So we have left Marchal with a knife in his chest… and of course, he pulls it out (noooo!) and yells for the guards. They take him to Claudine and she gets him on the table … business as usual, then. Will he live? “You are a very lucky man…. either your heart is not where it’s supposed to be, or you do not have one.” Marchal replies: “Let us hope it’s the former.” He tries to get up, she stops him, then he gasps to his guards to “find her”.
Stupid woman Madeleine is now running through the dark trees, and it is a very nice visual, with the two guards on horseback bearing down, Then they push her over into the ground and her time is most definitely up.
Next scene with a Bontemps/Louis walk-and-talk. Marchal is expected to make a full recovery and Louis is absolutely livid as he enters the dungeons/jail, delivers a stinging slap to Madeleine who is sat on a chair and looking dishevelled. “Do you really think-” Louis thunders out, “-that you could live in my palace and kill my minister and his wife without suffering the consequences?” (interesting Louis says ‘my palace’ and ‘my minister’ – his is king and everything is his. Is a nice touch). Madeleine is only concerned for her son: she does not want him punished. But Louis is angry: “Every day for the rest of his life, you son shall suffer the shame of knowing that his mother betrayed her king. Her country. And her family. ” Madeleine softly weeps as he goes on: “and as for you, you will be decapitated. In front of the entire court.” As he turns and strides out, Madeleine calls out ominously: “you are walking blindly towards an enemy you do not know. ” Louis pauses, slowly returns, and Madeleine is now looking a little possessed. “You have opened the door to him. And now he will destroy you.” Louis wants to know who it is, and Madeleine spit out: “have you any idea of the hell you have created here? Hundreds of nobles driven from their homes, forced to live in squalor, told how to behave, what to wear, what to eat!” She is wide-eyed and screeching now and Louis is all “give me a name” and they play the ‘come closer and I will tell you’ game, and when Louis is finally close enough, Madeleine hisses “Satan.”
CUE GLORIOUS INTRO MUSIC BY M83 – Outtro
We are in church, for Sophie and Cassel’s wedding… an empty church except for two females. Poor, poor Sophie. Cassel kisses her on the cheek and she wants to make the best of it, putting on a brave face but we know what is to come. UGH.
The Chevalier enters Philippe’s rooms, rather tentatively and looking a bit worse for wear, as if he has actually been crying. Philippe gets dressed in front of a glorious mirror that I love and want and I squeed a bit as I noticed the porcelain in the background that could possibly have been this actual urn from the Orléans collection but enough of that because there is a scene happening and I HAVE ISSUES.
Philippe: She left at dawn.
The Chevalier: (breezily) Oh dear. A disappointing wedding night.
The Chevalier: Good. (turns and surveys the table, takes a biscuit) I was worried you may have reached the early hours and decided some consummation was in order.
Philippe: Look at the table (the chevalier does so, picks up a piece of paper) That is your clothes bill for the last month.
The Chevalier: Yes, and…?
Philippe: Fifteen pairs of new breeches.
The Chevalier: (a bit huffy) How many times do I have to tell you, they are not clothes, they are costumes? They allow me to express my every mood and whim.
Philippe: They also cost a fortune.
The Chevalier: (curtly) Since when does that concern you? You’re one of the richest men in France and it’s never bothered you before.
Philippe: (pauses) You are the apple of my eye but stop taking me for granted.
MASSIVE KICKED PUPPY LOOK FROM THE CHEVALIER, SEEEEEE???
#Issue 1 and *historical note: Historical Chevalier was, in actual fact, in charge of Philippe’s household. Which meant he was the one doing the books. Philippe was the spendthrift, showering money on his mignons, buying clothes and jewels and dressing up in ‘costumes that expressed his every mood and whim’. I find it interesting* why the writers have completely role-reversed these two, with Philippe dark and brooding and concerned with money, and the Chevalier the light and fashion-conscious one, wanting his fancy clothing. Historically, he owned quite a bit, and gave a lot of it to his relatives – lands, abbeys, etc – and covered his niece’s dowry when she married. And the growth in these characters from Series 1 is a bit jarring, where we saw the Chevalier’s control over Philippe in Eps 1 – 3. Everything changed when Philippe returned from war.
*By ‘interesting’, I could mean annoying, frustrating, confusing and/or just plain wtf.
