Versailles Series 2, Episode 6 – the one with the orgy

So, where are we? Still in 1670? I am assuming so, but since the Franco Dutch war didn’t happen until 1672 I could totally be mistaken. Anyway, the ep opens with Louis staring down a telescope – apparently invented by the Dutch – at the enemy lines, who are standing a great distance from the French and drumming away. Louis doesn’t like that. Louvois doesn’t like the look of the weather but Louis doesn’t care because “making history is all about timing and having God on your side.” He aims his rifle and shoots that infernal drummer. Ahhhhh, silence at last. That’s what we like on a battlefield.

(hums along to the intro)

Now we are back in Versailles, in the chapel and everyone is lining up for Father Bossuet’s blessing and that wafer-body-of-Christ thing that he hands out. One of the nobles staggers and falls, frothing at the mouth and there’s another one gone.

Gaston follows Montespan through the corridors, wanting to share his ‘little adventure’ with father Pascal. Montespan is not impressed, calling it a cowardly act, but Gaston is unconcerned. “that man put up quite a fight for a man of peace.” Montespan does not want to know, but Gaston makes it clear that she killed him, that she ‘wanted rid of him.’ Montespan is angry – apparently she did not wish his murder, which I find quite a bit odd, considering she was the one who mentioned the lilies in the first place. What else was Gaston to think? He says his conscience is clear and that he got Pascal to pen a suicide love note to the queen. Montespan pauses, thinking for a moment then her expression turns quite satisfied. Huh. Guess murder is okay when you implicate your arch enemy.

A wine ration…………….? I shall kill you with my glare.

Bontemps, Colbert and Cassel stand before the queen, Bontemps informing her of his investigation into the dead noble in church. It seems he was poisoned at a select gathering in his own rooms, which is an excuse for the queen to go full-blown fundamental religious nut and declare that “we must control what goes on in private.” Colbert is not a fan – what more can they do after curtailing all the fun public stuff? The queen is just…. okay, she is totally doing a Maintenon. This was what Maintenon was about, all praying and no gambling, drinking, sins of the flesh.  Colbert says they could consider rationing wine (OMG the look on Cassel’s face😆 ) or a gambling restriction, a curfew…. the queen is adamant about controlling and denying all the fun things even in peoples’ rooms and Cassel replies it could be difficult to enforce (bless Cassel for that!) but the queen ain’t having none of that. By the king’s return she vows the palace will be a place of “temperance and piety.” Oh, yay. Such fun. Reminds me of certain countries (America, I am totally looking at you). After she leaves, Cassel grumbles, “Only a Spaniard would try to stop the French from drinking wine,” before he starts coughing on his way out. Colbert asks Bontemps what he plans to do to find the poisoner, and Bontemps replies, “there is only one person I know with the acuity for that.”

We see Bontemps enter Marchal’s house (with no knocking or announcement which I find odd), and Marchal is sat, as if waiting, by the fire. His presence is needed at Versailles. “The king has asked for me?” asks Marchal. Bontemps replies: “The palace is consumed by poison and I fear for its very soul,” then after Marchal gives him a ‘meh’ look, says he will try to reason again with him. But yeah, Marchal owes Louis nothing and that’s true. Bontemps is a little desperate, saying Marchal is the only one who can cure this disease but Marchal does not care. “Go find another scapegoat.” Bontemps looks shocked as Marchal adds, “I’m leaving. To start a new life. I’m taking Claudine with me.” (uuggggghhhh don’t say that aloud…)

Back to Versailles and a fabulous shot of the gardens. Montespan is holding court in the salons, gossiping about the alleged attraction between now-dead father Pascal and the queen, stirring the flames. Scarron walks in, and Montespan wants to know where she’s been. Apparently the queen requested her presence and we discover she has no friends (unsurprising considering she is such a Debbie Downer when it comes to parties, alcohol and general merriment) and she wanted Scarron to be her rent-a-crowd. Scarron assures Montespan, “my private knowledge of you shall remain so.”

We are back at war, in Utrecht, and Thomas is handing over correspondence to Louis: a letter from Montespan. “Later,” is his response. Thomas does a bit of ass-kissing again, saying it takes a brave king to sample the life of a soldier, asks if Louis fears for his safety. Louis, had hoped for a reprieve from his court worries, still finds sleep illusive, and is not worried: “at least here it is clear who are your enemies.” Thomas is silent and Louis continues to speak: “I had lost my way. But this is the path of God so I will be in the palm of his hand while I am at war. And he will watch over Versailles.”

We return to Versailles (yeah, the queen is watching over it all, not God) and a montage of soldiers going into the salons, ordering them closed in the name of the queen, locking up the wine. Ugggggh. This is how rebellion starts. In the next scene Gaston stomp-moans to Agathe that the place is turning into a prison, not a palace: “no parties, not concerts, no salons. It’s impossible to get a glass of wine, never mind exert influence!” Poor thing. Agathe absently studies her cards while suggesting he learn patience but Gaston is annoyed the queen wants the place like a chapel, with a curfew and everything. Agathe muses that is why she has fewer clients. Gaston is furious – he wants to expand the business with the king away. Agathe disagrees, saying they need to be extra cautious, must be careful not to overreach. He spots a journal on the table and wants to know what it is. Ahhh, of course, her little black book of all her clients. She snatches it back. “Who knows when it could come in useful?” She says.

