Virgin River Holiday Episodes Season 5 Episode 11 and 12 Review – Father Christmas

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The third season of Lupin should be called the many—and ever-changing—looks of Assane Diop, a chameleon in the streets of Paris who’s able to pull off just about any look—from a head-to-toe pink suit to a Chad army uniform to a full Dennis Rodman makeover, and many more in between. There’s a reason why he’s considered the master of disguises.

Warning—this review contains spoilers from Lupin Season 3!

And piggybacking off of that, it’s so easy to become whoever you want to be if you just believe in yourself and have the confidence to sell the story. It’s how the gentleman thief—inspired by the fictional character Arsène Lupin—the most-wanted man in all of France whose face was plastered on every single newspaper, was able to blend in public, stepping out and showing his face to all of the people who were so obsessed with his “voice of the people” persona yet barely bat an eyelash when he was standing in front of them. Lupin doesn’t just talk the talk, he plays the part and sells it. It’s part of the fun that keeps audiences guessing for seven episodes this season, wondering how it will all end for him, if he’ll ever slip up, or if there’s any piece of the puzzle he hasn’t accounted for (spoiler alert—there isn’t. His forethought is absolutely incredible). 

The one thing that does catch him off guard, however, is the season’s new villain. At the end of season 2, Assane brings down Hubert (Hervé Pierre) and Juliette Pelligrini (Clotilde Hesme), the father-daughter duo who framed his father—with the former also framing him for murder—before disappearing into the night.  However, it turns out it’s not easy being the family of a criminal, and when he saw the public’s obsession with his escape and how the media began to hound Claire (Ludivine Sagnier) and Raoul (Etan Simon), he was inspired by Lupin staging his own death. 

He was able to pull it off without a hitch, even digging his way out of a coffin and through a tunnel with Ben (Antoine Gouy) and Jacques’ help, bxut a wrench was thrown in his plans to disappear off the grid when someone kidnapped his mother and forced him to do their dirty bidding, first telling him to hand over the Black Pearl (which he so masterfully stole in the first episode of the season), before making him steal a Monet painting and a very rare and expensive diamond bracelet directly from the wrist of the heiress wearing it. 

The fact that someone somehow one-upped Assane is shocking, but it’s far from the only jaw-dropping moment this season. Audiences are equally as stunned when Ben, Assane’s loyal-to-a-fault right-hand man is caught red-handed with the aforementioned bracelet in his hand as it’s revealed that having Assane lose everything and hurt the ones he loves most is the true goal for this season’s villain.

This is a deeply personal vendetta and one that’s intriguing as it connects directly to his past growing up without a father and yearning for the love of his mother. The flashbacks take us to 1998 when Assane finds his people at Keller’s gym alongside his good buddy Bruno. Keller isn’t the good guy he claims to be, quickly making it clear that he uses manipulation tactics to make all the kids dependent on him. With such a focus on how much control Keller had over Assane’s formative years, it’s not exactly a surprise that Keller ends up being the bad guy in the present day, especially when the translated closed captions use his name even before the reveal is made clear on screen. That, however, doesn’t water down the impact of the twist as fans still find themselves wondering what Assane could’ve done to Keller to make him crave revenge of this caliber.  

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The truth is, if Assane kept better tabs on his enemies—and he has a lot of them—he likely might have been able to get ahead of this one, but the suave criminal doesn’t have time for all of that nonsense. 

Because that’s the thing–even when the stakes are as high as Keller threatening to kill Assane’s mother Mariama, it never stops being fun. Assane thoroughly enjoys what he does and he never seems to worry, as Claire happens to point out, even though we know he definitely worries in his own way; he simply doesn’t show it, turning those anxieties into actionable moments where he’s able to control the narrative before it controls him.

He’s also able to use his understanding of human behavior to get people to do what he wants and needs, without them even realizing that they’re being manipulated or tricked, as is the case of Youssef Guédira (Soufiane Guerrab). Despite every bone in his body telling him not to help Assane, he goes through with it because Assane makes a compelling point and promises to give himself up in exchange for his assistance. On a surface level, it seems like Guédira agrees to help Assane because he wants to be the victorious police officer who not only retrieves all the valuable possessions but also brings in the big fish, but on a deeper level, we know it’s because Guédira is actually a huge fan of the Lupin character, and, in turn, Assane, and can’t pass up yet another opportunity to be an accomplice and work alongside him.

There’s a level of loyalty with Assane in that he never breaks a promise. He might put those he loves in questionable situations—like allowing Ben to get arrested with the bracelet—but he always takes care of them in the end, which is one of the reasons why he eventually turned himself in and allowed Guédira to be the arresting officer. He owes him this one favor, and if he’s to allow himself to get caught, he wants the person who gets the credit to be someone who deserves it; someone he sees as somewhat of an equal and who he admires. Aside from Ben, Assane never met his match, until Guédira came along. He’s one of the few people able to keep up with every single hint and clue because he figured out the rules that Assane plays by.

