So here we are. The finale of Season 2. I hope you’re sitting down because there is A LOT to unpack in this ep. So let us get right to it without further ado.
We begin with Montespan in her rooms, in tears, topless and furiously scrubbing herself from a basin. It is clear she is frantic and upset, and on one hand I really really feel for her because we all know what it’s like to get in over your head and let emotions overrule common sense in love (we do….DON’T WE??) So it is pretty much over Red Rover for her. On the other hand… good God, woman. Did you seriously think you would stay in favour for ever? That Louis would love you above all others? Did creepy father Etienne not give you that weird ‘fuck no!’ gut feeling at all??
So then we flash to Agathe who is in her home and doing some kind of meditation/praying thing (her rooms are actually quite decent and I wonder at what level she’s at on the ladder of respectability). Cut to a scene of guards on horses riding and Marchal-to-the-rescue as they gallop through the fields. Obvs on their way to arrest the witch – yay! He shoves open the door and she remains seated, eyes closed, as if she hasn’t even heard them enter. The guards surround her chair and Marchal watches her closely, then turns the tarot card on the table. The Labyrinth we saw before. She opens her eyes, says, “I’ve been expecting you.” Marchal is unimpressed, asks if she can predict her own future, then orders the guards to search the room and that’s their cue to basically trash the place. They find a trunk, the box with the poisons, and a disc-thingy with a pentagram on it, which Marchal smashes. Then a notebook is discovered – her little black book of clients. As Marshal scans it, he sees Sophie’s name, swallows and looks a bit… worried? Taken aback? Disappointed? Thoughtful? Hard to tell. But it does affect him. Agathe smirks: “found a friend of yours?” Unimpressed Marchal is unimpressed and he orders a guard to bind her.
Now we are outside in the gardens of Versailles, with Thomas doing a reading of his prose to an audience and UGH I am really hating his smug little weasel face, knowing what he’s done with Philippe and knowing he didn’t do it because of any affection or need. *burns him in effigy*.
We see Philippe with Liselotte by his side, looking mighty unimpressed (sames, Madame. Sames). Louis looks back at Maintenon. Thomas finishes his blah-blah, they all clap and Marchal approaches. Louis praises Thomas and Thomas-the-weasel smiles his shitty little smug smile UGH *smashes his face*.
Louis is well pleased: “your love of detail and fidelity to the truth can only be applauded, Thomas.” Does Philippe agree with this awesomeness? “Makes French breasts burst with pride, brother.” And OMG that truly FILTHY look Liselotte gives Philippe. I just can’t even 😂 Louis finishes with, “one day soon, I shall reward you in full.” which sounds quite ominous and creepy and I wonder if on some level, Thomas kind of knows that his cover is blown. But still, he smiles and is all “thank you, Sire,” and then Louis looks to Marchal and we are back to secret spy business. The Queen glances at Maintenon and I am wondering if she knows about the garden snogging. Surely someone has told her by now? Louis, Marchal and Bontemps make a huddle under a really nice garden canopy and see CHAIRS WITH ARMS that should not be there but hold that thought because they’re now talking about Agathe. Potions have been found, plus satanic materials. Louis is all, “bring her to me,” and Marchal is “to the palace?”
Hell, yeah. Louis is all about never showing fear to the devil and I could spend pages making screen caps of Marchal’s expressions, so full of thought yet revealing nothing. Marchal hands over the client book and Louis looks taken aback. Agathe is the source of the poisons. “How many were involved?” Louis wants to know, but there are too many to count, which we see as Louis flicks through page after page of names and details….aaaaaand his gaze falls upon a familiar name. The Duc de Luxembourg. THEN….. there it is.
Marquise de Montespan. And Louis cannot quite believe it. He looks up from the book, across the gathered nobles, and watches Montespan in a subdued gown, standing on the edges as if already an outcast, looking from the outside in at all the favoured ones. You can see him thinking, going back through his memories to all the times she could have possibly snuck him something, got him to take drugs… all the opportunities she had. I think he’s a bit shook.
CUE INTRO MUSIC FOR THE LAST TIME THIS SEASON.
The guards bring Agathe into a private room with Marchal, Louis and Bontemps, and she offers a deep and mocking bow, to which Bontemps is offended. “You would be advised to show respect.” Yeah, nup. Agathe is all smirky and smug and hey, here’s another one whose face is in need of a slap. “You stand accused of witchcraft and sorcery,” Louis says tightly. Unsurprisingly. she pleads guilty on both counts. She is not a person to snivel and beg. She seems to me someone who would proudly claim all the deeds she is charged with. She claps back with, “to what do you stand accused? Tyranny? Arrogance? Vanity?” Louis ain’t biting, instead asking about Montespan. “Her hands are clean,” Agathe says. “She came to me for a love potion.” She laughs. “Don’t try and tell me it didn’t work?” Louis slowly circles her. “I would have expected more humility in your predicament.” Ah, but she already knows her fate. She laughs again: “They tell me Good Friday is an apt time for a sacrifice.” Louis is quite a bit offended that she is ridiculing her maker. But Agathe doesn’t care; she does not seek forgiveness: “I am not the sinner here. You and your Lord have no dominion in my world.” Which is quite a good comeback for people who want to push their religious beliefs upon those who do not follow that faith, but in 17th century France it is not really a smart idea to shun the church so publicly. Especially to Louis. “We are equals, you and I,” she goes on, almost pityingly. “You cannot choose to be born a king. Anymore than I choose to be a pauper.” That simply ENRAGES Louis and he yells back: “I am chosen by GOD!” Agathe raises her voice too: “Your Lord giveth and he will taketh away. History will record your fleeting moment in blood! A tide is coming that will SWEEP YOU AWAY!” (OMG this is so powerful, it gave me chills!) Louis studies her a moment then steps back, says calmly, “All of Versailles will see you burn for this.” Agathe gets a little ranty, says “I will not be vanquished while my agents are at large.” (oooh, Louis’ expression, knowing she has more people working for her…) She gets louder, saying how she has sewn the seeds of sedition and is going to turn everything into… I dunno what because Bontemps suddenly loses his shit, steps forward and does what we all want to do and slaps her across the face. As she’s dragged from the room, she yells, “A TIDE!” and then she’s gone and Louis looks at Marchal and says, “find who they are.” Then we cut to Agathe being led through the palace, through the salons, and everyone turns to watch this display, some with “OH SHIT” expressions, and she smirks at Gaston and Montespan as she gets hustled out. Gaston mumbles, “show a brave face. So there can be no suspicion.” But Montespan ain’t having that. Or him. She wants nothing more to do with him. It’s over and nothing can be proven. (RLY?) In time it will all be forgotten, apparently. (RLY????) Gaston disagrees. He moves off as everyone else is stuck in gossipy whispers.
