Thoughts on Versailles, the season two summary

Poison, murder, cabals, betrayal, weddings, good versus bad… this season two was packed. It was dark, dangerous and wicked. If you read my thoughts on Versailles, you probably already know that I had some issues with this season regarding its general story and with how some of the characters have been written. Especially one character in particular. If you haven’t watched the full season yet, you probably should not read on now because I shall talk of my viewing experience here and this includes some spoilers.

I really looked forward to this season and you most likely as well. It was supposed to be darker than the first one and it indeed was. The scenery was spectacular, the costumes great, the actors brilliant, and before I begin my ramblings, I would like to thank all involved in making the show for doing a fabulous job again. You guys rock.

That I have one or two things to complain about, does not change the fact that cast and crew did a fabulous job again this season. Yet I am not someone who blindly likes everything that is presented to me and since my whole life circles around 17th century France, it is obviously a matter of importance to me that those things, since they are very dear to me, are portrayed in a way that stays somewhat true to how it was. Nothing can ever be 100% historical accurate and it’s not the job of a tv show to be so…. yet a tv show is also in the unique position to transport the spirit of a time and to educate.

So… let us begin…

Did I like this season? I did. It was entertaining, at times a little over the top, but still entertaining. The fictional characters and their building up was nicely done, unfortunately I can’t say the same about the historical ones. Obviously it is way easier to create something and fit it into a story, or to create something that is based on a other something, than to stay true to the character of a person that actually lived… more about that later.

What about the story? My first disappointment was how the whole Rohan situation was solved. We spent most of season one with building up to Rohan and his wicked plan. Episode ten of the last season left us with the Dauphin being kidnapped… and then we start in some years later and it’s a bit like everyone is in a haste to forget about it. What happened in the meanwhile? All we get is Rohan being captured. I do not know about you… but it would have satisfied me already if this scene had been a little longer. As in instead of Rohan hiding behind the bushes, we would have seen some sort of chase with him pushing the Dauphin into that shack, pointing a pistol at him, then horses can be heard, he doesn’t know what to do, shoot him or run, tension builds, he runs as Fabien and his men slash their way to him. A terrified Dauphin is rescued, some sentence of finally having found him after so long and blah, Rohan is captured. And that’s not my only Dauphin related issue… we see him three times in the whole season. In the shack, back at court, in the last scene. I’m surely not the only one who constantly wondered how that boy coped…. again one small scene would have been able to erase my issue with it. One scene, a concluding one, in private and perhaps with the Queen and a bit of talk of what happened.

Since I just mentioned the Queen, lets stay with her and what the hell did happen to that woman? Oui, she was very devout, but some things, even when I leave history aside, do not make sense. It’s a bit like her only purpose this season is to complain and make everyone’s life a little harder. Oui, her hubby does cheat on her… I always have been someone who felt for the historical Queen and how she was treated at times by her husband, but this show one just annoyed me. I could not feel bad for her. Again, a doting mother scene with the Dauphin could have changed this a little and would also have aided the whole ‘Louis creates his own enemies’ that is hinted so often this season. How to hint it better than with a scene of son and mother being forsaken by the one they love the most aka Louis.

Moving on to the fictional characters. Like I said, I do love the work which has been done with them… Thomas the poet-spy, Madame Agathe as the evil witch, Sophie going from innocent to murder, Fabien being his usual bad-ass self, Jacques….. his death had the only purpose to shock and seclude the King further… then it was forgotten again. Claudine… I don’t even know what to say about it, apart from story-wise it did not have much of a purpose and was probably done in spirit of GoT killing characters everyone likes.

Versailles, the prison. I had my issues with this already last season. Why? Because the way it is shown in the show, it appears like Louis did force everyone to come to Versailles when he much more lured them. You could argue that his luring was forcing, but the luring had a bit more style. Since the show is called Versailles, obviously this place is the main-stage… unfortunately, this excludes many other settings and everything has to be pressed into this one place. Like Saint-Cloud. We see a bit of Saint-Cloud in the first two, before Philippe is locked back into Versailles and this annoys me. Although Versailles was the main residence, Philippe still had his own house. He spent lots of time in Saint-Cloud or the Palais Royal… sometimes he went to Versailles in the morning and returned to Saint-Cloud after supper. His brother did not force him to stay in Versailles. One gets this idea in the show and it is simply not true. I guess the main reason why this annoys me, it that due to this so many possibilities of interesting stories are erased. And you what? During this time Versailles was a fun place to be, compared to the later years of Louis’ reign. Now was supposed to be the fun time, the time for parties, balls, and such things. What do we see? A totally out of character Queen turning it all into a convent. I am curious to see how they will try to make Versailles a fun place again now, considering that the fun stopped pretty much after the fall of Madame de Montespan.

