TV Review: ‘Lupin’ Part Two Is A Triumphant Return

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After the overwhelming success of Part One of Lupin, the French series is back with a bang to finish out the plot arcs that began earlier this year.

Whilst in France the name Arsene Lupin is well-worn and familiar, for many outside the francophone world, January’s five-episode drop was their first introduction to the character. As the series gained momentum, appearing on scores of “what to watch” lists, more and more people have become aware of this latest iteration of Maurice LeBlanc’s gentleman cambrioleur – and for good reason. As is typical of Netflix’s offerings, every so often a series will suddenly be all anyone’s talking about; Bridgerton, Stranger Things and The Queen’s Gambit all burst onto the screen with major success, through a combination of word-of-mouth recommendations and clever marketing campaigns. Lupin appears to have joined these hallowed ranks of Netflix royalty, with the series garnering impressive viewing figures –  the highest of any non-English series on the platform.

With such a limited number of episodes, Part One left audiences hankering for more, and with such a short wait until Part Two (about six months, far less than fans have had to wait for the continuations of other popular series), the interest around the series has remained high. Part Two begins right where Part One left off, with Assane frantically searching for his kidnapped son, Raoul. The first episode throws audiences right into the action, with high stakes and thrilling chases. Splitting this climactic plot moment across the two parts allows the series to maintain a sense of continuity, the immediate return to action effectively bridging the gap between the parts. The delay between chapters five and six feels more like an extended advertising break rather than a six month intermission. The cliffhanger of Part One is satisfactorily resolved, and the audience is seamlessly catapulted back into the world of Lupin, ready for the antics to continue.

Narratives centred around high-risk heists and complex criminal operations often have the tendency to cross into the realm of the ridiculous. Of course, some disbelief has to be put aside to enjoy any such caper—no one’s claiming that the Oceans franchise is realistic—but there has to be a degree of plausibility to keep audiences engaged, and this is where Lupin triumphs. Assane’s schemes are absurd, sure, but the show makes them just feasible enough that viewers can believe in them. From editing news footage to simply paying people off, these simple actions temper some of the more far-fetched ventures. Plans are also often revealed to the audience retrospectively, prompting many an ‘ohhhh’ as all the little details built into the episodes so far fall into place – all the clues are there, we just have to put them together.

Part One of Lupin gave us some insight into Assane’s past through a series of flashbacks to the ‘90s, with the character’s backstory slowly revealed without the need for clunky dialogue and forced-in exposition. Part Two continues this approach with further returns to the past. We see a teenage Assane’s first foray into crime, trying to emulate the literary character he admires so much, Benjamin’s involvement in his friend’s schemes, the roots of Assanne’s complex relationships with both Claire and Juliette – the list goes on. These flashes from the past help to flesh out the characters and further explain their motivations, whilst also proving relevant to the primary plot. This balance of character and plot focus is another commendable aspect of the series – the main characters feel three-dimensional, not just cardboard cutouts. We care about what happens to them, rather than just whether or not Assane’s harebrained schemes succeed.

Without giving too much away—enjoyment of the series is much enhanced by having minimal knowledge of the bigger picture—Part Two of Lupin is a delight. The series hits the mark on satisfying, tidy plotlines, compelling characters, and an excellent balance of drama and humour. Whilst tackling some pretty weighty topics, the show doesn’t take itself too seriously, breaking up emotional intensity with witty lines and visual comedy. The final episode is ambiguous as to whether a third instalment is in the works, but there’s certainly potential for the series to continue; going by audience responses, fans are certainly ready for more!

Words by Lucy Carter


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