Joseph and Lyudmilla: The Most Intriguing Storyline in McMafia (Spoilers) – Part 1

The level of criticism McMafia has attracted is surprising. It does, like any other art produced in the entertainment industry, have its flaws. The plot became difficult to follow and slowed significantly in pace (not that slow TV is always synonymous with bad) following the second episode. Nevertheless, it has picked up and things have fallen into place due to the events of episode 6. We’re now left with the fallout of the latter with Alex Godman’s (James Norton) family in danger and his fiancée (well, not for long, if he continues his secrecy) hospitalised following an encounter with an assassin. Those who have stuck through the series are about to have their patience rewarded.  Continue reading Joseph and Lyudmilla: The Most Intriguing Storyline in McMafia (Spoilers) – Part 1

Disparue/The Disappearance Episodes 5 and 6 – Analysis

For the recap of episodes 7 and 8 click here.

Episode 5

Well, now we know. Poor Rose Morel is the one who has to discover Lea’s corpse in the water. And boy is it a grim sight. I must applaud her for her environmental consciousness though. Molina and Camille’s superior orders them to prioritise documents for the prosecutor, disparue-24however, Molina asserts that informing the Morel family is more important, and Camille confirms that with a glare for their superior’s lack of sensitivity. I don’t
know if that’s trying to suggest that all higher-ups in any industry are chiefly concerned with paper pushing and number work; it certainly is the case here. The real professionalism is led by the leaders on the ground; Molina and Camille are the disparue-25real leaders here. Molina’s put in a strange position where he has to have both policeman and father hats on. He comforts a traumatised Rose, offering to take her home. Camille steps in and says that she can both take her home and watch over her.

Molina only has to appear at the door and Julien knows Lea’s been found dead. His reaction and the score make this and the following scenes difficult to watch. Little Zoe is forced to witness her parents break down. There is no dialogue, just soundtrack. It’s truly sad. There is a montage of others finding out about her death and we find ourselves peering for any sign that one of them is the murderer. All are upset; doesn’t mean that they are upset about her death but the circumstances around it. Regret. We can only wait. If you think the news is hard to watch, Lea’s parents at the morgue is the most emotionally-scarring scene. Camille and Molina are really struggling to hold it together. Julien asks to spend some time alone with his daughter. He is clearly distraught by her body, but is it to mourn her properly or ask for secret forgiveness? Later on the immediate family convenes in the kitchen and all of them just collapse into shared grief. Again, the most sympathy goes towards Zoe who is too young to be able to witness and handle this. As soon as the news hits, where does Chris go? That’s right: straight to Romain. It smacks of suspicion. Girl your cousin has just been found in the most gruesome circumstances and you’re sniffing around her ex again? Hm.

Meanwhile, Molina’s ex-wife turns up in light of what happens to her daughter, and her reasoning is rather annoying (it also gives away why they separated). She blames Molina himself for Rose being exposed to the darker undercurrents of society – don’t they live in Lyon too? So even if she weren’t with her father, chances are she still could’ve encountered Lea or at least been affected by her from afar. I’m not convinced, former Mrs Molina. Luckily Rose fires back that she had no problem dumping her on her own father when she pleased. Molina defends his ex lightly, to do the right thing obviously, but also because he secretly wants Rose to stay. They’ve just started bonding. With the discovery of the body, our favourite forensic scientist with a monster crush on Molina. There’s a strange silent communication between her and Camille. Is Camille egging her on to flirt with Molina or giving her another warning? Oh God it’s like secondary school: Molina puts a hand on forensic lady’s shoulder and you just know she’s falling hard.

Now her form tutor/French teacher Mathias Tellier comes under the light. This proves another moral tale: even if you’re telling the truth and you are passionate about your subjects, don’t have access to the pupils outside of the school environment. His reasoning behind using an alias is suspicious as well. He apparently uses on so that the pupils don’t feel that they’re talking to a teacher. Yeah . . . no. That’s complete – you get the picture. Tellier heaps praise on the woman that Lea became. That goes beyond discussing literature. As it turns out, Lea was not the first pupil he developed a relationship with; Molina and Camille visit one of his previous schools and the headteacher informs him that they had to fire him to avoid a statutory rape prosecution.  Well that explains everything. He ended up marrying the last student he seduced. Her parents are oddly fine with it all. This region is extremely bizarre.

