The one with Henriette’s return, the rules of etiquette and the beheading – Versailles episode 9

For reviews of previous eps, you can read them here: One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven and Eight.  SPOILER ALERT!!!!  So don’t read if you don’t like that kind of thing. Not that there’s anything wrong with it.


Nearly finished, mes amis!  Get reading for loads of stuff culminating for the final ep.

We open with Louis taking a private stroll in the gardens of Versailles, with Bontemps approaching to inform him of Henriette’s safe arrival in England, and how she will be in Dover soon. Louis asks “was I wrong to send her?” I find it interesting that he never shows his doubt to strangers or others; he only seeks advice from a select few, of which Bontemps is one. Jacques the gardener is another. Also interesting how Philippe is not one of these. Bontemps of course assures him she will return.

versailles - ep9 for blogA fabulous shot of Versailles under construction and we are back inside, in Louis’ chambers conducting business. A letter from the King of Sweden has arrived, telling Louis he has agreed to break his alliance with the Dutch and support the French. He then asks about the prisoner, the one who tried to kill Henriette, and of course, Rohan looks quite interested in this when Bontemps says Marchal is questioning him. Louis commands Marchal to him, and Rohan looks quite a bit worried. Ugh. What a snake.

We briefly cut to Henriette aboard a ship, looking stoic as she approaches England…. then back to Marchal, doing his usual ‘questioning’ technique that involves quite a bit of punching and physical violence. Nice one. He calmly asks questions, all the while obvs preparing for something nasty. Then he asks in the same tone of voice “did you know that if you drive a spike through a precise spot in the skull, the victim will retain his capacity for thoughts and speech but would otherwise be paralysed for the remainder of his life?” Then he places a spike to the Unmasked Man’s head and yeah, the guy knows Marchal means business because the dude says quickly “I never saw him. He left me a note. Always in a different place.” You can see Marchal trying to work out if this is the truth or a lie…. he tosses the spike aside. So, the truth for now. And it’s the same reply the Chevalier has given. But a smart move on Rohan and de Clermont’s part, which ensures their identity cannot be revealed, even under torture. Then Marchal starts firing questions at him, and it is such a commonly used interrogation technique I had to smile – questions that Marchal knows the answers to, followed by ones he doesn’t. Designed to trip up the prisoner into revealing something. Where did you work before the police force? Do you know William of Orange? You should be scared. Does he give you money? And of course, the prisoner says he’s never been to Holland…. which Marchal has never mentioned at all. Lucky for him, Bontemps appears and says the King wants to see him.

versailles - ep9 for blog2We’re back now with Henriette arriving at Dover castle. Historically, Louis was taking a massive chance on this meeting, entrusting it to the sister of the man whom he needed to get on side with France. And it’s a wonderfully shot scene, showing Henriette’s private doubt and trepidation, wondering if she can pull it all off. “I was not made for this. I do not have the courage,” she whispers to Sophie. “You will find the courage in the doing of it, your Highness.” I almost feel sorry for her 🙂 And in she walks to await Charles, into a massive, cold, vacant hall, quite daunting and dark. It really is a wonderful visual of the enormity of her task, and the internal doubt she feels.

With Marchal off to see Louis, Rohan takes the opportunity to free the prisoner, stabbing both guards in the process and commanding him to Paris to see their ‘mutual friend’ for the 20 men he needs.

