The one with the glorious return, the victory party and Philippe going off the rails – Versailles episode 5

After earlier reviews of Versailles? Read them in order, they’ll make more sense: Episode One, TwoThree and Four.


Screen Shot 2015-12-06 at 5.07.04 PMThe scene opens on a bloody battlefield, Philippe cradling his dead horse. Everyone slain. He is clearly shellshocked, with dead eyes and a blank expression, staring off into space. Interspersed with this desolate scene is another – Louis in his tent, dressed in his finery, surrounded by his ministers, his soldiers outside as he signs the treaty with great ceremony. He is well pleased at the deference paid, graciously accepts the applause with a smug little smile….. Until a mighty roar is heard outside and we see Philippe standing there, arms outstretched in victory, accepting his moment of glory and stealing it from Louis. I love this scene. It speaks so much to me, of their rivalry and of Louis’ clear anger and, yes, jealousy as his brother makes this glorious moment his.

Then we’re back on the deadly roads with Montcourt, where he shoots the King’s soldiers and steals the cargo. The King’s carriage rolls toward the scene, with Louis telling the queen about his mother, Anne of Austria, how scared she was during the Fronde, and how he has a plan to ensure something like that doesn’t happen again. The Queen assures him he is safe, with a guard and a palace and an army that march at his command.  Louis says: “they obey me, but they do not fear me.”  (This is such an interesting declaration, given that George Blagden (King Louis) has said in various interviews that he watched The Godfather as part of his preparation for the role).  Philippe appears at the door of the moving carriage, all casual-like, and declares himself bored (!) and wanting conversation, because “After you’ve killed as many Spaniards as I have, it’s difficult to talk about the weather.”  Lulz because, yeah. The Queen is sat right next to him and she is a Spaniard. The carriage is soon halted at the sight of the dead soldiers…… and an alive bad dude.  Excellent.

Screen Shot 2015-12-06 at 5.22.31 PMThe Chevalier strolls into Montespan’s rooms. Gosh, I do love his boldness – he gets everywhere 🙂 Montespan: “are you in the habit of loitering around ladies’ dressing rooms?” The Chevalier: “Every chance I get. I live for it. There is nothing more appealing than a lady at a toilette.” Montespan: “Is that so?” Chevalier: “No, I’m lying. There’s five things more appealing that I can think of right now – let’s see…. a warm fire, new stockings….. a down pillow, a gentle breeze on a summer’s day…………cabbages.” (AHAHAHAHA)  They have a hilarious, catty exchange, but the Chevalier scores with this riposte: “you do remind me of a swan on the river, did you know that? So graceful up on top but underneath, two fat flippers just thrashing away.”

Cut to Louis’ return to Versailles, where he tells Bontemps: “we have won the peace and now we must use it. We shall unite the country in celebration.” Ahhhhh, a party to impress the world, with every noble family to be represented.  A Grand Entertainment. Excellent! Another message is sent to Cassel (bad, bad nobleman, ignoring his king. He will get his punishment) and the soldiers are offered building work.

And now the Triumphant Warrior Philippe returns, flanked by Henriette, striding down the corridors to the sudden accompaniment of thumping of pikes by the Kings’ guards, a loud tattoo of arms that conveys their deepest respect for a returning hero and echoes throughout every room. Louis is getting dressed in front of his new mirror, Bontemps excuses the noise by saying: “the builders, I think.” Yeaaaaah, Louis knows that’s not true and he is pissed about it. Another little victory that he cannot let his brother have, apparently.

Screen Shot 2015-12-06 at 5.35.19 PMAnd then we see the Chevalier – oh, dear, so very nervous about Philippe’s return, it is SO SWEET – fussing with his hair and pinching his cheeks and finally sitting atop a desk, trying to look all casual. And I LOVE this pic, which pretty much sums up the Philippe-Chevalier-Henriette relationship right there.

