Spin (Les Hommes de l’ombre) s2 ep 4

*Spoilers*

Amour is in the air!

An international hostage situation, a grey-faced embarrassment of a President who spends the entire ep shouting, twitching and groaning, and an ex on a mission to expose top secret negotiations out of what seems to be spite…. there’s beaucoup going on at l’Élysée this week, even if it’s all ridiculous. As far as unpopcult’s concerned, though, the big nouvelles is of course Gabrielle and Simon getting very close indeed.

We all knew it was coming at some point, but the signs that this was la semaine were unmistakeable: the ride home together and the understandably irresistible “I have some frozen meals if you fancy it” (the gourmet capital of the world, mesdames et messieurs) invitation are clear enough signals, but it’s the long-awaited release of Chekhov’s cheveux from their barrette prison that seals the deal. Or it would have, if Gabi’s kid – like every other kid on tv – hadn’t picked the crucial moment to yell plaintively for “Maman!”

Simon and Gabi may look wryly amused, but I’d have been furieux.

La Secretary-General will not be deterred though. After another hard day at the office, she’s not risking any more moptop-related interruptions: “I’m tired. Victor’s staying at a friend’s,” she announces to Simon who has no trouble understanding exactly what this means, et voila! The kid’s safely out of the way, the hair’s back down and the clothes are nowhere to be seen.

Of course, because Simon can’t have sex with anyone without then doing something appalling, he decides to ruin the mood by confronting Gabrielle about the circumstances of Victor’s adoption while she’s still in her lingerie, which makes me wonder a) what business it is of his and b) what the eff is wrong with him. Could judging her for her life choices not have waited till the next day when the hair was back in the barrette and the woman was back in the skirt suit, instead of her underwear?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Simon is a jerk. The jury’s out, however, on whether he, his daughter or his ex-wife are worse. Having left her 25 – TWENTY-FIVE – voicemail messages (because dealing with an ongoing international incident with dozens of lives at stake means plenty of time to stalk one’s offspring), he is overjoyed in that annoying, judgmental parent-y way to see Juliette again, till he realises she’s just popped home to wangle some info out of him, wind him up a bit and wave him goodbye. The pair of them then proceed to deal with this in the most obnoxious and inappropriate fashion possible; they end up shouting in each other’s faces, in the kind of desperately close, emotionally-charged scene that usually ends up in a wildly passionate kiss in tv drama and should never, under any circumstances, takes place between father and daughter because EWWWWW.

Mon DIEU.

The entire Kapita family seems to have a screw loose, mind you, since Apolline insists, despite the protestations of her editor/boyfriend, on ignoring the journalistic code, flying to Tripoli on her own franc, and – somehow – gathering all the info on the back-channel Bakian negotiations to free the hostages, because nobody puts Apolline in a corner. Or something. Her single-mindedness in pursuit of a story is nothing new, but there’s something personal in her threat to Simon at the end of the episode. This isn’t about the truth, it seems to be about revenge, although it’s not clear why or on whom.

With all this emotional intrigue going on, it’d be easy to ignore the actual politicking, but the writers manage to squeeze in some nefarious double-crossing, two offscreen (and therefore very budget-friendly) military interventions, a curiously under-motivated terrorist, and a surprisingly genuine couple of scenes between President Grumpy-Guts and the faithful Benny from Crossroads, who, having been rescued from a life of beer cans and mud-coloured T-shirts by Simon, comes back to dispense un peu tough love to his dearest, daftest ami. Who knew Benidorm et Le Prés would have the deepest, most/only convincing love on the show?

Not Rose, who has no idea where her husband is, and phones Ludo instead. “Come over,” he says, huskily. Which sounds very promising, but is cut off somewhat abruptly since that’s pretty much all he says. I don’t know qui thought Victor’s backstory getting more screen time than Gregory Fitoussi was a good plan, and that we’d rather see Simon in flagrante than Ludo in any situation at all, but that person really needs to pense again.

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9 thoughts on “Spin (Les Hommes de l’ombre) s2 ep 4

  1. MooreOfThat March 6, 2016 / 2:36 am

    Oh good, I am glad we got the epic Gregory Fitoussi does a cameo episode. It was the most thrilling of all.

    Since I didn’t get to comment on last week’s show, let me just throw a couple comments in to start.

