Spin (Les Hommes de l’ombre) s2 ep 1


Well, at least Valentine’s gone.

For this first ep, anyway. But those of you worried you’ll miss your weekly fix of tragic female characters plagued by mental health issues, trying to dull the pain of their miserable relationships with sex, fear not! Elisabeth Marjorie, wife of the new Président – yes, Alain won, au revoir Anne, don’t let la porte hit you on the way out – is here for you and, one year on from her husband’s victory, she’s not wasting any more time being a good little Stepford politician’s wife, oh, non. Instead of dutifully hanging out with hubby and his frenemies at some dreary trade function, she’s driving at top speed through the countryside, hair looking amazing, besotted lover at her side and… crashing the car and killing him.

All before the opening credits.

Le Prés is obviously not too chuffed about any of this, but he’s both used to and fed up with Mrs M getting into bother, so he gets long-time buddy, Interior Minister and David Walliams-lookalike Benoît Hussan to cover up Lis’s latest. Benny-boy does a little too good a job on that front, though, by getting himself involved in a scandal of his own; in theory, of course, starting his own media frenzy is a tremendously effective way to divert attention from La Première dame’s problems, but also creates a whole bunch of different ones for both Ben and his boss. Which are then compounded by Lis herself forgetting she’s supposed to be lying low and wading into the very public fray instead.

What’s Le Prés to do? Get the best PR man in France on the job, bien sûr! And, luckily for Alain, Simon Kapita just happens to have popped over from New York to try and a) string out the world’s slowest divorce some more and b) have the creepiest “reunion with a daughter” scene of all time. Mon Dieu. I know we talked about this before, but WTF is this show playing at? This week’s prolonged, stomach-churning sight of Simon and Daughter Dearest, locked in each other’s arms, gazing adoringly at each other for about a trillion minutes, their faces centimetres apart – Euggggggggh.

Thankfully, however, since Al’s Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon Gabrielle won’t take non for an answer, Simon has to put his weird familial arrangements on hold for a bit and head to L’Élysée to play hard to get. “I lead the campaign against you and lost!” he points out. “Never mind that, we need a reason to get you back for season 2 and this is it, bud” says the Prés. Or words to that effect. “So how’s about it?”

No match for the combination of this unassailable logic and the jolie Gabrielle sulking in pencil skirts, then, Kapita capitulates and sets about tackling the triple threat of Madame Marj, Benny and the Jets Hussan’s dodgy dealings, and Deleuvre’s scheme to bring the government down for spite.

Simon’s plans for the first two at least are pretty similar, essentially involving keeping them both locked away and under control: Lis, glass of wine now semi-permanently attached to her hand, is to be surrounded at all times by “a doctor, nurse, psychologist and security guards” (a sort of 21st century Village People, I suppose). Ben Hur Hus, meanwhile, and his somewhat frazzled wife are to move in to the flat I swear Deleuvre’s boyfriend lived in last season. Somewhat oddly, that part of the scheme begins with the Hussans being picked up by Simon and Gabrielle in full view of a scrum of paparazzi; sending his two top media folk to act as a Joe le taxi service doesn’t seem like the best way to keep Le Prés’s continued involvement secret to me, but whatevs. The only part of it that actually matters for now is that isolating Mr and Mrs H like this makes it easier for old enemy Ludovic to knobble them both.

Oui, mes amis, Ludo is back too, Deleuvre having recruited him once again (for all their grudges against everyone else, Spin’s politicians seem weirdly forgiving of the PR guys who didn’t actually get them elected), this time to help destroy Marjorie’s government for various waffly reasons that, if you really look inside yourself, Del-boy, pretty much boil down to “it shoulda been me.”

But how are things with Ludo, one year on? Well, he’s still got that massive  office with next to no staff in it, but he now also has a computer with a fancy new logo, an iPad and an assistant who doesn’t cry and scream at him all the time, so things seem to be looking up. Despite having entered the 21st century, though, he’s still the same old Ludo; his spin on the Ben and Jerry Lis relationship is nasty, but it’s effective, and the only surprising thing about it is Deleuvre’s initially squeamish reaction to the idea. Where was all this reluctance to use people’s private lives for political gain when you and Ludo outed La Visage as the President’s mistress last season, Monsieur?

Of course, Deleuvre doesn’t take that much persuading in the end, and this season’s battle of the sharp black suits begins in earnest. Will it be better than last season’s, though? Too early to tell. Deleuvre and Palissy working together might make both of them more interesting and less caricature-like, but Alain seems as wishy-washy as Anne was. Elisabeth is a much more sympathetic character than Valentine for now, but I have a horrible feeling ignominy and a suicide attempt can’t be far off for her, either. Gabrielle might conceivably be the new Apolline except that the old Apolline is back too (with a fringe). The awful Daughter is still awful. And most, importantly, Simon and Ludo didn’t share a single scene, which means that the show sidelined its most, perhaps only, compelling relationship and gave us an oddly muted opener as a result. If this season’s going to work for me, I’m going to need a lot more Gregory Fitoussi than that.


