I hope you have a cup of tea or any other beverage of your choosing ready, for we are about to jump back to 17th century France… and everything behind this sentence will contain spoilers. Last episode, Monsieur teamed up with Fabien to find Mask Man and was totally uncaring that his son and heir was removed from Versailles by Madame de Maintenon. She still has to fight with the whore rumours, but has Louis at her side. Louis made a deal with the Emperor regarding Spain and the Emperor took into mind to marry his niece to Charles II of Spain. Sophie is back and not a spy… or so she says.
We start with a piece of linen on which various 17th century tools, required for surgeries, are laid out. One of it is a bone-saw. Louis is seated in his bedroom on an arm-chair and it appears he got a bit of a toothache. Ouch. An Eye for an eye. While Louis waits for the doctor to sort his tools, he discusses with Bontemps that something must be done about the people who dared to waste food on Colbert. Bontemps hints it might be wiser to remain calm, but Louis is of a different opinion. He has given his orders already, much to the displeasure of Bontemps…. and we move to the streets of Paris and Fabien. He and his men round some of the poor folks up. There is a lot of chaos, people run and scream, desperate to get away. Guillaume, Jeanne and the men of their workshop are there too. One of them, he is called Bastien, calls out for a Tristan….. back to Louis and the aching tooth. The doctor is ready and the royal mouth opened…. while Fabien still chases people about, in a not so gentle manner. Tristan is seized… and the aching tooth pulled. Louis beholds it and is being cryptic again, talking about the need to distract evil. Colbert looks pleased, Bontemps looks worried. I am worried too and wonder if our King is slowly but surely going mad.
The intro plays and I think that is the perfect chance to tell you something about the royal teeth. Louis XIV had massive tooth problems as an adult and had to undergo plenty of tooth pulling and surgeries. So much that he had no teeth left towards the end of his life. During one of the surgeries they accidentally pulled a bit of his jaw out too, which led to a festering wound. (Shameless self promotion: Louis XIV, the real Sun King has a whole chapter on Louis’ health, including teeth problems. The book will be out on June 30, but you can already pre-order by hitting the links under the book cover in the sidebar to your right.)
The arrested poor people, Tristan among them, are shoved into a dark cell. I think there is another gentleman of the tannery too, at least the face looks familiar. From dark cells, to the Queen’s bedroom… which one could see as a bit of a golden cell… she is seated at her desk and plays with a burning candle. (Is that an attempt to see if she can still feel? Or replace one pain, that of separation, with a other?) Le Reine appears to be waiting for something as the Duchesse de Cassel enters… and outs herself as spy. What the Queen is waiting for is a message Sophie carries. Marie-Thérèse has to come up with a way to travel to Spain and Sophie will make sure Eléonore joins the voyage.
A sad, but no longer red-eyed, Liselotte rises from a arm-chair, the silver-rattle of Baby Philippe in her hand. She walks to Philippe, who is chilling in bed, and attempts to get his mojo going. He stops her. “It is your duty as my husband.” “Another child won’t cure your pain.” So….. it appears that by now he is aware of what has occurred and he still does not care. He does not care that some almost random woman took his child, which happens to be his only son and heir, away. I do not understand that… what I however understand is that his quest for the Mask Man has become some sort of obsession and is of more importance than everything else. Ah, well…. I don’t know how I am supposed to feel about that. Anyway, Liselotte is called away. The Queen wishes to see her and remarks she believes Madame de Maintenon has cursed them. Philippe has a flashback. Cain and Abel.
Marie-Thérèse dictates something to her Spanish lady as Liselotte comes in. They have forged a letter, making it look like the letter was sent from Spain, and present it to Liselotte. “It is from Madrid. My brother sickens. I fear he will not survive the summer. I have to see him one final time.” I mentioned last episode already that Charles was born after Marie-Thérèse married Louis XIV and that she can not possibly have met him in person. Liselotte asking if it is possible for the Queen to visit her ailing brother requires me to add that it is not possible… I’m sure it will be possible in this show… for a foreign-born wife of a monarch to return to her native lands. Etiquette forbids it, because the country of the monarch becomes the home of the wife. In case of the Queen, it means that the very moment she set foot on French soil for the first time, meant that she could not set foot on Spanish soil again. Said lady will become the first woman of her hubby’s lands, the mother of his people, and unless there is reasonable fear that she might get killed, like during Revolution, she can not leave the country. A good example is the marriage of Monsieur’s oldest daughter. Both were in tears they would never see each other again. Back to the scene, the Queen asks Liselotte if she could help her to get Louis agree to a Spain visit.
