Netflix’s Transfers: Season 1 Episode 3 Recap

Trans103Flor&Fabrice

In episode 3, Florian digs deep into the realities of Sylvain Bernard’s life and world. After finding out in episode 2 that Sylvain took part in the beating of political enemies with Gabe, Florian realizes that he needs to find out as much as he can about the life he’s taken over. To this end, he acquires the recordings of his sessions with Sister Viviane and he tries to get to know Sylvain’s son. Both share information about Sylvain he isn’t sure he wants to hear.

Sylvain’s grown son, Fabrice, is involved with an organized illegal transfer business. Fabrice’s job is to lure an unsuspecting young woman into a relationship, then, once the client has approved her, trick her into becoming a transfer for a famous pianist. This transfer is meant to show us how specific and open the very wealthy can be with their transfers, despite the fact that the procedure amounts to murder.

Thomas is hospitalized for his injuries, which has Florian and Sophie on edge. Liza hangs around the hospital to keep tabs on them. Eventually, she goes to meet with Fausto, to make some financial arrangements that she can’t make as a child. Liza makes another visit to an old friend, with disturbing consequences. But this time, we find out who is hiding inside Liza’s skin.

Childhood has its benefits and drawbacks, even for a transfer.

Episode 3 opens on an elderly concert pianist named Alexandra Staniowska, who is growing too old to play. Her hands are gnarled with arthritis. The two men who are with her assure her that they are here to help her, and begin asking her questions about what physical type she’d like to transfer into. Alexandra wants a young woman, who already plays piano and has the hands of a virtuoso.

And who has small ears. Alexandra originally had large ears which she had to have surgically altered.

She understands that the young pianist will lose her life, but, “Music needs me.”

Narcissism established.

Her replacement body has already been picked, and they already have someone seducing her into doing what they need.

Florian and Sophie speak together with Thomas’ doctor about his treatment, at Thomas bedside, but then Sophie is upset when Florian leaves for work. He grabs her arms roughly and uses a harsh voice when he tells her that he has to go to work with the BATI, because he’s a time bomb who’s more dangerous than Gabe. He’s living inside a man he knows almost nothing about, and it’s only a matter of time until that catches up to him. Their only chance is for him to spend time as Sylvain and learn about his life.

I’m not sure how much he’s also afraid of what he’ll do and how much he’s worried Sylvain’s prior actions will come back to haunt him. I do think he’s right when he says that Sophie doesn’t understand what he’s going through.

Julie and Liza follow them downstairs. They both comfort Julie that her brother will recover and be fine. Florian consoles Liza and convinces her that they don’t blame her for Thomas’ accident. Sophie agrees. When Liza asks, they say that their trip has been cancelled. She looks pleased.

Fabrice and Clara, the transfer candidate, are already sleeping together. He convinces her that he’s in love with her and wants to know every little detail about her.

This is difficult to watch if you’ve ever been taken advantage of by the type of liar who gains your trust and learns your secrets so that they can use your weaknesses against you later. Fabrice and Clara are a heightened version of that story. Some liars take your money or your friends, some sell your body to the highest bidder and kill your soul.

Florian stands outside the BATI administrative building and looks at it with renewed purpose. He needs to “recover” as much of Sylvain’s memory as possible, as quickly as possible, so he can stop being blindsided by the things Sylvain was capable of.

Inside the station, Béatrice and some other agents are watching video of the attack on Daphné from the night before. Gabe must have uploaded it. Béatrice is disgusted by the attack. She tells Florian that these attacks happen frequently. Gabe says that the video has 500k hits already, but they’re unlikely to identify the attackers, as usual. He says that Daphné was asking for trouble, but Béatrice doesn’t think that anyone deserves this kind of treatment. When Gabe tries to get chummy, Florian angrily shrugs him off.

Mareuil calls them over to watch Damien Volber give an interview in front of the BATI building.

Damien: These extremists must be caught and punished. We must also ask why their ideology flourishes. Those responsible are here, behind me. The government spreads fear and paranoia. Its propaganda depicts transfers as the enemy and the BATI hunts them relentlessly, day after day. Is it any wonder if vulnerable, susceptible people, the targets of unwarranted hatred, take it out on innocent victims, such as my assistant and her family, thereby attacking everyone in my party.

