|The Clement/Karlsson partnership|
However, despite the plots, sub-plots, side-plots and tangents, the true heart of Spiral is its characters and their story-arcs throughout the series, and indeed through the show since its inception. And while the plot for series four focused on a state of terror, a more fitting subtitle for the main players in the series would have been "State of Cowardice", this being the theme most prevalent throughout the show.
Cowardice was most overt in the journey of the detective Tintin over the 12 episode run. His injury in the line of duty caused a cliched dependence on painkillers, an addiction he was unable to share with anyone until his partner Gilou badgered it out of him. However, his near-miss also led to a form of post-traumatic stress as he first hid to avoid suspects on an arrest, before wavering, unable to shoot his targets during a raid on a squat. The psychologies of trauma temporarily causing his inertia. Likewise, the other members of the core police team suffered their own moments of gutless decisions. For Gilou, his apparent nerve in dealing with his blackmailers masks a deeper sense of fear. Confrontation failed to work, so he reverted to underhand techniques in an attempt to correct the situation for his own preservation motives.
Berthaud is more blatant in her cowardly deceptions. As old flame Samy returns to her life, she refuses to make decisions about her personal life, sleeping with Samy (in the back of his car) before returning home to her increasingly suspicious boyfriend, Vincent. Her emotional torments remind of those in Danish heroine Sara Lund from the popular The Killing. Berthaud is decisive, confrontational and direct when it comes to the workplace, but outside of that environment she frequently falters, avoiding decisions or making poor ones inevitably leading to deception and mistrust.
|Sophie Mazarat - dedicated follower of terrorism|
Outside of the police investigation, and meshed together with their plots are the prosecutors, lawyers and judges who see the suspects through the investigations, from questioning to release or prosecution, trials and appeals.
Judge Roban, the Arsene Wenger lookalike and moral backbone of the Spiral universe, finds himself under fire this series. Alleging a campaign of bribery and incompetence against a fellow judge, Roban find himself in the dock as his own integrity and impartiality are called into question. The episode rocks the usually self-righteous and steely Roban, still reeling from the suicide of his unsuitable intern during an earlier series. The judge first finds his interpretations of what is the right course of action challenged, before his whole trust in justice is undermined by a run-in with the Freemasons; the suggestion being that their influence saw him through his own time in the dock and reinstated him in his former high position on the bench. It is an uncomfortable compromise for the rigid judge who becomes unable to confide his predicament to his trusting secretary. With series 5 filming later this year, Roban's procrastinations could take centre stage as he learns to live with the consequences of his actions and inaction.
Lastly, but by no means least, the legal double team of Pierre Clèment and Josèphine Karlsson experience extreme character arcs of their own. After three series of flirting around each other, "State of Terror" begins with the mismatched pair as partners, both in business terms as they share honours in their legal practice, and also romantically. Opposites of each other Clèment has graduated from the school of Roban, always in pursuit of the correct, honourable course. Karlsson, on the other hand, has more dubious motivations, never fully explained, but frequently self-serving and often influenced by money and power.
Series four takes the pair through a series of mutual discoveries as they appear to learn from each other. Clèment's brush with the undesirable and uncontrollable bully Jorkal, sees him flirt with a bravado more typical of Karlsson. A client picked for his clout and financial incentives who is far removed from the usual charitable cases Clèment takes on, Jorkal's obvious insincerity and outright criminality jeopardises the reputation of the naively righteous lawyer. It is a situation that spirals beyond Clèment's control, ill-equipped as he is for the consequences of dealing with such organised criminals.
Contrastingly, Karlsson's primary case, the defending of an illegal immigrant desperately trying to keep his employment to avoid being deported, is a more-typical Clèment defendant. It appears that her time with Pierre has taught her a modicum of integrity severely lacking in her character previously. As more is revealed of her background and motivations, she is given a sense of heart that manifests itself primarily as an altruistic act as she warns the illegal squat ahead of a police raid. Her act, born out of defiance of authority can be traced back to her family, and relationship with her father. The excruciating family function she drags Clèment along to eventually reveals her inherent vulnerability and neediness and this desire to be wanted is what informs her decision to tip off Riffault's cohorts at the squat.
|Paris's finest: Gilou, Tintin, Berthaud and Samy|
Her subsequent course of action, the decision to pursue a more professional strategy to salvage the case of her immigrant client, eventually proves successful for her, affording her a rare opportunity to smile as she relishes the community's acceptance. That this also leads to a reconciliation for Karlsson and Clèment allows the two of them a chance of a happy ending.
For the rest of the cast, Sophie's bombing of the police HQ, killing Samy and throwing Berthaud into hysterics, the ending was far from happy. Series 5 has a lot of mending that it needs to commission before they can start to pick up the pieces of their broken department.