Molina and Camille receive news that can only solidify Lea in the Wild Child Hall of Fame. She was pregnant at the time of death. All the men in her life are DNA tested to find out who the father was and whether they were the cause of her death-by-brick. Molina is explicit in his wish for none of them to find out these bits of information. Knowledge of a pregnancy would change the game and not for the better. They need to monitor all suspects for slip-ups. Especially where the brick is concerned. Whoever did it wouldn’t know that they police now have this specific information and accidentally mention it. Molina’s scan of everyone at the wake confirms that one or two of them are excellent actors. Jean’s hurry to get rid of Nick before he tells Julien something basically means Jean stinks of fish. Nick’s moves are going to cost him dearly.

Episode 6

So creepy obsessed Nick offed himself apparently, leaving a suicide note typed into his iPad. A new age of crime. It seems like Molina and Camille are going along with this.  The writers are throwing us off again. Louvin, their overlord, turns up (as does Rose) to talk to Molina; Camille’s expression when he’s there is worthy of being a display picture/gif on OhNoTheyDidn’t. She doesn’t have to say a word to express her dislike of Louvin. She isn’t wrong. Their supervisor is pushing for this case to close before any loose ends are tied up. How did this man get this job, again? Was probably given the promotion after a table and a glass of wine. Rose is basically our middlewoman regarding what is going on with the characters of Camille and Molina. She decides to observe Camille whilst stuffing her face with a sandwich. Questions begin with: how long have you been in the force? 7 years. Do you have a boyfriend? I haven’t had one for 3 months ex calls her mobile. Are you sleeping with my dad? Wait – WHAT?? Did she actually just go there? YES. Because not only is Rose a teenager, she’s direct – takes after her father. Tastily delivered, might I add; Rose delivers that particular question like the cat with the cream. Camille is understandably flustered. She tells Rose: even if she were, she wouldn’t tell her. They’re bonding already.

The Molina family has already accepted the outcome. Florence curses him, and then decides to press on with Zoe’s birthday party. Which is a good idea, because focusing on the one daughter they have left will both help them come to terms with Lea’s death and protect her innocence as well. Chris is still taking care of her and acting as surrogate sister. Speaking of Chris, girl has finally managed to get Romain to show something towards her. When they meet in the cemetery, they express each other’s loss before passionately kissing. Well, they do a lot more than that if you catch my drift. Romain can’t quite . . . finish, for picturing Lea. Freud would be extremely pleased by this.

Anddd we’re back to the flirting. Enter girl-with-a-crush, Miss Forensic Scientist who’s been making eyes at Molina throughout the whole series. Camille (not bitchily nor welcomingly) points out that she could’ve emailed the results of the Morel case rather than turn up. The exchange only proves that there are holes in the case, what with the credit card being found far away from the body, especially as they aren’t able to find Dead Nick’s fingerprints anywhere but his tablet. Molina thanks her, and forensic lady casts a satisfactory/smug look at Camille. Camille looks at her back. Oh it’s ON. After the lady leaves, the look screams that she’ll murder her. There could be a Dexteresque spin-off in the making here. The best added layer of humour is Molina’s lack of awareness that both ladies are fighting over him. Or, he does know, and is merely choosing to remain focused on the case in front of him. Oh wait a minute, his eyes flicker up to hers in a “what are you doing?” Some fanservice is going on here, and I for one am cackling like a Disney villain. We’re given another morsel with Molina giving Camille a questioning look when she responds rather flustered to her phone buzzing (it’s the ex again). Because let’s be honest: we need something to drag Molina’s attention away from his brooding. Flags clearly aren’t doing the trick. Let’s throw an actual ex-boyfriend in there. As if by magic, said ex is conjured! He appears like a lovelorn stalker in the parking area of the police station, calling out to her before she gets in the car with Molina. Camille’s look says: now? Why now? Why did you pick this particular moment when I’ve been calling you all those times to get your s***. Fan service shot of Molina looking on with interest. Camille gives the ex the line ‘Did you think I’d come running?’ to make us all punch the air. Girl’s got standards. Ex’s parting shot? Giving the threat in the form of Molina, a threatening stare. Where has this happened before . . . ? Molina gets all cheeky and asks if Camille wanted to get rid of him or the bags, when she says she should’ve gotten rid ages ago. Oh Molina, you rascal.

