Spin (Les Hommes de l’ombre) s3 ep 1


We begin in deeply unsettling fashion with a convoy of official vehicles racing through a Parisian tunnel. Maybe it’s not meant to evoke the memories it does, maybe it is; either way, and since I knew going in that season three of Spin (like season one) was going to start with a significant public death, it’s a disturbing moment, but it turns out that even Spin isn’t crass enough to go there. Instead, the Marjories make it through the tunnel unharmed, and it’s Simon Kapita and the Minister for Parliamentary Reform(?) Clemence Parodi – a woman whom I initially thought might be Gabi from last season – who are at the epicentre of the tragedy, namely a radio station where a gunman shoots up the studio live on air, killing a high-profile Far Right candidate. At least I think he was a high-profile Far Right candidate – the combination of Spin’s usual terrible subtitling with my lack of knowledge of the French political system makes it something of a struggle to try and get a grip of who belongs to which party. I wouldn’t put any euros on me being right about any of them.

Alors. Simon and Clemence are understandably traumatised by the whole business, but the emotional impact of “We could have died!” and “All that blood!” is somewhat diluted by the segue straight into “Let’s crash right into each other and have sex tout de suite!” I laughed out loud, which I’m guessing is not the effect anyone was going for and which also means, in terms of sex with Simon at stressful moments, Clemence is pretty much Gabi from last season after all.

It’s back to business the matin after, though, as Clemence shifts back into work mode, unceremoniously swapping Simon for an immediate, wholesale change of the entire French voting system, because trying to alter the course of the nation’s destiny forever really could not wait till episode 2. *rolls yeux*

Malheureusment for Clemence and her big plan, however, since Simon spends most of the episode having woozy spells and hiding out in Ludo’s old office (now Simon’s new office?) in an unsuccessful attempt to avoid his appalling ex-wife, he’s not really up to doing too much politicking on her behalf. And nobody else thinks it’s a magnifique idea to be handing power to the far droit anyway, so the PM pulls a fast one, the bill tanks and poor Clemence is left wondering if it’s too late to go back to bed.

As Simon drinks and broods, and Clemence considers a new career, then, Madame Marjorie, er, walks repeatedly around the Palais in a series of dubious-looking pairs of slacks. Every few minutes, there she is – round a corner, up a staircase, along a corridor – wandering aimlessly into shot, looking either dazed or ready for a fight with Monsieur Le Prés, who is visibly wondering why this pair didn’t just split up at the end of season 2. Je ne sais pas pourquois, either, Alain, but it’s jamais too late.

Alors, again. Since she’s not getting any sort of satisfaction (or any sort of birthday present) from Le Prés, Mme Marjorie eventually gets bored with her route and changes things up by walking all the way to the UAE and involving herself in a stupendously daft rescue attempt, either because she’s looking for a more active role in foreign policy or because she’s an imbecile. *rolls yeux encore*

Thank goodness then for mon amour Ludo, who’s having a much more successful (if brief) time than the rest of these nitwits. With artfully unshaven visage and his own right-wing (je pense?) candidate Anne-Marie, the handsomest man on tv is poised to take full advantage of Morlaix’s death, not to mention full advantage of the fact that he looks like Gregory Fitoussi and she looks so like fellow Spiral alum Audrey Fleurot that for a moment I was confused about which French drama I was actually watching. If they’re not sleeping together yet, it can’t be long, non?

Not that Ludo and his cinq heures shadow get any more than a few minutes to woo us; a sneer from old frenemy Deleuvre, a few seconds plotting with Anne-Marie and he’s done for the week, which is disappointing but not unexpected given how under-used he was last season. And given time has to be found for two new shows-within-the-show, namely “Elisabeth Marjorie: International Rescue” and, most exciting of all, top new detective drama “Palissy de Justice.” You thought he was just the Minister for the Interior? Oh, non. While the intelligence agencies scratch their derrières, the French answer to Columbo cracks the assassination case wide open, working out the whos, the whys and the wherefores, and organising elegantly-choreographed SWAT raids all over the French countryside. Dude is so bien at fighting crime, he should get a gig on Spiral himself. And his entire storyline would have fit better there too, instead of taking up temps on a show which is supposed to be saying something important about French politics at a time when the entire planet’s future is in the balance, as opposed to doing a French version of Le Bill.

