Some Thoughts on Hotel Beau Séjour

I would say things have been busy (and, I mean, they have), but they haven’t been so busy that I haven’t been able to procrastinate away ten hours worth of time, during which I watched the entirety of Hotel Beau Séjour. This was, in my defense, done over a number of days, and not all in one sitting. I just finished the series, and…well…I have many thoughts. Like, why? Just…why? What just happened?

Let me back up a bit, and start from the beginning.

Hotel Beau Séjour (henceforth HBS) is a ten-episode series recently loaded on Netflix. The story follows a Belgian teen, Kato, who wakes up to discover she has been murdered. As she tries to figure out what happened, she discovers that only five people can see her (give or take a few at various moments) and that she is, in fact, a ghost. In this one-foot-in-this-world-one-foot-in-the-next state, she works to unravel what happened to lead to her death, as she has absolutely no recollection of her last day alive. Of course, the five people (or six or seven or maybe even eight) who can see her all have reasons why they can see her, but are loathe to admit their part in the matter. Their seeing her eventually comes down to the fact that if any one of the six had done something differently, the seventh would not have been able to kill her (the eighth person only sees her for about 30 seconds, and only sees her in the next-to-last or last episode, when she realizes she was partly responsible for Kato’s death, so I’m kind of ruling her out here).

This paragraph contains spoilers. If you wish to know the spoilers, start highlighting here.  The ending, of course, has a twist, which I’m not going to tell you, and a red herring, of which I’m still unsure of the importance. Like, there was absolutely no reason to suspect that character prior to the ending, especially when we’ve known since episode one that he can’t see her, and then suddenly it’s all “Look at him! He did it!” But, anyway, that’s not what I wanted to talk about. What I wanted to talk about is that, at the very end, after you find out who did it, everyone who can see her stops being able to see her. Ok, great, so she went into the great beyond, story resolved, wish like we’d seen her turn into an angel or something, but I can deal. Then it goes into this whole montage that shows what exactly happened the night she was murdered and how each of those individuals was tied to the murder (which ranges in severity–don’t think of it as a group murder thing), and then…boom. There’s Kato and there’s Charlie, and they’re having a conversation, and she basically tells him “Yeah, I’m still here, but nobody else can see me anymore” and then…the next morning he can’t see her anymore. So, like, what happened? Is Kato still walking amongst us, frustrated by the fact that she’s essentially in a parallel universe? Is she finally at peace? Or is she going to start randomly killing middle aged balding men in ten years, causing an international incident that requires the attention of the Winchesters? I almost feel as if it would have been a lot better if, say, that last bit wasn’t in there, or something like she told Charlie that she was waiting to say goodbye to him before she went. Instead, I’m left imagining that a very frustrated Kato is standing behind me, reading what I type, and going “no, you idiot! Don’t write that! That’s all wrong! GAH!” and then stress eating all my hard baked cookies. (You can stop highlighting here. FYI.)

All of this, then, leaves me with mixed feelings about the series. On the one hand, I think it is brilliantly done in the cinematography sense, and I feel like it is a unique take on ghosts, the afterlife, and justice. There’s also some straight up weird stuff going on in that village, but the weirdness lead to very complex characters who made the story interesting. I never would have guessed the conclusion (which is why I loved Sherlock Holmes as a kid, and being able to guess the conclusion in the show Sherlock is why I have never been big on watching it), but I knew the red herring was invalid because of certain events in the beginning. So I guess that’s a bit of a tie.

I think there are two things that I can say to best sum up how I feel about the series. Here goes.

Number 1: I initially though HBS was in French, which is why I decided to start it, as I haven’t watched French TV in a long time. The moment I realized it wasn’t in French, I normally would have quit, but I was intrigued enough to keep watching…through ten 55 minute long episodes. I quite shows in English after two or three episodes because they’re too meh for me. This held my interest.

Number 2: If they made a second series, I would totally watch it. For the record, I didn’t care enough to watch the second season of Daredevil, which was everyone else’s darling. I just didn’t care enough to. I’d be fine wandering around with Kato for another series or two.

But then again, now I’m feeling more okay with the ending.

Never mind, now I’m not. Or am I? I don’t know, and it bugs me that I don’t know, because I should have solid opinions about these things. I mean, I’ve spent enough of my life analyzing books, films, and TV shows. It should have paid off by now. Then again, perhaps the reason why I like it so much is that I don’t know how to feel about it, and it is very strange for me to finish something and not have a solid opinion on it, and feel like I need to sit and think about it.

I rated it four stars on Netflix. I honestly don’t know why. Maybe it should have gotten five. Maybe three. Maybe I’ll wake up tomorrow morning going “yeah, the cinematography was great, but what a stupid story arc”, but probably not. I did, after all, watch all of it, and have enough left to chew on that I actually sat down and wrote a blog post on it (and a rather lengthy one at that). Thumbs up, Netflix. I gave up on your original content a long time ago, but this just might have restored my faith that you can actually produce decent new content. Now upload a few more seasons of The Great British Bake Off. I know more of them are out there and you’re keeping them from me, and now I need to unearth my mind from wherever Kato buried it, so cough it up.

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