Now we are back with Claudine, and she is mixing up some more powders from the newly acquired red seeds, pouring it onto the dead flesh to see the reaction. And it appears this is a success. Yay! *historical note: when people of medicine wanted to test out poisons, they usually fed it to chickens, cats etc then autopsied them to find out the effects. Horrid, yes, and not a very pleasant way to endear Claudine to the audience. Glad they didn’t follow history for this one.

Claudine’s joy at discovering the poison is quickly dashed when a masked man grabs her from behind and we see him drag her off camera as she muffles a scream.

I know what this means and I was prepared for it but still. NO. JUST. NO.

Back at war to take my mind off the horribleness, and Louis’ general (duc de Luxembourg) says they have won a battle. Louis is hardly euphoric: he had a vision last night. In a fitful but deep sleep, he dreamt of taking a life. We see his dream, of him stabbing and yelling, even as he says “I felt no pleasure, no hatred. No contempt. And no regret either.” Thomas asks if it was a premonition, but Louis answers “perhaps a harbinger of destiny. This is the justice of God. I do what I must.” And what is that? Okay, so he was going to return to Versailles to meet with the Sultan of Bijapur to discuss a trade alliance, but now he is to remain in battle. Louvois enters the tent – the English fleet have been defeated. Louis is not daunted, but Louvois is all “this is terrible! It could be catastrophic!” Ahhhhh, but Louis says the enemy would obvs think that, so they will do exactly the opposite. They will move on Amsterdam when they achieve this victory. Louvois wants to exercise caution but nup. Louis doesn’t want to give them time to prepare their defences. He wants to strike at their heart.

*Historical note: I think this “Sultan meeting” of which Louis speaks is probably the one in 1684 between France and Siam. After Louis won against Holland, he wanted to curtail the Dutch trade, and to do that, he had to curry favour with Siam, which at the time was the major power between India and China. During this first meeting, an international incident nearly happened – more of that in a later post. The second visit was in 1686 and Louis greeted the foster brother of Narai the Great of Siam, Kosa Pan, in the newly finished Hall of Mirrors. This envoy spent close to eight months in France and you can read more about it from Kosa Pan’s diary here  And more about the actual 1686 visit here.

We are now back in Claudine’s home….. Ugh. i don’t want to do this. But okay, I must. Marchal opens the door, calls out…. and immediately draws a knife. He knows something is wrong. Walks stealthily through the kitchen, over to the shelves and her working area. He sees her, tosses down the knife and OMG she is still alive. She clutches the red bead rosary, chokes, her nose bloody and barely able to breathe. She gasps, and Marchal grabs her hand with the beads, whispers, “what?” because damn, he knows she is trying to say something. But she grips his coat, her eyes flutter and as he gasps, she dies in his arms. Gently, his thumb strokes her cheek, and he hold her, kisses her forehead, his teeth clenched and his despair and fury barely checked. Then he weeps, silently and with great dignity as he whispers for her to forgive him.

Give me a minute.  Because I have FEELINGS.  It suddenly occurred to me why Claudine had to die. Not just to delay the identity of the poison, which they could’ve done a dozen other ways. It was to give Marchal no other choice but to return to Versailles. Not only is his reason for leaving now gone, but he is also now a Man With a Mission. Some asshole killed off the potential best thing in his life and being the determined soul he is, he must find out who, to bring justice and vengeance upon their head. Oh, he will totally make them pay.

*wipes tears* Okay, on with the ep. We are back at Versailles, and people are in the salons but everything is subdued. Bontemps, Cassel and Colbert talk of this visiting Sultan on his way, hopefully bringing hope and possibility because from what Colbert implies, a trade alliance will mean France kicks the Dutch out of the India route.  The Chevalier sails through with his new gal pal Isabelle, and winds up Montespan by saying Isabelle wishes to join the king’s service. Of course, Montespan says coolly that there are no positions vacant. The Chevalier merely laughs and saunters off with his charge, walks past Philippe and comments, “surprising how much fun they can actually be,” then keeps right on going. Then the queen glides in and everyone falls silent (although it’s not as if they were squealing in glee having a gay old time anyways). She tells everyone the French are winning and are now marching towards Amsterdam, and everyone claps and smiles but Montespan is a little shitty: how dare Louis write to everyone, even his wife, but not reply to her letters?

celebrate through prayer! Yay!

The queen announces a celebration (yay!) …. “Father Bossuet will lead us all through a time of prayer and sobriety.” (BOOOOO!) Everyone’s faces fall and you could srsly hear a pin drop. The look on Philippe’s face says it all. But hey, the queen is happy and as she leaves, gives Montespan a look. Scarron, too, looks at Montespan before she follows the queen and I dunno, she just seems too sly to be trusted, that one.

