Bonjour again. I had a cup of tea and am somewhat ready for the next episode…. and, as usual, everything behind this sentence will contain spoilers. Last episode, we saw Bossuet at the Vatican, which is a bit worried thing could get difficult for Louis soon. Louis has learned about Madame de Maintenon’s past and also that the poor people are a bit unhappy with him. He had some of them arrested, among them a boy named Tristan, whose papa is now on a revenge mission. Monsieur found the Mask Man and was attacked. The Queen tried to run away, but changed her mind last-minute, for which the Emperor wants to see her dead now….
A blindfolded and gagged (I hope that is a piece of fabric in his mouth. It looks a bit like an animal tongue.) Fabien is bound to the wall/ceiling of the tannery cellar. Bastian is with him and talks about injustice. They have done nothing to harm anyone, including the King, yet, he says, they are treated like trash and their money is stolen from them in form of taxes. They hardly have the means to buy food, but still the taxes a raised. He takes justice into his own hands by cutting Fabien’s bare chest with something that looks like a knife used to clean animal hide and adds that Fabien will get a cut for every day his boy remains in prison.
Fabien’s absence has been noted and Louis fumes. He is in the council chamber with his Ministers and Colbert argues that Fabien has many enemies. Louis agrees with that, but is sure he knows who kidnapped him. He is also sure that Fabien is not the actual target. He himself is the target and this is an act of revenge. Louis has three options, to execute the prisoners, to take Paris apart until Fabien is found…. or both. Colbert considers all options to be a bit too much. Louis slams his fist on the table. If they want war, they can have it, he says, and where the hell is Monsieur? Bontemps has no clue.
Monsieur is in his rooms and stares at something opposite of him. His thoughts are far away again, for they are with Mask Man and what happened in the forest. The door swings open and Louis enters with firm steps. “Brother, your absence has been noted.” “I had important matters to attend.” “More important than a meeting of council?” Philippe explains that he saw Mask Man and was attacked before he could speak with the Man. Louis wants to know who attacked him. Philippe does not know, it were guards… very skilled guards. “They are ready to kill and to die.” Bontemps steps in and suggests he could, for as long as Fabien is not present, help with the Masked Man quest and escort Philippe to where he was attacked to see if there is something they can find and clues about who might have attacked him.
Monsieur and Bontemps do just that as we return from the intro. They ride to the house in the forest… but it does not look like anyone has been there in years. Bontemps did a very good cleaning up. Monsieur is very irritated and you can see that he questions again if he just imagined the whole thing. Maybe he is going mad? Non, he is not. Philippe sees, from the corner of his eyes, how Bontemps quickly removes something from a beam. I’m not sure if he sees what exactly Bontemps grabbed to hide it under his cloak, but it is a small book. Maybe a bible, or a prayer-book. It is decorated with gold, which means the owner is not a no-one. Books were rather expensive, already sans gold decoration. Philippe looks quickly away with wide eyes and Bontemps, trying to act in a way that won’t give him away, for he seems not to be sure if Monsieur has seen the book or not, suggests to have a look around outside. They go outside and Philippe uses his chance to sneak around the house. I expect him to find something like fresh horsepoo, but he finds a dagger instead. It’s not a cheap dagger and has a strange mark on it. Philippe hurries to hide it under his coat and suggests to ride back to Versailles. Saying that he starts to doubt himself and that he wonders if he imagined it all. Bontemps looks undecided about whether he should question that statement or be glad about it. (I promise to tell you all about Mask Man as we proceed.)
At Versailles, Sophie visits a morose Queen. Sophie’s voice shakes as she asks why the Queen did not go to Spain. She urges her to make a new attempt, but Marie-Thérèse says she will remain in Versailles. Sophie hints that remaining at the chateau has its own dangers and the Queen thinks Louis is meant with it. She asks if Sophie had word from the Emperor and she shakes her head.
