Le Cheval pâle [1] (The Pale Horse) is the 13th episode of season 2 of the French TV series Les Petits Meurtres d'Agatha Christie. It was produced by Escazal Films and France Télévisions, directed by Olivier Panchot and first aired on France 2 on 2 September 2016. It is an adaptation of the Agatha Christie novel The Pale Horse.

Synopsis

Like the rest of the episodes of season 2 of this series, the original Christie detective characters have been replaced. The lead roles are taken by a French detective Commissaire Swan Laurence assisted by a journalist Alice Avril and Laurence's secretary Marlene. The action is set in Lille in the 1950s. A priest calls on Laurence with a list of names. They have all died and one of his parish says she is responsible. Laurence checks and many people died naturally. But Marlene thinks people can be induced to die supernaturally. She had visited a fair and overheard some witches calling death onto someone at a distance. Laurence doesn't believe in the supernatural but then the priest is murdered. Alice's new neighbour also dies and her name matches one on the priest's list.

Plot Summary

(may contain spoilers - click on expand to read)

Comparison with the original story

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  • There are only two women practising the occult here, not three. They do not operate from a former inn named "The Pale Horse". Instead they have a tent at a fair.
  • So, in this case, "The Pale Horse" is not the name of a place. It is the code phrase spoken by a prospective client to identify himself to Bonnet, who is the Bradley parallel.
  • The priest comes direct to Laurence to hand him the list and he is killed later.
  • Alice witnesses the fight between Francine (the Tommy parallel) and Viviane. Alice befriends Francine and when she dies, discovers her name is the last on the priest's list.
  • Dacosta, the Venables parallel, has a slightly larger role in that he is actually the owner of the fair and knows Irene and Sybille, the occult women, as his employees. But like Venables, he is ruled out as a suspect because of his paralysis, in this case because of multiple sclerosis. For some reason the police could not simply verify this with his doctor like in the original. Dr Euphrasie Malliol has to elicit it from her colleague.
  • Marlene actually visits the fair several times, probably to replenish her stock of love potion. On one occasion, she brings Alice along and here they bump into someone carrying a lapdog coming out of Irene and Sybille's tent. Alice would later meet the lady, Lucille Marchal, Francine's stepmother. While the novel does not say how or who ordered Tommy's killing, here Laurence says he confronted Lucille and she made a full confession.
  • One of the two occult ladies, the medium Irene is murdered. She wanted out of the business and thus posed a threat to the security of the operation.
  • There is no Rhoda Dawes in this adaptation. The Ginger Corrigan parallel is Alice Avril who plays the prospective victim. Laurence plays the Mark Easterbrook parallel who places the bet with Bonnet. Marlene can be considered a parallel of Hermia in that she plays Laurence's mistress.
  • Cornille, the Osborne parallel is quite faithfully depicted. Here the clinching evidence is also a photo of him as is implied in the original. In this case it is taken by Marlene and shows Cornille dressed as a gas meter reader leaving the place where Alice was staying. Laurence sets him up and exposes him the same way, with the help of Dacosta.

Cast

Mentioned but not cast

Research notes

References

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