This is a recap. My review of Transfers Season 1 is HERE.
Transfers (Transferts) is a French science fiction-thriller series from the Arte network, which aired in November, 2017. The entire 6 episode series, which was created and written by Patrick Benedek and Claude Scasso, is now streaming on Netflix. Transfers won Best French Series and Best Actor (for star Arieh Worthalter) at the 2017 Séries Mania Festival, an international festival. The series was filmed in Belgium.
Transfers follows the story of Florian Bassot, a down to earth cabinetmaker and married father of two. Florian goes into a five year coma after suffering a swimming accident. He’s woken up from his coma by his wife Sophie’s uncle, Dr Vautier, who has transferred his mind into the body of another man, anti-transfer paramilitary officer Sylvain Bernard.
Sylvain was shot in the shoulder, but died from a reaction to the anesthetic used in his surgery to remove the bullet. His doctor kept his death a secret, and brought him to the transfer center for Dr Vautier to use in his experiments. Florian is confused when he awakens and sees his own dead body on the next table.
Since no one knows Sylvain is braindead, and everyone thinks Florian is braindead, Florian/Sylvain must assume Sylvain’s life as a violent officer in the anti-transfer police, the BATI. He’s forced to try to convince the people who were closest to Sylvain that he has amnesia, while navigating the world of illegal underground transfers and organized crime, as well as attempting to secretly rekindle his marriage to Sophie and reconnect with his children.
All while trying to avoid being identified as an illegal transfer, arrested, and interned in the transfer center for life.
Episode one begins with Florian, Sophie, their son, Thomas, and their daughter, Julie, relaxing on a boat. Florian stops to give each family member a hug and kiss, then he jumps into the water for a swim. Something goes wrong in the water, and he drowns.
Five years later, he is resuscitated in a medical setting, covered in blue gel, with two middle-aged male doctors hovering over him. One tries to get Florian’s attention, saying he’s Sophie’s uncle, Michel, Dr Vautier. Florian looks to the side and sees himself lying dead a few feet away, on a table that’s identical to the one he’s on. He panics in confusion.
He’s injected with a sedative, and calms down. The second doctor, Professor Delattre, is nervous, saying that he needs to return Florian to the hospital before his absence is discovered. Dr Vautier wants Florian to stay where he is until he’s had time to adapt to his new body, but under the circumstances, agrees to let Pr Delattre take him. Vautier signs Florian’s death certificate while the other doctor cleans Florian up. Florian stares at his old body in terror.
Florian, in Sylvain Bernard’s body, is transported in an ambulance, strapped to a gurney, while the doctor drives follows the ambulance in his car. Part way there, his assistant calls to tell him that Sylvain’s partner in the BATI, Béatrice, is insisting on being given an update on his condition. Professor Delattre speeds ahead of the ambulance so he can meet with Béatrice.
Pr Delattre tells Béatrice that Sylvain is stable, and he can meet with her for 5 minutes, then brings her into his office. He explains that there were complications with Sylvain’s surgery. The bullet removal went as expected and he should recover full mobility in his shoulder. But he had a severe, unexpected reaction to the anesthetic. They stabilized him, but he’s in intensive care, so Béatrice can’t see him yet.
Béatrice demands to see her partner. Pr Delattre pulls up the video feed of Sylvain in the ICU and tells her that he’ll wake Sylvain in 24 hours, implying that he’s in a medically induced coma. The video itself is actually looped footage from before the transfer, since Florian/Sylvain hasn’t returned to the hospital yet. Delattre tells Béatrice that the anesthesia may have had side effects that will affect Sylvain’s memory, but he’s strong, so he’ll recover.
The sedative has made Florian/Sylvain dozy, but eventually the jolts from his gurney banging on the sides of the ambulance wake him up. He unstraps himself and gets up. He gets his first look at his new reflection and his new hands, which he turns away from. Florian finds a jacket stuffed on a shelf, then opens the back door of the ambulance and jumps out while the ambulance is stopped.
It’s dark out, and Florian is still adjusting to his new body. Everything comes at him too fast and seems unfamiliar. After five years asleep, some of it is unfamiliar. He walks the streets of the city all night long.
