'Baptiste' Season 2, Episode 5 Recap: The Desire To Understand

Tcheky Karyo as Julien Baptiste in 'Baptiste' Season 2

MASTERPIECE “Baptiste”, Season 2 Episode Five Sunday, November 14, 2021; 10-11pm ET on PBS Emma and Julien hope to discover the identity of Gomorrah, but instead discover another attack is planned. Now, the pair must race against the clock to prevent it. Shown: Tcheky Karyo as Julien Baptiste For editorial use only. (C) Two Brothers Pictures & All3Media International

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Just when you thought the time jumps were over, Baptiste's penultimate episode opens with a flashback. It's finally time for the one death the show hasn't covered: Laura's. Considering how traumatic her passing was, leaving her brother mute, one might expect a horrific explosion of some type. But no, it was a simple home invasion. She was stabbed by an intruder, an immigrant, an act Will witnessed. It is, as will become evident, the turning point that radicalized both brothers. Will's rage at losing her turned him to ring wing forums; when Alex found out, instead of stopping his brother, he joined in.

Zsofia: Why do I ever pick up the phone to you?

It is not the only flashback this week. The series also returns to 14 months ago to help tie up the last loose end: that video of their father's death. Among other things, that video featured Alex, off-camera, screaming in horror, and what sounded like a kidnapping. It was then followed by Will calling his mother, desperately clicking at her for rescue. These things don't square with Emma's oldest son being a horrific terrorist who took part in the violent massacre in Józsefváros that left dozens dead and his mother paralyzed.

The two didn't mean for their dad to die. Having gotten into the right-wing forums Will introduced him to, Alex arranged a 5 a.m. meeting in the woods with someone calling themselves "Gomorrah," and Will insisted on coming. Their father following was an accident. He woke up early to bird watch, discovered them missing and Will's phone in the bed, same as Emma would do later, and assumed the worst. When Juszt saw Alex arrive with an extra person, he pulled a gun on them, thinking this was a setup. Why else would the sons of the British ambassador arrange to meet him? At their father's arrival, Juszt panicked and shot the man, leaving him little choice but to kidnap the kids.

Back in the present day, Baptiste drags Will (who, let's be clear, is a prisoner) to Zsofia's building, where he locks the kid into the server cage. With her son unable to escape, Emma asks to cut the cable ties that bind his wrists. But Baptiste has already had enough regrets about how Alex went down. He's not letting Will free, and he's not wrong. Will's phone contains a recorded message, claiming responsibility for an upcoming massacre. But far worse for Emma is the reality inherent in that statement: Will speaks. She begs for an explanation, insists they can fix it, but Baptiste impatiently dismisses that. There is another massacre planned. If they can get Will to talk, they can do what they failed to do at Józsefváros: stop it. 

And that's the heart of the episode. Three people in a room: A desperate old man who has no authority or ability to trust the police who sense he is one confession away from saving dozens, if not hundreds of lives; a spoiled, white, upper-class child who has swallowed too much bile online and become a right wing lunatic. And a once-powerful woman whose children slipped away from her. Between Fiona Shaw, Tchéky Karyo, and Conrad Khan, this is easily the talkiest episode of Baptiste ever, as the three go round and round in a debate about the whys and whats that makes someone into a radical, and the desperate attempt to reason with him.

Will has no interest in helping Baptiste since he knows that's who killed Alex, nor is he willing to give his mother any quarter. She eventually gives up and calls Nadeem asking for someone who will help Will, knowing it's probably too late but needing the hope anyway. Baptiste tries to reach him too, but it goes nowhere until Emma finally threatens her son. With that, Will tells them what they want to hear: Agoston is Gomorrah and that he wasn't radicalized (or able to speak again) until he spent months locked in her basement.

Conrad Khan as Will Chambers in 'Baptiste' Season 2
(Credit: Courtesy of (C) Two Brothers Pictures & All3Media International)

With that, Baptiste leaves. He's already called Zsofia, who attempted to suggest he got to the Hungarian police as if her old boss didn't happily allow the Józsefváros massacre to go down. She also checks cameras and confirms Will must hide out close to the farmhouse, as there was no way for him to get there but on foot. Baptiste also calls Celia, asking if he can come home once this is all over. But she's made her choice, just as Baptiste made his every day in these 14 months. Like Will, he was free to go home at any time, and he didn't. Like Will, he has to live with that.

So, where is Baptiste heading? Agoston's house, but not to confront her with Will's accusation. Baptiste was already in that basement and saw the space where Will claimed to have been imprisoned. His quick visit to her place confirms his memory of the room is correct: There is no way to lock the door. But in leaving Emma alone with Will, Baptiste makes a crucial mistake. She gives in to his promises of good behavior, freeing his wrists, and when Baptiste returns, he finds Emma lying helpless on the floor as Will escapes the building and into a waiting car. 

But Baptiste knows the truth. The fake video demanding Juszt's release was proof he was more than he claimed. His leaving the flowers on Alex's grave was grief at losing a dedicated follower. His lies pointing Emma and Baptiste at Agoston were in service of getting him access to a powerful ally who could help him escape Emma's dog kennel. Alex did meet Gomorrah in the woods that morning. And now Juszt and Will are about to stage the most horrific terrorist attack in the country's history if Baptiste doesn't stop them.


Ani Bundel has been blogging professionally since 2010. A DC native, Hufflepuff, and Keyboard Khaleesi, she spends all her non-writing time taking pictures of her cats. Regular bylines also found on MSNBC, Paste, Primetimer, and others. A Woman's Place Is In Your Face. Cat Approved. Find her on BlueSky and other social media of your choice: @anibundel.bsky.social

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