No crime show character elicits quite as much sympathy from viewers as Astrid Nielsen, the crime-solving archivist from Paris who has autism. People love the way she’s portrayed by Sara Mortensen, and as soon as we’d posted our preview of season two of Astrid: Murder in Paris last year, comments appeared asking about a third outing. At last, we can reveal that season three will begin airing on More4 with subtitles from 9pm on Friday 15 March in the UK. New episodes will also available to stream weekly on Walter Presents. In the run-up, seasons one and two are airing in the same slot.
Season three begins with another inexplicable death for Paris homicide detective Raphaëlle Coste (Lola Dewaere) and her team to solve. Professor Ardan, a famous astronomer, has been found dead in the city’s old observatory. It appears as if he was struck by lightning while gazing to the stars, but there was no storm the night he died. Normally employed in the city’s criminal records bureau, Astrid has an almost encyclopaedic knowledge of the many ways there are to kill and, working as a consultant for the murder squad, she helps to establish the cause of death. It’s murder.
Soon, the astronomer’s connections with a protest organisation is revealed. The group claim the government has satellites equipped with death rays and the controversy spreads to social media via conspiracy theorists. Raphaëlle, who just wants to solve it, is reeled in by the commissioner as the political dimensions of the murder emerge and a propaganda war blows up, targeting the police.
Investigations always move quickly with Astrid: Murder in Paris, with one mystery per show. Sometimes the plot points you’d expect in a police procedural are skimmed over but the central character’s story is the real focus here. We get to see how a neurodivergent person might operate within the police, and all the challenges they would face. For example, Astrid needs sympathetic colleagues like Raphaëlle to recognise and channel her talents, while supporting her through difficult social situations.
Sara Mortensen gives Astrid a variety of peculiar character traits in keeping with how someone with autism might behave. She struggles with eye contact, can only take stairs one at a time, speaks precisely and awkwardly while gesturing with her fingers, and takes idioms like ‘piece of cake’ literally. Her life is centred around routines. However, the show’s creators, Laurent Bertin and Alexandre de Seguins, have written a character that goes far beyond these fairly obvious characteristics.
Astrid has various coping mechanisms. One is to immerse herself in puzzles of various kinds. Another is her interesting social life – she’s part of a talking therapy group for people with neurodivergent conditions, and each member has an individual obsession. Sometimes, group members with in-depth expertise in areas like hacking help her solve cases.
In the third series, her friend Tetsuo Tanaka expresses romantic interest and gives her a solitaire set. At first, she’s nonplussed – solitaire is a game, not a puzzle, she notes… Even more troubling is an edict from on high that may prevent Astrid from helping Raphaëlle and the murder squad as a consultant on future cases. There is also a trauma in Astrid’s background that plays into her emotional state and into the show’s overarching storyline.
While Astrid brings nearly all the emotional depth to Astrid: Murder in Paris, we can’t forget the other half of this chalk-and-cheese odd couple. Raphaëlle Coste is many things Astrid isn’t. She’s outgoing and carefree, probably not calculating enough to be a murder detective, but is very driven and has strong bonds with her team. Sometimes too strong – she might just have an affair with a colleague or a prosecutor or two along the way. In season three it’s Nicolas Perran (Benoît Michel), another detective on the team, who catches her eye. She is fearless, and can read people where Astrid can’t, while Astrid brings the logic and puzzle-solving, making them a dynamic duo.
The vexing issues of a potential boyfriend and separation from the murder squad may or may not be as challenging as the cases Astrid and Raphaëlle face in season three, however the menu looks very exciting. There’s the murder of a priest with a false identity, a mystery in the midst of a community of native Canadian people in Paris, an organised crime ring in a mental asylum, and a case where the main witness is an autistic teenager, among other things.
In all, there are eight new hour-long episodes for you to enjoy, which were first broadcast in France in 2022. We fully expect season three to be just as popular with English-speaking audiences and can also bring you the news that season four aired late in 2023. We’re guessing it will come to More4 in March 2025.