In the morning, he passes by Father Luc’s church. A banner, with a giant photo of Father Luc, says, “Un seule corps, Une seule âme.” One body, One soul. This is an anti-transfer church. There are nuns moving around the front who have crosses branded into their foreheads, wear white robes, and have shaved heads. There are also school children in yellow hoodies.
Florian sees a man wearing a t-shirt which says: “Ceci est mon corps.” This is my body. He sees an official “No Transfers” sign and emergency number. Then an alarm sounds and a public service warning suddenly plays:
He took another’s body. He looks like a neighbor, a friend or a family member. You see him everyday, and he seems normal, but he’s dangerous. Each one of us could be hiding a transfer. If you have doubts about someone’s identity, report any abnormal behavior to the BATI. The BATI is the Anti-Illegal-Transfer-Brigade. So that no one can steal your identity.
Obviously in French, the order of the words in the Anti-Illegal-Transfer-Brigade combine to spell BATI, instead of AITB. But everything sounds better in French.
In the PSA video, the evil transfer, who is disguised as a sweet old lady, goes crazy and attacks his innocent neighbors, then runs away. Welcome to the new world, Florian. He keeps moving.
Béatrice returns to the BATI station, and watches the video recorded by her and Sylvain’s helmet cams during the call when he was shot. They were on a routine call to a house to check on a reported transfer sighting. Sylvain doesn’t take it seriously, and is singing a folk song as he knocks on the door. Béatrice goes around to the back door. But Sylvain doesn’t wait for her and goes inside. The transfer is waiting for him, and shoots him in the shoulder/upper chest, then escapes just as Béatrice comes inside. Sylvain is on the floor in a pool of his own blood.
Mareuil calls Béatrice and their 3rd team member, Gabe, into his office to report on the status of their investigation into Sylvain’s shooter, an unknown illegal transfer wearing the body of Charles Samuelson. They have a good image of him to use in the search and the police are helping, but they have no intel on who the transfer is.
The tip was called in by a neighbor when Samuelson didn’t recognize her. It was the sort of routine call that usually turns out to be a false alarm. Gabe still scolds Béatrice for not taking it seriously and following procedure, when it was Sylvain who didn’t take it seriously. She just glares at him.
Mareuil asks if Samuelson was reverting. Béatrice says that she didn’t see enough of him to tell. They decide that since he’s violent and has been on the run for 24 hours, he’s now considered a dangerous and paranoid transfer in the reversion phase, who should be shot on sight.
Gabe wants to shoot all transfers. Why bother to wait for them to become violent? Mareuil tells Gabe that he just needs results. He sends Gabe out to make the shoot on sight order official.
He keeps Béatrice behind for a moment to ask if she’d rather wait at the hospital with Sylvain. She says that she’s checked on Sylvain, but he’s in intensive care. Now she’s going to find the transfer who shot him.
Sophie, Florian’s wife, tells their children that their father has died. Her daughter, Julie, cries and crawls in Sophie’s lap. Her son, Thomas, leaves the room to be alone with his thoughts.
Dr Vautier calls Sophie to let her know that Florian is on the loose and doesn’t know what’s going on. She’s promises to keep an eye out for him. When she hangs up the phone and looks outside, he’s hiding behind a support pillar in the backyard. Sophie brings him inside, then hides him in his workshop.
Florian keeps half hiding his face, as if he can’t stand to have her see him like this. He asks how she knows it’s him and what’s happening to him. She holds him for a long time, then explains about his coma. Before the transfer, his original body had septicemia (sepsis/blood poisoning), a severe blood infection which was killing him. Sophie begged Vautier to save him. She’s been waiting to be with him again for 5 years.
Florian asks if Vautier was the one who did this to him, and why he did it. Sophie explains that it was a big risk for Vautier to transfer him to a new body. Florian asks what she means by “transfer”. Sophie tells him that she’ll call her uncle so that he can explain it all to Florian. A lot has changed in the last 5 years.