Florian goes outside to catch Volber before he leaves. Damien assumes that he’s about to be roughed up, and tells “Sylvain” to get on with it, before the cameras leave. Instead, Florian apologizes for what happened to Daphné. Damien is surprised to discover that there’s some compassion in the BATI after all. He says that Daphné has multiple fractures, which modern medicine can fix. But her husband is fighting for his life.

Florian storms back inside the BATI building, with Damien calling after him. He doesn’t get far before Gabe manhandles him, asking why he’s talking to Damien and why he ran away from the attack. Florian shoves Gabe up against the wall, saying that he should have beaten up Gabe instead. Gabe is delighted to see “Sylvain” acting normal again. He tells Florian that no one is shocked to see him become violent. But he expects to see the real Sylvain every time from now on.

Florian stalks off into a side area enclosed in glass. Béatrice follows him, sensing an opportunity. She asks if he’s ok, and he says that he should have hit Gabe. She agrees that he should have, because then Mareuil would have punished him. After that, Sylvain would have blamed Béatrice. He would have taken his anger out on her through insults and rough sex, until she couldn’t take it anymore. As usual.

No wonder Viviane hates Sylvain.

None of this is Florian’s style, but Béatrice has turned herself on just thinking about it and watching the arguments. She doesn’t understand how “Sylvain” could say no. He finally shoves her off of him, relatively gently, and walks away.

Liza finds Fausto’s taxi and asks if she’s free. Fausto asks if anyone is ever really free in this world, but tells Liza to get in. They discuss philosophy for another minute, then Liza reveals her true identity.

Florian forces his way into Viviane’s office to look up the recordings of his sessions. He finds them and downloads them onto a flashdrive, but someone is watching.

Fausto refers to Liza as Woyzeck and asks what it’s like to be in a little girl’s body. She says that it’s a good place to hide, because no one pays any attention to her. But she’s a minor, so she’s not free to conduct her own affairs. She can’t even go to the bank.

The real Liza is, of course, dead. As are her parents. The situation is extra inconvenient for them. It’s good to know that Woyzeck is finding their lives at least somewhat useful. 🙈 Woyzeck had to kidnap the real Liza and take her to the homemade outdoor illegal transfer set up to make the switch, so she was terrified before she died.

Woyzeck wants to know who else besides Fausto and herself know that Sylvain Bernard is now a transfer. Fausto says the client who put out the contract on him does, but she won’t tell Woyzeck who that was. She guarantees her clients anonymity. She reminds Woyzeck that her business depends on it, and Woyzeck wouldn’t be alive without it.

Woyzeck says that Florian is just the kind of person she’s been looking for.

That’s a bit ominous.

She’s brought Fausto the bank account numbers from Liza’s parents and wants her help with cleaning them out. Fausto agrees. Woyzeck plants a kiss goodbye on Fausto’s cheek and leaves again, with Fausto screaming about her germs in the background.

Florian settles in at home to watch the stolen videos of Sylvain’s therapy sessions. In the first session, Sylvain is angry and hostile. Viviane asks about the death of his wife, Chloé. He’s never gotten over seeing her body used for a transfer. It was his reason for joining the BATI and he feels it destroyed his family.

Florian stops the recording and looks at family photos instead. Sylvain appears to have been happy, warm and loving with Chloé and Fabrice before she died.

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Alexandra meets with the illegal transfer team to discuss more details, such as how her funds will be moved into accounts under her new name. Fabrice is creating a file for her which provides details about Clara which she should memorize. He gives her the first installment. She also stares at a photo of Clara superimposed over her own face.

Fabrice explains that he’ll be meeting Clara’s close friends soon, but she doesn’t socialize much. She spends most of her time on music. Alexandra asks if he’s slept with her. He answers her questions about Clara’s sexual responsiveness. Alexandra wants to go ahead with the transfer, after she’s had a meeting with Clara. She’ll feel better about the transfer if she can give Clara one last moment of happiness before she dies.

Alexandra assumes that Clara will be so happy to meet her that she’ll be fine with dying afterward.