Passionate man kissing (yay!) ….. and Philippe presents the Chevalier with a gift – a book he rescued from a burning monastery: “a volume of sacred anthems, written by men of chastity – naturally I thought of you.” The Chevalier flicks through it, remarks “someone’s scribbled in it – every page.”…. those scribbles look familiar – the cypher the spies have been using. Then he tosses it at Henriette:  “here, have a psalm,” and closes the doors on her.

versailles - ep5 m returns from war 1Finally, Philippe and the Chevalier alone. With a bed. After months of being apart.  Needless to say there is a flurry of frantic partial disrobing as the Chevalier says: “I have been waiting months for this.” Then suddenly, Philippe – sweet Philippe who we saw in the first episode so clearly dominated by his lover – turns the tables and wrestles the Chevalier to the bed, angrily declaring: “Lies! You wait for no one.” This is THE best scene of the episode, with Philippe getting all physical, pushing the Chevalier hard into the mattress and amidst a struggle imparting this wonderful little monologue: “Now that is the interesting thing about war… you learn so much about yourself. Do you know what I discovered on the line, my sweet Chevalier? When the enemy attacked, when the fighting was close and urgent and the blood was flowing bright and red… in the glorious moments nearest my death…..  my heart would thunder. And my breeches would grow tight because the sword inside them was hard and full, like a baby’s arm clenching his fist. Can you imagine? Being in the middle of a battle and your prick is set to burst? I never knew a Scotsman but now I know what a sporran is really for.”  Finally the Chevalier breaks free, angry and upset, and when Philippe grins and offers a hand, he slaps it away and storms from the room, into the antechamber, where Henriette is calmly sitting and reading the book.  Philippe is obvs quite a bit put out about the coitus interruptus, so when a maid enters, he asks: “you ever tasted champagne before?” (the maid shakes her head), he adds, “you may be about to,” puts his hand on her ass and closes the doors.

UntitledO.   M.   G.   The Chevalier, as shocked as what I must have looked (just LOOK at his little face!!!! OMG JUST LOOOOOOOK!! He even has tears in his eyes, the poor baby!!!), tosses his hair and declares to Henriette: “Honestly. I don’t know what you see in him,” then walks away.

Okay, now THIS scene I had a hard time swallowing (forgive the pun)  It is so totally at odds with what I know of the historical Philippe and the Chevalier. For one, Philippe wouldn’t have been able to overpower him because he was the tiny one.  Historical Philippe (with his love of jewels and make up and clothing and all things girly) is quite different from show Philippe who they have ‘hetero’d’ up to be the dominant one in the relationship, in control and quite forceful (for the female demographic, maybe? Dunno). Poor thing ends up storming around, quite the little ball of rage for most of the series. And second, the bed wrestling would have been massive foreplay for them 🙂  And lastly – historical Philippe bedding a woman in revenge for the Chevalier walking out? Not at all. He could barely stand to touch a female, let alone shag his own wife. And anyway, this is historical Chevalier’s modus operandi: they would argue, the Chevalier would have the upper hand (playing his mind games, assuring his position and control over Philippe, because Philippe was quite in love and needed him) and storm off and bed a female in retaliation (such a dramatic relationship!). I do believe historical Chevalier was father of a few illegitimate children in this way.

Screen Shot 2015-12-07 at 9.10.32 AMHOWEVER. Getting back to the show. With all the scenes I’ve first screamed “WTF NO WAY!” at and then re-watched (many, many times, such is my obsession), I realise it is totally within the show’s characters. Totally something show Philippe would do. Through his actions they are showing him to be a changed man from the one in Episode One. Bitter, yes. Hardened, certainly.  And as such, he will not be taking any more shit from the Chevalier, thank you. That’s not to say he doesn’t still love him. But….. it’s complicated, oui?  Also, Philippe has no idea the Chevalier has been threatened, had a knife to his throat and pretty much rendered helpless as he saw the pretty cellist’s throat cut in front of him.  So for the Chevalier to slap away Philippe’s hand, to storm from the room, to be so angry about being pinned to the bed… yep. I see that.  It’s exciting to see this relationship develop, especially in the following episodes when shit really does hit the fan.  Also, here’s another WTF NO Chevalier pic, just because.

Anyway. Back to things.

We’re with Louis and the Queen where she expresses concern: “We’re home but you have not arrived.” Louis replies: “the body travels on wheels. The soul travels on foot.”  (I love this quote – especially true for those who travel, oui? Srsly, we need a word for that feeling of abject disappointment you get when you return from travelling and have to go back to your normal life… UGH)  the Queen goes on: “I’ve never seen you in love before, until you came to Versailles.”  She is very cluey, this queen.  Of course she means the palace, and Louis quickly realises that. He shows his doubt… “they may not all come,” to which she replies: “you offer the stick, when you should offer the carrot. After all, what is it that men truly want? The answer is simple if you are a woman.” Louis smiles – he is well pleased.