She tells Florian that if he’s found, he’ll be arrested. The entire family is in danger. Sophie did this because she loves him and couldn’t bear to lose him, but he must pretend to be Sylvain Bernard. He can’t see his children and they must continue to believe he’s dead. She doesn’t want to lose him again, so he has to go along with this.
But, no pressure. She expects only gratitude and cooperation.
Julie comes toward the workshop, calling for Sophie. Florian tries to go to her, but Sophie stops him. Florian is in emotional agony and more confused than ever. Nothing Sophie just told him sounds like a life he would have chosen.
Béatrice revisits the crime scene to look for clues into the shooter’s true identity. She discovers a book with an inscription made out to someone named Victor, and decides to follow up on it.
The shooter, Victor Novak, has gone to stay with his mother. He tells her that he has to transfer again. He’s in a rough state, emotionally. Mrs Novak never liked his current body anyway. He used to have blond curls and look like his father. She misses that.
Florian changes into his own clothes and uses Sylvain’s high tech Apple watch type thingie to learn more about himself. His son Thomas wanders into the workshop, so Florian hides, but stays where he can watch Thomas. Thomas pulls out a half finished wooden chess piece and begins to work on it using his father’s tools. Florian is happy to see Thomas emulating his father, but notices he’s not using the tools quite right. He stands up to correct Thomas, but Thomas runs away, calling for Sophie.
I think he forgot about his new body for a moment. Sophie really didn’t think the situation through, and how much she’d be asking of Florian.
Frustrated, Florian grabs his jacket and the chess piece, then leaves. He wanders through the city again, passing through a park-like area where people are expressing their views about transfers. One person shouts, “Don’t listen to what you’re told. They’re not dangerous. Only the PDL, the Party of Freedom, tells you the truth.”
A man jumps in front of Florian and hands him a leaflet, saying, “Don’t ignore the fate of the transfers. We can’t treat them like criminals.” The activist begins to walk away, but Florian stops him, asking if there are a lot of transfers. The activist says that there are a few thousand at most, not enough to justify the paranoia about them. “Governments have always done this, used scapegoats. But transfers aren’t our enemies.” As he walks away from Florian again, he calls to the crowd, “Don’t listen to what you’re told. Transfers aren’t dangerous.”
An anti-transfer activist, who takes a religious approach, is telling the crowd, “One body, one life. Verbum caro hic factum est. God wanted it to be thus, for no one but God has the right to give us a body and a soul.”
Florian keeps walking. Next he encounters an anti-transfer activist who combines scientific and religious thinking. “We wanted to understand how the body works, then repair and improve it. But foolish science wanted to go even further, turning the Kingdom of God into a permanent nightmare.”
“Another day, another body. Another chance to kiss one’s child. And a heart, a beating heart. Do you hear that heart? Do you hear its will to live? It’s beating, beating… But it’s Satan that keeps it going! The supreme illusion, a replacement body. But to what end?”
Aw, that last one started out so promising, then it went all Church Lady. Florian has heard enough and walks away.
Béatrice and Gabe pay a hostile visit to the PDL headquarters, a pro-transfer organization led by Damien Volber, who signed the book dedication that Béatrice found in Samuelson’s apartment. Gabe begins checking the staff for horseshoe-shaped transfer brands on their forearms as they argue that the visit and search are unethical.
Béatrice tells Damien that she’s looking for the owner of the book. He signed the dedication to “Victor, active militant, in friendship…” Damien argues that he’s signed many books in the same way, so he has no way of remembering this particular one. Béatrice shows Damien a photo of Samuelson and asks if he recognizes him. Damien says no. She waves the photo around, telling the staff that he’s a transfer who’s reverted and lives could be at stake. Damien angrily tells her that they’re not a refuge for transfers.
Béatrice and Gabe are sure that “Victor” is a member of the PDL and want a list of the party members. Damien and his second in command tell them that they protect the privacy of their members. Gabe responds by trashing the place. Damien yells for him to continue while they film it so they can show the press how they’re treated by the BATI.
Béatrice stops Gabe and tells Damien that they’ll just seize the computers. All they need is the list, but they’ll happily use whatever else they find. Damien is disgusted, saying that this is exactly what they’re protesting. The BATI have been given too much power by the transfer ban laws. He storms out, after telling his people to give them the list.
