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Thursday, August 20, 2020

“Marianne” Creator Samuel Bodin On What He Had Planned for Season 2 of Netflix’s Series [Phantom Limbs]

phantom limb /ˈfan(t)əm’lim/ n. an often painful sensation of the presence of a limb that has been amputated.

Welcome to Phantom Limbs, a recurring feature which will take a look at intended yet unproduced horror sequels and remakes – extensions to genre films we love, appendages to horror franchises that we adore – that were sadly lopped off before making it beyond the planning stages. Here, we will be chatting with the creators of these unmade extremities to gain their unique insight into these follow-ups that never were, with the discussions standing as hopefully illuminating but undoubtedly painful reminders of what might have been.

For this installment, we’ll be taking a look at the unproduced second season of Netflix’s brilliant yet sadly cancelled French horror television series Marianne. Joining us is Samuel Bodin, the creator/co-writer/director of Marianne, who will be clueing us into what was meant to transpire after the first season’s chilling final moments. Along the way, Mr. Bodin will discuss why the show was cancelled, whether or not it could still be renewed in light of its considerable international reception, and if the story of Marianne, Emma and Co. could possibly live on in other media.

And for those who haven’t yet seen Marianne, make certain to remedy this quickly. The show is excellent, and the following discussion will be spoiler-filled.


Victoire Du Bois as Emma Larsimon

Premiering in September 2019, the first season of Marianne quickly garnered stellar reviews (it sits at 93% on Rotten Tomatoes as of this writing) and a fanbase all too happy to sing its praises. With its positive reception and a finale that begs for further installments, a second season would have seemed a foregone conclusion for this dark little gem of a show. And yet, Netflix ultimately made the choice to cancel the series. Mr. Bodin explains: “At first, we didn’t know which numbers that Netflix were considering to give a green light for a second season. We didn’t know if it would be the international numbers, or the French numbers. When you create a horror story in France, you count on international distribution. It’s in the international that you can find your audience. There are horror lovers in France, they love it a lot, but it’s a little niche. So when you start to create a horror story in French, you create it to open it to the world. What we have learned after the opening of the first season is that Netflix, for a French series, only looked at the numbers of French people who had finished all of the season. Marianne went very, very well at the international level, and I am so happy that Marianne was so watched and seen, but the number of French people who finished the show in France was not big enough to justify a second season. So they cancelled the second season.”

As it stands then, we have only the one season of Marianne. But what was the initial plan for the series? How many seasons might the show have gone, and how much planning and writing had gone into blocking out those follow-up seasons? “At the time, I really wanted to do three seasons. The story in my head takes three seasons, three acts for me. Three big chapters. With Quoc Dang Tran, my co-writer, we had started to work on the second season because Netflix loved the show, and they asked us to start writing very soon after Season 1’s release. So with Quoc and another writer, Julien Honoré, we started working.”

Lucie Boujenah as Camile

So what would the second season’s story have entailed? Mr. Bodin notes here that the plot points are a bit messy, as the writers’ work had just begun. “With the first season, the theme is friendship, and forgiveness. What we wanted to say was that you can be friends with people for a long time if you can forgive. If you can forgive very bad things, you will be friends forever. To accept friends as they are, with the mistakes they’ve made. For the second season, we really wanted to talk about love. Because in the first season, Emma tells herself that she’s in love. But she’s not in love. It was the idea of love in her head. In the second season, we wanted her to really fall in love. She would really fall in love with an older woman – a very classy, sophisticated novelist. [Emma] hated what she wrote, and she meets this person in a strange circumstance, and falls very, very deeply in love. Also, the story of the second season is about what mistakes you can make when you really fall in love. This woman will use her in a diabolical, evil way. Camile [Emma’s assistant], tries to save Emma and open Emma’s eyes to the love between [she and Camile]. It was her arc in the second season.

The second thing – we really wanted to expand the universe. We really wanted to go in the city that we talked a lot about in the first season. A big part of the second season would be in the city, near the sea. She would meet her friends who were cursed or dead in the first season. We really wanted to explore that.

“For us, the second season starts with Emma, nine months after the end of the first season. Emma is not pregnant. She has a normal belly. In her bathroom, there are a lot of pregnancy tests – all negatives. At the end of the first season, the test was positive. But after this one, there has not been another positive test, they are all negative. So maybe, she thinks, it was all in her head. During the first episode, she sleeps with a guy during a party. At this point, at the end of the first episode when she’s making love with this guy, her belly begins to grow, taking the shape of a pregnant, nine month belly.

