Spoiler Alert: These notes give away the endings in the final sequence of Series 8 of Engrenages/Spiral and the outcome of The Investigation
And so it comes to this. Clearly what is intended to be the final season of Spiral for surely there can be no place to go from here.
This blog has long been a fan of Spiral. Mark Pierce first wrote about it three years ago (click here to find it) and his key sentence remains as appropriate as it was when he reviewed series 2. “My favourite character, Laure from Spiral (played by Caroline Proust) is the Platonic form of fallibility. She wanders through Series 2 charged with serious crimes. She dissembles, uses illegal equipment, ignores orders, suborns an opponent, sleeps with a colleague, loses her gun, muffs pursuits of suspects and has her hide-out attacked by a mob. She cops all that in the stubborn, selfless pursuit of evil doers. The wicked in these series are not merely greedy plutocrats; they are genuinely evil.
"When someone asked the Abbé Sieyès what he did during the French Revolution, he replied: “as for me, I survived”. Laure might say the same, as might all her colleagues here in the French bureau or Israeli intelligence. Laure might also remark: “as for me, I suffer from – and benefit from – frailty”. Frailty might easily be forgiven when those with that trait are prepared to put their cases, careers and lives on the line.”
Laure doesn’t sleep with a colleague in Series 8. She is more pre-occupied with the baby that arrived as a result of one such liaison two series ago. As well, her great love, Gilou (Thierry Godard) spends the entire time in the last series either in prison or working with a gangster while acting as an informant in a bid to get his badge back.
More extended periods of calm, often a portent of forthcoming betrayal, and the always convoluted plot strands are here in full force. Once again you are reminded that Spiral is a direct descendant of those very first films to chronicle extravagant crime on the Paris streets, the films of Louis Feuillade made more than a century ago but the same classic chronicles of the quotidian mixed with extravagant crime.
One of the things that struck more most forcibly about this series is the general sense of chaos. The key points in the police building – the rooms occupied by Laure and her squad, Beckriche’s offce and the office of the Magistrate Bourdieu - never seem to be architecturally connected. You get no impression of the entirety of the place. One key character development however, substituting for Laure's regularly misguided passion is the young and glamourous Bourdieu. She manages to get Beckriche to loosen up, his constant suit, collar, tie, close shave and slicked back hair always in high contrast with the jeans, T-shirts and days old beards of the squad. Boiurdieu caps off the loosening of Beckriche, and his slow move towards bending laws, by inviting him to bed, a surprise both to him and us. Needless to say it ends on a dismal note.
It’s all a major contrast to the Danish series The Investigation, an 8-parter devoted to revealing the 'true' story behind the guy who had a privately built submarine, invited a journalist to take a ride around the nearby sea and then chopped up her body and threw the bits into the sea.
We neither know the name or see anything of the perpetrator and only see the victim when a photo of her is included in the credits. The series is about what its title says, the investigation that finally put the murderer away for life. A team of four are assembled by the Chief of the Copenhagen Criminal Division and the series is solely about the painstaking detective work they undertake. Unlike say The Killing where misleads and mistakes are the order of the day this is almost painstaking in recording the hard slog of the cops’ work.
For emphasis, if by chance the cop has to leave his office and walk down the corridor then, shades of Jacques Rivette, you see him do that from beginning to end frequently in one single shot. The moment/shot when the proof is revealed by the young female detective and, her colleagues having left, she turns and stares at a simple time line on a whiteboard lasts for some 45 seconds. You don’t mind at all.
You don’t feel much relief at the end of The Investigation but you are thrilled at the end of Series 8 ofSpiral. Laure and Gilou freed from the shackles of the police force, meet up on the street and dissolve into the Parisian crowd. Marvellous. Enough.