Florian is still walking. He’s on a set of tall concrete stairs when an alarm goes off signaling a surprise spot check for transfers by the BATI and sending out a photo of Samuelson, asking for citizens to turn him in if they see him. The people near him say that transfers are being hunted and rounded up.
Florian gets nervous, because he has no idea if or how they can tell he’s a transfer. The BATI check everyone’s forearm, one by one, until one man runs from them. When they catch him, he yells that he was a legal transfer, for medical reasons. But he’s still on the streets illegally. He’s told: “In application of the law regarding transfer reversion, you are hereby to be quarantined for an unlimited period.” He’s beaten, cuffed and taken away by the BATI.
Everyone feels safer with the scary transfer off the streets. Except for Florian, and everyone who realizes the implications of having a secret police force with broad powers and little accountability.
Florian uses his watch to make his way to Sylvain’s home, but then he has to get past Sylvain’s security system. After a few tries, he gets it to open up. Luckily, Sylvain lives alone in an isolated, modern home. He finally has privacy to sort himself out. The first thing he does is make sure that he doesn’t have a transfer brand. The brands were used to mark legal transfers, so he’s not marked.
Victor/Samuelson gets in a cab with Fausto, cab driver, assassin handler and person who can probably get whatever you need. Fausto is currently not happy with Victor because he was hired to kill Sylvain, not wound him. Victor was going to be paid with a new body, but he feels like he’s going to revert, so he wants it now. Fausto tells Victor that he won’t be reverting until he finishes the job that Fausto’s client hired him for. If he’d done it right the first time, he’d already have the new body.
When a transfer reverts isn’t actually a choice, but Fausto has decided that Victor has to keep going anyway.
Sylvain’s journey into the future continues, as he tries to figure out how to work the faucet in the bathroom sink (been there). Then he gets caught up in examining his new body, which might be more muscular, but is balding, for heaven’s sake! He’s a man whose art and career depended on his fine motor skills, and now he has different hands, with shorter fingers. Everything is just wrong with this body, ok? Plus, it has a bullet hole. He presses into the wound, hard, perhaps to give himself an excuse to cry, and collapses to the floor in a heap.
Mareuil calls Gabe into his office again, this time to yell at him for overstepping when they went to the PDL office. Just as Mareuil is saying that there’s no way Volber would give anything away in a book dedication, Béatrice rushes in to say that she’s found the PDL member who transferred into Samuelson’s body. Victor Novak was a PDL member who was wanted for armed robbery before he was listed as dead 13 months ago, when Samuelson also quit his job. Gabe surmises that he transferred to avoid the police.
Béatrice tells Mareuil that Victor’s mother still lives in town. He sends them to check her house, admonishing them to take a team with them and follow procedure. This arrest is important, because they want to avenge Sylvain and stop Volber and the PDL.
Victor is flailing around his mother’s house, searching for his gun. He finds it, but now he’s fully in the throes of a reversion. When he looks at his mother, he sees her with Samuelson’s face, mocking him. They are both in an emotional state, between his reversion and her rejection of Samuelson’s body as her son.
When Mrs Novak sees the gun, she panics and demands that Victor hand it over to her, because she doesn’t allow guns in the house. He’s still seeing her face as Samuelson’s face, the face he’s currently wearing, but hates. She tries to grab the gun from Victor. It’s the last straw for him. He uses the butt of the gun to beat her in the head until she’s dead, then he runs away.
Béatrice, Gabe and their BATI team find Mrs Novak’s body on the kitchen floor in a pool of blood. This is why they hate transfers so much. Gabe wonders how someone can do that to their own mother.
Sadly, you don’t have to be a transfer to kill your mother, Gabe.
Florian wakes up in the morning on Sylvain’s bedroom floor, still naked, and covered by a comforter. Dr Vautier and Pr Delattre are calling on his watch. He’s had his fun, but they need to reel him back into playing Sylvain at the hospital now. Dr Vautier will come pick him up and try again to explain everything.
Victor stumbles into the hospital, still having a reversion. He gets into the elevator, which is already occupied by another man.