    1. I do give credit to the actor playing Marjorie for really knowing how to play someone sick and in a coma. Probably the most realistic thing so far going on.

    Now that the “nice” things are out of the way.

    2. Really? You can only treat meningitis with Aspirin? That seems….bizarre. He’s fallen into a coma (that seems to be the word of the episode) and you wake up and all it is is some “take two of these and call me in the morning.” sort of advice.

    3. I still have no clue what Simon has against hamburgers.

    Now onto this week’s show….when I first watched this on DVD, I admit that I fast forwarded my way through it when Ludo seemed to go MIA, but this time I watched through all the tedium so I could have a chat here.

    1. Every time Gabrielle removes her hair from the barrette, I hear, “Lets Get It On”.

    2. Marjorie is shorter than everyone, even his wife, in this show. You understand when the story is going off track when all you can think of is “this guy is shorter than literally everyone.”

    3. Simon’s fight with his daughter was awkward, awkward, awkward. When she got in his face….nope. And he’s supposedly been freaking out about her but when he returns to find her watching the news he’s just all “Ahhh! You’re home!! Ha ha!” I am completely wierded out by the parenting styles on this show. Simon is a devoted parent when talking to his friends but a weird lover type when in scenes with his daughter. And the mother? She can’t seem to care that her daughter is running around with terrorists apparently and now heading to Syria to do a story (does she even have a publication?)

    4. Forget “state falsehood” the drinking game phrase now is “I have a terrible headache”.

    5. That situation room or whatever it is where they were watching the showdown with the terrorists was disappointingly ugly for being France.

    6. Russians are always out to ruin the world. Always.

    7. This means Ludo is indirectly out to ruin the world since his clients are all Russians.

    8. Are we to come to the conclusion that Gabrielle’s son is actually some stolen kid from Hungary? Did Gabrielle steal/buy herself a kid?

    9. I think now that Marjorie is using the cane Benny gifted him, it has now become a main character in this show and I shall rename it the Stand-In Ben. Every time Marjorie looks at it wistfully, you know he’s thinking of his BFF.

    10. And once again back to Mali and Algeria we go. If you ever need an exotic local where bad things happen, for France it’s one of these two places. I get it, former Colonial power, but maybe we should head to Martinique or Reunion Island once just to change the scenery. Would Algeria even being playing nice with France? Doesn’t Algeria hate France?

    All that said, this was boring and yes because Ludo wasn’t there except to get his reflection in the window and his “come to my lair sweetheart” invite. Good news is that Ludo returns for the last two shows with some good scenes with the insufferable Xerox Bambi Rose.

    • CJ Cregg March 6, 2016 / 7:56 pm

      Yeah the “aspirin” cure for meningitis seems somewhat strange. Any doctors out there want to reassure us about the standard of care Le Pres is getting? It seems a bit ropy to me….

      HEE at Benny the cane and at your barrette removal music. Now I’m going to laugh every time the hair comes down 😁 Although now Simon’s accused her of being a child thief, maybe the hair will stay back in the barrette forever 😐

      The entire Kapita family is weird. Dad, Mum, Daughter – the lot of them, but I agree with you it’s particularly unnerving how clingy and possessive Simon is with Juliette when Apolline isn’t remotely bothered.

      Agreed on the ugly Sit Room. Why so dark? A spot of wallpaper ans Mrs Marjorie’s chaise would have brightened it right up.

      And I wondered about the relationship with Algeria as well. I don’t know how cordial relations are in real life but Le Pres was spectacularly rude to the poor Algerian Interior Minister – it was hardly the IM’s fault. I think I’d have hung up on him.

      The whole thing really did need Ludo to liven it up. Apolline hanging round Tripoli in a mood instead was just annoying.

  2. Jed Bartlet March 10, 2016 / 11:48 pm

    Oh SIMON. If you ever want to do THAT again, you need to pick your time and your battles. I really don’t know why he was so agitated about the adoption process – possibly foreseeing a PR disaster in the making, although I’d think that Gabrielle would be able to play the “saving him from an uncertain future” card with some vigour – but to the extent that he had to raise the issue at all, that was NOT a window of opportunity. Dude. The HAIR was DOWN. (Most of) the CLOTHES were OFF. You had just DONE IT with the SECRETARY-GENERAL whose (possibly illegally-adopted) SON WAS OUT OF THE HOUSE ALL NIGHT.