So now we see Liselotte walking with Sophie and it is lovely to see these two becoming friends. Sophie is so sweet and Liselotte so honest. They are good for each other. Liselotte says “in two words – total humiliation,” and we know she is talking about the non-smexytimes between her and Philippe during their bedding ceremony. “He showed no interest in me whatsoever. He said he found me unappealing to the eye, and he preferred men!” Sophie: “how awful for you. What will you do?” Liselotte replies: “A lot of horse riding.” Also…. “and I shall speak with him. I came here to bear children, not listen to my husband snoring like a schnauzer.” Sophie wishes she had her dilemma… “I hope my husband shows no interest in me. Whatsoever.” They sail past Montespan’s little gossipy gathering, and Montespan cannot help but make a snide comment about her Highness’s frown and that she “passed a night of frustration rather than passion.” Tittering all around, as Scarron hurries over to tell Montespan to return to her rooms, that her daughter is unwell. The doctor has been summoned but Montespan still looks unimpressed: “what use will I be?” Scarron is taken aback – it is the king’s child. Montespan assures her that her ability to bear children is not what Louis loves about her, let alone look after them. Scarron pulls back and gives her a kind of ‘wat? but she is your child!’ kind of look, but Montespan just appears cool and haughty.
*historical note: We now fully see the face behind the mask that is Montespan. Her dislike of children, her single-mindedness focus on Louis, her subtle crushing of all in her way. The writers have been doing a great job of rounding out her character… but sadly, I feel they have ignored others. Scarron, for example. One of the things that drew Louis to her was her obvious respect and enjoyment of children. They bonded over that, and Scarron was allowed access to the king on the matters of his kids at all times. But we are not seeing at all how this bond is growing, how she is caring for the children and discussing them (because by now, there are ‘children’ – Montespan had two by the year 1670). The timeline for all this is quite a bit screwed up for me, but obvs written to suit the fictional narrative.
Marchal is in the dungeons/prison and unlocks Gaston’s cell, telling him he’s free to go. Gaston limps after him, clearly not in a “I will sue! How dare you wrongfully imprison me!” mood. Yes, they found the murderer and the doors are flung open and two guards bring in Madeleine. “Mother!” Gaston gets out and for a second I was prepared for him to add “no, this is not right!” but then he says, “What have you done?” and I know he has totally got his mother’s measure. “I did it all for you, my love,” is her wide-eyed reply, but Gaston is disgusted. “You have destroyed our family. You have destroyed our reputation. You have DESTROYED ME!” And there we have it. Gaston, such a predictably self-centred creature. His mother wails as she is dragged away to a cell.
Louis is walking with Bomtemps into Montespan’s rooms. The child was showing signs of fever during the night and Claudine believes it is the pox. The baby cannot be removed from the palace as she is too weak, so Claudine will prepare a treatment for the pustules and something to lower the fever. All the windows must be closed. The palace must be fumigated. Versailles is build on swamp land and Claudine says “there is evidence that ailments such as this are transmitted through the ears and mouth.”
*historical note: nowadays we have vaccines for mostly everything. But in 17th century France, disease claimed an obscene number of lives, which is why everyone shagged like rabbits to pop out as many kids as possible. Fever, cuts, infection could develop into something more serious, for which there was no cure – syphilis, smallpox, tuberculosis, gastrointestinal problems, polio. The common cold could kill someone without immunity. Smallpox sadly wiped out much of Louis XIV’s children and grandchildren.
Montespan sweeps forward and claims that Louis is placing too much faith in “this doctor.” FFS, Claudine is standing RIGHT THERE. Louis, to his credit, comes back with, “this doctor saved my life and will save the life of our daughter.” He walks off with Bontemps and commands the palace be fumigated. It will become stifling and Louis commands Bontemps to tell Philippe he must go hunt with him.
Then we see Gaston all smartened up and limping into a salon, where Cassel cannot resist snarking: “My dear fellow, you seem lost. Is it the smoke?” Gaston, a shadow of his former self, says, “No. I’m- not lost.” Cassel goes in for the thrust: “Then if not lost, then not welcome. The door is behind you. And if you see your mother, do thank her for the gift.” As Gaston turns and shuffles off as dignified as possible, Cassel adds to his group: “Another reason to fumigate the palace,” and Gaston is f-u-r-i-o-u-s as everyone chortles and it is so VERY high school that it gives me horrible flashbacks. Gaston passes Thomas coming in and Cassel spots him, goes over to ask what he meant by his earlier comment re: his past. Thomas indicates he knows about Cassel’s plot against the king (in S1) and has enough evidence to send Cassel to the gallows. Some veiled threats follow, then Cassel finally asks what he wants, to which Thomas replies: “information…. the sort of information that only a minister to the king has access to.” He wants to know Louis’ plan of attack when he goes to war with Holland. What will Thomas do with this info? “Use it in my book, what else?” is the sarcastic reply. Uh-huh. Sure. Yeah.