Gaston lurks about watching some nobleman depart Agathe’s place, then we see Gaston writing what clearly appears to be a blackmail letter, which Odile delivers under the nobleman’s door. We see a montage, of Gaston this time observing a woman leave, writing down her name and yep, there’s another letter. Then people place bibles on tables, letters are written, and coins fished out from inside the hollowed-out books. Seems Gaston has a little business on the side now he cannot get his usual percentage from Agathe.

His “live long and prosper” is lacking.

Ahhh, now the Sultan is on his way to Versailles. and Colbert, Bontemps and Cassel greet him, then present the queen to him. He says he is thrilled but does not look it, especially when he says he is looking forward to “dealing with the king very much.” Okay, one of those. Why is this not surprising he does not negotiate with a woman? It is 17th century after all. They all huddle and Bontemps explains it as a “misunderstanding. It seems the Sultan comes from a culture where women are not afforded such respect as ours.” Is the queen of France not good enough? “On the contrary. He sees women as above such things. He does not wish you to be sullied by matters of finance.” (What a glorious excuse: “darling, I do not wish you to be sullied by matters of finance. Let me control our bank account.” ) Of course, the sultan insists on seeing the king and I am so confused. Does this man not know the country is at war??? This is further compounded by Bontemps saying that they know France needs control of their port for the war effort. So it’s not as if it was a secret war that no one outside Europe knows anything about. Colbert promised the king they would make the deal, everyone looks worried… then Cassel says there is one person at court with the credentials to fill the king’s shoes. We all know who that is, don’t we?

The king’s brother shall negotiate? ahahahahaaaaa…okay.

“That is the most preposterous thing I have ever heard.” Yes, Philippe, but just go with it, yeah? We know this never actually happened in real life. This is all a bit of light fiction and I can assure you, you will have fun. So, Bontemps and Colbert pretty much beg him, saying everyone would be grateful, in his debt, blah blah but Philippe only wants to know “what’s in it for me?” but it is Liselotte who totally gets it, and replies, “fun.” Colbert then offers a bit of money to sway him, and Philippe is all “how dare you, Colbert. Do you think I can be bought like a common whore?” then…. “although we could do with an increase in our allowance.” Philippe starts to seriously consider it and it’s clear he is dangling the carrot as he works out that the transporting of goods goes through canals, and that the access is more valuable than the merchandise itself. Finally he says yes, but under the condition he gets a percentage of the canal trade and the tolls. I love Colbert’s “this is highly irregular!” but he has them over a barrel. They have to agree.

And now we see Philippe-as-Louis dressed up in Louis’ golden coat entering the rooms where everyone waits – the sultan and his entourage, the queen and court – and totally gets his Louis on. Did the Sultan have a pleasant journey? Oh yes, and here is a stack of gorgeous materials, silks and brocades, just for you. Philippe theatrically swishes the material around his neck like a scarf, displaying his vocal pleasure rather loudly and the visitors are happy he is happy. The only ones who are not are the queen and the ministers, who appear strained, probably thinking Philippe is taking the piss, which I think he is, but he is certainly not ruining anything at all. And those fabrics are very lovely. Colbert launches into a speech, clearing wanting to take the wheel, as Philippe walks about with the fabric draped over his shoulders, creating a bit of a distraction from the seriousness of the trade deal. 

Look at that glorious python. Also… the dude staring dreamily into the camera.
This is all a jolly lark, this trade dealing.

(is… that dude wearing a python around his neck??? *presses rewind* Yep.) Ugh, let Philippe amuse himself. The sultan is smiling at Philippe’s pleasure and all is going well. But as Colbert goes on about their spices being awesome and just what the French want, how much better they are than the Dutch blah blah, Philippe is getting a bit bored, sighing audibly so that the sultan hears. Philippe interrupts: “Good God, Colbert. You shall have bored this man half to death. We don’t require this… piffle!” He quickly stands and walks to the sultan. “You are here to discuss numbers, not so? Well, why not let our people compare abacuses and I will show the sultan around, hmm? Eh?” He looks rather like a cheeky schoolboy suggesting they skip a boring class and it is so endearing that I cannot help but go with it. The queen is all “ugh I am surrounded by idiots why cannot I BE KING?” and Colbert and Bontemps look worried but Liselotte is rather enjoying seeing Philippe enjoy himself. So all is good.

Off Philippe goes with the sultan, out to the gardens, their entourage following. They walk through some lovely pink trees with Philippe-as-Louis saying cheerfully, “I had these trees imported from every country in Europe, so MY garden represents aaaaall the little nations in unison. Facing me. Each month, a different blossom blooms, according the colours of the rainbow. I like to think my personality is in every part of MY palace.” Liselotte walks with the queen, smiling. “I knew he’d be good at it.” The queen is unimpressed: “I just hope he knows when to stop.”

I am surrounded by idiots.