Fabrice appears to have some real feelings for Clara, and to be having second thoughts about betraying her.

Florian returns to the BATI offices and asks Béatrice for help with regaining his memories. She says that in reality, she hardly knows anything about him. Reluctantly, she tells him that his wife, Chloé, died in an accident 3 years ago. She tells him about Fabrice, explaining that they don’t speak to each other. Béatrice quickly finds his address.

Fabrice is out at dinner with Clara and her friends. Alexandra arrives at the same restaurant. Fabrice contrives a meeting between the two women, which goes well. Alexandra is ready for the transfer.

Later, Fabrice asks Clara if she’d choose him or the piano, if it was the last day of her life. She says that he inspires her to play better. He says he won’t let her choose.

Florian knocks on Fabrice’s door as Clara is about to leave for her rehearsal, but Fabrice tries to shut the door in his face. Florian stops him and talks his way in anyway. It’s been a year since Sylvain and Fabrice have seen each other and Fabrice is still furious with his father. Clara comes over to join them and meet Fabrice’s father, then Florian says that he wants to talk to Fabrice about Chloe and their family.

Fabrice becomes even angrier. “You weren’t there when Mom died, and now you’re lecturing me? Leave the woman in peace at the Omega Center. You told me to forget you and I did. Now you forget me and get out. Out!”

Florian isn’t left with much choice, so he leaves.

Béatrice joins Viviane at the Eglise Saint Esprit for a rehearsal of her sisterhood induction ceremony. Viviane tells Béatrice that Florian broke into her office. Béatrice assumes that “Sylvain” did it just to annoy Viviane and she should ignore him.

Béatrice is excited that she will get to see Father Luc in real life during the ceremony, a dream come true.

Florian meets Sophie outside of the hospital to tell her how his investigation into Sylvain Bernard is going, but she doesn’t want to hear it. To her, Sylvain is dead and irrelevant, and Fabrice is Sylvain’s son, not Florian’s. She still thinks that Sylvain’s problems aren’t Florian’s. She wants Florian to pay attention to Thomas, not Fabrice. Florian says that he needs to understand Sylvain’s motivations, and he thinks Sylvain’s violence has something to do with his wife.

Florian goes to the Omega Center, alone this time, and finds the transfer who’s in Chloé’s body. She’s swimming, so when she’s done, he follows her to the lockers to speak to her privately. As soon as she sees “Sylvain”, she recognizes him and becomes terrified, screaming for help. He tries to calm her down and let her know that he won’t hurt her, but it doesn’t help. She tells him to stay away and that it wasn’t her fault his wife died. She loses control and has to be taken away by an aide.

Florian meets with Vautier afterward, who explains that at the time that Chloé died in an accident, “Organ donor cards were extended to allow the whole body to be used for a transfer. That saved many lives.”

Florian understands that it must have been hard for Sylvain, when his wife reappeared, but she wasn’t his wife. He realizes that this is why Sylvain hated transfers so much.

Fabrice said that Sylvain wasn’t present when Chloé died, so he would have had no say in how her body was used, and no idea what happened until it was too late. He may have seen what he thought was his wife, then discovered that she was dead and had been replaced.

Vautier looks up the transfer in Chloé’s body. She’s Mélanie Damiens, 26, who suffered from cystic fibrosis. “The kind of therapeutic transfer we ought to still be able to do.”

Sylvain brought her to the Omega Center soon after it opened. But first, he raped her, and the police didn’t follow up on her complaint.

Florian nearly goes into shock from this revelation. Vautier is quick to reassure him that Sylvain’s actions have nothing to do with him. Still, Florian needs to ask if anything from the original personality remains in the mind. Vautier shows him a diagram of two bodies and explains that the new personality writes over all of the neural circuitry in the new body. In theory, there shouldn’t be anything left from the old mind.

Florian asks what he means by “in theory”? Vautier says that his current research is focused on the hypothalamus: the reptilian brain the handles the most basic actions, such as breathing, walking, eating, drinking. It’s also linked to motor skills such as riding a bike or firing a gun.