Thomas then walks into the salon, kisses Sophie’s hand and everyone is all “OMGGG! Did he actually do that?” as he walks off. Cassel is furious but cannot think of what to do. Hilarious.
Bontemps goes to get Philippe, who is unimpressed with all the smoke. Her majesty’s daughter is sick. “And this is going to make her better?” Philippe asks. (I really enjoy every time Philippe opens his mouth – every word seems to be delivered with maximum dryness/sarcasm/haughtiness). Thomas lurks behind, Liselotte from the doorway. Philippe declines the hunting invite – he has an appointment with a poet. Liselotte steps into the hall – perhaps she might accompany his majesty? Whatever, Philippe is unconcerned, walking off with Thomas and stroking the man’s back in a friendly gesture. 😒
Sure enough, the next scene shows Louis and Liselotte descending stairs as she says things like “was his majesty aware that it is the female wild boar who rules the group?” and “the mating season lasts only a month and a half” (I guess it’s not mansplaining, as Louis is unaware of these things and he is actually enjoying it). #ThisIsNotMansplaining As they pass by, the nobles gasp and murmur “she has the king’s favour!” Louis oh-so-delicately segues into “talking of mating season….” and we know where this is going. But then Marchal appears, wanting to know how Louis wishes to proceed with interrogating a noblewoman. “Treat her how you would any other murderer,” is Louis’ short reply. Marchal looks stoic but I am not entirely convinced he doesn’t feel some faint distaste.
Now we are on the hunt and Liselotte looks glorious on her white horse and fetching habit, and I also WANT Louis’ gorgeous blue coat. She spots a boar, Louis says it would be “a trifle dangerous.” Pfffft Liselotte ain’t having none of that shit, and she is off. Louis swiftly follows. I love this interaction. *historical note: Louis and Liselotte both had a love for the outdoors, riding and hunting and regularly shared that. Louis liked her candidness, which was free of the wiles and manipulations of court life.
Back in the dungeon, with a beaten Madeleine strung up by a chain in the roof, sitting on a chair, and Marchal picks up a mallet, demanding to know where she acquired the poison. She shouts over the top of him that she wants to see her son. They both know she is condemned to die no matter what she says, and Marchal calmly says she has nothing to lose by telling him – her reply is equally calm. She has nothing to gain. If he lets her see her son, she will tell him what he wants to know.
And so to Montespan’s rooms, with Claudine and Scarron tending to the baby. Montespan only cares that if the baby lives, she will be blemished for life, earning her a bit of a look from both women. Of course, that means she will be put in a convent, and Claudine says, “you would deny your child a place at court because her skin is not perfect?” Well…. yes. Do they not know Montespan at all by now? “You do not know how the court works,” Montespan replies, as if explaining to an idiot. Oh, but Claudine does know: “beauty opens every door in the palace. Even the kings’.” Montespan walks over to her, gets in her face and asks slowly, “how would you know?” then goes to the window. The camera lingers on her face and she is quite emotional…. from the baby’s condition? From what Claudine has said? From the constant worry that the king’s head will be turned by another younger, prettier face? I think the latter two.
And now we have a scene where Philippe is teaching Thomas to dance and the Chevalier is creeping on them at the door, looking as sad and as worried as if he’d caught them in bed together. Then he steps in with a “oh” and Philippe says “I was just telling Thomas if he wants to dazzle the women at court, then he must learn how to dance.” And yeah, Thomas knows exactly what he is doing, being a spy and an agitator and all. “Well,” says the Chevalier. “I see I am surplus to your requirements.” and strolls through the antechamber.
Philippe: Where are you going?
The Chevalier: (as he leaves) Elsewhere.
Thomas: (innocently) did I upset your friend?
Philippe: He’s just a little jealous.
Thomas: Of me?
Philippe: Of anyone that breathes.
So now the Chevalier stride into the salons and over to a gaming table, taking it out the only way he knows how. Five thousand on a card game. Oh, bother. He lost. Ten thousand now. Oh, dear. Lost again. “Please note that down. Ten thousand francs debited to the account of the duc d’Orléans.” The Chevalier smiles. “There is no greater pleasure than losing someone else’s money.”
Back with Liselotte and Louis, where Liselotte regales him with a hunting anecdote, to which Louis laughs and admits that she is “a breath of fresh air.” (OMG Louis you had sooo better not be flirting with her, I swear to God….) She smiles and replies, “Sire, my friends call me Liselotte.” But the nice moment is interrupted by the hounds, who have found something in a ditch and noooooooo we can tell by the ominous music that is it terrible. Louis rolls him over and JACQUES and I wanna hug Louis right now.