Did I tell you how awesome the dialogue in this show is? So measured and thoughtful and free of modern slang. It’s a wonderful study in control and double entendres and hidden meaning and is just as revealing in the things that are not said or only implied. This scene also shows that the Queen, despite all the shit that’s happened prior to this, is all about being The Queen, supporting Louis as King and doing anything she can to aid him.

Now a salon scene with Henriette, Montespan and Louise de la Valliere.  They talk about if war was run by women and Louise adds: “It is clear that a man can love more than one woman. They make space for it. That’s why they can hold more hate in their heart.” Henriette, clearly disturbed by this, huffs off, while Montespan and Louise gossip: “She looks so sad.”  Montespan: “Oh, I wonder why?” Louise: “This is not for us to judge.” Montespan: “What else are we going to do all day?” 😀  A lovely little slice of insight into an average day at court, isn’t it? No wonder they were so obsessed with intrigue and favourites and food and sex and pleasure.  Also the little power plays going on: Louise asks Montespan to talk to Louis on her behalf, to be witty and charming where, she admits, she is not. Oh, the poor innocent dear. Louis will be in the chapel and encourages Montespan to go.

Cut to Louis in counsel with his men. “Cassel will come,” he declares. As usual Louvois voices his opposition, saying if he doesn’t then the other Northern nobles who are Cassel’s clients will not. “You will be all alone, Sire.” Louis’ face is all FFS, stop raining on my parade, Louvois! as he replies sharply: “how kind of you to remind me.”  UGH. Curse you, Louvois. Yeah, Colbert pipes up, telling him to watch his tongue (go, Colbert!) and then Philippe storms in on the tail end of Louvois’ comment about “Correct me if I’m wrong but we won the war.”  Philippe adds: “we would have. If you’d only let us.”  Yesssss. Another scene with Monsieur *heart eyes*   …..and OMG. Louis says: “Official business, brother. Let the men do their work.”

WAT. Yes. Louis is such a shit to Philippe sometimes I wanna stab him. Historically, this is exactly the thing Louis would do – he excluded Philippe from all discussions of state, war plans, finance, everything to do with running the country, basically. To keep him powerless and dependent on his good favour. So he would not eclipse the sun.

Screen Shot 2015-12-10 at 1.02.27 PMPhilippe replies: “Well, I think everyone knows the full reason why the war is over….. *dramatic pause* You’re standing in it.” Colbert tries to make excuses, but Louis replies: “Unlike Louvois, my brother knows exactly where he is standing. Of that I am sure.” Philippe: “Three cheers, then! Let us dance on the broken backs of your bravest men.”  Louis: “Cease.” Philippe, clearing mocking him: “Sorry, what was that…? Oh, you mean…. HALT. Now there is a command.”  Bontemps now jumps in, saying it’s clear Louis’ brother is not himself. Louis: “if not himself, then who is he?” And Philippe (with one of the best lines!) spreads his arms and replies cryptically: “I am the sound of distant thunder.”  Louis quickly clears the room, then says tightly: “you first act on your return is to mortify me, brother.”  Again, this says a lot – everything is always about Louis, non? Philippe: “You took my victory. So I take from you. Your pride.” Louis: “Your victory?” Philippe: “Your glory.” Louis, clearly irritated, repeats: “Your victory?” Philippe ignores him, continues: “And everything you hold dear.”   Oh, dear.

Screen Shot 2015-12-10 at 1.21.58 PMLouis, now disturbed, says: “You are not well.” Philippe: “I do wish you could see yourself. Deaf to advice. Blinded by sin. Indifferent to everything but your own dreams. No matter how great you will have your palace.”   Philippe is so furious, knowing Louis was sure of the outcome of the war even before the first cannons fired: “Good men died in the lie that you spun!” And now we have Louis mentioning their conversation in the woods: “You said you would have my back!” (this is the third mention of this line in the series – The Power of Three at work again!) Philippe turns and walks slowly behind him, replies as always: “where am I now?”  This is delivered in such a dark voice, in such marked contrast to the other two times… almost with malevolent intent. Combined with the accompanying soundtrack, it is quite the subtle threat. Then Philippe leaves without permission, another subtle show of disrespect for Louis’ authority. Louis of course, is mega pissed.

