Baptiste episode 2 recap: the gas man returns as Baptiste and his family face grave danger

Who can be trusted in Baptiste? And will the detective's loved ones survive their encounter with THAT gas man?

Baptiste (BBC)

Baptiste’s second episode has left us with even more questions about who we can and cannot trust in the twisting and turning spin-off to The Missing.

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***Warning: major spoilers ahead for Baptiste episode two***

From revelations about Edward (Tom Hollander), to the tragic death of Natalie (Anna Prochniak) and Baptiste’s gruesome discovery in the closing moments – it was an eventful hour of action in Amsterdam.

Here, we recap the episode, speculate on what might be next for the French detective (played by Tcheky Karyo), and have a crack at translating those mysterious letters sent to tulip farmer Herman (Gijs de Lange)…

Who is the real Edward Stratton: grieving family man or dangerous criminal? 

By the end of episode two, Edward Stratton couldn’t be further from the man we were initially led to believe was a desperate uncle searching for his niece.

When Natalie speaks to Baptiste, she claims Edward was actually one of her clients who became obsessed with her and offered to pay to have her all to himself. She adds that he didn’t like her response to that request, and broke her jaw. Then Natalie drops the bombshell that Edward has been working with the Romanian sex traffickers we were introduced to in episode one, a story seemingly corroborated by the phone call we see between the Englishman and Romanian gangster-gasman Constantin (Alec Secareanu) after Baptiste locates Natalie.

But is Natalie’s version the full story?

Baptiste seems to be very suspicious of Natalie’s claims, and then the drama cuts to that phone call where Constantin asks Edward if he thinks Natalie would reveal his “truth” – what could this mean? How exactly is Edward in cahoots with the gang?

Once Edward discovers that Baptiste has found Natalie – thanks to Constantin’s bugging of Celia’s (Anastasia Hille) bag in episode one – he grabs his gun and goes out to meet the detective. In a tense conversation, Baptiste pretends not to have met with Natalie and says he can no longer pursue the case, while Edward also makes out like he doesn’t know she’s been found. But he then steals Baptiste’s car keys and uses the address history in the detective’s sat nav to figure out where she is hiding.

Edward tells Constantin the address and when the Romanian gangster goes to the house boat to find Natalie, she hides in the canal under the decking. Tragically, she gets her foot tangled in rope deep in the water and drowns.

Natalie hiding from Constantin in Baptiste (BBC)
Natalie hiding from Constantin in Baptiste (BBC)

Is there more to Edward’s past and his family than he is letting on?

It’s not only Natalie who Edward is grieving for – if indeed he is obsessed with her – as in episode two we also discover that his own daughter died of an overdose. Baptiste uncovers this information when he is trying to understand who Edward really is and calls his ex-wife Clare (Clare Calbraith) who has returned to England.

Clare tells Baptiste that she and Edward moved to Antwerp together ten years ago and that after their teenage daughter Lucy died of an overdose, Edward was never quite the same. So was it after Lucy died and Clare left that Edward got involved with sex trafficking? It seems he’s long had a dark streak if that gruesome frog story he tells Kim is anything to go by…

And, of course, another (huge) mark against Edward is the decapitated head that is rotting in his basement, and that Baptiste finds at the end of episode two. Why is it there and how does it link back to the main story?

Is Edward going to kill Baptiste?

Probably not – it doesn’t really do to kill off your eponymous character in episode two. This isn’t a Jed Mercurio drama.

But when Baptiste receives an email from his “contact in the UK” of a beheaded man, he rushes to Edward’s house in Antwerp to go and investigate. Why? Well, we did some forensic zooming and spotted that whoever the beheaded man is, he has the same surname as Edward: “Stratton”. Presumably the headless corpse is a relation of Edward’s – could it be his father, uncle or (much older) brother?

Richard Stratton, screenshot BBC

Once Baptiste gets to Edward’s house, he follows the buzzing flies down into the basement and finds the decaying head.

Edward then returns home and, armed with a gun, catches Baptiste in his cellar. No triggers are pulled – but surely it’s in Edward’s interest to kill Baptiste rather than attempt to explain the decaying body part in his possession?

Edward in the basement with Baptiste (BBC)
Edward in the basement with Baptiste (BBC)

Is Baptiste’s family also in danger? 

While Baptiste is held at gunpoint in Antwerp, back in Amsterdam, Romanian baddie Constantin is reprising his role as the fake gas man who carried out that gruesome beheading in episode one. In the closing scenes of episode two he’s seen lying his way into Baptiste’s apartment, where Celia appears to be alone.

After Constantin announces he is there to check the gas meter, Celia buzzes him straight up to the flat – but what does Constantin plan to do? And will Celia recognise him from as that dodgy bloke from the supermarket before it’s too late?

Is Martha’s son Niels corrupt?

Niels is an ambitious young policeman who has had his fair share of hardships – he has recovered from testicular cancer and is grieving for his late father, according to an interview with actor Boris Van Severen. He is clearly perturbed that Baptiste, an old flame of his mother’s, is on his turf and making more headway on the Natalie case than he is.

There is tension between Niels and Baptiste when the French detective asks why his force failed to properly investigate Edward Stratton as a witness, and were fooled by him into believing he was Natalie’s uncle.

Niels doesn’t take the criticism well – but is there more to it? If his job is to investigate the Romanians, isn’t he one of the most obvious people to pay off? It would fit with Natalie’s claims that the Amsterdam cops are on the criminal gang’s payroll. And it puts a whole new spin on Niels’ attempts to get Baptiste to return to his retirement.

Niels in Baptiste (BBC)
Niels in Baptiste (BBC)

Whose money did Herman find in his tulip field – and how does he know Natalie?

At the end of episode one, we saw tulip farmer Herman’s dog digging something up in his field – this week we discover it was a big bag of cash. Good old Herman, astonished with this finding, sets off to the police station to dutifully hand it in.

However, when he gets there, a news report about Natalie’s death flashes up on the television screen and stops him in his tracks. He rushes back to his house with the bag of money and, once inside, takes out a letter and bursts into tears as he gazes at the ‘N’ necklace he also discovered in his field in episode one.

We later see him read over what appears to be the same note in his car.

Herman's first letter in Baptiste (BBC)
Herman’s letter in Baptiste (BBC)

What does the letter say?

We took a closer look at the paper and had a bit of help translating it from Dutch to English. It appears that the beginning of each line says something like:

Dear Herman, if you’re reading this letter… 

I’m writing to you because… 

Because I want to tell you something important…

You need to promise me… 

Don’t tell anyone…

Is the letter from Natalie? If so, what is her secret? And what is her relation to Herman? Is she his daughter? Granddaughter? And does the presence of her necklace mean she’s been in his field at some point?

Herman's second letter in Baptiste (BBC)
Herman’s letter in Baptiste (BBC)

Why does Herman take the little boy from the hospital?

After reading the letter, Herman sets off to the hospital where we earlier saw Niels asking Natalie’s next of kin, her horrible ex-boyfriend Thijs (Teun Kuilboer), to identify her body. He was there with a young boy – his son – awaiting an operation, and when Herman goes to the hospital, he removes the unaccompanied child from his bed.

Who is the boy? Is he Herman’s grandson? It seems unlikely that he’s Natalie’s son as earlier in the episode we saw Thijs talk about calling his “mama” to take care of him while he goes to identify Natalie’s body.

Either way, we’re left wondering where Herman is taking the boy and why. We’ll have to wait until episode three to find out…

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This article was originally published on 22 February 2019