By now, we’re roughly 2 and three quarter hours into the serial drama that is Valjean’s life and we’ve almost come to expect it: he’s at death’s door. He’s all alone in some dark place, with a chair, a desk, and a blankie as his sole companions.Yes, he’s made good on his promise to extricate himself from Cosette’s life, just so she’ll never be disgraced in case his real identity is revealed. Mmm. Is anyone non-fictional ever that self-effacing? We have the feeling that in real life our pal Valjean would fill his last days nibbling on some kind of provençale-sauced amphibian and/or showing off his fine marksmanship to a growing number of grandchildren, but this is a major sung-through dramatic musical. So we’re going with it.
Wait! Confessions? Oh, so that was what he must have been scribbling earlier on with that massive feather. A long, long list of all the stuff he’s ever done wrong. Eeeeeew. Where is that bishop when you need him? Because it’s just NOT what every girl on her wedding day wants to read: a deathbed confession. Of her own father.
“You got married? Congrats. Sorry I didn’t get you a gift. But I have this confession here for you to read. Oh, and by the way, I hope you won’t be too shocked when you get to the part where you find out your mother was a whore.” And that’s not the kind of wedding speech any bride will ever anticipate.
Then, after a lot more singing and sobbing and sobsinging, Valjean finally gets up (to all you dense people: he dies) to leave with Fantine and Eponine. (Why her? Sure, she’s also dead, but he just met her briefly when she delivered a letter. This confuses us. Does that mean we’ll be greeted by our dead mail carrier too, when we die? Ours was a 300 pound whale with badly fitting dentures and halitosis. Now we’re very, very worried about dying. Way to go, creators of Les Mis!)
Anyhow, Cosette is left behind and very sad. As is Marius. But they’re still forced to march with the rest of the peasants, and again, this doesn’t seem to be the kind of climax every young couple is dreaming of when planning a wedding. But they’re tough cookies…. When there’s marching required, it’s marching they do.