Ah, and it is evening and we are with Cassel who is coughing up blood in his bed. Man, he looks really bad. I guess that’s what slowly being poisoned will do to you. Sophie steps to the bed, asking what he will have her do. “Water, please,” he rasps, looking all haggard and on his last legs. She serves him, helps him drink and it is clear she is quite upset about it. Poor thing. She looks torn, and I am really liking the depth of humanity she shows. She could have been written as cold and determined: considering what Cassel did to her, I would not have been surprised. But instead her character remains true to her heart and she is feeling remorse and conflict with her actions.
We are back in Louis’ bedchamber with Bontemps, Marchal and the little black book of Agathes’. Bontemps is frustrated – he says Hercules rid himself of the hydra by chopping off all its’ heads. Louis throws down the book in frustration and stomps out, and we next see Montespan asleep in her bed. Louis suddenly enters and she slowly sits up, cautious. His Majesty has come to the wrong room, perhaps? Louis says nup, it was def. you I came to see. And of course, Montespan is weirded out and wondering what he is up to. He leans in on the bed, staring at her. “It has been a long time.” Montespan replies: “Not since you have been with another woman.” Yeah, nup. She’s wrong – Louis has been occupied. “With Madame Scarron?” AHHHH, now SOMEONE notices! But apparently that is careless talk, and “She is Madame de Maintenon now.” OF COURSE SHE IS. Of course, everyone will think you are shagging her, now she has a fancy title and chateau and stuffs. Then Louis holds out his hand to Montespan, even smiles and wiggles his fingers as she hesitates. “What have you been up to?” He asks casually and OMG the look on her face….. She slowly rises from the bed. “Keeping a low profile. Waiting. Hoping.” Louis replies: “The waiting is over,” and the brief smile on Montespan’s face gives me a sad. “I hope so,” she says, then circles him slowly. “I knew it,” she finally adds, with an almost smug smile. (UGH. Not sad anymore) “I know you better than anyone. I knew it was a lie when you said you did not love me.” He steps behind her, gently brushes her shoulders. Apparently everyone lies sometimes. Oh, but she has never lied about her feelings for him. But in other things? asks Louis. She turns to face him and declares, “I have nothing to hide.” Louis replies with “There is sin in thought as well as deed,” and he is so giving her a chance to confess right here, but she is gonna brazen it out. She has nothing to confess, except that she loves him. As Louis removes her nightshift she says she will do anything to have him back. Louis replies, “For that, you must tell me the truth.” Fully nekkid, Montespan slides back onto the bed, obvs thinking she can win him over with nekkid boobage and her magic vajayjay, saying, “come to me, my king. I will show you I have no secrets.” He gives her a brief look up and down, then crawls onto the bed over her, kissing up from her belly, then strokes back her hair, murmurs, “finally. The scales fall from my eyes.” She moves in to kiss him, and they do, then he holds her back and the grip on her face looks pretty uncomfortable. She gasps as he gets out, “and you have betrayed me for the last time.” (Louis getting his Darth Vader on, lulz). Then he pushes her face back, then shoves her legs aside in contempt and walks out as she curls up naked on the bed and cries. OKAY, she is not very cluey, is she? How can she not think at least something was off when he chooses to see her and starts talking about secrets after she JUST SAW Agathe arrested the same day? Maybe a, “hmmm…. he has rejected me, told me he didn’t love me, then Agathe the witch gets arrested and now he’s asking me about what secrets I am holding onto?” SUSPICIOUS, MUCH?
Next day, and Louis meets the duc de Luxembourg, all smiles and hellos. Eh-up, there’s gonna be some major shit going down now. And what a lovely scene this is, with Louis’ intelligence and gift for words really coming out here when he says he needs the Duc’s help with ‘a dilemma’.
Louis: I am in two minds how to deal with my enemies. Do I educate them or punish them?
Luxembourg: Depends what they’ve done, Sire.
Louis: (casually) Well, if I came upon information incriminating someone I trusted…. how should I deal with that betrayal?
Luxembourg: (clearly unaware) There is only one way to deal with a traitor, Sire.
Louis: (gently laughs) Even if it was someone like you?
*CLANG* The penny drops for Luxembourg. He knows. They stare at each other and Louis’ smile slowly falls away. Luxembourg’s expression goes from disbelief to distress and he starts to cry as he hangs his head. Louis says calmly. “If you tell me the truth, you can leave through that door.” (such a beautiful door it is, too. Look. I would want to take it with me, not gonna lie.) “If you do not, you will leave through that door.” His other option is, of course, still a beautiful door, but flanked with the king’s guards, so obvs not the smart choice.
I’ll take door number one, thanks, Eddie.
So now we hear Luxembourg’s reasons: “My wife’s father was obstructing our investments. She wished him dead.” The in-laws. Dammit. Those bastards. He heard about Agathe supplying poison and invited dear ol’ Dad around for supper. Louis says he is deeply saddened Luxembourg didn’t come to him… “I am a reasonable man. I always help those loyal to the crown.” Luxembourg snaps back with, “I fear you would not listen unless it was part of your plan!” Look at the shock on Louis’ face…. LOOK AT IT!