Tristan and the fellow prisoners are still in a dark cell and devour some disgusting looking grey slime porridge. He does not want to eat the slime and coughs. The bells of Notre-Dame ring as we return to the workshop, where Jeanne works on a pair of silver leather shoes that are probably meant for le Roi. She lacks material and makes her way to the cellar…. where she discovers Fabien. She thus runs to Guillaume to inform him of Fabien’s presence and asks if he is aware who he is. Of course. And they will all lose their heads if he is found in the workshop. Musketeers search the city as they speak. He turns to Bastien to ask if he thinks keeping Fabien in the cellar will help to get Tristan back. Jeanne got an idea. Guillaume has to go to Versailles and tell the King Fabien has been found and will be released if the prisoners will be released as well. Great idea.
The King enters the bedroom of his wife to ask about her health. His face is serious as he says it’s a shame she could not go to see her brother. What exactly was ailing you, he asks…. it was just a little chill… why did you not continue the voyage then? He inquires if, now that she feels better, she has made plans to go to Spain? She has not and he finds that quite strange.
Monsieur and Bontemps have left the forest and returned to Versailles. The first thanks the latter for his company and help. Bontemps says it was an honour to assist in the matter and promises to let Philippe know if there is any news. No need, says Monsieur, the investigation should be called off. He thought about all of it and has come to the conclusion that Louis was right. There are more important things (Your kid!) than chasing a phantom. Bontemps is again not quite sure of he should believe that statement.
Fabien is still kept gagged and bound in the tannery cellar and joined by Jeanne. She has brought items to clean him up a little and pulls the gag out of his mouth… (I still hope it is some fabric, but having a closer look… it really looks like an animal tongue. Which is very disgusting.) She apologises for what happened, he says it is not her fault and that he is thankful she takes care of his person. “How long have you served the King? ” “All my life.” “And does it not bother you to just do exactly what the King says?” “It is an honour to serve his Majesty. My loyalty is recognised.” Jeanne is not sure about that and inquires if the King is also loyal to Fabien. Of course, he is. She proceeds to clean the blood of his chest, saying the King might dress Fabien in fancy garments, but at the end of the day he will still be only a mere tool. A tool, that, when not useful anymore, will be replaced and tossed away. The same destiny as theirs. Does he even have a clue what it is like to be poor? Fabien has seen it all. What about injustice? They are surrounded by it. Fabien has heard enough and politely tells her to learn how to keep her mouth shut, she returns with a learn to open your eyes. “To what?” “The truth. I have been to Versailles. I’ve seen the King and his court. Gorged, on wealth and opulence. Fat, from wine and food. Idle, from gambling and debauchery.” “That is the way of things.” Jeanne questions if it really is. (See. That woman has a motivation. Her motive and reasoning is clear to understand. Unlike that of Madame Agathe last season.)
After a nice sunshine shot of Versailles’ Parterre d’eau, we sweep into the royal council chamber. It is packed with people and one of them is Guillaume. Louis fumes once again. That Guillaume dares to dictate terms to him. Guillaume explains the people took Fabien, not he himself. Louis wants names, but Guillaume says nup to that. He does not know their names…. that’s enough for Louis and some close body contact follows. Louis yells and that alarms Philippe, who happens to walk into the door the very moment and asks at once what the hell is going on now. Louis explains the peasants want a prisoner exchange. He wants their names. Philippe steps quickly closer to calm his big brother. If Guillaume says he does not know any names, then he does not know any names. Philippe would trust him with his life and he trusts his word. Louis turns around with a face of anger and frustration. Philippe uses the chance to get Guillaume out of the room, before turning back to Louis. A prisoner exchange doesn’t sound too bad, he says. Louis does not think that at all. You have to treat them justly, says Monsieur, and the important thing here is Fabien’s safety. Philippe will lead the operation and Louis demands that only when Fabien is in his royal presence, the peasants can be released. Fair enough. Monsieur leaves and the Ministers follow…. but Louis is not yet done. He calls a guard back to him in order to give secret instruction. I guess we all know what will happen.
