In recent detective stories, the line between the criminal and the official has become blurred. Sherlock, Luther, the Wire, Law and Order and dozens of other crime dramas have played with these lines. A person is so good at finding criminals or can be so obsessed by them, must be a criminal himself. Even non crime dramas like House or The Sopranos toy with this good vs. evil motif. In this latest installment of Fantomas, they take this theme and lay it on top of the games that Fantomas plays. This results in probably the best entry in the series so far.
Inspector Juve is accused at the beginning of the story of being Fantomas. He is taken into custody and the public gets wind of it. Fantomas decides to use this to his advantage and poses as an American detective who has decided to solve the case and also tells his henchmen that once he is out of jail that he will split up a reward that was recently acquired. Of course they then think that Juve is Fantomas in real life and that Fantomas would never manipulate them. (Which is typical of henchmen I suppose.) This American detective discovers a body in a fake wall and tells the policemen that it must have been Fantomas (in fact it was, just not the Fantomas they had) Fantomas’ mistress throws a ball and Fandor decides to go as Fantomas in order to lure him out because he knows that the mistress and villain were friends at one time. Fantomas shows up and realizes that he is in fact the third person to come into the ball dressed as Fantomas. He decides to kill Fandor and chases him around the garden in a scene where you don’t know who is who. He ends up killing the mysterious third Fantomas. This throws off his plan because Fantomas is supposed to be in jail. This killing proves that Juve is not the villain and gets released. In a cruel twist of fate, Fantomas’ henchmen capture him when he is receiving his letter that he is released and reinstated. They bring them to his secret lair where Fandor had found out about. Fandor hides in a barrel and tells Juve to tell the evil mob that he is Fantomas and to look in a certain spot. The treasure was found and the henchmen rejoiced. But the American detective knew about the plans and told the police where they could find them. Juve led the henchmen outside and into a trap. A couple of dozen policemen arrest the henchmen, but the American detective escapes. Juve goes to Fantomas’ mistress’ house and sees Fantomas sneaking down the outside balcony. Juve and Fandor arrest him and are finally confident that they have them. They both walk him across a field. Apparently Fantomas has incredible strength. He shakes them off and runs away.
Although Fantomas comes close to being caught at the end of every episode (and honestly his escapes are usually pretty lame like this one was), Fantomas is clearly pulling the strings on every plot development. Juve is powerless to stop him. Fantomas is even able to use the fact that Juve is in jail to his own advantage. The public only sees that Fantomas creates these elaborate plans and gets away with it. No wonder they think that Juve is behind this, because he can’t do his job which is to catch the guy. No matter how lame the escapes are, the fact is that they are still escapes. Fantomas has also used people in the police force to his advantage before. However if Juve was clearly evil, then he probably would find Fantomas in no time.
Just one more thing I want to add. The fake American detective who is really Fantomas, his name is Tom Bob. That’s right you read that perfectly. Tom Bob. According to French people Americans are so silly they even have two first names. Oh well, what can you do?