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

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

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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.


PARIS POLICE 1900 RECAP – SEASON 1, EPISODE 8

Our heroes are wounded and drunk

Yes of course we knew all along the gutsy hero of this story would be Lépine.

Swagger? Check.

Great intuition? Check.

A passion for justice? Sort of.

Balls of absolute steel? *In black bold ink* Check.

I’m referring to the commissioner’s better half Madame Lépine of course. Stories did mostly wrap themselves up to a satisfying pitch in the season finale. There were a few surprises too, but none more masterful than Madame Lépine’s carefully set trap to permanently eliminate Puybaraud as a threat. Others had wins, but all of them came at a cost. Referring all the way back to the first episode when the future commissioner looked imploringly at his wife telling her that he didn’t want to go all the way to Paris without her. Presumably their collective hesitation due to her “lapses” with drugs. Turns out she was more concerned with her husband’s inability to swim with the sharks so to speak. Drug lapses and blackmail aside, she was his hero all along.

But Madame Lépine is not the only woman in this show who has shot a man in the face at point blank range. Our favorite lady lawyer Jeanne has impeccable attention to detail along with balls of steel. She manages to explain to an easily irritated Antoine that the dates don’t add up with Joséphine’s mother’s story. Count Sabran must be Joséphine’s father, therefore making Pontevès her half-brother. Antoine is still skeptical of Pontevès and takes it out on Jeanne who promptly kicks him out of her house. How many times does she have to do this to you Antoine???

Before Puybaraud meets his fate, he is a man who thinks he’s on the verge of victory. In a last-ditch effort to get a hold of the compromising photo of Madame Lépine from Meg, he showers her with praise for infiltrating the Antisemite League before pitching his next scheme – that she run a gambling room out of her house. He will take a cut of course in exchange for looking the other way. Its an idea that will stick with Meg, but she makes it clear that she’s on team Fiersi despite Puybaraud’s report that he’s been arrested (he has not).

But Puybaraud is not the ultimate puppet-master. That title currently belongs to Count Sabran who in the next scene is enjoying a collegial lunch with Puybaraud while they each discuss the terms of the Sabran lawyer’s demands. As far as the plot is concerned, Count Sabran was officially arrested last episode, though clinking crystal glasses over lunch does seem to be the cushiest of police custody stays. The conversation ends with Puybaraud asking the Count about what should be done about his son…

All this interfamily drama is playing out against the wider battles between the Leagues and police. What was out of view for us as the watching audience was the public’s dissipating support of Guérin who has been holed up at Rue Chabrol having lost serious momentum. At the beginning of the episode, we even see a “Down with the Traitors” banner presumably aimed at Guérin while his goons are wondering when they can go home. His mother’s only cause-saving idea is to do a séance (eye roll cue). Whatever machinations Lépine and the anarchists were up to for their one night only alliance seemed to have worked enough to cause a stalemate, then disinterest from the public. Lépine is proud of his stalemate victory when he visits a government minister, mostly to admonish him over his association with the Sabrans. They spar over the patriotism of Pontevès, who was the minister’s informant in the army, informed against his father, and is now a suspect in a murder case. This plot line seems ancillary until we run into Weidmann on Lépine’s way out. Weidmann is up there with Madame Lépine as far as expert-level plotting goes.

Meanwhile, Fiersi has turned himself in (presumably) and does a humiliating perp walk before Puybaraud tells him that Jean Dornet, after (falsely) confessing to killing Joséphine, hung himself in his cell. Whether you believe Puybaraud doesn’t really matter – he has full power for now over who gets justice and who doesn’t and he has one last need for dirty work from Fiersi. Puybaraud cruelly uses Fiersi’s desire to avenge Joséphine’s death by asking him to go after her real killer identified as Pontevès.

Fiersi is not the only one after Pontevès. Antoine ambushes Weidmann in his office and demands to know where Pontevès is. Antoine’s place in this series has always been the right one, but his quest for justice borders on extreme naïveté. Is he rightfully suspicious of his fellow police officers? Yeah, but he doesn’t make friends either outside of his mentor Cochefert. Is he right that there’s something not adding up about Pontevès? Yeah, but why take that frustration out on Jeanne who has always demonstrated her desire to help him? And is he correct now in suspecting that Weidmann must know something that will lead him to Pontevès? Absolutely. But Weidmann has already – knowingly or unknowingly – participated in a carefully laid a trap for Pontevès. And Antoine has walked himself right into being collateral damage.