Next scene and there is the signing of the agreement. The sultan signs first, then it is over to Philippe. “Just sign there, Sire,” Bontemps adds, but Philippe is looking through the pages and he does not like an amount France has to pay… it is too much. Colbert and Bontemps calmly panic – they have taken many hours negotiating this. But Philippe will not have it. For that amount “we require exclusive access to the entire coastline and a portion of the profit.” It is not a good deal if it does not make financial sense to all parties involved. Bontemps reminds him that this deal is of great importance to all of France, and could affect the outcome of the war. Philippe calmly looks at Bontemps, then back to the sultan, then cooly says, “I am grateful to you for considering this proposal. But don’t for one second think you can dictate terms to the king of France.” Then he mic-drops the quill and walks off and OMG the queen thinks it is ALL ABOUT HER.

*Historical note: I love that we are seeing this side to Philippe. He was, in actual fact, a highly intelligent boy, with an aptitude for learning, moreso than his older brother Louis. He grew up to be an intelligent man, even if he was indulged in many things as a prince of France.

We are back with Louis in camp and a letter arrives from De Witt, saying Holland want a truce. Louis doesn’t like it: he wants them to suffer more. So he rips up the missive and says he will only negotiate with William, “the only leader in Europe who is worthy to be my adversary.” Yeah, one problem. William is not the leader. Not gonna stop Louis because apparently William “wants it. And God wills it.” (gonna try this next time when I go through the grocery checkout or buying petrol… “I want it! And God wills it!”) And off the messenger goes.

In your face…. my queen.

We’re back in Versailles and the sultan’s men are in a huddle, Philippe is at the window, and the queen et al are looking back and forth nervously. Finally the sultan breaks away and approaches Philippe. “The sultan recognises the king’s higher reason, and concedes to his better judgement.” Philippe smiles, bows and Liselotte triumphantly whispers to a shitty faced queen: “you underestimate him… my queen.” I think it’s lovely the way they have made Liselotte Philippe’s champion, even though this was not historically the case at all.

Dammit, I had just finished wiping my eyes and now we are back with Marchal. He has Claudine laid out on her bed and he is delicately cleaning her up, wiping the blood from her mouth, then stroking her hair before softly placing a kiss to her lips. He is such the embodiment of an anti-hero and damn, I love an anti-hero. These guys are the epitome of strength and what it means to be a hero. They not afraid to bend (or even break) the law to do what is right and are often seen as rebels, bad boys or anti-establishment, but with a strong moral code and a sense of what is right. Think Han Solo, Dirty Harry or Gene Hunt (Life on Mars). Or David Tennant’s Doctor Who, who was borderline anti-hero. Anyway, back to Marchal, who is taking Claudine’s hand which has the red seed rosary still wrapped around it, but now it is turning to powder and staining her fingers.

Look at his pretty hands. And the pretty box. But mostly, his hands.

And now to Versailles, where the Chevalier is taking money from a dude with a need for powder. Philippe walks in and is very (understandably) annoyed that his boyfriend has now become a nasty drug dealer. “We can’t all live like the king,” is the Chevalier’s reply and walks back into the salon. Philippe follows. “It was on a plate. How could I resist?” ……wait, he is pissed at Philippe for playing at being the king? LOLWAT. SERIOUSLY. They talked about this in Season 1, the Chevalier even said Philippe would make a fab king. I thought this kind of charade would be right up his alley, but apparently he’d rather be pissed off that Liselotte has given her blessing for Philippe to do it. Philippe stops him. “You would’ve been proud of me. I managed to turn it all quite deftly to my advantage.” Still the Chevalier is pissy but dammit, Philippe wants to celebrate. WHY WON’T YOU CELEBRATE DAMMIT. Philippe hugs the Chevalier from behind and yes, the Chevalier closes his eyes for a moment as if to desperately hold on to the last of his misplaced outrage because he is a fourteen year old girl, and Philippe says “We should host a party. To launch my new career, to honour our success in battle and to get fully inebriated.” Still the Chevalier is not swayed although it looks as though he wants to be. Because you know, they have a notoriety to maintain. And it’s not as if the queen has granted permission. “As the king,” Philippe adds, “I can do as I please.”

Sophie is sat on her bed, reading a love letter from Thomas the spy. Cassel strolls in, puffing on his pipe and she quickly burns the letter, saying it was from her cousin. He yanks her across the bed, saying he knows he should be gentle…. then she bites his mouth and he slaps her, and yeah, I think he actually did it because her face is all red. He walks out, she quickly takes the poison from her bodice and in a state, drops it on his pipe.

Isabelle is going through the salons and her friends are teasing her about wanting to be in favour with the king. Montespan overhears and stops her, and in her usual cool, cutting way implies that Isabelle lacks the skills to attract the king. “But time will pass,” says Isabelle. “And no man can desire a woman of a certain age.” Again playing to Montespan’s fear and weakness, that she is getting older and therefore, less desirable in the king’s eyes.