Vautier: “These skills represent deposits, which, I found, could be responsible for reversions. They cause vestigial behaviors of the former occupant to resurface. That could be responsible for reversions.”

Florian asks if he’s inherited the violence caused by Sylvain’s traumas. Will he wake up tomorrow a rapist? Vautier doesn’t think that’s possible, but there’s still a lot they don’t know about transfers. Florian tells Vautier that he’s dirt, then walks out. Vautier looks thoughtful.

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At home, Florian tries to work out his anger by carving the chess piece he took from his home workshop, but his hands simply won’t do what he needs them to do. He puts the work away in frustration just as the doorbell rings. It’s Béatrice, wondering if he’s busy. She’s brought the entire office with her for their monthly drunken bash. Everyone cruises in and makes themselves at home.

Mareuil has brought a bottle of 15 year old whiskey and his second wife, Oriane. His first wife died of cancer. Mareuil moved on quickly. Too quickly, according to Béatrice.

Woyzeck is out on the town as well, trying to buy a gun and using Liza’s body as potential payment. She’s tarted up in a miniskirt and makeup and working one of her old contacts in a brothel. He gives in and brings her to his room.

Once inside, he opens his gun cabinet and picks out a Glock sub for her delicate little hands. She asks about the micro-explosives that are also inside. He thinks they’re too extreme for a little girl. Then he pushes her to her knees in front of him. Prepubescent isn’t too little to get him off.

Woyzeck pulls out the knitting needles that she used to put up her hair, and stabs him in the crotch. Once he collapses, she grabs the gun and puts it to his head. “A high calibre gun in a small hand, just like you wanted.”

Maybe we need to outfit all little girls with knitting needles, and teach the girls how to use them. And not to hesitate. But then, I often think the world would be a better place if all little girls went to spy school. It’s delightful to see this child one up the pedophile, except that the child is actually the adult man who murdered the child, and offered the child’s body up to the pedophile. None of us should forget that.

The pedophile swears at Liza, who tells him he had more respect when he worked for her. Pedo realizes that Liza is Woyzeck and promises not to tell anyone he’s seen her. Woyzeck agrees that he won’t, because he’ll be dead. With a smile on her face, she shoots him in the head and turns to the weapons case.

Once the party is in full swing, Mareuil tells Florian that usually he’s the one who’s dancing like a maniac. Mareuil is surprised, in a good way, to see “Sylvain” acting so mature. Oriane drags her husband away to dance.

Toward the end of Clara’s rehearsal, Fabrice gets the call ordering him to bring her in for the transfer. Fabrice tells Clara he has a surprise for her. As they’re walking toward the location, Clara says that she invited Fabrice’s father to her concert. It would be a chance for them to make up. Fabrice does so much for her, and she loves him, so she wants him to be happy. Fabrice doesn’t know what to do with this information, other than be slightly mortified.

The goons who are meant to grab Clara for the transfer are closing in on them. Fabrice has a change of heart and tries to convince Clara to run away, but it’s too late.

Viviane sits down next to Florian at the party and tells him that someone broke into her office. He immediately confesses, saying he needed to see the recordings. She asks what he got from them.

Florian: “The most important things are the things I don’t say.”

Viviane: “What do you make of those gaps, Professor?”

Florian: “I refuse to talk about my wife, her accident and the transfer inside her body. Not once do I mention my son. There’s a before and an after in my life. Before, Paradise lost.”

Viviane: “Paradise, no less. There are other things you don’t talk about. Like the abusive, violent, degrading way you treat people. Such as your colleagues. And your other woman. It reassures you to believe Chloé’s death was the trigger. It’s reassuring but simplistic. Your violence goes much deeper.”

Viviane implies that Sylvain has always been violent, with origins rooted deep in his past, perhaps in childhood. We have no direct evidence of this, and a lot of evidence that Viviane hates him. We have evidence that would fit with him snapping when he found out what happened to his wife. And as far as we know, Viviane didn’t meet Sylvain until he joined the BATI.

He was awful enough after Chloé died to make hating him valid. And you do have to wonder what his relationship with her was like, given the way he treated Béatrice. Then there’s his estrangement from Fabrice. But if Viviane has more information about Sylvain’s violent past, why not tell him? Why be so coy? He wants to know. You’d think she’d be in a hurry to rub it in his face.

