Episode 1 of Criminal France starts strongly, with a crime linked to the Bataclan’s terror attack. November 13th 2015 is an unforgettable day for France and while the crime committed is not the worst of the three French episodes, the raw emotions surrounding that tragedy make it a poignant and dramatic one nonetheless.
The episode starts with Captain Hagen and Sergeant Matif interrogating a woman about a concert where a shooting happened. She explains that it started after she bought some drinks and was bringing it back to her boyfriend Alex. We then find out that the shooting in question was the terrorist attack in the Bataclan in Paris and that the police have decided to interrogate everyone again.
They thoroughly ask Emilie for every detail she remembers from that fateful night and when the investigator almost accuses her of lying, her lawyer tries to end the interrogation. After finding more discrepancies in her testimony, Hagen reveals that someone has filed a claim against her, saying she was never at the Bataclan that night. During a break, Hagen, Matif and the other investigator Sarkissian discuss the interrogation. They are not happy that Audrey is in charge and how she is handling things.
Back to the room, Emilie’s lawyer produces evidence that she was at the Bataclan: a picture of her running outside the concert and into the streets. Hagen tells her that it doesn’t prove that she was inside. Omar then explains that they have to investigate the accusations because some people have lied about being there just to get compensation. They then ask to see what she did with the money to which she replies that at first she didn’t want to do anything, but ended up spending it all very quickly.
Laeticia, another Inspector, arrives at the police station. After watching the interrogation, she becomes outraged when she finds out that Emilie is accused of lying, especially after one of her friends were shot and became paralyzed because of the attack. In a fit of rage, she starts banging through the two-way mirror calling Emilie a liar.
After another break where Leticia is reprimanded, they return with new evidence about the picture showing Emilie outside. It turns out that the time of the picture was taken, was 19 min after the shooting which is another discrepancy as she told them she left 2 minutes after the shooting. This prompts her to say that her memories are fragmented due to the trauma. The police then zoom in on her hands and show that she was holding a pack of cigarettes.
After more questions, she finally admits that she was there but arrived late and it’s here the she starts telling them the real story. She got off late from work and went to buy a particular make of cigarettes for Alex. They then asked her why she lied and she explains that she felt guilty as she should have been there. She then makes them listen to a voicemail from her boyfriend’s mum from that night. Emilie felt bad that he was waiting for her at a concert he only went to for her, so she started lying and it spiraled out of control.
The captain then tells her lawyer that she will be prosecuted for fraud and perjury. The lawyer stops the recording and asks to speak to the person in charge. They take her to the other room behind the two-way glass where she asks Audrey to let Emilie go as she has suffered enough already. She tries to blackmail them using Laetitia’s behaviour and the fact that she’s not supposed to be there due to her being signed off work. Although shocked that the lawyer was aware of this, Audrey stands her ground and tells her she will still be prosecuted.
As Emilie is escorted out the building, Sarkissian reveals who reported her – it was Leonard Meier, Alex’s best friend. He also tells her that the type of cigarettes she bought can only be bought from one shop in Paris which is on the same road as Mr Meier’s apartment. He then deducts that she was in fact at his flat and that’s why she was late. She explains that it only happened once but ever since the attack Leonard has been constantly calling her, even after she ended things with him.
She then requests to go back to the room to make a new and truthful statement where we leave the episode.
Criminal France certainly gets off to an eye-opening start. The attacks in Paris on that fateful night were a massive tragedy for the French and I still remember that night vividly as one of my friends was in Paris at that time. Knowing that people used the tragedy to take advantage of charity quite shocking too and although Emilie explains the reason why she did it in the interview, it still doesn’t make it right.
The first episode has been quite impressive, and all the investigators have great chemistry between them too. Seeing how Sarkissian came to the conclusion that she was lying about her whereabouts was cleverly done and there’s quite a lot of tension between Audrey and the rest of the team. Whether Criminal develops this further is still unknown but in the meantime, the first episode was certainly an emotional one.