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

Season 1 Recap

Years ago, when I watched the first season of Spiral, I asked a Parisian friend of mine for a direct translation of the French title, Engrenages. “Alleezohn, eet is like… ze cogz in ze wheelz, but not exactly,” he said. “Like, ze gearz, but not this, either.” As I re-watched the season again to prepare for this recap, I was reminded that, though perhaps not linguistically correct, “spiral” is the perfect word to describe the lives of the loyal, problematic, brave, flawed members of Laure Berthaud’s squad and the judicial system they serve. Consider the turbulent whirlpool of Season 1 in which…

An age-old question is answered.
When will powerful men stop victimizing women to satisfy their personal and/or professional desires? It’s a trick. The answer is never! Still, leave it to Spiral to add a few ironic layers to this complicated game of sex, intrigue and suffering. While we follow the Season 1 arc storyline in which the crew runs around in ever-shrinking circles (wait… in a spiral!) to find the man responsible for the sadistic deaths of two beautiful sisters, we meet other women along the way who may or may not be victims in the life-shattering circumstances in which they find themselves. And then…

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Caroline Proust (Laure Berthaud), Grégory Fitoussi (Pierre Clément)

Romanians get involved.
It’s just never a good sign! When police captain Berthaud and deputy prosecutor Clément (Grégory Fitoussi) search for those responsible in the deaths of the Romanian women, they discover that it’s one of their fellow countrymen who has engineered the women’s deaths. Turns out, the guy is an expert “procurer” for a French official. What does he procure, you ask? Fine art? Rare books? Rich people love to collect things. No. It’s girls. Young, defenseless ones no one cares about who are then subjected to the extremely dark torments of a twisted mind. And as if that season-long arc isn’t hard enough to deal with, Laure and her team must spend all their spare time sorting out other, equally heinous, crimes du jour. That’s when…

Things get really French.
It would be hard to boil down the moral of Spiral to one sentence but, if forced to do so, I would have to say: Suffering is inevitable? Everyone is corrupt? It’s rough stuff, no question. I know the French don’t have a corner on cynicism, but mon Dieu, they really are good at it. Running themes of the season include the weaponization of sex, the fallibility of so-called justice and, just generally, the awareness that, given half a chance, most people will do the wrong thing most of the time. A baby is cut to pieces, his mother blamed for his death. She’s innocent. Or, is she? Rape accusations are brought left and right, some of them proving to be false. Or, are they? It is up to Clément, the ever-forward-looking Judge Roban and ambitious defense attorney Joséphine Karlsson (Audrey Fluerot) to grapple with the ethical quandaries of the guilt or innocence of others and, frankly, themselves, because…

Bad choices are made.
Clément’s childhood friendship with Benoît becomes problematic when he realizes Benoît is neck-deep in the various abuses of power going on all around them, including with Clément’s own wife. But Clément’s attempts to shield the ones he loves only cause things to, well, spiral, and when he tries to right the ship, Benoît pays a heavier price than anyone expected, literally getting stabbed in the back. Still, his hands weren’t exactly clean, so was some sort of justice therefore served? I’m telling you – it’s disturbingly murky. Don’t look for any black and white answers in the City of Light. Perhaps Clément should take a page out of Joséphine’s book. Loyal only to herself, she becomes judge, jury and, metaphorically, executioner as it suits her purposes. Frankly, she’s the most self-aware of this whole bunch, and this especially sets her apart from Laure, who goes around…

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Grégory Fitoussi (Pierre Clément)

Looking for love in all the… places.
I adore the petite Laure (Caroline Proust), whose heart is ten times the size of her body. Her own bad choices deserve their own category, but at least they are all made in the name of love? Take her devotion to Gilou (Thierry Godard), for example, a cop who consorts with prostitutes and is addicted to cocaine, who, himself, may be complicit in the main murder case. It’s a bad look, but Laure and her squad are a family above all else, and her unconditional faith in Gilou saves his life when he truly does not deserve it. Still, that’s nothing compared to her romantic whims, to which she may be even more addicted that Gilou is to everything else. She seems able to shrug off the complexities of sex, compartmentalizing these liaisons to remain steady on the job, but will this façade begin to fail if things heat up between her and Clément? I can’t wait to find out.

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Thierry Godard (Gilou)

 * Due to distribution limitations, this program is only available to stream within the U.S.

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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.