Liaison’s spy-versus-spy story gets extra-twisty this week [Apple TV+ recap]


Eva Green in ★★★
Things get ugly this week on Liaison.
Photo: Apple TV+

TV+ ReviewApple TV+ spy thriller Liaison hits a few snags this week on its way to justice and catharsis. A mostly great episode finds Alison, Gabriel, Dumas and Sophie Saint Roche making deals with unlikely allies on their mad scramble to prevent a private war against the whole of Europe.

Didier is desperate, Sabine is growing hopeless, Alison’s father is in critical condition, and Dumas grows a conscience. There’s blood in the water in this episode, entitled “Family Album.” Who will make it out alive?

Liaison recap: ‘Family Album’

Season 1, episode 5: There’s some bad business going down at the Rowdy house. After seeking shelter from nefarious international terrorist organization Antropa, mercenary Gabriel Delage (played by Vincent Cassel), his ex-girlfriend/British cabinet secretary Alison Rowdy (Eva Green) and their decoy hostage Krimo (Madi Belem) are under siege.

They’d gone to the house of Alison’s dad, Jack (Patrick Malahide) — a former NATO head — to draw the attention of Antropa and stay relatively protected. A few hours after they arrived, Antropa gunhands showed up. Gabriel shot Jack, whether out of self-defense or to protect him, and now the guys with machine guns are searching the house with night-vision goggles for the three fugitives.

From a viewer’s perspective, Liaison director Stephen Hopkins kneecaps himself a bit here with the intense digital darkness of this setpiece. When the characters move outside, it’s a little easier to tell what’s going on. But for the scenes inside the house, you might as well be watching with your eyes closed. Modern digital photography is a scourge on clarity and form, but it hadn’t really been a problem on this show until right now.

Gabriel manages to get Jack out of the compound and to blow up one of the assassin’s cars to distract them, allowing Alison to drive them out of harm’s way. Of course, Krimo is still stuck in Jack’s panic room. Krimo, a friend of refugee hacker Samir (Aziz Dyab), has been pretending to be him while the group has been under surveillance. Gabriel and Alice don’t seem super-concerned about the poor guy now that he served his purpose, but they do have other pressing issues. Alison is still mad that Gabriel shot her dad. Plus, they need to get him to a hospital before he dies.

Antropa’s terror-fueled protection racket

Meanwhile, French politician and secret Antropa beneficiary Didier (Stanislas Merhar) goes back to pressure his mistress, Sabine Louseau (Laëtitia Eïdo). It was his idea to attack Jack’s house. And now that that’s failed — and Alison, Gabriel and Samir are still on the run — Didier knows time is short and against him.

Didier needs Sabine, the mother of his secret child, who also happens to work for the French government’s cybersecurity unit, to hand over all her passwords and other secret data to Antropa. The group needs to find a way to silence Samir, who has information about Antropa’s attacks on London.

Turns out they’ve been hacking into the London power grid under the guise of a terrorist organization so England will want to pay Antropa, ostensibly a security firm, millions in protection money. If Samir goes public, or if England is allowed to enter a European Union cybersecurity pact, all that money vanishes. Didier will get the blame — and likely get disappeared for his trouble.

However, if he can get Sabine’s passwords, he can get access to the whole of Europe’s infrastructural problems and start targeting them. That will leave everyone vulnerable to attack — and open to negotiating with Antropa. Bob Foret (Eriq Ebouaney), Antropa’s CEO, is taken aback by this. He also doesn’t like the idea of being shown up by Didier, who asks to go to London to sign the deal with the English government and take a seat at Antropa’s board of directors.

Uh oh, we’ve got a mole, too

Irène Jacob and Gérard Lanvin in "Liaison," now streaming on Apple TV+.
Sophie Saint-Roch (played by Irène Jacob, left) and Dumas (Gérard Lanvin) hatch a plan.
Photo: Apple TV+

Gabriel’s boss Dumas (Gérard Lanvin) recognizes that Didier’s not going to be helping out the little guy, whether he gets what he wants or not. Dumas approaches Didier’s rival in the cabinet, Sophie Saint-Roch (Irène Jacob), with stolen footage of Didier threatening Sabine and offers to let her have it free of charge.

The trouble is, Sophie isn’t as popular with the French president (Thierry Frémont) as Didier is. She’s not convinced the damning video will be enough. She and Dumas ned to find something bigger if they want to stop Didier and Antropa. They also learn from the surveillance that the British have a mole, their own Didier, in the highest levels of government.

My money’s on Alison’s boss, Richard Banks (Peter Mullan), just because it would be the most unexpected development. But it might be Toby Gleason (Leonardo Taiwo), Banks’ most hated rival, who is pushing for them to join Antropa. That’s the more logical choice, of course, but this is a spy show. Anything goes.

The tale of a troublesome videotape

Gabriel, recognizing that he too needs a little more help, takes Alison to their old revolutionary cell. They’re all still bent out of shape because she killed one of their ranks. However, they agree to help because Samir has info that will make the right kind of change. Samir discovered that Antropa was working with the Syrian government — and that the terrorists had designs on the rest of the continent.

Samir is still extremely scared of what having this information means, for his safety and for that of his wife, Myriam (Lyna Dubarry). They have, after all, already killed his partner Walid (Marco Horanieh) for knowing what Samir knows. Samir wants to stay in France, but Alison needs him to London to testify. Gabriel takes Alison to meet Dumas and Sophie at a private location. After some horsetrading, they decide Alison and Gabriel will go to London and keep tabs on Didier on their behalf.

… and a portentous letter

Back in London, Alison’s boyfriend, civil rights lawyer Albert (Daniel Francis), gets a letter from beyond the grave intended for her. Before Antropa killed her colleague Mark Bolton (Patrick Kennedy), who had been running interference for them, he had written a letter full of evidence ready to be mailed in the case of his death at their hands. Albert hands it to Richard. So now we’ll know if he’s the mole, depending on if the letter makes it to the public or not.

Gabriel makes the mistake of finally watching the tape Dumas gave to Didier (which then wound up in the hands of Jack Rowdy, from whom Gabriel stole it) on the boat with members of his former cell. So everyone sees the taped footage of Alison killing one of their comrades. (This tape, I gotta tell you, is a problem. Liaison director Hopkins shot this supposed CCTV or news camera footage from absolutely absurd, impossible angles. There is no way this tape exists in this form. Very sloppy. Amateur hour.)

And suddenly … a twist!

The group members try to kill Alison after they see the video, but Gabriel stops them at the last minute, finally confessing something. Jack knew Alison had fallen in with radicals, so they sent Gabriel to infiltrate the group. He was a cop. He didn’t do time for the murder, which he said he confessed to to spare Alison, because he had immunity. All those years he was supposed to be in jail, he was running black ops for the French in the farthest corners of the world. No one saw that coming.

That’s a pretty nifty writing trick. I can see why Liaison is a limited series. It’s a closed loop. Very strong stuff on the whole, though this week’s episode falls quite a few notches below perfect. We’ll see how it all wraps up in next week’s finale.


Watch Liaison on Apple TV+

New episodes of Liaison appear on Apple TV+ each Friday.

Rated: TV-MA

Watch on: Apple TV+

Scout Tafoya is a film and TV critic, director and creator of the long-running video essay series The Unloved for He has written for The Village Voice, Film Comment, The Los Angeles Review of Books and Nylon Magazine. He is the author of Cinemaphagy: On the Psychedelic Classical Form of Tobe Hooper, the director of 25 feature films, and the director and editor of more than 300 video essays, which can be found at


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