The following will contain some spoilers for Versailles Episode 8. Episode 7 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.
For a series originally trailed as being raunchy, violent and a very guilty pleasure, this week’s Versailles is sadly devoid of all three. Still, as long as we have tight plotting, an exciting coup in the making and tension building and building, it shouldn’t matter that much, right? Alas, mon dieu, that too is absent. Sacré bleu!
Brothers eh? Always competing, always at each other’s throats. But as Louis has put Philippe’s lover – his one, true love the Chevalier – in jail and awaiting certain execution, you could forgive the sulky one for being a might angry at his sibling. A ride, nay a race, through the woods is suggested by Louis to clear their heads, and hopefully the air. “You could’ve won,” Louis declares. “The King would have lost,” Philippe replies. “We can’t have that now, can we?” Brothers eh?
Philippe’s pregnant wife Henriette is having a miscarriage and thus Claudine is called. She’s completely over her father’s death and rather miffed at being made to dress as a man to enter court. As are we, for she has been to the palace several times in her medical capacity and has treated the King as a woman; why the subterfuge now?
Her wondrous medical skills are barely needed, however, with Henriette pronounced well – or as well as can be expected following a miscarriage. Still, that solves the problem of the King producing an heir with his brother’s wife. Could have been tricky that.
Poor moustache-twirler the Chevalier is feeling rather sorry for himself in his dungeon, and won’t even touch the bowl of maggots laid on for dinner. Cheer up mon amis, here comes the mysteriously masked man at the heart of the conspiracy to destabilise, perhaps even kill, the King. He’ll help you, non? Well, yes, if you consider a threat to slit the Chevalier from neck to groin if he spills the beans on the goings on as help. But Chevalier isn’t that brave, is he? A later visit from Louis gives him the chance to show if he might and, quelle surprise, he keeps his mouth shut. And his fate? To be let off, and allowed back to Versailles, as long as he promises to be very good in the future. This is either a bold move by Philippe or a gross miscalculation. Time will tell.
Meanwhile, Fabien has realised he’s been poisoned by Madame de Clermont and has managed to get to Doctor Claudine, who manages to treat him with alarming speed and get him on his feet again. It looks like de Clermont’s days could be numbered; Fabien has revenge in mind and proof that the real de Clermont died over thirty years previous is close to surfacing. How did Fabien begin to suspect her? The parchment her (forged) letters of nobility were written on was ‘too young’; he’s a regular Sherlock is Fabien. The Columbo of Versailles.
History fans are well-served this week with Louis providing huge expanses of exposition regarding King Charles, a Holland invasion and promises of getting the Pope to allow England to become Catholic once more. It’s all delivered in one great lump, and for those watching who’s history is patchy, or plain non-existent, rather cumbersome. Such details need to be given, but a good script is show-not-tell, and this is all telling. Watching this it’s hard not to feel like you’re back in school, desperate for the hometime bell to ring.
Louis, seemingly oblivious to the continued hatred he’s building in his brother, assigns the vitally important meeting with King Charles to Henriette. She may still be recovering from the miscarriage, but she is also Charles’ sister and thus in somewhat of a commanding position. Providing she can hold it together, and has the interests of France in mind and not her native land. Philippe is livid – this should have been his role – and isn’t really placated that much with the offer of a position at Versailles. Head of Court Etiquette is hardly the job title he was after, but he doesn’t really have that much choice.
The oily, dodgy Montcourt (Anatole Taubman) has stayed behind after another meeting of the conspirators. He spies on a conversation between the mysteriously masked man (who has been popping up to keep the plot moving) and the ringleader (a man who, fittingly, wears a very distinctive ring), and sees him remove his mask. And this man is……no one we’ve seen before. Wait! What? That’s not how these things work! Still, now we have an identifier for the Grande Fromage, and we’ll know him next time we see him. Which is exactly the way a Scooby-Doo story is told, by the way.
Montcourt decides to make a play for himself and arrives at Versailles requesting a meeting with the King. He explains there is a plot to kill Henriette on the road to England and is promised a return to court if this information is proved true. The plot is foiled, the would-be assassin caught and interrogated by a reinvigorated Fabien and Montcourt is thus allowed back, much to the consternation of Cassel. Just what is his game? Double-crossing the conspirators? Or playing a longer game?
It’s all been a long day for the King and he takes the air with best buddy Rohan. Rohan? Who he you ask? Well, he’s been around from the beginning, always in the background yet always close to the King. As he puts his arm around the King, we get a close-up on his hand. Mais bien sûr! It’s the ring! He’s the bad guy! Or, as Shaggy would put it to Scoobs, Zoinks! Is this curtains for The Sun King? Follow it all here at XO.TV.
- He’s a very forgiving King is Louis. First Chevalier, then Montcourt. Forgiving, or just plain stupid?
- We know it’s vacuous to bemoan a lack of sex and nudity and violence. But still….
- Baths in this time were taken within a sheet. Who knew?
- Louis didn’t have his weekly chat and advice session with his gardener this week. It was missed.
- Shooting someone with a crossbow whilst in a moving carriage, as was planned for Henriette by the conspirators, doesn’t seem that sure a way of getting the job done.
- Only two episodes to go.