Review: Engrenages (Spiral) 2×7

Even the subtitles were excellent

In the UK: Sunday 25th October, 10pm, BBC4. Available on the iPlayer

You may have noticed last week that I was a bit worried that the final two episodes of Engrenages (Spiral) were going to be a let down. That the producers might not be sure where they were going, or might have made a mistake or two.

Foolish me. Even the subtitles were excellent this week.

Plot
As Samy’s undercover mission nears its conclusion the team will soon be ready to make their swoop on the Larbi brothers – but an unforeseen complication throws the operation off the rails.

Is Samy really who he says he is?

Credits
Pierre Clement (Gregory Fitoussi)
Laure Berthaud (Caroline Proust)
Francois Roban (Philippe Duclos)
Josephine Karlsson (Audrey Fleurot)
Fromentin (Fred Bianconi)
Gilou (Thierry Godard)
Aziz (Reda Kateb)
Samy (Samir Boitard)

Was it any good?
It’s all systems go as the episode revolves entirely around the main investigation this week and is the better for it.

The Larbis – or at least the younger Larbi, Mus – are now shown to be a scary bunch of guys. Not the sociopathic scary of Aziz, but the calculating, clever and cooly dangerous kind. Play by their rules and they’ll be nice to you. Take a different path and it won’t be pretty.

They mess around with Karlsson to see if they can corrupt her; they push the occasionally absent Samy around as their criminal ambitions grow ever greater, and Aziz is now dead and buried, of course.

Meanwhile, the cogs are turning and sub-plots from episodes ago are coming back to haunt Samy, who’s arrested by internal affairs. They still want him for being part of the crooked 93 drug squad, and Clement’s boss is angry enough with him because of his behaviour last episode, that they’re all willing to sabotage the Larbi investigation to get their men if necessary.

That means the goodies are forced to work on the same page again for once, with Clement and Roban using their own methods to try to get Samy out of jail and back undercover. Laure and her squad forego the politicking of Clement and Roban in favour of beating up suspects and covering them in petrol instead, but that seems to work, too.

Miraculously though, by episode end, just about every relationship and expectation on the show has been subverted in some way and we’re left wondering what’s going to happen in the finale. Will ‘Samy’ as we must now call him be exposed, thanks to being spotted hugging Laure in jail? Will Laure still be a member of the police, given Wagner’s investigation into her has put her on probation and off the case? Will Clement have a career left soon? And what the hell is going on with Karlsson?

Character switches
Although the show only touched on it in passing, it’s clear Laure is starting to lose it. More interestingly, it shows how much, even when fellow cops know something is up, they still stick together and regard any intrusion into their affairs as unwarranted – even when they’re breaking into shops and threatening to burn people to death.

Nice to see Clement getting a little jealous about ‘Samy’ and Laure’s relationship, but remaining mature enough to help out. Also interesting to see Laure holding her own against the ribbing and greater abuse meted out against her by her fellow cops. She’s all alone, poor love, yet you can’t help but feel ‘Samy’s going to get one in the head next episode, leaving her even more miserable. It doesn’t bode well that she’s the only one he didn’t tell his real name to, does it?

I’ve asked it before but I’ll ask it again: what’s up with Karlsson this week? First she smuggles a SIM card into jail for a friend of the Larbis, purely to ensure she has some clients who can pay her. But when she finds out that ‘Samy’ is an undercover cop, thanks to some devious sneakery and some half-wittery from the admin staff, she tells the Larbis that he’s clean.

I’m guessing she’s realised now that she’s going to need some kind of protection for when the Larbis’s operation goes pear-shaped, but it’s obvious she hasn’t gone to the dark side enough to have a police officer killed. Will she be working with the police next episode or doing something even more unexpected? She’s tricky that one, and I’m expecting some very dirty, ruthless negotiating on her part. It’ll be fun to find out what it is though.

Clement’s plans from last week have also become more obvious: he wants to take down his boss, wants to stand on the side of truth and goodness and doesn’t care if he might get damaged along the way. It’s an intriguing twist after his slow corruption by the necessities of politics of previous weeks. I’m hoping that his plan’s a bit deeper though, or he’s going to be in trouble.

Overall
All in all, a thoroughly excellent episode, with more emphasis on character and policing than in previous weeks that made it satisfying throughout. With so many story threads needing tying up, I’m guessing either episode eight is going to be a mad melange of resolutions or most of them are going to extend into the third series (nearly finished filming, I think).

I have slightly more faith in French policing now they’ve actually managed to do a few competent things as well as their usual ignoring of the rules. But I’m still thinking that the Larbis need to be a little smarter in how they work to become truly outstanding villains. Next week, we’ll see if they step up to the plate on that one.

PS I also have more faith in the subtitlers, too, since this weeks’ were reassuringly fruity: I’m wondering if maybe they take it in shifts, and it’s the prim maiden aunt’s turn again next week.

  • marie maldonado

    I’ve been dying to discuss this episode with someone because I was so annoyed at the sheer carelessness of Laure and Samy’s behaviour when she got him out of jail. I’ve seen enough cop shows in the past to know that if someone’s under cover then it’s just totally foolish to have him hugged by a Police Inspector (who then calls him, loudly, by his real name) inside a jail. (Mind you, I thought it was just a tad clunky, plotwise, to have the Larbi’s bro-in-law (recipient of the Karlsson delivered sim card) on hand to witness the entire scene. It’s painfully obvious that Samy’s going to meet a painful end and Laure is going to blame herself (and so she should!) which will push her even further over the edge. (Sorry for the rant but I am very taken by young Samy who, incidentally, is the same age as my son!!!)
    As for Karlsson’s last minute cliffhanger saving of Samy (at least for now), I would say she did it to get one back at the Larbis after the horrible things they’ve said to her and made her do. Why should she protect them? I think she knows only too well she’s in over her head and sees this as a way of getting them – and the odious Szabo – off her back. Incidentally, one thing that was very well done IMVHO was Laure’s lighthearted behaviour in Clement’s office which so obviously stemmed from having just spent an enjoyable night with Samy…Psychologically that rang very true. Nice to see her looking happy for once.

