When we left our intrepid characters, Philippe had stupidly and against all sense, charged off on his own, in the night, without guards (yeah, this would never happen) to the Bastille to find out who this mysterious Duc de Sullun is. And promptly got hit on the nopper. Louis meanwhile, thinks he is hot shit because of all the awesome lights and running water he’s given to his people. JUST LOVE MEEEEEE.
So somehow, Philippe has made it back home to bed, and Liselotte is leaning over him while he is disorientated and half-awake. He looks awful. Bontemps is heard saying, “nothing to worry about, your Highness.” (WRONG form of address – should be ‘your royal Highness’. And so it starts.) Did Bontemps clonk Philippe? Of course, he was acting all forms of suspicious last ep, so he was most obvs. there to swoop in and bring Philippe back. Can’t have a royal prince of France just getting all KILLED without a guard or backup or anything, can we?? Anyways, the doctor says he has a mild concussion and Bontemps adds, “caused no doubt, by the fall.” WHAT FALL. So this is the narrative being spun by suspect Bontemps, eh? “I didn’t fall, ” mumbles Philippe. “I was hit.” There is blood on the pillow and the camera focus goes from clear to fuzzy then back again and everyone is concerned and I am concerned that they keep calling him YOUR HIGHNESS FFS. Philippe wants to talk to his brother but Liselotte says he’s not going anywhere. Philippe mumbles stuff about ‘the mask’ and Bontemps looks quite a bit shitty while Liselotte is all confused and Philippe goes on: “his eyes… one of the prisoners… was wearing a mask.” Bontemps tells the doctor to ensure he gets the rest he needs, Philippe finally falls asleep and we are into the intro.
In the gardens, and Louis and Leopold are in a frantic battle of swords, with lots of clanging and thrusting and grunting and moving about. Leopold finally elbows Louis in the face and draws blood, and Louis looks quite shocked. Bontemps makes a step forward but Marchal puts a hand on his shoulder. Not yet. Louis gives Leopold a look, wipes his nose and turns away… but Leopold advances and Louis whirls, blocking the thrust and they continue to clash. Louis lands a blow on the other man’s kidneys and he advances again before a breath can be caught. They grapple and struggle and in the struggle, Leopold manages to disarm Louis, taking both swords. Louis is shocked and angry (as you would be) and we hear the tiniest sound of a blade being drawn, then see Marchal step forward as he slides his dagger from his belt *heart eyes*. Leopold takes a breath then lowers both swords, his point proven. Bontemps says loftily, “It is customary for the king’s adversary to bow after the fight.” Leopold, looking sweaty and spent, answers: “In Austria it is customary for the loser to bow.” Bontemps ain’t havin’ any of that: “This is not Austria, your Majesty. This is Versailles.” (Not YOUR MAJESTY, UGGGGH). There’s a bit of a Mexican standoff and we see shitty Bontemps, mouth breathing Louis, Leopold looking from every face and gauging the mood and how much he can get away with. Finally he inclines his head (not at ALL like a proper bow) And offers Louis’ sword back. Louis takes it in silence.
And next scene we are walking back into Versailles. Louis says, “a clever ploy. A vicious attack hidden behind a show of weakness.” Leopold replies, “History remembers the winner, not the manner of his victory.” Ah, so now we are on the subject of winners, and Louis says it is time to enter negotiations. Leopold received word from Rome and they ‘look favourably on your guardianship of Strasbourg and Luxembourg.’ Louis is pleased and now wants to discuss Spain. Sure, your Majesty go right ahead, because I am taken by the lovely staircase and marble everywhere. Ahhhh, now they are talking about their ‘deal’ – on King Charles of Spain’s death, they split the spoils. Louis replies that much has changed since that deal. Leopold is all ‘such as?’ and Louis leans in and says tightly, “I won the war.” Before Leopold can reply, the queen floats down the stairs, asking who won. Of course she is talking about the duel, and Leopold says “His Majesty was kind enough to allow me victory.” The queen is concerned for Louis’ bloody nose, but he’s ‘meh, it’s nothing’ about it. Her gaze darts from Leopold to Louis, then back again and Louis picks up on the weirdness, saying that she seems…. “tired.” Huh. Not what I would’ve gone with, but there you go. Nothing that can’t be remedied by a walk in the gardens, it seems. And just look at Leopold – a ‘yeah, I shagged you last night and it was goooood’ expression if ever I saw one.
The queen looks flustered, bobs a curtsey and hurries down the steps, and Louis does not see her or her lady’s smiles as they float off. Leopold turns to Louis: “how much of Spain do you want?” Louis answers tightly, “All of it,” then continues up the stairs. Leopold sighs, glances back down to the queen in the distance then goes on his way.
*historical note: Louis did indeed demand Spain as part of his wife’s dowry because at the time, he knew Spain could not pay the monies he wanted and so, the ‘we give you money in exchange for the ‘not challenging the throne of Spain” agreement was forfeit. It was also expected that King Charles of Spain (the queen’s brother and also in possession of the mighty Hapsburg jaw) wouldn’t live very long. He surprised them all by living until he was nearly thirty-nine. He was born in 1661, a year after his sister Marie-Therese was married to Louis and so was living in France. She was 22.
