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Editor’s note: As we ready ourselves to bid farewell to ‘A French Village’, we gave writer Allison Lowe Huff the enviable task of binge watching all of ‘A French Village’ to help introduce new viewers to this brilliant series. Viewers familiar with ‘A French Village’ may learn a thing or two from this series of recaps as well. We recommend watching season 2 first before digging into Allison’s unique take on Un Village Français. SPOILERS AHEAD!

A French Village Season Recaps

Thierry Godard as Raymond Schwartz in A French Village

A year into German occupation, things are hardly better in Villeneuve. When we left them at the end of season 1, the everyday trauma of living under enemy rule was already taking its toll. Now no longer under physical attack, each citizen of Villeneuve still must face hour-by-hour decisions for their own survival, choices that may or may not align with the personal morals they once believed themselves to possess. To begin with…

Just business
Schwartz, having barely made it out of 1940 alive, what with carrying on a passionate affair with Marie basically under the noses of both her possessive husband and his jealous wife, now finds himself in a bind of a different sort. With his BFF Von Ritter off the scene, this “willing” collaborator finds his sawmill out of business when the Germans no longer need wood. What they need, in fact, is concrete and, conveniently, there’s a concrete biz available for sale! Not really. The Vichy government has begun the (disgusting) process of aryanization, and newly local Monsieur Crémieux’s concrete business is sold to Schwartz.

The thing is, Schwartz doesn’t feel great about it so, sidestepping his father-in-law, who was to invest, he strikes a highly illegal deal with Crémieux, effectively arranging to return ownership to the Jewish man when the war ends. Now, that’s fighting corruption with corruption, except he wasn’t banking on the government agent, Caberni, being even more corrupt than anyone! When Caberni tries to blackmail him regarding the arrangement, Schwartz wastes no time in handling that business, though it may come back to bite him. Not unlike…

Marie Kremer as Lucienne in A French Village

Nevertheless, she persisted
Marie and De Kervern didn’t make it far out of that tunnel. Caught by the Germans, who must have had very little proof against them after all, the police chief was suspended from his job, and Marie was briefly imprisoned. Knowing the fiend in human shape that Müller truly is, I count them lucky to be alive. Back in Villeneuve with her children, Marie must now figure out how to start over without her husband. Only De Kervern knows that he died at her hands, and he’s not talking.

Though they are welcoming, it’s a little awkward bunking with her old Resistance pal, De K, and Madame Morhange, especially considering Madame M’s progressing illness and Marie’s oldest son, Raoul’s progressing adolescence. Because she’s apparently a lightning rod for drama of every sort, Marie can’t seem to stay out of trouble, for example… 

Difficult choices
When she goes to enroll her children in Villeneuve’s school, Marie realizes right away that something is off with Lucienne. That’s putting it mildly. Even in such a brutal time, true love will find a way, and Lucienne and Kurt indeed found the oldest way in the book – to her shock and horror, Lucienne is pregnant. Declining Marie and Madame Morhange’s help to terminate the pregnancy, Lucienne makes some further bad decisions and, thank God, is saved, physically and socially, by…

Fabrizio Rongione as Marcel in A French Village

Système B
Is there anything the school principal can’t do? He teaches, he cooks, he sings, he is righteous in the face of the witch Madame Schwartz. Perhaps he can’t get Lucienne to feel for him what she feels for Kurt, but he can still be her hero when she needs him (which is, evidently, always). Content to be a father to the child she carries, he proposes to Lucienne and even wins over her strict, Catholic father.

But lest we think M. Beriot is merely the happy innocent, he, too might have found a way to get himself into trouble, and not just when he went against M. Schwartz in that cake contest. Of course, that’s nothing compared with…

Comrades in arms
Dammit, Marcel. Our favorite communist is once again bumbling through the cause with his band of, well, bumblers. All the meeting and sneaking and planning, and still these guys can’t get it together, and their dumb plans are getting people killed. When a plot to really stick it to the Germans by stealing a gun and killing an officer in Villeneuve goes predictably sideways, Marcel – though not entirely at fault — places himself, Suzanne, his brother, his son and dozens of hostages in peril. The only upside to this futility is that the German SD’s inability to catch him really puts Müller in dutch with the Nazis. Ha HA! Honestly, Müller was already playing with fire, because…

Audrey Fleurot and Richard Sammel in A French Village

The redhead
Perhaps the most extreme and disappointing character swing to take place thus far is that of Hortense Larcher. It is painful to watch this gorgeous woman selfishly and wildly make the choices she has. Unsatisfied with her little fling with Marchetti, her self-destructive attraction to power leads her straight into bed with none other than Satan, himself, Müller. Marchetti, himself, tainted by their association, returns get back in everyone’s bad graces.

All of this naturally further complicates the life of Dr. Larcher, who is already responsible for keeping the people of Villeneuve alive, to mixed results. Such as…

The list
Betrayed once again by Hortense, Larcher faces a series of nightmarish decisions with only the support of Sarah, his lovely Jewish maid. To save 10 hostages taken after the communists’ action, he is forced to compromise himself and damn 10 others despite every effort to avoid it. This is but the first portent of the evil that is to seep through the cracks of Villeneuve, and Larcher bears it on his shoulders with more burdens certain to come.


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About the author:
Allison Lowe Huff is a freelance writer and editor with an overly concentrated interest in mystery stories from anywhere and everywhere. Follow her on Twitter @lowehuff.