*weeps* I understand why they killed Jacques off: to slowly chip at Louis’ small circle of people he trusts. Rohan turned out to be a traitor. Henriette was poisoned. Now Jacques, to whom he went for honest, non-ass-kissing advice. To say that Louis is horrified, shocked, devastated is an understatement. And a huge turning point in his storyline. He is going to spiral downwards.
We are now back in Louis’ rooms, and he is on a chair looking melancholy, commanding a sole musician to play a moody cello piece again. Then we see Versailles and the changing of the guards, then Philippe face down in bed as the music still plays. Colbert wakes him, concerned. It’s the Chevalier de Lorraine. Is he hurt? Colbert: “Not exactly.” They walk into a deserted salon, where the Chevalier sleeps the sleep of a drunken man, face on a table. He has lost 400,000 francs and placed all of it on Philippe’s account. Philippe smiles tightly: Colbert does the same.
And now…. (deep breath, as I must get through this scene first)
Philippe’s doors fly open and the Chevalier stumbles through and slides across the floor, Philippe in a rage.
Philippe: MY FUCKING MONEY! HOW DARE YOU! (points accusing finger)
The Chevalier: (struggles up from the floor, says flippantly) Luck was against me.
Philippe: It certainly is now. (slaps him)
The Chevalier: (reels) You hit me.
Philippe: Yes. And?
The Chevalier: (headbutts Philippe)
Philippe: (steps back, expression enraged as he clutches his cheek)
The Chevalier: (suddenly gasps, realising what he’s just done, puts out his hands) I- I….
Philippe: (grabs the Chevalier by the throat and they slam into a wall) Four hundred thousand francs in two days! (wrestles him to the floor, hands still around his neck) That’s almost a third of my annual income!
The Chevalier: (gasping and struggling) You’re hurting me!
The Chevalier: (struggling still, chokes out) You’re killing me…
Philippe: Even better!
The Chevalier then puts up a hand to Philippe’s face to break his hold, more wrestling and gasping as Philippe gets him in a choke hold from behind, then the Chevalier bites Philippe’s arm and is free and hair and limbs are flying as the Chevalier grabs a candelabra and wields it, yelling “DON’T COME ANY CLOSER!” They are both in a stalemate and panting, Philippe holding his bitten arm, the Chevalier brandishing the candelabra. Then Philippe stalks off and the Chevalier lowers his weapon, calls out a drunken, “HA! That’s right!” Then the unsheathing of a sword is heard and his expression drops as Philippe stalks back in with his rapier and holds it to the Chevalier’s face. Mucho panicking from the Chevalier…. and that is when the doors open and Liselotte sweeps in with a commanding, “STOP!”
Philippe: This…. little shit gambled away half my fortune!
The Chevalier: (distraught and practically crying, knocks away the sword with the candelabra) Is he good in bed, that little slut of yours? Did he get down on all fours like a sheep??
Philippe: YES! AND I LOVED EVERY MINUTE OF IT!
The Chevalier: (rage face) LIAR!
Liselotte: (calmly with hands on hips) will you two shut up? I’ve seen turkeys with more sense.
They both look at her, then each other, then with a massive LINE FACE Philippe lowers his sword. The Chevalier can’t resist a dig: “and just when I was winning,” thrusts the candelabra at Liselotte then storms out.
#Issue 2 – OMFGGGGGG. Okay, where do I start? First, what I liked. Just like in Series 1, we see the Chevalier start off so good in the first few eps, only to have him take a massive dive. I do not know if this is deliberate. I would be surprised if it wasn’t. But the downside to that is having your character appear wildly dramatic and not true to himself. He returned triumphant and adoring in Ep2. He and Philippe were a loving couple. The Chevalier seemed to have the upper hand emotionally, because Philippe admitted he missed him. But now, with drama being… well, dramatic, Philippe pays attention to another and the Chevalier goes into meltdown. And trust me, it will get worse.
Now to the historical comparison, which I simply cannot ignore even though I have said over and over I KNOW the show is not an historical account, it is a fictional dramatisation. And with this, it really is very much a soap opera. The scorned jealous lover, the screaming matches, the brandishing of weapons, the knock-down fight and slapping and biting…. All very theatrical. And not at all what the real Chevalier de Lorraine was about. He manipulated, he controlled. He played mind games and got what he wanted by being superior than everyone else. He was also a god-damn war hero, known for his bravery in battle. He was respected by his men. He had dignity and command and a ruthless air that scared the shit out of people who crossed him. And while I ADORE Evan and love watching him dominate and command every scene, I know this is not about him. It is about the writing. The writing that is turning the two men I love most in history into some kind of Kardashian drama in breeches. The real Chevalier would have extracted his revenge in some other calculating way, that would have had Philippe being the contrite one, making the first move and practically begging him to return.