While I said in my summary of season one that history and fiction were in a good balance, I can not say it for this season. There is a whole lot more fiction in it compared to season one and it starts already with how the characters have been written in a way that is sometimes miles away from how they actually were. One of my main complains last season was the Chevalier de Lorraine and this season I had a whole lot more to complain about him. What we see on-screen is not the Chevalier de Lorraine. It is a version of him that has been twisted so much, it is hard to actually see a glimpse of him. His story is… I could not enjoy it. Even if I wouldn’t know anything of him. We have him return from exile, without ever knowing why he was there, and turn into a maniac. Oui, while he feels somewhat secure at Saint-Cloud with Philippe under his control, this control gets a little less as they return to Versailles. Oui, he does not know if he still is the number one after Liselotte shows up… all of this makes sense, but what does not make sense at all is his general behaviour afterwards. It feels for me as if one character attribute has been taken and everything else ignored. His jealousy is in the focus. He was a jealous person, but what he was not is a whiny baby. That man was a master of manipulation. He knew how the court worked. He played everyone around him. Destroyed those that refused to play along. He always found a way to secure his position and he did not care who he had to ruin for it. A man like this would use this power to twist Philippe to his own will. There is no reason to be jealous of Liselotte for him. He knows Philippe has no interest in her. He knows it is duty. Sigh. Being jealous of Thomas makes a bit more sense, but instead of getting his magic out…. he whines. He makes scenes. It’s ridiculous. He even whines to Liselotte…. then points a gun at Monsieur….. wtaf….. this is not the Chevalier de Lorraine. Period. It’s not just me that has this issue either. A whole lot of people jumped into my comments, emails, DMs and said exactly the same. One even said, and it hurts me to say this because the acting is great, that this person actually skipped the Chevalier scenes…. it hurts me even more to say that I had the longing to do the same. It was just too soap opera for me. The very predictable from zero to hero at the end did not make things better. First of all because I have no clue why a man who was praised as a great soldier and fighter has been written to be a coward… maybe to make Philippe appear a bit more butch…. but he is already butch enough the way he was written… Anyway, Philippe goes war and Chevalier and Liselotte remain back and suddenly appear best friends, united in worry…. give me a break.

In matters of etiquette, this season was not too accurate either. While I loved it every time etiquette was observed, armchairgate made me rather displeased. Especially since season one did point the whole sitting situation out. Season two had way too many arm chairs. Now, they do have a historian on set to point certain things out…. but I wonder how much they actually listen to him at times.

What else…. ah, oui. Liselotte. She was something I really enjoyed this season, not just because I love the historical one. She is a brilliant force of nature. I also enjoyed the fictional meeting of Louis and William of Orange. What I liked less is the general speed of things. It just moves too quickly at times, which makes character development a bit difficult. One scene Louis hardly looks at Madame Scarron, the next scene he suddenly entrusts all his worries to her. The general speed also makes it impossible to linger on one issue or to go more into dept… which I find a shame, considering things like the destruction of the Palatine were something major and are just mentioned in the show. If there is not enough time to cover a topic that effects a character so much, leave it out. Do it next season. Focus on a few things less. Do not try to squeeze so much into one episode, just to be able to move on and totally forget about it in the next. Actions have consequences and sometimes these consequences linger. Putting ten years of history into ten episodes is not always a good idea.

Another thing that irked me a little was, for example, Monsieur’s constant grumpiness. He was quite grumpy last season already and even more so this season. His daughters were briefly mentioned… why not show him from a different side? Why not include a quick scene where he plays with his daughters? He did adore them. Character attributes are mentioned, but we never see anything of them. One gets the idea he was constantly pissed off all his life, when he was not. He had a lot to deal with, but made the best out of it.

Right…. I shall stop now, or I will never finish.

General perception? If you had issues history-wise last season, and I know some of you did, you had even more issues with this season. While I was able to say if one left all history aside, it was an enjoyable ride last season. I can not say this for this season. Some things were just so very over the top. Some things did not make sense. Unfortunately, I did not enjoy this season as much as the last one and what I had feared as I first heard of a show about Louis XIV and Versailles being made, came true this season. I was afraid that things would be too twisted.