We are back with Philippe, and he is finally on his feet, shuffling along and holding his head but still in a daze. He goes into one of Louis’ private salons and Louis and Bontemps are there, Louis telling him he really should be in bed. Dazed and confused, he sits, and Bontemps butts in with his prepared standard line – that Philippe had ‘an unfortunate accident.’ But nuh-uh Philippe is not here for that mansplaining shit. But Bontemps is really invested in this, even going so far as to say that he spoke with the governor who assured him that Philippe SLIPPED AND FELL. Nup. Philippe calls bullshit on that, saying he went to the Bastille to see the prisoner, then was struck, and that the prisoner wore a mask of iron. And I must say, Louis is rather calm after hearing a prince of France not only went to the Bastille ALONE and without guards, but was hit. He says he was told that the prisoner’s real name was Macquart. Philippe is confused and now we hear the lie Bontemps has settled on – the prisoner is a petty criminal and of unsound mind, believing himself to be an actual duke, so the guards gave him the title of le duc de Sullun to appease him. But why that name? Apparently, ‘Sullun’ is latin – the reverse of ‘nullus’, meaning ‘no one’. And the man in the iron mask does not exist, Louis explains, and it is all in Philippe’s head. Bontemps watches them both in silence but his expression is not quite right but I am suddenly distracted by what Louis is wearing. Look at it! Louis tells Philippe to go back to bed and the scene becomes blurry.
We are back in the gardens and Leopold is striding around, obvs looking for the queen to remind her of teh sexytimes they both had. How indiscreet of him. He finds her nervously undercover of some trees and does his best alpha male impression by silently going over to her, cupping her face and going in for a neck snog. The queen doth protest, overcome by some late shyness/modesty/guilt/loyalty I suppose. Why not? Leopold asks. “You will soon be gone,” she softly replies. Oh, okay. “It will only increase the pain of your departure,” she adds when he wants to just snog it out and enjoy each other. He looks frustrated, asks if he can trust her, that he needs her help. “Your husband is trying to destroy the dynasty that our ancestors have spent six hundred years creating. He will claim all of Spain on your brother’s death. The Hapsburgs will soon be extinct.” The queen is concerned and wants to know what he intends to do about it. “I will stop him.” But how? Oh, apparently his niece Eleanor will marry the queen’s brother, Charles. Plus he wants the queen to write a letter to her brother recommending the union. The queen asks why she should help him, so he plays the “you are a Hapsburg” card, plus the ‘your husband just wanted you for political stuffs, not you as a woman’ guilt trip. Wheeee. He rubs it right in: “He abandoned you the day he married you. Since then, his only gifts have been solitude and infidelity.” The scene cuts to the queen with parchment and quill, thinking what to write, then goes back to them in the garden where they finally kiss WHERE ANYONE CAN SEE THIS, and we have three close-ups of the queen’s ruby ring and THIS IS SIGNIFICANT so take note of it. The queen’s voiceover is then heard: “My dear brother Charles. I am writing to you concerning marriage…”
*Historical note: they mess up the real time lines so much it makes my head spin. Charles of Spain married in 1679 at the age of eighteen to …..SPOILER!!!! Philippe’s favourite daughter, Marie-Louise. She was 17. Can you see how confused I am – are we in 1679? Or 1674 because baby Philippe was born then? Or 1667, when the street lights were first on? Or…. …..SPOILER!!!! 1683 when the queen dies? UGH. FRUSTRATED. 😫
Now back in the salons and we hear the Chevalier holding court, saying “they say that at Villarceaux she spent her nights on her back in bliss, and her days on her knees in penance.” Chortle, chortle. “If you want my opinion – and I’m sure you do-” He suddenly is cut short by the appearance of Maintenon in the doorway, Delphine beside her, and he skilfully changes with subject with “the question is… what colour for the forthcoming season? Blue or green?” The two women blithely stroll and mingle while everyone gossips (CHAIRS WITH ARMS NOOOOO 😡😡) and I’m loving the look of that dark-haired noble behind Liselotte. So very mysterious. We follow Maintenon, and suddenly we see Louis’ last bedmate gossiping with the other demoiselles, saying “behind that air of prudishness, she’s quite the slut. And the next time I see the king, I’ve a good mind to tell him about it.” Silly chit. We know how this is gonna end, don’t we? (but also – look at those gowns!!) And look at this screen cap, which I loooove. Look at the demoiselle’s expression over her shoulder. And the two messieurs behind Delphine, just waiting for a scene.
