Spin (Les Hommes de l’ombre) s1 ep 5


The results of the First Round are in, and Team Visage are partying – confetti, victory chants, the works – like  it’s 1999 they already won the Presidency as opposed to coming a very distant deuxième in the preliminary round to Team Marjorie. Perspective, anyone?

I mean, I know Team Visage’s main priority (till now) has been to beat Team Deleuvre but even that is hardly a resounding triumph. 400,000 votes? I’d be asking for a recount if I were at Matignon.

Half-a-point or not, mind you, it means Deleuvre’s out of the running for President and probably out of his current job too, unless he persuades the ultimate winner to keep him on. Despite the furious (and still jealous, je pense) Guenelon practically spitting at Ludo over their defeat, Deleuvre charges the PR man to negotiate with Simon – Deleuvre’s support in exchange for Deleuvre’s job – but since Simon and Palissy are both weirdly affronted by Ludo even speaking to them, this doesn’t really work trop well. I’m somewhat bemused by that scene, to be honest; yes, the campaign was very personal but it seems pretty short-sighted for these two supposedly hotshot politicos to tell Ludo off as if he was an obnoxious teenager as opposed to someone in a position to offer them something that they actually want.

Of course, all this means is that said hotshot politicos don’t get what they want, and Deleuvre and Ludo head off to try their luck with Team Marjorie instead, despite the bizarre revelation that, all her peace, love and ensemble chat notwithstanding, Visage and Deleuvre hail from the same side of the political spectrum. To which my reaction is: Eh? Visage is a right-winger? When did this happen?

While Deleuvre wanders about trying to negotiate a transfer fee from whichever team will cough up the goods, then, Simon has plenty of other plates to spin. As well as being charmed by La Visage’s sex drive, he’s planning a big rally for her to talk about togetherness some more, being dumped at last by the long-suffering Apolline (a journalist who has apparently been fired by her bosses for breaking the biggest story in years – WTF?) and kicking Valentine to the kerb because she’s a) a mole and b) sleeping with Ludo. I’m not entirely sure which one of these bothers Simon more, but either way, he’s all “You’re fired” and she’s all “Sob! Sob! I’m madly in love with Ludo! My life is the worst! Sob! Sob!” because all Valentine does is leak, be it secrets or rivers of really annoying tears.

Instead of doing us all a favour and finally getting a hold of her damn self, however, she just heads off to camp outside Ludo’s flat again, because this woman is the most offensively wretched figure on tv. Ludo’s exasperated “Can’t you phone like normal people?” makes me laugh but there is precious little else to enjoy in this storyline, as Valentine abases herself even further and I actually have to stop watching for a minute because it’s so unpleasant. I’m not sure if the licking and the “baise-moi” is supposed to be titillating but it really, really isn’t; it’s pathetic, nasty and thoroughly grim, and it only gets even more so later when the once-again weeping (quelle surprise) Valentine wanders round the apartment, swigging booze, checking for evidence of other femmes, and leaking one last secret for old times’ sake before trying to kill herself in Ludo’s shower. This reminds me a bit of when REDACTED also tried to kill herself over Gregory Fitoussi’s character dumping her in Spiral, except that was a tremendously sad and moving storyline where I really cared about both characters, while this one is doing my tête right in.


23 thoughts on “Spin (Les Hommes de l’ombre) s1 ep 5

  1. MooreOfThat January 30, 2016 / 10:01 pm

    We must be missing subtleties in translation, non?

    I was a bit perplexed too when Ludo showed up at Simon’s office to work a deal and as he leaves they’re all “He would kill his mother if given the chance!” Really? For working a deal? Again, unless I am missing huge subtexts here, how is Ludo exactly worse than Simon? Okay, so he drives a nice car and has disdain for people, but Simon and his Ludo judgement of “He’s the worst! Oh hey, security guy go and illegally bug Marjorie’s secret hotel room so we can hear in on the goings-on.” I fail to see how Ludo leaking Anne was sleeping with the President makes him so much worse than Simon I-Will-Bug-You Kapita is.