Liselotte is busy with her own quest. She sits with Marie-Thérèse at a game of cards and tries to figure out if the Queen really felt unwell or not, as well as why she does not want to travel to Spain anymore. The Queen figures out Liselotte was sent by Louis and begs her to confirm the story.
Approaching musketeers, their uniform identifies them as Musketeers of the Guard, send the Parisians running. They are armed with muskets and accompanied by Guillaume and Monsieur on horseback. Philippe dismounts and calls for Fabien. A masked and armed Bastien steps forward with Fabien. “When do we get our men back?” A musketeer demands Fabien’s release and the rest of them aim their muskets at Bastien. Monsieur shouts, telling them to calm. Fabien has a knife at his throat now. Oh, the tension. “When Monsieur Marshal is safely in the King’s presence, your men will be freed. You have the King’s word.” Fabien is given a gentle shove and shuffles to Monsieur. The latter sighs as Fabien is safe in his presence…. as suddenly a wild musketeer yells FIRE! Muskets are fired at Bastien and his men. Monsieur shouts and tells them to stop at once. They do not listen. Bastien manages to get away, while some of his friends are hit and fall. Philippe can not believe what just happened. Nor can I. Are we going along with the “Louis XIV was a soulless tyrant” line now, dear writers?
A very angry Monsieur storms into the bedroom of his brother. More tension. The anger is very clear on Philippe’s voice as he says “I gave them your word!” “I gave them a lesson.” “I’m sure they are grateful for it, now that you slaughtered their fathers and brothers.” Louis returns he did what had to be done. These people challenged and insulted him. “Mindless. Slaughter. Is. Never. Necessary.” Louis face falls as Philippe looks at him with a mix of anger and sadness in his eyes. Fabien enters. Louis welcomes him and says he needs to see a doctor at once, but Fabien is more interested in the fate of the prisoners. They will be treated how they deserve to be treated, says Louis. Hurray. More bloodshed.
The sun rises over Versailles. The imprisoned men do not notice the glory of it. How could they? Little Tristan has fallen ill and his tannery buddy asks a guard to call a doctor or the boy might die. The guard does not give a… flying unicorn.
Fabien is back in his cellar rooms and joined there by Monsieur. He presents Fabien with the dagger he found by the forest house and Fabien has a close look. He has never seen such a weapon before, nor has he seen the engraving before. It is a triangle, surrounded with what looks like a mix of daggers and sun rays, like on the Louis’ sun. The triangle has a Illuminati style eye in the centre and the word diabolimors is written under it. (If you write that as diaboli mors and translate it from Latin, you get the words devil and death.) Philippe explains that someone tried to remove his princely bowels with this dagger and he thinks he knows someone who might be able to tell them more about the dagger. (If you ever wondered if there is a historical inspiration for Fabien, a fictional character, have a look here.)
While they leave the cellar, Liselotte enters the royal bedchamber. She has been summoned by Louis, who wishes to know in what mood his wife is. She’s fine and kind of glad that she felt unwell and could not go to Spain due to it. Louis ask if Liselotte believes that. She does and she thinks Louis is a bit too suspicious. Perhaps he could do with some distraction? There happens to be someone in the salons, a Monsieur de Puy, and he talks science. Bontemps fears Monsieur de Puy’s ideas might be a bit too much for Louis’ taste. The man is a Protestant.