    *shakes head*

    I liked the scene between the President and Hussan – I suppose speaking truth to power becomes easier if you’re not trying to get or keep a job. But as for Apolline, Daughter, Rose and Ludo…

    *shakes head again*

    • CJ Cregg March 12, 2016 / 10:00 pm

      HEE at “The HAIR was DOWN. (Most of) the CLOTHES were OFF.”

      I liked the scene between the Prés and Hussan too. Probably the best scene of the season – there was something that rang true about their relationship. I was actually a wee bit moved.

  3. Bill March 11, 2016 / 2:02 pm

    There appear to be a couple of outstanding plotlines, the resolution of which are likely to underwhelm as much as this show.

    Appolline has to uncover that middleman is really a bad man who sells weapons and children.

    Fitoussi has to uncover that the First Lady was responsible for the death of that editor guy, which is the “state falsehood” we have been waiting for this season. It seems to have fallen by the wayside since Marjorie starting getting his headaches, and the First Lady has stepped up to be a real First Lady.

    The daughter is going to be revealed as a terrorist sympathiser and Simon is going to have to do some serious work to keep her out of bother (is that where this storyline is supposed to be going?)

    Fitoussi also has to seduce Rose and then act like a cad to her because that is when he is at his best, and he hasn’t been nearly caddish enough this season.

    I think Deleuvre still has some unfinished business somewhere?

    And Simon and Gabrielle have to fall in love so that she can wear her hair down for good and start wearing floaty romantic dresses and learning to cook so that she doesn’t have to serve any more “frozen ready meals”.

    This seems like an awful lot to be done in two episodes, and let’s not kid ourselves that it will be done well.

    I previously wrote that I thought the First Lady was the new Valentine in season 2, but now, given the annoyance level that she brings to the show, I think it must be Appolline. How did a perfectly pleasant character from season one do such an about face and become so utterly annoying? And who stole her bag with her laptop and all her sources?! And how did she manage to get another job as an investigative journalist when she proved herself to be so cackhanded in the last season? Ah, yes, the show is French, and she is a woman in this show, so she must be sleeping with her boss! And so, the new Valentine!

    • CJ Cregg March 12, 2016 / 10:20 pm

      Good point about the new Appolline being the new Valentine, Bill. I wasn’t too keen on her last season but at least she wasn’t actively unpleasant, like she is now. Argh.

      I can now see an entire spin-off with Gabi on her own cookery show wearing floaty romantic dresses and baking cupcakes while doting husband Simon runs her homemaker media empire. Ludo, meanwhile, will head up some sort of TMZ-style network forever trying to find the cracks in the perfect Simon-Gabi media image. His immaculate suits will hide his Secret Pain at always being in Simon’s shadow and secretly being in love with Gabi himself.

      • MooreOfThat March 13, 2016 / 3:59 am

        LOL That needs to be a title to one of Season 3’s episodes: Ludo’s Secret Pain.

  4. ashleywills March 14, 2016 / 1:59 pm

    I actually thought this episode showed signs of improvement. Gasp, it actually had moments of something nearing acceptable quality for a supposed primetime drama.

    Particularly the Ben/Pres relationship which other commenters have remarked on. Although the cane was so clearly borrowed from The West Wing. Even then I didn’t mind. A good symbolic idea is a good symbolic idea whether it’s a White House drama or an Elysee one. “President in his 50s having to rely on a cane post-illness while deciding on matters of life & death” is a classic trope in political dramas.

    There was also a smart cut in the transition from Gabi/Simon at work to Gabi/Simon in bed. I liked it. Actual creativity.

    As you’ve all already pointed out though – that argument between Simon and Juliette was so freaking creepy. Why don’t the show makers see it?! It’s just bizarre and I refuse to believe incest is a thing French people like. So why create such unsettling scenes where Father and Daughter are inches from each other in the throes of an intense disagreement?

    Now, I need to watch this past weekend’s episode I missed. Hopefully the improvement has not stalled.

    • CJ Cregg March 14, 2016 / 7:36 pm

      I can’t get my head round the Simon/Juliette thing either, Ashley. What on earth are the writers / directors / actors / anybody involved thinking? The show doesn’t need the daughter storyline at all as far as I’m concerned – it’s better when it sticks to the politics rather than the domestics – but if we have to have it, why do they have to make it so gross and weird?

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