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stop looney tunes giphy downsized

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


Paris Police 1900 has a rich plot full of political machinations and complex characters. To keep track of it all (and for fun) we are recapping each episode as they premiere.


Who exactly is on the side of justice?

It’s quite an opening scene where we meet courtesan Meg Steinheil (Évelyne Brochu). While she’s otherwise what we’ll politely call “occupied”, we are privy to a rant by the soon-to-be-dead French president Felix Faure. He’s angry and worried over the state of things with Alfred Dreyfus coming back for a trial. It’s all clearly too much for him to handle as he keels over leaving Meg shocked and, as we’ll find out, vulnerable to blackmail.

The concerns of the now late President Faure were warranted and trigger a collision course between all the main players of the series. For now though, we’ll start with what appears to be a routine police check-in on an adulterous wife of a civil servant. As one does. An observant young inspector sees two glasses of wine on the table and then finds the alleged lover hiding in a trunk naked as the day he was born. The poor woman, Hélène Chagnolle, is caught and relates her sob story to the police back at the station about how her husband Alphonse is an alcoholic gambler. No matter though as she has no recourse against a politically connected husband and is sentenced to six weeks in prison. But it DOES matter to that young inspector, Antoine Joiun (Jérémie Laheurte), who is clearly incensed at the injustice. Antoine convinces his jaded partner Morpinet to trick Alphonse not only into thinking Hélène had 17 lovers, but that its standard police procedure to publicly release the names of all involved. SEVENTEEN you say. While that might be a stretch it’s a bit of comic relief that leads to Alphonse’s sudden forgiveness towards his wife. Case dismissed…for now.

PP1900 S1E1 Antoine
Jérémie Laheurte as Antoine Joiun

You’ll now be shocked to find out that not all police in this department are as driven by justice as Antoine. Meg Steinheil is in mourning over her dead lover (or at least pretending to be) as she’s visited in her nice home by Superintendent Puybaraud (Patrick d’Assumçao) and Inspector Joseph Fiersi (Thibaut Evrard). There’s only the faintest sheen of civility in this scene. The visit is presumably to cover up any evidence of an affair (what will the press say!), but that’s just Puybaraud and Fiersi making it known they have the goods on her. Puybaraud sits there with his dainty teacup making conversation while Fiersi lurks around the room. Meg’s offer to be an informant seems like her only way forward. It’s clear they don’t trust her and afterwards Puybaraud vaguely asks Fiersi to do something about that. I have a feeling this isn’t the first time Fiersi is asked to do Puybaraud’s dirty work, nor the last. Oh, and somewhere in here we find out that there’s a Monsieur Steinheil, which certainly makes things more interesting. I can’t help but feel some sympathy for Meg when she offers to be an informant and then given the on the nose code name of “Deadly Lips” (see description of the first scene). Like Hélène, the adulterous wife, she too has no recourse against the politically connected.

Things don’t seem to get better for women. A woman named Joséphine Berger is reported missing – or at least a friend attempts to make a report and identifies Joséphine as a seamstress and the mother of the cute little boy the friend is carrying around. She abruptly leaves as the official inquires as to hers, or Josephine’s occupation.

PP1900 S1E1 Missing report
Paris Police 1900, S1 E1

On to some police procedures. We’re back at the Chagnolle’s apartment, but this time sans Alphonse. Antoine needs Hélène to sign her statement. She has clearly been beaten since we last saw her and yet still manages to flirt with Antoine. She also tells him about Alphonse’s involvement in the Antisemite League and dislike of foreigners. He seems nice. Antoine, whose sense of justice is ever present, reminds her that she is allowed to defend herself.

Will there be anyone else who shares Antoine’s dislike of corruption and mistreatment of others? Enter Louis Lépine (Marc Barbé). A respected retired politician who is asked to return to Paris to help restore order with the pending trial of Dreyfus. Lépine, who is based on a real historical figure, quickly catches the whiff of his name being used in a political stunt to assure the public. He’s skeptical yet intrigued. Despite his hesitancy, and a mention to his wife about her “lapses”, he is tempted by the prospect of having enough power to make his mark on the department.

Speaking of order needing to be restored, we now see “Antisemite” papers being distributed. Not a great sign. And someone is buying something…two identical suitcases. This can’t be good.

