Spoiler alert: This recap is for people watching Spiral on the BBC. Do not read on unless you have watched season eight, episodes nine and 10.
The laundromat murder
The central conflict is clear early. While CID spend most of their time trying to keep Gilou out of prison, he is equally determined to land himself back there. Every crime he commits this week (and it’s an impressive list) he does as a private citizen, without official sanction, thanks to the squirrelly Judge Vargas. Souleymane’s body showing up raises the stakes for everyone, and, when the heist is moved forward a week with Gilou promoted from wheelman to gunman, a chaotic dash to the hotel ensues. A riotous cops-and-robbers shootout leaves François dead, and Titi and Ahmed in custody, while Cisco takes Gilou for some unscheduled R&R at Titi’s foster home. He’s had better getaways.
From then on, CID really come into their own. Their genius for calling in favours, greasing legal gears and witness intimidation – finely honed over 15 years – shines like a bag of conflict diamonds. Ahmed, safely in custody, is ready to sing like a canary about the crooked cop Escoffier, so instrumental to the caper. Laure and Ali have a counter-offer: keep Gilou’s name out of your filthy mouth and we won’t charge you with child murder. Ahmed’s singing career comes to an abrupt halt. There are stunning assists from Edelman and Lucie, who run interference on Vargas, appealing to his naked careerism. Monsieur le Juge passes the case on to the Cergy prosecutors – et voilà! – Gilou is in the clear. If the system seems bent that’s because it’s so flexible.
From there, they just have to find and extract the errant Escoffier. Laure tricks Bilal into giving up Titi and the foster home address, then risks everything to go there ahead of the armed strike team to give him the heads-up. Although she is briefly taken hostage by Cisco, it winds up with him dead and Gilou free to scarper on foot before some non-corrupt police arrive. Titi is on the hook for the two child murders – Souleymane and Amin. In the end, they got their man. They usually do.
If Laure has to go out – and the way she lives she probably does – then how satisfying that she does so on her own terms. No internal affairs investigation, no knife to the guts, no epic blunder forces her hand. She calls time after a legendary tour of duty, and off the back of one of her greatest triumphs. Her interrogation game is on point, her instincts flawless and her scramble to save Gilou as gutsy as it is deranged. She gets the killer and gets her man. No one will ever get Laure like Gilou – no one ever could.
Joséphine’s finale is all about love and death. Her redemption arc hits a bump when her mission to save Souleymane fails. Her charge finally runs out of luck when his benzo withdrawal leaves him a sitting duck for the predatory Titi. His murder leaves Joséphine distraught, but she gets it together enough to hit the streets and find the other undocumented minors. They are scared to talk, but she persuades them that their murdered friends deserve justice. Issa will testify that Amin planted the tracker at Titi’s behest. It won’t bring them back, but it’s something.
Loneliness is a killer too, though. With no Lola, no Souleymane and even Youssef gone, it’s a big apartment for Joséphine to come home to alone. She and Edelman hook up, his long game paying off. It has a feel of desperation to it. The French legal system’s answer to Serge Gainsbourg may not be Pierre Clément, but he’s alive, he’s here and he’s utterly devoted to her. True, he’s no Prince Charming – but she’s no Cinderella. Let’s give these two pit bulls a chance.
Possession of an illegal weapon, theft of class A drugs, carjacking, impersonating a cleaner – I may have missed a couple, but that’s essentially Gilou’s rap sheet for the week. His biggest problem, though, comes when Judge Vargas hears his voice on the tapes from one of his previous crimes – the domestic gun burglary last week. Once Vargas pulls him off undercover detail, it means he either bails on the heist – meaning all his work was for nothing – or goes ahead with the job, risking a 20 stretch inside. There’s only one answer, and he of course chooses the wrong one. He gets away with it only through a combination of blind luck and the love of a good woman.
Notes and observations
“I know how to get around her,” Beckriche insists, and he’s right. The problem is Lucie knows it, and won’t be compromised like that again. It was fun while it lasted, and they’ll always have Paris.
It’s good that Ali is staying. Whatever form CID takes they will need a Tintin – someone to check their worst instincts, make sure they don’t go full Braquo. You never go full Braquo.
Now that it’s over, where does Spiral rank in your all-time list? Among subtitled dramas, how does its legacy stack up next to The Bridge, The Killing, Romanzo Criminale and Gomorrah?
Thanks so much for your superb comments over the seasons. It’s been a real pleasure. I’ll catch you below the line.