11 thoughts on “Spin (Les Hommes de l’ombre) s2 ep 1

  1. MooreOfThat February 13, 2016 / 9:28 pm

    *comes in dragging a chair and a bottle of wine, sits self down*

    I bow down to you and all your Ben name-plays!

    I had the EXACT same thought when I saw that Elisabeth was going to be a walking basket-case of a head-case. France must have a quota that needs to be filled with “we need a female character, unstable, weepy, likes to take prescription drugs with alcohol, it will be formidable!” The best thing I like about her so far is she has an awesome swan chaise she reclines on.When Simon leaves her after she kicks him out, he looks down at her and I swear he’s thinking “if I could only stroke your face, things would work out for us, for France, for Marjorie.”

    Simon is forever in NYC yet we still don’t know what he does there except apparently run Pygmalion Jr. from there.

    Oh dear God, let’s stop for a second and appreciate whatever the hell is going on between Simon and his daughter. That whole “warm embrace” had me side-eyeing and wondering if we shouldn’t give them some privacy. Then later on when she creeps into the apartment to find him sleeping on the couch, their disagreement sounded more like a lover’s tiff than a parent and child face-off. Then he follows her into the bathroom to stare at her and ponder if it would be appropriate to stroke her face, so much so that she has to ASK HIM TO LEAVE HER ALONE IN THE BATHROOM. What is going on here?

    I don’t know if when Ludo and Mr. D meet up was supposed to play this way but when he tells Ludo he wants to take down the government in true super villain style, Ludo just standing there with that whimsical smile and nodding his head like “I approve” was comical. But unfortunately for us, Ludo has moved his office. He now has a nice bank of windows for admiring Parisian roof-tops but where is he going to golf at? His office has shrunk in size. Before he had the whole floor to himself and kept his worker bees down below him in the “open space” as he said.

    But good point on how Mr D., super villain in the making, didn’t seem to have any issue with being dirty season 1 but now seems to like to remind everyone that he is a “politician” and doesn’t do those sorts of things. Mr. P also seems to have become more sinister. Before he balked at Mr. D and his crew of creeps but now he’s making deals and wanting a cabinet position.

    Ugh to Mrs. Hussan (this is who I nick-named Xerox Girl as you’ll see later).

    I agree with you on Gregory. They like to use him sparingly in this series for some reason. *Spoiler* he does get more air-time in the up-coming episodes, except for one where he makes a a brief one second appearance answering a phone.

    • CJ Cregg February 13, 2016 / 11:58 pm

      OMG, Moore, the swan chaise! I’d forgotten about that. You’ve just inspired me to spend a very happy 15 mins googling chaises and trying to work out whether a purple chenille one with diamanté studs is really me. Or am I more a cream damask? *Happy sigh*

      “For us, for France, for Marjorie” – HEE. Poor Mrs M. The last thing she needs is the Serial Face Stroker getting all up in her face, but yep he definitely had that look in his eye. Although I think he’ll end up going for jolie Gabrielle instead. I thought they were aiming at a sort of sparky banter between Simon and Gabs, but never quite got there. Maybe they’ll bond over their love of their children, although her relationship with her mini mop top son seems entirely appropriate. Unlike you know who…

      Yep, the Bathroom scene was the stuff of nightmares as well. How can they possibly not know how this is coming across? Does nobody involved in making this show have adult children? Or PARENTS? For the love of God. Why isn’t anyone taking the Simon and Daughter actors aside and telling them normal parents do not interact like this with their adult children and stop it they’re freaking everyone the eff out?


      Good catch on Gregory’s office too. I vaguely noticed he was facing a different way but didn’t realise it was a different room. (I may have been too busy swooning 😉 ) Looks like smaller office means smaller role! Gutted 😦

      • MooreOfThat February 14, 2016 / 8:46 am

        The good news is that Gregory is in the second show a lot and is his usual charming self. The bad news is that everyone else is still there to put up with .

        Yeah, the old office was good for pacing and doing epic sweeps with the camera. I guess we are not going to get him staring broodily into the camera as it sweeps out of the room. But hey! He’s got a neat-o screensaver and like you pointed out, Ipads and an out box to sort his different piles of papers documenting his quest for world domination. He also has lots of nifty squares to shove books into.

        I think Simon’s apartment is also completely different, seems a lot smaller and he lost a lot of his bookcases (and maybe his tea sets). And he got a completely new soon to be ex-wife in the process! But no worries, he’ll be just hanging out in the blue salon when it’s not in use doing PR things which consist of him basically just walking around halls and saying “you should tell me about that so I can do something about that, which will consist of me just talking to the person about doing something about that.”

