Fantine and Cosette is the first episode of the series. It covers the events of Fantine unsuccessfully searching for a job in Montfermeil alongside her three-year-old daughter, Cosette, and eventually dropping Cosette off under the care of the Thénarider family, while she travels to the economically-thriving town of Montreuil-sur-Mer. Little does Fantine know, the Thénardiers are a wicked and abusive family, who force Cosette into hard labor, while Cosette waits for the return of her mother.
In the northern French countryside, a three-year-old girl is happily running along a road when her hat suddenly drifts off her head from the breeze and lands a few feet behind her. The girl's mother, Fantine, picks up the hat, and places it back on her head, after the daughter, Cosette, thanks her. Cosette notices a pendant hanging off of Fantine's neck, exclaiming its beauty. Fantine states that the pendant was once her mother's and that she plans on giving it to Cosette once she is older, which Cosette accepts. As they continue down the road, Cosette asks Fantine where their new home is, after which Fantine states that they will be finding it sometime, and be able to live happily.
The duo arrive in the quiet village of Montfermeil, and stop at a fruit and vegetable market. Fantine asks the shop owner if he has any open positions, possibly a live-in, to which the keeper replies rather harshly that he is in no poisition to hire anyone at the moment. Fantine quietly apologies and moves on, stopping next at a women's clothing store. The owner, after hearing from Fantine that she once worked as a seamstress in Paris, happily accepts, however, as soon as Fantine walks in with Cosette, she changes her mind, stating that she cannot hire anyone with a child. Once again, Fantine apologizes, and leaves her second potential shot at a job.
While walking along, Cosette states that she is hungry, and the two find a local bakery. Fantine asks the baker for the smallest piece of bread, and he shows her both a small piece of bread, as well as a larger loaf, about the size of Cosette's head, stating that the two cost the same price. Fantine buys the larger bread and asks the baker about any jobs around the area. He relunctantly states that it is unlikely that anyone is hiring, and that the economy in the village has been poor lately; he also wishes he could help Fantine more with her situation. Just as the two visitors are about the leave the shop, the baker remembers a rumor about a town further north called Montreuil-sur-Mer, and that the economy has been bustling there due to the esablishment of a new black glass factory. He notes that the journey may be tough for a child as young as Cosette, however; meanwhile, Fantine contemplates traveling to the town.
After their lunch break, Cosette hears the sound of young children playing, and excitidly run towards the source of the laughter. Two young girls, Éponine and Azelma Thenardier, are swinging on a makeshift wooden swing when Cosette runs along and joins them in their play. Eponine and Azelma's mother, Madame Thénardier, approaches Fantine, asking her if she and her daughter have arrived to spend the day or have a meal at their Inn--The Sergeant of Waterloo. Fantine declines, and states that she is looking for a job. Mme. Thénardier asks about her husband, and Fantine states that he passed away; Mme. Thénardier then states that there aren't any jobs in the area, and suggests searching around Paris, to which Fantine replies that she and Cosette just came from Paris; Fantine then goes into her backstory (to which Thénardier evesdrops, interested): she worked as a seamstress in Paris until she was laid off; thinking she could find a live-in job outside of Paris, she vacated her room and sold all of her furniture, but has been rejected everywhere, due to having a child. M. Thénardier then suggests leaving Cosette with them, as being alone, Fantine would have a better chance at finding a job, and eventually finding a home where she and Cosette could live in. Mme. Thénardier is shocked at first by her husband's suggestion, but goes along with the plan, trying to see if they can accumulate as much money from Fantine as possible. Fantine ends up paying 57 francs to the Thénardiers and musters up the courge to call Cosette over to her to tell her of the latest development. Fantine explains to Cosette that she will be traveling to a far-away town, and that Cosette will be in the care of the Thénardiers. At first, Cosette promptly states that she will accompany her mother, but Fantine insists that she stay put, causing Cosette to break down in tears, refusing to separate from her mother. Fantine ensures Cosette that she will miss her just as much as Cosette will to her, and that as soon as she finds a suitable home, she'll come back to pick her up. Sternly, Cosette agrees to wait for her, causing Fantine to gloss over in tears. Finally, Fantine leaves, as Cosette calls out for her with a teary-voice. Once Fantine is out of sight, Eponine and Azelma offer Cosette to play with them some more, only for Mme. Thénardier to order her two daughters away from Cosette, and for Cosette to change into shabby work clothes and to begin working around the inn.
Fantine, meanwhile, arrives at Montreuil-sur-Mer after a couple of days, and receives directions to the factory from two townspeople. While on her way, she witnesses a robbery in progress by a young boy stealing a loaf of bread, only to be intercepted by a tall, stern man. As the shop owner raises a stick to attack the boy, the strike is blocked by the man, who is revealed to be Monsieur Madeleine, the mayor of the town. Madeleine orders the boy, named Alain, to return the bread to its owner, which Alain reluctantly does. He then picks up Alain and carries him to his office, serving him a meal of bread and water, also providing him with a basket of bread to take home to two his waiting younger siblings, Daniel and Marie. Alain gorges on the meal and demands why Madeleine aided him, a boy caught stealing bread. Madeleine responds that he just cannot leave someone who commits a crime to save their family from starvation, and remarks that such an belief cannot compare to the similar act done a man Madeleine once knew, and he stares off into the distance, reminiscing.
Meanwhile, at the factory, Fantine is being interviewed by the forman, Meille. She is at one point asked if she has a family, to which Fantine lies and states no. Fantine is then successfully hired. Back at the mayor's office, Madeleine asks Alain if he could serve as his errand boy and arrive tomorrow to start working, to which Alain rejects and dashes out of the office, the basket of bread with him. Alain then returns home to his two siblings, who happily eat the bread basket, as Alain lies on the bed, contemplating the offer Madeleine proposed earlier. At an apartment, Fantine thinks to herself that things are starting to look up, now that she has been hired at the factory, and once again, she vows to reunite with Cosette as soon as possible. Meanwhile, back in Montreuil-sur-Mer, a teary-eyed Cosette is out sweeping the front courtyard of the inn, wearing the run-down rags Mme. Thénardier gave her earlier. As Mme. Thénardier watches over her, threatening to refuse her any food should there be a single speck of garbage found, Cosette quietly calls for her mother in the sunset.
- The events of this episode [only] take place in spring 1818, based on the novel's chronology
- The fruit and vegetable vendor is later seen in various episodes taking place in Paris. He and his family could have understandably moved to the city for better luck in earning money and a living
Differences from the NovelEdit
- In the novel, Fantine pairs up with a lover named Félix Tholomyès (the biological father of Cosette), who eventually abadons her as a passing fling. In this episode, when first meeting the Thénardiers, Fantine states that her "husband" had passed away. This could have easily been to cover up the actual story, however
|Les Misérables: Shoujo Cosette|
Jean Valjean's Secret