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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 6 first before digging into Allison’s unique take on Un Village Français. SPOILERS AHEAD! 

A French Village Season Recaps

With the liberation of France in 1945, everything in Villeneuve can now go back to normal. No problem. Show’s over, bye! Ah, non. Turns out, when your country: was bombed, its people oppressed, dragged off, imprisoned and killed; was full of neighbors running from or turning on each other; has endured stress and trauma on a level no human was made to withstand… it’s not so easy to put things right again, on any level. Housing is a mess. Food is scarce. And no one has escaped the psychic wounds that would remain unhealed for generations. As we see with…

The youngbloods
Gustave Larcher has certainly kept himself busy. The snivelly little black market gang, run by good ol’ Jérôme, is just as dysfunctional in its operations as every other Villeneuvian enterprise. Though Gustave, who has endured so much, seems like a trustworthy thief, Jérôme tests him with an initiation ritual that puts our fave in mortal danger. With luck on his side, for once, he is plucked from the jaws of death by none other than Suzanne, with the help of the ever-faithful Loriot. (If I could do a whole post of appreciation on supporting characters in this show, Loriot – so French, such a dandy — would be at the top.) As it happens, Suzanne is currently in custody of another young person: her own daughter, Léonor, for once. It takes only one look at the mop-headed, spotty Gustave for the teen to see the firebrand within, and thus the next generation of hot-headed extremists is born. Suzanne is mortified, but who can blame them? The kids seem determined to blaze their own trail, looking only to the future. Not unlike…

François Loriquet as Bériot in A French Village

The changed man
Oh, is there anything more heartbreaking than to see Villeneuve’s last hero fall? I know we’ve had to acknowledge all along that no one is perfect, that war changes everyone, that even the firmest moral foundations crack under intense strain… but did they have to take Bériot? He was all we had left. Seems the new “Systeme B” is all about cracking down wherever he can to protect his position as the town’s new big shot. The scam he pulled to bury Kurt in a French grave under a fake name comes back to bite him when an anonymous letter campaign spreads the gossip that Lucienne had a baby with a German soldier. The (far less qualified) communists see their chance and oust Bériot from his beloved mayorship, and for this he feels justified in turning his focus to the vengeful but petty torment of Lucienne. He needn’t have bothered. She’s doing well enough at that on her own. For example…

The penitent
Remember how young and innocent Lucienne seemed at the start of the war? How could anyone survive the emotional horrors she has experienced and maintain a strong hold on their faith? As victimized as anyone else by the occupation, the desperate “sins” she has committed have mostly been against herself. She loved Kurt, she accepted Bériot’s help, and, lacking in the true passion craves, she fell into the arms of Marguerite. Lucienne internalized the war as many women must have, until she snapped. And wow, has she ever snapped. Tested beyond her limits, further antagonized by Bériot’s menacing coldness (and, frankly, betrayal) she unleashes her pain in the most inappropriate manner on her priest. Lady, what is happening? If she has become unhinged, she’s certainly not alone. Like…

Robin Renucci (LEFT) and Audrey Fleurot (RIGHT) in A French Village

The broken
It’s so hard to feel sorry for Hortense Larcher, but I absolutely do. Finally getting confirmation that the root cause of her emotional illness occurred far before the conflict began, it was at least easier to understand her motivations across these six seasons. It didn’t take the occupation of Villeneuve to break Hortense. She had been broken by her father’s war. That’s not to say she can be excused for the incredible damage she has inflicted on Daniel, Tequiero and Gustave. Even she, in her near-total self-absorption sees that, which is perhaps why she has extended herself at various times to intervene on the behalf of others, as she does now during Daniel’s collaboration trial. Then again, she’s not well, and the crushing guilt she feels for the things she’s done twists her mind in increasing paranoid spirals. Still, in the midst of these conflicting ideas, Hortense knows she’s not the only one who has done wrong. — not by a long shot — and she manages to, with some level of awareness, publicly condemn those who consider themselves so righteous. For example…

The guilty
The time has come for some real music-facing around here. On trial with Sevier to answer for their collaboration with the German and Vichy forces, Daniel risks death and takes a final moral stand. He admits that he, along with Servier, made the gut-wrenching list that sent ten citizens to their death. His life is spared, but his friend (yes, friend) Servier, in his final act as the pencil-pushing functionary he was born to be, must take the ultimate punishment for the team. I was, in a pathetic sense, sad to see the little guy go. On his balance sheet, he was just doing his job, which is, in the end, paltry defense for the reprehensible acts committed in the name of law and order. Marchetti, too, is finally gets his, with far more compassion than perhaps he deserves. As Villeneuve recovers, these complexities are everywhere, including…

Season 6 A French Village

The “good guys”
My fellow Americans, whatever we learned about WWII growing up, we were all raised to think of our country’s soldiers as liberating heroes. Obviously, many, many of them were. I hope, and pray in fact, that most of them were. Of course, war being what it is, there is no good without evil. Antoine returns from his military duty intact, ready to start his new life with Genevieve who augments her grandmother’s subsistence farming by selling milk to the American troops. Antoine, ever the good guy, honors the memory of his fellow Resistance fighters by admitting publicly that he abandoned them when the chips were down. With his conscience absolved, he takes a job back at the sawmill. Things seem to be finally looking up for both of them when a disgusting violation by men Genevieve had come to trust shatters their fragile peace. Even when it’s over, war is hell.


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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.