In the salons, we have the Duchesse de Cassel making friends with Mademoiselle Eléonore. They talk about the art of flirting and seduction. Fabien watches them. The next scene takes us to Paris. I’m still in awe of these 17th century Paris shots. They look so very amazing. In this one we have a bridge covered with houses. Imagine to live like that. Bastien urges Guillaume to do something for Tristan, who appears to be the son of Bastien, because he is worried the boy might be tortured or get killed. Jeanne promises they will do what they can, while Guillaume is not so sure it would be wise to mention it to the King during their next business trip. He is afraid it might ruin them to upset the King, while Jeanne considers it to be their duty to intervene in the matter.
It appears the Chevalier has gotten the hint. He listens to a speech about religious matters of the Duchesse d’Angers. All full of admiration. Monsieur sweeps in and is not impressed as the Chevalier inquires what opinion the Duchesse has on intercourse outside marriage. In her opinion intercourse is always pleasant. Philippe remarks to the Chevalier that he has a challenge ahead of him, meaning the Duchesse. He doesn’t have a chance, says Philippe, because the Duchesse is aware of the Chevalier’s character. The latter thus turns to his new best friend, Liselotte, and asks, not at all amused, “What is the matter with him?” “He has an obsession.” “Ah, yes. Well, I used to be one of them.” On a historical note, the Chevalier and Madame did not make peace until the late 1690’s.
We follow Monsieur into his apartment, where he sits together with a young, and very handsome, Priest. They talk about Cain and Abel. Monsieur is eager to understand what the Bastille lunatic yelled after him and urges the Priest to tell him all about it. Cain killed Abel and was commended to walk the earth. For those of you not familiar with the story (I had to look the details up too.) Cain and Abel were the sons of Adam and Eve. Cain was the firstborn and a farmer, Abel was a shepherd. Both made sacrifices to God of their own produce, but God liked Abel’s gift more than that of Cain, which made Cain very jealous. He led Abel to a field and killed him. God noticed a certain lack of Abel and asked Cain what happened. Cain acted as if he had no idea, but God saw what he had done and cursed him to be a “restless wanderer” on earth: “My punishment is too great to bear. Now that You have driven me this day from the soil I must hide from Your presence, I shall be a restless wanderer on the earth and whoever finds me will kill me.” And the Lord said to him, “Therefore whoever kills Cain shall suffer sevenfold vengeance.” And the Lord set a mark upon Cain so that whoever found him would not slay him.” Monsieur says he knows the general story and asks why the mark? The Priest explains because of jealousy and greed. It was the first true deed of evil. What mark? I mark that would identify him as a sinner. Philippe asks if it is something like a symbol, the Priest believes it to be more of a curse… Philippe decides that the Priest is not much help and escorts him to the door, where he finds a folded note with his name on it.
Jeanne and Guillaume arrived at Versailles and wait to be admitted to the King. Jeanne still thinks the Tristan issue should be brought forward to His Most Christian Majesty and Guillaume urges her to keep quiet, as Monsieur appears and shows Guillaume the note he received. Some sort of invitation to a assignation. Monsieur wants to know if it is safe to go there and Guillaume decides to go with him.
And we are Rome. The message Bontemps sent last episode has arrived and is brought to a Cardinal, who reads it and dismisses the messenger. The Cardinal does not appear too worried about the message in first, but then turns to a tall and very serious looking gentleman behind him to tell him the Pope must be informed at once. I think Mazarin again…. then the idea of a secret love-child of Louis XIV and Marie Mancini forms in my head, a child that has been hidden away, maybe born in a secret marriage, which would cause a lot of trouble because it could challenge the rights of the Dauphin. But I’m sure that is not it and a new idea forms in my head about why the Church would be involved in the whole thing…. I do like this idea even less than my original idea about the Masked Man… and since I think it is the worst solution, I am sure they have done just that… which would disappoint me a lot for various reasons.
On we go. We are back at Versailles and Liselotte and Marie-Thérèse approach Louis in one of the salons. Did you notice how there is more going on salon-wise during the reign of Maintenon than during that of Montespan? The King is at a gaming table and not that interested in what his wife has to say, until he spots the letter she carries. It features a big golden Spanish seal. He has a glance as she explains what she has already told Liselotte. Louis exchanges much saying glances with Bontemps and Louvios. Spain could be his soon… but he does look irritated, as if he thinks something is not quite right. Liselotte aids the Queen and after some back and forth, permission for a Spain voyage is granted.
