Honest? We do not really know whether we should jump into the air with the news that a second season of Beau Séjour is coming. The series was a risk for the VRT a year ago and a follow-up to a completed story makes us risky. It was almost impossible to write an acceptable end for the first season. That is what the makers have succeeded in our eyes. What made this series even more beautiful.
Hotel Beau Séjour
The first season yielded almost Scandinavian conditions. A lot of Flemish people watched every Sunday and every time there was a lot of speculation about who the killer of Kato Hoeven could be. To make it extra credible even the actors were not allowed to know who did it during the recording. For the rare Flemings who have not seen the series: Kato wakes up one day in a room of the hotel Beau Séjour, which is being renovated at that moment. She sees herself lying in the bath and notices that no one can still see her.
Except for a few people. A handful of characters still sees her as if nothing happened. In the meantime she goes looking for her killer herself and she needs the help of those few people. Even though it quickly becomes clear that even the murderer herself can still see her. So someone can play double game with her. Meanwhile, a real romance begins between Kato and Charlie, who can see her as well. And as a viewer you know that in such a dark series this can never end well.
We did not expect that a second season would be on the table, but look, with a subsidy of 25,000 euros from the Flemish Audiovisual Fund, it is suddenly there. Striking, because subsidies are rarely given to follow-up series. The series has of course broken through more clichés. In this way she opened the doors for Flemish television on Netflix. And even the great Stephen King looked at it with pleasure, he tweeted. You would float for less.
Only then it is not impossible that you will hit the ground with a second season. There is, in our opinion, a way in which Beau Sejour 2 can succeed. For that the series has to be mirrored to a few large American series. There is often opted for a closed story at the end of a season, but then they always provide a cliffhanger that keeps the door open. That was the case with, for example, Stranger Things . Beau Séjour did not really have this (except for that infamous horse), so there is only one other solution: just start completely from scratch.
The best example in this category is Fargo . That series starts every season with a clean slate. A story that is almost completely separate from the previous one. And yet it does not take long before the typical atmosphere of the Coen brothers is called up again. It is risky to compare Beau Séjour with such a special series, but the concept does allow it. Let someone else experience the same as Kato, and before you know it we will get completely addicted again. The shock that the character experiences is exciting enough to work a second time.
The two most important conditions: a strong story and a very good cast. Fargo did not disappoint at all in three seasons because those two ingredients were the biggest features of the series. That story was honestly not the strongest side of Beau Séjour. Once the shock of Kato’s death was over, we felt that they could have told the rest in six episodes. So there was a dip in the series, and then in the end to get a very high level.
Lynn Van Royen
The cast must be fine, even though we do not have an endless supply of actors in Flanders to exhaust. Fargo always picked up with at least one big name that came up with one of his best roles. Martin Freeman, Billy Bob Thornton, Kirsten Dunst, Ewan McGregor, … Then you almost certainly have to go to Koen De Bouw or Veerle Baetens in Flanders, and we do not know if this is the right strategy. Then go for new young acting talent as in the first season.
Young promising actors are enough in Flanders. Lynn Van Royen is the perfect example of an actress who really got through with Beau Séjour . Joren Seldsenlachts we knew a little better, but he also became an established value thanks to the series. Nowadays, when we talk with actors from Beau Séjour about other projects, it is noticeable that this series is still something very special for them.
Kato is dead!
What the makers certainly are not allowed to do is find a back door to bring Kato back and make a sequel with the same cast. Then she would become a caricature of herself and also lose all credibility during the first season. That the title then has nothing to do with the story does not matter. Hotel Beau Séjour was a nice location, but the same unlikely story can not possibly happen again in such a small hamlet. And that is not bad, because the Fargo series does not play in Fargo at all – it was originally a film. That name has now become a metaphor, not a location. This can also be done perfectly with Beau Séjour .
Maybe we are too pessimistic and we just have to have some confidence in the Flemish television makers. With Tabula Rasa we already have the second series with international allures in one year. And the outlook is good for 2018 too. In only a few European countries, they are currently making so frequent good fiction series as in Flanders. We are very curious in any case.
The article was originally published here.