Only six episodes long, each about an hour, No Second Chance is totally bingeable.
Honestly, the only thing annoying about No Second Chance (PBS Masterpiece) was the ending. Without giving too much away, it is hokey, saccharine, self-absorbed and totally unrealistic. Apart from that, the show — a self-contained story and likely to be just this one season — is gripping and very much recommended.
Co-produced by Harlan Coben from one of his bestselling books, the story follows a driven professional woman, Alice Lambert (Alexandra Lamy), trying to locate her young daughter, Tara, who has disappeared at the same time her husband has apparently been murdered. Alice herself has been shot and wakes up in a hospital bed after eight days in a coma. I mean, who wouldn’t be driven after that? Once you get your bearings of course.
The Paris police trying to locate her daughter and discover what happened to her husband are frequently dysfunctional, and they also suspect her of course in the death of her husband. As things spiral increasingly out of control, Alice finds herself compelled to take matters into her own hands — as her daughter’s kidnappers also insist — to try and find the ransom money to get Tara back and discover exactly what happened that day her previously comfortable world fell apart.
A twisted story of kidnappings, fake adoption schemes and violence ensues.The author writes
The show revolves around Lamy playing the mother role. She is mesmerizing, with seemingly endless amounts of strength to get through the various crises and challenges that threaten her at every turn. She does play a part in the overly sentimental ending, but that is hardly her fault. For 99% of the show, she is driven, brave and endlessly resourceful.
It’s almost as if she does it all alone, but there is help from an impossibly handsome law enforcement officer and, as it turns out, her former lover, Richard Millot (Pascal Elbé). Millot acts a little outside of the law, as it were, but his methods are effective and Alice finds she cannot do it without him, both personally and in pursuit of the truth and her daughter.
As is often the case in this type of show, the story contains buried truths about family trauma. Those eventually surface related to her husband and the horrors he suffered in his life in a repressed and wealthy family, which Alice needs to help finance her often desperate bid to find and recover her daughter.
I tuned into this show initially because of the Coben connection. I’ve seen other shows of his set in the United Kingdom and they have all been highly watchable. I’ve also seen one of his productions more recently on Netflix, another French-language drama, Gone for Good, but I found that almost unwatchable because of its mind-bending flashbacks and tortuous plot.
But No Second Chance was very good and it introduced me to a fabulous actress in Lamy. After all the crises and emotional turmoil throughout the series, her character Alice deserves some real moments of happiness and respite. She does eventually find them, but they are marred by the unrealistic and over-the-top ending. It doesn’t ruin the series, but it does make you gag just a tad.
Enough about the ending. Watch all of the show, enjoy the ride and you could always switch it off when it gets too sentimental.