My favourite Episodes? One and two. Feel free to disagree here, like you can disagree with everything else I say, but in my opinion it went down from episode three on, with an upwards curve at six, then down again for seven and eight, nine and then back up but not able to reach one and two. I had a hard time to watch certain scenes, which was never the case in season one. I had a hard time watching not because they touched me as they were supposed to, but because I found certain scenes, and guess what… they are all Chevalier ones, too ridiculous to watch.

What and who do I want to see next season? What I want to see is that historical characters do become a little more historical again. Louis XIV’s reign is so very interesting and so full with awesome stories, it does not need a fictionalisation of so many events either. Things are interesting enough as they are already. I said this in my season one summary too… I really really really would love to see a Monsieur that is a little more merry. He was not grumpy all the time. Another thing I mentioned back then are the Mancinis, but I doubt we will see anything of them in season three.

Conclusion? Season two was entertaining, but it could have been more entertaining. In my opinion, it was a little too fast at times, a little too over the top, a little too soap opera, then in other parts of the story there was just something lacking. I can’t put my finger on it. It’s just a feeling that some things, like with Dauphin, could have done differently to be more entertaining. The sets looked all very stunning. The outfits were great. The acting fabulous. But I do have my issues with the script.

That’s it from me for this season in matters of reviews and such things. If you took the time to read this far, let me thank you for it. It means a lot to me. I shall do my very best to keep you updated on what season three might bring and if you want, leave a comment below and let me know what you think of season two.

23 thoughts on “Thoughts on Versailles, the season two summary

  1. Hi,
    Thanks again for posting your detailed reviews and historical notes and comparisons. They really are informative, and I sincerely appreciate the focus on historical accuracy.

    I think your assessment was dead right. Although I have not actually seen Season 2 yet as I am in the States, there have been enough video clips, reviews and synopses etc. online to where I think I have seen enough to form a general opinion.

    I, like you, wish they would stay closer to the real historical story line as I think those characters were more than interesting enough to stand on their own. They put so much effort into the finer details for the sets and costumes etc. that I am a little confused as to why they did not apply the same detail to the characters. I think they missed some tremendous opportunities there. In particular, I think the whole story of Monsieur and the Chevalier and the rest of his household etc. was much more intriguing as it really happened. Poetic license, I guess.

    I also don’t quite understand why they built up so much to Rohan kidnapping the Dauphin, then closed it out so quickly. Same for the romance that was building between Claudine and Fabien from last season, although I expect Fabien will get his revenge. I also thought the whole story line with Sophie got a little weird. She went from innocent girl to clandestine killer overnight. So, was she really all that innocent to begin with, or was she more like her mother than we thought? That is not clear at all, at least to me. I also cannot quite believe that Fabien just let her go after he found out she poisoned her husband (even if Cassel was a horrible rat dirtbag of a spouse). That’s just not Fabien.

    The big question is, where will they go with Season 3? I am wondering, given where we are now with the series timeline, if season 3 will be the last. As I understand this series is extremely expensive to produce, perhaps an extended run is not practically possible. If Louis marries Maintenon next year, I would think that to be the case, (and I expect he will). That will be interesting from the standpoint that she was the one who became particularly devout and basically shut down all of the frivolity of Versailles.

    I am curious as to your thoughts on why she had such a powerful influence on Louis, as I have always considered him to have been more or less a man of his own mind. I know he began to worry about where his own soul might end up as he got older (as do a lot of people), and I’m sure that helped. I’m not surprised that he decided to clean things up at Versailles overall, just a little surprised at the extent of the change in his viewpoint. He himself became very sullen and dull. (It’s a shame, really.)

    I am also curious as to how Maintenon, as a devout Catholic, must have felt regarding Monsieur and his minions in particular, as Monsieur was her now increasingly pious husband’s brother. Monsieur et. al .did not appear to be particularly discreet regarding any of their so-called “debaucheries”. I have read that she would rail against them in private so as not to appear that she approved of the behavior, but I wonder if she ever dared to bring it up to Louis, especially given his deep affection for his brother. If she ever did, Louis apparently didn’t budge on the issue. Although Louis suppressed Monsieur in many ways, I think you really have to admire Louis for letting his brother live his life more or less freely and openly as he was intended, especially when the Church was giving Louis all sorts of grief for what went on his in own life and at his Court. I’m pretty sure the Church had issues with Monsieur and expressed them rather clearly to Louis, as they openly criticized his relationship with Montespan. It would have been easy for Louis to at least insist that Monsieur be more discreet in public, but he didn’t. (Go, Louis!) Your thoughts?