Back to Henriette and we see a jovial Charles II (Daniel Lapaine) walk in, all delighted to see his beloved Minette again. He looks rather happy and very much like the actual Charles, I was smiling when I saw him. I have a soft spot for Charles, who was pretty much all about having fun and bringing gaiety, parties and general merriment back to England after the horrors of Civil War and Cromwell rule. He wants to be all sweet and brotherly but Henriette quickly puts him straight, saying “I come not as your sister, but as an emissary of France.” A little disappointed, he agrees and gets straight to business, clearly not knowing how determined Henriette is to obtain his agreement. In short, Charles basically says nup, don’t like Louis’s offer. “He seems to see England as a small, insignificant neighbour with no ambitions of its own. He wishes us to stand by while he invades Holland and steals their trade. This is unacceptable.” Charles goes on, reiterating the flaws he sees while his advisors eyeball Henriette and Henriette listens to her brother with a ‘oh, no, this is all going to shit’ look on her face. Charles pauses, awaiting her response…. and for a moment she seems to think, to observe and we wonder whether she will break under the weight of Charles logical and calm rebuttal, an indulgent smile on his face. Then…. oh, this is good. She says simply, “how much do you want?” Charles looks confused: “I beg your pardon?” To which Henriette says more determinedly, “You are bankrupt.” After Charles laughs nervously, she continues: “Six years ago, the city of London was struck by a plague. Two years later, it was destroyed by fire. You are bankrupt but prefer not to admit it. I ask again. How much?” Oh, the look on Charles’ face. Priceless. “this is really not how one conducts these matters,” he gently chides her. “It is how I conduct them,” she replies calmly. Charles is getting a bit annoyed: “My dear sister-” Nup. None of that shit. Henriette interjects: “I prefer you to address me as your Highness.” Ahhhh! A few covert looks between all the men – how alarming! How…. unexpected! A woman not knowing her place! With a sigh, Charles finally nominates a figure. Henriette countermands with a lower amount, plus a personal guard. Now we are getting somewhere. “What do I want with a personal guard?” Charles asks, confused. “To protect your head. Brother.” Yes, we all know what happened to his father, Charles I, when the people are unhappy with their king.

We are now back with Louis, who asks Marchal if he’s sure William of Orange is behind the plot. Yes, Marchal assures him, and he will extract any info from the prisoner, however, “his masters would ensure he knows only what is necessary.” Louis wishes to speak to him… and off they go, to discover the two dead guards and the prisoner long gone. Louis surveys the room: “This is unfortunate.” I love his ironically understated lines 🙂 Unfortunate because… “-for me because I am no longer safe in my own home. For France because William of Orange will soon be wearing her crown. And for my Head of Security because it is not the first time he has failed in his duties and he no longer has the trust of his employer.”  UGH. Poor Marchal. At this point, I was wondering whether Louis would kick him out and if Marchal was the kind of man who would go ‘well, FU” and turn on Louis…. because there is a streak of ruthlessness to him that treads a thin line. I sincerely hoped not, because Louis already has a traitor in his midst: he doesn’t need another turncoat. Surprisingly, Bontemps comes to Marchal’s aid, telling Louis he believes Marchal to be a man of trust and duty, and without him, Louis would not be alive today.

Back to Henriette and the cold hall of Dover castle, where she awaits the verdict of her counter offer. Of course, they agree and history is made, with Henriette to return to France with the Treaty signed. Yay! Charles then asks if he can trust Louis – and he is asking as brother to sister, not as sovereign. “Of course. You both share the same ambitions.” Charles doubts that. “Louis wishes to place himself at the centre of the universe. I do not.” Henriette: “He wants to be known by posterity as a great king. Not you?” “No,” Charles replies wryly. ” My ambitions are more modest. I wish to be known as a king who did no harm to anyone.”

versailles - ep9 for blog3Versailles again, with Louis listening to a presentation from the astronomer Giovanni Cassini: “The sun is the centre. The heart. The mother of the universe. Without its warmth and light, all life is gone. Man will cease to exist.” The parallels we draw between the actual sun and Louis are not lost here. And I suspect this is done deliberately by Louis, to basically big note himself and indicate how great and wonderful he is, without obvious fawning. It’s skilful flattery, done very well. And Philippe leans in: “one could almost believe he was talking about you.” He gets it, too 🙂 ) Then Cassini says the topography of France has already begun, and that the preliminary measurements indicate France is not so big as they thought. “No one can argue with the truth, Sire. Not even a king.” This is a telling moment…. Louis appears to be thinking, things seem to be a little tense… even Philippe glances down… then Louis stands and says “I bow before the power of scientific truth.” to which Cassini looks mightily relieved he gets to keep all his body parts. Louis leaves, not exactly in a good mood, then commands Philippe to him. “I confess to being disappointed in you. I asked you to take charge of court etiquette. You promised to think about it. Your thinking seems to have lead nowhere.” Philippe: “you know perfectly well that your proposition does not interest me in the least.” (haha!) Louis: “It’s not really a proposition. I suggest you think about it again, in the hope that this time, your thinking bears fruit.” Subtext: It was a command from your king, not a bloody suggestion. Just do it.