Marchal walks into the tavern where the drug dealer dudes are, and gets right down to business, asking them if they have “spoken to the young physician.” The guy looks nervous and all “sorry, can’t help you there”, the younger one says they haven’t spoken to her in months. Sure. So Marchal yanks out his knife, grabs the young guy’s wrist and stabs him right through the hand, pinning him to the table. Yeah, that’ll do it. The older one, known as Big Fella, quickly says she wanted to know about some sort of seed, the stabbed guy chokes out, “he told her to go to Paris!” and Marchal withdraws his blade as Big Fella says panicky-like, “you can’t tell them we sent you.” Right on. Marchal, getting shit done, stabbing hands and naming names. That’s how you do it.

To Montespan now, who is at Agathe’s and the older women is covertly watching her with an amused smirk on her face. Montespan is worried. “I used to be in control, but I am losing everything. My confidence, my role in court, my place in the king’s heart. He’s even stopped writing to me.” It is only a matter of time, apparently. Plus the queen moves against her. Agathe asks if she wants the queen to be dispensed with. No, that’s not an option, because she knows the queen is not a rival for Louis’ affections. But there is a younger rival. Agathe takes Montespan’s hands: “You must recognise what you are capable of, and embrace it. That is when real power emerges.” Montespan doesn’t think she is strong enough but Agathe has faith, gives her a vial of… something.

We are back on the war campaign and Louis is kneeling, in his prayers. Then he picks up a knife, staring at it as he remembers the dream he had of killing someone.

The camera is now on William of Orange, and he looks as though he is playing with tiny cutout houses and people but it is obviously for war strategy. One of his men enters, says De Witt has been apprehended and that the people of Holland wish to execute him. Will William intervene? No, he thinks not. Well, yay then, because William is now the leader, stadholder of Holland. It is the work of God, William says. Not man. And their spy tells them the French are on their way. Oh, goodie. William is pleased about that because he wants to fight them on his terms.

Now we are at the party, with Philippe making a solemn toast to the sound of gentle music, giving thanks to his brother, the war victory blah blah… then the Chevalier walks over and places a golden crown on his head, declares him king, everyone laughs, they both snog and the party starts. We see the Chevalier playing the bouncer, refusing two people entry because “admittance only with a personal invitation or unquestionable beauty. And you clearly have neither.” Lulz. He does, however, let Isabelle in and we now see the party in full swing – topless women kissing, topless men kissing, lots of drinking and touching and laughter and music. She wanders about, quite a bit at a loss as the Chevalier and Philippe stand on the table and hug and kiss and make romantic overtures and I am left wondering if perhaps I have missed a scene where they kiss and make up after their massive argument about Liselotte? “There is little we can’t achieve when we put our minds together,” says the Chevalier. Philippe adds, “and our bodies,” and goes in for a kiss but the Chevalier pulls back, wanting to know where his wife is. In the chapel, with the queen, apparently. “Sad really,” the Chevalier snarks. “No amount of prayer will do anything for that face.” ………Philippe briefly smiles, unamused. “is that the best you’ve got?” and the Chevalier’s smile drops as he says, “my God, the way you’ve changed.” (OMG HELLO, POT? IT’S KETTLE HERE).
Philippe: And you’ve become courser.
the Chevalier: She’s had you nailed since the start. She’s transformed you before my very eyes.
Philippe: I’m my own man. I make my own decisions.
the Chevalier: (hisses) I turn my back for one second and suddenly you’re the king, with a new business venture? (Philippe sighs) And her by your side? Every step of the way?
Philippe: (grips the Chevalier’s shirt) what’s wrong with having a bit of ambition?
the Chevalier: We are creatures of the moment, Philippe. We live for pleasure. You and I live for now.
Philippe: Maybe it’s time we start thinking of the future.
They exchange a look, Philippe steps from the table and walks off, leaving the Chevalier looking annoyed and worried and quite a bit wtf.

Montespan sails through the crowd, through the debauchery of nekkid people kissing touching and drinking, to take Isabelle aside. Is she enjoying the festivities? Of course, innocent Isabelle says “they don’t have parties like this where I come from.” Montespan tells her to relax and just let it happen. There are quite a few camera cuts to the party goers here, undressing, rolling about, snogging each other on the table. The Chevalier drowning himself in drink. Then the camera goes to Bossuet and the queen, praying in the chapel, before sounds of distant revelry interrupt. Back we go to the party, and Montespan and Isabelle are in a quiet corner, Montespan offering wine as she hides a vial in her skirts. Isabelle, the innocent thing, says she wishes to be like Montespan, “glamorous and spirited,” then admits that she has never been with a man before, that it frightens her more than anything. Montespan conscience obviously rears up, as she quickly grabs her glass and pours it out. “Like vinegar. Your first party at the palace should not be spoiled by bad wine.” Isabelle wants Montespan to teach her how to enjoy herself. “It’s simple,” Montespan says calmly. “You just drink and you do powders until you feel nothing.” She holds out a finger with powder to Isabelle. “This one is my favourite. You’ll love it.”