*sigh* Okay. Moving on.
Louis is burying Jacques in solemn prayer, the coffin is lowered at a spot in the gardens and Louis peers into the grave, his expression blank, even though we know he is a little broken. Bontemps steps forward to stop him from falling in, and I am taken aback by his quietly offended, “get your hands off me.”
Bontemps and Marchal are now walking through the palace, discussing the suspects to Jacques’ death. Marchal is getting his Colombo-slash-Quincy on and is beginning to suspect Madeleine de Foix is not the only murderer. Apparently the palace death records have been showing a pattern – so far, over 40 have been premature or connected to a promotion or inheritance. Bontemps is stunned.
Now we are back in Louis’ chambers and he is being prepared for a shave. Lovely visuals here, with all the tools laid out and the blade being sharpened, close ups of Bontemps, then Louis, then Louis’ face being lathered up. In between this scene are cutscenes of another, with the nobles in confessional with Father Pascal, admitting to adultery, murder by poisoning….. and the blade gets closer to Louis’ throat, the barber’s hand shakes… Then Louis commands him to stop, throws everyone out. He is mucho stressed.
We are now with Father Pascal and the Queen, the latter of whom has become quite annoying and not at all like her historical self.. or indeed, like a queen. Sure, her historical counterpart was pious and no doubt secretly outraged at all the sinning going on around her, especially when her husband didn’t include her in that. But secret plotting to force everyone to be holier? Ugh. Sounds a lot like what goes on these days from certain countries. Father Pascal appears quite delighted the nobles are confessing all to him, and I am still not sure if he is a good guy or just one of those priests getting his jollies by living vicariously through all the confessing sinners. The queen is sceptical: “the palace will not be cleansed so easily. Confession is one thing – discovering the path of purity another.” The king is the key – if he choses to ‘remain in sin’ then most of the court will remain with him.
Pascale and Bossuet do a walk-and-talk in the gardens, with Pascal saying Louis must be told that the women are confessing to murder. Yet Bossuet says he fears Louis will not listen. WTF? Of course he will and I think Bossuet is full of shit. I don’t think Louis’s stubbornness will make him deaf to this information. Right, so Bossuet says he will speak to Louis… but Pascal doesn’t think that will work. Bossuet replies – a little unsure – “I will threaten him.” OKAY THEN. That’s totally gonna work. But hey, Pascal looks a bit evangelical and creepy and pleased so there is that.
Now they are in a golden room with Louis and Bontemps and there is a weird exchange that isn’t at all about the holy men telling Louis who has confessed to poisoning or murder, but more about how much of a sinner Louis is.
Louis: If they come to confession then at least they are pricked by conscience.
Bossuet: Without the truth in the soul, it is mere hypocrisy.
Louis: No. Hypocrisy is part of our being, we cannot tamper with nature. My people look to the church for spiritual guidance and well being. They look to me for security and happiness. I cannot make them good people. That is your job.
Pascal: (butts in) Then his majesty will be refused communion at Easter. It is the king’s duty not to merely appear devout before his people but to BE devout.
Oh, dear. Louis slowly stands with restrained tension and Bossuet looks a bit nervous, his expression all ‘shit is about the hit the fan, noooo’ which increases as Louis turns to him and says softly: “you would carry through with such a threat?” Bossuet, put on the spot, looks at Pascal then vaguely nods and says “I would, sire.” Louis is cold and calm and that is dangerous: “You would question MY faith?” And then Pascal goes there, says his child is sick because of his union, unsanctified by God, and is surrounded by sickness. The palace may gleam on the outside but on the inside it is contaminated…… Louis walks to Bontemps, places a hand on his valet’s shoulder. “Remind me, who is this man?” Bontemps replies “father Pascal, confessor to her Majesty the queen.” And Louis walks slowly to Pascal, says, “and I wish…. NEVER TO SEE HIM AGAIN!” until he is shouting in the priest’s face and Pascal and Bossuet both bow and quickly exit. Go Louis. Getting his king on.
Now we are with the powder and herb dude (whom the credits tell me is called Big Fella), his attractive mignon partner and the Chevalier de Lorraine who is…. wait for it…. proposing to be a drug dealer for them, supplying the court with the powders and potions that are now banned. LOLWAT.
“I know every noble at court,” he says. “They have deep pockets and desires without limits. It is simply a question of getting the produce into the palace without being noticed.” He sniffs, like junkies snorting drugs are want to do, and tells the suppliers that he can get the drugs in via a delivery of silk, so the nobles purchase the material and also “something extra.” And he will take a 30% cut…. and as much produce as he requires.