Back to the duc de Cassel, where he has received his party invite and is not impressed. Also not impressed with Montcourt for attacking a King’s convoy, stealing his barrels of wine and killing his driver. “We didn’t have accurate information,” says Montcourt. Soldiers have returned, there’s more men on the road, his ‘fine and loyal’ servant is dead (oh ho! No he’s not!) and now could be traced back to him, Cassel goes on. Poor diddums seems to have 99 problems. No witnesses were left alive, Montcourt assures him. Ha!

Next scene – In storms Marchal to female doctor Claudine’s home. “The King commands you to save this man. His heart is still beating. Now, I am not medically-minded, but I would consider that a good omen.”  Claudine: “he’s too far gone, it would take a miracle.” She asks for the saw: “He can lose his life or his leg. Your choice.”  Ewwww….. amputation at its finest in 17th century France.  While this is happening, Claudine directing everyone for water, a belt, the saw, it shows her in charge and in command and all the men automatically do her bidding.  In comparison her father Masson is sat, looking on and looking a little helpless. We all know this is Claudine’s moment. Marchal came directly to her, to tell her to save the man’s life. You go, girl.

Cut to Montespan and Louis in the chapel where Louis says: “I believe you know a man of interest to me – the Duc de Cassel.” And the look on her face, combined with her cold words: “Yes. I am quite well acquainted with that person,” tells us so much. And automatically my mind goes to unpleasant things… a suspicion that is confirmed later: “when I was a young girl, I knew him very well. I don’t care to remember it.”  Louis pauses (and I would like to think he feels at least a little remorse here… maybe not) then says “I want you to pay him a visit.” His idea is that Cassel will be swayed by charm and beauty where demands and force have previously failed.  “and when you return, you shall also have your reward.” Ahh, we know what that is – special Louis sexytimes.  I like how we have a little glimpse into Montespan’s backstory here, showing us through a few lines of dialogue that there is more under the surface. This is how a skilled writer works and I love seeing it on screen.  Is it historically accurate? No idea. (I currently have Lisa Hilton’s The Real Queen of France on my shelf to read, so this will tell me more).

A scene with de Clermont and Sophie in their rooms now, with Sophie’s mother discovering her daughter is exchanging notes with the handsome builder.  Mommy dearest is very angry: “you have not a clue what you’re dealing with and what you’re doing to me!” Sophie must promise not to see the boy: “if you do, you will destroy everything I’ve worked for.” She tells Sophie that the King is demanding their papers, Sophie cottons on that their proof is not coming. They are not who they claim to be, they were both born Huguenot – protestants – which is a MASSIVE problem for the Catholic-dominated France (also massive problem for the Lorraine-Guise branch, who are as Catholic as they come). Plus, protestants have a history of killing kings and generally being hated and persecuted, especially what with the rebellion, the Huguenot-run Fronde that features in Louis’ nightmares. They will hang if the King finds out.  Sophie cries (yeah, I would too) de Clermont comforts her… then slaps her and basically tells her to harden up and shut up and do exactly what she tells her.  Such a delightful mother.

A few short scenes follow: Montespan telling Sophie she is to accompany her to the duc de Cassel (the man is looking and sounding more like a Game of Thrones bad guy with every scene) to deliver a message.  The gardener Jacque advising the builder (Benoit) that “a woman will find a way of bringing you trouble, even when she doesn’t know she’s doing it.”  And Louis with Henriette, saying he’s stolen Sophie to accompany Montespan…. an awkward silence ensues, then he glances at the book she is reading: “My husband brought it back from the front. ’twas a present for the Chevalier.” Louis: “a hand-me-down.” Henriette: “I’m used to it.” U.G.H.  Still not sorry for her.  Louis scans the book then realises the markings on the pages are the same as those of the spy’s cypher.  (yay!)

Screen Shot 2015-12-11 at 7.16.05 PMAnd now the Chevalier with his cousin de Clermont. He is furious to find out Sophie was seen leaving with Montespan, demands a full daily report on Henriette on the girl’s return: “who she meets, who she writes.”  De Clermont realises that’s why Sophie was given the position and the Chevalier expresses his disappointment that she didn’t know. “I would’ve thought you were two steps ahead of me at all times. If I were you, I’d make sure of it.”  This scene is a nice reveal of the Chevalier’s power and influence, and how much he demands. He’s also furious at the delay of her papers: “it’s beginning to reflect poorly on me.”  So he has no clue she’s a pretender.

