Dominic West as Jean Valjean in Les Miserables Episode 6

Les Miserables Episode 6 Recap: The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same

Well, here we are at the extended final episode of Les Miserables (non-musical edition!). How’ve we all enjoyed this wander through misery? Personally, I think they did a pretty good job. But let’s all get caught up first, shall we?

I forgot to mention in the previous recap (sorry!) that Marius sent Cosette a note via Gavroche, telling her he was on the barricades. But Gavroche handed it to Valjean, who frowned slightly, grabbed his knife, and headed towards the barricades. Instead of, you know, maybe staying home and protecting his daughter from all the chaos that might ensue from this rebellion literally being fought in the streets? Honestly, Valjean’s notions of parental protection are a bit out of whack here.

He reaches the barricade in time for a skirmish, and jumps on in. He acquits himself so well Enjolras thanks him personally afterwards.

Not long after, Gavroche appears to give a really dire report to Enjolras and Marius. He’s seen a huge number of soldiers massing nearby, ready to completely destroy the last few remaining barricades. Enjolras and Marius realise this is hopeless, but decide they’ll keep fighting because, well, dying for one’s principles is a thing a lot of young, idealistic people think is a good idea.

Dying for one’s principles is a thing a lot of young, idealistic people think is a good idea

They turn to the crowd and tell them all that this is basically a suicide mission at this point. The people are still with them, presumably because their lives are so miserable that death would be a sweet, sweet release. Enjolras tells them all that history will remember them (sorry, but… no, Enjolras, it kind of won’t. Hands up: how many people honestly knew about this rebellion before seeing it on Les Mis? How many thought Victor Hugo just made it up for the novel?) He and Marius go on to implore those who have children or other family members relying on them to just go, that nobody will think less of them. Enjolras orders them, but Marius more diplomatically implores. Some people leave.

Soldiers start marching in. Enjolras notes that they’re running low on bullets, so Gavroche steps out beyond the barricade to gather some from the dead soldiers lying around. He starts taunting the soldiers, who take shots at him. He gets cocky, and then he gets shot. Ahh, poor kid.

Marius runs out to bring him in, and gets himself wounded in the process. He brings Gavroche’s body back, and Gavroche is laid next to his dead sister.

Another skirmish, and the soldiers fall back. Everyone’s getting ready for the big one. Someone asks Enjolras what they should do with Javert, and Enjolras says they should just shoot him. Valjean asks to be the one to do it and Enjolras is like, ‘Yeah, ok, whatever.’

But instead, Valjean just lets Javert go. Because he’s a human being and killing in cold blood is just not him. Javert doesn’t really know how to process this.

During the next skirmish, the soldiers bring in actual cannons to blow apart this barricade. While the fighting goes on, Valjean takes Marius into the sewers to get him to safety.

The barricade, of course, doesn’t last long against cannon. Enjolras and one of his friends are summarily executed by the soldiers, because if we needed anything, it was a reminder that a reasonable judicial process was basically nonexistent in France at this time.

Javert returns to the police station, totally confused by what’s happened to him. One of his underlings tries to cheer him up by asking if he wants to come along and apprehend Thenardier, who’s been spotted near the river. Javert agrees.

Valjean slogs through the sewers and finally comes to a locked gate. Fortunately, Thenardier appears and offers to unlock the gate, if Valjean gives him half of what he assumes Valjean stole from Marius. Unfortunately, that’s half of nothing, but Thenardier opens the gate anyway. Valjean and Marius spill out onto the street near the river, practically at Javert’s feet.

Valjean is immediately arrested, but begs to be permitted to take Marius to his grandfather’s house. Javert agrees and escorts them there. Marius is handed over to the old man and his former nurse, who scurry to get him the medical attention he needs.

Valjean now willingly hands himself over to Javert, only asking to be allowed to return home one last time, to say goodbye to Cosette. Javert agrees.

On the way, Javert asks if Marius was precious to Valjean. Valjean chuckles darkly and says he actually kind of wished the kid dead. Javert is utterly baffled by the fact that Valjean is not this total villain he’d built up in his mind.