The salon is packed with people as Louis reaches it. Among those present are the Chevalier and his new love-interest Madame d’Angers. The Chevalier was into both women and men (He had a couple of kids by then.), I avoid using the term bisexual, because that is a modern term and I’m not fond to apply these kinds of terms to historical persons. The constant hinting that all the Chevalier is after is money is a bit meh. It belittles him. It makes it look as if that man can achieve nothing on his own and has nothing of his own. As if he lives from what is tossed to him. Monsieur de Puy presents the gathered courtiers with a human brain in a glass (Eww. Just eww.) and explains that as a theologian he bows to God and as a scientist… he must have a closer look at things to understand His genius. Louis is not impressed. Lots of brain talk as Louis rolls his eyes. Madame d’Angers appears to be interested in what is said, the Chevalier feigns interest to impress her. The King approaches Monsieur de Puy, who looks rather nervous at once, and has a close look at the brain glass. What a fascinating speech. Louis locks eyes with the Chevalier for a second. (I guess since the Chevalier was given the role of party-master, Louis might believe he arranged the presentation. It is not said, but not unlikely. He might have arranged it to impress the Duchesse.) As the King leaves, he murmurs to a guard that this Monsieur de Puy should remain at Versailles. In a cell.
Everyone gasps in shock as the man is escorted away. The Duchesse wants to rush after him, but the Chevalier advises against it… and says… to impress her…. that he will talk with the King. Let me just mention real quickly that the Chevalier de Lorraine was a very smart man and was in possession of more intelligence than our beloved show Chevalier. And off he wanders, with his Farrah Fawcett memory-wig, realising that what he just promised was a bit stupid.
We return to the Bastille, which served as a prison from 1417 on. Louis XIV often sent people there, around 2,320 over the course of his reign. Some of the prisoners were mere criminals, others were suspected to be rebels or plotters, but he also sent some of his courtiers there to improve their manners. The governor of the Bastille is greeted by Fabien in his usually charming manner, aka Fabien slams the man’s head on the table. Philippe sweeps in and both start to question the governor about the dagger. Of course, the governor insists he has no idea what they want from him, nor has he ever seen a Masked Man. Or given orders to kill anyone. Fabien’s fist can not change that.
Back to the Chevalier, who approached the doors of the royal bedroom. Bontemps stands before them, as usual, and is a bit surprised to see the Chevalier. The latter asks if he could speak to the King about the scientist. “A friend of yours?” “No! But I believe he has been a victim of injustice.” Bontemps returns the King is in no such great mood and the matter should be brought to him once his mood improved… just as the doors swing open and Louis appears. The Chevalier bows as Louis saunters past, kind of glad to be ignored, but alas, le Roi turns back. “Yes?” “I believe his Majesty has gone beyond the bounds of decency in his treatment of the scientist du Puy.” Louis frowns and looks to Bontemps, as if what was just said is the most obvious thing in the world. “I agree.” he says and saunters away.
I’m in possession of a fresh cup of tea (No sugar, a little milk.) and a unicorn cup full of ginger ale, as we return to Paris with one of those amazing-how-it-looked-back-then images. There is Notre-Dame and that house covered bridge you can see is probably Pont-Marie. I still love those house covered bridges. (Have you guys seen The Perfume? It partly plays in one of those houses, which in the end explodes and falls into the Seine. Fabulous movie.) Where was I? The poor people of Paris discuss something, probably their gracious King, as the released prisoners appear. Tristan is there too and happy to be reunited with his papa. But one gentleman is missing. The other tannery worker, Olivier. He appears only moments later in company of armed guards. Fabien nods and some sort of huge wooden sign with the word justice on it is hammered through Olivier’s body. Ouch. I sense a peasant revolt.
In Versailles, a pissed off Louis gets his riding boots removed from a not so skilled boy, which pisses him off even more. Court etiquette forbade the wearing of boots at court, even for officers, beards, apart from the fashionable Louis XIV moustache, were forbidden as well. A clean-shaved face was essential and not even stubbles were allowed. Colbert enters and brings news. Those Austrian nobles which were seen crossing the border to Spain a couple of weeks ago, have arrived in Madrid and were greeted there by Charles II in person. The King ain’t amused. Didn’t his wife say her bro was close to death? Colbert returns Charles appears to be in fine health…. Louis figures it must have something to do with the planned marriage and orders Bontemps, his not-so-silent shadow, to arrange for a meeting with Eléonore in the gardens.