Now we are in a salon, with Louis and Rohan gambling and everyone observing. Lord, what a life it must be, your every move and gesture watched and scrutinised! Rohan admits he cheated at cards when they were children, and Louis never noticed. “Of course, you wouldn’t dare to cheat now,” Louis adds. “Oh I fear I don’t need to,” says Rohan (more subtext!). And Louis loses, owning Rohan 25,000 francs. Marchal strides in, advises Louis the prisoner is long gone. Rohan observes, and then Marchal’s gaze drifts over to de Clermont, and they share a look…. her kind of nervous but not showing it, and he looking very cool and calm. Almost ruthless. Next we see Marchal in her apartments, searching through her things. He finally finds a vial hidden in the lining of her dress.

Historical note: I confessed not knowing what Rohan’s deal was in Episode Three, but after a little research I found Chevalier Louis de Rohan, who was a good friend of Philippe Jules Mancini, Duc de Nevers, and his sister Hortense Mancini (nephew and niece to Cardinal Mazarin, Louis’ Chief Minister of State who died in 1661. Jules was Philippe’s first lover, and Hortense famously went on to become Charles II’s mistress). Rohan, with Jules, helped Hortense escape the clutches of her abusive husband, the Duc de Mazarin. He was Grand Huntsman of France then colonel of the king’s guard, but had to resign the former because of the whole Hortense Mancini escape and the Duc de Mazarin had a big dummy spit at Louis because of it. On top of that, Rohan apparently tried to seduce Montespan, and all this pissed off Louis so much he had him banished for a bit. Then in 1674, Rohan was embroiled in the Conspiracy Latréaumont, a plot to overthrow Louis XIV (interesting also to note this conspiracy involved the Comte de Guiche, who was a former lover of both Philippe and Henriette and quite a horrible piece of work. It is all rather incestuous, isn’t it?).

Back to the gambling tables where Louis is out by two million francs (!) (Colbert saying worryingly “It is not certain we have two million francs in the palace.”) and decides to retire. Montespan asks if she can recoup his losses; Louis says she knows where to find him if she succeeds. And off he goes.

We are now with Claudine, who is still dressed in her men’s garb and eating dinner. I love how she just doesn’t care to change back into a dress anymore 🙂 Marchal arrives, wants to know about the vial. And Claudine does her alchemy thing, mixing powders and potions to reveal the truth. I can see how fascinated Marchal would be with this – he is a man of great intelligence and constantly seeks knowledge. Claudine has great knowledge and despite their seemingly opposite characters (she upholds and saves lives, he is so cavalier with it and inflicts pain to get what he wants) they are both seekers of the truth. I would love to see them both develop more together.

Now we are in Louis’ bedchamber and Montespan is announced. “Am I still king?” Louis asks. “Still king, still my master,” Montespan replies. There’s a bit of flirty talk, so subtle and quite sexy. Louis: “how did you subdue your enemy?” Montespan: “by playing a silly little girl and by using my feminine wiles. And… by being better than him.” Montespan then drops her robe and wha-hey, nekkidness.

Versailles - ep9 for blog 6Next morning, we see the Chevalier and Philippe (finally!) at opposite ends of their dining table, the Chevalier hoeing into a plate of macarons while Philippe tosses away his noms and complains “I can’t remember the last time I was actually hungry.” The Chevalier says casually, “What did the king mean…? About etiquette?” Philippe: “Some hair brained idea of his to make me look a fool. He wishes me to draw up a list of rules telling people how to behave at court. He wants to turn us all into puppets.” The Chevalier, in a lovely little bit of verbal manipulation that touches on the actual historical Chevalier, says “is it such a bad idea?” Philippe: “Yes.” The Chevalier: “I think…. it’s possible… you underestimate your brother. And may – potentially – allow envy to blind you to his talents.” Philippe: “I do not underestimate him at all. I merely see him as he really is.” The Chevalier makes a face: “What better way to keep everyone under control than by dictating their every word and movement? It’s brilliant.” Philippe makes a face: “If you say so.” The Chevalier: “Besides, you cannot ignore the fact that he gave me back to you.” Philippe: “You mean I am indebted to him.” The Chevalier: “Yes, my dear. (Philippe headdesks the back of the chair) It must be torture for you.” With a grin, The Chevalier stands and takes up a quill and paper. “What for?” Asks Philippe. “My darling,” says the Chevalier, wielding the quill, “we are going to turn the nobles of Versailles into obedient servants. (Philippe’s lips curve – he is warming to the idea). From now on, everyone will know how to be, from dawn until dusk. How to walk, how to talk. How to address a man, how to address a woman. How to sit… where to sit.” He pulls up a chair, excited about the task. “How to behave. In front of the king. And you, my stallion, will be the Master of Ceremonies.” Versailles - ep9 for blog 5He grins, clearly pleased with himself. Philippe leans in. “You’re mad.” The Chevalier paints the quill feather gently across Philippe’s chin and utters the most memorable lines of the episode (if not the series): “Let’s be mad together.” And the grin Philippe gives him, so full of impish glee… And I just… AHHHHHHH! YESSS.

