"It's perhaps not as big in France as Sherlock Holmes is in the UK, but it's in that canon of stories that we all recognise," Lupin co-writer/co-creator George Kay told RadioTimes.com earlier this year, shortly after the first five episodes of the series dropped on Netflix. "So we have Raffles, and we have Sherlock Holmes, these turn-of-the-century characters like those two or Scarlet Pimpernel. They're these escapist adventures, from a time when we could all explore and fun machinery was being invented... it all seems to chime with a certain type of pop literature, so when I found out about Arsène Lupin, I recognised 'that guy' automatically. We know that kind of character – the gentlemen thief."
Kay took an usual approach to adapting Maurice Leblanc's much-loved literary character for the screen, though – rather than going the Sherlock route and transplanting Leblanc's master chief into the present day, Kay chose to tell a contemporary story following the roguish Assane Diop (played by Jurassic World's Omar Sy in the Lupin cast), whose own obsession with the Lupin stories sets him on a similar path to his hero when his father dies after being framed for a crime he didn't commit.
The first five episodes – framed as Part 1 by Netflix – landed on Netflix on 8th January 2021 and ended on something of a double cliffhanger, but fans won't have much longer to wait before they find out what happens next. Lupin Part 2, again comprising five episodes, will arrive on the streaming platform on Friday, 11th June.
Before that, though, here's a helpful recap of what happened in Part 1 and where we left Assane and company, just in case your memory's grown foggy over the past five months. (You could also read our recap instead of watching Part 1, but we'd strongly recommend you watch the show first – it's great, and the next five episodes keep up the standard, with our Lupin Part 2 review calling the show a "pacy, stylish and wholly irresistible crime caper".)
Lupin Part 1 recap and ending explained
The crime that sets the series Lupin into motion is the theft of an expensive diamond necklace, originally belonging to Marie-Antoinette, from the wealthy - and very corrupt - businessman Hubert Pellegrini (Hervé Pierre). Pellegrini's chauffeur Babakar Diop (Fargass Assandé) is blamed for the crime, though it's clear that he was framed by the wicked Pellegrini as pair of an insurance fraud scheme.
Babakar later dies – apparently taking his own life in prison, out of shame – leaving his teenaged son Assane (Mamadou Haidara) an orphan. Twenty-five years later and inspired by a book about gentleman thief Arsène Lupin his father had given him on his birthday, the adult Assane (Omar Sy) sets out to get revenge on Pellegrini.
We still flash back to Assane's childhood throughout the series, discovering how he picked up his various tricks and exploring his relationships with his best friend Benjamin (Antoine Gouy) and with Claire (Ludivine Sagnier), Assane's former love interest and now the mother of his child Raoul (Etan Simon).
In the present day, Assane – taking on the alias Paul Sernine – infiltrates the Louvre and successfully steals the same necklace his father was once accused of stealing. The theft piques the interest of police lieutenant Youssef Guedira (Soufiane Guerrab), another Lupin fan who notices similarities between the thief's methods and Maurice Leblanc's stories. ("Paul Sernine" also being an angagram of "Arsène Lupin", of course.)
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In an effort to prove his father's innocence, Assane gets himself thrown into jail in order to reach out to Étienne Comet (François Creton), a man who worked at the prison library during his father's incarceration. Comet leads Assane to a copy of The Confessions of Arsène Lupin which includes annotations from Babakar spelling out the phrase "I am innocent – trapped by Anne Pellegrini."
Assane escapes prison and tracks down Anne (Nicole Garcia), Hubert Pellegrini's estranged wife, who admits to getting Assane's father to sign a false confession at the urging of corrupt police inspector Gabriel Dumont.
Assane kidnaps the now-Commissioner Dumont (Vincent Garanger) from City Hall and tries to extract a confession from him – while in flashback, we learn that Dumont only acted in fear after Pellegrini threatened his family. During his interrogation in the present day, Dumont discovers that Assane is his captor and Assane is barely able to escape as the police track down the Commissioner. In the aftermath, Dumont keeps quiet about his past crimes and his connection to Assane, but Guedira discovers Dumont's involvement with the original investigation into Babakar and makes the connection to the necklace's recent theft and his kidnapping.
Following a lead he got from Dumont, Assane meets Fabienne Bériot (Anne Benoît), a disgraced former journalist who was blacklisted while investigating the Pellegrinis. Together, Assane and Fabienne plan to expose Pellegrini's dealings with terrorists, but their plan goes badly wrong – Pellegrini skates clean and learns from his daughter Juliette, who is convinced of her father's innocence and also has an on-again/0ff-again romance with Assane, that it is Assane who stole the necklace from the Louvre. Fabienne, meanwhile, is murdered by Pellegrini's henchman Leonard (Adama Niane). (On the plus side, Assane adopts Fabienne's adorable dog J'accuse.)
Leonard next sets his sights on Assane and follows him to a festival at Étretat, which Assane is visiting along with Claire and Raoul for his son's birthday. Assane is able to fool the local police into arresting Leonard as "Paul Sernine" – the man responsible for the Louvre heist – but he is later released and targets Assane and his family again, kidnapping Raoul.
Assane and Claire hunt frantically for their son, unaware he is being driven away in the boot of Leonard's car. But Assane has another problem – he comes face-to-face with Guedira, who has also tracked him down. Part 1 ends with Guedira staring down Assane and addressing him quizzically as "Lupin?".
Will Assane get Raoul back? How will he escape this time now that Guedira apparently knows his true identity? And will horrid Hubert Pellegrini finally get his comeuppance? Not long now till we find out...