After Viviane passes judgement on him, Florian gives up and lives down to everyone’s expectations of Sylvain. He gets falling down drunk and begins to lose track of himself. He hallucinates and seems to be on the edge of a reversion, becoming confused about whether he’s Florian or Sylvain and whether he’s with Béatrice, Sophie, Melanie or Chloé. He ends up in a fight with Gabe, which actually seems to be a regular end of party occurrence for them.

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With Fabrice’s help, Clara is sedated, stripped naked and forced to play the piano for Alexandra, while everyone watches and talks about her. She’s essentially roofied and pseudo raped. Watching Fabrice undress her while she’s paralyzed, after she told him she loved him a few minutes ago, is disturbing enough, but knowing that this ends with her murder is horrifying. It’s not enough to kill her. She’s has to be degraded and humiliated first.

Alexandra has concerns that Clara’s playing isn’t perfect, but the doctor points out that she’s sedated into a walking stupor, so she’s not at her best. Plus, she comes with a six month guarantee. Alexandra doesn’t think it’s much of a guarantee. The doctor reminds her it’s an illegal operation.

Alexandra decides to go through with the transfer. The preparations will be complete in a few hours. Fabrice leaves, since he’s no longer needed. He decides that he can’t go through with the final step of his betrayal and goes to confess to his father/Florian, who wakes up naked with Béatrice.

The BATI raid the facility, but only Clara is still there. Florian is relieved to have found her in time. Béatrice questions Clara and tells her there’s a counselor she can talk to. Before she leaves, Clara tells Fabrice that she never wants to see him again. He’s been arrested and will go to prison for his part in the operation.

Florian tries to smooth things over with Fabrice, but Fabrice says that Sylvain cracked up after Chloé died, as usual. Sylvain told Fabrice that he wanted them to forget each other for good. Fabrice isn’t willing to let so much hurt go.

Mareuil has a fit because someone tipped off the transfer operation that the BATI were coming. Béatrice thinks that they were watching Fabrice. Mareuil orders “Sylvain” to talk to the press and make the BATI look good.

Béatrice catches Florian on their way out of Mareuil’s office and brings up the night before, saying it’s the first time she’s seen him in “TLC mode”. (According to the subtitles. I assume they mean it’s the first time he’s been a gentle, giving lover with her.) She asks if she can get some more of that tonight, but Florian says they had too much to drink and they’ll have to talk about it later.

I’m thinking this might have been a much more satisfying experience for Béatrice than her previous times with “Sylvain”, and suddenly she’s okay with the changes in him.

Woyzeck cleans the Glock and watches the news report about Clara’s rescue and Sylvain Bernard’s arrest of his own son. When she sees the facility, she gets interested.

Florian spends the evening walking the streets and thinking. He ends up at a rooftop bar, where Damien Volber finds him. Volber asked around and heard Sylvain goes there sometimes. Florian had no idea, he let his feet take him there.

Damien wants Florian/Sylvain to let out his compassionate side more. He can get behind a BATI that rescues women from illegal transfers and is upset about unfair beatings, instead of overreaching and handing out the beatings. He wants “Sylvain” to speak out more on those types of things, as a member of the BATI.

Florian doesn’t want to draw any more attention to himself and he doesn’t want Damien to use his story for his own purposes. “I don’t represent the BATI. I’m just one man, doing his best, where he happens to be.”

What Florian said must be completely different from anything Damien has heard from Sylvain before, because he’s too stunned to speak for a moment, and looks at Florian assessingly. “You seem like a good person to me. Let’s drink to your compassion.” Florian says that he’s quit drinking and walks away.

Florian attends Clara’s concert. Just in case we weren’t sure who’s in that body, she’s wearing Alexandra’s signature earings. It turns into a montage. Fabrice is in prison. Melanie/Chloe is in Vautier’s lab, in a glass cube. Béatrice is praying to Father Luc. Sophie is watching Florian pretend to be Sylvain on TV. She’s looks annoyed, but she has on another great, fluffy sweater, this one in white. Liza/Woyzeck also looks unhappy as she rides her bike to Florian/Sylvain’s house.