The two doctors examine Florian. Vautier explains that Sophie is like his own daughter. She would never give up on Florian coming out of his coma, so Vautier was determined to save him, for her sake.
Florian asks Vautier what, exactly, a transfer is, if it’s a brain transplant? Vautier says that it’s better, more like a total transplant.
Vautier: “We’ve isolated a molecule which can separate the mind from the body. Your mind has been separated into another’s body.”
Florian: “And where’s the donor?”
Delattre: “Sylvain Bernard died of anesthetic shock. Brain death. We had two hours. I alerted Vautier right away.”
Vautier: “Transfers have saved the lives of lots of people. You’re not the only one.”
Florian: “So why do I have to hide? What’s with all these arrests, the BATI police?”
Delattre: “He’s missed 5 years, Michel.”
Vautier: “Listen, transfers were allowed for two years, then they were stupidly banned, because of an unforeseen phenomenon. It doesn’t always happen, but it can be dangerous. A sort of rejection. It’s called transfer reversion.”
Florian: “What’s that? Will it happen to me?”
Vautier; “No It’s very rare. It’s just a small anomaly.”
Florian: “I can’t control my body very well.”
Vautier: “Don’t worry, everything’s ok. Get dressed.”
Victor kills the other man by the time the elevator reaches his floor. He hallucinated that his victim was also wearing Samuelson’s face, thanks to the symptoms of the reversion. Looking like the lunatic he is, Victor searches the hospital floor, calling for Sylvain, waving his gun in the air. Patients and staff scramble to hide. Victor finds a bottleneck at the end of the hall and makes a stand there, with hostages trapped behind him.
As Florian is changing back into his hospital pajamas, he tells Vautier that they should have let Florian die. He says that Vautier had no right to make the decision for him. Vautier says that it’s his duty to save lives, which are all precious. Florian asks to be transferred back into his own body, but Vautier says that there’s no going back to the original body.
Delattre hears the commotion made by Victor, and goes to check on it. When he gets to the hallway, Victor is holding his gun to a hostage’s head. Béatrice and Gabe get the call to go the hospital.
Delattre returns to Vautier and Florian, informing them of the situation. Vautier wants to leave and take Florian with him, but that would tip the BATI off that something is wrong. They decide that after Vautier leaves, Florian will tell everyone that he is Sylvain, and has amnesia from the anesthetic shock. Vautier tells Delatter not to leave Florian alone, then slips out the back way.
Florian is quietly panicking, begging Delattre to stay with him, and to do the talking for him. He’s terrified that the BATI will realize immediately that he’s not Sylvain.
The BATI, including Gabe and Béatrice, burst in to secure the room. They see Florian and rush over, thinking that it’s Sylvain. They are overjoyed to see that he’s awake and okay. After they leave, Florian gives Delattre a betrayed look, and says, “I’m a cop?”
(I really thought he knew already, myself, but I guess no one has mentioned Sylvain’s job to him directly before this, and he didn’t find Sylvain’s uniform or weapon at his home. That’s a pretty huge piece of crucial information for Vautier and Sophie to leave out. Delattre has no idea what he’s doing, so I’ll give him a pass. )
Gabe and Béatrice double back to grab Florian/Sylvain, because of course they want their star detective’s help in this situation. Nevermind that he’s wounded, in pajamas and barefoot. Delattre tries to stop them, but they don’t listen. The doctor follows along in the little parade that creeps toward the crisis.
Gabe gives Florian/Sylvain a bulletproof vest. Delattre and Béatrice argue with him to leave Florian/Sylvain alone, but Gabe ignores them and explains the situation and what he needs to Florian. He’s been told that Sylvain has amnesia, so he explains that Novak is the one who shot him. Now he needs Sylvain to go out and distract Novak long enough for Gabe to get a shot in.
Novak has several hostages at gunpoint. After they hear Novak fire a shot, Florian strides out into the open to be a distraction. Delattre rushes after, to pull him back to safety, but gets shot by Novak. The others pull Florian and Delattre out of the line of fire.
Béatrice tells Florian, “I nearly lost you once. Don’t do it again.”
