Irma Vep – Season 1 Episode 7 “The Spectre” Recap & Review

‘The Spectre’


Mira/Irma continues from the other episode on her nightly sojourn. Episode 7 of Irma Vep sees her spy on Cynthia Keng in her hotel room. Keng is trying on new dresses for her scene tomorrow. Zoe, the wardrobe lady, is there in instructions from Herman to make the show more “emboldened” and “raunchy”.

The American filmmaker wants to bring his own flavor and style to the fore. Zoe has even called a “bondage expert” (whatever that means) from Norway, who calls himself “Thor”. Irma/Mira enters through the walls into Keng’s room. She is surprised and wonders how did this happen.

Mira/Irma tells her about the blurred line between herself and the character she plays. She is of the opinion that Rene was the better choice for the project. He started it and he must be the one to see it through. Their rambling conversation – styled in a seductive, alluring manner – also includes opinions of what constitutes art, and what doesn’t. It is a nice touch and a throwback to Rene explaining Irma Vep to Mira some episodes ago.

“She is a spirit who was awakened by cinema”. Mira’s changing idea of what movies do for an individual shows how engrossed she is in the character. Mira says movies are something that detaches you from a material world: and help you better understand it. They are a portal to a spiritual world where you find yourself.

Laurie discovers in the morning that her LV necklace is not where she left it. In a flustered state, she phones Gregory, who comes over and comforts her. He tells it to Herman on set, who immediately goes to her wife. Gottfried has shot his last scene on the show. Before he leaves, at the customary farewell party, he shows his wild side and explains how he loves the “freedom” that cinema gives him.

We see him conjure chaos at the party and go out in style. Mira wraps up the shoot and meets Regina for dinner, who has big news. She is slated to direct her very first feature, starting next year. So Regina will now have to leave Mira’s personnel, but the actress is happy for her. The two share a passionate kiss before going back to their rooms.

Mira dons the suit and “they” (Mira/Irma) go through the walls to spy on Regina, who accepts her hard crush on Mira and her desire to be physical. Irma/Mira revisit Laurie and Herman’s apartment. She is devastated at losing the necklace and spites the fact that Mira would be enjoying seeing her like this. “They” have the necklace in their hands, but do not leave it back. A superimposed visual of Jade as Irma with the necklace in her hands out in the rain over Irma/Mira’s picture is shown again, just like in the last episode.

Original and Adaptation

Moreno and Irma are forced to associate with the Satanas after the bombing. As a gesture to prove it, he gives the loot from the ballroom heist to Satanas and sends Lily to retrieve the money. Unbeknownst to her, Mazmette and Philippe are hot on her trail and go to her hotel room.

They “bind” her with tape (the scene that was discussed early in the episode). Lily is instructed to call Irma and Moreno to her room in order for the police to set up a trap. If she doesn’t comply, then Philippe and Mazamette will turn Lily over to the police. She complies and finally, Moreno and Irma are caught.

Irma is sent to jail in Algeria. En route, she escapes and hides beneath the train. Although she isn’t able to hold on to the bottom, she successfully escapes when she lays down on the railroad tracks. Following the recent trend, we see an enactment of Musidora’s memoir from the day. She explains that she had a shoot with Guitry at 4 o’clock the same day and requested Feuillade to let her leave early.

The director complied and shot the scene with Musidora before the set time. He seemed truly elated when she pulled it off, calling her “brave” and “extraordinary”.

‘The Spectre’ Ending Explained

Mira/Irma’s final destination is Rene’s apartment. She quietly enters through the roof and is surprised to find Jade there. It is a really surreal scene as we do not exactly know what is true and what isn’t. Rene mentioned something about Irma Vep being a kindred spirit and Jade and Mira are exactly that. Jade tells “them” that she often visits Rene here and blames him for their divorce.

Mira also asks Jade about her guilt over playing Irma. She believes that the character was essentially Chinese and her playing it has destroyed its ethos and soul. But she assuages Mira’s concerns. One significant clue of Mira and Jade sharing the kindred spirit of Irma Vep is the fact that Jade knows about Irma stealing Laurie’s necklace.

They both feel Rene has a “spiritual connection” with Irma Vep and he needs to come back. Mira tries to convince him about the subject. She says the series needs his “black magic” to wield Irma’s spirit in the best way possible. We then move away from Rene’s apartment and on to the set, where they film the scene where Irma comes back to the lair. We see both, the original, and the adaptation scenes. Mira is electrifying in the scene and does a fantastic job, pleasing Rene who has joined the set again.

It is like Mira sees into a mirror of herself in the future, still being haunted by the image and spirit of Irma. Jade still suffers from it but has taken to “being a real person”. That is what Mira seeks to be as well. But she is caught in this strange, remarkable maelstrom that will be hard to escape. Mira’s guilt has nothing to do with “Mira the actress” but people’s idea of “Mira the actress”.

The “cultural appropriation” thing is a strong metaphor for the times that we are going through and performers and writers have to be ultra careful not to offend viewers. Assays also comments on the universality, immortality, and timelessness of characters like Irma Vep that have “haunted” the echelon and hallowed grounds of cinematic traditions.

They are so ingrained as parts of it that irrespective of the era they’re made in, when they can find the right host (the right actor), seeing them on screen is no different than it was then. Truly iconic characters become spirits, lingering, waiting for the perfect time to manifest. It is an overwhelming observation that sets the mood right.

The Episode Review

This episode was by far the most altruistic and self-indulgent. And that aspect actually works for the series. In a good way, Oliver Assays marks his stamp not only on the work of Feuillade but also on its psyche.

Many discussions about the issues of adaptations and director block when it comes to recreating iconic projects are contained within this episode. Storywise, the main focus was the characterization of Mira as Irma. Previous episodes went the other way around but this is exactly why Assays revived the project in the form of a series.

That ending is far more breathtaking than any other we have seen until now. Alicia Vikander’s defining moment came here when she convinces Rene as Mira to come back to the series. The actress has truly imbibed the “spirit” of Vep and understood Assay’s vision to the hilt.

Irma Vep, as a show, has taken a step in the right direction with this new tangent in the series. This was what Assays wanted to show all along. The niceties of creating a faux narrative are finally over and it is show time. Gottfried has wrapped up shooting and it was so fun to watch Lars Eidinger bring the character to life.

He is a champion artist and I hope we see him more on screen in some other roles. The finale is a week away and we now have an idea of what it will be like. Fingers crossed for a strong finish to what has been at times a frustrating, and others, a strangely beautiful and spiritual experience!

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