Spin (Les Hommes de l’ombre) ep 3


“I won’t support a candidate that half the voters call a whore.”

Ouch. Things are not looking too bien for the nascent Visage campaign now the news about Anne and the Pres is out. There’s definitely something to be said about the hypocrisy of this: nobody’s calling Dead Pierre any names, although he was the one who was married and cheating, and our angry PR men both seem to view Deleuvre’s secret love in a much more humane (if slightly incredulous, because nobody can quite believe Deleuvre loves anybody or anything other than himself) light than Anne’s, but, as ever, the woman is the one who gets the public villification for the illicit sex.

Plus ça change.

In what seems like a missed opportunity to me, though, neither the hypocrisy nor the villification is explored in any detail; Simon (a married man who also had an affair, but it’s apparently ok for him) throws a bit of a strop at first but, like most of Simon’s strops, they’re more about what he thinks he’s owed, rather than anything else. He soon settles down, remembers he’s pretty close with Mrs Dead Pierre (no slouch in the political operative department, herself), organises a photo op so obvious it practically has a giant neon sign above it et voila! The Visage is back on track.

Crisis number un averted, then, the focus then snaps back to securing the support of some fellow called Petitjean and, I think, the Centrist (?) Party, with Bruiser Palissy doing a bit of horse-trading with Ministerial appointments and such, because France might well need a new visage (a very simple joke which the terrible subtitles still manage, unbelievably, to ruin), but French politics, it would seem, still involves a lot of old tricks. One of which Palissy himself falls for far too easily, causing crisis number deux.

To his credit, though, Palissy refuses to buckle to blackmail, calling the PM’s slimy ssidekick all sorts of names which make me chuckle, before Simon steps in with a little blackmail of his own, because principles only take a person so far. This in turn gives us the only scene Bruno Wolkowitch and Gregory Fitoussi share all ep – a fun, but exceptionally old-school, and therefore presumably more symbolic than definitive, exchange of incriminating photographs on a bridge. I mean, these cutting-edge political operatives know about digital files and electronic copies and whatnot, right?

It’s a good scene, though, and interestingly, there’s more than a hint of regret on both sides at the compromises they’re making and damage they’re doing in the process. In fairness to Simon, this is the one time I actually believe what he says is rooted in genuine human decency. Ludo’s regret, however, is clearly rooted in annoyance at having to swallow another defeat in a battle he thinks he could and should have won.

While the men jostle for top-dog status, meanwhile, the women have a mixed time of it. Ironically, given how the ep begins, Anne ends up having quite the successful week: once AffairGate blows over, she bounces back, courtesy of the world’s weepiest speechwriter, with a barnstorming state of the campaign address and the Centrist (?) Party safely tucked up in her back poche. Apolline, meanwhile, is hot on the trail of the missing witness to the “state falsehood” (FFS), but the police and now Ludo, also thanks presumably to the world’s weepiest speechwriter, are hot on her trail too, so Dieu only knows what’ll happen if/ when she gets to Mali. And as for the world’s weepiest speechwriter herself, well, the supremely irritating Valentine gets all teary and clingy at the office, teary and clingy at Anne’s big event, and teary and clingy on the phone to the exasperated Ludo who invents a new lover without breaking stride. “Is she good?” weeps the pathetic Valentine. “Yes.” is the cruel but also quite funny answer. Get a HOLD of yourself, girlfriend.

Bafflingly, though, all the crying actually seems to work for her as she manages to seduce both Simon and Ludo in the same ep, a feat which is both highly impressive and thoroughly depressing because FFS, can’t these two geniuses see she is the WORST? It’s also, obviously, very French-tv, which, at the moment, is probably Spin’s defining characteristic.

The show’s not quite as sharp or as smart as I thought it would be as yet (although I still think the clumsy sub-titling has much to do with that), and, as I said last week, it does seem oddly old-fashioned, but it’s reasonably entertaining, looks absolutely stunning and Gregory Fitoussi’s in it, so I’m enjoying it nonetheless.


15 thoughts on “Spin (Les Hommes de l’ombre) ep 3

  1. MooreOfThat January 16, 2016 / 10:00 pm

    Yay! I am not the only one who finds weepy Valentine an annoyance. She’s so ugh. I think her Prozac is not just for her “depression” but also because she seems unhinged.

    How could you forget Simon’s driving lessons! He’s on the road to recovery! Soon he’ll own the world and a car.

    • CJ Cregg January 16, 2016 / 10:06 pm

      Heh, Mon Dieu! I can’t believe I forgot Simon’s driving lessons either 😉 His “I decided to replace our meeting with a driving lesson” was the most bizarre moment of the ep. I’d have fired him on the spot if I were Anne, but the guys on this show seem to get away with a LOT.

      Valentine, though…. Give. Me. Strength.

  2. MooreOfThat January 16, 2016 / 10:13 pm

    Sounding completely cold-hearted but Valentine’s behaviour just makes me side with Ludo more. Her whole “I miss you, do you miss me? Do you have a new lover? Where is my dress? Do you miss me? I tried to not miss you, do you miss me? I miss you.” just grates. Then she’ll throw a phone and scream at any random person about needing “peace and quiet”.

    I think we’re supposed to think Ludo is a womanizer who has a different girl every night but he just comes off to me (as of now) as someone in love with his company, his job and yes, probably himself.

    • CJ Cregg January 16, 2016 / 10:54 pm

      I don’t think you sound cold-hearted at all, Moore. Valentine’s behaviour is just unbearable – she’s driving me completely mad with all her WHINING. I can’t believe Ludo actually takes her calls, let alone… well, y’know.