Delphine is at a loss as to who everyone is talking about, and is shocked when Maintenon confirms she is the subject of all the gossip. Of course there’s no truth to the rumours, she assures Delphine, then excuses herself. She glides, head held high, out the doors and then leans against the stone wall, taking unsteady breaths. The camera pans around and Bontemps appears. “her ladyship seems upset.” (WAT LULZ. Not the correct way to address a marquise, ffs……) “Tell me, Bontemps,” she starts a little out of breath. “Do you consider it the mark of nobility to destroy a lady’s reputation with sordid gossip and lies?” errr…. no. Bontemps looks a bit out of his depth. She nods. “Neither do I.” And she floats off. So now Bontemps is all het up and goes into the salon, all curious-like. He looks a bit shitty as he sees the gossip girl laughing with her gossip friends and then the scene cuts back to Maintenon, who appears to be stomping about and looking for someone. Ahhh. Madame de Montespan. Montespan greets her politely but Maintenon gets right into it, accusing her of being behind the rumours. Montespan claims her innocence – “Why would I do such a thing?” – and Maintenon comes back with the old and favourite ‘you’re just jealous’. Montespan finds that amusing, says it is the other way around, that she was ready to risk everything, while Maintenon is not. And then… ahahahhhhhaaaaaa! She says, “is it true you put other women in his bed?” And I LAUGH AND LAUGH because as I mentioned in Ep1, this is what the real Montespan did, and the real Maintenon tried her earnest to keep women OUT of Louis’ bed because of all the sinning and stuffs. Well, apparently the king has needs that must be satisfied and these women mean nothing to him, says Maintenon with much conviction. Yeah, but nup. Montespan has her number, can see the other woman is scared. Of what? “Of your own passion. You are scared that if you give in to it, you will lose control. You take refuge in piety and denial but behind the mask you’re just screaming with pain.”
Next scene – Leopold is studying paperwork in his rooms with his Austrian Bontemps, niece Eleanor reading a book in the corner, and he is told King Charles is expecting their imminent arrival. How is Leopold going to approach the negotiations, his Austemps asks. The same as Louis – “Lie, haggle, concede, coerce, protest…. and smile.” When his man reminds Leopold the king is dangerous and starts to offer advice, Leopold gets a bit shitty. He does not need advice: “This is a game of cards. The prize is Spain and I have the trump card.” DISMISSED, AUSTEMPS.
Right, so Louis enters the small prayer room where Maintenon has perched her carcass. Again. She turns. Louis is shitty. “There is talk in the salon.” Oh, I’ll bet there is. He wants to know if there is any truth in it. “No, Sire. It is scurrilous gossip designed to destroy my reputation.” DEAR LORD, MAINTENON. You could’ve come clean. He was offering you the prime opportunity to tell him all about it. And so you LIE, knowing how he feels about liars. *headdesk* Louis is annoyed because it also damages his reputation. Maintenon kisses ass: “The king must know he has my total trust. I only pray I have his.” Right-o, sowing the seeds for when she finally does tell the truth, then. He gives her a look then says, “come with me.”
Back in Leopold’s rooms and Eleanor wants to go to the salons. “No, you will stay here and practice your embroidery.” (Lulz) “Embroidery is for spinsters.”😆 He gives her a champion side eye – she needs to show a little more humility and respect… oh, and befriend the queen. Eleanor isn’t impressed – the queen seems dull to her. She’s a Habsburg, dammit. And you will talk to her about Spain. Ugh. Srsly. How boring. Eleanor seems lovely and bouncy like a teenager often is, looking for fun and excitement. But Leopold doesn’t care for that: “You are only here because I have a use for you.” Eleanor looks shitty, as would I. “Yes, Uncle.”
Right-o, so Louis enters the salon after Bontemps announces him, and everyone stops gossiping and playing cards and does the usual stand/bow/curtsey. He looks shitty, and Maintenon behind him looks apprehensive, and then he announces “To lie is a sin. To slander is a sin. To seek to destroy someone through unfounded gossip is a sin. A woman close to me who does great honour to this court has seen her reputation stained by the poison of gossip. In harming her, you harm your king. This will stop. Now.” The camera pans to Maintenon, then to the Gossip Girl as Louis turns to look at her and – we learn her name is Mademoiselle de Vasseur – tells her she is no longer welcome at Versailles. The camera pans to a few faces: the shocked and controlled-panicky Vasseur, Maintenon who follows Louis as he leaves, Liselotte with a tight expression, Montespan as Vasseur rushes from the room while whispers start. Liselotte approaches Montespan, says the girl is innocent.
Montespan: Nobody here is innocent.
Liselotte: You started those rumours.
Montespan: They’re not rumours, they’re true. She deserves to be punished for her past, just as I was.
Liselotte leaves while Bontemps gives Montespan the most shittiest look eva.
The music swells (LOOOOOVE the music!) and we are outside, in the coeur d’honneur following a hooded female figure all the way up to the guards who cross their weapons and TAH-DA it is the return of Sophie! “I think you’d probably better arrest me.”