New scene, with Louis at shooting practice, Marchal at his side. Marchal asks for permission to deal with de Clermont as he sees fit. “You would have her tortured?” Louis asks calmly as he takes aim. “No,” says Marchal. “I feel that would bring her more pleasure than pain.” Louis asks about Sophie: Marchal says if she were involved, then her Highness (aka Henriette) would be dead. Louis is pissed off, believing the influence of William of Orange is everywhere. Marchal thinks it will put an end to his efforts, Louis believes it will only encourage him to go further.

Now we are back at Dover Castle, with William of Orange (George Webster) being shown in to see Charles II. W of O is pissed – he says he saw a French ship leave port. Charles nonchalantly replies: “a cargo of wine and cheese.” W of O doesn’t believe it. Charles: “well, I shall make some enquiries if it bothers you so.” LULZ. Then W of O gets a bit demanding, wanting to know what the king’s sister- in-law was doing here. Bit of a cheek. Charles: “she was visiting her brother. Do brothers and sisters not visit each other in Holland?” (I love Charles <3 ) W of O is unimpressed: “If I were in Louis’ shoes and I wanted to attack Holland, the first thing I would do is approach her allies.” During this, Charles has a ‘Ugh. Right. Rant away, little man’ face on. But W of O is right on the mark with his assumption – sending Charles’ sister and offering money as an incentive. Charles puts on his bitch face and deals his trump card: “your argument would carry much weight, but for one glaring weakness. Would I join forces with Louis and attack the Dutch, if I was about to propose a marital alliance to the man who will soon be King of Holland?” Cue confused face for W of O. Then Charles presents his niece, William’s first cousin, Mary (who looks all of about eleven). They are as good as hitched.

Historical note: William and Mary went on to rule Britain after they deposed James II of England, who had succeeded Charles II.  It’s all quite fascinating.

We are back with Henriette and Sophie, and a bit of girly chat, with Henriette asking about Sophie’s home. Does she miss it? No. Maybe she is seduced by dreams of a good marriage, power, fortune… “perhaps,” Henriette adds with a smile, “even a place next to the king?” UGH. I see what you do there. As Sophie looks awkward, Henriette glances away. “Don’t worry. We all are.” Then she offers a warning. “Beware, Sophie. You live in the most exciting place in the world. It is easy to lose yourself in it. The most important thing of all is to belong.” Then goes all sad and silent as Sophie asks for clarification.

Versailles - ep9 for blog 9Back with Bontemps reading the Rules of Etiquette, with Philippe and the Chevalier standing patiently like two schoolboys awaiting the verdict of their report from a teacher. I LOVE this scene. A bit of humour, and a wonderful show of command in Bontemps’ role as he vets everything to go before the king. Finally Bontemps says: “does his Majesty know of this?” Philippe: “it was his Majesty’s idea.” Bontemps goes back to reading.  Philippe: “We rely on you to transmit this information to every noble in the palace. And anyone who is seen transgressing the rules of etiquette shall be sanctioned.” (I love the grin Philippe gives right here!) Bontemps is not impressed: “I feel they may baulk at such an imposition on their daily lives.” The Chevalier comes in with: “sooner or later, even the wildest horse accepts the halter.” Oooooh, dirty double entendre. Bontemps: “Very well.” The look of relief on the Chevalier and Philippe’s face is just… 😀 Gets me every time.

Versailles - ep9 for blog 11We’re now with Louis and Louvois, discussing war again, when Louis sees Henriette’s carriage arrive from the window. Louis wants the troops in uniform and ready for battle by the Spring, then he strides out, practically hurrying across the courtyard to welcome Henriette home, where they then have a little banter about the English weather.

Historical note: Henriette was welcomed home at the chateau Saint-Germain-en-Laye, and Philippe was still hugely pissed off that a) the Chevalier was in exile in Rome and b) Henriette was sent in the first place, so he refused to go and meet his wife. Massive breach of etiquette and created quite a bit of a furore. So Louis went by himself.

