This week on Drops of God, the excellent Apple TV+ show about two people competing for the title of greatest sommelier on earth, Camille and Issei consider their places in the world — and in their family lines.
Issei, fuming over a secret long kept, needs to focus for the final challenge. Camille, weighing an impulsive business decision, wonders what the next step for her will be, no matter whether she wins or loses.
Drops of God recap: ‘Food and Wine’
Season 1, episode 7: At the beginning of this week’s episode, entitled “Food and Wine,” Issei Tomine (played by Tomohisa Yamashita) is in a foul mood. He and Camille Léger (Fleur Geffrier) — the son and daughter of deceased French wine expert Alexandre Léger (Stanley Weber) — are competing for his inheritance.
It’s time for the last of three challenges Alexandre left behind to test their mettle. This will decide who is the true heir to the Léger wine fortune (and its millions of bottles of rare wine).
Their previous challenge was to identify a wine based on a painting. Camille did the research and figured it out. Issei basically cheated: He had a notebook of Alexandre’s with the answer in it. Issei admitted it wasn’t a fair victory, and deliberately threw the round.
Now, it haunts him that Camille somehow intuited the connection between the painting, her father and the wine. Maybe she is better suited to this than he is. That makes him all the more worried, because she wasn’t a wine aficionado for decades like he was.
Of course, if he’d just waited a minute, he might have learned something. His mother, Honoka Tomine (Makiko Watanabe), comes over to ask him to apologize to his grandfather Noboru (Masane Tsukayama) for refusing to take his place in the company business. Issei refuses, and lets her have it for lying all these years about sleeping with Alexandre and never telling him, thus denying him a relationship with his birth father.
Issei and Yurika Katase (Azusa Okamoto) leave Honoka in Issei’s apartment, where she spies the wine from the last challenge. Turns out she and Alexandre used to drink it together.
Camille faces a big decision
Camille’s also going through a rough patch. Her father’s old friend and business partner, Luca Inglese (Diego Ribon), offered her the chance to take over writing the world-famous Léger guide, the publication that put her father on the map. She was excited about the possibility until she met people who were affected by a negative rating in the guide. Now she feels it’s too much responsibility.
Luca blew up at her for what he perceived as cowardice in the face of a challenge, and kicked her out of his office. He also dismissed his nephew Lorenzo (Luca Terracciano), and his girlfriend Miyabi (Kyoko Takenaka), from their positions helping Camille win the contest. He doesn’t want her to win anymore. He’s that bent out of shape about the slight.
Lorenzo lets something slip to Camille by way of explanation for his uncle’s outburst. Turns out he had a huge financial stake in the guide, and also bought up hundreds of vineyards all over the world so he could profit when they appeared in the guide. Luca knew how much he stood to lose financially if he couldn’t get a replacement Léger for the guide.
What bothers Camille now is the question of whether her father knew about all of this. She doesn’t have much time to think it through, however. She must board a plane to Paris, and wouldn’t you know it? Issei’s on the flight, too. Issei tries to apologize for his distant and arrogant comportment during the contest, but she won’t let him.
The final showdown between Camille and Issei
The final contest is set up in front of a live audience, plus dozens of journalists with cameras. That throws both Issei and Camille, who already feel like they’ve had a spectacle made of their grief. Their last challenge starts with a lightning round of wine questions, which Issei aces and Camille fumbles.
Then it’s on to the real deal: creating the perfect wine pairing to go with an elaborate, three-course meal based on the kinds of food Alexandre loved. Unfortunately for Camille, the vengeful Luca is one of the guest judges. And he sees a clearer chance for profits with the Léger guide in the hands of Issei, who’s more business-minded (and perhaps more moldable).
The curious thing is, however … that wasn’t the third challenge at all. It was a ruse.
Around this time, a few other things are set in motion. Yurika goes looking for Issei’s missing adoptive father, Hirokazu (Satoshi Nikaido), in the small cafe to which he’s retreated since he felt he disgraced his family. And Alexandre’s old friends, vintner Philippe Chassangre (Gustave Kervern) and his son Thomas (Tom Wozniczka), get a letter written by Léger before his death, delivered by his lawyer.
Turns out the last challenge will be at the Chassangre vineyards, and it will reunite Camille with Thomas, with whom she’s been flirting abortively for the last several weeks (despite him being married).
The challenge is much the same as before: They have to drink a wine and re-create it. Issei tries a lot harder to be nice to Camille this time around. He no longer wishes to be her opponent, but instead tries to bridge some of the distance between them. They are related, after all, which he can’t quite bring himself to tell her yet.
Drops of God slow downs so you can drink in the drama
This is a much slower episode of Drops of God than a lot of the rest of the season. But it lost nothing by giving in to smaller, agonizing moments. Indeed, some of the best stuff is just wordless contemplation. For instance, when Camille touches the suit she must wear for the contest, hanging in the closet of the five-star Parisian hotel in which she’s staying, she sees in it the absent figure of her father. The scene is very moving — and completely driven by the look in her eyes.
I also like that Issei is putting a lot more thought into his and Camille’s competitive relationship. It’s not only good drama. It also brings a little more out of Tomohisa Yamashita’s performance.
My favorite note Yamashita plays in the whole piece is probably when he and Camille are whisked away to the third challenge in a van in the middle of the night. She falls down on the seat and starts sleeping, while he slowly edges up to the back of the seat and spies on her. It seems like it could have been culled directly from the manga from which this show takes inspiration. It’s funny, and also provides a window into exactly what’s going on behind Issei’s steely exterior.
I’m dying to know how Drops of God ends.
Watch Drops of God on Apple TV+
New episodes of Drops of God arrive Fridays on Apple TV+.
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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 and But God Made Him A Poet: Watching John Ford in the 21st Century, 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.