Scene cut to Marchal walking through to his office dungeon, and he gives a sigh, turns and sees Sophie standing there. Then a conversation is had about where she’s been (Holland) and why she was there (Thomas told her) and what she is doing now (being a double agent, apparently. Working for William of Orange as a spy but telling Marchal all about it). Marchal looks rather intimidating, circling her and meeting her eyes and getting very close, but Sophie looks very cool and calm. Now they are both before Louis and he is all “A spy. Here at Versailles.” She spins her story, saying she refused to spy, that she was not suited, that she then escaped by seducing the guard then taking refuge in convents and taverns on the way home. Huh. A likely story. Louis is a bit shitty at the thought of her wanting to reclaim her title and fortune (Cassel’s fortune), and Sophie is all “I place myself at your mercy, sire.” Louis is not fooled. “Lock her up.” Sophie plays her trump card, blurting out that William of Orange’s army is on the march, 10,000 men headed to Austria to support Emperor Leopold. Louis’ WTF face is so funny 😄 Interesting that Sophie gives up some info to ‘prove’ her innocence, yet that info can’t immediately be confirmed or denied. Of course, Marchal is gonna make enquiries to confirm it and meanwhile she remains locked up.
We are back with Philippe, who is fully dressed on the bed, contemplating…. something. He slowly sits up and with a determined look, heads to see Louis. Bontemps looks surprised to see him, says the doctor was most insistent. “He is no longer my doctor. And I know what I saw.” Bontemps looks worried as Philippe continues on, and Bontemps strides off to see a guard, instructing him to go to the stables and prepare a horse and messenger to leave immediately for Rome.
The queen is teaching Eleanor Spanish in the queen’s rooms as they play cards, the younger girl asking questions about “the king, your brother” saying she must miss him and I am UGH NO HE WAS BORN IN 1661, A YEAR AFTER SHE LEFT SPAIN TO MARRY LOUIS. The queen is coolly “yes, I miss him terribly,” (reminder: MARRIED) and she has his portrait to remind her of him (the original was painted by Claudio Coello). Eleanor is holding back the ewwww when the queen says “it’s not his fault he was born that way. As you can imagine, he suffers, but he has a noble heart.” Eleanor is so not impressed.
*historical note: Charles of Spain was the last of the Hapsburgs and had a shit load of physical and mental challenges, due to a history of consanguineous unions (uncles marrying nieces, cousins to cousins. Louis and the queen were actually first cousins, as their parents were brother and sister) . If you are interested in reading more about the doomed Hapsburg dynasty there was a fascinating study done in 2009 in science journal PLOS One on the role of inbreeding in the European royal dynasty here.
Leopold does not like what Louis proposes for their negotiations. “If you claim all of Spain and its territories you will trigger a war with every country in Europe!” Louis is not deterred, because yo, he has won one war and his army is well-prepared for another. Leopold is mucho angry: it would be a war without end. “I want what is mine,” Louis replies. “You think everything is yours,” is Leopold’s reply. Louis is all casual-like: “What will you do if the Turks advance on Vienna? Hope it rains? Or are you counting on the rabble that is William of Orange’s army?” Leopold’s expression is ‘uh-oh’ as Louis delivers his persuasive argument – “the only person who can protect you is me.” But Leopold says that the pope will never approve of giving Spain to Louis. More negotiations – Louis says he’ll only take 80%, Leopold says ‘nup, nuh-uh.’ Better start Turkish lessons, then.
Next scene…. Philippe riding ALONE through the woods and minus any guard or escort. I am wondering if this horrid oversight of what it actually means to be a prince of France is deliberately ignored in order to show the viewer that he is very bad-ass and fiery and will do whatever TF he wants. But it backfires on this viewer. It is stupid. We see a nice shot of the Bastille and then we are inside, where Philippe is talking to the head guard and we learn that the dude in the room that Philippe said contained the Iron Mask Man has cut his wrists. We see this dude – Macquart – obvs dead, face down on the desk and with blood on the floor. Philippe lifts up the dead man’s head, and he knows it is not the one who was originally there. We cut to the jailer, who is looking just a wee bit nervous, then Philippe asks “Who struck me?” but the jailer is still going with the ‘slipped and fell’ defence and Philippe is not happy about that. He also says the dead man wore a mask of iron….aaaaand the jailer is all confused and “Your Highness, there is no prisoner wearing such a thing,” which we all know is total bullshit because we have seen it all with our own eyes. The body is removed, the jailer bows and Philippe is left standing in the room looking a bit frustrated and sighing mightily. Then he spots the words “KILL ME” carved in the stone wall. He turns and walks out, past a ranty and smelly-looking poor sod in a cage outside. Philippe pauses with a brief sad smile, does the whole “Do you know who I am?” to which the ranty dude says “I know you better than you know yourself.” then it sounds like he says “Philippe of Gutter and Arsewipe and Good Dung.” My French subs say “of gutter and dung” which is about right. Philippe is amused, asks if he knew of the (now dead) man in the cell. “Everybody knows him, nobody knows him, if you know what I am saying. Don’t look him in the eyes, he’ll eat you up.” Is he still alive? Philippe wants to know. Dude gets a bit angry: “he’s undead! You can’t kill him!” But Philippe is also angry and all “did he wear a mask?!!” Ranty Man sticks to his story: “He will kill you with his eyes!” and then we hear other noises and Philippe has had enough, striding out as Ranty Man finishes with “Cain, brother of Abel. Two brothers drenched in blood and cursed forever!” which is pretty much a dead giveaway to what is to come.
