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SPOILER ALERT! Reading this article reveals key points of this program! How about watching it first?

It’s 1943, and the war is shifting. The Germans are beginning to realize that their goal of European domination is nicht happening. They’re not going to win. The French Resistance knows it, too, and both sides are beginning to make more and more desperate moves to swing momentum their way. Caught in the middle are those who, for survival or profit, have spent the occupation openly collaborating with the Nazis and now must hop around to try to get on the right side of history. As if things weren’t already crazy enough, now there’s…

The new kid
Schwartz’s happy new marriage to his sweet former housekeeper came with a bonus: a young brother-in-law, Antoine, who is as hard-working as he is headstrong. In other words, the kid’s a born leader, and when the horrible new mayor, Chassange, supports the enforcement of sending young French men to Germany to work for the German war effort, his answer is not just “no,” but “hell, no.” Schwartz’s best-laid plans to get him safely to Switzerland go sideways when Antoine runs into another guy on the lam…

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Martin Loizillon as Antoine in A French Village

The actor
I guess no one ever warned Antoine never to befriend an actor, because Claude raises the drama quotient in his life, immediately, by dragging him into the woods and into the Resistance along with others who would prefer not to take that trip across the border. Fortunately for all involved, it’s a good fit. To pass the time, Claude rallies the troops by teaching theater classes, casting the rag-tag group of objectors in a classic love story to fill the long hours in hiding. Look, there may be a war on, and we may be literally starving in a forest, but there’s no need to abandon culture. (As a serious aside, if you’d like to see a real-life example of art over oppression during WWII, check this out. I’m proud to say I’ve performed in one of those productions and it was as powerful an experience as I’ve ever had.) Claude’s work goes a long way in stirring the hearts of his band of brothers to action, and they have quite a bit of action to undertake. Like, first…

The rescue
Having had to go into hiding (again) after killing German soldiers in an ill-fated weapons heist, Marcel makes the brave decision, along with Suzanne, to put himself on the line to warn a Resistance compatriot in town. Surprise, this goes badly. He is arrested and worked over within an inch of his life, and has just about resigned himself to living out his days in prison with only Monsiuer Robert, a roach, as a friend, when Antoine’s gang – spurred on by Suzanne – stages a desperate rescue mission! Even Schwartz gets involved, and it’s a shocking success, with one exception: Marcel must sacrifice himself so that the others can get away. He returns to prison, where he has a succession of roomates (including Robert), like…

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Fabrizio Rongione as Marcel in A French Village

The brothers
As bad as things are going for Marcel, they are hardly better for his brother, Daniel. The relative peace he has known for a time in Moissey with Sarah, Gustave and Tequeiro sadly cannot last. When Antoine’s group shoots a German soldier, they press Larcher into medical service, basically imprisoning him in their camp at the worst possible moment. While he’s there, Sarah and wanted-man Ezechiel Cohn, who they were harboring, are captured and taken away, leaving Gustave and T hidden behind. Larcher is himself subsequently captured, and thrown into a cell with Marcel. I have to say that, as hard as I have been on Marcel in the previous seasons, the performances by Fabrizio Rongione and Robin Renucci as Marcel and Daniel in these scenes were heartbreakingly wonderful. Seeing the reunion and reconciliation – just in time — of these brothers was moving in the extreme.

Back in the woods, while Claude’s dreams of seeing his play performed are dashed, the objectors’ crew has been inspired to put on a theatrical production of another kind, involving all sorts of Resistance types, including…

The odd girl out
There’s something different about the new music teacher in Villeneuve, Marguerite. Lucienne, for reasons she can’t articulate, finds it difficult to trust her, as does Bériot when Marguerite asks to join his Resistance efforts. Turns out Marguerite is committed fully to the Cause and if she seems a little cagey, she has good reason. Willing to do whatever she must for the freedom of France, she quickly engages in Antoine’s plan and, with Bériot out of town, enrolls Lucienne, as well. Both women heroically go above and beyond to, along with their comrades, hamstring both the local police and the German troops to prevent them from stopping the big…

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Season 4 A French Village

Even with the German authorities on high alert for Resistance activity around the November 11 Armistice holiday, the boys nonetheless pull off a French nationalist march through the streets of Villeneuve. This display of patriotism is so rousing the people of the town believe for a moment that liberation has arrived. Passions are so high that even Lucienne, so traumatized by what she has gone through thus far in the war, experiences a freedom of a different sort, much to her own dismay. The march has that effect on a lot of people, in fact, and sharply brings into focus that though they, the French people, have lost many painful battles, this thing isn’t over.

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About the author:
Allison Lowe Huff is a freelance writer and editor with an overly concentrated interest in mystery stories from anywhere and everywhere. Follow her on Twitter @lowehuff.