We are back with Sophie and Cassel, where Sophie very carefully drips more poison into a snoring Cassel’s mouth. Death cannot come quick enough for her.

Back to the party, and Montespan walks with the Chevalier, observing the room, where a dishevelled Isabelle snorts powder and laughs with a couple of nobles. A topless Philippe is wrestling with another topless dude on the table, and the Chevalier sniffs at the display.
Montespan: (looking at Isabelle) Your little plaything seems to be enjoying herself.
the Chevalier: (looking at Philippe) Indeed. (glances to Isabelle) Oh, her. Delightful little creature. If you like that sort of thing.
Montespan: You’ve never sampled a maiden?
the Chevalier: Used to be a hobby of mine. Before I discovered the real thing.
Montespan: Well, I would’ve thought she was quite the challenge. Even for you.
They exchange looks, and the Chevalier glances back at Philippe, now wrestling on the floor, then he gets a look on his face, takes a snort of powder and charges over to Isabelle, grabs her hand and forcefully walks out with her. They go past Philippe, the Chevalier briefly glances down but all Philippe does is smile at them as he rolls about on the floor.  Okay, this is more in keeping with the Chevalier’s truth. A revenge shag, to make Philippe feel guilty and put himself in control. And the debauched party is totally what I would’ve expected.

Next scene – Marchal is stomping determinedly through the darkened streets of Paris (before they installed streetlights!) and enters a crowded brothel, grabbing a torch from the wall and checking out the people there, some drunk and barely able to stand, some shagging on rough beds. He sees the prostitute that Claudine was helping, then spies the beads around her neck. “Where did you get these?” he says roughly. She replies: “Someone gave them to me.” He grabs her arm and drags her against a wall, hand around her neck. She chokes but creepy father Etienne grabs Marchal, with a “get your hands off her!” and Marchal goes into full aggro mode, sweeping the burning torch at the man, pushing him back, then stopping when he sees it’s a priest. “You do the whoremaster’s job for him?” Creeper Etienne is all how-very-dare-you, saying the people here deserve protection just as much as the “bloated palace peacocks.” Marchal ignores the dig, asks about the beads found in Claudine’s dead hands, says she came here looking for red powder. Nup, says Etienne. “She should not have come here. And neither should you.” Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t what he just said an admission of something? That he did see her? That he knows how dangerous the beads are? Marchal steps to Etienne and says oh-so-quietly: “do you threaten me?” Oh, no. Just your run-of-the-mill friendly advice.

Scene change back at the party-now-orgy, and the queen practically kicks open the door, a most sour look on her face. The music stops, people scramble to cover themselves and Isabelle, dressed only in shirt and stockings, hurries out of sight. The Chevalier stands about in all his naked glory, next to a ‘eh, we’ve been discovered’ Philippe and my first thought is DID THE CHEVALIER SHAG ISABELLE?? My next are What happened to the boy wrestling? and Did Philippe not care that the Chevalier could have possibly deflowered a virgin? Why are they not fighting about it? SO MANY QUESTIONS. Anyway, the queen just stands there in the doorway, looming with her entourage like the sad party killers they are, while Philippe says cheekily: “I had a few acquaintances over for prayer and it got a bit out of hand. But don’t worry, we’ll keep the noise down.”
The queen: (tightly) You treat this as a joke?
Philippe: You made me king. I have every right to do as I please in my own rooms. You cannot legislate for what happens behind closed doors.
The queen: The king will take great exception to this display of contempt.
Philippe: He’ll understand. I’ve known him a lot longer than you.

This conversation had me in two minds. I laughed because Philippe is so sassy, while the Chevalier is just standing there, stark nekkid and posing, provocatively touching his nipples. 😂 But i was also irritated because this would never happen. The queen is doing a full-on, you-shall-get-religion thing and it is annoying to see her like this. This is what Maintenon did.

The queen picks her way across the room (for what, I have no idea) and glances at the running-for-cover nobles, whispers rising, then sees Montespan leaning all casual-like on the door, fully dressed, and with a kind of ‘you poor thing, fuck you’ expression. By her presence, we know where her loyalty lies and it is certainly not with the queen. The queen can’t help but make a dig: “It may have escaped your notice but while your sinful lover is away, your flank is exposed.
Montespan: At least I know what my flank is for.
The queen: Yes, you have been blessed with the skills of a whore and the morals to match.

Montespan says nothing as the queen walks away and Montespan and Scarron share a look, the latter looking kind of disappointed and ashamed and a little regretful as she finally breaks the glare and follows the queen. We all know she is doing some major judging inside. Then Philippe strolls over, watches them leave and turns to Montespan. “We would’ve made an excellent king and queen,” and they both laugh.

We’re outside now, on the steps and a bunch of still inebriated courtiers are eager to keep the festivities going. They strip as they run, heading for the fountains, watching as others splash about and get nekkid. Isabelle is quite wasted and she turns about in the water, then with arms outstretched, flops back into the fountain. (I am assuming it is around summer now, as they are frolicking in the fountains).