    Thanks again for everything.

    1. The amount of influence Maintenon had on him is not quite clear, especially in matters of politics. It appears as if she had less direct influence there than everyone thought, but it can’t be denied that she did influence his thinking and thus also his deeds. I think that he will marry her next season and it appears that next season, if my info is correct, will have to do with the Man in the Iron Mask. If it is true, it is a little disappointing already because this has been done in various ways a 100 times already, but like I said, I’m not sure if my info is correct. Filming of S3 has started today. I hope it will be a bit lighter, since S2 was very dark considering it were the fun years.

      1. Thanks for your insight regarding Louis and Maintenon. I really find their story fascinating as (to me at least) it was just so unexpected that Louis would marry someone like her. He basically married the governess. They did seem to be quite happy with each other.

        I would not be surprised in S3 does go to the Man in the Iron Mask. I rather hope they do not as well, but if they do, I hope they don’t get overly melodramatic with it, and I hope they follow the actual historical theories as to who this man was. As I understand it, and please correct me if I am wrong, it has been more or less accepted that this person was not a twin brother of Louis’s (although I think the jury is still out on the final verdict). That could be a good story line as there are so many theories about why that poor man was imprisoned in that manner and for so long.

        My only real concern about S3 is that since they have blown through so much of the historical timeline in S1 and S2, if they plan on continuing the series after S3, they will have to add more and more completely fictional story lines. That would ruin it for me, I think.

        Thanks again.

      2. The influence of Françoise d’Aubigné seems to have been increasing from 1700 on: that’s interesting and it could have something to do with Monsieur’s death. In private ife, Louis XIV granted the privileges of a queen to his secret wife, but he always made sure that she respected his brother: for example, she didn’t have to stand up as someone from the royal family entered her room, but she had to do it with the dauphin and Monsieur. And Philippe was the only one daring to spoke freely about her with the king.
        They were not friends but Monsieur tolerated her.
        As for the Church’s issues against Monsieur, it could sound odd, but Rome appreciated him and they regarded him as an ally: they never complained about his sexual habits and they surely never raised the issue with the king. That’s also very interesting because the Church complained about the king’s adultery (is that the right english term?) but never about Monsieur’s mignons. I guess that’s because he didn’t betray his wife with another woman, which was much more dangerous for the family because it could imply illegitimate children.

        1. Thanks for that information, Elisabetta!

          This is why I wish they would follow the historical story on the show. This stuff is seriously fascinating.- much better than the fiction. Louis always protected and respected his brother. I can’t help but wonder if part of the reason was the rotten way Philippe was treated as a child, and how he was suppressed as an adult. I wonder if Louis felt some remorse about that as he truly did love his brother. I expect he did. As far as the Church is concerned if Philippe was an ally for them, the advantages would be obvious. So, that actually makes perfect sense that they would overlook his lifestyle. I had not considered that.

          And yes, adultery is the correct English term. One question- what did you mean when you said that Francoise’s influence could have had something to do with Monsieur’s death? I thought he died of a stroke after a fight with his brother, but that it was obviously something that should not have been unexpected given his eating and drinking habits etc. I read that is doctor’s had warned him of it.

        2. Elisabetta,
          I misunderstood your post, but now I know what you meant, and it makes sense. Monsieur died in 1701 and it was his death that might have increased Francoise’s influence over Louis. So, please ignore my question.

          1. Yes, that’s it, exactly.
            If you read the sources as a synopsis (which we rarely do: people usually read one source/book, then another, then another again and so on) you get the impression that something changed in the royal family after Monsieur’s death. I’m not really sure what, but there was something different (and, after all, even Elisabeth-Charlotte hints at it in one of her letters). If you ask me, I think we should really re-evaluate Monsieur’s influence over his brother: I don’t (just) mean political influence, but his role in Louis XIV personal life. A french historian, whose name I don’t recall now, noted that Monsieur was the only person, along with Françoise d’Aubigné, with whom the king had a real human relationship. I must say I agree with him: after all, Monsieur was the only one who truly chatted with the king at dinner, as Elisabeth-Charlotte points out, and they often really talked as merely two brothers. I have the impression that Monsieur was the only one which really Louis felt as part of his own family: he was the only one allowed to sit and eat with him at the “petit couvert”, the only one using an armchair before him in private…all these things, they’re details for us, but they really meant something for the king.
            I know for sure that at least some ambassadors was forced to try to reach Françoise d’Aubigné only after Monsieur’s death, in order to inform the king about reserved matters.