“At the very beginning of the first episode, she received letters from a facility, saying they can help her with ‘her situation’. But, she has no situation…until her belly starts to grow. After that – ‘Okay, I need help! What do I have in my belly?!’ And Camile takes her to the facility to see what they can do for her. It started like that.”


Mireille Herbstmeyer as Mrs. Daugeron

Given the show’s title, one imagines the eponymous villain would be returning for this second season. But, wasn’t Marianne defeated in the final episode of the previous season? “Yes, she was defeated. [But she would have come back], because Emma wanted to get rid of what was in her belly. The baby, in a way, is Marianne’s baby. So Marianne haunts Emma, and follows her, saying ‘No, don’t hurt my baby.’ The whole thing about what women can do with their bodies, the liberties they have, the violence they have been subjected to for ages. It was all of this, and adoption…it would be very complicated, but we really wanted to ask those questions. We really wanted Marianne to be a feminist show, and those questions are very important for us.”

With Emma’s baby belonging to Marianne, in a way, one wonders – what of the dark figure who appeared to have fathered Emma’s baby while appearing to her as childhood friend Seby? Was that the devil? “It’s a demon. It’s a really particular demon in demonology. He lives in the city near the sea, where there are many demons. We would have met him in human form. We would love to have had a lot of demonic discussions with him. What is a demon? You can do spiritualism scenes, exorcism scenes – but when you can really talk with them, hear what they have to say, their position on everything….we wanted to dive into this mythology and talk about that.”

Speaking of Seby, how would he figure into the second season? Would Emma have continued pursuing him romantically? “No, no. Seby was just a projection of love for Emma. We hadn’t planned to see Seby again. At the beginning, we said – ‘Okay, she tried to convince herself that she loved someone.’ But in Season 2, she really falls in love with someone. We would have seen Emma really in love, and it would have been a different Emma than the one we’d seen in Season 1.”

In the first season, Emma was presented as a successful novelist, having written a number of novels starring a character named Lizzie Larck, in tales inspired by her childhood dealings with Marianne. However, Mr. Bodin notes that Emma’s abilities as a writer would have begun to fail her in the second season. “In the first season, she wanted to stop writing those stories. But it’s like a ego thing. ‘I can write something better, more sophisticated.’ When the second season starts, we realize that she has tried to write something else, but maybe she is not good enough. So she goes back to Lizzie Larck, but even what she writes [for that character] is not good enough. Her publisher tells her that it isn’t good. In the first season, it’s easy for her to write, but because maybe there is something about Marianne in that. Something Marianne gives her, in a way. So now Marianne is not here to write, and Emma struggles a lot with that. She will realize ‘Oh my God, I don’t know how to write at all.’ It’s a problem. ‘I could write in the past because I was possessed, in a way. But I don’t know how to write at all.’ So in my mind, I really wanted to make sequences with a voiceover like in the first season, but with bad [writing]. By the end of the second season, she starts to write Lizzie Larck again, but in another style. So we had to work to find a way to make the audience understand the new style, because we love to talk about literature in Marianne. It’s a part of the series.”


While the second season of Marianne wasn’t fully realized at the writing stage, one still wonders if any thought had gone into where the story would have gone even beyond Season 2, and what the overall plan for the series might have been. Where would the story of Marianne and Emma have ultimately ended up? “I have to be honest…we don’t know. When I write a TV show, I project myself into a [limited] matter of time. I say, ‘Oh, now we have a season. I really want to write three seasons, but now I have a season. I’ll put everything I have into that.’ Because when you write it and shoot it, a character can change. Their contact with reality, contact with the people with whom you will work…the series transforms. So if you project too far in any way, things will change. So I can’t tell you where we would have arrived in the third season. I have no idea.”

Mr. Bodin, who at the time of this interview was just beginning to prep production for his upcoming Lionsgate feature Cobweb, finished up our interview with his final thoughts on Marianne Season 2: “We really wanted to talk about love with a character like Emma. We really wanted to share this depiction of love with her and the audience of Marianne. It would’ve been so cool. Horror stories are always about love, in a way. When you are in love, you can be scared. Very, very much. But that is the game. We will find a way to talk about love in another story. We are already so happy to have been able to share this first season with you. To tell you this story. It’s been an opportunity and a joy. Thank you all so much!”

Very special thanks to Samuel Bodin for his time and insights.

Samuel Bodin



source https://bloody-disgusting.com/exclusives/3628345/marianne-creator-samuel-bodin-planned-season-2-netflixs-series-phantom-limbs/

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