Louis turns back to valet and Minister. Figuring that if Charles dies, the Queen’s presence in Spain will aid him to take control over the Kingdom. He enters is bedroom, where Jeanne awaits. There is that Maintenon portrait again. It is based on a portrait Mignard did of the Marquise. Louis is presented with a pair of shoes and very taken with the fine handicraft. He wants to know who did the work. Tristan did. “Tell him the King spoke highly of his work.” Jeanne would really love to do that, but Tristan happens to be in prison. Surely a mistake. Louis’ face falls. The boy has nothing to do with the food-throwing, nor does she. Louis does not quite believe that. The suggestion that someone innocent was arrested isn’t met with much approval either. Louis tries to keep calm. His judgement is questioned and he asks what Jeanne would do with the prisoners. Release them, of course. A slightly pissed off Louis returns, he might do that… but only if the people show him the respect he deserves. Jeanne is very sure that he will have their respect if he shows mercy. Louis presses his lips together. What a bold woman. Luckily, he has another bold woman close-by. Madame de Maintenon prevents him from losing his royal posture. Jeanne is dismissed with a merci.
Monsieur has reached Paris in the meanwhile and approaches a fellow, while Guillaume stands guard. At least there is a bit of guarding this time. The fellow appears to be a Bastille guard and confirms that Philippe was hit on the head. What about that Mask Man? Monsieur Bastille Guard wants money, he has to feed some very hungry kids, Philippe thus hands a purse over and is told Bastille Guard does not know who the Man is… but he knows where the Man is. Monsieur insists to be brought to wherever the Man is and his request his refused. That Man is not of this world, says the gentleman. More money changes his mind.
We return to Versailles. The Mesdames de Maintenon and d’Angers walk the salons. The latter tells of her nephew has started a business of stained glass and with approval of the King, it could become a huge thing. Maybe Madame de Maintenon could speak to him about it. She has a better idea and guides Madame d’Angers towards the King’s bedchamber in order to let her tell the King… as they reach the doors, quite loud sounds of activities for which one is usually naked can be heard. La Maintenon looks embarrassed and suggest they try again later. The look on her face changes to anger as she makes her way to the bedroom via servants corridors. The door is swung open and there is Louis, with not just one girl but two.
It does not look like he is too bothered to be caught, but sends the giggling girls away. “You know me. You know that I have women in my bed. You put them there yourself. You have chosen them for me.” “Please, Sire. I have done what I believed to be necessary.” La Maintenon has a bit of an issue that Louis picked someone himself. “You wish to control the King?” “I just wish my King could control himself.” Oh la la. She does not wish to change him, but he needs to learn how to control himself. He is a slave to his groin. “What must I do?…. What would you do?” “I will not give myself in sin. No matter how much my body burns for it.” The argument gets more heated. I am just a man, says Louis. That’s the point, God has chosen him to be above all man. He looks like he was just hit by something very hard. She wants him to achieve greatness as only he could…. he is not sure how he can endure not to touch her… (As if it is all just about sex.) …she places her hands on his royal body and he enjoys that a lot…her hands roam…. it looks like she is about to do something involving her mouth…. but instead she tugs him down too and they pray.
We are half-way through the episode as we see Philippe and Monsieur Bastille Guard in a dark forest. It is nighttime and they are on the way to Mask Man. Bastille Guard thinks they are being followed, but Monsieur dismisses it. Probably just a boar… maybe one named Bontemps. Philippe is warned to be cautious, but ignores the warning and rides towards a house he spots. A house in the middle of a dark forest. What could possibly go wrong? He sneaks close and spies through a window. Mask Man is there. And that not alone. Monsieur is attacked, while Bastille Guard gets his throat slit. What follows is a fabulous fighting scene, that ends with Monsieur’s attacker killing himself instead of talking about the Man. He is very shocked about that. There must be something big behind all of it. (I enabled subtitles to get what the attacker said to him. It is Latin and he says furtas dicemus ad inferos.)
In Versailles, The Chevalier offers the Duchesse d’Angers some drink from the Colonies that apparently gets the mojo flowing. She declines politely and a bit of flirting follows. “You would have to convert if you wish to get your hands on my stunning fortune.” “No need to convert. I am as proficient with women as I am with men.” I love that line and I have two little notes here…. number one, it is implied that he studied the bible to impress her. He was an Abbot and his mother, a very pious woman, surely made sure he gets a good religious education… which leads me to number two, he is a member of the Guise branch of the House of Lorraine and they had the reputation to be more Catholic than the Pope…. the idea to see him convert is not something I would consider, based on the background, to be in character. But then, there is not much in this show Chevalier has in common with the historical Chevalier. Apart from the name, maybe… and I start to think the same about many characters. Shall I shut up now?