Novak calls for Sylvain to show himself, saying that he should be dead already.
Florian: “I know what you’re feeling.”
Novak: “No, you don’t know a thing!”
Florian: “You were transferred, you no longer know yourself. Your movements are clumsy. Your body is heavy and disgusts you because it isn’t your own. Even your eyes don’t see right. It’s a nightmare.”
Novak: “You don’t know nothing!”
Florian: “It’s like being in a prison. You’re suffocating. You want to scream, but it’s not even your voice. There’s no one left to listen to you, Novak. You’re alone. You’re alone and it’s like you no longer exist. With each step you sink further, drowning. It’s not worth living, but you don’t want to die either.”
Novak: “If I kill you, I can live.”
Florian: “If I die, you die. If you kill a hostage, you die, too. We’re already dead, anyway.”
Florian gets up and walks into the hall, in full view of Novak, then walks toward him. Novak comes out of hiding with a hostage in front of him, but then pushes the hostage away when he sees that Florian/Sylvain is unarmed. When Novak raises his weapon to shoot Florian/Sylvain, Gabe, who has moved into position in the background, opens fire. He shoots Novak multiple times, shooting down a narrow space in the hall between Florian and the wall. The bullets pass within a few feet of Florian’s head. Florian flinches, but stands his ground.
Once Novak is dead, Gabe runs to Florian to tell him that he’s proud of the way Sylvain messed with Novak’s head. He’s never seen Sylvain do such good work.
Florian walks out of another hospital, barefoot and in pajamas. The press, who are broadcasting from just outside the door, try to get a statement from him, but he ignores them.
When he reaches Sylvain’s home, Sophie is waiting outside for him. He collapses into her lap for a while, then she takes care of him. He tells her, “I wanted to die today.” He says that the change from being a woodworker to living in Sylvain’s body and his life is too much for him.
Sophie says that she’s sorry, she didn’t want it to be that way. For 5 years, she pretended not to lose hope as she watched his lifeless body. She had to keep going for the kids.
Florian doesn’t think he can convincingly pretend to be a cop. Sophie says that he just has to do it for a while, until the kids accept him as her new boyfriend, and any suspicion dies down at the BATI. Then they can move somewhere else. Florian is appalled at the idea of pretending to be someone else with his own children. Sophie tries to present it as a new beginning for the whole family.
In the morning, Florian goes to work at the BATI station. When he arrives, his coworkers hail him as a returning hero. Béatrice brings him to see Mareuil. Mareuil makes her leave so that he can talk to Florian/Sylvain alone. He asks just how severe the amnesia really is. As they go back and forth, Mareuil gradually figures out that “Sylvain” can’t remember anything.
Florian asks for time off until his memory starts to return, but Mareuil says that “Sylvain” was such a hero in the hospital that he wants him back at the station as an example for everyone else. Mareuil says that “Sylvain” will have to do some counseling with Viviane Metzger, the psychologist he’s seen before, who’s also a religious zealot. But Mareuil is glad to have “Sylvain” back. He’s even going to give “Sylvain” a medal.
Fausto’s taxi has a flat tire and she’s pretty ticked off about it. As she changes the tire, she talks to the assassin who’s replacing Novak on the Sylvain Bernard hit. He’s not terribly interested in her philosophical musings, though. His thoughts are along the line of, “I get paid, I kill, I don’t care about signs.”
No imagination, beyond finding an exciting angle to shoot an assault rifle from.
Fausto colorfully complains that Novak screwed up the hit on Sylvain twice, and now, to top things off, she can’t get the tire off. She gives up and asks the new assassin for help. Thinking she’s finalizing their contract, he tells her that he never misses his target. She tells him that she meant the tire. He chuckles and takes over.
Fausto has the patience of a saint in a world that doesn’t deserve her.
Sophie and the kids attend Florian’s funeral. Florian watches from the doorway in the back of the room. The speaker talks about what a humble, good, straightforward, sincere man he was, and how much he was loved and admired by his friends and family. He was far from ordinary and will be missed.