Valjean is dropped off at home and goes inside, where he sees Cosette sleeping. He chooses not to wake her, just leaves the address where she can find Marius. He then goes outside to rejoin Javert, only to find that Javert has driven off and left him in permanent limbo. Which is a bit of a dick move, really.

Javert goes back to the police station and tells his underling that he let Valjean go. He will, naturally, have to resign from the police force because of this. He hands the man some notes he’s made for the higher ups, then goes for a walk along the river. He stands on a bridge for a while, looking down at the water, his whole worldview completely screwed up now that it turns out it’s not 100% black and white (which is really something that he, a grown man, should have learned long ago). He throws himself off the bridge, watched by Thenardier, who really has become a convenient character at this point.

Marius recovers and is reunited with his grandfather. Apparently everyone’s just going to forget the years the man spent making this young man hate and disown his own father. Marius wants to get married and grandpa’s fine with that, because he’s looked into Cosette and found out that she’s pretty, basically. Also, he’s just so relieved Marius is ok that he’ll do anything for him right now.

Marius asks after his friends but displays absolutely no emotion when told they’re all dead. I’m really missing Empty Chairs at Empty Tables just now, if only because it shows that Marius is not a selfish monster.

Once he’s up and about, Valjean and Cosette come by so grandpa can be really, really creepy around her. Valjean also delivers up a hefty dowry, which delights grandpa, of course. The wedding will go ahead.

But first! Valjean needs to come clean to Marius about his past. For some reason. Seriously, I have no idea why he does this, unless it’s just to unburden himself. He tells Marius all about how he was a convict and a thief and now he plans to just disappear himself immediately after the wedding. Oh, and Marius can’t tell any of this to Cosette. So, he’s just going to take off without any explanation to her? That’s cruel, Valjean! Do you think she actually meant it when she said she hated you? She so obviously didn’t!

Poor Marius doesn’t know how to process this at all, which makes a lot of sense. But he doesn’t really have much choice here, so he agrees.

Valjean drops Cosette off at the church, and then just leaves. Wow, he didn’t even stay for the wedding? And Cosette didn’t notice he wasn’t there? There were, like, three guests!

After a six-week honeymoon, Cosette and Marius return to an unwelcome guest: Thenardier. Cosette is horrified and warns Marius that this man is evil. And, indeed, Thenardier tries to shake Marius down for money to keep quiet about Valjean being a murderer. Marius assumes Valjean murdered Javert, which Thenardier kindly sets him straight on. Thenardier thinks Valjean murdered the man he was dragging out of the sewers. Marius and Cosette realise that Valjean was the mystery man who saved Marius.

Marius basically tells Thenardier to get lost and get stuffed, but he does give him some money to essentially clear the debt of Thenardier having supposedly saved Marius’s father’s life. And that’s the last of Thenardier. We never do hear what happened to his wife, and I feel like they kind of wasted Olivia Coleman here.

Marius and Cosette rush off to find Valjean, tracing him back to Digne, where he’s now working in the garden of the bishop’s home (presumably this is a new bishop, not the one who gave him the candlesticks, though we never see). Cosette now knows everything, and tells Valjean as much. Marius’s ‘uh, yeah, I totally couldn’t keep that secret’ face is kind of hilarious. But it doesn’t matter, because Cosette doesn’t care about any of that. She loves Valjean, despite his past, and she wants them all to be a big, happy family.

Which would be great, if Valjean wasn’t dying. But at least he dies with Cosette and Marius at his side, which is nice. Basically, he gets the end he was once so sad that Fantine was robbed of.

And back in Paris, we see two little boys (who had once crossed paths with Gavroche) hopelessly begging on the street. Those barricades did nothing.

And that’s it for the latest, slick adaptation of the monster novel that is Les Mis. Well done, Andrew Davies, you never disappoint (what’re we going to do when he’s not around anymore?). And well done cast, you also did a fab job (though, see my aforementioned comment about the Coleman wastage. The woman is a great actress, give us more!) Sets, costumes, all lovely. Definitely worth the six-hour time investment.

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