I was wrong to fear that the fourth series of "Spiral" would have run out of steam plot-wise. It proves compulsive viewing as ever, with at least half-a-dozen dramatic interwoven storylines, involving at one extreme an anarchist group bent on creating the "state of terror" of the title and a family of arms-smuggling Kurds, at the other touchingly naïve Judge Roban, back at his desk but ostracised by his slimy colleagues for previous abortive attempts at whistleblowing, yet determined to press on regardless out of principle.
Somewhat implausible as ever (but who cares?), driven, designer-scruffy Capitaine Laure Berthaud continues to rush about, hair escaping from its clip, T-shirt slipping off one shoulder, turning a blind eye as her male underlings beat up uncooperative suspects in the office, and screaming "Putain" on the frequent occasions when, having done an impressive job identifying a gang's rendezvous, they let the criminals escape. To be fair this is usually because they have insufficient back-up.
Also implausible yet entertaining is Pierre's continued working partnership with the seductive, talented yet unscrupulous Josephine, although at last we learn some reasons for her warped emotions. Pierre seems to be swapping one devil for another, in quitting the state legal service out of concern over its corruption only to take on as a client a notorious villain, against even Josephine's advice.
The dramatic final scenes avoid a run-of-the-mill "happy for everyone against the odds" ending. Although the key aspects of the conclusion are predictable, there are enough twists to continue the suspense to the last.
For a viewer dependent on sub-titles, the fast-moving plot requires total concentration, but the recap, "précédemment" opening each of the twelve episodes helps one to focus on the key points. Once again, I cannot imagine what the producers will pull out of the bag for what I believe is the final series, but am confident it will be good.
Every so often a really cracking police thriller film comes out of France, Spiral takes that dark edginess and puts it into a gripping thriller series of twelve episodes. There are not many series that can manage to be constantly tense and gripping for over ten hours, but this does it easily. At the heart of the story are the familiar core group of police, lawyers and officials who form part of the judicial system. The French title Engrenages, or gears, gives an idea of their interconnected nature.
The story is dark, Paris never looked greyer or less appealing, and cynical, but at heart these are people who want justice to be done, regardless of the personal cost. Although having seen previous series will enhance your enjoyment of this series, you could easily pick up this series and enjoy it. For existing fans of the series, there are some interesting reversals, and new alliances are formed. The budget this time seems larger than previous series, the camera relentlessly prowls a grey Paris, there is plenty of tension and the cast is tremendous. You never feel that this is acting, they all absolutely inhabit their roles, from crime lords to refugees, they are all fully formed characters, you feel a degree of empathy for everyone, after all everyone is a hero in their own story.
There are a variety of plots, all exciting and urgent, international terrorism underpins a few of them, but treated in a sensitive and realistic way, unlike the more sensational and jingoistic approaches of some series.
The series comes to a cracking and emotional conclusion leaving you hungry for more.