Baptiste Episode 2 continues to impress with another slice of high-caliber noir, delivering thrills, twists, turns, and never any concrete answers.
This recap of Baptiste Episode 2 contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
And so the plot thickens in Baptiste Episode 2, as the fan-favorite Frenchman puzzles not just the case of a missing girl, but the evidently complicated and potentially dangerous personality of the “uncle”, Edward Stratton (Tom Hollander), who is looking for her too. This second hour very much belonged to Stratton and his wildly inconsistent persona, with Hollander keeping his performance tantalizingly indistinct. The man’s a fiction, it seems, but one with underlying currents of truth and real psychosis that continue to earn him the scrutiny of the titular retired detective (Tchéky Karyo).
As in last week’s premiere, Baptiste believes himself to be mentally and physically past it, but more explicitly in Baptiste Episode 2, other characters believe it too. One of them is the Chief of Police’s son Niels (Boris van Severen), somewhat reminiscent of the doubter Rupert Grint played in Amazon Prime’s recent adaptation of Agatha Christie’s The ABC Murders. You can’t have an older, past-his-prime protagonist without having a foil ready to doubt his every move; it’s a played-out trope, but this show (and Karyo’s weathered, withering performance) do a good job of selling it.
As it becomes increasingly clear that Edward isn’t who he says he is, it’s also becoming a bit obvious that whatever deeper conspiracy is at work here also involves the local authorities and God-knows-who-else. General incompetence is often a handy screenwriting tool, but when it’s so obvious and determined, it’s usually evidence of a cover-up. That’s the kind of scent an old hand like Baptiste can follow all the way through Romanian gangsters and corrupt coppers, right to the source of the stench. A severed head, maybe? One keeps cropping up.
Baptiste Episode 2 continued the trend of the series – and the one from which it spins off, The Missing – of being very well written and directed, in this case by Harry and Jack Williams and Börkur Sigþórsson, respectively. A stand-out sequence at a boathouse showcased a confident, competent noir operating exceedingly well. I’m still somewhat suspicious of the season’s six episodes, which might throw up the odd tedious red herring or bit of filler, but thus far Baptiste continues to do the business.