            As for Philippe being repressed and rotten treated since his childhood, I have to disagree. There’s not real proof that he was repressed in his childhood nor that her mother intentionally made him effeminate (Mazarin perhaps meant it, but again, we lack proof). But I think that Louis XIV somehow felt guilty about him, yes. He had to exclude him from political power (at least officially) because he was persuaded that France needed a king ruling alone, with servants and ministers, but not with relatives: we often forget that Philippe was not the only one, all the king’s relatives were excluded from major political tasks (with the exception of his illegitimate children, but their legal condition made him unharming), because their blood proximity to the king was potentially dangerous, inspiring factions and troubles (see what happened with the dauphin and the duke of Bourgogne, despite the king’s efforts…). He kept him away from militar duties, at least for a part of his life, maybe he was jealous, it’s actually difficult to tell in truth (Philippe actually almost always accompagnied him to war campaigns). But yes, he sometimes seems willing to compensate the lack of political power of his brother by treating him with great indulgence and showing him constant affection.
            Sorry too long post.

  2. I tried to avoid your reviews of Season 2 as long as I hadn’t watched the show myself. I really wanted to watch it as unspoiled and open minded as possible. So I read them only afterwards.

    It doesn’t change that I share most of your issues as well though. Especially the ones about the Chevalier de Lorraine. And I can’t count the times I’ve yelled at my TV about etiquette when even I, who is no expert, has seen that it is just wrong.

    So thank you for showing me that it’s not only me. I did like this season, for so many things, but so far I can’t really love it like I did with the first one. Maybe my expectations got the best of me in the end…

    But thank you for another great set of reviews I really enjoyed reading.

  3. I loved the series, but yes, I agree it strays from historical accuracy at times. My reaction to Liselotte was that something of her tough spirit was captured by the actress, but not her looks, and it was the same with Madame de Montespan. There was such a disparity in looks, and it may sound silly, but I wish that the actresses were a little more like the originals, physically, though their acting was very good.
    Most certainly, the Affair of the Poisons has been neglected, insofar as accurate portrayal of the courtiers relationship with the Paris witches is concerned.
    I carried out a lot of research on this period, because I read the Sergeants Golon books, and they got me hooked on the history of the Sun King. I still read everything I can find on the period, and, therefore, can spot inconsistencies.
    I accept that entertainment is not always going to be totally accurate, as you said, but maybe it is a matter of degree. There may come a point where it can hardly be said to be the same story? In which case, it could be labelled as historical fantasy, as in ‘The King’s Daughter’ which is due out very soon, and concerns the Sun King and a mermaid. I do not think series 2 has reached that point.
    I described my own book as historical fantasy, because It included the Comte de St Germain, even though the rest of the history was well researched, out of love for the period, which is something of an obsession, since Anne Golon, and her late husband, wrote their incredible books. Even they mixed a few names up, to get their characters, which was very clever. I realised, later, that Angelique was probably inspired by Madame de Fontanges?
    Looking forward to more of your posts, and comments on the period. Wonderful to share the interest, after many blank looks when I enthused about it!
    Regards
    Mary
    P S Thank you for your selection of films and books, which I will explore. There are some that I was unaware of.

  4. Hi,

    I’ve just now read your reviews and I basically agree with you. Regarding my issues with historical facts, they’re too many, I will not even begin with it . But, as I told you elsewhere, I enjoyed season 2 more than 1, I think it was funnier if you don’t take it as an historical show but merely as a period drama.
    Since they don’t even try to be historically accurate, I’ve not idea what to expect next season: I guess it will be the last and it will probably end with Monsieur’s death and the marriage between Louis and Françoise d’Aubigné (seing how they’re messing up the chronology…). I hope your source is wrong and season 3 won’t deal with the man in the iron mask, but I’m afraid it could be true. Mh.
    Yet, I know what I’d like to see next season:

