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Maison Close

Fri Jun 28, 10-11pm, Sky Arts 1

Series two, episode two
Well, that didn’t take long. Smooth criminal Mosca, having fortified his position at the brothel, promptly cracks down on both fellow crooks (brandishing their ill-gotten gains a little too gleefully) and potential informers (by tossing them over a balcony). And all the while, he’s manoeuvring Hortense towards irrelevance; Valérie Karsenti has almost imperceptibly turned this aloof, vulnerable madam into a near-tragic figure. Although we don’t think she’ll be content to be obsolete for long…

Slight feelings of ennui and déjà vu hang over tonight’s episode (not helped by an obsession with flashbacks), but there’s enough going on between the lines to hold the attention. Also, occasional moments of beauty still surface in this ugly business. Tonight, for example, concludes with a mesmerisingly mounted sequence of joy and despair while Vivaldi swells on the soundtrack. But this is starting to feel like a series in repose.