Like any slyly executed magic trick, every episode of Netflix’s witty French caper series Lupin relies on the viewer tracking certain essential pieces of information while missing other tidbits that might reveal the inevitable surprise. The pleasure lies in being deceived, in getting the rug pulled out from underneath you by the show’s clever gentleman thief Assane Diop (Omar Sy) and his various associates, but that “a-ha!” effect still requires that you follow closely for the scheme to work. It’s a careful narrative balancing act.
The five new Lupin episodes that debuted on Netflix June 11, months after the show became a surprise hit back in January, are being rolled out as “Part 2,” and they play more like new chapters in the same larger story than an entirely new book. (The episodes were also shot at the same time as Part 1, so there were no COVID-related production delays.) Creators George Kay and François Uzan dive right into the aftermath of last season’s cliffhanger, which involved the kidnapping of Diop’s son at a seaside festival honoring author Maurice Leblanc’s fictional Arsène Lupin character, and they keep Diop on his quest for revenge against the dastardly businessman Hubert Pellegrini (Hervé Pierre), who framed Diop’s father for the theft of a necklace that Diop himself stole back in the show’s first episode.
If you watched Lupin way back in January and promptly forgot everything about the show except that it has cool heists and a cute dog named “J’accuse,” the opening moments of the new season might be a little confusing. Though the schemes aren’t always terribly complex––sometimes Diop just throws on a disguise––the show doesn’t do too much hand-holding. So, to make the most of the new episodes, read on and refresh yourself on all the details that will help you get the most out of the show’s tangled web of deceit.
What was happening with Diop’s son?
Episode 6 picks up right where “Chapter 5 –– Étretat” leaves off. Assane and his ex-girlfriend Claire (Ludivine Sagnier) take their Lupin-obsessed son, Raoul (Etan Simon), to a Lupin-centric literary festival in the town of Étretat in the Northwestern region of France for his birthday. It’s the type of joyful, scenic place where everyone wears top hats and capes and celebrates their love of Lupin. But the quiet family trip is ruined by one of Pellegrini’s goons, an assassin named Leonard (Adama Niane)-having already killed Diop’s dogged journalist friend Fabienne Beriot, who had written a book investigating Pellegrini’s corruption-interrupts the family on the train and then kidnaps Raoul while Diop and Claire are trying to have a heart to heart.
At the close of Part 1, it feels like the tables have finally turned on Diop and that Pellegrini now has the upper hand. It’s the classic “this time it’s personal” twist. (If you mess with a gentleman thief’s family, he might not stay a gentleman forever!) While Diop is a master manipulator, capable of fooling security guards and slipping by cameras, rescuing his son from a hired tough-guy like Leonard will likely be a job that requires a bit more action movie maneuvering, which will, of course, be much harder with the police in hot pursuit.
How close are the cops to catching Diop?
In addition to flashbacks to Diop’s teenage years, the first part of Lupin was laced with scenes of the quite dashing, slightly bumbling detective Youssef Guedira (Soufiane Guerrab) reading Leblanc’s books and trying to get his colleagues at the police department to buy into his theories about the thief, who mimics Lupin’s literary exploits, they’re all trying to catch. Complicating that are both Pellegrini and Diop’s connections to the police chief, Gabriel Dumont, who is deep in Pellegrini’s pockets but has a soft spot for Diop (even after he kidnapped Dumont) remembering him from his tragic past, and deflects any of his officer’s theories that point to Diop as the necklace thief, kidnapper, or the one behind the anonymous Twitter account that leaked video of Pellegrini selling weapons that would be used in a terrorist attack against the French embassy in Kuala Lumpur.
Honestly, these scenes were probably the most boring parts of the first half. Youssef wasn’t particularly successful, always a few steps behind Diop, and his coworkers write him off as a conspiracy theorist (which got him yanked off the case), but by the end of Episode 5 he follows Diop all the way to the festival and comes face to face with the object of his obsession. It sets up an obvious conflict for Youssef: Will he help Diop as a newly minted Lupin obsessive or will he attempt to turn him into the cops? Where does his loyalty lie? Will he keep chasing Diop or finally just admit he wants to be a stylish thief too?
What are Hubert Pellegrini and his family up to?
It’s important to remember that Hubert Pellegrini, a rich businessman with long hair and a gray beard, is very powerful in the universe of Lupin. If this were Ocean’s Eleven, he’s Terry Benedict, the villain you want to see get embarrassed and taken down a peg. He’s connected to the media, to the police, to the government, and to arms-dealers; most importantly, he’s connected to our hero, Assane Diop.
Diop’s father Babakar worked as a chauffeur for the cruel, vindictive Pellegrini, who eventually framed Babakar for stealing a priceless necklace that Pellegrini himself had hidden in a scheme to raise the value of the necklace, and had him sent to prison, where Babakar committed suicide. That bit of backstory, revealed over the course of the first five episodes, informs almost everything Diop does. Pellegrini also has a wife, Anne (Nicole Garcia)-who essentially started this whole mess by giving Babakar a Lupin book from her shelves-and a daughter, Juliette (Clotilde Hesme), who has a complicated romantic history with Diop. If Hubert Pellegrini is going to be publicly revealed as a fraud and a criminal-and, if you’ve ever seen a show like this, you know he definitely will be at some point-expect either Anne or Juliette to play some marginal role in his inevitable downfall.
Will Diop still steal things and trick people in a dashing manner?
Duh! This is still Lupin, the type of show where the protagonist communicates through anagrams and steals a scooter for a romantic ride through Paris on a whim. It’s not a grim, bleak series. While the new batch of episodes have less of the “heist of the week” feeling that the first few did, the show keeps the same charming tone, anchored by Sy’s charismatic, mischievous lead performance. As intense as things get in these new episodes-again, the kidnapping of Diop’s son requires the story to get a bit more pedal-to-the-metal-the show never loses that playful touch. While carefully following the plot heightens your enjoyment of the series, it’s just as essential to remember to have fun.Want more Thrillist? Follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, TikTok, and Snapchat.
Dan Jackson is a senior staff writer at Thrillist Entertainment. He’s on Twitter @danielvjackson.