      I absolutely agree with you that he seems much more interested in work and himself than womanising at the mo – makes sense given that it’s a four-week campaign so he doesn’t really have much time for anything/anyone else. Unless they hang about tragically outside his apartment, desperately waiting for another fix. My GOD.

      • MooreOfThat January 17, 2016 / 9:28 am

        Maybe there is some tension there between Ludo and Simon due to Valentine. Simon doesn’t know she’s involved with Ludo now, but Ludo must know that she had a fling with Simon during the dead Pierre’s campaign. And she made that remark how Ludo paces like Simon does, comparing the two of them.

        She’s just so desperate and swinging from pole to pole. She practically glued herself to Simon’s side with her kisses and he even seemed all “Eh…”.

        Ludo needs to change numbers and much to my cynical nature, I liked the scene where he let her believe he was with a woman even though he was just looking at poll numbers.

        Deleuvre looks so bored with life. Even with his exciting “state falsehood” secret. He just seems to be in need of a couch and a nap.

        • CJ Cregg January 17, 2016 / 11:27 am

          I’ve been wondering why Ludo is so keen to keep his relationship with Valentine secret from Simon. Part of it I suppose is that he clearly doesn’t want to label it as a relationship at all, but I wonder if it’s also because he doesn’t want Simon to think that he’s trying to emulate him in *every* way. I mean, Ludo is determined to show Simon that he is his own man but Ludo is also very aware he learned his trade from Simon, got his company from Simon, and Simon still thinks of him as his junior/creation, who owes everything to him – I wonder if maybe Ludo doesn’t want Simon to think he inherited his lover from Simon as well?

          Or maybe he just likes having a secret that Simon doesn’t know and that would probably annoy him.

          *Or* maybe he doesn’t want anyone knowing because Valentine is AWFUL.

          • MooreOfThat January 17, 2016 / 11:46 pm

            I have to admit, all the Mali and Bamako references are giving me Odyssey flashbacks LOL.

  3. Jed Bartlet January 17, 2016 / 5:30 pm

    I’m still firmly of the view that Simon’s wearing the white hat here, all things considered, to the point where the writers are perhaps over-egging the pudding. It worked out in the same way as last time: Simon declined to use the information on Deleuvre until the gloves came off on the other side with that silly little honey-trap. (It’s arguable that Simon would have been entitled to out Deleuvre anyway: I’m generally against outing, but where there are politicians and hypocrisy involved I think it’s at least defensible.)

    I thought that Ludo’s anger was at least in part because he just didn’t expect Simon to climb into the ring: “how DARE you be even a tenth as amoral and unprincipled as I am?”

    As for Valentine: have some dignity, please. I’m not trying to deny her agency, for the avoidance of doubt; she can shag whoever she wants, of course. But it might be better for her self-esteem were she to sleep with someone who’s actually interested in her. À ce moment she looks like a suicide attempt waiting to happen. To answer your question, though: yes, I’m sure that both Simon and Ludo have worked her out. On the other hand, she is quite attractive. (And I do think that Simon likes her. Not likes likes. Just likes.)

    Anyway, I’m still enjoying this.

    • CJ Cregg January 17, 2016 / 7:28 pm

      In fairness to Ludo, although I’m not at all saying he *wouldn’t* have done it, he didn’t set up the stupid honey trap thing – that was Guenelon the PM’s slimy sidekick who hates Ludo with a passion, probably because he’s worried Ludo might push him out of the position of PM’s right-hand man. I thought Ludo didn’t know about it till afterwards. Which might also be part of the reason he was annoyed.

      I agree Simon does like Valentine, but then he’s been in America for ages while Ludo’s been listening to her whining. Once Simon actually spends a bit of time with her crying all over him or she maybe gets his wife/witness killed, we’ll see if he changes his mind…..

  4. Bill January 19, 2016 / 8:59 pm

    This show is just so achingly French. Good idea to show the alpha male showdown with the Eiffel Tower looming in the background, think there may have been a bit of symbolism in that! Valentine needs to cop on and realise that hooking up with two employers in quick succession is probably not great for anybody’s self-esteem, best copy writer in Paris or no. Is she using Simon to make Ludo jealous? Did she get together with Ludo to get revenge on Simon for going to New York? Either way, it has all worked out swimmingly given that she is a weeping mess, on meds, and still putting out. I’m not that bothered, though neither are Simon and Ludo to be fair.

    Weirdly, Simon strokes a lot of faces in his day to day life. In practically every scene he either strokes a face, or looks like he’s thinking about stroking a face. I wonder if it is scripted in, or if the actor playing him improvised and decided Kapita would be a notorious face stroker.

    • CJ Cregg January 19, 2016 / 11:36 pm

      Heh, good point about the Eiffel Tower and the alpha males, Bill, and OMG, you are so right on the face-stroking! Surely *nobody* in real life strokes as many faces as often as Simon does. Now that’s going to be all I think about every time I see him….

    • Jed Bartlet January 20, 2016 / 9:25 pm

      Is the face-stroking a signifier that these are people Simon has slept with/is sleeping with/will sleep with, or is it just a tic? I’m thinking the former, given how French the characters’ romantic arrangements are.

    • MooreOfThat January 20, 2016 / 11:18 pm

      Oh God, now I won’t be able to un-see Simon in scenes thinking pensively “I could stroke that face. I would like to stroke that face. Maybe once I get done with my driving lesson and make some tea. Mmm….face stroking.”

      • CJ Cregg January 23, 2016 / 12:31 am

        This is the stuff of NIGHTMARES. *shudder*

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