The following will contain some spoilers for Versailles Episode 5. Episode 4 Recap & Review can be found here and serves as a general catch-up as well as a primer for those watching the world of Louis XIV.
The war has been won, by both Louis signing the treaty and brother Philippe, who’s bravery and daring threaten to overshadow the Sun King. The roads to Versaille are still lethal on account of Cassel’s threatened nobles, led by Montcourt, wrecking havoc and death, and Louis takes the battle to his enemies.
Louis signs the peace treaty with Spain with pride, pleased at the cheers he hears at this most auspicious of times. But the cheers are not for him, but rather Philippe, battle weary and clearly soon to suffer some olde worlde PTSD after the horrors he has witnessed. King Louis XIV is clearly jealous, extremely irked by the increased deference shown to his younger sibling.
But he has many other problems, not least of all the increasingly fatal road to his palace. Cassel’s plans to scare all from the trip could be working but the latest raid by lacky Montcourt was a mistake; he attacked one of Montcourt’s own shipments and worse, left his driver alive. That would be bad news should he be found and, what do you know, here comes Louis’ party back from the war – complete with a hyped-up Philippe whining “Are we there yet?” – just in time to find him. Oops.
Returning to court, Philippe is heralded by the King’s Guard with furious stomping, a noise Bontemps tells the King is just the builders. As if he’ll believe that! More jealousy toward his brother is fermented. Louis immediately decides there must be a grand celebration, one that all nobility must either attend or be represented at, to mark the end of the war. And that includes Cassel. But perhaps the most excited person at Versailles at this moment is the Chevalier, giddy to have lover Philippe back. It does not go as he plans; Philippe is much changed by war and insults the man he used to worship before throwing him out of his bed chamber. “Honestly. I don’t know what you see in him,” Chevalier remarks to Henriette, trying and failing to hide his hurt. Oh, that face!
As relations between the King and his brother deteriorate at a fast pace (Philippe accuses the King of dancing “on the broken backs of your bravest men.” by holding a celebration – ouch), loyal Marchal is instructing doctor’s daughter Claudine to save the driver they found. A quick amputation by bone saw (aren’t you glad you live in this time?!) and he will live. But not for long! Marchal wants him alive to extract information and quickly pops out his remaining eye as the start of an interrogation. Information on Cassel is soon provided.
Louis despatches lover Montespan to Cassel with an ultimatum; come to the celebrations or they will be held at his court, forcing him between a rock and a hard place. But if Cassel does not make an appearance, much of the north’s nobility will similarly be absent, so it’s a bit of a masterstroke. Montespan takes the young Sophie and it’s clear the older woman and Cassel have history, and not a pleasant one at that. And with Sophie’s mother de Clermont revealing they have no papers confirming their nobility – if found out, they will hang – she is under a great deal of stress.
The grand celebration takes place and all invited have turned up, including an extremely bad tempered Cassel. Louis delights in making this man squirm and Cassel shows the bare minimum of deference he can get away with before leaving early. But when he returns home, he finds his residence is burning to the ground, his wealth in cinders, proof of his nobility now ashes. And his dead driver at the head of the drive. Immediately he his arrested on the charges of not being able to prove his lineage and not being able to afford his back taxes. Game and Set to Louis.
- The increasing hostility between Louis and brother Philippe is delicious. Philippe was first painted as a sap, almost a joke. Now he’s battle hardened and perfectly willing to play dirty. Students of history know how this will end, the rest of us can just enjoy the ride.
- A book Philippe got from a pillaged monastery contained code language used by those wanting the king dead and the monarchy gone. Serendipity and a plot mechanic or something else?
- A small gripe this, but some dates would be handy. It’s all coming across as happening very quickly but the French/Spanish war lasted years and Philippe was away for many, many months.
- The Chevalier was a perfect panto villain up until now but the hurt Evan Williams showed on the face of the moustache twirler at being cast aside by Philippe was almost heart-wrenching.
We’re exactly halfway through Versailles and with the beginning of the end for Cassel, and Philippe stretching his muscles, it’s all going to start kicking off. Follow it all here at XO.TV