The Mantis (La Mante) is a French 6 part mystery series about a serial killer and her copycat. There are very minor spoilers ahead.
Carole Bouquet stars as Jeanne. She’s doing life in prison for 8 murders about 20 years ago. She changed her name when she went to prison. Now her grown son Damien (Fred Testot) is a cop. When a copycat killer recreates the first 3 of Jeanne’s murders exactly, Damien is asked to work on the case.
Jeanne volunteered to help the police with the copycat murders, but only if she could work with her son Damien. Damien tells everyone his mother died when he was 10 and he continues to hide his connection to the serial killer dubbed The Mantis. Even his wife Lucie (Manon Azem) thinks his mother is dead. None of his team of investigators know about his mother either.
Feracci (Pascal Demolon) is the world weary supervisor of Damien’s team. He is the only one who knows Jeanne is Damien’s mother. The cop Szofia (Élodie Navarre) is very suspicious of Damien. She wanted to be team leader before Damien got the job.
Lucie, Damien’s wife, works in a ceramics studio with her friend Virginie (Frédérique Bel). Damien’s grandfather Charles (Jacques Weber) is on decent terms with Damien and sometimes cares for Lucie’s 10 year old daughter.
This is one of those mysteries where the police find suspect after suspect they are sure is the right one, but it is not. Jeanne offers clues from jail, which makes Damien seem to know things he couldn’t possibly know and raises suspicions on his team.
The case upsets Damien and his behavior at home makes Lucie realize he’s lying about something.
The copycat killer continues murdering people and the cops don’t figure out who it is in time to save but one victim. I didn’t like the motivation given to the copycat killer at all. In fact, I was offended by the choice to make that character a killer for the reasons used.
Jeanne had great motives for her murders. She was ridding the world of scum: abusers and child molesters. She missed one – the one she missed was obviously suspect for something early on in the series, but it wasn’t spelled out until the end.
There were plot twists and surprises at every turn. Some of them were interesting. For example, a suspect named Alex (Robinson Stévenin) who was Damien’s childhood best friend, turned out to be more than just a friend. That plot twist made sense. Others did not. Damien would get the shakes and had to take pills for it. It was very random. That plot twist made no sense.
There were 5 writers working on The Mantis (La Mante). Frankly, I felt they lost the details of the storyline once in a while. Certain parts of the story’s resolution were highly improbable. It was a decent mystery series: not great, but good enough to watch if you love mystery series. It’s currently available on Netflix.