So, this bit. I was all “yeeeeah, how can the Chevalier not know his cousin is a fake?” But as someone more educated in these matters tells me, ‘cousin’ is a kind of fluid title and it is quite possible for large families such as the Lorraines to have far-flung relatives in all corners of France.  And if they haven’t met for many years or even not at all, and if their mutual acquaintances were dead or uncontactable (remember it took DAYS to send letters!) then it was quite possible the Chevalier did not know. She could have researched the family and just turned up and as an expert liar, duped everyone. Which seems is the case here.

Now we are back with Louis, Bontemps, Louvois and Marchal with the results of Marchal’s deciphering of the cypher. The book came from the Spanish Netherlands, suggesting that’s where the murder plot at the beginning of Ep1 originated, and implicates the Dutch and William of Orange.  Supporters of the We Hate Louis club are amongst his court. This is not good.  (historical note: William of Orange inherited the principality of Orange from his father, William II. His mother Mary was the daughter of King Charles I of England, making William related to Henriette.  Yes, it is all so very confusing at times, what with the habit of cousin marrying cousin to keep ‘the bloodlines pure’ (ironically, consanguinity is a particular worry because of the genetic disorders it creates…. such was the terrible fate of the House of Habsburg).

Screen Shot 2015-12-11 at 7.17.45 PMCut to a scene that is…. odd, to say the least. Philippe is in Louise de La Vallière’s bedchamber, actively seducing her while she, still half asleep, believes him to be his brother. I didn’t really understand the point of this scene to begin with – yes, we have established Philippe also likes girls on occasion, but Louise? He says it himself: “I am his brother. I will always be his brother. You are just merely passing through.” What is the point of claiming his brother’s soon-to-be cast off?  But now I think about it, I have come to the conclusion this was included to show a) the slow spiralling downfall of Philippe, and b) his calculated efforts to strike back at Louis through his women. This is reiterated through Philippe’s bitter little dialogue: “It feels warm when the sun shines. But when he’s done with you, all the lights will go out.”

Screen Shot 2015-12-11 at 7.23.02 PM A few more short scenes: Montespan and Sophie (and the costumes are all rather glorious!) and quite a bit more insight into Montespan’s vague past is revealed, including Cassel’s icky creepiness.  Marchal has deciphered the messages for Louis. And then dinner with Montespan,  Sophie and Cassel, where Montespan really plays her cards, saying if the Duc cannot come to the party, the party will come to him – builders and soldiers and workers to transform his home to receive the many thousands of Louis’ court, all at the Duc’s expense. Of course, this is A Very Bad Thing for him because as Montespan coolly points out:  “your chateau is a bit like you, Cassel. A decent exterior but underneath the facade, rotten to the core.”  It also becomes clear that Cassel is a nasty creeper with a taste for young girls. Unsurprising that he finally agrees to go to Versailles as he creeps on sweet Sophie (all of sixteen years old).

A short scene were Marchal is being bad – plucking out the eye of the man Claudine has saved in order to get information about the dead Parthenays. Of course, the man gives up Cassel’s name.

And now we have Louis entering Henriette’s bedchamber, with Philippe seemingly passed out on her bare stomach. They talk about him as he sleeps the sleep of a drunken man, and they sound so very concerned in light of his recent disturbing behaviour. I do think Louis is genuinely concerned, and yes, Henriette certainly goes through the motions of caring, but for her, I always think it comes across as false. There’s been too many scenes where she has said one thing against Philippe, then turned around and lied to his face. I just don’t believe her.  She even assures Louis that Philippe consumed so much wine, he just passed out. Like that, on her naked stomach.  The “it’s not what it looks like, we totally didn’t shag” subtext is pretty clear.

Screen Shot 2015-12-11 at 7.24.42 PMThe next day Louis talks with Jacques in the gardens as the construction goes on around them, asking him what war can do to a man when he returns home. I really enjoy the scenes with these two – it shows that Louis seeks advice not just from the ministers and nobles in his little universe, but also from people who have lived real lives and experienced things outside court. Jacque is a former soldier and full of knowledge, and tells Louis: “No man leaves the battlefield the same way as he entered. Many see ghosts. Even the sound of a fountain can spark memories. Some go mad. Some take to drink. Some take their own lives.”  We learn that Jacques lost three sons in the King’s name, on the battlefield, and we see a brand of the fleur-de-lis on his chest, indicating at some stage, he rebelled.