Let us recap. The Chevalier’s character to date has been a controlling, abusive, vain, elegant, haughty, unfaithful, jealous, contrite, seductive, manipulative, whiny, weak, traitorous and petty drunk. Who is now going to be drug dealing.
Just so I have that right.
#Issue 3. The Chevalier de Lorraine as a drug dealer. Get me out of here.
Oh, look. Thank Christ Louis is now talking war stuff. Something light and non-stressful to wrap my brain around. The English fleet will be in sight of the Dutch shores within a month (a-ha! Finally, a mention of time so I can orient myself!) and he wants his army on that border within two weeks. Louvois talks, telling Louis his commander Turenne has split the army and is ready to strike Holland’s allies. Condé (his other commander) will cross the Rhine within a week. And Liselotte’s father has reaffirmed his support of Louis. Cassel speaks up, and I don’t know whether it is just to shit-stir or out of genuine concern because he asks how loyal Palatine is. Louis reminds him the man’s daughter is married to Philippe. Cassel claps back with ‘well, you’re married to Spain and yeah, you’re at war with THEM, aren’t you?’ Louis’ ‘UGH, FFS you’re right but… UGH’ face is classic.
Now we are outside, on horses with Louis, Cassel and Louvois and they are checking out Philippe training with his soldiers, showing off charging and other war-related manoeuvres, plus a new invention called the bayonet. Philippe trots over on his horse, looking rather happy, and Louis, ugh, Louis can’t even muster a smile. “I thought you’d be pleased to see me,” says Philippe. To which Louis says, definitely-un-pleased, “I am.” *SIGH* Seriously, no wonder Philippe is always stomping about in a mood. Louis cannot even be happy that his brother is training HIS troops for HIS war and HIS glory. All he can say is ‘yeah, enough of war talk, what’s the sitch with impregnating your wife?’ Philippe, to his credit, doesn’t miss a beat: “My cannon succeeded in…. breeching the enemy’s defence. If that’s what you’re asking. Now, then, back to my point about strategy…” But Louis has what he came for, gives his brother a look, turns his horse and gallops off. Philippe just rolls his eyes and returns to his soldiers. Interesting that when he is out of earshot, Louis tells Louvois to order four times the amount of platoons with bayonets. Then Bontemps is seen galloping towards them (on a horse, otherwise that would be hilarious…. maybe they should do that. *pictures a galloping Bontemps* 😀 ) and Louis must come at once.
Louis is storming through Montespan’s rooms. They have to be patient and Louis enters the sick room, despite Montespan’s horror and fear of going into unclean air. Scarron and Claudine are attending the baby, with the fever greater now. Montespan says she should be bled, but Claudine says it will only weaken her. Good girl. It would shit me no end to have some rich noble mansplain my own job, one I’d spent years researching and working on. But Montespan won’t have it. She says her family doctor can be there before nightfall. Ugh. Montespan really hates anyone opposing her, doesn’t she? Louis takes Claudine aside and says firmly, “You cannot let this child die,” then leaves. Poor Claudine. How can you promise something like that? As he strides through a corridor, all angry and frustrated, the queen appears, sticks a finger in his face and hisses, “If you banish Father Pascal from court, you banish me. He stays at court or I return to Spain.” Then she sweeps off and Louis is left shocked, seething and clenching a fist, rage in every muscle as he angrily thumps the wall.
Okay, #Issue 4. The queen is being given way too much importance with everything. She has taken on the role of ‘pious savour of the court’ and this is so not what she was, historically speaking. She did not get involved in politics or demanded everyone become more God-fearing. Never would she have spoken like that to the king of France. I have a sneaking suspicion that this is done so Scarron can be put into a more favourable light. We all know from history that the queen dies, and that Scarron was the God-fearing pious one who eventually encourages Louis to put away his party boy ways.
Now we are back with William of Orange and he is having his portrait painted and talking of war. They will not lose, Amsterdam will not fall. De Witt (the dude who leads the government of Holland, not a king but a stadtholder, as the country is a republic) will be the one to fall and William will not stop the people from getting rid of the man who has been like a father to him. But his advisor says their intel from France indicates Louis has an army and is marching to war. Then De Witt walks in and is not impressed with William’s nonchalant response about war and a possible coup etc. He has William’s number, gets in his face and reminds the younger man that Holland is not a monarchy, and “you are not Louis. Do not try to be like him.” Ouch. Burn.