“Because I frighten you?” Louis gets out. “Is that it? Because I am a tyrant?” Clearly, Agathe’s words have resonated. “You killed a nobleman in my palace.” Shit. Luxembourg cries, “I beg forgiveness, Sire! I will devote my life to your service without question.” Yeah….. Louis smiles at him, says he appreciates his honesty… “my friend.” Luxembourg thanks him, kisses Louis’ ring and steps to the unguarded door. Uh-uh. Not so fast. The doors open, the guards enter and yesssss….. Marchal enters too. Luxembourg is all WTAF??? but Louis says calmly, “do you really think I could let this go unpunished? After all I have given you? FRANCE. REWARDS. HER LOYAL SERVANTS. AND SHE PUNISHES THOSE WHO BETRAY HER!” You go, Louis, getting all aggro and yelly and I Am The GODDAMN KING. Luxembourg is removed and Louis says tightly to Marchal, “Strike now. Without mercy.” And the Marquise de Montespan? “Not yet.”
Now we have a fab montage of short scenes, with Marchal and guards (shout out to the lovely Cédric Vallet, who is Marchal’s Chief Musketeer), entering the rooms of nobles, dragging them from their beds and rounding them up from the salons. Women, men… all in chaos. We see a dude hurrying down a corridor, then locking himself in a salon, but the guards are inside and he gets grabbed and dragged away .. and can we stop for a moment to acknowledge Marchal casually sipping wine amidst all this arresting? LULZ. Montespan sees this, and Gaston slithers over, hisses, “They’re arresting half the court!” And she is all, “calm yourself. We two remain in the clear.” But for how much longer? He wants to make a tactical withdrawal but Montespan disagrees. She wants to “push ahead.” ……with what? Oh, I’m glad you asked. “There is one person who deserves punishment above all.” Gaston is freaked by another noble being dragged out, but Montespan, however, is so very cool.
New scene and urgent ominous music plays as we see a shot of the village and then Gaston in Agathe’s house, retrieving a bundle from a hidden hole in the roof. Then he’s back in his rooms at Versailles, brushes off Odile (?? Why is she grabbing him?) then opens the bundle, revealing bottles of poison. “What are going to do with them?” Odile asks. Gaston gets out: “Go get me something to drink.” She goes, but does not look happy.
We are now out in the gardens, on a pleasant stroll with Thomas (UGH) and Philippe. While the gardens are lovely, Thomas wants to know where they are going… somewhere private, away from prying eyes? Nah, Philippe is in more of a romantic mood, indicating a stone bench set against a row of hedges (which still looks fairly public, being in clear sight of strolling courtiers) and a valet with wine and noms. “What is life worth if you can’t bask in beauty? And talk about poetry? The words of love?” Thomas laments the fact that his words these days are military, all about the king’s ambitions. Ahhh, so here Philippe is planting the seed, because he still has to tell Thomas all that stuff Louis wanted him to, but without arousing Thomas’ suspicions. Philippe subtly flatters, saying Thomas is a poet, that he sees the reality behind the façade. He all-casual-like leans against Thomas as he launches into it: “take Versailles, for example. It is truly a triumph of style over substance. It has my brother written all over. Same goes for the war. He has you writing all that propaganda when the truth is, things are obviously in chaos.”
He charms and flirts and touches Thomas’ hair, making Thomas laugh. It’s a very good effort. “Why would you withdraw all of your troops from Holland, when we all know that is where the real war is won or lost?” Yeah, Thomas’ expression indicates he’s noticed that little clue being dropped. But I’m not sure he knows he has been played. Then Thomas places his glass down, turns to kiss Philippe, and as Philippe shifts to get into it, says “the king expects me back in court.” Philippe looks at him, smiles: “We could just have sex if you’d rather.” Huh. Thomas smiles back. “Maybe later.” (and GTFO WITH THAT SHIT. He’s just not that into you, Philippe. He is soooo not down with the man love AT ALL. UGH. Because the only legitimate excuse for denying a prince is going above his head, claiming the king needs him) Thomas leaves and Philippe’s expression is all uggggh, dammit. Failed again. I don’t think he’s annoyed with the cockblocking, tbh. More like, “I need to keep him here, to convince him of this fake war story.” We see Thomas stomp off with such a shitty look on his face and I think that maybe he has swallowed that little story of Philippes’.
Maybe….. Maybe not. Because we are back with Cassel on his deathbed… He rasps, “Is that you, my dear…” To which Thomas answers, “you must be losing your sight.” WTF Cassel has HIS EYES CLOSED. Cassel replies: “I can still detect a bad smell.” AHHH. Thomas is furious. “It was you, wasn’t it? You betrayed me to the king.” Cassel gets out: “Now why would you think that?” The Duc may be one step away from kicking the bucket, but is still sassy as hell.
So, Philippe’s jig is up. Totally. The spy was spied on and now he’s aware of the spy spying on him. But the second spy is still spying, thinking the original spy is still in spy-mode. Thomas says he knows because of a sudden enthusiasm for his company by a certain Monsieur and a “strong urge to divulge secrets of State.” I KNEW Philippe was coming on too strong! Thomas is quite angry, wants to know if Cassel betrayed him to the king, and I detect a certain outrage, and I am all a bit WTF, as if Cassel had any kind of loyalty to Thomas. Cassel starts to laugh and Thomas grabs him by the throat. “I warned you! Didn’t I?” And srsly, why would Cassel give one shit about Thomas blackmailing him when Cassel knows he is dying? I would totally do the same in Cassel’s shoes – snitching on the asshole who’s not only blackmailing him, but also shagging his wife. Although I’m not sure if he did it for the first reason more than the second. Whatever the reason, Thomas is going down and Cassel is pleased. Then we see Sophie approaching the rooms, and Thomas still chokes Cassel, then Sophie bursts in and shoves Thomas off him. She is teary… “I’m sorry,” she whispers to Cassel (oh, my heart!) and Cassel whispers, “Sophie…” touches her face and is gone. Meanwhile, Thomas is being a broody little shit behind them, giving her a look when she glances back at him.