    Valentine is so ugh. Simon was sure all heart firing her. She’s sitting there in the midst of a nervous breakdown and he just stares at her and walks away like “meh boring.” So much for team solidarity (albeit she is a mole) and “history”. Easy come, easy go. Of course, this is Valentine here so maybe the characters are as apathetic to her as the audience is.

    Weirdest moment had to be the conversation between Visage and Simon on her jet. He brings up his divorce, she comments and then he says “Why insult my personal life?” Um? Why bring it up, Simon? And apparently Visage is another one that bed hops with her irresistible charm.

    The scene between Ludo and Valentine though was cringe-worthy. She wasn’t a sexy hot mess, just a plain hot mess. Ludo gets credit for realizing she isn’t a normal person and trying to dress her in the hall. You could see her suicide attempt coming from the second show. I was constantly waiting for her to throw herself out of a window, off a bridge into the Seine, into traffic or jump from la tour Eiffel.

    Kudos for only one “state falsehood” mention in the subtitles!

    Moral of the show: Don’t lick people on the face when you’re a hot mess. It’s gross.

    • CJ Cregg January 30, 2016 / 10:20 pm

      “Don’t lick people on the face when you’re a hot mess.” Heh – words to live by, Moore!

      You know how I feel about the subtitling, so I can see it being partly to blame for the nuances getting lost in translation, but, yeah, I thought Simon and Palissy’s mortally offended, holier-than-thou attitude when Ludo really hadn’t said anything much beyond “quid pro quo” was too OTT even for that to explain it. And the scene where he and Visage discussed their marriages failing was just embarrassing. “You’re a mixture of softness and hardness. No woman can live with that.” EH? What are you talking about, Anne? Aren’t most people “a mixture of softness and hardness”? Just one or the other would be rubbish!

      I still can’t quite believe how mortifying every second involving Valentine was.

      • MooreOfThat January 30, 2016 / 11:21 pm

        Yeah, that line you mentioned was a really odd reason to divorce someone. Apparently the women-folk can’t take emotions or something. A more appropriate line would be “she’s divorcing you because you stroke too many faces when she’s not around. And because you can’t drive a car. Still.”

        I can’t imagine the complete apathy Ludo is going to have to wake up to when he finds a dying Valentine in his shower, his Vodka gone and all his frozen food on the kitchen floor.

        Watch that message she freaked out over on his phone being from Aston Martin and they want him for their new print ad to pose with his car.

        • CJ Cregg January 30, 2016 / 11:57 pm

          Heh. Ludo posing all moodily with a sleek Aston Martin would be a dynamite ad campaign. Pygmalion could probably do with the extra cash now their Presidency run is over.

  2. Jed Bartlet January 30, 2016 / 10:30 pm

    I thought this episode was much better than last week. In particular, I enjoyed the to-and-fro between the Visage and Deleuvre camps. For what it’s worth I didn’t find the way in which Ludo was treated baffling at all, but as you know I’ve never seen him and Simon as equals, in terms of expertise or morality.

    Ludo’s the novice, he’s managed to get his candidate – the sitting prime minister – eliminated from the race on the first round by the woman who was sleeping with the President, and his tactics have been unpleasant to say the least. In short, Simon and Palissy were treating him like an obnoxious teenager because he’s been behaving like one. That’s enough, son; it’s time for the grown-ups to talk now.

    Equally, Simon was entirely justified in firing Valentine, who had leaked a crucial piece of information to the rival candidate, which came close to wrecking their campaign and actually wrecked his marriage. Then again, Anne’s speech at the end was pretty flat without the sure touch of the best copywriter in Paris.

    As for the scene outside Ludo’s apartment: I don’t think it was meant to be titillating. I interpreted it as demonstrating just how little self-esteem Valentine had left. Mind you, I quite liked the way Ludo was all, “oh, go on then…”.