Screen Shot 2015-12-11 at 6.13.53 PMAnd so to the final scenes – Louis’ grand celebration of victory. We see a few familiar faces, the nobles parade themselves up to the royal table in the gardens for Louis to smile and nod and dispense his favour. They bow to their glorious sun king, the music, the lights and the entertainment are glorious, and everyone is well pleased. (In an interview, the producers have said Louis XIV was the first to use branding and we can see it here in abundance, with the sun motifs throughout not only Versailles, but also in the party decorations.  He was indeed The Sun King).  And oh, look, here comes Cassel, a bit mollified with sweet Sophie on his arm… until Montespan flounces in and rescues her. Cassel is livid, uses the C-word, but hey, Montespan is a woman of the world and is all so blasé and “whoopty-do, so what?’ : “I know you meant to shame us by calling us the name of our sex but I am, of course,  a c**t and proud of it. You, if I remember correctly, are a prick. A tiny, shrivelled prick.”  Go, Athénaïs 😀   I don’t blame her – she’s very happy at having achieved the task Louis gave her and will most definitely enjoy her reward.  And the outcome is all rather delicious, seeing Louis in his victory, that oh-so-charming and full-of-promises smile he gives to Montespan, Marchal whispering in his ear “it is done, Sire,” then offers his hand for Cassel to kiss in front of everyone, then Louis lowering it further… further… so Cassel has to bend down in subservience. “Bow to your king,” commands Louis. Brill.

Screen Shot 2015-12-11 at 7.27.09 PMThen we see Montespan in a moment of vulnerability, breaking down in the chapel….. Sophie and her builder Benoit having a bit of a flirt (and eventually a kiss)….. And an awesome scene between Louis and Cassel.  Louis:  “As children we are told not to play with fire. (looks to the entertainers) But they seem to enjoy it.” Cassel: “I see no merit in it. No skill. Louis (casually): “Oh, I don’t know. They say a little burning is good for the soul. Don’t you think?” Cassel: “Joan of Arc might disagree with you. Or Lucifer.” Louis (pondering) : “I fancy that in another life we might have been friends, Cassel.” Cassel (curtly): ” I don’t give myself to fancy. I have no time for it.” Louis: “that gives me surprise.” Cassel: “I don’t care for those either.” ……And Louis smiles, brief and yet with such a world of inference behind it. “How unfortunate for you,” he replies calmly.

versailles-ep5-for-blog-12Great dialogue full of subtext. Then the fireworks start to go off, Louis smiles, Cassel looks fed up, finally gets jack of the whole thing, bows and takes his leave. Louis (amused): “so soon?” Cassel: “I’ve seen burning paper before.” And Louis gives him this look…. so delicious. We know something is afoot.

Philippe turns up and offers Louis wine.  It seems the two brothers are a bit more relaxed now – Louis says he is pleased Philippe is here, Philippe says he is inclined to believe him.  De Clermont meets Marchal and they stroll (and eventually shag). And as the fireworks go off, Philippe suddenly has a flashback, to the war.  This is handled very skilfully, and we see what Philippe sees – so much death and destruction and fire and confusion.  Philippe takes off, towards the fireworks and Louis follows.  And as the partying and noise are going on outside, a masked figure is in the chapel, placing a note inside the stone alter – secret spy correspondence.   Back to Philippe, to his eventual collapse in the gardens, so very distressed, where he tells Louis of the man on the battlefield, carrying his dead brother in the sack to return home. “Would you do that for me, I wondered? I know I would, but you? I do not know.”  Louis, quite a bit angry, says: “You think because I am King that I am not also a brother? That I have all that I want and yearn for nothing? Even a King cannot live the life that he would want to live.  It is you who may live those moments for me. It is you who truly lives the life yearned for by a king.” He pauses, says a little more gently: “The war still rages in you.”  Philippe whispers: “It will never cease.” And Louis, going for levity, replies with a little smile: “You mean ‘halt’.” ………and it goes right over Philippe’s head because the poor thing is still very much in turmoil, says: “You cannot resist the last word, can you?”  Louis, in his moment of compassion and love, says quietly: “brother…” and goes to embrace Philippe. But little-ball-of-pent-up-emotion-and-rage Philippe shoves him back, says tightly: “Go. Leave me. I command you.” Louis is shocked, yet he does what Philippe asks and storms off… and as he does, the camera catches his mask of fury dissolve into a smile. A smirk? A victory smirk?  I so don’t get that… is he pleased with Philippe’s turmoil and distress? Or happy that Philippe is fighting back instead of going quietly insane? Or just amused by the whole thing? I have no clue. *when asked about this scene, George Blagden reveals Louis was smiling because he was pleased Philippe was ‘back in his place’ as the second brother and emotionally distressed, and did it all by himself, without major effort on Louis part. UGH. Louis, I hate you sometimes. But now Louis has more important things on his mind, and that is Montespan. We learn in a few short lines, so sharply delivered without unnecessary lingering or over-dramatisation, that Cassel abused Montespan when she was twelve.  Louis says: “I am grateful to you, Madame. You understand more than all of them…. That in order to rule, the first thing you must learn is sacrifice.”  What they both need is a distraction from all the crap around them. And get distracted they do – with a good, hard, passionate snog. Yay!