Whew. And we are only 22 minutes into the ep!
We are now in Louis’ rooms with Philippe giving them all a debrief. And Philippe is all uuuugh: “I said you were making a mess of it by withdrawing the troops from Holland so you could focus on tackling the east. Then he left.” He was due to speak with Louis an hour ago. Bontemps asks if Thomas has seen through it. Philippe adds, “we were drinking. It was in the heat of passion.” …..Ummmm. It wasn’t really. Not much passion there, just a brief kiss from Thomas. Louis gives him a look, Philippe looks back at him.
Philippe: That’s exactly what we agreed, wasn’t it?
Louis: You took him for a fool. An error of judgement. And not for the last time.
Philippe: That’s not fair! I’m the one selling his arse for France!
Louis: Find him! Maybe it’s not too late to retrieve the situation.
Philippe gives a mocking bow then leaves as Louis adds, “he must not leave the palace.”
Back in Sophie’s rooms, where she is demanding to know why Thomas would hurt a dying man. He grabs her hand: “There’s no time to explain. I must leave tonight and I want you to come with me.” Sophie is all confused and breathless and worried. “Why should I trust you?” Thomas replies: “If they catch me, they will kill me.” Okay, using Cassel’s death as an excuse. Which is a bit silly, considering everyone knew Cassel was dying and no one else knows Thomas strangled him. Sophie could just not say anything and Thomas would be in the clear. Yyeah, Sophie ain’t down with that shit: “Why? What have you done? What kind of outlaw are you?” YAY! uhhh…… No…. here we go. Thomas plays the blackmail card: “one who knows all about you. That you are a Protestant and that your mother conspired
against the king for William of Orange.” The penny drops for Sophie now. GOOD GIRL. but UGH he plays that “yes, I am a spy too but then I fell in love with you, now are you coming with me or not?!” card and I am yelling at my screen going “NOOO SOPHIE DO NOT BE SO STUPID UGGGGH.” She is confused and he kisses her, tells her he’ll be at the stables at midnight, then swiftly leaves. And Sophie is looking distraught and I want her to go to Marchal for help because we all know HE WILL FIX IT.
Tbh, I thought I’d be more happy with Cassel’s death. He was a nasty piece of shit, sure. But he also had complexity and depth and he did something ultimately for the good of the king. And Louis, to his credit, did not throw him in jail when Cassel confessed to conspiracy. Pip Torrens was brilliant on the screen and I will miss his evilness.
Philippe returns to his rooms, tosses his coat on the bed and we see the Chevalier (FINALLY) in a chair, an empty glass and two more with wine on the table. “Where the fuck have you been?” He says softly yet angrily and I have to pause for a second. Did Philippe not tell him to GTFO in ep 9 after that attempted suicide stunt? “Here we go again,” murmurs Philippe and I am totally with him on that one. *sigh*
The Chevalier: You were with him, weren’t you?
Philippe: (pours water into the empty wine glass) I’m not going to have this conversation with you.
The Chevalier: Then I’m going ’round to your little sweetheart right now and I’m going to rip his throat out.
Philippe: You’re not going to do anything of the kind because you’re a notorious coward and he’s not my sweetheart.
The Chevalier: (gives him a look then gets to his feet) I’m a coward, am I? Do you really want to see how brave I can be?
Philippe: Look, it’s not what you think!
The Chevalier: (limp-stomps to the bed and grabs his coat) I think he’s a snivelling little bastard. And I’ll kill him.
Philippe gives him a look and I actually think that he believes the Chevalier will actually follow through. As the Chevalier heads to the doors, Philippe blurts out, “It’s a charade. Louis is using me to feed information to the Dutch. That’s why I’m flirting with him.” The Chevalier turns, snorts. “I’ve heard some lame excuses in my time..” then walks out. And I am WTAF he WANTED the truth and when he gets it, he doesn’t believe it???? SRSLY? What is so far-fetched with that scenario, given what happened in S1????
Right. We are in the gardens now, with Louis and Maintenon strolling, then taking a seat along a path. Louis comes here for sanctuary, apparently. Then he tells her he has a record of who is behind the poisonings. Hundreds of them. His friends. (and right now I am so reminded of the differences between how Louis is portrayed in the series, compared with Benoît Magimel’s version in the 2000 movie, Le Roi Danse. There is a magnificent scene between him and Lully, his court composer, where Lully says, “I thought we were friends, and Louis replies coolly, “I have no friends.” If you can find the English subtitled version, I urge you to watch. You can buy the French DVD from Amazon)
Anyway, back to Louis and Maintenon, and Louis says some of those friends are “close…. very close. One in particular.” Maintenon, with her calm voice of reason, replies, “then the betrayal is greater. An untreated wound can fester in the soul just as in the body.” Yes, Louis knows what he must do, and wonders why he hesitates, why he doubts himself. And Maintenon is all “Look into my eyes. I believe in you. You must trust yourself.” And Louis says, “you are perfect,” and they have a good ol’ snog. And OMG it JUST occurred to me that they killed off Jacques to make way for Maintenon! All his cryptic metaphors and calm advice, coming from a place of unselfishness, and borne of a desire to just help Louis rather than gain something in return. This is EXACTLY what Maintenon is doing. Even their tone of voice is similar. But now with Maintenon, you get the romantic element thrown in, plus the jealousy from Montespan (and likely the queen when she finds out they’re shagging). UUGGGGHHHH *MIND BLOWN* Anyways, Maintenon stops all the kissing and whispers about it being wrong, and lulz Louis plays the ‘how can it be when God has sent you to me?’ card and when she reminds him he is married, he is all “it is a marriage without love.” Ouch, queen. “And me?” Maintenon replies. “What would I be? Love without marriage?” UGH WOMAN. You overstep yourself just a bit to presume you know the king’s affections. She goes on: “Whatever exists between us is purer, stronger than the desires of the flesh.” Then totally gets up and leaves (WITHOUT HIS PERMISSION) and Louis is left sitting there quite a bit pissed off.
