While the first season of Black Spot/Zone Blanche appeared to be a French crime series, the second season turned out to be much more supernatural than expected. Which left us with many questions. So, what is the second season all about and who is Cernunnos?
In the first season we are getting to know Laurène Weiss, head of the local police and Villefranche and some of its residents and the local police force. Villefranche isn’t like other villages in France, and the series is called Black Spot for a reason.
A black spot has a couple of different meanings. It can mean a place or area marked by particular trouble or concerns, where a lot of accidents have happened. It can also be a fungal or bacterial disease of plants. And it can be a place where there is no sufficient reception or coverage for phone reception.
All these definitions apply to the series. Even the disease that can be seen as a metaphor, with humankind being the disease that destroys and sickens nature. The crime rate is also above average and the crimes that are committed are in the least quite strange and getting even stranger.
And this might have something to do with Laurène. When she was 18 years old, twenty years ago, like everyone else she was being initiated by her peers in the woods, like a rite of passage. But afterwards something went wrong and Laurène was kidnapped and held captive in small ravine in the middle of the forest. She can’t remember who kidnapped her and the mystery was never sold. By cutting off two fingers she managed to escape, but it left a big traumatic scar.
The Woods of Villefranche
While she solves the strange cases in Villefranche she’s still looking for the place she was held captive. She can be found often ambling through the woods. These woods play a big role in the series and are also connected with many crimes. A wolf leads her to an abandoned baby in the woods and protects it. Two crows seem to watch the village. There’s a mysterious labyrinth-like cave which causes some hallucinations. Laurène sees a horned man in the woods and Celtic ruins and drawings are to be found.
Children of Arduinna
This environmental group of activists try to uncover the environmental pollution that is caused by the local sawmill and quarry owned by the Steiner family. Cora, Laurène’s teenage daughter gets involved.
The murder of Marion Steiner
While all of this is going on in the background the main mystery of the first season is the case of Marion, the missing daughter of Bertrand Steiner. But this has both a connection to the Children of Arduinna and the forest. The Steiners have bought the quarry to dump toxic waste illegally and Marion was opposed to this. She joined the Children of Arduinna, stole information to expose them, but was killed by Camille, the police officer in training. Camille worked for the Steiners to retrieve the usb stick and comes across Marion. Accidentally she pushed her off a cliff and buried her in the swamp, to cover up the accident/crime. When Laurène finally finds Marion’s body she is confronted by Camille in the swamps who shoots her.
Is Laurène dead?
Then, Laurène disappears. She is taken by the ‘horned wild man’ she has spotted in the forest, and buried underneath the earth and moss of the forest and is magically revived and found by Nounours. This is only the beginning of a mystical folkloric tale of nature.
It has been two months since Laurène has been shot, buried in the earth and found by Nounours. She heals fast and magically and there are traces of a strange plant extract found in her blood. This makes her more determined to find this mysterious ‘horned wild man’. She is helped by Nounours and by professor Verbeck in whose office she sees more proof of this horned wild man.
This all seems to lead back to Cernunnos, the old Celtic Horned God, or the Deer God. A God of nature and the animals. It becomes apparent that the woods of Villefranche are not like any other woods and full of folklore, that traces back to old Celtic Rites. Rites that bring the forest alive, the plants and animals who revolt against the pollution and destruction of nature by men. This series isn’t a mere metaphor about how men destroys nature, using it for their own needs, not caring what happens to the plants, the forest and the animals. This time nature, both flora and fauna play an active role, as a sentient being, lead by Cernunnos to stand up against the selfish acts of men and to protect themselves. Thereby discerning between men who destroy nature and between those who want to help nature.
But Cernunnos himself gets into action as well, proving to us and Villefranche it’s real and not to be underestimated. He even has supernatural powers and great strength as we see him tossing people into the air as if they were nothing, when a hunting party decides to hunt the creature down. By treating nature as an enemy and something that stands in the way of men, nature acts upon it, with great force. When attacked every being will defend itself. But when nature is respected, it can help willingly.
The animals and the forest play an important part. Bees help Laurène find a corpse. A farmer is being threatened by an unknown supernatural force, for pollution. And when Samonios is at hand, the feast of the dead and when Cernunnos supposedly rides out with his dogs, a ghost is been seen, amplified by a Hunters Moon. We also learn that it is Sabine who is most probably the secret real leader of the Children of Arduinna and at the Hunters Moon during Samonios she performs an ancient Celtic ritual, but to what end?
Laurène and Sylvain
The more Laurène remembers about her kidnapping, the connection between the ‘horned wild man’ or Cernunnos and Laurène gets curiouser and curiouser. She discovers she wasn’t alone. Another boy was trapped with her in the old Celtic sanctuary: Sylvain. But he was dragged away by the creature or Cernunnos. When Laurène manages to get a blood sample from Cernunnos/the horned wild man, she gets it tested. And the outcome astonishes her. It’s the DNA of Sylvain. But stranger still, she shares 50% DNA with Sylvain/Cernunnos. So she’s not the same person anymore. What does this mean?
Many questions to answer
Does this mean that Sylvain is her brother? Or after Laurène was rescued and brought to life, did her DNA get altered, just like Sylvain’s did? Were they both chosen to act as a vessel for Cernunnos and therefore kidnapped twenty years ago? Or was Sylvain Cernunnos even back then, but could he alter his appearance to appear to Laurène as a man? Was Laurène to be sacrificed? Is it now Laurène’s turn to become a new Cernunnos, because she is a protector? We already were shown that nature helped Laurène solving cases, that nature was leading Laurène to certain clues. Cernunnos even brought her back to life. What, besides her conscientiousness, makes her special?
That isn’t the only question that has left us wondering. While the children of Arduinna planned to blow up the quarry to stop the Steiners, Cora is hit in the blast, and her fate is very much unclear.
Black Spot/Zone Blanche is a great mix of crime and ancient Celtic folkore, and a cautionary tale that we have to care for nature like a friend with respect, that has to be further explored in a third season to satisfy and answer all of our questions.