A nervous looking Chevalier searches the salons for the Duchesse d’Angers and spots her at a table. He joins her and assures her the King will think about the matter again. She is relieved and he reaches for her hand…. he did it for her… she knows.
Bontemps succeeded in fetching Eléonore, who now promenades the gardens with Louis. She loves Versailles and does not miss home at all yet, she says. What about Spain? She must be sad that she did not go there as planned? She is not sure what to say… but then spills the beans as Louis hints he knows all about it. He asks what she likes the best about Versailles and she returns it are the people she enjoys the most. Someone special? Oui, she says with a flirty look.
After his chat with Eléonore, Louis awaits his wife. She enters the council chamber all demure and sees him stand by the window. (Why does that feel so familiar?) Louis asks for her advice on the subject of treachery. (Ah. That scene with Luxembourg. Season two, wasn’t it? I loved that scene.) The King explains that he has discovered how someone very close to him had plotted behind his back, not just to destroy his person… it was a plot to destroy all he created. What would she do? She needs a bit more info on the matter and appears quite aware what the matter is as Louis fixes her with his regal-stare and says she knows the person involved in it. “Did you really think I would not find out?” “What are you talking about?” “You conspired with him to marry Eléonore to Charles, didn’t you?” “With whom?” “With dear cousin Leopold.” The Queen knows of nothing. Mhm, sure. It was the reason why you wanted to go to Spain, argues Louis, and his wife returns she only wanted to visit her sick brother. Strange, for that brother was not at all sick…. Louis backs slightly away…. “Oh my God. You slept with him, didn’t you? Why did you come back?” “I realised my place was by your side.” “You mean you couldn’t go through with it.” Louis orders her to be confined to her rooms.
And there is Madame de Maintenon. She is in a cloister and joined by the Mother Superior, who asks her all sort of questions. Is she happy in the cloister? Of course. That is not the truth, says Mother Superior and pushes la Maintenon to admit what is really in her heart…. she wants power. Meanwhile, Bossuet has arrived back at Versailles and gets a fine scolding. Louis does not think that Bossuet has done what was requested of him. And that grim-looking priest, di Marco, he brought along must be a spy in Louis opinion.
The next scene takes us to Sophie. We follow her through streets and a small barricaded window. She knocks on it and a hand appears, with which she exchanges a large bag of coins for a vial shaped object of considerable size and fine craftsmanship. I would say that is carved ivory.
It is party time at Versailles again. In his circus-master manner, the Chevalier de Lorraine has arranged some circus-like entertainment in the gardens. Louis is not too impressed by it, but the rest seem to enjoy themselves. A servant whispers something to Bontemps, Louis does not notice, for he has just spotted Eléonore… and that impresses him more than the party. Can’t blame him. I find that party a bit silly too. He greets and compliments her on her looks (She looks the same as always. Looks like Leopold took all her other gowns with him to Spain.) and they chat about how it is to always get what one wants. Louis does not get all he wants, he says, and she goes all flirty, lowered gaze and that, and says maybe he needs to try a bit harder. (Revenge sex incoming?)
While Louis gets flirty as well, Bontemps sneaks to the stables where he is been awaited by the Bastille governor. “What the hell are you doing here?” Bontemps told the dude not to contact him, but he had no other choice. Monsieur visited him and asked questions. Monsieur knows too much. The Bastille governor wants to back out of whatever deal they made. There will be consequences, says Bontemps. Does the King even know about the secret they try to hide? Bontemps says yes. (I doubt it.) The Bastille governor wants to talk with Louis in person, but Bontemps says there is no need to do that, which prompts Monsieur Bastille governor to doubt the statement regarding the King’s knowledge on the matter. Ah, well… you will never find out, says Bontemps, and plunges a knife into the stomach area of the Bastille governor…….. yep.
