Review: The Passenger

This 2014 French crime thriller follows Captain Anaïs Châtelet (Raphaëlle Agogué) and her team’s attempts to catch a serial killer who poses his bodies to replicate Greek myths. To do so, she enlists the help of psychiatrist Mathias Freire (Jean-Hugues Anglade), who quickly becomes the investigation’s prime suspect.

I found this series on all4 as part of the Walter Presents programs and decided to watch it on a whim after the program description made it sound very Hannibal-esque.

I’m glad I did, because it is very good.

Its brilliance is in its twists. Not the fact that there are constant plot twists: you expect it in a serial killer crime drama whose central theme is memory, its loss, and its repression. But unlike most programmes that rely on plot twists, the ultimate reveals are genuinely surprising.

It’s like…say the plot is a series of floors, and plot twists are holes in the floorboards. It’s not the drop; you can see that you’re walking into a hole. But rather than falling down a hole, sitting up and realising you’ve just dropped onto another floor that’s pretty much the same as the one you left behind, in The Passenger, you realise you’ve dropped into a monster’s open, bloody maw and you’re about to be eaten alive.

That’s slightly overly dramatic, but conveys how surprising and exciting this show could be at its best.

Its also surprisingly charming. Not, of course, in the relationship between Châtelet and Freire (yes, there is somehow a romantic subplot). But the relationship between Châtelet and her two junior detectives, Le Coz (Michaël Cohen) and Jaffar (Hocine Choutri).

I’m used to British crime shows, where junior police officers and detectives do not like, never mind trust, respect, or obey, their senior officers. Especially if their commanding officer is – God forbid – a woman. So this little trio was so wonderful to watch. They all trust each other’s judgement, even enough to start secretly investigating out of hours once they’re taken off the case. They all know each other to be competent, and capable of doing their jobs without unnecessary help. They’re all friends who care about each other’s emotional well-being.

It was so refreshingly nice!

The Passenger‘s only fault is the ending, and its blatant angling for a second series. A second series that it never got, and it never needed, provided they had used the final fifteen minutes or so in a way other than producing new threads to dangle.

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