Right. I am so looking forward to Season 3 where they will hopefully show Louis with a stack more mistresses. Pleasepleaseplease….
Back in Montespan’s rooms now and she is looking determined about something. So Louis is under the impression that all she has done is ask Agathe for some love potions…? I think so. We see guards burst into another room, smash things up and find the pouch of poisons Gaston had retrieved previously. So, his rooms then. People stop by the door to gawp (car crash, 17th century version) and Gaston is there too, watching them as the Chief Musketeer claims, “one is missing,” and quite rightly decides it’s a smart idea to move along. He turns… ah-HA. Marchal stands behind him and it really looks like Gaston is about to wet himself. Still, he brazens it out with a cool “can I help you?” To which Marchal says just as coolly, “yes, I believe you can. Whether or not you are willing is another matter.” And the maid Odile is pulled forward by a guard. Gaston loses it… snarls out, “you TREACHEROUS BITCH!” and lunges forward, but Marchal.. OMG bless you, you wonderful man. Marchal grabs Gaston by the face and hurls him back into the guards. The poison pouch is shown, Gaston knows the jig is up, Marchal gives him a look then turns away. And Gaston is dragged, slo-mo-style, through the corridors for all to see, getting in Montespan’s face to give her a panicky stare-down, to which she does not bat an eyelash. His downfall is complete. Montespan quickly hurries off.
Marchal strides into his office/dungeon, Gaston behind, and they pass a bunch of locked-up nobles. Marchal shoves Gaston up against a cell, and a rough looking Agathe steps from the shadows, all messy and bloody about the face. Gaston gasps, “I have failed you. Forgive me.” But Agathe says nothing and he’s dragged away to a rat-cell. “You are defeated, witch,” Marchal says calmly. “where is your dark master now?” As he starts to walk away, Agathe replies: “In my head. just like he is in yours. We both know this is not over yet.” He gives her a cool, calculating look then walks away. And I am reminded of that scene in The Incredibles where Syndrome goes on about how stupid villains are when they go into a monologue about their plans and how the good guys won’t defeat them etc etc. AGATHE. WTF are you doing??? Has no one ever told you to, uhh…. like, NOT TELL THE GOOD GUYS THAT YOU’RE STILL DOING EVIL STUFFS?
We’re back in Sophie’s rooms, where she is cleaning up Cassel’s face, and Marchal is standing there and says what we are all thinking: “You have a very soft heart.” Sophie replies: “everybody deserves dignity in death.” Marchal wastes no time in telling her that he knows what she did, that her name was on a list. Oh, and LORDY how much do I LOOOOVE this man when he adds, “It has now been erased. You conscience should be clear.” Sophie abruptly stands, says tightly. “And what of your conscience? Is that clean?” Marchal: “I leave the past behind me. I hope you will do the same.” To which Sophie does a massive nose curl and strides to the dresser to retrieve a bag. WTF is she so angry with him??? Marchal issues a word of warning: “Your lover may not be the man you think he is.” well, DUH. We know this. Why can he not just forbid her to go? Even lock her up for her own good? Or maybe… tell her?? But no. She simply says to him, “everybody has their secrets,” then walks out the door.
Right, so we see Thomas enter his dark rooms, then rummage through a trunk. He jumps when Philippe casually asks from the bed, “where do you think you’re going?” and is all ‘what are you doing here?’ Philippe: “I like surprises,” and rises from the bed. “And I don’t like people walking out on me.” Thomas gets a bit grovelly: “I’m very sorry, I had urgent matters to attend to,” and Philippe is sorry too – for coming on a bit too strong (WAT. Thomas has already given him a blow job – I think the ‘coming on too strong’ is moot at this point) . And Philippe doesn’t at all sound sincere, especially when he says they could maybe try again. NOOO. THOMAS KNOWS. Okay, so there’s quite a bit of snogging then Philippe pushes Thomas back onto the bed, then more snogging. UGH. Then…. Philippe reaches for a dagger in his breeches, Thomas notices and is all, “That’s not very nice of you.”
And it is ON.
Thomas hurls Philippe from the bed and the knife slices through a window covering. Philippe slashes forward but Thomas leaps back every time. Thomas grabs a pot/vase and deflects a blow, before Philippe knocks it from his hand. Philippe lunges and they then wrestle for the knife, falling over a table and slamming into the floor. Philippe thrusts again, Thomas grabs his arm, Philippe punches Thomas in the face but it’s obviously not hard enough because Thomas punches back and Philippe goes down. As he lays there, dazed and prone, Thomas crawls onto him and just starts wailing into Philippe (OMG *CRIES*) punching him until his nose is all bloody. NOOOOOOOO. Why are there no guards rushing in for backup? Then Thomas picks up the dagger and FFS DOES this IDIOT not know how bad it would be to kill the king’s brother???
THEN OMG……. THE CHEVALIER TO THE RESCUE!!!!!!
I am pretty sure I screamed at this point. The fight scenes as so very well choreographed.
The Chevalier glances at prone Philippe in panic and horror, then leaps forward, yelling for the guards as Thomas runs to the window and leaps out into the night.
Now we have two simultaneous scenes – Thomas hurrying to the stables, and the guards rushing in and the Chevalier all trembly over Philippe, seeing all the blood and not seeing him move. The guards are NOT MOVING THEIR ASSES QUICK ENOUGH, no, they just look casually out the damn window, meanwhile Thomas watches Sophie standing with two horses and a stable dude, all out there on the grass and in the open. Thomas strides out, smiles as Sophie gives a little relieved gasp…. and then the Chevalier just seems to appear from the shadows behind him, with such a fucking badass look on his face. He slowly raises his musket and takes cool, calm aim.
ABOUT FUCKING TIME. YESSSSS! THIS IS WHAT THE CHEVALIER IS ALL ABOUT AND I AM TOTALLY ON BOARD THIS TRAIN!! WOOOOHOOOOO!!!!