Right, so back in the gardens of Versailles and…. okay, the Chevalier is strolling arm-in-arm with Liselotte, while two servants walk behind with the baby, looking all cosy as a couple. Also WEIRD AF because historically those two hated each other at this stage, only calling a truce much later in life when everyone was older and (I guess) tired of fighting about shit. Maintenon bows her head at Liselotte’s greeting and she asks to admire the petit prince and everyone smiles and looks on adoringly. Then Maintenon looks all concerned and serious and I know some shit is gonna go down because she is Maintenon the cow and knows Liselotte was part of the rumour spreading. “If I may. I don’t mean to seem impertinent, but I think you are making a grave mistake by keeping him here.”
The Chevalier gives Liselotte a look, and Liselotte is all calm and “is that so?” Maintenon replies: “Well, it is not the right environment for a child.” (and I laugh and laugh because LOUIS HAS ALL HIS KIDS THERE, and for fucksake, if it is good enough for HIS HEIRS then it is good enough for everyone else!) Liselotte, comes back with a polite fuckyou:
Liselotte: May I ask what gives you the right to tell me how to look after my child?
Maintenon: I was a governess.
Liselotte: Yet never a mother.
Maintenon: (expression a bit tight) Alas, no.
Liselotte: You’d think one of your many lovers would solve that problem.
Maintenon: (after a pause) It would seem your reputation for honesty and integrity is ill-deserved.
flies off on her broom glides away while the Chevalier smacks his lips and says “well, that went well,” and Liselotte is much disturbed by what just transpired. (Narrator: As well she should. Much wtfuckery is about to explode. EXPLODE, I TELL YOU! 😡)
We are back with Louis and his ministers, and Colbert is flicking annoyedly through the pages of a ledger, saying that their monies to finance their expansion into the Americas and to fortify their borders will add another two million to the deficit. UUUUGH. More pesky money talk and Louis can’t quite believe that he doesn’t have an endless pit of money to allow him to run the country as he sees fit. (Sames, Louis, sames) He demands that his people respect the law i.e. pay the taxes they simply cannot afford. So begins the rise of Tyrant Louis in all his splendour, setting the stage for an obvious revolt later on. Colbert is annoyed and frustrated. Then Bontemps enters and says he’s discovered the source of the Maintenon rumours. Louis knows without Bontemps confirming: “bring her to me.”
We are back in Paris, with Guillaume and Jeanne in their eh-by-gum Yorkshire workshop where they are stressing about taxes. G thinks his workers are just being slackers, and demands to know who hasn’t paid their taxes because his is an upstanding, law abiding citizen. Some workers say they haven’t – they don’t like the hike: “the king’s gone too far.” Thus ensues a resigned exchange: “if you want us to pay more taxes, give us more money.” “If I pay you more money, the business will fold.” “Whether we work or not, most of us are gonna die in rags and poverty.”
Back at Versailles and we have a stunning-looking Montespan going before Louis. His back is turned, Bontemps says “there is a piece of paper on the table. You will read it aloud then sign it.” So with great trepidation she reads: “I, the Marquise de Montespan, do hereby renounce and relinquish my place at the court of Versailles. I pledge to sever all contact with anyone I may know at the palace and will take no further part in court life. I shall devote the rest of my days to prayer and charitable work. I have sinned and I accept my penance.” She signs as Bontemps tells her her affairs are in order, and a carriage will take her to the convent of Sainte Ursule, never return to court. Montespan is clearly shaken, says, “a condemned normally has a right to a last word before being led away.” Louis does not turn around as she begins: “where I once saw the warm face of a man, I now see the stone face of a tyrant. You treat those around you like slaves and you place yourself beyond mortal sway. But remember the story of Icarus – fly to close to the sun and you will fall and drown.”
There is a pause: Louis looks so very shitty, like a petulant child suffering a parental scolding. Finally he says (still not turning around), “the dance is over. Go.” And so Montespan leaves. Louis says to Bontemps, “In time I will forgive her. But I will never forget.” And there we have it. The end of Montespan’s reign. We see her in slo-mo through the corridors, music swelling as she makes her final walk past the courtiers, her face a mask of tight control. Maintenon watches her go then turns on her heel, slo-mo walking towards the camera that smug, nasty little witch.
*Historical note: Montespan did indeed leave Versailles for a convent but it happened over time. First she was moved to a less favourable apartment in 1685, then in 1687 Louis changed his visiting times. She was consoled from this fall from favour by seeing her children married off well, then in 1691 she finally left court to the convent Saint-Joseph in Paris’ Rue de Saint-Dominique, where Louis allocated her an allowance of 500,000 francs. You can read more about her here.