    • CJ Cregg January 30, 2016 / 10:54 pm

      Valentine absolutely deserved to get fired but surely Simon can take the credit for wrecking his own marriage? He did cheat on his wife repeatedly, and move away to America. And the only reason Valentine knew about Mali and could leak it was because married Simon was sleeping with her at the time.

      • Jed Bartlet January 30, 2016 / 11:14 pm

        OK, but Apolline hadn’t filed for divorce until Mali was leaked and her source was killed. Simon’s mistake was to assume – not unreasonably – that a key member of his campaign team wouldn’t go blabbing to their biggest rival.

      • MooreOfThat January 30, 2016 / 11:16 pm

        I think there is more “back story” to Simon’s wreck of a marriage. When he meets with her at the restaurant she basically tells him she wanted him gone, liked him better when he was gone and that apparently everyone else wanted him gone too. That whole “When you came back no one wanted you.” line. His creepy daughter even said her mother was right and that a lot of the problems lay at Simon’s feet.

        That whole conversation with Anne on the plane I think was supposed to be putting those two as kindred souls. They both were married and slept around a lot for “reasons.” Anne’s husband booted her out and now Appoline is booting Simon out. So he’s free to stroke more faces.

        • CJ Cregg January 30, 2016 / 11:28 pm

          I cannot stand Valentine, but Simon’s marriage ending is on Simon. He shouldn’t have spoken about his wife’s secret trip to Mali to anyone other than Apolline and Gendry at all, but he did and he didn’t do it at work, he did it in front of his mistress in their bedroom, so I don’t think he gets to claim breach of professional confidence. And as Moore said, he did plenty before that to wreck the marriage himself.

          Now he’s free to stroke Anne’s visage all he wants. Not that being married would have stopped him.

    • MooreOfThat January 30, 2016 / 11:13 pm

      Well that is a good point about Ludo acting like an upstart kid. Simon and Palissy seeing him as an amateur.

      • CJ Cregg January 30, 2016 / 11:17 pm

        I don’t know, I thought the suggestion was he’d been groomed by Simon for years to take over. If he was such an upstart novice, why leave him your company and then ask him to come work with you, Simon?

        • MooreOfThat January 30, 2016 / 11:28 pm

          Exactly. Simon can’t decide on Ludo it seems. I am not sure if he feels he should hand him the company back or maybe just do his bidding through his company? Or maybe just stay out of his way because he should be eternally grateful to his mentor and keep promoting Russians or something.

          It seems maybe Simon just needs a whipping boy and someone to blame and Ludo plays nicely into that.

          It must be an ego thing.

          • CJ Cregg January 30, 2016 / 11:30 pm

            I think you’ve probably hit the nail on the tete re the ego thing, Moore.

        • Jed Bartlet January 30, 2016 / 11:29 pm

          Perhaps Simon would have expected better of him. Perhaps Simon wouldn’t have expected that he’d go and work for a direct rival; and a direct rival, moreover, who they both know to be deliberately lying in order to stir up racial tension. Admittedly the smackdown was brutal, but politics is a rough old trade.

          It all comes back to our readings of the show, and the differences have been there since the first two episodes. I said then I was genuinely baffled at how it was possible to read some sort of moral equivalence into the conduct of Simon and Ludo. I just don’t see that as even an arguable interpretation of how the characters have been written and played. And now, after the first round of the election, it turns out that not only is Ludo amoral, he’s not very good at his job either.

  3. Bill February 1, 2016 / 10:40 am

    For me, this episode was lazy. Anne Visage talking to Simon about what a playa she was back in the day, when he apparently vetted her to the nth degree when he was considering her as a possible candidate for the presidency? Also, Anne, boasting about adultery doesn’t make you intriguing or beguiling, it just means that you’ve told Simon you’re up for it.

    Did Deleuvre’s team find the bug that Visage planted in Marjorie’s room? In that case, what was Deleuvre’s team up to, and why doesn’t Marjorie, who is the favourite for President, not have a more professional security team?

