At one point in 2022, I decided that I wanted to watch some sort of crime drama, but ideally something with short episodes – nothing bordering on a full hour. Then, I stumbled upon Capitani, which intrigued me in several ways. First of all, it was a Luxembourgish series, and having never watched one before, it seemed to be an interesting prospect. Furthermore, episodes were always around the 25-minute mark, which was just perfect. And the premise was a murder in one of those small, picturesque little villages where you expect nothing could ever go wrong. Initially released on RTL Tele Letzebuerg, Capitani broke all the records in its category, with about 29% of Luxembourg’s population watching each episode upon its release and about 90% of those polled declaring that they would be interested in a second season. And, this time, as a Netflix production, the second season did come in pretty much the same format as that of its predecessor.
❝At first glance, there is a large difference between the two seasons.❞
At first glance, there is a large difference between the two seasons, with the action moving from the forest and rural roads of the fictional village of Manscheid to the streets of the actual town of Esch – situated in the south of Luxembourg, right on the borders with both France and Belgium. And, instead of the political machinations of a little community, the season focuses on the darker sides of a border city: prostitution and drug trafficking. Luc Capitani is back after a stint in prison, and it’s a far more personal story for him this time around – with his paths crossing with former investigation partner Elsa Ley, his sister, as well as his previous lover, seen only briefly in the first season. And the outside players are multiple – two friendly families that run prostitution clubs, out of which one wants to continue more conservatively, while the other wants to branch out towards dealing drugs in order to fend off competition from a local Nigerian drug distribution ring. Luc Capitani plays a sort of double agent role, pendulating between the police and the two families while also investigating a murder committed in a nearby forest – season 2 vibes all over.
❝The best crime drama on Netflix right now?❞
And the second season does quite well in fleshing out its characters – both new and returning – and interlocking their respective story arcs while also retaining a sense of mystery and surprise for some of its key turning points. Most impressively, it does all of that while keeping most of the episode runtimes under 30 minutes and doesn’t stretch itself thin. It very vividly portrays an underworld that most may not be aware of when stepping foot in a clean, quiet and pretty Luxembourgish town. It loses some points in minor pacing issues, and some of its climax moments are handled a little clumsily. Is it the best crime drama on Netflix right now? Not even close. But does it manage to bring a little bit of a different allure, with its central European vibe, set of quirky characters and rather interesting story? Yes, it most definitely does. Easy to watch an episode at a time slotted into small work breaks, the second season of Capitani can be praised for not trying to replicate the premise of the previous iteration (beyond the murder in the forest arc, of course) and choosing its own path.