Sophie screams, Thomas collapses, the horses rear, and the smoke wisps around the Chevalier like some awesome metaphor for dark vigilante justice and badassery. YES.
Sophie rushes over to Thomas, holds his head in her lap as he bleeds and goes through the motions of dying, then she kisses him and hurries over to mount her horse while the guards come a-running, Marchal in the lead. Marchal yells out, “STOP!” but Sophie wheels her horse around and gallops through the gates. The guards take aim but Marchal commands them all to hold their fire. “She is innocent,” he says, as the Chevalier stands there all casual-like with his musket pointed in the air. I love them both right now.
Whew. Well, we are back in the palace, in Louis’ rooms, and Philippe dabs at his bleeding nose while the Chevalier attempts to explain to Louis why he shot Thomas: “Believe me, Sire, I had no intention of causing trouble. I saw your brother in pain… My anger was too strong for me.” And I am just going NOOOOOO why does he have to ruin his Badass Shooting with a grovelling apology? This is what he should be doing after that little shit beat the crap out of THE BLOODY PRINCE OF FRANCE! He deserved to die and no one is going to judge the Chevalier for killing him. Hell, he would be celebrated for coming to Philippe’s defence. And yet, here we are, listening to him stutter and desperately justify his actions to Louis. And then Louis commands him to silence and says, “I have brought you here to express my gratitude. You have shown honour and valour in ridding the palace of a dangerous spy.” Stunned Chevalier is stunned. Louis continues: “And as a reward you will receive an annual stipend so you are no longer in debt, nor so reliant on my brother, and you will be given rooms in the east wing.” As the Chevalier can’t quite believe it, Louis issues a condition, that he start to “behave like a nobleman. Your predilection for alcohol and powders will cease if you wish to remain associated with my court.”
Of course, the Chevalier is gushingly grateful, to which Louis repeats, “Will you shut up?” Okay, let me get this right. The Chevalier had thought that by killing Thomas (whom he did not believe was a spy even though Philippe told him so: we see his surprise when Louis confirms it) would mean punishment from Louis? Punishment for killing a man who was about to kill the Prince of France? FUCKSAKE. The Chevalier is a high-ranking noble (not that we see it here: his importance to the court seems to have either been ignored or glossed over in the telling) so he damn-well knows it would be his duty to kill weasel Thomas. And he would also know that Louis would be grateful for it and very likely reward him. So the Chevalier’s surprise when Louis not only thanks him but gives him monies is so very frustrating, because it’s not the way it would’ve happened.
So now Louis then goes over to Philippe.
Louis: Brother. You are alive.
Philippe: (quietly) No thanks to you.
Louis: You were in the service of France.
Philippe: It would’ve been good propaganda, wouldn’t it? Had I died. Your brother sacrifices himself. For you.
Louis: Please, try to be reasonable-
Philippe: What would you have written on my tombstone? (small snort) Gave his arse for France? (Slowly heads to the doors)
Louis: Brother, please. (Philippe slowly turns) If you had died tonight I would have lost my closest friend.
Philippe: (looking sad and forlorn) Why should I believe you?
Louis: Because after all we have been through… After all the hurt I have caused you, you love me as I love you. (walks towards sad puppy face Philippe). If you walk out now, you walk out on that love.
And then, with Philippe all still bashed and bloody and SAD PUPPY EYES, Philippe is the one to lean in first and they embrace and the music swells and yes, I CRY because this is the one thing Philippe wanted from Louis and now he finally has it OMGGGG…. And then….. Louis says, “Tomorrow you will go to war. If that is what you wish.” Philippe cannot quite believe it, and he immediately glances over to the Chevalier who is watching their exchange, and I can see his face is sad but also kinda “yes, this is what you really want, I know.” Then Philippe says to Louis, “no sudden last-minute change of mind?” And Louis gives a small smile and replies: “I want you to go to Holland and destroy William of Orange. For me. For France. For you.” Philippe smiles, turns and walks out, and the Chevalier quickly follows, giving Louis a bow.
Wow. Okay. Nearly 20mins to go and I am EMOTIONALLY DRAINED. We are now moving through the dungeons, the camera shaky and rapid, with a creepy whisper in the air, and we get to Agathe’s cell where she paces and chants creepy-Satan things in (possibly) Latin. The guard outside looks worried and crosses himself, and we cut to Montespan in her room at a table, toying with a vial of poison. Agathe still whisper-chants, Montespan appears to be thinking.
Then we are back outside, daytime, seeing shots of the gardens before we watch Montespan enter the chapel in a subdued dress and vail. She is in confession with Bossuet and he does not look impressed. “I have done things. Evil things. I accuse myself of sins of the flesh. Of pride. And of wrath. And of other things I dare not mention.” Is she truly sorry, Bossuet asks? She is. Oh, then that’s okay because the Lord will forgive her if she says the act of contrition. And she does, and it is a VERY GOOD recital, with the correct inflection of emotion and tears. Bossuet looks forward to seeing her at communion, and is pleasantly surprised when Montespan asks permission to stay and pray. So she goes through the motions, kneeling and signing the cross, and Bossuet watches her and is well pleased and happy because he thinks she is all penitent and has found God. UGH. Yeah, the look she gives his retreating back tells us quite clearly she is still the same old Montespan and up to something.
Louis is going through his morning lever, looking not very happy, and then he and the queen walk into the chapel as holy music swells, then Philippe and a not-very-impressed Liselotte enter (the Chevalier immediately behind them) and Philippe says to Liselotte, “You did well to stay. Versailles is fun once you get used to it.” Liselotte replies: “Versailles will be fun when it gets used to me.” Everyone walks in, courtiers bow, and all take their place as the hymn continues. The Chevalier steps to Philippe’s side, but Philippe says and does nothing. Louis eyes Maintenon, who looks a bit heart-eyes and breathy. The queen is looking a bit.. stoic? Tight lipped? Maybe she has found out about the snogging? Then Louis and the queen kneel and the sermon begins. Meanwhile, Montespan walks in after everyone is focused on Bossuet: “It is only through the light can the long shadow of death be banished.” he says. Quite a subtext here, all about hope and resurrection and peace, and Montespan is struggling to hold it together.