We’re back in a salon, where Louis is having his portrait painted, surrounded by nobles. Thomas reads some of his writings and suggests they include this enemy of which Louis has spoken. Louis educates him (and the audience) on the politics of Holland, then asks why he asks so many questions. Thomas briefly misses a beat: “man is defined by his foes, is he not, Sire?” Then we see him lurking through the dark corridors and handing over another message to a runner. But a soldier is passing by and he has to think quickly and hide before he is spotted.
Back in jail with Marchal, who brings Gaston to see his mother. She does not look well (as would no one, given her predicament). She grasps Gaston’s hand, saying she thinks about him as child, that it gets her through, and he appears to go to his knees to her. “he is a cruel man,” she hisses, indicating Marchal. “Your father died fighting in his service. And now he’s made of me a criminal and of you, an outcast.” Then Marchal stirs, paying more attention to their conversation as she frantically whispers to Gaston and touches his face, “you have to find her… she will help you… she is in the square.” Marchal opens the gate, says “That is enough,” and Madeleine pets Gaston again and he is dragged from the cell, giving her a final look and a solemn “farewell, Mother,” before he leaves. Then… eww, a bit gross as she removes a cloth-covered vial from an orifice and drinks it.
We are back in the palace. The baby has died and Scarron is on her knees before the crib, praying. Montespan is at the window, looking gloomy. “I’m sorry,” Claudine says. Louis: “You promised.” No, she didn’t. You can see all the thoughts running through Louis’ head, what the implications of the child’s death means, what he is feeling. Then he glances back to Claudine and says calmly, “you no longer work in the service of the king. I shall ensure you receive a royal stipend.” And Claudine…. she looks so sad and kind of pityingly, like she knows he has to blame someone and it must be her, but she is not God and as skilled as she is, she does not possess special powers to save this life. Her gaze drops and she quietly replies, “his majesty is generous,” packs up her kit , makes an awkward bow then leaves. Montespan tries to show sympathy, saying he did the right thing. Louis replies: “Did I? How do you know? Did our daughter die through the fault of the doctor? Through its own weakness? Or was it simply God’s will?” And for a second I think Montespan is gonna say something to ease his pain. Instead she says softly, “what does it matter, Sire? I will soon make you another one.” And he gives her such a ‘wtf woman?” look, then glances down to Scarron, who is still on her knees and praying and they exchange a look. Scarron’s face is kind of…. almost as if she is worshipful. Like she’s singing a typical angsty teenage song in her head that goes along the lines of “she is no good for you. If you were mine…..” It is a little odd, considering they have not had any screen time together that would indicate any kind of mutual interest or growing feelings. Liselotte and Louis have shared more conversation and smiles than Louis and Scarron. Louis silently walks out.
Now to the queen’s bedchamber where she reads in bed. Louis walks in and sits, and the queen is sorry for his loss. “Do you believe in divine punishment?” Louis asks. Yes, says the queen. But she also believes in divine forgiveness. He thanks her, and then she bids him a goodnight, saying his mistress will be waiting for him. “No,” he says calmly. “It is you I need tonight.” So… feeling guilt and the need to be closer to God = queen smexytimes.
*historical note. Despite Louis and his copious amount of sinning, he was a model of piety leading up to Easter, and chose not to visit his mistress/es during that time.
We see a lovely night shot of Versailles and the Apollo fountain then Louis walks into a salon with the queen, everyone bows and is solemn, and Louis launches into one of those monologues he enjoys so much. “When you look at yourselves, what do you see? Beauty? Wit? Refinement? Intelligence? You are the cream of the French aristocracy and the envy of every court in Europe. Yet when I look at you, I see corruption. Darkness. Temptation. Greed. Murder.” He walks the room, delivering this speech, and we see the camera go to the queen and Pascal, to Philippe, Liselotte and the Chevalier. Louis turns and speaks more, as a figure covered in a black veil enters the salon. “There are two paths open to you. The path of punishment. Or the path of redemption. Redemption through light-” he smiles at the queen and walks towards her, takes her hand. “Through good. Through puri-” he pauses, spots the widow figure, and the veil slides back and we see Montespan in her theatrical glory, wearing a crucifix and looking outwardly repentant with tears in her eyes. Louis is stunned, and the queen angrily rips her hand from his and storms off (*historical note: NO. The real Marie-Thérèse would never have done this. If she could suffer her duty in silent dignity, when Louis forced her to share a carriage with his two mistresses, when everyone pointed and said ‘there go the three queens of France!’ then she could most certainly live through THIS.)