Enough of the ominous signs, we now have the pleasure of meeting Jeanne Chauvin (Eugénie Derouand), a lawyer. A female lawyer no less and she’s representing a poor man making a police report about his newsstand being burned down by Jules Guérin (Hubert Delattre). No justice for him either as Inspector Morpinet not only informs them about Guérin’s friendship with the police, but then laughs himself silly over the idea of a female lawyer. With the LOLs echoing through the small police station Jeanne sarcastically admonishes Antoine on the way out about his “noble profession”. I like her already, and it seems Antoine does too.

Guérin may be friends with the police, but everyone is on tenterhooks over the possibility of civil unrest. Antoine and Morpinet are assigned to surveillance of an event of sorts that Guérin is headlining and it’s as if someone has replaced the onstage chorus line dancers with butchers. I’ll spare you the details here, but there’s fiery bigotry against Jews, a pig dressed as Dreyfus, and then a bloody dead pig dressed as Dreyfus. There, you’re all caught up.

PP1900 S1E1 Guerin meeting
Paris Police 1900, S1 E1

I’m a bit glad for that scene to be over and welcome a palette cleanser. The Seine at daybreak. But uh oh a familiar suitcase floats by. A bargemen fishes it out and has a look inside. Nope, not good.

Meanwhile, our favorite spy Meg is in a picturesque park and feigns a twisted ankle. A ruse to sit on a bench with a newspaperman she’s trying to sell her gossip to. Whose side is she on? Enter Fiersi, still a lurker, who sees the whole thing.

So, about that suitcase. Its autopsy time though there’s just a torso, a bloody shirt, and a suitcase to work with. Yet a decent analysis is done by a nineteenth century coroner, or “professor” as he’s called. The victim is a seamstress (prick marks on fingers), a mother (stretch marks), single (no wedding ring), clean dismemberment (done by an expert), but perhaps most offensive of all she was deemed to have likely been poor. Someone derisively even thanks God for that.

PP1900 S1E1 Suitcase
Paris Police 1900, S1 E1

Solving the suitcase murder is of high priority for the Paris Police. Superintendent Cochefert is leading a special investigation organized with loads of inspectors. Antoine sees his chance to advance and make a difference. While he is giving Puybaraud a scathing report on Guérin’s horrific pig spectacle, Antoine volunteers to help with Cocherfert’s investigation. Morpinet is both mortified and highly irritated at being dragged into more work via Antoine’s volunteerism. Over drinks, Morpinet lays out how it is with the Paris Police – lose your ambition, suffer through, then hopefully have something else in your life like a wife and family. In other words, don’t end up like him (Morpinet). I highly doubt Antoine will take this advice, but I can’t help but give credit to Morpinet for caring about Antoine. Even if it’s a little sad.

PP1900 Morpinet Antoine Drinks
Paris Police 1900, S1 E1

Now it’s dark in a nice house – looks like Meg’s house. We hear a sound. We see Meg’s Monsieur getting knocked out. A masked man sneaks up on Meg while she’s sleeping (notably not lurking this time) and puts a knife to her throat. An unambiguous appeal to keep her mouth shut. All of a sudden, a call from a little girl scares the masked man away. Wait, she has a husband AND a kid? So many surprises with Meg.

Back in the daytime with a reduced sheen of civility, Fiersi is prepping Meg to infiltrate the Antisemitic League. She asks Fiersi to tell Puybaraud that she’s learned her lesson. Yes, we all know who that masked intruder was. Meg’s no dummy.

The surprises keep coming this episode. In their volunteerism Antoine and Morpinet are outside the door yet again of Alphonse and Hélène, who was reported missing and therefore a possibility of being the girl in the suitcase. Alphonse won’t answer the door and claims his wife ran away. BANG. Down goes Morpinet, which is too bad as I was starting to like his sad cynicism. Not much time to mourn him as Antoine now barges in and manages to wrestle away Alphonse’s gun while a bullet grazes his cheek. Antoine has the gun and Alphonse confesses to killing his wife. Antoine, our rule follower to-date, shoots Alphonse in cold blood rather than arrest him. Hoo-boy that was a good scene. Three cheers for Antoine!

Now the police have another murder scene on their hands. Puybaraud is quick to contrive a narrative around Antoine avenging his partner’s death while also finding the suitcase killer. We obviously know better. As does Cochefert (man in charge of the suitcase investigation) who reminds Antoine that the victim was unmarried. The plot certainly thickens from here.

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