Back at the party, the Chevalier is led aside by the Duchesse. “Tell me, what is it that you like about me?” Money, but then he got to know her a little and since then he finds her rather beautiful, smart, witty, and all that. “Have you been intimate with a woman before?” He smiles… “Of course, many times….. once. Sort of.” …they kiss…. “What normally happens at this point when you are with a man?” “Normally… one of us kneels down.“… and he does just that.
Eléonore is being led into the royal bedroom by Louis, who has somehow lost his coat since we last saw him. He begins to undress and inquires if this is her first time. Yes. Charming. Take your clothes off, he says, and beholds her as she removes her gown. It is one that opens at the front and I have a small historical side note here: Gowns that opened at the front were considered to be a bit inappropriate, because they could easily be opened and removed without the help of a maid… and when one undresses without the help of a maid, it is implied, one might plan to engage inappropriate activities. Like Louis does here with Mademoiselle Eléonore.
His wife is at prayer in the meanwhile and watched by Sophie, who, seeing the Queen is busy, sneaks towards the queenly bedroom and runs straight into Fabien. She manages to hide the vial behind her back.
Louis helps Eléonore out of her gown to behold her naked glory, which she attempts to cover as best as she can with her hands. Seated on the bed, he asks her closer and kisses her neck…. Eléonore would like to ask him something… “Do you love me?” He looks utterly unsure what to say about that and decides it might be the best to chill his mojo and send her away. Controlling himself like Maintenon wanted. Eléonore gathers her gown and rushes out, thinking she displeased him. Poor thing. I am glad he did what he did.
The Queen is still at prayer and Sophie managed to sneak into the queenly bedroom by now. She fumbles with the cushions and puts the vial under them, then removes it again. She did put something there and I have no clue what it could be. Something to inhale? As she is on the way back out, a sobbing Eléonore runs straight into her. She wants to know what happened and is told the King said Eléonore was just a child and that she now also sees that she is still a child trying to act adult. Behind them, the Queen slips into her bedroom. Eléonore is suddenly irritated why Sophie is in that part of the palace as she is led away.
Louis has another sleepless night, which forces Bontemps to rise as well. The man gets hardly any sleep these days, does he? The King’s mind is restless and he can not get any sleep. Bontemps suggests to fetch Louis something, but he replies all he needs is Bontemps as company. The latter is allowed to speak his mind and hints the Louis’ restless mind might be caused by the absence of a certain lady. That lady, says Louis, left on her own will and Bontemps assured Louis it was for the best. But what if they were both wrong? Louis is undecided. “If I go to her, does that not show weakness?” It does not and we see him moments later, accompanied by a mere two guards, ride towards the cloister, where Maintenon sits at prayer. “You told me I needed to change and I accept that now. Without you I am incomplete.” He misses her, he wants her back, back at his side, because nothing compares to her and he does not care about her past anymore. Everything is forgotten. He loves her. Blah, blah. They make out. (The music video of Nothing Compares To You, which I can not help but hum right now, was filmed in the park of Saint-Cloud btw.)
So, this Madame de Maintenon has now character traits of not just one, but two of Louis XIV’s mistresses. I mentioned before that she did not place other chicks in the royal bed, for that is rumoured to be something Madame de Montespan did. The cloister thing is even older, for it was Louise de La Vallière who ran off to a cloister after she had an argument with Louis. Guess what it was about? She refused to tell him, although she knew a lot about it, what was going on between the Comte de Guiche and Minette, as in whether they were engaging or not. It was their first big argument and she ran off to hide in a cloister and remained there until he fetched her. It was not the last time she ran off to a cloister.
The last scenes of this episode, takes us to Monsieur’s bed, in which he sits and beholds the mysterious dagger, while some insect crawls up the Queen’s neck and vanishes in her ear. I pause to see if I can figure out what that thing is… my first idea is a Spanish Fly… but I can not quite see if that thing is green or not… but then it is quite dark in the room. Does anyone know what that thing is?
I will try to find out and if I do, I will tell you when we see each other again for the next episode. Where we also will talk about how the Queen did not get poisoned and how silly I find that story-line. Oh, the joy.