They finally do a u-bend on the suspicion of Nick after the coroner’s report. Someone wanted him out of the way because he knew who killed Lea. Well duh. But that’s not the big reveal. Florence aborted her child when she found out about Julien’s affair. This family’s getting more and more unhinged. After revealing this hefty information, Florence descends even further into self-destruct mode. She goes on a sort-of date with a colleague. Rose did a Lea and went behind her parents’ back, getting her belly pierced without either knowing. Great job, Rose. It’s infected now. The naughty girl also used her dad’s credit card to pay for it. Molina’s really getting to understand Lea at the moment.

The Morel family are finally waking up to the idea of Chris replacing Lea. Thomas is exceptionally offended that she’s wearing Lea’s top. Florence tries her best to be diplomatic. The only person who’s pleased by the void being filled is Zoe. They’re not going to tell her “no” because she’s a child and it’s her birthday.

Disparue/The Disappearance Episodes 1 and 2 – Analysis

Episode 1

We open with the subject, Léa Morel, getting ready for her birthday in the presence of her younger sister Zoé and cousin Chris. Léa is confident in her skin as she dresses and applies her makeup. The confidence only spills over into self-absorption when Léa complains that she’s worn all of her clothes

Disparue 3

and tries on her mother’s. In typical fashion Léa asserts her teenage independence from her mother Florence, who has just noticed that Léa had a little tattoo done behind her ear. So far Léa is presented as a teenager who does typically teenage things such as lying about tattoos and informing parents that their lives are their own and no one else’s. We’ve all been there. While it is to be expected, where Léa is concerned, it feels like a deeper personality flaw. Judging by what we later find out about her, this attitude is the tip of the iceberg. Naturally, the father Julien is less of an

Disparue 4
Wrapped around Julien’s finger.

enemy and grants her extra time to stay out. It all makes no difference because, as this opening scene points out, Léa’s destiny is set in stone based on hints of her personality. Léa has her father Julien and her uncle Jean wrapped around her finger. At this point, Chris is merely Léa’s shadow. Something to keep an eye on.

Léa fails to turn up in the allotted time. The moral of this story is always listen to the worrier; don’t dismiss them because they could be right. Then again, how are we to know that our kids will severely p*** someone off(!) Florence and Léa’s older brother Thomas go to Le City nightclub as the starting point of their investigation, and funnily enough Thomas is too embarrassed to be seen with his mother in a club for youths. It’s not like she’s going to be whooping, flirting with young men and dancing on the tables, Thomas. When that amounts to nothing, attention falls on Chris. She lets the cat out of the bag that Léa was seeing someone on the quiet. Scrutiny then shifts onto the boyfriend. It’s a bit of a slap in the face that she hid this from her parents, another slap when they meet Romain’s mother, whom is already acquainted with Léa. The final blow is delivered when Romain confesses that they’ve been together for six months. Dun. Dun. DUNNNN. Léa did the “Meet the Parents” only with her boyfriend’s side and not her own. Another bit of information they didn’t know about their daughter.

A clever little exposition technique I appreciate is Léa’s parents leaving the police station at the same time as the new investigator Bertrand Molina swaggers in. They pass each other not knowing that they are about to see a lot of each other. Molina’s superior arrives to welcome him, and a wonderful contrast is shown using costume. Superintendent Louvin enters in a polo shirt with visible sweat patches, while Molina is suited up and cool as a cucumber. One can take the heat and one can’t – we know who our leading man is going to be.

