Last weekend, I caught the opening two episodes of La Dernière Vague, a six-episode French eco-thriller. That’s The Last Wave this side of the Channel where it has slipped into BBC4's Saturday slot for Scandi-noir, Spiral and Montalbano.
It’s a weird mix and slow burn so far. Elements are reminiscent of 800 Words, John From Cincinnati, and Misfits. All stuck in a blender. It opens ahead of a surfing competition in Biarritz, on France’s Basque coast. We meet some of the locals and get some broad stroke impressions of broken marriages, bullying school kids and bogus healers.
Everything goes wonky when a when a huge ominous cloud takes over the sky. Still the contest kicks off with ten chosen people going out with a local hero, a champion surfer with low life mum and neglected brother. What could go wrong?
The chosen surfers go out to catch some waves when the cloud descends on the sea, engulfing all the participants. It clears and they are gone. Coastguard arrangements seem to be limited to a couple of jet-skis and two anxious dads in a speed boat. A tracker leads them in circles, back to the lighthouse.
The mystery deepens when the surfers begin to return home dazed and confused, with no memory of where they have been or what happened to them. One by one, the returning surfers discover that they have been changed by the event, such as the timid kid who longer needs his glasses. His eyes have changed colour too. They all possess exceptional and inexplicable powers, like breathing underwater, healing. With the town united in fear, waiting for another wave to strike, scientist and anxious dad Ben Lebon makes an amazing discovery concerning the mysterious cloud hovering over the ocean.
There is a sub-plot about the development of an eco-town being built on unstable foundations. There’s a big crack at the center. Oh, we can fill it in, just don’t tell the mayor.
Then that cloud comes back ...