One self-branding, three love-struck teenagers, and innumerable coincidences: Get a recap of all the action and emotion in Les Misérables‘ riveting Episode 4. Plus, see some of the episode’s filming locations, learn about the historical figure that inspired our hero, and find out which of the musical’s songs fit Episode 4’s action! Just catching up? Watch Episode 4 online now for a limited time!
Episode 4 Recap: Everything you need to know
1. Cosette: I’d be locked away. And I don’t want that.
A teenager now, Cosette is anxious to leave the convent and experience the world. Though Jean Valjean is loath to expose her to the cruelty and brutality of the world, he complies. With a farewell warning about the dangers of the world from Sister Simplice, Cosette and Valjean depart for their new home.
2. Mabeuf: The father was one of Bonaparte’s bravest colonels. He lived at Vernon. His name was…Pontmercy.
An old man at church tells the now-grown Marius about a father he used to observe in that church, a poor man who wept from behind a pillar, where he secretly watched his son, hiding so that the boy wouldn’t be disinherited by the man’s father-in-law. And thus Marius learns the truth about his father!
3. Marius: I said, “Down with the king!”
If there is one thing that Marius—enraged, betrayed, and bereft at having been denied his father his entire life—could say to sever his relationship with his grandfather, it’s this. The scales have fallen from Marius’ eyes, and he now knows not just that his father was a hero, but that his grandfather is a liar.
4. Enjolras: And one day we shall all be fighting to the death about that, on one side or the other. And which side will you be on, my friend?
Marius has entirely rejected his grandfather’s royalist viewpoint and embraced his father’s heroic stand for Napoleon. But the earnest and intense Enjolras proposes another option— one with a very high price tag: freedom.
5. Cosette: This place is like a prison!
Jean Valjean: You have no idea what a prison is.
Cosette wants something that can’t be found in her beautiful new home, with its garden and piano: to be out in the world. When Valjean complies, taking her to the Luxembourg Gardens, she and Marius catch one-another’s eye, and both are immediately smitten.
6. Cosette: If I ever crossed paths with one of those men, I think I would die. Just from looking him in the face.
Cosette and Valjean clash over her encounter with Marius as she vies for freedom and he fights to keep her safe. As a peace offering, he takes her out to see the sun rise. But instead, they see prisoners being marched to the prison hulks. Cosette is horrified; Valjean is filled with despair to see the men beaten and abused as he was. And worst of all, his Cosette can’t see any humanity in them.
7. Thenardier: Once I was a respected man. And then one day a man came and stole my daughter from me. Oh, if I could meet that man again, I’ve got something to say to him!
When Thenardier sends Eponine on a fishing expedition to exploit the kindness of the “old fellow with the young daughter,” she brings back, of all people, Jean Valjean! He and Thenardier (and Cosette!) recognize each other immediately, and while Thenardier makes veiled threats, Valjean tries to play it cool, hoping to neutralize the greedy thief by providing him with enough money to send him out of town. Thenardier has other plans.
8. Javert: Everything depends on you.
Marius, spying on his neighbors through the hole in his wall, learns that Thenardier is setting a trap for Valjean. He goes to the police in the hopes of preventing it, but is instead tasked with signaling to the police when the crime is in process. And the officer who gives him this job (and two pistols to fire)? Javert! The inspector’s trap is more clever and far more dangerous than Thenardier’s, and Marius had made himself an unwitting accomplice.
9. Thenardier: Now feast your eyes on this: a masterpiece, by my own hand!
When Thenardier reveals his Au Sergeant de Waterloo Inn sign to his captive audience, Valjean, it’s only Marius, watching through the hole in the wall, pistols poised, who is surprised. He’s shocked into inaction at learning that his father’s (supposed) savior is the terrible Thenardier.
10. Jean Valjean: You think you can do anything to impress me? Do your worst!
When Thenardier’s thugs threaten to hurt Cosette, Valjean goes into superhero mode, breaking free of his bonds, searing his own arm with the red-hot chisel, and punching his way free to the window, where he hides when Javert arrives on the scene, and escapes his nemesis…for now.
For Fans of the Musical
Here are the songs that match Episode 4’s action:
Stars: Lord let me find him / That I may see him / Safe behind bars / I will never rest / Till then / This I swear / This I swear by the stars!
Red & Black: Red–the blood of angry men! / Black–the dark of ages past!
Real History: Qu’est-ce que c’est ?
Were Jean Valjean and Javert based on a real-life figure?
Fans of Les Miserables may be surprised to know that their hero, Jean Valjean was inspired by a real-life figure, Eugene Fancois Vidocq (1775-1857). Yet they may be outright shocked to learn that it was this same historical figure who inspired the character of Javert!
A thief, smuggler, gambler, and convict of extraordinary strength, Vidocq made numerous sensational escapes from various prisons, including the infamous Toulon galleys. Yet the criminal eventually became the crime-fighter, reforming his ways first as a police informant, then an undercover agent, and eventually, as the creator of the Sûreté, Paris’ undercover detective squad. There, he made many innovative contributions to detective work, which have earned him the reputation as a father of modern criminal investigation. But perhaps it’s the influence of his story on Victor Hugo, and the two characters it inspired, that mark his greatest lasting contribution!
Episode 4 Locations
See where some of Episode 4’s scenes were filmed and get inside information about the real-life locations and the filming.