Now we’re with de Clermont in her rooms, as she frantically searches for the missing vial of poison that Marchal now has. Sophie walks in, pleased that Henriette is to introduce her to a duke. But de Clermont is still distracted, saying she’s lost a brooch. Sophie says they will be safe if she marries a duke, then asks why her mother knew she was headed for England with Henriette. “Court gossip” is the reply. Sophie isn’t accepting that, but de Clermont basically tells her if she is hiding something, it’s for a good reason.

Louis again, where he reads out the Treaty to his ministers, outlining the battle plans of France and England against the Dutch. Henriette is applauded. What a good girl she is, even bargaining to pay England less. And now, we celebrate. Tomorrow. A party. Waaa-hey! Then we are in Henriette’s chambers and Claudine (in her men’s garb and fake moustache) is checking her over. Henriette is a little weary, so must only be given broth for a week. Claudine strides out, up the steps (which are actually the L’Escalier d’Honneur in the fabulous Château de Maisons in Maisons-Lafitte) when Bontemps stops her. “if the King says you’re a man, then you are a man.” He points to her lip. “it is not necessary.” LULZ. Marchal is coming down the steps, meets de Clermont, who wants a word. Aaaaand she puts it on, making out she’s all contrite and stuff, saying she’s upset that she lied to him. “Why would you lie to me?” he asks calmly. Oh, she’s scared. And she cares for him. Suuuuure. Spins him a yarn about finding a match for Sophie, then falling for him. She wants to know what his intentions are. Banishment? “No. I am sure the matter will be resolved favourably.” And this sounds so menacing… but de Clermont looks quite pleased with herself as Marchal strides off.

It’s night and Henriette is in bed, is served soup, and the camera lingers just a little on the bowl. I know what that implies… And it’s interesting the way the writers have ‘sweetened’ her character, having her ask a servant what her name is, thanking her, then revealing details of her first masked ball like they were girlfriends at a sleep over: “I danced all evening with a tall man, wearing the mask of Apollo. At the end of the evening, he took me out onto the terrace, kissed each of my fingers, and then left.” Louis, maybe? We never find out. Yet she won’t be going to the ball tomorrow. She is a little tired. Sophie is confused. It is in her honour, after all, and his Majesty will be disappointed if she’s not there.

Versailles - ep9 for blog 12The next morning dawn and Louis wakes…. with an almost stalkerish Philippe standing at the foot of his bed. Not-a-morning-person Louis asks “What are you doing here?” Philippe: “I am here to watch a piece of theatre.” Louis: “In my bedroom?” Philippe: “Yes. It’s called The Grand Lever. A comedy of manners with…. tragic undertones.” Louis looks suspicious – tres amusant. And then we see Philippe’s grand scheme play through in real time – the line up of nobles (the Duc de Cassel included, pushing his way to the front) according to favour and rank, waiting for the honour of performing a morning ritual for their king – from dousing his hands in water, to handing him a towel, to holding his coat as he puts it on.  Versailles - ep9 for blog 13And Philippe’s voiceover walks us through: “From now on, your life does not belong to you. All you do is designed to be seen and admired. Dressing, shaving, drinking and eating. They are no longer actions, but a performance. All the noblemen at court are required to present themselves at the appointed hour. Only a few, however, will be given the privilege of entering, observing, and in some cases, participating. All the entrances and exits will be supervised. Self control and order are paramount. Where two valets used to dress you, you now have six. For your shoes – two. Everything you do is a display of wealth, authority, harmony and modesty. And last but by no means least – piety. Mass is at eleven. Don’t be late.” Louis is impressed. “I must congratulate you, brother. It is a perfect system, where everyone knows their place.” And Philippe cannot resist this rejoiner: “I certainly know mine.”

Versailles - ep9 for blog 14We are back with de Clermont, and someone slips a note under her door. Off she goes, into the gardens, where Jacques the gardener approaches and asks her to follow him. She walks into the gardens, sees Marchal and he commands her no further. She is confused. He says quietly: “in a forest. Looking down a row of evergreens”…. and the look on her face… she realises this is it. “Kneel,” Marchal commands. She turns to look at Jacques, who remains stoic. Marchal repeats, “kneel down.” She kneels, head held high, almost proud. “Look at me,” Marchal says. And when she does, he swallows, asks quietly, “What do you see?” She tears up a little, her voice a whisper. “I see… I see loneliness. I see fear. I see despair. Regret.” Marchal adds, “And duty.” Now, at first viewing, I thought de Claremont was talking about what she sees in him. But I wonder now if she’s actually talking about herself, with Marchal assuming it’s him. “Let it be done,” she says louder, tightly, and Marchal nods to Jacques, and a massive switchblade-like sword drops from his arm brace. The camera pans back a bit and with one blow, off goes her head. Versailles - ep9 for blog 7Marchal may possibly feel regret here, his expression is hard to decipher, though.