The scene cuts to Maintenon in her rooms, now lounging nekkid in the bath, and Louis the creeper is watching her through the gap in the door. She stands, wraps herself in a sheet and is surprised to see Louis in the shadows. She wants to know how long he’s been there, and he acts like a teenager, kind of stuttering and getting her robe. Right. They stand before a glorious mirror, and she thanks him for what he said in the salons, in defence of her honour. (what honour UUUUGH) and then he goes in for a snog and she is more than willing to let him, even as she whispers “Please don’t. I can’t.” More snogging, a bit of va-jay-jay grabbing, which seems to snap her out of it, breaking away and hissing, “Enough. His majesty takes advantage of his station.” ?????? WTF. Louis is angry: “sometimes I don’t know what my station is with you.” And Maintenon is all “I would ask you to leave.” He does in a mighty huff but she stops him with an offering: “The Marquise de Quincy awaits his majesty in his room.” Nice pimpin’ there, Maintenon. Louis turns and storms off, while Maintenon sits and looks a bit stressed but most def. does not cry as you would expect one would when you send the man you love INTO ANOTHER WOMAN’S BED.
And there Louis is, entering his room as a pretty marquise obediently sits on his bed and removes her robe. Louis’ expression is all ‘ugh’ and quite a bit shitty but hey, lets not allow feelings and stuffs to get in the way of a tumble in the sheets, eh?
Meanwhile, Leopold is in his room, quaffing from that FABULOUS GLASSWARE, and his door slowly opens to reveal the queen. And so they engage in some shagging after she tells him she wrote the letter.
Louis stands and stares melancholic from his window as Bontemps enters, and he bids his servant to come join him a moment. He is in a mood: “Everyone looks at a king and says ‘I would give anything to be in his place. All he wants is his.’ But they see only the surface. They see nothing of the shadows below.” Bontemps: “No one has all he wants, sire. Not even a king.” Louis replies cryptically, “From the darkest shadow springs the brightest light.”
A shot of the fountain now and is it daybreak or sunset? We follow Marchal walking a dingy corridor with keys, leading us to Sophie in a cell. Has he come to torture her? “My men have checked every detail of your journey from Holland. It seems you are telling the truth.” And so, the king has given permission for her release. “You are once again, the duchesse de Cassel.” Yeah, but nah. Marchal still does not trust her and I am on his side with that. Something just seems off with it all. “You may be free,” Marchal drawls, “but whatever you do, whoever you talk to, wherever you go, I’ll be watching you.” Sophie casually walks past him, looking a little flirty. “Even when I return to my chambers?” Marchal watches her go with a suspicious eye and I am all OKAY THEN.
We are in the chambers of Liselotte, where she is cooing over baby Philippe’s cot. Look at her face! What a lovely domestic motherly scene. PITY IF SOMETHING WERE TO HAPPEN TO IT. Liselotte is all heart eyes “Philippe, he smiled! Come and look!” Meanwhile, Philippe is moping on the bed, while she breathlessly says “look at those blue eyes! Aren’t they beautiful!” And still Philippe looks mega-shitty and now I AM SO ANNOYED because Real Philippe absolutely adored his children and it physically pains me to see him portrayed as a spoilt, moody asshole. But wait, ‘blue eyes’ hits a chord with him and we can practically see his brain starting to click and turn. BLUE EYES. And he storms off without a word. UGH.
Philippe stomps into Marchal’s dungeon (WITHOUT GUARDS yet again), asks if the name Marcquart means anything to him, then relates what he knows – a thief in the Bastille, face hidden behind an iron mask, then a dead body is removed. The first man had blue eyes, the dead man, brown. Philippe needs Marchal’s help to get to the bottom of it, but bummer, Marchal only serves the king. “Don’t see this as work. See this more of… say…. leisure activity.” LULZ the look on Marchal’s face.
We are back in Louis’ rooms and Guillaume is measuring him for shoes, Jeanne taking notes. “Tell me about the mood of the people in Paris,” Louis suddenly says. G is all ‘wtf now?’ before he says “they are happy, sire. To be ruled by so generous a monarch.” But hey, aren’t they unhappy with paying their taxes? “nothing that isn’t cured by hard work, sire.” Louis continues to fish, saying that surely there are some who despise their king. AS IF Guillaume would go “oh, yeah. Let me give you their names.” ? Instead he placates, says there will always be those who don’t think of the glory of France, who think only of themselves…. while Jeanne’s expression is quite a bit ‘ugh.’ She finally says, “they are hungry.” and Bontemps butts in with “mind your tongue” and I am really, REALLY starting to dislike Bontemps this season. Louis wants to hear, however, and goes on a bit of a condescending monologue, like they are both children: “You must understand that a king is only there to serve his people and his country, to defend the land, to develop trade and commerce. To pay for construction. All these things require money. (MANSPLAINING a king’s duties) And the only way to raise money is through taxation. Is that so wrong?”
Jeanne: It is. If it bleeds the people dry.
Louis: SHOCKED FACE.
Jeanne: The people his majesty claims to serve believe he serves only personal ambition.