We are in Marchal’s dungeon now, and he is punching the crap out of Gaston, wanting to know who Agathe’s other agents are. Gaston is all panicky when Marchal prepares to break his pinky finger, quickly getting out, “I can save the king’s life! But not if you touch another hair on my head.” As Marchal slowly steps back, Gaston adds, “and in return you will give me full amnesty and safe passage to Bordeaux.” Marchal says that only the king can grant such a wish, and Gaston half-laughs and says something that sounds like, “the faster he’ll run or no wishes at all.” Then adds, “the ghosts of his victims are here for revenge.” Marchal is not impressed: “you will be freed only if the king survives.” Gaston swallows. “Can I trust you?” (LULWAT). And in answer, Marchal shoves him against the wooden post he’s chained to, grabs his shirt front and says, “if he dies, you die.” Then the church bells begin to chime, the hymns swell and we see Bossuet walking with the wine and wafers… Montespan starts to cry…. everyone lines up to receive the blessing as Bossuet reads from the bible in Latin…. then we are back with Gaston and Marchal and Gaston says, “Hmmm. Easter Sunday. A sermon. Prayers-” Marchal begins to think as Gaston adds, “Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.” And Marchal strides out. Cut back to the chapel, to the singing choir as Bossuet picks up a wafer and places it in Louis’ mouth… and Montespan is desperately trying to hold it together, tears now falling, her face torn with emotion. And damn, GO, MARCHAL!!!!! RUN LIKE THE WIND!!!! He races through the gates, across the courtyard, then pelts up the stairs, screaming, “DOORS!”
Back in the chapel, and the queen receives the wafer, then the wine is uncovered and poured, and Montespan is losing it now, in real distress. And the hymn still plays over the top of these scenes, giving them all a creepy, fatalistic ambiance. The wine is poured in slo-mo, and then the camera pans to the crowd – we see Louvois, Bontemps – and the wine just keeps going. Bossuet stops, Louis makes the sign on the cross… and we are running with Marchal, the camera all shaky, heading hell-for-leather straight to the chapel doors, and the guards quickly open them and then we see the choir still singing, all pure and ethereal as Louis takes the wine glass and brings it to his lips… Montespan wipes her tear-stained face, openly distraught, and Louis tilts the cup up and OMG THE TENSION IS KILLING MEEEEEEEE and JUST as he is about to take a sip, Marchal charges in and screams, “NOOOOOO!!!!!” and Louis stops, Marchal races up to him and takes the cup, murmurs breathlessly, “it is poison, Sire. De Foix confessed.” As everyone whispers, Louis and Bontemps look shocked, then Bontemps takes the wine jug and Louis says, “who else? He could not have done this alone.” And Marchal and Louis share a look, Marchal looking confused then thoughtful and they both slowly turn to look at the assembled crowd. Louis knows. He scans the faces… then he sees her, tears in her eyes and gasping. He knows. His expression is almost disbelieving for a second, then his face hardens as it sinks in. Montespan gasps, hand over her mouth, turns and walks out.
Next scene – we enter a private room of Louis’ and see Montespan in front of Louis, Maintenon standing near a window, a fire burning in the hearth. “Someone tried to poison me while I worshipped God,” Louis begins tightly. Montespan says she is innocent, but Louis does not believe it. “Innocent?” He holds out Agathe’s black book. “Yet you procured poison.” Ah, now she changes her story to “It was a mistake. I did not go through with it.” And what about the heretic priest? A satanic mass? The blood of a child spilled? Montespan is teary. “No, I could never do such a thing!” Yeah, Louis ain’t having none of that. “You went to see him! ADMIT IT!”
Her reply? “Everything I did, I did for you.” Oh, okaaaay, then. That makes it perfectly OKAY and TOTALLY NOT HER FAULT. Louis slowly circles her, his anger and disgust clear…. then slowly, almost as if against his better judgement, he reaches out and gently touches her bare neck, his fingers stroking. “I gave you my heart,” he whispers, almost disbelieving. “My soul. My love.” Then he looks across the room to where Maintenon stands at the open window, light streaming through, and the metaphor of Godly light is so very obvious. Louis’ gaze returns to the back of Montespan’s head, his expression firm. “That love has died.” Montespan is nothing but uber-determined as she whispers back, “it cannot die.” Louis slowly removes his hand from her as she gets out in a teary, breathy whisper. “I made you who you are. I made you complete and I cannot live without you. You cannot live without me.” Louis looks at her directly, replies almost gently: “That was true once. But not now.” She weeps as he adds, “without you, I am myself.” Montespan finally gets it now: “I will leave. If that is what you want. You will never hear from me again.” Louis glances to the still-silent Maintenon, then back to Montespan.
Ohhh, the look on his face. LOOK AT IT. Then he drops it: “No. You will remain here at Versailles. An anonymous noble without the king’s favour. That will be your punishment. Bear the guilt and shame forever. You will leave behind the life you once led. You will attend prayers and mass. You will neither drink, nor gamble. You will be known for your piety and your humility.” And oh, Montespan is in distress weepy tears mode (but still looking gorgeous, dammit) as she struggles out, “you condemn me to death!” But Louis is not swayed one bit. “The Marquise de Montespan,” he says, “who had the world and the king of France at her feet, no longer exists.” Montespan struggles to breathe as she cries, knows it is now truly over for her. Condemned to be a nobody, a nothing. Everything that she loathed and desperately tried not to be. Everything she spent her last waking moment trying to avoid. And finally, as she stands there in tears, Maintenon hurries over and embraces her, gives Louis a look, then leads the fallen-from-grace Montespan from the room. Maintenon then returns to a stoic Louis, puts a hand to his cheek, then whispers cryptically, “even the darkest night gives way to dawn.”
