The halfway point, people! How’re we enjoying it? (Well, if ‘enjoying’ is really the right word!) I’m liking it. And no, though I love the musical, I don’t miss the songs.
When last we left our hero, he was galloping towards Arras to attend the trial of Non-Valjean. He arrives, along with Javert, and takes a seat in the courtroom. It quickly becomes clear that the poor man on trial is both innocent and possibly a bit slow. The spectators find his distress hilarious. Three prisoners who were on the chain gang with Valjean identify Non-Valjean as the man himself, so it looks like this poor guy is done for.
But no! The real Valjean can’t let this injustice stand, so he admits, in front of everyone, that he is, actually, Jean Valjean. And he proves it by revealing a few things about those fellow prisoners (tattoos and the like). He’s arrested, and Javert looks smug.
Because Javert’s a total asshole, he goes out of his way to take Valjean back to the town where he was mayor, so everyone can see him in handcuffs and know what Valjean really is. I think they now know what Javert really is as well.
While there, Valjean spots his manager and asks her if she fetched Fantine’s daughter. The woman just kind of does that, ‘Oh, who could he possibly be talking to?’ thing that horrible people do. Jesus, lady, what’s your problem? Seriously, why does this woman hate Fantine so much? Because Fantine finished her work quickly and made a little beaded present for her kid one time? I mean, to wilfully not fetch a dying woman’s child so they can say their goodbyes is a whole new level of terrible, on top of getting her fired for no reason. I hope karma gets this woman good.
Valjean realises that Cosette was never fetched, and he rushes into the hospital to see Fantine. One of the nuns tending to her quickly realises what happened and lies to Fantine that Cosette can come see her once her fever is better.
Javert comes in and starts screaming about how Valjean’s a criminal who never went to fetch Cosette at all, and now he’s going back to prison. Fantine sobs in despair, and then dies.
And that pisses. Valjean. OFF. But there’s not much more he can do except promise now dead Fantine that he’ll find her little girl.
Valjean is returned to the prison hulks. Once he’s checked in and alone, he removes a small metal file that he somehow hid in his mouth.
Two years pass, and we rejoin little Cosette, whose life has gone from misery to misery. She’s dressed in rags, beaten for sport, and made to fetch heavy buckets of water, seemingly endlessly. There’s a little fair outside the inn, and the man who bought Fantine’s hair and teeth in the last episode is there, now selling dolls with real hair. Cosette eyes one with long, dark hair. I assume we’re meant to think it’s her mother’s.
Valjean, who has managed to escape from the hulks at some point, finds her out in the woods at night, filling the buckets from a stream. He carries the buckets back to the inn for her and asks for a room, paying handsomely for it and for a simple meal. The Thernadiers both practically get dollar signs in their eyes.
Valjean correctly identifies Cosette and asks if she has a doll, like the Thernadiers’ daughters do. Of course she doesn’t. He goes out and just so happens to buy her the dark-haired doll. So, now Cosette gets to play with a doll made with her dead mother’s hair. Hair that was sold to keep her from the very servitude she now finds herself in. This is kind of strange and creepy. Valjean also pays the Thernadiers five francs to let her play for the evening.
Speaking of strange and creepy, Thernadier offers to let Cosette stay with him for the night, which puts Valjean off, as it would any normal, healthy human being.
The next day, Valjean strikes a deal with the Thernadiers to take Cosette with him. They bilk him for quite a lot, but he pays right up and he and Cosette hit the road.
They’re barely gone before the Thernadiers start thinking they probably could have got more off of him. Thernadier heads off to intercept the pair. Valjean is totally done with this terrible POS, overpowers him when Thernadier pulls a pistol, and tells him to get lost. NOW. Thernadier scurries off like the disgusting little cockroach he is.
The pair head to Paris and rent some rooms in what appears to be a rather poor part of town. Cosette starts to blossom under Valjean’s care, finally able to just eat and play like a normal kid. And things are good… for a while.
But, of course, Javert shows up. Well, he shows up in Paris. Seems he’s been promoted to the head of Paris police. During a morning incident report, he hears that Thernadier has reported Cosette kidnapped. Oh, for God’s SAKE! I mean, this is obvious, but what a freaking moron. Yeah, Thernadier, remember that really strong man who was totally able to kick your ass and could have shot you in the head if he wanted to but held back because he’s a better person? Why don’t you just go piss him off even more? With an accusation that’s pretty easy to prove baseless?
The names of those involved catch Javert’s attention. He tells one of his underlings to ask at the prison hulks if anyone’s escaped recently, while he goes to question Thernadier.
Thernadier lies really poorly about Cosette being kidnapped, but all Javert wants is a description of the man who supposedly did it. It confirms, to him, that it was Valjean. Thernadier tries to press the kidnapping issue and Javert actually wins me over a little bit by shutting him right down and saying Thernadier’s lucky not to be arrested for wasting everyone’s time, selling a child, and just being a terrible human. Javert knows the man was spending money like crazy in the village shortly after Cosette left, so obviously some money changed hands there.
But Javert’s not done with these people: He calls in the debt collectors on them. Hee! They lose the inn and have to leave, which makes me rather gleeful. Mme actually tries to abandon her son at the inn, because there’s no limit to how awful they are. Fortunately (maybe?) someone finds him and hands him over to his family. The look the guy gives her as he does so is pretty great.
Javert, meanwhile, hightails it back to Paris, where he hears that Jean Valjean supposedly drowned while attempting to escape the hulks. Not sure why they would have assumed he was drowned when they never found the body, but maybe they were just hoping to avoid black marks and unnecessary paperwork.
Wanted posters start to go up all over Paris, with a drawing of a man who does not look all that much like Valjean. Still, it’s enough for some creepy, nosy bitch of a neighbour of Valjean’s to go to the police and tell them she knows where Valjean is.
Javert hurries to the rooms in the middle of the night, but Valjean manages to escape with Cosette. He sneaks them both into a convent where, conveniently, the nun who tended Fantine is now living. What a small world!
The nun vouches for Valjean to the Mother Superior, who goes to the gate and tells Javert that no man is permitted in the convent and he’s going to have to leave.
She then sits down with Valjean and offers him and Cosette sanctuary there. Cosette can attend the convent’s school, and Jean can work as their gardener. Everyone wins!
Except Javert. For now. But we know he’s not giving up.