The music becomes ominous as Guillaume tries to backtrack, but Jeanne will have none of it. She means what she says. Louis steps to her, gives her a death stare and says, “But you are wrong. I do not seek glory for myself but for France.” (But you are France, Louis. Srsly).
Jeanne: Your people care little for the glory of France, sire. They are grateful for clean water and lighting, but neither will fill their stomachs.
Louis steps away, looks thoughtful, then thanks them for their honesty. And as they leave, Guillaume is furious. “Have you lost your mind?” Jeanne retorts: “have you lost your origins?” They have a hushed argument about being ungrateful for the king’s favour, how she told Louis the truth, would he have her lie? YES! says G. Why? Because he’s the king! And interestingly, here we see the seeds of motivation for Jeanne. This makes sense. Her character makes sense. We see her in her Ordinary World, we see her struggles and her conflict, dealing with the people around her, and so as time goes on, we understand her motivation for all she does. Unlike Agathe in Season 2, who was just ‘down with the tyrant king!’ without any real reason WHY.
Now we are in a salon with Marchal, and he approaches Philippe. He has news – his agents in Paris say Marcquart was a harmless petty thief, just trying to feed his family. “So what was he doing in the Bastille?” Philippe asks. Marchal: “He was not in the Bastille.”
Duh-DUH. Orchestra, play something dramatic.
We’re walking with Leopold and his Bontemps now, and Leo confirms the pope will look favourably upon the match… and right now I am most concerned with the huge and disturbing absence of PEOPLE. There is a distinct lack of people in Versailles and it is hugely distracting to me. Servants, courtiers, guards, ministers… where ARE THEY??? no one was hardly ever alone in Versailles, there were bodies E-V-E-R-Y-W-H-E-R-E. But these corridors and halls are empty and there only seems to ever be a handful of people in the salons or strolling about the gardens.
Anyways, Leo enters Louis’ rooms – he has good news and bad. Good news – he’s decided he is gonna give 80% of Spain to Louis upon Charles’ death. He says he’s had enough of war, he wants peace and stability. And the bad news? Leo is leaving. They hug, they smile and tonight they will celebrate the signing of their agreement.
BUT WAIT…. FORGET THAT. One of the most GTFO scenes is just about to happen. STRAP IN.
Liselotte is in her rooms, cooing over baby Philippe when we hear the doors open. Bontemps, two guards and mega-cow Maintenon walk in. ARE YOU READY FOR THIS?????? Liselotte’s expression drops. “No. Please. Don’t take him away. Let me talk to the king.”
Bontemps: It is the law of the palace, your Highness. I am sorry (WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK NO IT IS NOT)
A guard steps forward and Liselotte pushes him away and WAT. Another guard grabs her and holds her back and I AM IN A FUCKING RAGE BECAUSE SHE IS A PRINCESS OF FUCKING FRANCE WHAT THE FUCK.
Liselotte screams, the baby cries (A PRINCE OF FRANCE FOR FUCKSAKE!) “Take him away and you take away my heart,” Liselotte sobs, Bontemps says “this is no place for children” (WHAT A FUCKING CROCK – there were children everywhere in Versailles, including LOUIS’ OWN FUCKING CHILDREN) and Maintenon, that utter fucking hypocritical snake, murmurs “it is for the best,” and the doors close as Liselotte sobs.
And here – HERE – is where I lost all hope for this season. Seriously. This is so much fucking bullshit that I can smell it clear on the other side of the world. THIS IS WRONG. I do not mind historical fiction. I enjoy historical fiction. But when the historical facts are totally and utterly distorted, just for the sake of some dramatic twist – which, having watched the entire season, serves NO ACTUAL PURPOSE – this is a fucking insult. Let us break this down. The baby is a prince of France. A royal mistress, no matter how high in affection, cannot just REMOVE a prince of France. Liselotte is a princess. The hierarchy, while complicated by Princes of the blood and other titles and orders, goes like this: King first, then Queen, then the dauphin and dauphin’s kids, then Philippe (as brother of the king), then Liselotte (as wife to brother of the king), then children of Philippe. Maintenon, ranked as a marquise, is much lower on the totem pole – the Chevalier de Lorraine is a foreign prince, Delphine a duchesse, and BOTH rank higher than Maintenon. Versailles was all about RANK and PROTOCOL and to have an uppity marquise even approach a member of the royal family, much less REMOVE ONE, is so fucking beyond ridiculous that I have to use a telescope to find even a fucking glimmer of where it is. Louis would have gone absolutely ballistic.
GET IN THE FUCKING SEA. 😡 😡 😡 😡 😡
From the ridiculous to the streets of Paris. Colbert is on his soapbox, telling everyone that he is here to remind them of the shared vision that “binds us all together. And of the wonder of our king, Louis.” Cue unpressed looks from the peasant crowd. “You have chosen to question his authority. Our great king has only one purpose. To further the glory of France. But we all must make sacrifices just as he does. We must believe as he does. Dream as he does. Suffer as he does!” Murmurs from the crowd… they are not buying it. “We must trust in him as he trusts in us.” Bastien pipes up: “Why should we trust him? What, so he can steal our money more easily?” The crowd laughs but Colbert valiantly continues: “The king steals from no one! He raises taxes which he then returns to his people. Look at his gifts! Education. Roads. Clean water. Streets like glory!” “And poverty,” Bastien adds. Another peasant heckles, “Glory my arse!” And someone grabs an egg from a cart and hurls it at Colbert and suddenly there is a barrage of food while Colbert tries for calm. Food being thrown despite their complaints of being hungry in the streets… And the guards hustle Colbert away as the crowd turns nasty.
