Apple TV+ espionage thriller Liaison comes to its breakneck conclusion this week. Alison and Gabriel get Samir and his information to England, but can they make it to the right authorities in time to save the continent from terrorism and extortion? And just who is the right authority, anyway?
Samir and Sabine have an appointment with Antropa, Bob and Didier must pay the piper, and Gabriel has one last trial in which to prove himself. All things considered, the Liaison finale brings a pretty decent conclusion to a star-studded limited series.
Liaison recap: ‘An Eye for an Eye’
Season 1, episode 6: In the episode, entitled “An Eye for an Eye,” Gabriel Delage (played by Vincent Cassel) and Alison Rowdy (Eva Green) are back in England after an extended detour in France. The mercenary and his one-time lover and current British cabinet secretary are running out of time to get hacker Samir (Aziz Dyab) — and by extension, Samir’s wife Myriam (Lyna Dubarry) and their baby — to the top of the British government so he can testify that a shady group called Antropa is behind a rash of cyberattacks on London’s infrastructure.
Antropa planned to crash trains and planes to let London know how vulnerable it was to cyber infiltration, then sell the city leaders protection at a markup. Samir discovered the plot and was trying to turn himself in when the French government sent Gabriel to get him. Gabriel has since learned Antropa was behind his mission, and is now trying to do the right thing.
The man who hired Gabriel, Didier Taraud (Stanislas Merhar) thinks he’s still got the whole operation by the tail. He’s kidnapped his son so that the boy’s mother, French security official Sabine Louseau (Laëtitia Eïdo), will accompany him to London to make sure the city leaders sign an agreement with Antropa instead of the EU’s cybersecurity pact. Sabine already tried to wash her hands of Didier, though she loves him, but he’s not about to make it easy. If his deal falls through, he’ll lose his share in Antropa. And, more than likely, the head of the company, Bob Foret (Eriq Ebouaney), will have Didier killed.
Hats off to Eva Green
Alison takes Gabriel, Samir, Myriam and their baby to the house in London she shares with her boyfriend, Albert (Daniel Francis). Albert isn’t pleased at all about seeing Gabriel. A few weeks back, Alison’s boss Richard Banks (Peter Mullan) had assigned him the case of Samir’s partner-in-crime Walid (Marco Horanieh). Walid needed a defender after defecting to England to try and warn British authorities about Antropa. Gabriel ended up killing him during an attempted extraction and, all on the same day, Albert’s daughter Kim (Bukky Bakray) was sent to the hospital because of one of Antropa’s terrorist attacks. So they’re not on the best of terms, even before you factor in that Gabriel and Alison used to date.
Banks stops by to debrief Alison after her French adventure. It seems like he’s on her side, but it ain’t over ’til it’s over. She says a tearful goodbye to Myriam and Samir, their business having been concluded now that they’re in Banks’ custody.
Eva Green is just so goddamned good in this. They keep beating up her character and making her go days without sleep, and it just makes her that much more charismatic and magnetic. You simply cannot take your eyes off of her. Her scenes with Albert after kicking Gabriel out of the house are unbeatable.
Trouble for Antropa
Meanwhile, Didier’s rival in the French cabinet, Sophie Saint-Roch (Irène Jacob), and Gabriel’s boss, Dumas (Gérard Lanvin), have been liaising with the U.K. government to entrap Didier and Foret as they get closer to London to sign the deal with Banks. Gabriel gets to do the honors of grabbing Didier so Sophie can have him extradited back to France for a domestic arrest. If the English arrest him it’ll cause an international incident, so it’s once more unto the breach for Gabriel.
Foret is heading to his meeting when his direct superior Miller (played by Tchéky Karyo! Ah! Always good to see this guy. Karyo is 70 years old and still as handsome as ever) delivers bad news. He knows the British got Samir’s information and that Antropa now looks guilty as sin. So it’s time to pack it in and go home — and cut Didier loose as the fall guy.
Foret’s livid. All this? All the bribes and the shadow games and terrorism and murder and blackmail for nothing? He does eventually see that he’s got no choice, but he’s bummed as hell about it. They sit Sabine down to get her passwords out of her so Antropa can gain access to all the information the French government has on their allies and enemies. Knowing they might kill her son, she’s meant to just fork over the info, but she doesn’t. This makes Didier, Miller and Foret furious. Getting out of this is going to be harder than they thought.
Hit-and-miss action scenes
Banks calls Alison and tells her to meet him at his office. However, her car doesn’t start. Then the cabbie who picks her up kidnaps her at gunpoint and takes her to Antropa’s temporary hideout along with Samir, Myriam and Sabine. Dumas calls Gabriel and says Alison is the one who ratted them out to Antropa. But when the Antropa guys find him and start beating him up, he doesn’t get a chance to confirm or deny anything. They take Samir, Myriam and Sabine to a room to kill them, but Samir stabs one of the guys and Myriam and Sabine run away.
Once again, I don’t know how director Stephen Hopkins messes up the physics of this scene so badly, but he does. The order of events doesn’t make sense. And it’s just not very thrilling with his blocking and staging. The next scene works much better, though.
When Alison and Gabriel are brought to meet Bob, Miller and Didier, she shoots the guy nearest to her after stealing his gun. Now that’s a much more compelling (and cool) little action scene. Then Gabriel has Alison break his thumb so he can get his handcuffs off (pretty badass), and they go and find Myriam hiding in the parking garage with her son. She leaves the kid with Alison and then turns herself in so the two can get away.
Liaison finale: Espionage till the very end
Gabriel locks himself in a corridor and shoves Alison to safety so he can take a bullet for her, which is very romantic (they kiss for a long moment beforehand). Then, as Alison is trying to call for backup as Didier, Bob and Miller get away in a helicopter, the helicopter explodes.
Everything falls into place then. Banks did it to bury all evidence that he was in bed with Antropa. He asks Alison if she wants in on his deal, but she spurns him. She’s just happy Myriam makes it out OK. And then she’s even happier when she sees Gabriel made it out alive.
I’m kind of curious what episode seven of Liaison would have looked like, but I think ending this after six is a good way to make sure we get our fill of action beats, geopolitical intrigue and many of Europe’s best character actors. Liaison will go down in history as a minor thing, no doubt, but I most certainly enjoyed watching it.
Watch Liaison on Apple TV+
You can now watch all of Liaison season one on Apple TV+.
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 RogerEbert.com. 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 Patreon.com/honorszombie.