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

A French Village Season Recaps

I may be done with A French Village but, mes amies, I don’t think it will be done with me for a long time. Never have I been so emotionally devastated by historical fiction. I don’t know… it’s almost as if the chaos of war and subsequent political discord, plus bearing witness to the abuse and murder of fellow human beings, has negative consequences on the psyches of people for multiple generations! If I thought they’d let up on the ugly truth in the last season of this incredible show — maybe just one happy ending, for anyone?! — I was quite wrong. As this final visit to Villeneuve brilliantly winds its timelines back and forth from the end of the war to 2003 and all points in between, let’s look at how these characters, who we will so dearly miss, fared in the future that seemed so uncertain when the occupation began.

Antoine
Antoine, so skilled at organizing his compatriots in the Resistance, respected for leading the famous Nov. 11 march in Villeneuve that in many ways swung the momentum of defiance against the occupation and the Vichy government, was never afraid of standing up for what is right. Still, after the war, after all he’s done, he steps away from the workers’ strike at a critical juncture, retreating to life at the farm with Genevieve. He’s going to give her children, raise dairy cows, have a life. Apparently, he achieves this, and, we hope, bountifully, but even this lovely idea cannot come without a price. At the end of his life, he struggles just as any of his fellow citizens do, against the regulatory tide of the system he helped create, one that cannot make life easier for his beloved Genevieve, who now has Alzheimer’s.

Thierry Godard as Raymond Schwartz in A French Village

Gustave
Like father, like son. Gustave, the long-suffering child of this whole wretched millennium, raised in turmoil, neglected by the adults who should have protected him, grew up to, like his father, see everything in black and white. Nothing could break into the vault of communist logic around his heart, not even Suzanne’s daughter, Léonor. After 30 years together, she can stand the cold no longer and leaves him in the street. Stunned, he by pure chance is reunited with his uncle, perhaps the only adult who was ever emotionally available to him, and this opportunity to mend a rift is a gift to them both, just in time.

Schwartz
I can’t deny that I’m a huge Schwartz fan. He’s Villeneuve’s Everyman. Though basically decent, Schwartz would have gladly stayed out of the whole war if he could have, content to pursue his own fortune. Circumstances, however, forced him to repeatedly take stands when he would have been just as happy to smoke and drink wine, love women and eat good food. You can’t knock the guy for trying, especially since, in spite of everything and not without heavy losses (Marie) and endless drama (Jeannine) he somehow came out on top. I nearly had a breakdown when it seemed that Hubert, returning for revenge (having become a cop in the 50s), seemed to be prepared to kill Raymond and Amelie. Until I saw the letter of condolence he had written to Larcher, which would have been 20 years after that moment, I feared the worst. I shouldn’t have – you can’t keep a good Schwartz down. Unless I missed it, we never found out what happened his son, Marceau, but we can only assume he came through things safely and is somewhere even now talking to a therapist about his mother. Oh, Jeannine, how I loved to hate you. Emmanuel Bach should go down in history as one of the best (and most nattily dressed) witches of all time.

Audrey Fleurot as Hotense Larcher in A French Village

Hortense Larcher
I want to go back to the first season and see if Hortense’s foundational cracks were showing even then. This poor woman. She’s made us angry, proud, sad, bewildered, and, as furious as I have sometimes been watching her story through the years, I ended up feeling more sorry for Hortense than anyone. Though Daniel has always been there for her, even when she deserved it least – even when she locks poor Tequiero in a closet! – he finally has enough when she seems to invent, in her madness, a story about the death of Sarah Meyer. This, he feels, cannot stand, and he has her committed. Brutal shock treatments cannot cure the depth of Hortense’s illness, and the exposure to the horror of the mental health system (such as it was) only serves to terrorize her further. As it turns out, the story of the woman, Rachel, coming to the house to tell Daniel about Sarah’s death was true. Rachel, herself, survived only to end up in another, equally violent conflict, in Palestine, where she at least meets her death in the presence of good people, none other than Rita and Ezekiel, as they once again are forced to fight for their freedom. Theirs is not the only ironic end. Müller, perhaps the only man who ever understood Hortense, has never left the business, so to speak. In a South American prison, he is finally released from the ugliness of this world (much of which he helped create) by a beautiful redhead. Meanwhile, Hortense’s struggle comes to its inevitable conclusion back in Villeneuve, when her final attempt to explain herself to the world proves futile.

Daniel Larcher
After everything he has suffered, Larcher’s return to Villeneuve to show Tequiero his first home was deeply moving. Imperfect though he is, Larcher is the best of us, intent on doing the right thing, even when wasn’t always able to do it for whatever reason. If it’s possible to choose a “best” actor in a field full of standouts, Robin Renucci could rival any performer of any era. The agony of Larcher – the very idea that he survived any of the things he had to endure and still felt such a capacity to love, is incredible. His final moments after redemptive exchanges with his nephew and son and a sad farewell to Hortense, are mercifully swift. If you watched through the credits, as I did (because I was sobbing) you may have even experienced some hopeful confusion as to whether or not it was really all over. It was hard to say goodbye, to Larcher especially, and the humanity of this character is something I will dearly miss.

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

Lucienne Bériot
It was an interesting choice, to come full circle on the story of Villeneuve with Lucienne. Perhaps the most melodramatic arc of the last few seasons, it somehow never sank fully into soapiness despite including a lesbian love story, an illegitimate child with an enemy soldier, that soldier’s surprise return, a husband who went from hero to villain, the temptation of a priest, and an attempted poisoning, just to name a few plot points. Lucienne was the innocent Catholic girl who outlasted them all, though her once-naïve heart full of pain and secrets scarred what happiness she might have otherwise known with Bériot and her beloved daughter. It was good to see that her relationship with Bériot had at least reached some level of dénouement, and that Bériot himself seemed to have come out of the dark place he had become mired in at the end of the war. I want to believe that his final act of sharing the truth with Francoise about her origin may have supplied her with the insight she needed to forgive her mother for her distance. Like all of those who were subjected to the horrors of war, Lucienne was, after all, just trying to live.


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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.