Back in Versailles with Louis telling Bossuet of Leopold’s offering of 80% of Spain, telling the priest he must go to Rome to ensure the support of the Vatican. Bossuet is kinda not really happy, but Louis tells him to remind the Pope where his loyalties should lie, and that the bastion of the Catholic church is France. Bossuet does not see how he can influence his Holiness, and Louis calmly says if he has any doubts, then Bossuet can remain at Versailles and draw up a list of replacements for his position. Lulz. Cue a weird look from Bontemps. Much ringing of hands from Bossuet. Meanwhile Marchal and Philippe are walking through the enfilades, Marchal wanting to tell Louis what they know but Philippe is all ‘nup, he will order you to stop because he thinks I’m just making this all up.’ They agree to wait a few days before telling.
Leopold is getting dressed and his niece Eleanor is chattering about Spanish words and the look on Leo’s face is ….😆 Eleanor now wants to go to Spain. Leo says they are going there, and she is all ‘yay! As long as I don’t meet the king – his portrait is atrocious’ And Leo is all ‘tough. You will meet him. Because you gonna marry him. SURPRISE’ Dear Lord, the look on Eleanor’s face. Her mother is on her way there, and they will leave tomorrow. “I refuse,” Eleanor says bravely, looking devastated. Leo slaps her, then gently says, “you will be Queen of Spain* (*Spoiler: she won’t). You should be grateful.”
Back with Louis walking through the salons, and Louvois reports a bunch of Austrian nobles have been spotted making their way to Spain. Why? A family gathering, perhaps? And why do families gather? Louis muses. Louvois – “for funerals.” Louis: “And weddings.”
Sophie returns to the salons, all clean and pretty again, and people are whispering, watching her circulate. She smiles and greets Liselotte, who is alone and sad and attached to a wall.
*historical note: again, what is it with the absence of people? Liselotte, as princess, has an entourage, ladies-in-waiting, plus courtiers hanging about wanting her favour and attention. She would not be clinging to a wall like a Nigel No-Friends.
Liselotte is pleased to see Sophie, who says she has been in a convent. Sophie asks what has happened since she last saw the pregnant Liselotte, and Liselotte says she had a son…. taken from her. “On whose orders?” Sophie asks. Liselotte just stares across the room, right at Maintenon, who is chatting happily to Delphine, the Chevalier in the background. “THE KING!” Bontemps announces, and Louis walks in with the queen, heading straight for a table where the historical signing is to be conducted. Leopold bows (wtf is that “Louis” as he addresses the king of France?? Wrong.) They sit and prepare to sign, and Louis casually mentions Leo’s niece. “I would like her to stay here. We shall show her all the wonders of Versailles.” Ahhhhh, sneaky Louis. Leo is all “it’s a kind offer, but-” but Louis will have none of it. “My wife has conceived an affection for the princess. She would enjoy her company for a few months.” He looks at Eleanor – “-would that please you?” Damn right, it would. And now Leopold cannot refuse. Louis says she will be well looked after then sticks the knife right in: “who knows? We may even find her a husband.” So the camera pans the crowd, they sign the documents, Louis rises and gives a speech about being former enemies now friends, blood replaced by wine, now allies blah blah. Everyone claps as the music swells.
Festivities begin and the Chevalier is being some kind of circus ringleader, demanding a volunteer as he waves about a cane and some silk, the centre of attention. Has a joke about Philippe being missing, then Louvois’ belly, then Louis stands and volunteers. “A brave proposition from the king,” the Chevalier declares as Louis ties on the blindfold. “Olé” (lolwat) he then announces and Louis smiles and starts to blindly grope about the room as courtiers laugh and scatter. I see Maintenon deliberately putting herself in the way, but the Chevalier good-naturedly prods the king with his cane. The queen is watching, playing cards as Leopold hovers behind her, asking her for courage and then whispering something in her ear. As the king laughs and enjoys the game, the queen’s face is looking more panicky as Leo keeps whispering and Jebus, I bet my front teeth he is suggesting something along the lines of regicide… Even that is too much. Meanwhile Louis gropes about, still laughing and the doors behind him open and everyone stills, their faces dropping in shock and horror. Louis senses the mood, quickly removes the blindfold and we see Colbert, battered and bloody and with a smashed-in face. “My God.” Louis gasps. “Who did this to you?” Colbert swallows, then shakily gets out, “the people of France, sire.” Louis looks horrified.
The music swells and that is the end of Episode 2. UGH. What is in store for the next ep?