Baptiste continued to do for the humble household gas meter what Luther had for night buses, or bouquets delivered by Interflora: make them into things we’d never think of the same way again. That we’d see as weapons basically: objects of terror.
For the second week running, the old flic, and his new spin-off left you waiting for a knock at the door from someone muttering that chilling phrase: ‘I’ve come to read the gas meter.’
Expect sales of smart meters to be soaring among Baptiste viewers.
Episode two: Baptiste continued to do for the humble household gas meter what Luther had for night buses: make them into things we’d never think of the same way again
Almost as alarming as Baptiste’s ‘gas meter killer’ was Baptiste’s chances of catching him, which seemed to be getting slimmer by the minute.
The former French detective had a habit of mentioning ‘I’m not the man I used to be’ (at least three times during an hour). This week’s instalment suggested he was right.
Not because of his age, his limp, his brain tumour – the things that presumably led to his retirement.
Actually, since he’d left ‘Missing’ and gone solo, Julien seemed to have become like every other ‘maverick’ TV detective with their own series: supposedly ‘brilliant’ or even ‘special’ but seriously over-rated, basically useless, and actually a liability.
Thriller: For the second week running, the old flic, and his new spin-off left you waiting for a knock at the door from someone muttering that chilling phrase: ‘I’ve come to read the gas meter.’
Yes. One of the wisest, most intelligent, intuitive, cunning, cops in Europe was suddenly no better than Marcella.
After a rather muddled start, Episode Two ramped up the tension nicely. Well not nicely exactly. Nastily.
Unfortunately Julien’s own bungling grew exponentially, fatally, worse in Part Deux.
It wasn’t clear why Amsterdam’s police commissioner recruited an ageing, French, EX-detective who’d been (miraculously) cured of his brain tumour but still limped badly (except when chasing suspects), and assigned him to Edward Stratton, an English businessman supposedly frantically anxious about his niece’s whereabouts/safety – rather than, say, a real police officer.
Slipping: Almost as alarming as Baptiste’s ‘gas meter killer’ was Baptiste’s chances of catching him, which seemed to be getting slimmer by the minute
Julien duly spent the first episode helping Stratton look for Natalie, eventually tracking the young British sex-worker down to a houseboat.
It immediately became clear how clueless Baptiste was about even the most basic premise. It transpired Stratton was not her uncle for example, but a former punter that she was hiding from. He had grown increasingly more jealous and obsessive that on one occasion he had broken her jaw.
To some viewers Stratton had always seemed fairly unlikeable and not just uncomfortably emotional about Natalie but too passionate.
Baptiste had trusted Stratton so totally he was still struggling.
Uh oh: The former French detective had a habit of mentioning ‘I’m not the man I used to be’ (at least three times during an hour). This week’s instalment suggested he was right
‘Why would he lie?!’ he protested.
How long have you got Julien…
‘He is not who you think he is!’ Natalie reiterated scornfully. ‘Not at all!’
She proved it – and how gullible/unprofessional Baptiste had been – by telling him about Stratton’s connections to a violent gang of Romanians involved in people trafficking and the dark side of Amsterdam’s (legal) sex trade.
‘This is crazy! It cannot be!’ wailed Baptiste. It could though. In fact it was.
AS Natalie pointed out, Stratton’s supposed respectability and trucking business made him the perfect, under-the-radar, partner for the Romanians.
Muddled: After a rather muddled start, Episode Two ramped up the tension nicely. Well not nicely exactly. Nastily
Julien then showed an extraordinary naivety by advising Natalie that she should ‘go to the police, and ask them for protection.’
Natalie explained patiently how unsafe this would be – as Stratton and the Romanians had several officers they paid for information (and worse).
‘What sort of department are you running?!’ Baptiste blazed later to the Commissioner.
‘Well we don’t actually investigate the people who report the crimes !’ she countered, reminding him that Stratton had reported Natalie missing.
