Still gripping

This is my review of Spiral – Series 5 [DVD] [2014].

It is preferable to have seen the previous four series to get the most out of this one, that is, to appreciate the past relationships between the characters and how they have developed. This will also mean that certain plotlines and twists become familiar to a degree that may make some watchers feel somewhat blasé if not uneasy, particularly if French: criminals tend to be immigrants living on the soul-destroying graffiti-scarred tower-blocks of the Parisian outer suburbs – when they are not key players in dubious companies, living in the height of luxury. The police are corrupt to the core, particularly in the upper echelons, those putting their lives on the line regularly break the rules, overstep the mark in roughing up suspects and are predictably incompetent – in any attempt to corner a blackmailer or robber, you can bet the suspects will get away.

The familiar key characters remain central: the trio of driven Captain Laure Berthaud with sidekicks in the form of once upright and conscientious but now stressed failed family man Tintin, and rough diamond with a heart Gilou; the silver-tongued temptress, ambitious lawyer Josephine, her amorality held in check by the suave Pierre, and the complex, persistent and independent-minded Juge Roban, who recently seems to have lost his sense of proportion. The Machiavellian Prosecutor Marchard and charming if arrogant head of Crime Squad Brémont also continue to make the odd appearance.

In some ways this series is less good than the earlier ones in which there were more minor cases running in parallel to the main crime, conveying a more realistic sense of the complexity and stress of police work, whilst the whole process of detection has perhaps become a little too repetitive and familiar. For this reason, my interest began to flag a little in the second half but the final episode, despite its deliberate loose ends pending the next, possibly last, Series (although there is no guarantee they will all be addressed) is sufficiently action-packed to provide a resounding finale.

Overall, despite its gratuitous violence, occasional unresolved incidents en route and implausibilities which come to mind when you have time to stop and think about the plot, this fast-moving drama remains gripping not merely because it requires total concentration to grasp what is afoot but also for its sharp dialogue, not least in court scenes, and moments of humour, pathos and irony which set it apart from a run-of-the-mill police thriller.

⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4 Stars

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