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Mafiosa - The final season - Posters & première date + Braquo season 3 review [spoiler-free]

Mafiosa, which is basically the only Canal+ original drama series that wasn't considered for an American remake (Engrenages, Braquo, Pigalle la nuit, Maison Close, Les revenants, even the comedy series Hard, are all in the development process - though some of those are "in development" for a while now so they're probably not happening), will end its run on Canal+ very soon.

The mobster drama, which is Canal Plus' second original series (the first one being Engrenages), will conclude with its last 8 episodes this Spring.

Episode 1.01 of Mafiosa first aired on December 12, 2006. Five seasons, 40 episodes and seven and a half years later, the show following Sandra Paoli and her family will end with episode 5.08 on May 5, 2014.

It means the final season will start on Monday, April 14. As always, two episodes air each Monday, and this ultimate season will be released on DVD/Blu-ray on Friday, May 9 (the four previous seasons are only on DVD).

It's worth pointing out that Mafiosa will be Canal+'s first original series to get a proper sendoff, a true "final season" planned as such :

- La commune, Scalp and Pigalle la nuit were great series overall but none of them went beyond 8 episodes.
- XIII was mediocre and was cancelled after its second season / reboot.
- Reporters was an outstanding drama on journalism/politics but unfortunately it didn't get a third season.
- Maison Close was supposed to have a third season before season 2 aired, but bad press + declining ratings + no buzz sealed its fate.

The production process is such that except Engrenages (Spiral) and Braquo, it's clear that the approach with every season of every show is to tell a self-contained story over 8-12 episodes (and leave a door open for more), there are no 7-season contracts here (which also means long delays between seasons), so the shows rarely end with frustrating cliffhangers — by that I mean that Scalp (set in the world of stock exchange), Pigalle la nuit (nightclubs) and Reporters (journalism) are dramas worth watching and the absence of proper series finales isn't too annoying.

Borgia will also get the "final season" treatment this year, with the third season likely premiering this September.

— Spoiler-free review of Braquo season 3 :

This season was a disappointment, like season 2 was. The season 2 cliffhanger set up a lot of potential, and episodes 3.01/3.02 started things off rather well, but this potential was diluted/wasted and the final scene is shameful — in many ways, it's like what happened with Dexter season 8 after the thrilling cliffhanger of episode 7.12, except thankfully Braquo still has another season to bring it all to a satisfying ending (season 4 should be the last, according to Jean-Hugues Anglade).

It made me think of Dexter for another reason : either the characters are unbelievably stupid, or they seem omniscient to what other characters are thinking or doing (Vogel and Orianne in particular). This is just for the sake of creating twists or taking one storyline in a particular direction, it's obvious and it's bad writing.

The final scene of the season is supposed to be this huge Se7en-like climax, a dramatic culmination of what should have been building up for 8 episodes, but I wanted to facepalm so much, it all felt too easy, trying to create tragedy out of thin air, not rewarding in any way. This is supposed to be a key scene of the show, and they're ruining it with laughable dialogue (and thus performances)...

I couldn't believe they'd go there. The dialogue... oh, you're lucky you don't speak French (for most of you) because if you did, you'd be appalled by how simplistic and caricatural some of this stuff is ("TU BLUFFES! C'EST QUE DU BLUUUUUUUFFFF!!!" is streets behind "WHAT'S IN THE BOOOOX????")

But before episode 3.08, which I admit was not completely awful (a subplot involving Walter is quite exciting, we'll see if the writer has the guts to go where we want him to go with it in episode 4.01), there were some already major problems.

— Not a lot of payoffs, for instance :

1. The cliffhanger of episode 3.04 was contrived, yes (and the build up to it was equally ridiculous), but it was pretty good. How it was defused in episode 3.05 was a complete joke.

2. The cliffhanger of episode 3.06 was interesting, and a bit surprising. Episode 3.08 goes backwards on that, even if it's totally absurd.

— Huge incoherences that truly stick out (two words : severed hands - yes, plural).

— I didn't care about any of the Vory V. Zakone guys (the Russian mobsters, aka the main storyline of the season, since the vengeance part is only secondary, sadly - or not, given what they've done with it). Maybe because there are 36 Russian/Georgian/Armenian bad guys (and Turks are thrown in there at the end) and I didn't know who was who until late in the season (but throughout the season they betray each other, make alliances to take down another guy but it was a ruse, etc). They had no personality, they were all clichés of mobsters, but the main problem was there were too many of them and Abdel Raouf Dafri (the writer of season 2 and this third season — yes, singular, he is the only writer with no one to argue his choices in the writing room) was clearly interested by this war of succession but he couldn't flesh them out except two of them (Jordania and the Russian cop) but then it was all very confusing too. If you think of a story that evolves effortlessly, this is the opposite of that.

On a side note, it looked like Karole Rocher was hung over every time she was on camera. Maybe it was a subtle way of telling us without showing it that Roxanne was drinking booze to cope with Theo's death, but I think it has more to do with her limitations as an actress.

Best episode of the season: episode 3.06 (this episode is 75% flashback + 25% gunfight, and it works very well).
Worst episode of the season: episode 3.05 (though some elements of episode 3.08, including the last 2 minutes, are making me reconsider that).

I'll try to finish with a positive comment: it's still an easy show to watch, more than ever it's brainless popcorn entertainment like The Walking Dead, and I can't say I was ever bored during season 3. But when you think about it, man, it really should have had a more serious writing (and by serious I don't mean having a string of mean bad guys and dark antiheroes). And even if the ending is stupid, it hints at a fourth season that might be more enjoyable — there's room for the writer to chicken out on what he hints at (yep, it's stupid and it can be non-committing), but I hope he won't, and that the final season will be all about Caplan and his team.

Grade : C+ (I'd give a B to season 2 and an A- to season 1). It would've been B- without the last 2 minutes.

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