Anyone who reads my blog knows that I’m as much a fan of screenplays as books. A passion for stories and storytelling is the common denominator. Weeks ago, I proclaimed with a great fanfare that Season Three of ‘Braquo’ had arrived, ‘Bliss!’ was my description on Twitter.
I first mentioned this excellent French cop drama in March. It’s a sort of Gallic version of the hit US TV series, ‘The Shield’ only with more wine and cigarettes. I found it particularly hard not to narrow my eyes against gales of smoke, care of Gitanes and Disque Bleu, as one cop after another lit up and, all mean and moody, discussed the next threat to careers and lives. Incredibly gritty, morally ambiguous, Braquo weaves the kind of dark narrative that makes you reach either for the light switch or the nearest cushion to press over your eyes. Worst of all, you suspect that what’s on screen could and does happen in real life. When criminals are bad, they are very bad indeed.
In this regard, Braquo III didn’t disappoint – a slightly strange description when talking about the extreme end of violence. I watched three methods of dispatch and punishment that I’d never encountered before. Disturbing didn’t cover it. I have a reasonably tough constitution for this kind of thing but one scene involving crushed glass made my insides curdle. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not seeking to glorify or sensationalise violence. Like I said, the horror lies in the fact that, deep down, one knows that gangsters use appalling methods to extract what they need to know from others.
One of the advantages of the box set format is that the writer or writers can combine a number of storylines that often overlap with each other. By the time I hurtled breathlessly towards the last episode, I wondered how on earth the story was going to wrap up. By my reckoning, there were at least four intermeshed plots requiring resolution. Sure enough, two got the full climactic treatment. It never occurred to me that the season would conclude on a cliffhanger of all cliffhangers with not one but two intensely dramatic storylines left open and perfectly primed for the beginning of Season Four. Only one word remains for me to say out loud and, as on screen, it doesn’t require a subtitle: Wow!