I have to say here that the entire series has the most powerful soundtrack, and it is especially noticeable in these garden scenes – dark, moody scenes with lots of emotion and moodiness.

Screen Shot 2015-12-11 at 7.34.32 PMNow we are back with Cassel the morning after, and he is standing in front of the ruins of his still-burning chateau, the camera panning out to reveal the man Claudine saved (now-dead with his missing eye) strapped to Cassel’s carved dining chair. A King’s guard steps up and says the King requires Cassel’s noble papers (amusingly, this is the same guard who was present when Cassel mocked the portrait Louis sent him. How satisfied that guard must feel… he kinda looks it, too). Cassel says they are ashes. “Then you are without proof,” says the guard. “Only true nobles are exempt from tax. Arrears to be repaid in full.” Cassel: “I have nothing. It is all gone.” Guard: “Then you are in the King’s debt. Place this man under arrest!” Meanwhile Montcourt hears this exchange as he hides in the bushes. That man is bound to turn up again, I know it.

And there we leave Episode Five. Merci for reading!

7 thoughts on “The one with the glorious return, the victory party and Philippe going off the rails – Versailles episode 5

  1. Christine L

    I was confused over the smirk/smile too, but after re-watching, came to the conclusion that it was the thought of giving Madame du Montespan her ‘reward’ that brought him out of his angst.
    I agree about the soundtrack. It’s the perfect accompaniment. I listen through headphones to pick up some of the subtler tones. The opening credits artwork and music are amazing too.

    1. JulesHarper Post author

      Hi Christine!

      When George was asked about the smirk, he said that it was because Philippe had put himself back down, under Louis, and it was all his own doing, that Louis didn’t have to do a thing to put him there. TERRIBLE LOUIS. But excellent acting on George’s part 🙂

      1. Teresa

        “Philippe had put himself back down, under Louis, and it was all his own doing”

        How exactly had he “put himself back down”? I’m not sure I understand the explanation. I thought perhaps Louis was pleased at Philippe’s distress because he believed it put paid to any future interest on his brother’s part in returning to battle. Is that what was meant by Philippe putting himself “back down, under Louis”?

        “And Louis, going for brevity, replies with a little smile: “You mean ‘halt’.” ”

        Did you perhaps mean “levity” here? (Please don’t ban me from your blog! LOL)

        1. JulesHarper Post author

          ahhh, I didn’t see this!

          So, ‘put himself back down’ as in ‘putting himself in his place, being weak and vulnerable, the second son, therefore below Louis.’

  2. Lee

    I totally binge watched the entire first season”with” you, lol… Initially, I would read your review after the episode, but I just got so engrossed that I would read as I watched! So thank you!
    I did want to offer a penny for your thoughts: my absolute favorite scene was Phillipe standing behind the king, saying “where am I now?”… I interpreted it differently than you. He was pleasing for his brother’s trust by revealing how intimately he knew the king- and his flaws. I think he was proving what it truly means to have someone’s back- telling them the truth about themselves. It seemed the most timeless and universal message- the people who genuinely have your best interest at heart will risk being uncomfortable, or worse, to tell the truth about you. I had goosebumps thinking that I, that all of us, if blessed with someone that has our back, will have to stand in the kings place one day, and make a choice: our own righteousness, or good and wise counsel.

    1. JulesHarper Post author

      Hi Lee!

      I love this scene too – and I totally got all of what you say from the from the first time Philippe said it, in Ep1. But for the purposes of ep5, the writers have taken a statement so indicative of Philippe’s devotion to Louis, so unquestioning of where his loyalty lies, and flipped it. It feels so much more menacing and really gets the viewer questioning everything about Philippe’s loyalty. If I made a list of themes for Season 1, I would put ‘loyalty’ high on that, even possibly at number one.


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