Season 2 of the Elite Squad TV series recently arrived on Walter Presents. It’s getting a lot of promotion, though the series originally aired years ago. (Season one is from 2008.) Elite Squad is a French police procedural heavy on both action and drama. There was enough intrigue to keep us watching, but both the characters and the production team are guilty of excessive force.
Yach (Frédéric Diefenthal) and Constantine (Yann Sundberg) – almost everyone calls them this – lead separate crime and undercover units in the Paris police force. They are rivals, with bad blood between them going back years to a couple of incidents involving jealousy and a bust gone wrong. They relive these moments constantly, and so do we, thanks to all too frequent flashbacks. Their boss, Léa Legrand (Catherine Marchal), was seriously injured in the flashback incident. She holds out hope that Yach and Constatine will resolve their differences, even as she unsuccessfully tries to reign them in.
Elite Squad season 1
The series opens with a typical cop series stylized shootout. We considered switching shows, but stuck around. Thirty minutes later, as the story unfolded, we found more to like about Elite Squad.
Early in the first episode, a car bomb kills Legrand’s chauffeur. This begins an investigation that winds through revenge crimes, sex trafficking, narcotics, and other gang-related evil doings. Yach’s unit is in charge, but Constantine keeps close tabs on him – often too close – resulting in several screw ups and a dangerous game of one-upmanship.
Elite Squad has it’s cheesy moments, starting with the shoot-em-up opening credits and a theme song reminiscent of Mar de Plastico. That’s appropriate, as both shows feature characters with little control over their impulses. They act before they think, and if it’s a choice between rational discussion or a fist fight as a means of conflict resolution, the fight always wins.
None of the cops in Elite Squad – except Internal Affairs division – follow procedure. Even the rookie cops – two female “interns” have significant roles – refuse to listen to their superiors or call for backup when needed. The results are expected, but the series itself offers a few genuine surprises along the way.
Elite Squad season 2
The second season of Elite Squad takes place – and was produced – about 3 years after the first. Things have changed, mostly for Yach, though some of the old crew is still around. Thankfully, the melodrama is dialed down a couple of notches, but it’s not entirely gone.
Despite this restraint, we found the first season more compelling. The main storyline is less believable in season two. Though Legrand has a larger dramatic role, other interesting characters in the police units have minimized parts.
Elite Squad (Flics in France) was written by Olivier Marchal (husband at the time of the actor playing Léa Legrand), perhaps, better known for his series Braquo, which also features a squad of rogue cops. Season 1 of Elite Squad came out before the Braquo series began. If it was a choice between the two, we’d opt for Braquo.
Still, the Elite Squad TV series is an entertaining show if you enjoy action, don’t mind violence, and, as in most police dramas, are willing to suspend belief. The second season won a couple of best series TV awards at La Rochelle TV Festival and the Crystal Globes in Europe. Both seasons, eight episodes total, are on Walter Presents.