The New Look Season 1 Episode 2 Recap – Coco Chanel becomes a Nazi agent

By Jonathon Wilson
Published: February 14, 2024 (Last updated: Yesterday)
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The New Look Season 1 Episode 2 Recap
The New Look | Image via Apple TV+

WARNING: THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS MAJOR SPOILERS

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Summary

This is another excellent episode of serious, grown-up television, full of tension throughout and building to a brutal conclusion on all fronts.

Episode 2 of The New Look, simply titled “The Hour”, is a tale of two halves. The plot focuses on Coco Chanel accepting and attempting to carry out a mission from the Nazis to bring the war between Great Britain and Germany to an end, while Christian tries to rescue Catherine from captivity after she was captured at the end of Episode 1.

While “The Hour” flits back and forth between the two stories it’s telling here, this recap will collect the major happenings together for the sake of clarity. Let’s start with Coco Chanel.

Coco Chanel and Operation Modellhut

In the premiere, General Schellenberg made it clear that he expected Coco to help Germany achieve peace with Great Britain in exchange for him getting her company back (he keeps saying the wheels are in motion for this, but neither Coco nor the audience have any proof whatsoever that he’s telling the truth.) “The Hour” reveals how Schellenberg expects Coco to do this — it’s called Operation Modellhut and was a real thing.

The general idea is that Coco knows Winston Churchill personally, and can presumably arrange to meet him and drop off an envelope containing an offer of peace. Coco had let slip to Spatzs that she knew Churchill, though doesn’t seem especially perturbed that he revealed the information to Schellenberg. She is, though, terrified of what Schellenberg might do to her if she’s unable to pull it off, which she might not be since she and Churchill aren’t exactly best pals.

To unwittingly help, Coco has the Gestapo kidnap Elsa Lombardi, an illegitimate member of British royalty who is unhappily married to one of Mussolini’s captains, whom Churchill has a soft spot for. Under the guise of opening a boutique in Madrid, Coco convinces Elsa to come with her, promising that Churchill will arrange her return to England.

Best Laid Plans

On the way to Madrid, Spatz tells Coco that Operation Modellhut was not approved by Hitler himself and that the Fuhrer has discovered someone is trying to achieve peace behind his back. So, the Gestapo is on high alert, which is particularly dangerous for Spatz. When the Gestapo stops the train for an inspection, he’s taken safely away by a contact who also deposits a suitcase full of cash with Coco. She already knows it’s intended to bribe Spanish customs officials, but she lies and claims it’s a payment for Elsa to keep her quiet.

Spatz meets Coco and Elsa in Madrid, uses all the money that Elsa thought was hers to get them into the country, and then goes into hiding. Coco and Elsa are to spend the night at the Ritz and keep a low profile until they can meet with Churchill at the British embassy at 9 am the following morning. However, they have a giant argument at dinner, drawing a lot of attention to themselves and bringing out a spiteful side of Coco we haven’t yet seen.

When Coco gets to the embassy the next morning, she discovers that Elsa got there first and ratted to the ambassador. Churchill isn’t coming, Elsa is elsewhere, and Coco is to be escorted back to Paris, her mission a resounding failure.

Catherine and “The House”

Meanwhile, Catherine is being held in a Nazi detention center known as “The House”. The place is notorious, and nobody seems to have ever left alive — news that Christian doesn’t take well when the Resistance lets him know that if Catherine is there she will be tortured and killed without any hope of rescue.

Luckily, Lucien, of all people, is determined to help. It’s not what you know, it’s who you know, and Lucien (who despite having a passable French accent still somehow sounds exactly like John Malkovich), knows the mother-in-law of the French chief of police. He offers to reach out. And, while the man isn’t especially helpful, he does reveal a crucial detail — the rumors of Nazis leaving Paris are true, they might take some prisoners fit to work to the camps with them, and they always transport them by train.

Lucien makes himself useful once again by setting up a meeting with the Swiss consul general. Thanks to the efforts the French Resistance have already made blowing up train tracks, the consul general can’t provide any accurate information about the train schedules. However, he does eventually manage to finesse a deal with the Germans to release Catherine into Swedish hands at Bar-Le-Duc station. Christian and Lucien drive all night to get there.

How does The New Look Season 1, Episode 2 end?

What seems like a last-minute rescue quickly turns into a nightmare. Christian and Lucien get to the station just as the train containing Catherine is whistling past, but it doesn’t stop. Despite Christian having begged the Resistance earlier to hold off on sabotaging the tracks until they heard back from the consul general, they didn’t listen. Because of this, the train just continues along. Catherine, already half dead, vaguely hears her brother’s voice shouting her name as she passes by.

The episode ends with Christian, distraught, sobbing in Lucien’s arms.


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