The next scene he bursts in on Sophie in her rooms and picks up a packing trunk. “Pack up your affairs and get out. You have no place here.” But what about her mother? “You shall be making the journey back to wherever you come from, alone. And if I find you still here, I shall have you tossed in the gutter.” The look on her face… poor Sophie! It is not her fault her mother was a ruthless scheming bitch.

Versailles - ep9 for blog 16Now we are back in Louis’ bedchamber, and the Queen arrives with Louis’ ten year old son, the dauphin (James Henry Clack). Louis says: “I have brought you here because the time has come to teach you how to rule. To be a king is to have power beyond imagining. All you ask for will be given. All you desire will be yours. You will have power. But with power comes duty. Duty to your subjects. To your friends. To justice. To truth. But with power also comes danger.” He then goes on to tell him of the Fronde, “people we took to be friends. They came hammering at our doors with blood on their hands and murder in their hearts. I will never allow that to happen to you.” Then… OH THEN he turns to Rohan and says “I will teach him how to rule a country. And you will teach him how to hunt a wild boar.”

AHHHHHH. NOOOOOOO. Of course, that night off Rohan goes, meeting one of the King’s Guards in the garden, and the man says his orders have been carried out. We capture the king? Asks the bad King’s Guard. No. The King is not their prey.

Cut back to the palace, and the masked ball is in full lavish swing, with fancy dresses and outfits and masks in place. Rohan asks Marchal if he is not joining the revelry. “I prefer to watch,” is his dry reply. Rohan: “I’m sure you do.” The look Marchal gives Rohan as he walks away….. ‘FU, asshat.’ Then he spots Sophie, who walks boldly over to him. “This is an unwelcome surprise,” he says. She’s come to make him an offer. Of what? “Of me.” He gives her the side eyes: “Life as a builder’s wife was unpalatable to you?” Sophie: “he would not take me.” And now, just like Obi Wan was to Princess Leia, Marchal is her only hope. “I am unmarried and pure.” Marchal: “at least you are seen to be. Which is all that matters here.” He pauses then says: “Very well. If you wish to stay here, you will work for me. Everyone, apart the King and I, believes you to be of noble birth. This will remain the case. You will attend court. Dance, flirt, gossip. Play cards. Seduce. But henceforth you will do it in my service. You will tell me what people are doing. What they are saying. Who is sharing a bed with whom. Who is cheating on their wife and who is cheating at cards. If you disobey me, you will suffer the same fate as your mother. From now on, I own you. That is my offer.” Perhaps a little to his surprise, she cooly agrees.

We cut to Henriette at her dressing table, and clearly she is unwell. Sweating and pale. She dabs her face then fixes her mask on, unsteadily rises.

Philippe and the Chevalier stride up the steps, masks in place, with Philippe complaining about his outfit. “I don’t know why you wanted me in this colour. I hate it.” The Chevalier: “It is regal. Some people care about making an impression, darling.” They argue like a married couple, it’s so sweet 😀 Then they spot Louis at the top, dressed in exactly the same outfit. “Two minds that think as one, ” Philippe says, amused, as the Chevalier leaves him with his brother. Louis offers his arm and off they go, into the party. I have to say here that while I like the clothes, I have always loathed masquerade face masks. They are a hundred shades creepy. And these on Louis and Philippe make them look like evil marionettes. “I wanted to thank you,” Louis says. “For sharing my vision. All too often I have had the impression that the petty differences between us have proved to great an obstacle.” Philippe: “I am sure the fault is all mine.” (UGH. Such an angry ball of frustration, he is!) Louis: “Well, not entirely.” And Philippe relents, puts his arm across his brother’s shoulders, looks around the room and says, “it is magnificent.” Maybe the protection of the mask mellows him a little? Louis: “there are still those who would destroy it.” He isn’t talking about the Chevalier, no. Forces stronger, and more determined. Philippe gives him a concerned look. Who? Louis: “I do not yet know. But they are close.”

