As TF1 airs the penultimate episode of the fourth season of “Balthazar” tonight, the series creator answers our questions about this fourth episode and teases us about the season’s ending, which explores the childhood of the hero played by Tom Sisley.
Following a special episode last Thursday in which Balthazar was followed inside the forensic institute by a video documentary team, the hit crime series that’s been a hit on TF1 week in and week out continues tonight with the first part of the finale double episode of Season 4 , which finally explores the family past and the hero’s childhood.
On this occasion, the producer and screenwriter Clothilde Jamin, who created Balthazar with Clélia Constantine, brings us back to the main events of the fourth season, in particular the arrival of Camille Costes and Olivia Vésinet. And tells us more about that unexpected finale, in which Tomer Sisley’s bereaved pathologist returns to his childhood village to investigate a case of murdered cows… and the death of one of his oldest friends.
AlloCiné: Season 4 of Baltahzar was obviously marked by the arrival of Constance Labbé in the role of Camille Costes. How did you envision this new character? What did you want to do with Camille?
Clothilde Jamin : Above all, our biggest wish was not to repeat Hélène. And it wasn’t easy, because Hélène had a very important place in the series, a relationship with Balthazar based on a romantic dog-cat relationship. We simply refused because we knew that replacing the romantic relationship with Hélène with a romantic relationship with another character would have been considered a betrayal in the hearts of viewers.
We said to each other from the beginning “The relationship between the two must be completely different”. So we started with a film friendship, almost brotherly between Camille and Balthazar. As much as Baltahzar and Hélène had nothing in common and that’s why there was this chemistry between them, we wanted to create an alter ego for Balthazar somewhere that would almost be his mirror.
Camille is pretty lonely, she’s a go-getter, she has a bit of a sour side, but deep down she has a tender heart. He’s a character with a lot of humor, quite modern, that we really designed as a mirror of the hero.
And unlike Hélène, Camille is also shrouded in mystery. Did you want a new thread that doesn’t focus on Balthazar this time?
We wanted to have two solitudes. Balthasar is someone who has locked himself into a kind of solitude. And we wanted Camille to be another form of loneliness too. It’s kind of Lucky Luke, she’s coming, we don’t know how long she’ll stay or where she’s from.
We understand that something happened that cut them off from the rest of the world. She binds very tightly. And we wanted to stage the meeting of these two wastelands and see what it would bring. It’s a mystery that continues in Season 5. We’ll find out why Camille is Camille.
Balthazar and Camille had a brief affair a few years ago. Should we take this as a sign that something might happen between them again one day? Or do you reject this possibility with the authors?
In any case, we didn’t want it not to happen. The fact that it happened kind of closes the debate. And it made us laugh a lot that Balthazar remembered her and not the other way around. That for once he doesn’t hold the reins of seduction in his hand.
After that, the rest, I don’t want to talk about it. That is also what makes the salt of the principle of the series: the fact of not knowing. We can be very good friends and it can get out of hand, or on the contrary we can be friends and nothing ever happens. Everything is very open I think.
The other novelty of the season is the arrival of Caterina Murino in the role of Olivia Vesinet, who comes to evaluate Balthazar within the IML. Could the introduction of this character allow you to anticipate the “fall” of Balthazar, which is losing ground more and more in the episodes of this 4th season?
We wanted to give Balthazar a professional alter ego. He spends his time saying that he is the king of forensic medicine, that he is the youngest director of the forensic institute in Paris, he really is the god in his kingdom. And we found it quite interesting to introduce him to someone who represents the authority of the institution, which he never respects because he has a mental age of 5 (laughs).
And besides, he is someone who is professionally at his level. It’s not necessarily him who wins against them. And the rigor of the character and his formal side, it’s brilliant at comedy. There was great potential.
Will Caterina Murino still be on the show in Season 5?
We’re working on Season 5 right now, so I can’t comment on that yet. It’s still too early to talk about it.
Was it difficult to find a place for Lise and Maya in this fourth season after the thread surrounding Lise’s death in season 3 unraveled?
Lise (Pauline Cheviller) is one of the pillars of the series for us. Actually it is Balthasar. But what was interesting this year was twisting the character of Lise to treat him in a different way. Insofar as it is a projection of Balthasar, what he imagines of Lise develops according to his state of mind. And in Season 4, he’s clearly not in top form.
So Lise takes on a different form. We really stand on the good and the bad demons sit on each shoulder. And we went rather on the wrong side, it was super interesting.
As for Maya (Leslie Medina), she still has a lot to offer. Season 4 shows it. Maya isn’t just the one who killed Lise or Balthazar’s ex-wife. It is also the woman who carries her child. And speaking of the time of renewal, renewal is truly heralded with the birth of this coming child. At some point you have to deal with the concept of the child. And Maya represents that.
Season 4, like the previous ones, still has a lot of very strong special episodes. We’re thinking of the plane episode, the hostage episode, or even the one where a documentary team follows Balthazar within the IML. Is the spirit of the show also about taking genres or imposed characters from police or medical fiction and twisting them with Balthazar sauce?
The spirit of the series is really to have fun writing. We are five or six screenwriters, we work in groups, we write the episodes together. And we always start with the question: “Are we enthusiastic about this idea?”. And the enthusiasm actually often comes from very strong things, strong concepts, strong devices. And of course, because there are so many series, so many stories that have been told, these concepts have often been covered.
But we enjoy putting our characters in very powerful situations and seeing what happens. And that gives us frames that present script challenges at times, like the episode that takes place almost entirely on an airplane. The hostage-taking was also and above all the desire to see Balthasar as a professor. But it had to be integrated into the story, so something strong had to happen in this university environment for the viewer to want to follow the whole episode.
But yes, we want to play with genres, with codes. It’s an incredible playground for a screenwriter. Especially since Balthazar is an all-terrain character, which allows us to take him anywhere. We couldn’t do the plane episode with any series character. But he has this almost superhero side at times. We have a lot of fun with him.
The final double episode takes us to the village where Balthazar grew up, we finally meet his parents. Is it something you’ve wanted to explore for a long time?
It’s mostly something Tomer told us about. Of course, at the end of the season, we wanted to get into the thriller and explore the character’s psychology. And Tomer said to us: “But deep down we don’t know where he came from. Couldn’t we explore Balthazar’s past?”.
And so we came up with the idea of this village and this return to the village, which allowed us to discover the character in depth. He’s very much in the present, in the image he’s projecting, and we thought it was interesting to explain why he’s like that. I really like this finale because it’s the icing on the cake of the season in the truest sense of the word.
Without saying too much, the final episodes also call into question the mental health of Balthazar, who experienced several power outages during the season, more than ever. Basically, didn’t the show tell us that from the start: that Balthazar was on the brink and this madness awaited him?
Does the norm exist? That’s also the question we’re asking ourselves with this character and with the series. Anyone can switch one day. And indeed, Balthazar will change.