Then, as Sylvain, he accepts a medal in honor of his courage and dedication in serving the Bati. Mareuil tells everyone that Sylvain was one of the first to join the BATI and has always been willing to risk his life to serve. The risk became real when he was shot. He still stepped up, even when he was in the hospital.
It’s clear that these two men couldn’t have been more different, but they are now fused into one.
During the medal ceremony, the assassin is set up in the distance, ready to shoot Florian with a sniper’s rifle, when his phone rings. It’s Fausto, telling him not to shoot, because the client has called off the hit. They’ve discovered that Sylvain is now a transfer.
A girl named Liza, who’s about 12 years old, arrives home from school and tells her mother she got good grades that day. Then she says she’ll do her homework before she eats. Liza goes to her bedroom, while her mom looks concerned. Liza sits on her bed and pulls out her pad. She looks at side by side photos of Sylvain and Florian, with a very serious look on her face.
We have a new transfer character.
Béatrice has the coolest hair, and does some cool things with it over the course of the season. Sophie is wearing the most cuddly, fluffy turquoise sweater when she tells the kids that Florian has died. It’s perfect for her daughter Julie to cuddle up into to mourn her lost dad.
Instead of cell phones, everyone wears a wristwatch/phone/internet device which projects a holographic viewscreen. Someone let me know when Apple produces this.
Verbum caro hic factum est.= Latin for “Here the word became flesh.”
This quote is from the inscription on the altar in the Virgin Mary’s House, in the Church of the Annunciation, in Northern Israel. The Basilica, built in 1969, stands on the site of earlier historical churches, built over what is traditionally believed to be the site of Mary’s childhood home, and the place where the archangel Gabriel announced to her that she would conceive and give birth to Jesus, the Son of God.
In the Bible,” The Word” is used in reference to Jesus as the Son of God, the spirit sent to join with Mary’s human flesh so that he could live as a human on earth. As far as I can tell, there are a few Latin/Greek words for “Word” used to mean Jesus as the Word, but the Word and Jesus are frequently used synonymously in the New Testament. (*If I’ve got some of this wrong, help me out in the comments!)
The activist who refers to this inscription is pointing out that Jesus hasn’t come back in another body (as far as we know), and using this as evidence that Jesus and God must therefore be against transfers.
However, Jesus did bring people back from the dead, and came back from the dead himself, suggesting there’s a gray area here in biblical terms. He was in favor of healing and reusing bodies and in favor of artificial life extension.
Catholic hospitals use any means possible to keep patients alive, even if the patients will be braindead when resuscitated. The Church interprets God as wanting people to live, no matter what the circumstances, just like Vautier does. He uses the sentiment that all life is precious as his justification for doing transfers, even when he doesn’t have consent from the people involved.
Jesus wouldn’t approve of throwing someone out of their own body so that a wealthier person could reuse it. But in the case of a braindead, but otherwise healthy, body, like Sylvain, and a dead body with a live brain, like Florian? Jesus might not have a problem with a procedure which would keep one of them alive, instead of allowing both to die.
Rough translations of the PDL cards: The transfer would have saved… / Science is my only faith. / Transfers are like us.
Mareuil says that Damien Volber is the BATI”s main political enemy, who’d love to bring them down. It’s clear the BATI are harassing Volber and the PDL legally and illegally at every opportunity.
Kudos to this show for having Béatrice wear her helmet. It’s a huge pet peeve of mine that the stars never wear their helmets, whether it’s the police, soldiers or athletes. Takes me right out of the story, when bombs are exploding, weapons are being fired, or head injuries are imminent in some other way, and everyone is wearing a helmet but the most important people on the team. Gabe should put his helmet on, too.
Consider this a Fausto appreciation space. She’s one of the best female characters of the year. Probably any year. I need her on my apocalypse team. You know she and her taxi will not let something like an apocalypse get in their way. She’d stare the disaster down until it politely backed away and let her pass. Juliette Plumecocq-Mech is so great and so totally committed in this role.
The finely tuned motor skills that adults have spent decades developing is something that shows like this rarely deal with, so I love that it’s one of the main themes here. What we do on a regular basis with our hands and our bodies, even our eyes, mouths and voices, determines who we are and how we spend the bulk of our time.