Despite it being obvious that Léa’s not going to show up, her family prepare her birthday party. Well it wouldn’t be The Disappearance if she magically appeared when desired. Julien later gives some information to Molina about Léa’s situation before her disappearance: ‘She is a good student. She gets on with everyone. She’s very sociable.’ Hm. A way of countering the not-so-glowing picture we were just beginning to get of her. Like stashing little packets of cocaine in her drawer. A terrible idea since she has a little sister who wants to be like her and would probably explore her room when it’s vacant. As for ‘sociable’, sociable people just have more people to upset or offend, so that hardly discounts her not having any enemies. I must say, when Julien starts getting a bit confrontational with Molina he handles it quite well. He just has to give Julien “the look” and Julien takes it down a notch. I think that clip should go on a workplace training video on How to Diffuse a Situation. Alas, Molina will empathise with Julien to some degree because he too has a daughter. They both have soft spots for their little girls, and Molina knows what it’s like to have his distance herself from him. He lights up when Rose exits her school, waiting for her to pick up her phone so that he can surprise her. She snubs him. His attempts at masking his disappointment are fruitless. Even being daddy’s girls doesn’t prevent them from straying.

Léa’s boyfriend Romain becomes our chief suspect for the latter part of the episode, with him reluctantly revealing that they had a fight before she disappeared. In the midst of amorous activity, it’s revealed that he’d also engaged in amorous activity with her cousin Chris. Ahhh young love. You almost feel sorry for Molina having to delve into the world of youth. His

Disparue 6
Molina’s so done.

expression is a picture: he’s trying to remain serious but this isn’t his favourite part of questioning. It gets a bit too intimate when you know the ins and outs of the lives of both the victim and the relatives. Camille Guerin comes in to save her superior Molina from having to shoulder this responsibility of knowing everything. Molina also requires someone to challenge his hunches; there’s an instant stare-down after their introduction regarding Romain’s innocence. Most of the time my guesses as to who’ll end up an “interest” of some sorts is right. My radar buzzed the moment Camille made her first appearance. I do like, however, that it’s not immediately obvious as a setup. Molina doesn’t take his eye (figuratively) off the case to initiate anything between them. There

Disparue 7
Conversation shut down.

might be a connection between them, but it takes a backseat to the case for both of them. A delicious interaction between Camille and Molina is in the car when she asks him how he’s finding Lyon. His flat ‘It’s alright’ prompts her to stare at him for derailing her attempt at small talk.

Molina’s meetup with his daughter on the bridge gave away more information than first absorbed. Rose reveals that Molina’s ‘only in Lyon because of some trouble in Paris.’ Oooh no reply from Molina. The writers can’t just throw us a juicy titbit like that and expect us to be fine with it. They can’t just leave it at that. Aha! I think you’ll find they can. My hunch: in episode 2 it’s revealed that his experience working in the minors department has exposed him to incest being behind crimes such as these. Given how quickly he jumps to Lea’s father having possible inappropriate relations with her, it’s a topic which, because he has faced it many times, can sometimes cloud his ability to consider all angles. Perhaps Molina’s “trouble” stems from him being personally affected by these cases to the point it challenged his professionalism? His “trouble” couldn’t have been serious because he’s still retained a high-up job in the police force, just in another location. Perhaps it was less a professional problem and more a personal one. It’s not something that’s examined further within the series.

Episode 2

The writers attempt to tantalise our senses with a suspenseful opening; Léa fleeing helplessly in a dark wood. Sound and light indicates that she is

Disparue 8
Lea on the run.

being hunted by a vehicle. Will this give us a clue as to how she – nope. Fooled ya! It’s just Florence dreaming about her missing daughter’s possible demise. The fact that it happens in her personal office is significant because it demonstrates how much the disappearance is haunting her: it won’t even leave her alone at work.