Paris Police 1900, S1 E8

After Weidmann tells Antoine how much Pontevès loved Joséphine and how her death was an accident, Antoine takes that as an admission of guilt and unfortunately doesn’t give a thought to the wider role of the Sabran family. And he really SHOULD know better since Jeanne has been feeding him damning background information about how underhanded and connected the Sabrans are this whole time. If that’s not enough to give one pause, despite having a gun to his head Weidmann even warns Antoine that he’s really about to step in some shit. The scene unfolds from Antoine’s point of view. Pontevès calls Weidmann who says he’s alone and implies it’s safe to come by. Antoine then waits outside in the rain for an ambush. He’s apparently not the only one out there. It’s practically a lurking party outside Weidmann’s office. Pontevès senses that he’s being watched, but its not by Antoine. It’s Fiersi who steps out of the shadows to shoot Pontevès dead without any hesitation. Wait, there’s MORE lurkers! Practically the whole police force slinks out of the darkness and rain to swiftly arrest Antoine. Puybaraud is there too (where on Earth did they all hide?) and makes a show of accusing Antoine of killing Alphonse Chagnolle and for good measure, sleeping with his wife Hélène Chagnolle. (Remember them? Murdered wife of the alcoholic civil servant Alphonse who Antoine shoots in revenge for killing his partner Morpinet). This whole thing was a total set up – whether the framed man was intended to be Antoine or Fiersi is anyone’s guess, but the mark was 100% Pontevès. Weidmann must have known this was likely to happen and quietly cooperates with Puybaraud, who claims the hit was ordered by the minister though it was really from the Count himself, Pontevès’ father.

Paris Police 1900, S1 E8

The Sabrans are surely the most deranged family in Paris. At least, until we get back to what the Guérins are up to. The butchers are gone. Even worse, the money is gone too. They all know Pontevès was a traitor. Louis has had enough and tries to sneak out of the house of hate but is caught by his mother. She mocks his failure at assassinating Lépine and refuses to cut and run with him. Louis is actually talking some sense now and totally unloads on his mother. They were rich and threw it all away because of Jules and his hatred. They proceed to slap each other and if any family has needed therapy it would be this one. Mother Guérin is physically and emotionally exhausted from fighting with Louis who then coaxes her into bed to lay down. Just when you think they’ve made up as mother and son, she vaguely threatens the wrath of Jules once he finds out about this. Louis simply answers, “he won’t”, before suffocating his own mother with a pillow.

Paris Police 1900, S1 E8

In case you needed more evidence of the Guérins winning the most deranged family contest, Louis proceeds to pretend to be mourning his mother’s death as Drumont comes to the house. His purpose in coming to the house is to deliver the news to mother Guérin that the clairvoyant refused to come since its “too late”. Oh right, the séance! I had forgotten at this point that having another séance was the grand plan for victory. Maybe I just can’t take them seriously. It doesn’t help matters that Drumont’s reaction to mother Guérin’s demise is to marvel at the accuracy of the first séance, which predicted her death. Things get worse for the Guérins the next morning when news breaks that the Dreyfus verdict was guilty. Apparently, grievance doesn’t work when you get what you profess to want. How are they to sell more Antisemite papers without an innocent verdict!? A total collapse of the hate parade. Someone arrest these guys stat. They are a danger to literally everyone including themselves.

Paris Police 1900, S1 E8

Meanwhile Lépine is still riding high over his successful de-escalation with the Leagues. The professor who booked his wife is bragging about his testimony being the lynch pin for Dreyfus’ guilty verdict. Lépine delights in cutting him down to size with the news that Dreyfus has received a full presidential pardon. Just the night before while dining with his wife, he doesn’t pick up on the sarcasm dripping from her voice when she congratulations him for saving Paris from utter chaos. Since he doesn’t catch her drift, she’s then more direct in telling him that he can win the battles but will never win the war against Puybaraud. Heavy implications here that she, on the other hand, does have the goods to win the war.