For a sniper or a surgeon to transfer into the body of someone with poor eyesight or shaky hands would be career ending. For someone who speaks several languages, losing the muscle memory to form the correct accents has a huge, if possibly temporary, affect on their speech. For a woodworker, who works with sharp tools that make delicate, tiny cuts, to lose the skill he’s developed in his body over a lifetime, is the same as a musician or a star athlete transferring into a clumsy body.
Not every new body will be able overcome its deficits through the sheer willpower of the mind inside. Transfers will have to face that some of the lifelong habits on which their identities were based are no longer possible. This is what Florian is already sensing in his new body, with the way it moves and feels so differently from his original body. We start to realize this by the end of the episode, with the emphasis on the death of the old and on new beginnings, and on making situations work, even when they aren’t what was expected.
Then there is the question of what happens when the change in the transfer goes in the other direction: What happens when someone with no sense of rhythm or pitch transfers into a body with a beautiful voice? Will they be able to do anything with that voice? Or would rhythm, pitch and all things music related originate in the ear and places outside of the mind, so the transfer would inherit the full talent previously associated with that person? What will Florian discover in Sylvain’s life and his physicality which he can use to his advantage, which never would have worked for him before?
Altered Carbon has the concept of sleeve memory, akin to muscle memory, but it also acknowledges that bodies become comfortable with each other and have physical chemistry together. We recognize each other subconsciously by smell and pheromones, too. When it comes to the people physically closest to us we’re going to react to the body, not just the mind, even though we might wish we wouldn’t.
Victor Novak’s mother was having this issue. She couldn’t make a strange body be her son. It’s wasn’t just that he didn’t look like himself. He also no longer looked like other members of their family, or like the little boy she raised.
Just becoming a transfer, and making the required lifestyle adjustments, changes a person. It changed Victor, so that he no longer acted like he used to, either. All of this creates a disconnect in the mind of the transfer and the family and friends of the transfer, who thought they were simply getting back the same person in a different body. When the disconnect gets bad enough, transfers’ minds lose the ability to adjust to new situations, and lose their grip on reality.
Mrs Novak reinforced Victor’s hatred of Samuelson’s body, hastening his reversion. His brain became confused about which face was his, because his reflection was always someone else, so it started making everyone that same/other face. Instead of calmly reminding himself of reality or talking to someone trustworthy who could pull him out of his emotional spiral, Victor put all of his hopes on a new transfer. Odds are the new body would have done nothing but restart the same process, unless the new body was a clone of his original body.
Victor was a troubled man before he was ever transferred, having been mixed up in serious criminal activity such as armed robbery, which had nothing to do with transfers (as far as we know). Florian, on the other hand, was well-adjusted, happy and fulfilled, with a strong support system. He’s the best case scenario for a successful transfer, other than a victim of a terminal illness, who’d have time to prepare.
So far, Florian is doing ok. He’s quickly taken in a lot of information, and has been able to fake his way through Sylvain’s life. But both Florian and Sylvain’s relationships are already strained. The plan for him to thoroughly deny who he is, long-term, including with his own children, is taking its toll.
And his conversation with Victor suggests a deep level of despair hiding just beneath the surface. The momentary connection he made with Victor suggests that he already knows that the only ones transfers can trust, and count on to understand them, are other transfers. But how much can other transfers actually be trusted?
Damien Volber’s book, Mon Combat Pour La Liberté Scientifique (My Fight for Scientific Freedom). The inscription reads: “A Victor, militant actif du PDL, en toute amitié. Damien Volber.” (To Victor, ardent supporter of PDL, in all friendship. Damien Volber.)
More on Transfers:
Variety.com- Series Mania Winner ‘Transfer’ Adds to French TV Sci-Fi Build
AFCinema.com- “Transferts”: A Sci-Fi Series Made in France- Interview with Cinematographer Pascal Lagriffoul, AFC
sbs.com.au- A New Lease on Life Comes with a High Price in ‘Transfer’
ellymcdonaldwriter.com- Losing My Religion – Two Short TV Reviews (Transferts and Counterpart)
Transferts at Wikipedia France
Images courtesy of Netflix.
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