And so, back to war and we see the armies manoeuvring into place. Louis strides from his tent, declaring that he will lead the way. Louvois and Luxembourg try to dissuade him (“if you fall, France falls”) but he will have none of that. “This is my time. I will not fall.” I dunno, he sounds like a petulant teenager demanding the first turn on a carnival ride. He mounts up and now we see William in his camp. It is time to strike now. We see galloping horsemen, then men smashing down the dykes that contain a raging river, then the water building up through tunnels and downstream. Louis yells “charge!” and the French army surge forward, racing across a field, into a gully to get to the Dutch. The Dutch, meanwhile, do nothing, just look a bit worried, while in the distance, a long raging river snakes its way towards the imminent battle.

*Historical note: This is cool, because it actually happened. In short, when the Dutch were fighting Spain for independence, they realised they could flood their low lands and cut off the invaders, making Holland a kind of island. So when the French army raced across to attack, they were stymied by the raging water the Dutch had released further up. But history also tells us that this happened during winter because the water frosted over, so now I have another date,1672, so I am going to go with this one to orient ourselves in time. Sixteen hundred and seventy-two. Right. It’s all a bit of a mess, because the writers are combining and stretching all sorts of details. But Louis, although depicted in the middle of the war in full glory and achieving victory, never really fought. He did supervise digging of trenches, but that was obvs not a very kingly thing to have hanging on your palace wall, is it? You can read all about the Franco-Dutch War here.

So, William commands everyone to hold as the French race towards them and through the swiftly rising waters, then suddenly Louis’ horse stumbles and he is thrown to the ground, into the water. He is stunned…. cannot believe that he, the king of France, has been unseated. He glances about, slo-mo, as chaos reins around him, and just like his dream, he pulls out his knife and starts stabbing a dude…. then looks down to see he is actually stabbing himself. Very Freudian. Luxembourg touches his shoulder and we see it is not real, that Louis is just staring at the water where his stabbed body was, as Luxembourg insists they must leave, and suddenly all the noise and cannon fire of battle comes surging back, Luxembourg drags him up and away.

We are back at Versailles and it is dawn, all the party people are laughing and stumbling back inside and we see Colbert hurrying through them, Bontemps behind, asking where his niece is….

NO….. I love Colbert! This cannot be HAPPENING.

We see a shot of the fountains, then the camera pans down, Colbert and Bontemps to the side, their reaction as we now see them spot Isabelle in the water, floating face up. *cries*

But wait, now we are at a grave, by a lake, and it is Marchal placing flowers on Claudine’s grave, closing his eyes as if to draw in strength and stave off grief. *cries more*

The scene goes back to the fountains, Montespan and Liselotte hurrying over to Philippe and the Chevalier as a crowd gathers, Colbert dragging Isabelle’s body from the water. Shocked, the Chevalier looks at Liselotte, then Philippe looks to his wife, his expression regretful, and Liselotte just cannot believe it, I think. Then Colbert and Bontemps place Isabelle in a coat as the camera goes to Montespan. Yes, her expression tells me she knows what she’s done, that she was the one to blame and it looks as though she is going through the shock and regret stage. And omg Colbert cries, looking at everyone as he sobs “how??” and I have the feels so much for him.

Back to the war, and the French arrive at a monastery and fling open the doors, then hustle Louis in and Louis is feeling so much angry, hating the way Luxembourg fusses and hustles, shoving him back and yelling about how could this have happened??!! Louvois yells back that William was ready for them. Louis is livid. “From now on, our own men will not know our next step!” His is angry and frantic as he stomps, demanding a full assessment, mapping the water line, etc etc. Louvois yells back, saying they must not make decisions in haste, and then Louis draws his knife to Louvois’ throat, screaming “Have you forgotten who I am??” It takes the abbess to remind them that they are in a house of God. Louis turns, looking rather sarcastic as he yells out “I KNOW God, abbess!” and hurls down his knife. “GOD! SPEAKS! THROUGH ME!” Okay, Louis is losing it.

The abbess calmly replies “you have a visitor, Sire,” which prompts a huh? WTAF look from Louis, and he turns and there, looking all clean and in control and so very restrained, stands William of Orange.

My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.

The camera returns to Louis, dirty and rough, and his look of ‘Ugh. Not you. This is not in my plans.’

End of episode. Merci for reading!

12 thoughts on “Versailles Series 2, Episode 6 – the one with the orgy

  1. Love your reviews! This isn’t a period I’m very familiar with so your interjections of the historical accuracy of it all is very helpful and interesting. I’m sad to hear about Claudine, there was so much more I wanted to know about her –
    this also leaves me wondering who’s going to heal all royals now seeing as she seemed to be the only one around with any actual knowledge of how bodies worked, oh well I guess the plot has to move along.
    Just wondering where/how you’re watching these episodes, I’ve struggled to find a copy of season two (in english), and my french isn’t quite good enough to follow along with the french unfortunately!