    – A merry and happy Monsieur, like he actually was. As you point out, his brother didn’t force him to stay at Versailles, he was free to come and go whenever he wanted to. I’d also like to see him as the loving father he was, always caring about his daughters and son. In this show, he just seems wandering around without nothing to do: they forgot he was the soul of the king’s court and he was also an excellent businessman.
    – A joyful Versailles: it was a place where everyone wished to be, not a sort of prison…
    – Louis XIV as the great king he actually was: for the moment, we just saw a psycopathic prat with serious personnality issues
    – A chevalier of Lorraine making sense at least…I’m afraid it was me who skipped all his scenes 😉 sorry, they’re unwatchable, coming straight from the worst fanfiction. The last scene with Monsieur is one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever seen in my life. And btw, why is the chevalier not going to war? why is he just a sissy, whiny, annoying drag queen and a drug addicted? I seriously wonder why Monsieur should love him so much. Can’t he find someone more intelligent, WTF.
    – An Elisabeth-Charlotte who actually grew up in a princely court. The actress is good, but what the hell, did he grow up in farm? was she raised up by some peasants folks?
    – possibly, a Bontemps not talking politics with the king, the ministers and the queen (LOL) and La Reyne not being everywhere at court (I think he maybe came to court twice all his life and, in any case, he never approached the king directly, he just spoke with Colbert and Louvois): but perhaps I’m asking too much.

    This said, I liked (though I had to force myself to forget History for a moment) the meeting between William of Orange and Louis XIV (apart from the scene with the nun, which was a big WTF for me) and I think the interaction between Louis and Philippe is still the more interesting thing of the show. Alexander Vlahos is a great actor and he would have been a perfect Monsieur in a more serious show: this makes me complain even more about the big, missed chance which “Versailles” is.
    End of rant.

  5. HI!
    Thanks for your reviews. They are really relevant with a lot of historical comments. Regarding “Versailles” I have mixed feelings. The actors, the places and the costumes are fantastic while the plot is awful. I understand that a historical drama cannot be accurate because of the time and also beacause it has to be entertaining but considering all the things that happened durign Louis 14 reign , it could have been better.
    Season 1 was quite enjoyable even if the whole Rohan and Madame de Clermont plot turned to be useless. I think they gave too much credit to events that were never really proven (the black baby and Louis’affair with his sister in law). I think they should have focused on Louise de la Vallière who was an incredible woman and Fouquet. Concerning Fouquet it’s a pity they didn’t tell his story because he is in fact the main reason why Louis decided to build Versailles. Showing this great character would have helped the audience to understand Louis’ motivation.
    Season 2 was awful. The affaires des poisons , the war with the dutch and madame de montespan were really great events but 10 episodes were not enough to cover all these important stories. And worst of all we had the annoying parts involving Chevalier and Philippe. I’m sorry I cannot stand these two anymore. I don’t know what character Evan Williams is playing but this man is not Chevalier de Lorraine. And Philippe (grrr). The real one enjoyed colors, he had a cherry mood and he had a life of his own. He was not spending his time prisonner in Versailles complaining about his brother. These men were 17 th century people for god sake! They knew the importance of family , children and wedding. It had nothing to do with love. And please, I’ve noticed that people tend to forget that Philippe is the King’s brother and Chevalier is a noble. Grr the etiquette!
    The Queen was… never mind. I don’t know who was this lady but certainly not the shy and loyal Marie Thérèse who never had a word against her husband.

    Regarding Louis, I don’t know what to say. Georges is doing a great job but the plot doesn’t give him the opportunity to really show Louis’ good sides. Even if he was arrogant, jealous and sometimes cruel , he was intelligent, cunning , charming and full of charisma. If you want to see how french people see louis 14 then look at “le roi danse with Benoit Magimel” or “Rise and Fall of Versailles, part 1”. Louis enjoyed parties, dancing, music.. Where are Molière? Lully? Racine? And he had friends! And He really loved his brother even if he was unfair with him.
    He was a man of duty and he understood that in order to control and bring stability to a country like France he had to bend people to his will . He didn’t need violence or locking people in Versailles, he was more intelligent than that. He was living at a time where it was dangerous to show weakness because the people surrounding him were not kittens. Look at what happened to Louis 16th. He was nice, harworking and had a good hearth but because he was unable to control the nobles it lead to the French revolution. Look at Napoleon. A great warrior but not a good politician. Louis would have never made the same mistakes.
    Sorry for being too long . But this show is becoming painful. I love history and I am french.

    1. Thank you for reading and thank you for commenting as well. I totally agree with you and also your mention of Le Roi Danse, which is the best Louis XIV movie by far. Benoit really nailed the Louis XIV spirit in it. If you compare it with George, you can clearly see that he does his best, but the story does not allow him to bring the Louis XIV spirit really to life. One of my main issues is always that I do not quite get why there needs to be so much fiction in it. Louis’ reign is so full with interesting stories from the start to the end. There are also so many stories that have not been told yet in various books and movies. It’s like a giant buffet, where one can pick whatever one likes.

