The New Orleans-born tradition of jazz funerals begins in somberness and ends in music and celebration. The extended funeral sequence at the heart of “Amira,” in which Amira and the employees of The Eddy lay Farid to rest, takes much the same form. There’s the official funeral, with formal catering, hushed conversation, and Farid’s disapproving parents. That comes with all the expected awkwardness and tension. Then there’s the after-funeral, an explosive, tearful, tuneful celebration of Farid’s life. The episode makes clear which comes closer to capturing Farid’s spirit, and his likely wishes. But it also presents the first part as a trial that needs to be endured before reaching the second part, then bookends both ceremonies with scenes that capture how the funeral process is neither the beginning nor the end of mourning, and that Farid’s loss will be felt for a long time.
“Amira” opens with a glimpse of happier times, a raucous birthday party for Elliot featuring an Eddy Band performance that puts Farid front and center and culminates in him stripping down to reveal a “Happy Birthday” message on his back (and an “Ass Hole” written on his underwear). It’s the first time we’ve gotten a real glimpse of The Eddy in happier times. Elliot’s with Maja and they dance and kiss happily alongside Farid and Amira. For Elliot, “happier” is of course a relative term. It’s not clear where this falls in the chronology, but it’s still some time after the loss of Elliot’s son and the dissolution of his marriage. But, on this night at least, his decision to flee to Paris seems to be working out for him.
As for Amira, she’s yet to place any blame for Farid’s death on Elliot — maybe she even knows that if anyone could be responsible for getting the club in over its head with the criminal element, it’s Farid — but it also doesn’t seem like she’s had much time to reflect on what’s happened. Keeping up the spirits of her son Adam and her daughter Inés takes up a lot of her time and energy, and she’s good at it, too. Inés is young enough that it doesn’t take much to entertain her, but Adam’s a tougher case. He’s prone to anger and solemness, but even Amira can get a laugh out of him when she needs to, at least until the weight of what’s happened hits him.
The episode bears Amira’s name as the title, but it’s Adam who goes through the most intense journey. He’s young enough to be excused from participating in his father’s funereal ghusl — a ritual purification of the body — but old enough to choose to participate. Yet the ritual proves harder than he’d anticipated. He can’t stop looking at the stitches in his father’s throat, and when Amira asks him to think of memories involving Farid, he leaves instead. But he also seems to understand who his father was and, at this point at least, is fully aligned with his mother during the mourning process, faking the stomach ache that allows them to leave the stuffy family funeral for the looser ceremony waiting for them at home. Still, he’s a boy without a father, which won’t be easy. And whether or not this will be helped by the presence of his mother’s brother Paplar — a man she treats with suspicion and disdain — remains to be seen.
A few details dispersed over the course of the first funeral provide some info on Farid’s background. He seems to have come from money and from a family not all that interested in the world beyond the Arab community. Amira stirs annoyance by translating the Arabic words of the funeral service, and though they welcome Elliot and the others from The Eddy into their home, it’s with no excess of warmth. Marrying Amira seems to have been an act of rebellion, and one Farid’s parents haven’t forgotten. When they offer to take Adam off their hands, she treats the suggestion as absurd. But to them it seems like a rescue effort.
The funeral reveals other sources of tension as well. Julie does her best to apologize to Sim, but it’s not enough. “I messed up really bad and I’m really sorry,” she says. “That’s just the way you are,” he replies while walking away. And who can blame him? Who needs that kind of trouble? He spent the previous night chasing her into some of the more dangerous reaches of Paris and getting chewed out by her father, who mistakenly believed Sim had something to do with her disappearance. Whatever budding romance they had now seems to be on a perhaps permanent hold.
Meanwhile, Elliot’s got trouble of his own. That sneaking feeling he had that someone’s been following him turns out to have been true, and takes an ugly turn when a criminal operative drops a picture of Julie at his feet. That leads to an encounter with the man he told the police might have killed Farid, Zivko, a counterfeiter who offers veiled threats and a firm proposal: tell the police a particular someone is the man who killed Farid instead. Oh, and by the way, your daughter goes to a really nice school. Feeling like he has no choice, Elliot ends the episode bringing this “information” to a police detective already skeptical of his innocence. She doesn’t buy it, but he insists it’s true and offers a solid poker face as he lies to her. There’s zero chance he doesn’t end up getting in even more trouble by trying to get out of it.
But that trouble’s down the road. At the funeral, he joins in the celebration of Farid’s life and follows Amira’s moving, irreverent tribute to her husband — one that tweaks the pretensions of the jazz crowd while also noting how thoroughly their music has won her over — with one of his own. After recalling an accidental trip to Dusseldorf, he turns to Farid’s son, saying, “Adam, I want you to know your daddy had a way of making everything magic. He never met a stranger. And even when things didn’t go his way he could somehow just turn it around. Make it okay.” And now the person everyone in the room counted on to make everything okay is gone, leaving them unsure what comes next, and whether things will ever be okay again.
• Taking over for Damian Chazelle, French director Houda Benyamina assumes directing duties for this episode and its successor. Best known for her Camera D’Or-winning feature debut Divines, she mostly sticks to the house style Chazelle’s established but proves just as deft in executing it. If anything, “Amira” probably has the highest level of difficulty of any of the first three episodes. That raucous memorial service can’t have been easy to pull off in such a confined space.
• It also features naked pro-environment cyclists, the sight of which briefly breaks the ice between Elliot and Julie. How could it not?