Florian finds her there waiting and invites her in. She points her Glock at him and tells him, “We have a lot to talk about, Florian.”

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I get the feeling that Viviane might have some secrets of her own.

Transfer culture, like most every other culture, seems to be worse for women.

Hypothalamus= region of the brain, between the thalamus and the midbrain, that functions as the main control center for the autonomic nervous system by regulating sleep cycles, body temperature, appetite, etc., and that acts as an endocrine gland by producing hormones, including the releasing factors that   control the hormonal secretions of the pituitary gland. (Dictionary.com)

By spending so much time living as Sylvain, trying to think like he thought and understand his motivations, Florian is likely keeping the parts of Sylvain that are still in the brain alive. He’s Sylvain more than he’s Florian, which means that his mind is getting trained to live Sylvain’s life, instead of Sylvain’s body becoming Florian’s body. He’s putting his own twist on Sylvain’s life, to be sure, and he’s found purpose and meaning there. But he’s putting much more effort into passing as Sylvain and learning the story of transfers through Sylvain’s story than he’s putting into Sophie and his own children.
Sylvain’s life is more comfortable for him, in an odd way, because he doesn’t have to live up to expectations to be his old self. Sylvain’s life is a mess, full of people who are as messed up and needy as Florian is right now. In Sylvain’s life, he’s surrounded by the culture of transfers, whereas Sophie would like him to forget he’s a transfer. She and the kids seem to have survived just fine without him. He’s an interloper who’s brought danger into their lives.

Loyalty and Commitment

This episode examines loyalty and commitment. Béatrice remains loyal to Sylvain, though she’s trying to figure out this new side to him. Gabe is questioning his own loyalty to Sylvain, since he’s no longer the hot-headed fighter Gabe felt close to. Sylvain’s true nature and the glass fishbowl he lives in have strained the commitment between Sophie and Florian.

There are many instances of people being put under examination in the episode, with stages, cameras, glass enclosures such as offices and cages, windows, glass walls and glass doors everywhere. The characters are also trapped, unable to avoid being seen, whether they want it or not. Loyalty and commitment turn into coercion and then imprisonment.

I wonder how much struggle Florian and Sophie had gone through together before his accident. They don’t seem to know how to handle crises together. They aren’t gelling as partners who have any common ground, which makes me wonder if their lives together were so easy that they were never tested like this before.

We’ve seen that Liza isn’t controlled by the whims of her body or the personality of its former owner. So there’s no reason why Sylvain’s personality should be making Florian short-tempered. But he is living with intense pressure to take on Sylvain’s characteristics, and intense pressure to acknowledge that he’s violent, but to change. That would do a number on anyone’s brain.

Florian went for a swim and woke up 5 years later in the body of a violent criminal who’s known as a hero. That’s a lot to take in. Sophie seems to expect that he’ll just take it all in stride, and automatically be able to act like Sylvain at work, then act like her Florian at home. A 5 year coma and the loss of time would affect him deeply, even without the transfer, yet Sophie doesn’t want to give him time to adjust. She doesn’t consider that this experience might change him. After being a single mother for 5 years whose husband was in a coma, she’s changed as well.

Her fantasy, through 5 years of waiting, was to get back the man she lost, but that man doesn’t exist any more. If they are to maintain their marriage, they each need to accept that they’ve changed, and start over, based on who they are now.

Sophie still can’t see that she dropped Florian, who has a strong sense of justice, into the middle of a complex situation, and asked him to blend in. In order to do that, he has to understand the situation. But the more he understands the full reality, both as it pertains to Sylvain and his family and the way transfers are treated in general, which is very personal for him, the more his sense of justice requires him to do something about it.

Sophie just wants her husband back, as she remembers him. She’s refusing to see who he is now. She mentions that his skin and smell are different now. It seems that she doesn’t have the same physical chemistry with this body that she had with his original body. It also seems like she didn’t know the original Florian as well as she thought she did. She wants his attention centered on the family again, but he can’t turn his back on this group of marginalized people who he’s in a position to help.

