the man really have? If his guilt over Lucy sent him over the edge, then how will he cope with having, albeit inadvertently, brought about his father and ex-wife’s ends to boot? 

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On the subject of wives, Celia, played by the reliably great Anastasia Hille, was finally given a meaty scene in hearing her own husband’s confession. It’s about time. The first few episodes of this spin-off involved Celia repeatedly telling Julien what a good detective he was and not much deal more. Though underused here more as Baptiste’s cheerleader than his partner, Hille manages to do a lot with a little.

Tchéky Karyo too, was great this week. He was enjoyably suave when negotiating with Constantin, and conveyed real grief when flipping through that binder of trafficked children. The missing kids he finds may just be drops in an “ocean of the forgotten”, but he’s still a hero for saving them. The question is, will next week’s finale see him go up against his own child in order to do that?