And in the end, the limb on which I ventured out last week turned out to be firmly attached to the trunk and bearing even my considerable weight, let alone those others who had read the signs. Though it was hard-going in the last episode as the BBC did their best to ruin the denouement with a print on which the soundtrack was badly out of sync: it’s hard enough concentrating on the sub-titles when they match up with the foreign words.
I’d already had the great reveal from last week blown for me by the Guardian, moronically letting slip that Lea’s male companion in buying the dolphin heart pendant was Marco, her racing instructor. This rapidly expanded into Marco, the suspect and Marco the father of her foetus, before becoming Marco the latest red herring, via a side order of Marco’s wife, the equally red herring.
But let’s not give this element of the story too much time, since it was still only a red herring, and its main contribution to the story was to remind us that beautiful, golden, lovely Lea was also a spoilt, self-centred and nasty bitch under the blonde surface. That she was Laura Palmer in more than just her victimhood was a parallel that needed to be reinforced in view of the final episode.
For the most part, episode sept was about the disintegration of the Morel marriage, leading up to Julien’s declaration that it was all over, and his moving out to temporarily live with brother Jean. The show trod very carefully here in avoiding putting the weight of blame on either side. I am sure that female viewers would line up in solidarity behind Flo: her husband started everything by having his affair, he wasn’t supportive of her when she needed it, he threw her abortion back in his face in an act that combined cruelty with frustration: signed, sealed, delivered, you deserve better, kick him into le touch.
But then again, whilst acknowledging and admitting all of this as entirely valid, I couldn’t help but consider Julien’s point of view. When he needed support, he didn’t get it, he got frozen out, an act that contributed to his obsession with finding out who and why. The revelation of Flo’s abortion was delivered with cruelty unmixed. A marriage, a relationship, is two-sided: he was being asked for something that had been denied him and as understandable as Flo’s reactions had been, they couldn’t be seen and understood without Julien’s misery being equally seen and understood.
I wouldn’t have liked to have been their Counsellor, is all I’m prepared to conclude, even with sympathy and blame for both. Not that it looked like a Counsellor was going to be needed, with Julien unable to function without knowing who hated Lea so much that he would hurt her.
And then it all fell into place. This last plea was made to brother Jean, who pitched the case that maybe it wasn’t hatred, that it was someone who loved her, who never meant to hurt her when he beaned her with a brick.
Bing bing. Bing bing. Bing bing. And we’re off and running to the foreseen conclusion. Julien knows it was a brick, because he was bloody stupid enough -again! – as to nick the Police file (if this were taking place in Mid-Yorkshire, Superintendent Dalziel would have had him banged up so far back in the cells, he wouldn’t have been getting out until 1142 AD). But nobody else knows that detail. Just the Police – and the killer.
So, off to episode huit. Jean puts up a quick deflector beam, claiming to have heard Molina on the phone when he was in signing a station, which is uncharacteristically good enough for Julien (who doesn’t mention any of this to Flo, in among everything else he’s not talking to her about). Molina, on the other hand, is trying a new tack: they couldn’t connect dead Nicolas to dead Lea, but how about Nicolas and dead prostitute Jenny? And within moments they’ve found her business card with the date and time of the station meeting on the back. In Jean’s handwriting.
Jean is arrested and, after trying briefly to pretend he occasionally went out and fucked Jenny, he caved. Told the whole story. Was en route home from Corinne’s to try to beat Cris there, passed the Park at 4.00am, saw Romain driving off and Lea going in alone, stopped to help her but she was hysterical, so he hit her to try to calm her down and she fell and hit her head on a brick. The rest of the confession goes entirely according to the expected course.
Except it didn’t feel right. It came too soon, too much time left, and though Flo and Julien seemed to be on speaking terms again as they struggled to cope with the revelation, and obviously were taking in poor Cris to live with them, the fact that so much of it was going wordless meant that we knew there was more to come.
Cris is settling in. Zoe’s already dubbed her Lea2. Flo can accept it but Julien can’t and Thomas sees further than any of them, accusing Cris of trying to make herself into Lea.
It’s too pat, too neat. Guerin, who’s been unbuttoning her blouses seriously low this past couple of episodes, has let her hair down – literally – and gone to supper with Molina and Rose. But neither of them are convinced: Jean rolled too easily, in too much detail: maybe he was shielding someone?
In the end, it comes down to that lost earring, the one Chris was missing in episode un. The one Lea would when Romain was fucking her in the car. One of the pair that Cris lends to Zoe, that Flo confiscates and hangs onto until the franc drops. She rushes home, where she sneaks up on Cris, trying on top after top of Lea’s. Flo hallucinates being unable to tell the difference between the girls, until Cris, satisfied, turns round and sees her. And knows she knows.
To be honest, I was seriously disappointed with the next bit. Cris runs into the street, where Molina and Guerin are just pulling up, she hares across the road… and is hit by a car. The Disappearance may not have been overly original, but it had got this far without lapsing into cheap, blatant cliche, and this was Salamander-ripe.
Of course Cris dies of her injuries, but not without demonstrating that she’s gone doollally, and thinks she is Lea, and we get the final piece: she’d gone back into the park out of concern for Lea, but her cousin had attacked her in pain and fury over having slept with Romain. And Lea was her douchebag worst, sneering, howling, shrieking that Romain called Cris ‘the Clone’, for trying to be like Lea. At which point, and they’re fighting now, Cris grabs the nearest thing to hand and clouts Lea with it to shut her up.
So we eventually know all. The Morel family survives. Flo and Julien reconcile (again wordlessly). Molina sets himself up for a meal at Guerin’s pad (and cleavage) and all’s well.
I’ve said enough about the shortcomings of The Disappearance, and they don’t warrant repeating. Despite its somewhat composite nature, it held my attention, and it kept me interested in those key factors of What Happens Next and Who Done It? So it goes into the plus column, and if French TV considers bringing Molina and Guerin back for a sequel, I won’t turn my nose up at BBC4 running it some future month of Saturday nights.
Sometimes, entertainment is all that is required. I’ve been entertained this past four weeks.
Where are we off to next Saturday?