      The show moves way too fast, which is probably due to a uncertainty regarding how many season there might be, but this fast pace kills so many possibilities already. Like you said, Fouquet for example. I know quite a few people who would love to see some Mancini’s in the show as well. And what’s with the brother of the Chevalier? He was buddies with Louis. That would bring in some tension as well.

      In case of the Chevalier, they basically ignore everything that this man was. You already see it in S1. There the Chevalier is treated like some common noble from some unimportant family, while Rohan, having the same rank as Philippe de Lorraine is treated like a special snowflake. It’s those little details, things that they could do right with little trouble, and yet do not. Why Highness instead of Royal Highness? It’s just one word more and the lack of it drives me mad.

      If it’s then pointed out by Evan in an interview that they are aware of the actual rank and standing of the Chevalier or by George that there is a historical consultant at the set, and this is a man who works for the chateau, I wonder if they actually listen to anything he says. As it looks for me this season, they have seriously underestimated their audience. They did perhaps not count on so many people doing their homework between seasons and that those people will now spot things they would not have spotted in S1.

      It’s entertaining as it is, but it could honestly be a lot more entertaining with a few changes here and there. Especially for those who watch the show because of the history.

      1. Ah since you mentioned “Le Roi danse”…I adore it. My only complaint is that they didn’t show Philippe of Orleans and they ignored the deep bond between Louis and his mother. But, what a wonderful movie, really.

        1. What makes “Le Roi Danse” work so well is the fantastic music. Why they did not choose that glorious music for “Versailles” is one of the many puzzles of the series.

          For other movies, there is the unfortunate “Vatel”, which is ruined by its insipid storyline. It is pretty to look at, though, and Julian Sands makes a wonderfully feline Louis.

          Another one is “A Little Chaos” which is really a romantic fantasy. Alan Rickman makes by far the best Louis I have ever seen. It was a part he’d wanted to play for years, and it took this script to get him there. Stanley Tucci has some fun with Philippe.

          One of my main problems with “Versailles” is that no one is having any fun with it. If you can’t have fun with Philippe, who can you have fun with?

          1. “Vatel” is a wonderful, underrated movie and I fully agree with you, it’s totally ruined by that ridicoulus storyline about the “lovestory” between Vatel and madame de Montausier – come on, who would actually buy it? But the sets are wonderful, music is perfect (even if Handel was actually born a little after, but his watermusic doesn’t sound anachronistic at all). And the movie has the best Monsieur on screen so far: very close to what he really appeared in public life.
            As for “A little Chaos”, I enjoyed it, but Alan Rickman is too old for the part and the whole thing is too “english” (it’s a pity they couldn’t use Versailles as set), the character played by Kate Winslet is totally too modern and unbelievable (a woman gardener sitting and chatting at court…); Stanley Tucci as Monsieur is funny but he definitively overacts.

            And I also agree with you, what we miss in “Versailles” is fun and light.

  6. “A Little Chaos” was made for something like $350,000. I would have loved to see Rickman as Louis with an appropriate Maintenon. Done properly it would be sly, fun and even sexy.

    I wish “Versailles” would stick to one or two years and do them fully, like they deserve, instead of jumping all over the place. La Valliere should have been more fully developed, especially with her children and how deeply attached Louis was to them. It’s frustrating.

    1. I too would have loved to see more La Valliere, with her genuine love for the king, and more of Louis and Philippe with their families: they were both loving fathers, Monsieur especially was so caring with all his children. The show is too rushed and confused, it sticks to the usual formula “there’s a traitor in the mist”, in association with some annoying petty jealousy scenes concerning Monsieur and Philippe of Lorraine, instead of dealing with the billions of interesting storylines which could have been developed without even any fictional addition. That’s why it’s a big, missed chance.

  7. Hello! It’s 16 June 2017 and I cannot find anywhere where I can watch season 2. Do you know a website where I can download or pay it? Thank yooou! I’m really anxious

    1. Hello 🙂 You can buy the dvd of season 2 on Amazon. Either on Amazon France, they have it with French and English audio. Or on Amazon UK, on which the dvd will be out on June 26. If you have a dvd player zoned for Europe, there is no issue with playing them on it. If you have a dvd player not zoned for Europe, you can still watch the dvds on any computer if you use the VLC media player, which you can download for free. I have a link to the dvd on Amazon UK in my sidebar to the right.