Look away! He stood in Stratton’s cellar, being held at gunpoint, and at that EXACT moment Julien’s wife Celia Baptiste was blithely buzzing in someone who’d pressed the intercom downstairs
‘Well perhaps you should!’ he raged.
Perhaps Baptiste should have – especially in Stratton’s case. After all Baptiste had nearly delivered Natalie straight into her ‘Uncle’s callous, charmless, clutches by swallowing everything he’d said.
Then, having narrowly avoided this calamity, Baptiste then achieved it anyway.
When he (needlessly) met up with Stratton one last time their manipulative mind/chess game was embarrassingly one-sided, with Baptiste vehemently insisting he had no idea where Natalie without any clue that Stratton knew full well he was lying.
(The Romanians had bugged Celia Baptiste’s handbag – another effortless chess move – and heard Julien tell his wife about meeting Natalie.)
Julien’s string of blunders was comically amateurish.
Arriving late to meet Stratton, Julien’s small talk (needlessly) provided him with precise details of where he’d parked beforehand.
Baptiste then (casually) left his car keys on the bar and failed to notice that Stratton had pocketed them on his way out.
The pocket psychotic then easily discovered the address where Natalie was hiding, simply by checking it on Baptiste’s Sat Nav.
Stratton then sent the Gas Meter Killer over there to kill her.
The good news was that Natalie, amazingly, eluded him. The bad, was that she died anyway.
A long, horribly tense, scene saw the hitman creeping round her houseboat while Natalie tiptoed round the edge before eventually slipping overboard. Tragically she dropped so deep her feet became tangled in the mooring ropes. She drowned, hovering in the water, pinned like a butterfly in amber.
It was impressively shocking.
But perhaps the biggest surprise was that the Romanian hadn’t used his default ploy: turning up at his victim’s home saying he’d come to read the gas meter. The very first scene in the series saw a genial, elderly shell-collector from Deal automatically welcome him in only to wind up dead – and beheaded – shortly afterwards.
Last week’s final seconds showed Stratton at home in Antwerp, and the man’s head in his fridge.
‘This man Edward Stratton…’ Baptise mused ponderously at one point. ‘I wish I didn’t have this feeling that everything isn’t quite as it seems.’
No s**t Sherlock!
Baptiste felt so guilty about his part in Natalie’s death that, even though he’d fulfilled the assignment he’d been given (by finding her), he nobly asked to continue on the case.
‘Let me learn if Edward Stratton has taken me for a fool,’ the ex-detective implored the Commissioner.
We could have told him that! (Yes, he had!)
Mind you, Julien soon found out for himself.
Baptiste trundled off to Antwerp and broke into Stratton’s house – by himself of course, thus having no-one to warn him that the semi-sociopath was on the way home and then pulling up into the driveway.
Baptiste had found the shell collector’s head in the cellar, wrapped in plastic and covered in flies, but not heard Stratton had return home and creep down downstairs pointing a gun at him.
‘I think you and I must talk,’ Baptiste murmured when he noticed.
‘You think?’ sneered Stratton, not unreasonably finding it hard to take the Frenchman seriously.
Baptiste’s litany of blunders seemed to know no bounds: handing Natalie over to Stratton and his hitman on a plate; going to Antwerp with no backup. Even the head would be inadmissible because of his illegal search.
Natalie had warned Julien he had no idea what Stratton was capable of and not to bother with the formalities of that farewell meeting.
Julien should also have known Stratton would come after him. (The information had given Baptiste about him was enough reason.)
But he had been effortlessly out-foxed by Stratton again – caught in Stratton’s house, minutes after breaking in.
Baptiste had also left his wife alone, unprotected.
He stood in Stratton’s cellar, being held at gunpoint, and at that EXACT moment Julien’s wife Celia Baptiste was blithely buzzing in someone who’d pressed the intercom downstairs.
A man saying he’d come to read the gas meter…