Lépine takes up that challenge and goes to visit Meg under the pretense of looking at his portrait options but is knowingly allowing himself to be blackmailed in exchange for the photo, thus taking away Puybaraud’s leverage. Meg boldly lays out the photo of his wife in front of him on a table alongside his official portraits, making a pointed reference to pricing one particular photo much higher than the others. He quickly agrees to any price and to his surprise, Meg’s only ask is to leave Fiersi alone. One life for another I suppose.

This is all lightweight negotiation in comparison to what Madame Lépine has been orchestrating. She agreed to meet this poor convicted felon Felix and advocate for his innocence against Puybaraud. Felix is waiting in an adjacent room while Madame Lépine is meeting with Puybaraud. She appears to offer information about her husband consorting with an anarchist and invites Felix to come into the room. No one, and I mean no one has time to react when she whips out the stolen pistol from the evidence room and shoots Puybaraud IN THE FACE. Felix just stands there stunned (hey my jaw is still on the floor too) as Madame Lépine screams for Lépine’s secretary to come and hysterically accuses Felix of shooting Puybaraud. The assistant comes running and now she has a suspect, a witness, an incapacitated Puybaraud, and a chef’s kiss.

Paris Police 1900, S1 E8

When commissioner Lépine comes to the scene of the crime along with the rest of the police, his wife is really playing up the act of it being all her fault allowing someone like Felix in their home. She’s also getting drunk just for fun. He knows. And she knows that he knows. The professor is there too and tells the commissioner that the ballistics don’t add up, but not to worry. He will personally make sure the fingerprints show nothing. The professor knows too.

As all this is happening Antoine has been getting the crap beat out of him by his fellow police officers who are after a sham murder confession. As expected, Antoine does no such thing. He and Fiersi are each dragged before Lépine for their final fates. Fiersi is politely fired without any charges – as promised to Meg – and Antoine is laughed at for his ideals while also being relieved of any murder charges. This leaves Antoine free to continue actual police work with his mentor Cochefert who is still recovering from his gunshot wounds. Cochefert adopts a more fatherly tone – the near death experience and triumph over Puybaraud has done wonders for his humor. He even cheekily asks Antoine how things are going with Jeanne with the knowing smile of an older patriarch.

Between Antoine’s visit to Cochefert and his subsequent mea culpa with Jeanne, the final narrative of what happened to Joséphine is laid out. The barmen’s witness account from the pub across the street from Pontevès’ bachelor’s pad mirrors the story Emile told to Fiersi back at the beginning of the season. Pontevès and Joséphine went into the apartment, but just Pontevès came out. Victor Siniac, the shady assassin that Jeanne killed, was at the pub, goes into the apartment after Pontevès leaves, and then calls the Sabran estate. The father hired the hit, but the son killed her. In a letter to her mother Joséphine proves she knew the Count was her real father but believed Pontevès to be a better man. She’s then deceived into thinking Pontevès betrayed her since his letter claiming paternity for Matthias is intercepted by Puybaraud and never reaches Joséphine. They deduce that when Joséphine confronts Pontevès about their half sibling status, he killed her by accident. Perhaps in a fit of passion. Perhaps he didn’t realize what he’d done. Most importantly, Antoine then apologizes to Jeanne for being a dipshit– sincerely this time.

Paris Police 1900, S1 E8

Weidmann now enters the (plot) chat. He’s probably been there the whole time. Despite participating in the trap for Pontevès, he has the final upper hand. He confronts the Count as the representative of Matthias. Weidmann has proof of Matthias’ paternity making him the heir to the Sabran fortune. As the keeper of the Sabran family’s dirty laundry, he warns the Count not to do anything stupid. Weidmann exits the chat.

Back at the Lépine household, we have a happy home. Narrowly averting blackmail and the idea of sleeping with a murderer is apparently an aphrodisiac for the Lépines. However devious and strange it is, I’m happy for them. Lépine gets a happy ending while Puybaraud is incapacitated and Guérin is curled into a ball on the floor in defeat asking for his mommy…

Paris Police 1900, S1 E8

Overall, Paris Police 1900 has been a well-constructed whirlwind of a story with a fictional murder playing well with historical facts. It’s worth repeating the epilogue which notes a sentence of a 10-year exile for Jules Guérin while his brother & Count Sabran get off scot-free. Justice is not always served in real life, but it makes for a great story.



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