The fictional world of espionage is normally presented to us in the form of people like James Bond where it’s all about action and seducing beautiful women. The Bureau: Complete Season One though gives us a more realistic and deadly interpretation based on real accounts from the French Intelligence Service.
When intelligence officer Guillaume Debailly (Mathieu Kassovitz) returns to Paris after an extended undercover mission in Syria he finds it hard to reconnect to his past life. This is further complicated by the appearance of an old love interest from Syria, Nadia (Zineb Triki) who he reconnects with, putting both himself and her and danger.
The Bureau is a very procedural show and everything is taken seriously. While we mainly follow Debailly’s story, we also follow the stories of two other agents. One is that of new requite Marina Loiseau (Sara Giraudeau) and another, who has disappeared in strange circumstances. What these three agents provide us with are the viewpoints of the new agent, the agent deep undercover and in danger, and the more experienced agent making a mistake leading him into the deadly world of double agents.
The case of Guillaume Debailly is the focus because his story slowly reveals that he is being questioned over his actions with Nadia. The further we get into his deceptive life, the more we learn of his predicament and what he is in fact trying to do. There is almost a disconnect between his actions and emotions, and even as the audience who see all of his actions, he is not an easy character to like. This is down to the fact we can’t trust him at all.
The story of Marina though is somewhat more endearing, though just as harsh. Becoming an agent for the DGSE means that she has to learn quickly be tough, and never drop her guard. We see a fairly naïve character slowly formed into an agent ready for the field, and this includes some of the harsh interrogation techniques that she has to go through. A more likable character, she is the one that we want to see survive, and be a success.
The third agent brings in the most danger, and we never really get to see him in action. Known by his codename we see him past around by foreign government officials and terrorists like a commodity. This is where more of the action is presented to the audience, and The Bureau: Complete Season One works at its best. The show is very good at creating the tension and feel of danger, making it obvious that not even the French expect to be able to save this agent.
What makes The Bureau interesting is the serious way that the show is presented, never straying into unneeded action scenes. This is a gritty drama where real danger is presented to the audience, and we get an insight into the real danger the agents are going through.
The Bureau: Complete Season One is a good show for people looking for some gritty drama that feels more realistic than some of the usual American shows which follow the same themes. Where something like Homeland centres on the action and drama, The Bureau is never afraid to create tension, but never stray into big action scenes.
The Bureau: Complete Season One is available in the UK on DVD now.