Julien becomes the suspect target in the opening section of the episode. As alluded to in the previous episode’s analysis: Molina suspects that Julien’s relationship with Léa was an incestuous one. If anything, knowing what we know about the narrative’s outcome, this hypothesis only proves two things (OK, maybe three). One: that the writers are really trying to throw off our investigative skills, two: that Molina has been exposed to some gruesome happenings in his line of work, three: even a professional gets it wrong initially. Julien’s reaction to Molina’s suggestions in questioning, is to moronically go for him. Going for a policeman is worse than going for a civilian for obvious reasons.

While Molina turns up at the race track for some answers, we’re provided a nice interlude with Camille’s character being unwrapped. I sound like a Camille fangirl, but it’s difficult not to find her endearing. Her burger consumption is interrupted by her mother’s phone call, and she is forced to answer questions on her general state, love life and diet in the space of a minute. I’m sure we can all relate. Camille reveals that she recently broke up with her boyfriend because he’s an ‘arsehole’. Which opens her up. Do you see where I’m going with this? Afterwards, having questioned Lea’s brother Thomas, Camille recounts the meeting with Molina. I love their interactions. She brings him coffee, wondering when he’s going to drink it instead of letting it sit there. Only then does he admit aloofly that he doesn’t like coffee. Smooth. The best fictional couplings begin with scenes such as this. To add further humour to the situation, Molina’s ex-wife makes a short stop. Molina catches Camille observing, some brief eye

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Molina curious about Camille’s bin bags. (Not a euphemism).

contact, followed by Camille’s attempt to pretend she wasn’t watching. Later, Camille is found ordering bin bags not to be thrown out with a note. Molina clearly is intrigued by what she’s doing and why they’re there. In the end, he’s snapped out of his interest when she informs him about the case’s details. Her sarcastic reply to the emptied space before her shows her frustration at the lack of conversation. Or normal human interaction, for that matter.

Viewer’s alarm bells are set off simultaneously as Chris has a private conversation with Romain under the watch of Thomas. Chris proclaims her love for Romain days after her cousin’s disappearance. Classy. This does sound like the synopsis for an episode of 902010, however it also gives the audience insight into Chris’ motivations. Overlapping relationships seems to be the theme of this episode, with Julien and Florence’s marriage suffering the strain of their daughter’s disappearance and Julien’s previous infidelity. What is both worrying and entertaining to view: Florence goes mafia on the mistress by demanding that she tell the truth to the police, and then messes up her apartment. This family. This is a lesson to learn: if

Disparue 14
Molina’s so done. Again.

you plan on having an extra-marital affair. Don’t. Your mistress will cause problems for you when your daughter goes missing. You’ll end up a suspect. Since we’re on the topic of the mistress, Molina visits her as she wants to change her testimony. I like this scene as well because Molina looks so fed up with this merry goose-chase of a case. He desperately just wants to get to the bottom of the case and not be an agony aunt of sorts.

Romain is forced to drop the ball on keeping Léa’s secrets. The racing gloves don’t fit him because they’re not even his. Léa was a secret race car driver. Another secret revealed. Léa kept it a secret because she knew her parents wouldn’t react well – especially Julien whose brother had an “accident”. It seems vehicular recklessness is a hereditary thing. Well, once more Chris becomes the Oracle of Lyon; Julien corners her into revealing more about Léa’s secret life. Did she know about the coke? How much did she take? Did Chris know she was racing? Chris also suffers his outburst. She does well to remain composed, despite this. By composed I mean retain her doe impression. At the end of the episode, Julien in his vigilante antics, is rescued by Molina from a pimp. More to come of scenes with Julien on a rampage.

Infuriated about being kept in the dark by the police as well, Julien marches to confront Molina. The stand-off is tense, but it’s Camille’s handling of the situation that stands out the most. ‘He’s worried sick about his daughter. Don’t be so hard on him.’ Molina counters this by saying ‘Better a grumpy good cop than a polite bad one.’ I really do love their interactions. Once more, they balance each other out: Camille’s response to that is ‘Neither has found his daughter.’ As I mentioned in the review, both act as voice of reasons to each other.