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Mind vs Body vs Talent

Clara’s pieces for her concert: “A polonaise, two lieder by Schubert and the Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2.” When she asks Clara to play on the table, Alexandra tells her that a true pianist doesn’t need a piano. Then Alexandra tells her she’ll have the best concert of her life in a week. Because she’ll be Alexandra. That was extra cruel.

This episode dives deeper into the combination of mind and body that make up a talent. Alexandra knows that she needs someone with the right hands, stamina, posture, a good ear for music, and all of the other physical qualities that talented people tend to take for granted.

Florian is discovering that Sylvain’s body doesn’t have the fine motor skills, eye for detail, or ability to sit still that his original body did, making carving delicate pieces difficult. Could he train this body the way he trained his old body? Maybe, but he might not ever reach the level he attained before. Being a talented artist or athlete is more than just training, practice and determination. If you don’t have the physical and mental raw materials to be great, you’ll never get there.

Florian is beginning to face this fact head on. He doesn’t just have to cope with Sylvain’s traumas. He has to work with the lifestyle Sylvain’s body is trained for, and try to find some middle ground between that and his own previous life. He’s learning that he can’t step right back into the life of Florian the fine cabinetmaker, and he doesn’t want to be Sylvain, the vengeful, violent BATI officer. But who can he be? What can this body do besides fight? Or does he want to fight, but for the right things?


The Nuns of Eglise Saint Esprit

The nun’s instructions during the rehearsal for Viviane’s ceremony:

This is only a rehearsal. You’ll drop your clothes and present yourselves to your Lord. You walk past the lights that purify us, just as baptism cleanses us of sin… Here you put on the nun’s habit… The last stop is the scary one: branding. You insert the stylus into the space in the crown. This is the sign of God’s soldiers, ready to spread the good word… This is temporary, but at the ceremony, the brand will be for good. The sacrament will be more painful. Does anyone else dare?

The nun has a novitiate and her person walk through the process as she explains it, with the person helping the nun all the way through. The person then gives the novitiate her brand. The stylus that creates the brand would normally be hot enough to leave a deep burn that will scar, but for rehearsal it must be set on low, because it leaves a red mark. It’s Viviane and Béatrice’s turn to do the walk through next. Viviane says that it’s harder to become a nun than a shrink.

The people in Transfers sport tattoos similar to modern western culture, but there’s also this escalation of body modification to branding, which is more painful and less flexible than tattooing. In the western world, it’s usually associated with ownership and identifying criminals. The horseshoe brand on legal transfers shows that they were probably never seen as all that respectable.

Otherwise legal transfers could have worn dog tags or carried an ID card. Even a tattoo shows more trust in the subject, because it’s easier to remove. But the need to ID therapeutic transfers is closest to the need to ID people with serious medical needs, who usually wear medic alert jewelry of one sort or another, or carry a card. Medical tattoos also exist.

A brand is a scar, which  is permanent damage, for a damaged person, who’s using someone else’s body, and might need to be rounded up or hunted down. Bao showed us that the brand is too deep to remove without doing terrible damage to the arm. The transfer is branded for life as a body thief who has the potential to become a psychotic killer. There’s really no other way to interpret the way they’re branded and treated.

The nun’s brand strikes me as being about ownership of the women who have pledged their lives to the church. Note that Father Luc doesn’t have a brand, because no one can question his devotion. Or his autonomy/ ownership status. But the church doesn’t want the nuns to be able to change their minds about their commitment, so it prominently disfigures them in a recognizable way. The burn is deep, so the scar will also be deep, and in a place where it will be difficult to remove without leaving another prominent scar.

The nuns are branded like cattle or slaves, as property of the church. If they try to leave, the brand will serve as a scarlet letter, to alert the church’s devoted followers that they should harass and shun the evil sinner before them.

And the nuns are taught that their willingness to accept the brand and the accompanying pain shows their devotion to God and Father Luc. They’ll be rewarded in heaven for it. What else will they be asked to do, here on earth, in return for God and Father Luc’s love? Why does Father Luc need God’s soldiers, who are easily identified when they go AWOL?

On the other hand, if there’s a brand on your forehead, your body is no good as an illegal transfer.

 

Images courtesy of Netflix.

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