  • MediumRob

    “I’ve been dying to discuss this episode with someone because I was so annoyed at the sheer carelessness of Laure and Samy’s behaviour when she got him out of jail. I’ve seen enough cop shows in the past to know that if someone’s under cover then it’s just totally foolish to have him hugged by a Police Inspector (who then calls him, loudly, by his real name) inside a jail.”
    I find the whole concept of ‘undercover’ extremely bizarre in Engrenages. An undercover cop who gets texts on his mobile from the cops, who goes back to the station every night and who gets lifts from the cops about 10 seconds after he’s left the bad guys’?
    It’s all very backward. But Samy’s investigation techniques are light years ahead of the other cops’. I’m not versed enough in French culture to know if this is a failing on Engrenages’ writers’ part or whether French policing really is this backward and they’re exposing it.
    “(Mind you, I thought it was just a tad clunky, plotwise, to have the Larbi’s bro-in-law (recipient of the Karlsson delivered sim card) on hand to witness the entire scene.”
    It seemed unlikely, didn’t it, unless he was deliberately put there by Internal Affairs in the hope he’d get knifed or something.
    “It’s painfully obvious that Samy’s going to meet a painful end and Laure is going to blame herself (and so she should!) which will push her even further over the edge. (Sorry for the rant but I am very taken by young Samy who, incidentally, is the same age as my son!!!)”
    I’m hoping it’s a double bluff. They’ve spent so much time building up the character that it might leave the series feeling a little empty if they kill him off. But it might be a treble bluff.
    “As for Karlsson’s last minute cliffhanger saving of Samy (at least for now), I would say she did it to get one back at the Larbis after the horrible things they’ve said to her and made her do. Why should she protect them? I think she knows only too well she’s in over her head and sees this as a way of getting them – and the odious Szabo – off her back.”
    I disagree. She wants the Larbis’ money and she wants to work with Szabo. Plus she’s never been one to do things simply out of spite, rather than because she’ll get something out of it or because of her principles.
    “Incidentally, one thing that was very well done IMVHO was Laure’s lighthearted behaviour in Clement’s office which so obviously stemmed from having just spent an enjoyable night with Samy…Psychologically that rang very true. Nice to see her looking happy for once.”
    That was a nice scene. I forget if that’s when she hugs Clement for trying to put away the wifebeating minister, which was a nice touch, too.

  • Shouldn’t more of these comments be spoiler hidden???
    Me and partner reckon that Karlsson decided to not blow Samy’s cover to the Larbis because they had committed a cardinal sin against her.
    Sure, they forced her into a situation where she did something that could get her barred (the SIM card thing): but that’s not really it.
    In doing so, Karlsson got sweaty and when searched at the prison her pristine clothes showed armpit sweat. Unforgiveable. Not least because she found out it wasn’t even an important contact for the Larbis.
    As when she turned on the guy she got off charges, who then, with his mates, humiliated her, Karlsson does not cope with humiliation. When she got that guy’s mother to confirm she’d given her son a false alibi Karlsson responded “I’ll defend him to the best of my ability and he’ll get at least 20 years”
    She is utterly corrupted, but no one should think they can humiliate her and get away with it.

  • MediumRob

    I’m not so sure, although we’ll find out on Sunday. So far, she’s been prepared to suck up an awful lot of humiliation from Rachid and Aziz in order to get to her objective (money). I don’t think there was anything in this episode that was as bad as she’s had to endure in previous episodes, and she still hasn’t been paid. So it’s a snap call if she has decided that.

  • sunny

    “I’m not so sure, although we’ll find out on Sunday. So far, she’s been prepared to suck up an awful lot of humiliation from Rachid and Aziz in order to get to her objective (money). I don’t think there was anything in this episode that was as bad as she’s had to endure in previous episodes, and she still hasn’t been paid. So it’s a snap call if she has decided that.”
    I tend to agree with rullsenberg here. Karlsson was truly rattled by having to smuggle the Sim card into jail. Discovering that it hadn’t particularly advanced her in Mus’ esteem really wounded her. But I think Roban’s remark about her playing a dangerous game also got under her skin.
    I’m writing this while half way through rewatching Ep 7 on iplayer so I get the most out of tonight’s (sob) final episode. On second viewing, the guy at the prison who witnesses Samy being released into Laure’s affectionate custody is not, as I first thought, the Larbi bro-in-law. But he obviously bodes ill for Samy.
    BTW I do hope I haven’t broken any rules with regard to spoilers. I had thought that anyone reading the comments would be up to speed with the episodes, otherwise why read them?

  • sunny

    Hey Rob,
    I’m waiting fairly patiently for your review of Ep 8. Hope it’s in the pipeline as there are several things I have lined up to say.

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  • MediumRob

    “Hey Rob,I’m waiting fairly patiently for your review of Ep 8. Hope it’s in the pipeline as there are several things I have lined up to say.”
    Sorry. Only finished watching it this morning: TV aerial was broken, big workload, wife ill. However, here it is! Feel free to discuss.

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