Chapter One – The Beginning
When it comes to opening scenes of TV shows this year, episode 1 of La Revolution may just boast one of the most gripping and well-shot segments. Our tale begins in France 1789 as a man tries in vain to escape from a blood-soaked horse ridden by a formidable warrior.
Slicing the man’s head off, this woman stands victorious as the headless corpse oozes blue blood. Against the murky white snow, this juxtaposes beautifully with the blotches of red and perfectly sets the tone and mood to follow.
Our warrior happens to be Madeleine de Montargis. Before we come to see the frozen wasteland of what’s befallen France, we cut back 2 years earlier. The catalyst for all of this happens to be a woman named Rebecca, a blood-spattered girl that someone comes back from the dead.
Stumbling through the tunnels, she comes across… something which drags her back into the darkness.
Elsewhere, numerous lanterns are lit and fly high into the sky. Madeleine happens to be very sick, ringing a bell in her room prompting her sister Elise to arrive and try calming her down. It turns out Madeleine’s having visions of what happened with Rebecca.
As we soon find out, Madeleine is deaf and with Elise translating for her, she uncovers the details of her dream. These are worrying, especially for the physician at hand, who warns Elise that her Uncle could have her thrown in an asylum if these visions continue.
With rumours circulating of a cannibal on the loose, Elise and Ophélie are summoned to the mortuary underground. There, Elise finds Rebecca whose name was in the Gazette. She has cuts and bites all over her and a strange circular tattoo on her wrist too.
With a tough choice between burying or burning this corpse, Elise chooses the peaceful resolution to keep the people appeased for now.
Meanwhile, a new prisoner arrives in town. This man is in chains and allegedly responsible for killing Rebecca. He’s beaten down to the ground and has scars all over his back from a past hinting at slavery.
While the others show disdain and anger toward him, the physician Joseph Guillotin is indifferent and remains fixed on his job at hand. This man’s name is Oka and apparently he knew Joseph’s brother Albert.
As Joseph gets up to leave, he suddenly experiences visions courtesy of some strange voodoo magic. These visions happen to be that of Rebecca inside her grave.
As soldiers rush in to save him, Joseph struggles to shake what he’s learned. Even worse, he questions the physician over his medical report, declaring outright that Oka did not kill Rebecca. The doctor is having none of it though and threatens to take Joseph back whence he came – the gutter.
In the jail cell, Oka is stabbed in the neck by Edmond and left to bleed out. Only, it’s done in such a way to make it look like suicide. Joseph rushes into the room and tasks his assistant, Katell, to help try and save him.
In the morning, Joseph is convinced that Oka didn’t commit suicide and remains more determined than ever to get some answers. Only, he’s being followed which Katell picks up on, scrambling to grab him round the corner to avoid detection.
Back at the estate, Elise warns the Baron that anger is rising in the streets. They should build decent housing and abolish unnecessary taxes unless they want a revolution on their hands. The men chuckle, brushing aside these claims as Elise heads back inside again.
A timely flashback shows Albert’s final moments as he’s held up at gunpoint. Only, just before that it’s clear he was romantically involved with Elise.
Aa the episode closes out, a boatload of slaves prepare to disembark in France. One of them – cradling a necklace and sporting blue veins – happens to be Albert.
The Episode Review
After an excellent opening scene (honestly that whole badass scene with the horse and blood was so carefully constructed), the drama starts to build the foundations for the inevitable revolution to follow.
There’s some gorgeous cinematography across these segments and the costume design is great too. It should be obvious though that this show is going to take liberties with the real history of this event. Instead, it feels much more geared toward something like Kingdom.
The story is nicely paced and while the characters are a bit difficult to discern between so far, everything is set up nicely for a lot of drama to follow.