Dirt: The Lupin scarf mystery

How a show's neckwear reveals its chaotic side

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Sophie Atkinson on the scarf that defies the laws of physics.

Watching a TV show involves – duh – a willing suspension of disbelief. But what happens when you crash against the outer limits of that disbelief-suspension? Like, what if an assassin on a TV show wore a scarf, tied with Parisian insouciance, and that scarf never fell off, no matter what he did? Welcome to Lupin Season 2.

We first met the scarf — moss green marbled with gray and white; stylish but quietly so — at the tail end of Season 1, in which Leonard (assassin/scarf-wearer) endured many high-intensity activities without his scarf coming loose, such as a multi-story car park chase; being pummeled and kicked in the chest by Assane and being wrestled to the ground at gunpoint by a small troop of policemen.

Delightfully, throughout the first episode of the new season, the same scarf continues to defy all laws of physics — and scarves. I am but human: I too have tried on occasion to affect a “French look.” I would argue the main thing about scarves (every rose has its thorn) is that they do not stay tied, especially if you tie them in a way that looks really good. And yet, despite being very loosely tied, Leonard-the-assassin’s scarf persists.

I am duty-bound to share my evidence with you. I appreciate your understanding at this time.

Leonard’s scarf continues to thrive...

while Leonard kidnaps Raoul, Assane’s son, a full teenager, flinging him into his car and making a phone call while driving, while simultaneously having to turn round at intervals to ensure Raoul is not trying to escape

While its wearer forces the aforementioned kidnapped teenager, who is thrashing about wildly, into the boot of his car…

While Leonard weathers microaggressions in a cafe in the middle of nowhere…

While Leonard hits the gas and just makes it past the path of a speeding train during a car chase…

While Leonard smashes windows and breaks into a dilapidated mansion in the middle of the French countryside…

While Leonard pulls Raoul — still struggling — out of the boot of the car…

At this point, it seemed inconceivable to me that external forces could ever separate scarf and assassin — a hurricane could take place, nuclear war, still, the scarf would remain snugly at the nape of Leonard’s neck. There was some comfort to be derived from this: no matter how grave things became, Leonard would never look unchic.

So imagine my ire when we cut to Assane, receiving a text from Leonard-pretending-to-be-Assane’s-son, and the next thing we see is Leonard looking for a good sturdy murdering knife in the kitchen, neck nude. This is what it took? The duress of composing a very unconvincing text message? I had hoped that this insane detail would be accounted for — that we would find the scarf used as a gag or a rope. But no, the scarf has simply vanished off the face of the earth.

This is all the more bizarre when you consider that one of Leonard’s key traits, arguably the key trait (he’s a thinly-sketched character in an ensemble cast) is that he really commits to an outfit. In Season 1, he decides to murder a journalist while wearing the same spotless beige trench coat you see him in above. There are, perhaps, two, maybe three activities that are more agreeable to carry out in a trench coat than not in a trench coat: going for a walk on a brisk spring day; trying to get snapped by a street style blogger in the 00s; as sitcoms would have it, surprising your lover by wearing in sexy underwear under your trench coat...no...that’s literally all I have. I would not argue that a vigorous session of murdering can be counted amongst their number.

And yet, it’s kind of Leonard’s signature move. He murders Fabienne in his trench coat and then he tries to murder Assane not once but twice in the same trench coat. Assane even signals how buck wild such behavior is by removing his own outerwear — a Barbour jacket — long before he’s even located Leonard in the creepy abandoned mansion. Why? Because it is easier to fight someone without your jacket on!! That’s just science.

But Leonard has always made little to no sense, which is why I cannot stop thinking about him. Why has this tiny, elegant man even been cast as an assassin? He does not look like someone who could pose any conceivable physical challenge to Assane-played-by-Omar-Sy, who stands at almost six feet, three inches tall, and yet, time and again, Leonard does. Why, when we first meet Leonard, when child-Arsene visits his papa in jail, is Leonard-the-inmate sporting - of all garments, in all possible universes - a charcoal gray funnel neck cardigan? Why does Leonard look like he should be being served brunch, not serving time?

Pull at the scarf and the whole thing starts to unravel. Lupin is a show which reverses the magician’s cardinal rule: it always reveals its trick. We saw this in the very first episode of Season 1 with the necklace robbery and we see this again in Season 2 with their guide to how a person might feasibly steal a famous painting - or, as it turns out, feign a famous painting theft — from the Musée d'Orsay. Ostensibly, the show is obsessed with minutiae and detail, nothing is random. But the existence of Leonard, an assassin with an inexplicably chic little scarf, begs to differ. Lupin isn’t set in a logical universe, but a chaotic one. A universe just like our own. — By Sophie Atkinson

The Dirt: Still attempting the “French look.”