Henriette arrives and she is getting worse. I can see what’s coming. And then the camera does that weird thing where it’s like attached to a trolley with her on the end, making her the focus of the shot as it looks directly at her while everyone else moves around in the scene. It’s an effective technique but makes me quite dizzy. We hear her breathing, we can see her sweating. Louis and Philippe dance with her, in turn plying her with flattery…. like they are competing for her affections. And it’s not 100% clear she is hallucinating even though the words are distorted and Louis says: “you are so much more than a mere advisor.” Philippe: “you realise he no longer loves you. Yet you still lie awake at night, and dream of hearing his footsteps on the floor and the midnight knock at the door.” Louis: “you were and are my first love. Whoever I’m with, a part of me will always be with you.” Philippe: “He’ll promise and beckon and you’ll continue to hope.” Louis: “you would have made a wonderful queen.”…. and so on. She is getting more panicky, more breathless as the words merge, she dances in that weird, stiff way with the camera still focused on her. And in slow motion she collapses. Louis and Philippe remove their masks, both concerned.

And there ends Episode 9. One more to go! How will it end? Read on, mes amis!

10 thoughts on “The one with Henriette’s return, the rules of etiquette and the beheading – Versailles episode 9

  1. Gaby

    I started watching Versailles a couple weeks ago and found out about your blog on episode 3. I gotta say: ITS. THE. BEST. THING. EVER!
    Your recaps and input of historical matters are so delightful! I love them! Ever since I read your blog for episode 3 I’ve been reading every entry after I finish each episode just so that I’ll get a better understanding on it.
    Thank you for making such detailed and wonderfully written entries for every episode!
    Im on episode 10 (finale!!) but I noticed you don’t have an entry for it yet?
    I hope you do a recap of the finale as well! Im looking forward to reading it.


  2. JulesHarper Post author

    Hi Gaby and thank for dropping by, plus all your wonderful words. Much love <3

    You will be pleased to know I have just finished my Ep10 review and am about to post it up. Enjoy!

  3. Dian Duncan

    Didn’t Hortense have designs on Louis & was banished from court by her Uncle for a time as this crush was thwarting his plans for her?

    1. JulesHarper Post author

      Actually, it was Olympe – she and Louis were thick as thieves but then she was married off, got pregnant then when she came back to court, Louis’ eye had moved on to the fair Marie.

      Hortense was married off to a horrible shit of a man, nephew of Richelieu. It was also rumoured that one of Hortense’s children was the product of incest with her brother Philippe-Jules. Also, Hortense was a rumoured lover of Philippe, our dear Chevalier de Lorraine (as was Olympe……. and Olympe was also a rumoured lover of Monsieur, too)


  4. Dian Duncan

    How do you keep up with it all? I’ll answer my own question. You study & understand these things better than I do. Thank you for the response & educating me better than I can educate myself by reading books which I love. My memory retention despite this is Nul.

    1. JulesHarper Post author

      😀 I must admit I have a terrible memory for dates unless I have a rhyme or song or some other ditty to remember it by (I finally remembered all the British Kings and Queens thanks to the Horrible Histories song!) but I do remember snippets, so I make lots of notes to myself and keep them in files or bookmark the articles.

  5. Dian Duncan

    Thanks for not making me feel a total nerd xx I’ve been following You Tube sound bites to get my fix. Phillipe just makes your soul zing, be you male or female it seems

  6. Sue

    Thank you for these reviews. Just finished season one, referring to your writing sometimes scene by scene because I was confused. Thank you. Now off to try and find season two. I’m watching on Netflix and they only have the first season. But, I must find out what happens next!

  7. Dianna Grose

    Hello Jules: Found your blog and I love it! Although I am much late to the party, I have finished watching season one and read the reviews. From this ep 9, I would like to ask your opinion and your expertise about Louis XIV reign if I could. And that’s the Hugenot question. I am a Hugenot by way of England and then on to Canada (Toronto). If I was there at Versailles as a noble woman and didn’t get myself caught up in murderous schemes such as de Clermont, would Fabien still assasinate me, or would I be given the bum’s rush like Montcourt in the early part of the season and should have left France for England during the mid 1500s, as we did in real life. I mean would that even be a thing? A Hugenot allowed to enjoy Versailles? Thanks.


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