    1. Bonjour Mary, and merci! I an sure there are many more historical bits and pieces I could add – the wars, for example. But I cannot muster up enough enthusiasm for it because all that strategy and manoeuvres and things does my head in 🙁 I wonder if they will get a new doctor in S3? It does seem likely. Louis had a couple of them who wrote a medical journal of all the treatments and ailments he had. It’s a fascinating read. Louis’ final days where also documented by them.

      As to where I am getting the episodes…. that is a secret, I’m afraid 🙂

  2. I love your reviews! I had such a vested interest in Claudine and Fabien, already knew she died but reading it, just so sad…. I’m curious how you think she actually died? The person who came in and dragged her off, did he force her to take the red powder?

    1. Same here! They were such good foils – a mix of dark and light to balance each other out. And we do find out who and how she dies in the next ep, I think. But also remember, someone put the red powder on the lily that killed father Pascal, so it would be very easy to hold a cloth to her nose to force her to inhale.

  3. Hello Jules,
    Thanks for another awesome review! Poor Fabien…he has no luck with the ladies. I hope there is a good outcome for him somewhere in this series.
    A historical question for you: since Maintenon was so deeply pious, how did she view the King’s brother and his merry minions? She couldn’t have approved of the lifestyle, and was probably worried about appearing as if she did. Louis would have protected his brother in any event, so complaining to him probably was not an option. Any thoughts on this would be appreciated.
    Thanks!

  4. First time commenter; I’d expect that there would be some inaccuracies in an historical drama but the standard of writing has finally pissed me off. The elimination of Claudine is a good example. They rushed the get together and then killed her off to provide cheap revenge motivation for the Marchal character. It’s a lazy plot device and a waste of the actors chemistry. She was one of the more interesting female characters, if a bit anachronistic, and I have the impression Lizzie brocheres character is a bit sidelined in favour of plot lines little better developed than a Pantene ad. My guess is now they’ll shunt Marchal onto the Sophie character. Cheap. Bloody. Writing. And don’t get me fecking started on the rest of them. I’m done with this series. It’s stopped being fun, which was about all it could aim for.

  5. Hi,
    thanks for your lovely reviews, I’m really enjoying them. I must say I don’t always agree with your “historical notes” (too long to explain reasons) but I appreciate your efforts to get inside the real story.
    Having seen all the episodes (in french because I’m not so good with english) I’ll say I have so many historical issues that I can’t even begin with..and so many issues with the characters: Louis is a sort of sociopatic prat, Philippe a sort of emo (but still their interaction remains the best thing of the show), the chevalier de Lorraine a sissy drag queen (in saison 2, someone should explain us WHY Philippe should love him so much, because that’s not so evident…), Elisabeth-Charlotte seems to have grown up in a farm instead of a princely court…etc etc. But the show is still amusing and I enjoyed it despite all. Having seen episode 10, I guess season 3 will be the last and it will probably finish with Philippe’s death (and possibly with Louis’ mariage with Françoise Scarron, seeing how they’re messing up the chronology…).
    Just a little note…Louis giving the regency to the queen is actually the only accurate fact in episode 6. it was not a sign of trust, it was merely a tradition: wiith the king absent, regency was traditionally attributed to the queen (and Louis XIV actually attributed the regency to Marie-Thérèse while absent for a war campaign), there’s nothing surprising here.
    Congratulations for your work.

  6. I cannot believe they killed Claudine, she was my favourite character and I can so identify with her (I’m a military nurse serving with the British army). There was so much more that could have been done with her both as a medic and a woman. At least she didn’t die a virgin.

    Thank you for your previews, you really have a talent for making scenes live.

    Your name’s sake

    Jules

  7. BRB missing Claudine forever. Should I end the show here…? No jk, I’m too invested.

    Thanks again Jules!
    XOXO
    -Meera

  8. Meera, a few of us here wanted to abandon the show now Claudine is no more. It won’t seem the same but we’ll stick with it for now.

    Julie

  9. It’s one of those episodes when you have tears in your eyes, either with sadness or with laughter. After Claudine’s death, I am convinced that Fabien is already doomed by the writers to a lonely life forever. So he better not come too close to Sophie, because I do not want to lose her in season 3…

    As for our favourite tandem Monsieur/Chevalier, we roll our eyes when we hear their dialogues, but how beautiful they look together. Let’s turn off the sound and we can look at their scenes from the orgy for hours. Am I right? 🙂

    And you know what put a smile on my face? A short scene when Monsieur waits at the window for the outcome of sultan’s meeting with his advisers after Monsieur refused to sign the deal. He is very uncertain because he does not know whether he has gone too far or not. Maybe it’s just me, but I almost feel like he really wants to be a hero of the day and at the same time is aware that he can disappoint his brother. The relief on his face is so clear when the meeting is over. I wanted to give him the order for courage in taking risks ;-).

    Merci for writing, I start counting the days to the next episode…

  10. Did I miss something on how Isabella got poisoned? I thought they showed Montespan pouring out the poison when her conscience got the better of her after Isabella disclosed she was a virgin.

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