    Valentine’s attempt at suicide, the massive glaring spoiler alert being her t-shirt off the shoulder to show her unravelling, was another boring and predictable part of this show.

    The women in this show are a massive disappointment. So to are the men. To be honest, I am starting to think that this show is a massive disappointment, it all seems very paint by numbers, with none of the surprise or twists that it promised.

  4. Jed Bartlet February 1, 2016 / 10:59 pm

    Did Simon need to be told that Visage was up for it? Isn’t everyone in this show? I’d assumed that he was just having a bit of a rest before getting back on the horse, as it were, perhaps post-election. And with Valentine and Apolline removing themselves from consideration it’s either the President’s widow or la Visage who’s next for the face-stroking. (Or his daughter. At one point in this episode I half-thought they were going to go there.)

  5. CJ Cregg February 2, 2016 / 10:52 pm

    Agreed – Simon’s vetting seems a bit lax, Bill. He missed that she was having an affair with the Pres for a start…

    I’m really disappointed in the show as well. It’s nowhere near as good as I thought it would be and nowhere near as clever as it wants to be. To make its flaws even more obvious, I’ve recently fallen into the habit of watching a West Wing repeat or two most Sundays (Sky Atlantic is showing them at lunchtimes) and WW is still amazing, while Spin really suffers by comparison.

    PS – Simon and his daughter are grossing me out, too.

    • MooreOfThat February 3, 2016 / 12:50 am

      I don’t know how it gets The West Wing comparisons. Like we said earlier, unless we’re missing loads in translation issues, The West Wing had humor and a ton of sarcasm in its writing and this show seems to have none of that. I read on a French site an article that was comparing it to West Wing and even the French commentators were all “Mais non! The writing does not equal the writing on West Wing!”

      But then again, I think I am an outlier in this whole audience thing. I read yesterday someone saying how evil Ludo was and how he made their skin crawl and he does nothing like that for me.

      • CJ Cregg February 3, 2016 / 8:16 pm

        Mais non, indeed! The West Wing was a work of genius, so very few shows will ever even come close to it, but yeah the idea that Spin is anywhere near the same level or is anything other than basic, sexist political soap is bizarre.

        Ludo doesn’t make my skin crawl either but then as a long-term Fitoussi fan, I may be biased 😉

  6. Jed Bartlet February 3, 2016 / 10:09 pm

    Not sure that vetting is the issue. The French have always prided themselves on being more discerning about the private lives of politicians than the British. Mitterrand had a mistress throughout most of his political career. He fathered her child, and she stood beside his widow at his funeral. Chirac was a playa. Hollande installed his partner in the Élysée, but had an affair with another woman.

    It might be different for a woman, of course – it normally is – but I don’t think it’s seen as being a dealbreaker in France. I’m not convinced it would be seen as one in the UK these days either.

    • CJ Cregg February 3, 2016 / 10:22 pm

      It’s not so much whether it’s a dealbreaker or not, just that if his vetting had been thorough he would have known about Visage’s affair with the Pres before Ludo did and her messy divorce shouldn’t have been a surprise to him either. He shouldn’t have to be strategising on the hoof, he should already know all this stuff and have planned how to deal with it in advance. Remember that ep of TGW where Eli and Jonny basically knew every single thing there was to know about Alicia and her family, whether she knew it or not? That was just their vetting for SA, let alone President of an actual country. Simon should take note.

  7. feimineach February 6, 2016 / 3:27 pm

    seriously, of all the things to take away from that episode, i can really only remember the face-licking. i thank my lucky stars that no one has ever tried to do that to me. i’d be very torn between vomiting all over them and murdering them if they did.

    • CJ Cregg February 6, 2016 / 10:50 pm

      Hello feimineach, bienvenue to unpopcult 😉 Yeah, the face-licking is not something I’ll forget in a hurry, either. Ugh.

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