  8. My opinions about season 2 will not bring anything new, so let me just thank you beautifully for all your reviews, which are always sincere and full of interesting historical details. Merci beaucoup!
    And some of the discussions under your articles are really fascinating (thank you, ladies :-)).

  9. I have enjoyed both series but only to a certain extent. The inaccurate chronology is driving me mad. I am also disappointed that Mme de Montespan’s quick wit, joie de vivre, extraordinary sex appeal & voluptuous beauty are not really properly captured at all, nor the fact that her figure was far from slim by the end of her “reign” because of her gourmandise and many pregnancies (and we never see the children who were very important to her & Louis (& Mme de Maintenon, who looked after most of them and loved them dearly, especially the Duc du Maine). Also poor Mme de Montespan seems to have been in the same dress all through series two and rather a dowdy one at that. And that paltry crowd at the burning of the witch – it would have been enormous in reality. For goodness sake, spend a bit more on extras! In fact, all the crowd scenes have looked thin – Versailles was packed to the rafters with people but you don’t get that impression from this series.

  10. Extras can be had for virtually nothing. All they would have to do is ask re-enactment groups, Baroque dancers, and hobbyist costumers to participate. That what they did for “A Little Chaos”, which was made for less than the cost of a single ‘Versailles” episode. As it is, Versailles looks abandoned.

  11. I’ve only watched series one and one episode of series 2. One thing the series has done is that it’s brought some (mainland) European actors (and a couple of Canadian ones) on to my radar. I’d seen Alexander Vlahos as grown-up Mordred in the last series of “Merlin” on BBC but I really wasn’t aware of most of the actors in “Versailles” before watching it.

    So far I’m enjoying the show as a guilty pleasure. It may be “history light” but I don’t think that will matter to the casual viewer but the showrunners should realise that some people have a clue. Didn’t Dumas play somewhat fast and loose with this period of history in his Three Museketeers book and their sequels. The showrunners have to some extent done the usual “Hollywood” thing of making the actors who play some parts more attractive than their historical counterparts (Louis’ real -ife queen wasn’t as attractive as the actress playing her in the series for example) – though of course the real-life Chevalier and Montespan were said to be handsome. I don’t know the history of the period in rich detail though remember touching on it in “European history” at school. Of course, those who aver that some interesting characters and true events have been passed over are quite correct. Either there’s been no mention of Olympe Mancini or I missed it and from my long ago school history lessons I remember that strictly speaking there were two Frondes not one (though in the show the Fronde predates the story so maybe I should cut the storytellers some slack there). About the French noblemen turning to highway robbery, obviously I know very little about that day to day aspect of French history, but apparently after the English Civil War (as in Cavaliers v Roundheads – not the War of the Roses) some impoverished Royalist nobles who are said to have taken to such action in England https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katherine_Ferrers (the Wikipedia article linked mentions this quite far down although it is focused on Katherine Ferrers who may have been the inspiration for the film “The Wicked Lady” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wicked_Lady (it used to be shown on British TV quite often when I was younger I’m in my 60s). I did wonder if the showrunners had seen that film – or its 1983 remake, but that is only me surmising.

    Now, when the BBC made an adaptation in recent years of Dumas’ “The Three Musketeers” of course they cast English (or English sounding) actors speaking English because it was for English consumption. France doesn’t lack for good actors though (I enjoy another Canal+ series “Engrenages” and don’t mind watching with subtitles – I can get by in French but it’s so long since I’ve been to France I’m out of date with the modern slang and swear words [not that I ever use them – or tell lies]).

    Canal+ was taking something of a chance shooting the show in English in hopes of appealing to an international audience. So far the chance seems to have paid off reasonably well in terms of viewing figures. To my English ears the Chevalier and Fabien spoke with quite convincing English sounding accents – from their names I thought they might be Welsh but turns out they are Canadian. I liked the Beatrice actress and was quite sorry when her character was bumped off. She did the Eva Green thing of speaking English from the back of the throat so didn’t sound like an English person but I’m not going to complain about a French person having a slightly perceptible French accent when she is like playing a French person in a French production. I’ve heard the Louis actor giving intereviews in French and I thought he was not bad – but then again I can usually only tell when people do bad English accents.

    So – I liked the show as entertainment and will probably carry on watching but I realise it has flaws and is not 100% accurate. And how did they make Madame de Montespan appear pregnant in the bath scene – did they use a pregnant lady as a body double and superimpose Anna Brewster’s head?

Leave a Reply