Sigh. As usual with Spin, this episode was rarely more than all right, and frequently much less than that. The political intrigue continues to lose so much in translation that I’m confused or bemused far too often; the Marjories’ relationship continues to take up an amount of screen time inversely proportionate to the interest anyone except the writers can possibly have in it (Mon Dieu, just GET. A. DIVORCE); and the insufferable Appolline continues to get way more to do than the indispensable Ludo, whose job description is actually in the name of the show. Something not right there, n’est-ce pas?


3 thoughts on “Spin (Les Hommes de l’ombre) s3 ep 1

  1. Ashley Wills April 16, 2017 / 10:46 pm

    I struggled with the mediocrity of this “political drama” last series but I think the opening episode of series 3 might finally be the straw that breaks the camel’s back for me with this show.

    What is there for the viewer with Spin?

    The stories were once again ludicrous. The assassination is the nugget of a decent idea but the way it was played out was just silly. Then there’s the criminal under-utilisation of Ludo. Palissy the new crime-fighter extraordinaire. The absurd notion that the assassination somehow totally justifies moving to an entirely new voting system with little-to-no debate – just a casual oui from the lame-duck Marjorie (the worst portrayal of a world leader in a drama I’ve ever seen – weak, weak, weak), only to all be topped by the preposterous international rescue act led by the deeply irritating and monumentally selfish Elisabeth.

    Sadly, very little convinces in this show. And it’s not all down to the writing. The acting is frequently merde and the direction is appalling. And from France – the home of cinema! Who is directing and editing this shower? The amount of dodgy camerawork on display was incredible; vibrations, random cuts, ridiculous shots of people obscured and an overall lack of fluency and professional standards. It’s actually an insult to student filmmakers to categorise this episode as at the same quality as that of the typical student film.

    I used to somehow endure Spin for all it’s manifest flaws because I’m a sucker for anything political on TV and I love French culture. Plus Spiral is bloody amazing so you hope this might be on par with good old Engrenages. But the amateurism on view was no longer charming but simply tedious and, actually, quite contemptible of the viewer to put up this crap as somehow acceptable in the “golden age” of television drama.

    And what the dickens is up with the subtitles?!

    • CJ Cregg April 17, 2017 / 6:19 pm

      Fair points all. I can’t shake the feeling that the show would be significantly better if the subtitles were halfway decent, AW, but I no longer think it would actually be GOOD. It’s so frustrating, because as we’ve all said, Spin has had so much potential from the start, but it’s become clear the writers have no idea what to do with it and are wasting all their time on the weakest parts of the show and ignoring what could be the strongest. The sidelining of the Ludo vs Simon rivalry and the moral dubieties of their work (which were supposed to be the foundations of the whole show) in favour of the insane amount of time spent on the Marjories is a prime example. At this point, I’ve given up hope it will improve – I’m still watching partly because we’ve all come this far and the end is in sight, but mainly for Ludo and his suits. I’m not proud.

  2. Jed Bartlet May 1, 2017 / 10:57 pm

    I’m a little bit more glass-half-full on this. I… kinda liked it? Obviously the best bit was Kapita and Clémence’s magnificently French reaction to the shooting: le near-death experience followed inevitably by le hookup, le walk of shame and le “forget it ever happened”. Well played, guys.

    As for the rest: I suspect that a working knowledge of the French political system is essential – the relationship between president and prime minister, for example – and something more in depth is probably desirable. But it didn’t get in the way. (La Marjorie can eff off, of course. I’ve quite forgotten if there’s a reason why they’re together.) It may be, of course – and I’m just hypothesising here – that I’m not as invested in Fitoussi as, uh, some viewers are.

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