We are with Marchal and entering Claudine’s home, where she is drunk and asleep by the fire. He takes the bottle from her hands and picks her up. “Am I under arrest.” she mumbles. “I am putting you to bed,” is his reply and I haz the heart eyes for this sweet moment for them when she sighs softly, eyes still closed, and murmurs, “how can those hands, which have killed so many times, be so gentle?” He says nothing, just tucks her in and I got a little melty because FINALLY Marchal is getting to have a woman who matches him in intellect and strength and integrity. (Oh, don’t you dare get happy. ~ Future Self)
Now we are in Sophie’s bedchamber, she in a nightgown and looking so nervous and Cassel calls “are you ready?” AND NO I AM NOT because Sophie is so sweet and the writers are going all Game of Thrones, making the characters we love suffer the most awful things. Needless to say, Cassel slithers in, fully dressed, and creepily says “I could eat you up,” then ties her hands and there is a struggle and of course, he thinks it’s awesome and arousing and she knees him in the groin, he slaps her, throws her on the bed and rapes her. This is horrid but unsurprising because, you know, 17th century France. The next moment, we see Sophie’s feet, bloody and filthy, shuffling into Liselotte’s rooms and her nightdress is torn and she is bleeding and looking so lost and tiny and crying and so am I. She deserves SO MUCH BETTER THAN THIS. First her horrible mother, then the builder dumped her, then Montespan introduced her to this creep, THEN this shit. Not to mention she is getting closer to Thomas which can only end in tragedy…. UGGGGH. Liselotte embraces her, comforts her but dammit I NEED A HUG TOO.
Next scene. Louis alone in a salon with the horse portrait, brooding in an armchair by the fire. Philippe enters.
Philippe: Do you know what day it is today? (glances at an uninterested Louis) ’tis the anniversary of the day you took over as king. Do you remember what you said to me that night?
Louis: (looking ‘meh’) Remind me.
Philippe: You said, the secret is not just to be king. It is to be SEEN to be king. And that, my dear brother, is what you have forgotten. (walks slowly behind the chair as Louis appears to think) You have taken off your clothes and shown us your frailty. (places his hands on Louis’ shoulders) I suggest you put them back on.
Louis: (long pause as he stands, carefully weighing the words) Thank you.
A brilliant scene, short and straight to the point, showing us a wealth of hidden depth in the brothers’ relationship. It tells us Philippe indeed has Louis’ back (was Philippe standing behind Louis’ chair a reference to Season 1’s “do you have my back?”) and is not afraid of speaking his mind, to give Louis a metaphorical kick in the breeches. The writers are also piling on the conflict to Louis, metaphorically not only sticking him in a tree, but also throwing stones at him. Every issue, every drama is designed to chip away at his self-control, his command. He is coming undone, unravelling, and we will see more of that in the coming episodes.
Next day, and Father Pascal slowly enters Montespan’s rooms to offer his condolences, pausing at the dead baby’s crib. He is startled by Montespan at the window and she goes off on a bit of a rant: “You think you can destroy the bond between the king and me, but we are stronger than any of your sermons.” He gently replies that she is a sinner, driven by the desires of the flesh, but Montespan is all ‘yeah, and so is everyone else and btw I see the way you go all heart eyes for the queen.’ Nup, the queen only shares his faith but Montespan will not be hearing that shit: “Your devotion is just a mask. Behind it, you are just like any other man.” And then she strides over and grabs his crotch, getting in his face and adding, “I wonder how the queen would react if I told her you placed a hand on me.” Pascal is keeping quite a straight face when Montespan says the queen is stupid and the king would believe her. “For now,” Pascal says quietly. “You continue to seduce him with your wit and wiles but the day will come when he sees you for who you really are. An empty husk of vanity and manipulation.” Montespan is quite a bit irritated with that assessment (the truth hurts, eh?) and storms off.
We follow Gaston into the village and into Agathe’s house. He hesitantly takes her hand when she offers it, and she says he came here for her help, to avenge his mother’s death. He says his mother’s not dead, tries to pull away, but she holds him fast and we see a shot of Madeleine dead and bleeding in her cell.
Agathe: (forcefully) Yes. She is. (Gaston is silent, shocked, possibly a little creeped out) You want my help taking revenge on the man that killed her and ruined your life. (whispers) You want to destroy Versailles? (does no one see it was HIS MOTHER who ruined his life by poisoning Reynard??? Ugh. Idiots always blame someone else for their mistakes)
Gaston: That’s not possible.
Agathe: Everything is possible if you want it enough.
Gaston: Why would you help me?
Agathe: Because I want the same thing.
Gaston: What do I have to do?
Agathe: First of all convince the king to let you return to court. You will stop at nothing – bribery, corruption, murder, extortion. The king floods the palace with light. You will engulf it in darkness. Do you agree?
Gaston looks creepily happy and Agathe leans in for a slow brief kiss, then whispers,”Now. You belong to me.”
The scene fades. End of episode. Merci for reading!