‘Dead’s Man Escape’ Recap
Mira and Zoe’s flirtatious exchanges continue on Zoe’s scooter en route to a Royal Trux concert. It has all the makings of a tremendous heartbreaker, but we will see how it goes.
Episode 3 of Irma Vep begins with Mira guessing that Zoe has some crack on her that she procured for Gottfried. She convinces her to ditch the Trux plan and instead go to Monterueil, where Gottfried and the rest of the cast are at Ondine’s house. They do have an early shoot tomorrow but it becomes a bit lost on them at that moment.
Rene shoots bits and pieces from The Spectre and Dead’s Man Escape in the original series. A visibly hungover Mira almost passes out but is able to trudge on and professionally complete the schedule.
We see Gottfried’s personal views about life, politics, and youth in the next segment where a couple of journalists from an online press interview him. He professes deep hate for the leftist liberals and the “gays”, who he believes are all “communists”.
After wrapping up, Mira goes back with Regina to the hotel. For a brief moment, we see the young assistant slip up and lust after Mira when she strips and takes a shower in front of her. Will Gottfried’s prophecy come true? Seems unlikely, but there’s nothing more unpredictable than human nature. Mira meets Gottfried for drinks and learns that Eamonn is shooting in Paris.
She gives him a visit. In his trailer, he reveals that he now has a girlfriend, artist Lianna. Overwhelmed at seeing her, he also confides in her that Lianna is pregnant. It comes as a bit of a surprise to Mira, as he had previously said to her that he doesn’t want kids when they were together.
As Mira is leaving, they confess to each other about their feelings, residues of which still remain. But they cannot do anything about them as it is not possible for them to be back together. Rene goes to the therapist and confesses he still hasn’t gotten over his love for Jade Lee. She starred in the movie that Rene made on ‘Irma Vep’s character.
The episode ends with an ambulance being called for Philippe, who, in doing a scene for the series, injures himself and falls unconscious.
The Original and Adaptation
Juliette Berteaux, i.e., Irma Vep, has been hired by Renault Duval, a banker to be his backup courier and banker secretary. The Vampires have purposely chosen her to work in the place as they learn that Metadier has to bring a considerable amount of money to another branch. In the event that he is unable to make the delivery, Irma will.
Soon afterward, Mr. Metadier is murdered by the Vampires, and his body is thrown from the train. This is where Moreno comes into the picture. He is a rival of the Vampires and a criminal genius. He decides to use Metadier’s getup and give the impression of a “Spectre” to his rival gang. As Irma is about to take the money as the backup courier, Moreno, as Metadier, suddenly appears, scaring her.
He successfully takes the money that Irma was supposed to take. The hotel he stays in is actually a lair for the Vampires. His room is directly connected to the other room through a vault. He escapes down a manhole with his gang’s help.
Philippe, the journalist, is on the case as well and recognized Irma from the bank. He goes to the hotel room and catches her and the Vampire in the act. But he was knocked unconscious by the housemaid. They take the money and escape. Philippe is back on his feet and calls the police to arrest Morena when he discovers the vault. At the station, he apparently takes cyanide and dies. But in reality, he is alive and escapes at night in a guard’s get-up.
Philippe is kidnapped by Moreno, who wants to know Vampire’s plan. Hanging up in the air, he gives the red codebook to Moreno – a distraction that will hopefully buy him some time.
The Episode Review
This was by far the most interesting and personal episode in the season. Oliver Assays finally dared to focus more on the lives and complexities of his characters than Feuillade’s. This creative choice, if sustained in the coming episodes, will definitely drive viewers back to the series.
In the last two episodes, like Rene Vidal, Assays seemed obsessed with the marvel of the 1916 silent film. So much so, that he even tried to recreate the details of it by using a show-within-a-show trope. Another creative choice that worked in my opinion was etching his argument in dialogue instead of abstract exposition.
For Assays, it is about going back to the roots. Series have a history; they don’t just pop out of nowhere. The “serial” serialization of great literature and stories of the 19th century brought along the very first remnants of “content” as we know it today. But today, the serials are not content – they are industrial entertainment ruled by algorithms.
Early cinema was not content because they had no idea what they were doing. They invented the medium and went where their imagination took them. But the early movies still had to keep people hooked and for that, they invented tools like the projector.
Today, because you have so many platforms and so much demand, you have to stretch the content to fill the gaps and that is why it is exactly the opposite of art. Cinema is art.
Meta elements aside, episode three was an opportunity to see Gottfried in full light. I must say, Lars Eidinger is fearless in his characters’ skin. Seeing more of him brought a fresh breath of life to ‘Irma Vep’.
We also get a glimpse of the real Mira behind the appearance she has kept up so far. Eamonn and her relationship could not take off the way they wanted to and it has left them with regret and pain.
Until now, we’ve seen Mira trying to humanize Musidora; but in this episode, Alicia Vikander got a chance to humanize Mira and the result is obviously fabulous. There’s a moment towards the back end of the episode when Rene visits his therapist. He starts talking about Jade Lee from the first time he made ‘Irma Vep’ into a movie.
The camera is tight on his face when he begins. Gradually, as the realization strikes Rene, it moves out, giving him the required perspective and breathing space to process it. Another instance that lit me up.
Assays must get all the credit for turning things around, he seems to be learning from his mistakes. While paying homage to Feulladie’s work and its legacy in French cinema is acceptable, this tangent in the narration must be moderated. The lesser, the better, like in episode three. This is the best the series has been, overall. I can assuredly say I look forward to the next episode!