*Historical note: It was never suggested that Montespan ever tried to poison Louis, rather just put things in his wine and food to ‘increase his passion and love’ for her when she suspected her favour was falling. An ex-lover of Louis was, however, accused of wanting to poison him, a Claude de vin des Œillets, who was angry that Louis did not officially recognise her daughter as his. You can read all about her here.
Well. Nearly over now. We are in Philippe’s rooms and he is standing before a mirror, dressing in a golden sash and OMG I am expecting some more emotional shit to go down. Liselotte says, “but if you are killed, what of our son?” Philippe replies: “you will find someone else to take the role of the father.” They both glance across to the Chevalier who is standing by the window… WAT. AHAHAHAHAAAAAA NOPE. SO WRONG.
Anyways, Philippe takes Liselotte’s hand, says, “we will write to each other. Every day. I want a full report on your health and well being.” She nods with a smile. “And remember,” he says lightly, “this is Versailles. You should be happy.” They laugh softly, he kisses her cheek and then he takes a bolstering breath and walks to the Chevalier. “How do I look?” The Chevalier can barely glance at him, he’s so upset. “Passable.” Philippe is sad; “I thought you’d be pleased for me.” The Chevalier replies: “And I thought you’d be grateful to me.” Philippe’s eyes fill with tears as the Chevalier continues, moving to him: “Didn’t I save your life? So why risk it now? On a stupid battlefield?” UGH. Poor Philippe, you can see the emotion on his face and we know the Chevalier’s words are because he is hurting that he may lose Philippe again. Philippe looks at him, says calmly, “I will always love you. But there are things I must do before I can love you again.”
WAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!! *SOBS UNCONTROLLABLY*
The Chevalier’s gaze drops to the floor…. Philippe leans in and their foreheads touch, their eyes both gently close as the moment fills with emotion. “-as I wish,” Philippe finally whispers. “And you deserve.” They kiss, sweetly, tenderly and I am an absolute mess because this is what they need, an honest moment sharing what is in their hearts, a kiss that shows what they mean to each other. The Chevalier is shaking, they both smile through the tears, then the Chevalier finally whispers, “go.”
Philippe turns, looks at Liselotte, picks up his sword then strides to the doors, goes through them with his generals, the servants bowing. He glances back as he walks, and Liselotte and the Chevalier are framed in the doorway, Liselotte slowly taking the Chevalier’s hand in a show of solidarity and support… Philippe turns back, gives a sigh, and then – as we all know this has been his dream all along – smiles to himself because he is FINALLY off to war.
No time to wipe those tears, people. We are here for the witch burning. We are in a courtyard and it has drawn a crowd. Burnings and hangings and other sorts of punishment were entertainment in those days: Tyburn Hill in London was like a regular day out for all, with refreshments being sold and nobles watching the hangings from the comfort of their carriages. Not only that, it was supposed to serve as a deterrent. Here we see the townsfolk gathered, and a royal box is set up to get full advantage of the spectacle. Agathe is led out, looking dirty and beaten, in chains and barefoot. The crowd yell at her, she remains silent with her head high. She is strapped to the pole. Then the camera cuts to the dungeons, to Gaston in chains as Marchal enters. Gaston smirks. He thinks he’s won his freedom…. nup. Marchal says, “take him to the pyre,” and his smug face falls. Back with Agathe as she is tied up, and a parade of people in dirty fancy clothing walk past her…. the nobles she supplied poison to? I think so. They are herded before the pyre, and Gaston is shoved forward. Witnesses to the burning. Punishment. Louis steps up to the royal observation platform with the queen, the rest of the royal court spread out, and there are chants of “long live the king.” He looks to the man holding the huge burning torch and the pyre is lit. Agathe is expressionless… until the smoke drifts up and her feet feel the heat.
We see reaction shots from the crowd – Montespan, a guard holding Luxembourg’s head so he is forced to watch. Peasants crossing themselves and glancing away. And the flames rise higher around Agathe. Louis reveals no emotion as he watches, stepping aside as the Dauphin walks up behind to watch (FINALLY we get to see him again! It’s been, like, eight whole eps in between). Agathe yells,”The Sun King! It is for his greed that you toil! For his vanity! You suffer! Rise up and fight! I URGE YOU! FIND YOUR POWER!” And the camera pans to the peasants but we cannot see any discontent, no nodding or whispering or agreeing with her. She’s two Louis too early. Still she screeches as the flames get higher, “Your days are numbered. Louis, King of France. You and your spawn!” Louis puts a hand on the Dauphin’s shoulder as Agathe keeps ranting, frothing at the mouth, spouting about how their flesh will be eaten by the worms of tyranny. It is a great monologue and, knowing what we do about French royal history, very prophetic. We see Maintenon looking a little distressed, Liselotte the same, the queen showing nothing and Louis with a ‘yeah, burn, you witch.’
And so she does, wailing like a banshee as the flames finally reach her. Marchal watches expressionless, Montespan glances away. Marchal’s guard struggles with Gaston, forcing his head up to watch Agathe burn. The camera pans over the royal platform, to all the expressions of horror while Agathe screams. Louis is still and silent, his gaze direct. And then, just the tiniest twitch of his lips in a smile.
THE END!!!! *Collapses*
So…. that is it until next year, when Season 3 hits our screens. No word yet as to a Season 4…. but did we all enjoy this series? What did you love? What did you hate? What/who do you want to see more of?
For me, the biggest drawcards by far are Fabien Marchal and his dark and broody brilliance as he prowls across my screen. The dialogue, which is always fabulous. The romantic moments between Philippe and the Chevalier. Sophie’s quietly growing strength and determination. Liselotte’s everything. The clothes, the jewellery. And the stunning visuals of Versailles, Vaux-le-Vicomte and the interiors. Stay tuned for another article on the smexy bits, plus what we can expect (and what I would love to see!) in Season 3. And merci beaucoup for reading along and your comments. You guys rock xxx <3