        Gabrielle is boring so far and seems to have no sense of humor or personality.

        I also didn’t understand Simon and Gabi going to pick up Hussan in front of the press, Why did Gabi have to be there at all? And then Hussan has to set up shop in Mr. D’s old lover’s nest with windows that look like they can protect him in case the place gets bombed.

        • CJ Cregg February 14, 2016 / 10:49 pm

          “Gregory is in the second show a lot”…. That’ll do me 😉

  2. Jed Bartlet February 14, 2016 / 5:53 pm

    Lots to talk about, but can I first register my own disapproval of the Simon/Daughter scene? My GOD. They more or less MAKE OUT. Then Simon follows her into the BATHROOM and she has to ASK HIM TO LEAVE. Is it… a French thing? I honestly have no idea.

    Anyway. Once again I rather liked this, although for now it looks like a classic case of the cover-up being worse than the original incident. Throwing Elisabeth under l’autobus might not have been the nicest thing to do, but would it not have been the smarter play? “My wife… leading separate lives for a while… in car with another man… deeply regrets what happened… ask for time to grieve and for us to consider our marriage…” He’s only just elected so even were there to be any electoral blowback – which is moot – it wouldn’t matter much. And as we know Deleuvre has his own reason for not wanting to hit the nuclear button in respect of private lives staying private.

    Is that the old Apolline? Looks different to me, which is a shame. I liked Apolline Une.

    And I assume that Simon, because he’s Simon, is going to stroke the face (etc.) of Mme Secretary-General ere long, despite their bickering?

    • CJ Cregg February 14, 2016 / 11:03 pm

      I thought she was maybe the old Apolline with a new hairdo but nope, you and Moore are right: turns out it’s actually a completely different actress. I don’t really understand the point of bringing the character back at all though if the actress wanted to move on. They could have just made her an entirely new journalist and told us Simon’s divorce had actually been finalised.

      I agree that sacrificing Lis would definitely have been the smarter play but they seem to be painting Marjorie as someone who has tunnel vision when it comes to keeping friends and family close (eg insisting on Chavour when everyone advised him against) even when the politically savvy thing to do would be something different.

      I wonder if both Simon AND Ludo will end up stroking Gabi’s face. I feel like they are trying to hit a lot of the same beats they did in season 1 and they spent a LOT of time on that one…

  3. Bill February 15, 2016 / 11:25 am

    I really liked how Deleuvre gave a press conference then moved a metre to the side and informed Ludo of his dastardly plan to topple Marjorie. I don’t think they needed to go as far as evil laughter and rubbing hands in glee, but as revealing evil plots go, it was a bit of an anti-climax.

    Simon’s clearly got form in identifying vulnerable women, good to see that he holds back a bit now and doesn’t sleep with them, though there’s still a few more episodes to go and all to play for!

    I like how we know that Gabrielle is in work mode when she has her hair tied back. This is clearly a woman with many different sides, so helpfully we are provided with a visual cue for when she means business.

    I can only assume that the new Apolline will investigate the car crash and subsequent cover up as thoroughly and effectively as she did the “state falsehood”; which makes her entirely useless as a character, apart from popping up now and again to mention the divorce to Simon.

    Mr Hassan looks like he has dog excrement on the end of his nose and every now and again catches a fresh whiff of it. Very unsettling.

    • Jed Bartlet February 15, 2016 / 12:47 pm

      There’s going to be a social event when The Hair is down, and both Simon and Ludo are circling like a pair of predatory spin-doctor sharks…

      • CJ Cregg February 15, 2016 / 1:56 pm

        Ooh, now we’re talking.

        – Scene: Ballroom at presidential palace.

        Guests in evening dress are milling around, muttering whatever’s French for “rhubarb, rhubarb”.

        Simon and Ludo, both in crisp black tie, stand glowering at each other, mid-argument.

        All of a sudden, Daughter Dearest gasps and drops her champagne glass. Papa and Ludo look round sharply to see what has startled her, only to be struck momentarily dumb by the vision of Gabi, in floor-length, form-fitting velvet, descending the staircase in the centre of the room, her long dark hair flowing down over one pale shoulder in soft, loose waves…

        “Dieu!” whispers Simon, still rooted to the spot, only to find that Ludo, a wicked smile on his face, has already left him for dust, made his way to the staircase and taken Gabi’s hand in his.

        Surprise and hesitation flit across her face but she looks directly into Ludo’s eyes and is too intrigued by what she sees to let go.

        “We’re not at work now, Gabrielle” he says huskily, helping her down the final step into the room and into the love triangle about to engulf them all. –

        END SCENE

        • MooreOfThat February 15, 2016 / 2:58 pm

          For all these reasons and more, this is why I love this place and people!


          • CJ Cregg February 15, 2016 / 6:56 pm

            Heh, merci Moore 😊 *blushes*

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