Guédira was the first person to link Assane to the Lupin stories, finding the connection between Assane’s escapades and Lupin’s. It served him well in the second season, so you’d think by now his colleagues would put aside their skepticism and simply acknowledge that Guédira is onto something. It was nice to see Guédira redeem himself when he arrested Assane because of how little faith everyone had in him and his theories, particularly Sofia Belkacem (Shirine Boutella). She constantly bashed Guédira’s suggestions and tips, dismissing and shrugging them off as nothing more than an obsession when she should be utilizing him considering he’s the only person who was ever even remotely close to catching Assane, and he’s definitely gotten closer to him than anyone else has.

Lupin Season 3 Review 7 Episodes

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Did things look bad for Guédira when he was caught on an unofficial undercover mission as Justin Avisto?  Yes. But did Guédira attempt to prove himself many times after, even giving her a lead in the case? Also, yes. 

Guerida deserves better—and quite frankly, I was really shipping him with Fleur. It’s a shame we didn’t get to see more of a development in their relationship.

One of the biggest letdowns of the season was Assane’s decision to transform into Alex, Raoul’s new basketball coach who got all too close to Claire and allowed her to develop feelings for him. It’s one thing to want to keep tabs on your family, especially when their safety is a concern, but it’s another to completely mislead them in such a way. Claire eventually caught on when she got confirmation that Assane was still alive, and I’m surprised she wasn’t more upset. My guess is that she would’ve been had his presence not protected her from a hitman, plus she was overcome with emotion at seeing him alive and well after being led to believe he was really gone. 

In a way, he was protecting his family by being “around” even when he couldn’t be, but how did he find all that time to play both roles and never skip a beat as he hunted down the people trying to destroy him and kill his mother? It was one of the more unbelievable storylines, that’s for sure. 

Assane’s attempt at stealing the Black Pearl—his first and only ever failure—was the most riveting master plan as it was so exceptionally executed, right down to faking his own death. He had to know that it was going to be a hard sell, even if he was in the casket when Guédira forced them to open it. Anyone familiar with Lupin’s story would expect him to fake his own death. 

It was thrilling to see his plan in action, but it’s seven better to see it deconstructed from top to bottom after seeing him succeed.

The Black Pearl robbery came with the highest stakes as he informed the jeweler and the police of the robbery—the exact date and time—in advance. Not only did he require backup from Bruno and Ben, he also needed the police to be on the premises, watching like hawks, and playing along to his cat-and-mouse game, in addition to the chaos of the crowd to aid in his great escape. It was all meticulously calculated into his plan. 

Assane somehow manages to always be in the thick of the action and within a cop’s reach, while also vanishing before anyone even figures out what he’s up to.

It was also rewarding to meet Bruno in the present day and see that he was still available whenever Assane needed him considering how much time we spent with him via flashbacks, how vital he was during Assane’s teen, and how they were bonded for life by shared trauma.

Lupin Season 3 Review 7 Episodes

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As for Keller’s motivation after all these years, he was simply upset that he spent 25 years in prison for killing a cop during a botched robbery that he forced Assane and Bruno to commit on his behalf and against their will. Bruno may have taken the shot at the cop out of fear, but it was really Keller who pulled the trigger as the situation was of his own making; he deserved to pay the ultimate price, and the fact that he thought otherwise was simply his ego and inability to confront the truth—and Assane made sure to underscore that when he set Keller up to get cornered by the police once again for his crimes (the ruthless attempted murder of the hitman he pushed off the roof). 

Keller was doing good things but holding it against people—he was a devil in disguise, a dangerous gang leader masked as a safe haven. Bruno eventually opened up his own boxing studio—that did have the youth’s best interest at heart and called it Lupin’s Gym in honor of the friend who always had his back. 

One major highlight this season was Diop’s journey to finding his mother. We’ve seen how far he was willing to go for his father, but his mother was largely out of the picture until now when we learned of her story—and that the craftiness of thievery runs in the family.

Mama Diop was forced to steal after being released from prison in Senegal, and she was quick with it, just like Assane. Not only did we see them reconcile their relationship, but we even saw them work a mark together, which was a pure delight. The anxiety may have reached new heights this season, and through it all, I genuinely have no idea how Assane stayed calm, but it’s clear that life is a game to him—and it’s a game he plays well. He’s finally found his perfect partner in crime.

And finally, Assane Diop’s arrest, which wasn’t how anyone wanted his story to conclude, but it was necessary. From the get-go, Assane was ready to risk it all for the “big one,” alluding to the fact that he was ready to put this lifestyle, this chapter of it, to bed. 

He’s a man of his word, delivering on his promise to Guédira in a slightly different way, even when he had every chance to escape and make a clean getaway with his whole family finally together. Assane knew that he owed it to his loved ones to do better; he didn’t want them living a life as runaways solely because of the mess he made. Claire once said the only solution was to turn himself in, and she was always right—so he did.

The plan was for Assane to pay his time, repent for what he’s done, and wipe the slate clean, but I’m sure he has an escape plan in his back pocket for a rainy day…like when it’s revealed that his cell neighbor is Hubert, his biggest enemy, for example. 

Assane gets the message loud and clear, and the man he put behind bars now has every reason to make his life a living hell. 

How will Assane respond? What’s next for the gentleman thief who always keeps us on our toes? He was in his prime this season—one of the strongest seasons to date—but this development sets the scene for more to come. 

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