This piece contains spoilers for Netflix’s Lupin Part 2.
Netflix’s French crime drama Lupin began by adapting Maurice Leblanc’s Arsène Lupin adventure “The Queen’s Necklace,” but while the ten episodes have put new spins on other Lupin stories, the overall story concerns the eponymous necklace and how it links the Pellegrini and Diop families across twenty-five years. The recently-released Part 2 resolves the series’ biggest question: Will Assane Diop (Omar Sy) be able to have his revenge on Hubert Pellegrini (Hervé Pierre)? More vitally, will he be able to do so while upholding Arsène Lupin’s code of the gentleman thief—that is, to get justice without killing?
“Chapter 10” wraps up the Pellegrini conflict with what Assane refers to as “our last show”—an epic heist where the valuable to be stolen is a few minutes’ privacy alone with Pellegrini. That the confrontation takes place at the Théâtre du Châtelet is Assane and his best friend Benjamin’s (Antoine Gouy) own little Easter egg as Lupin superfans: The theatre was the site of the first Arsène Lupin stage adaptation in 1911, with posters of the stage show plastered in the inner hallways.
The episode’s biggest twist is one that Lupin viewers might have learned to anticipate by now: Pellegrini’s newest co-conspirator, the suspiciously young accountant Philippe Courbet, is secretly working with Assane and Ben. Yours truly had her suspicions when he conveniently appeared with an incredibly unscrupulous plan to wire the majority of the Pellegrini Foundation’s donations to a private account in the Canary Islands, though that level of supervillain behavior would not be out of character for Pellegrini.
But “Chapter 10” employs one of the series’ signature switchbacks by showing Assane and Ben staking out the library’s Arsène Lupin section to intercept fellow diehard fans and to find an accomplice for their Pellegrini con. Though there are some contenders, especially those who try to steal the books (or pages of them) for themselves, ultimately it’s the goth youth who notes them watching him who passes the test. He even comes up with his own winking alias: Courbet, named for Gustave Courbet’s iconic paintings of the cliffs at Étretat.
Of course, Assane still needs to get inside the foundation’s gala in order to carry out the rest of his plan. While the past nine episodes have seen him employing all manner of disguises to evade both the Pellegrinis and the police, his framing and the subsequent raid of his Lupin lair have stripped him of all of his tools. And so it’s entry by way of hiding in the trunks housing the massive computer equipment that will help Pellegrini launder the money. If anything, it’s Ben who gets to delight in the power of disguise; even though the police are looking for him as well, all it takes is a jumpsuit, some slicked-back hair, and a pissy attitude to get in under their noses. It may not be the most Lupin way, but it’s yet another way that this series has subverted the source material.
Lupin Part 2, moreso than Part 1, grappled with the rising body count between Assane and Pellegrini—all killed by the latter, though he tried to frame Assane for Léonard’s murder. Despite the fact that Lupin doesn’t kill, over the course of these five episodes it became clear that Assane was struggling against the impulse to hurt Pellegrini the way he had hurt him, first by arranging for his father Babakar’s (Fargass Assandé) death and then by nearly succeeding in killing his teenage son Raoul (Etan Simon).
But even with a knife to Pellegrini’s neck and the orchestra as a cover were he to slit his throat, Assane recollects himself and gets what he needed: a recorded confession from Pellegrini, which he plays at the end of the concert over a photograph of himself and Babakar.
And thanks to Assane leaving clues for his “Ganimard,” Officer Guedira (Soufiane Guerrab) is able to convince Lieutenant Belkacem (Shirine Boutella) and Capitaine Laugier (Vincent Londez) of Dumont’s (Vincent Garanger) corruption and conspiracy with Pellegrini. The three show up, spiffily dressed, in time to witness Pellegrini’s recorded confession and arrest him.
Of course, that leaves Ganimard chasing Lupin—but now is when Assane has waited to utilize his last disguise. In a throwback to “Chapter 1,” where he entered as billionaire Paul Sernine and left as janitor Luis Perenna, Assane moves through the theatre in a suit, but once his revenge on Pellegrini is done, he goes back to a working-class persona. Thanks to a fake beard and dreadlocks, he exits as a fire department official, loudly sending people up to the roof where he “saw” Assane go, tossing his keys (perhaps a callback to Ganimard’s tendency to toss handcuffs?) as a physical tic to distract people from looking too closely at his face.
Then again, the police have become keen enough to his tricks that when he takes off the disguise too quickly, they make chase. Though Assane manages to commandeer a motorboat on the Seine, by the end of “Chapter 10” he comes to the realization that it’s not safe—for him, and for his family and friends—to remain in Paris, at least not right now.
Sy has confirmed that there will be a Lupin Part 3, after journalists channeled Inspector Ganimard and found a tie-in website promising Assane’s return. However, it seems likely that he won’t immediately resurface in Paris. It would be fun to see “Chapter 11” (or there might be a new naming convention, now that the Pellegrini saga is over) start in an entirely new locale. Probably not as far as Senegal, as the police might think to look for him there, but maybe in Australia/New Zealand or even the United States. Perhaps he’ll pull out the Lupin persona of hard-boiled private eye Jim Barnett…
Despite Assane’s name being cleared, Ben may not find it so easy to start over. The police descended upon his shop in “Chapter 9”; they know all about his forgery work. It would be fascinating to see if this causes a rift between the two lifelong friends, though Assane will likely be able to make it up to his friend by setting him up with a new business and/or anagrammed identity. Considering that Assane tells Claire (Ludivine Sagnier) and Raoul that “you won’t see me, but I’ll be watching over you,” that would seem to point at him relying on Ben for updates on his family while they’re apart.
Surprisingly, Claire working with both the Pellegrinis and the police didn’t destroy her relationship with Assane—he likely didn’t blame her for her increasingly desperate choices, especially when he acknowledges his fatal flaw of only thinking of himself. Throughout the past ten episodes (and the twenty-five years they span), Claire has blamed Assane for his inability to keep promises—staying out of their lives, at least for now, is the rare promise he can keep.
Could Lupin Part 3 see Raoul trying his first forays into the Arsène Lupin lifestyle? Almost getting torched in a car wasn’t enough to scare him off, and with his father leaving Paris for the moment, Raoul will likely see that as a void to be filled. What would be fantastic is if Guedira managed to make it so that a few key Lupin props from Assane’s headquarters just happen to go missing from the evidence room and find their way toward a bright young Lupin enthusiast…
Juliette Pellegrini (Clotilde Hesme) is, appropriately enough, a mystery. Assane got close to her in “Chapter 8” in order to try and take down her father, though by the end of the episode his affection for her seemed genuine, as he chose her even after that particular con had ended. But with him publicly revealing her father’s crimes to the members of his foundation, Assane may have set Juliette back into the role of antagonist, depending on how Hubert’s arrest will affect the Pellegrini Foundation and her future as a philanthropist.
Regardless of that loose end, Lupin Part 3 will likely move away from the Pellegrinis and into a new set of antagonists. While there are Arsène Lupin stories dealing with treasures as fantastical as the Fountain of Youth, what would be really fun would be to see this adaptation take on the Castle of Cagliostro. Just think: Italy (a new locale!), a family feud to rival the Pellegrini/Diop saga (but also concerning the Pellegrinis’ ancestors), and four different enigmas to solve.
Sounds like the perfect second act for the modern Arsène Lupin.
Lupin is available now on Netflix.