Irma Vep Episode 1 Recap and Ending, Explained

Image Credit: Carole Bethuel/HBO

In its pilot episode, titled ‘The Severed Head,’ HBO’s satirical drama series ‘Irma Vep’ introduces some of its main characters and important plot points. Written and directed by French filmmaker Olivier Assayas, the show is based on Assayas’s 1996 film of the same name. Both projects revolve around the story of remaking Louis Feuillade’s 1915 silent-era serial film ‘Les Vampires.’ In the more recent rendition, Mira Harberg (Alicia Vikander) is a Hollywood star who has recently appeared in a high-budgeted superhero flick. Despite the film’s success, Mira is unhappy. She feels that she hasn’t yet explored her true potential as an actor and accepts the role of Irma Vep. Here is everything you need to know about episode 1 of the series. SPOILERS AHEAD.

Irma Vep Episode 1 Recap

The first episode of ‘Irma Vep’ is named after the first entry in ‘Les Vampires. At The start of the episode, Mira arrives in Paris, which is the final stop in the promotional tour of her superhero flick, ‘Doomsday.’ The film is a hit, and Mira is genuinely happy about that, but she desperately wants to do a project that can demonstrate her full potential as an actor. This is why she has accepted the opportunity to play Irma Vep. The director of the project, René Vidal (Vincent Macaigne), is a renowned French filmmaker, and Mira couldn’t pass up the chance to work with him.

Shortly after she lands in Paris with her assistant Revina (Devon Ross), Mira learns that Herman (Byron Bowers), the director of ‘Doomsday,’ has also arrived in town along with his new wife, Laurie (Adria Arjona). Mira and Laurie have a history together. Laurie used to be Mira’s assistant and lover. They had a passionate relationship that abruptly ended, and both seem to be harboring an amount of resentment toward the other person because of it.

Image Credit: Carole Bethuel/HBO

Mira meets Vidal, who has resolved to make a scene-to-scene copy of ‘Les Vampires.’ He even tells Edmond Lagrange (Vincent Lacoste), the actor who portrays Philippe Guérande in his show, that he will not betray Feuillade by introducing changes to the script. Vidal’s producer informs him that the insurance companies are asking for exorbitant insurance premiums as Vidal has told them that he is on powerful mood stabilizers. Moreover, the financiers want to shut them down as well because of this.

Edmond meets up with Severine, the actress portraying Marfa Koutiloff in Vidal’s show, and asks her to convince Vidal that they need a sex scene. In the story, Marfa’s murder becomes the primary motivation for Philippe to go after the Vampires, who, despite what the name suggests, are not the blood-drinking creatures of the night. Instead, they are a secret and violent criminal organization. Edmond and Severine also have a history together, and it is implied that there is a restraining order in place prohibiting Edmond from speaking anything about the relationship to anyone. Predictably, Severine refuses.

Irma Vep Episode 1 Ending: Why Did Mira and Laurie Break Up?

It seems that a significant part of the contention between Mira and Laurie stems from the inherent power imbalance in the relationship. Laurie was Mira’s assistant and later became her lover. She saw what Mira could afford for herself, and she came to resent the other woman for it. Now that Laurie is married to Herman, she has access to everything Mira does. And she has no qualms about pointing this out to Mira.

A fascinating aspect of their relationship is how much power Laurie still has over Mira. The latter is still very much in love with her. It is arguably the most easily observable fact about the narrative. Laurie seems aware of this and takes a lot of pleasure in tormenting Mira. There is a scene toward the end of the episode where it is revealed that even though Mira has more social and financial powers than Laurie, the latter is the domineering one in that dynamic. This contrast might have been the very thing that caused the dissolution of Mira and Laurie’s relationship.

Will René Vidal Get Fired from Irma Vep?

From his producer, Gregory Desormeaux, Vidal learns that the production is in serious trouble because he told the insurers that he takes mood stabilizers. Vidal doesn’t see the problem with this as he told them the truth, but Gregory asserts that everybody lies about such things in the entertainment industry. Otherwise, there would not be an entertainment industry to begin with. As the insurers refuse to insure the project, the financiers understandably see this as a major issue. Given that the problem only involves Videl, they will likely try to get rid of him.

If they succeed in making Videl leave the project, they will need a new director. Considering how the narrative is developing, Herman will likely be Videl’s replacement. After all, he is a massively successful filmmaker and has experience working with Mira. On the other hand, whether Mira will be happy about the arrangement that’s a different matter altogether. She specifically agreed to do the show because Vidal was directing it, and it was completely different from anything she had ever done. Herman’s involvement means predictability, and Mira definitely does not want that. But then again, it might also bring Laurie back to France.

Read More: What is the Meaning of Irma Vep Title?