Philippe, smeared with blood that is not his own, meets Bontemps in a corridor at Versailles. Bontemps looks worried at the sight. Monsieur heads straight for his rooms, where he downs a glass of wine. The poor thing is in shock. What hell has he gotten himself into? (Is that Lully one can hear in the background?) As the sun has risen again, Bontemps rides through the same forest and heads for the same little house. “Bad news, my friend. You have to be moved again. Your safety is my duty.” The Man nods.
Bastian enters the tannery/showshop and Jeanne tells him she has learned that Tristan is alive. Guillaume adds that he spoke with Monsieur and Monsieur will try his best to get the boy released. That is all? says Bastian, they should do more for Tristan… and if they do not… he will.
Another beautiful Versailles shot, brings us to Liselotte and a gentleman that appears to be looking for something. Turns out, it is Liselotte who he seeks and Madame de Montespan who sent him. He is the Duc de Blaye and he paints. He came all the way from Villarceaux, because Madame de Montespan told him Liselotte would like portrait painted. He even brought some with him, so she can have a look at his works. Liselotte ushers her quickly into her rooms and is presented with a painting of a lady in a state of undress, then another…. both are Madame de Maintenon. The Duc has no idea why Liselotte suddenly tells him to return to the country as quickly as he can. And in comes the Chevalier. The Queen is about to leave. Liselotte tells her new best buddy to the get Duc unseen out of the chateau… the Chevalier catches a glimpse of Maintenon’s nipple.
Villarceax is a chateau, which was owned by a certain Louis de Mornay, Marquis de Villarceaux, who had an affair with Ninon de Lenclos. Ninon was probably the most famous courtesan of France and she chose her lovers like she pleased. She was a woman very much admired for her wit too. Ninon got pregnant and gave birth to a boy at Villarceaux, shortly later they separated and Ninon got herself a new lover. Louis de Mornay moved on as well and started to ogle Madame de Scarron, for that he often visited the salon of Monsieur de Scarron. As the latter died, and Madame de Scarron was left without much means, she was invited to spend time at Villarceaux, which was not a whorehouse as it is implied in the show and I guess they might imply it because of Ninon. At Villarceaux, Madame de Scarron apparently had an affair with the Marquis, which lasted for around three years. She later denied it ever happened. She even sort of denied to have been married, but that’s a different story. During her time there, the Marquis, who was a great painter, made a portrait of her. It is still in the chateau. The show plays with the idea, but it seems they went with her working as whore to gain favour instead of going for the simple affair.
Liselotte rushes to the Queen, who is in quite the hurry to get away. They exchange some words and Liselotte has no clue there is more about the voyage… until la Reine gives herself away with a “Thank you for your friendship. You made some of my time here bearable and I will always remember it.” Another reason why etiquette does not permit such a thing… the wife might not feel the desire to return from her native lands.
Meanwhile in the Vatican. Monsieur Cardinal with-the-lacking-table-manners is joined by Monsieur Bossuet and finds it a bit disrespectful that Bossuet has been sent to him as sort of messenger-boy. Bossuet thinks differently and says he’s there to talk about the Spain deal that has been made. “To control Spain would be audacious… even for Louis.” It is… that is why Louis is simply asking for the Pope to bless France. Monsieur Cardinal with-the-lacking-table-manners (I just looked at the credits. The gentleman is called Cardinal Leto.) suggests le Roi could do with some permanent Vatican assistance, because things might become a bit difficult for him in the future, and in comes the grim-looking tall Priest.
Mademoiselle Eléonore and the Duchesse de Cassel have gone offroad. They walk through a forest and Mademoiselle Eléonore gets another lesson in matters of seduction and flirting. Sophie appears to be waiting for something and what she waits for is the Queen, who travels with a minimum amount of guards. She has been told not to make a fuss, as in don’t take too much with her, but I wonder how she intends to reach Spain like that. ( It is not a carriage suitable for long voyages, it is way too obvious that someone of importance is in it, since the carriage is very golden and covered in fleur-de-lis, a simple travel-carriage would work way better, she has only two, I repeat two, guards with her… and absolutely no luggage/gowns at all. In other words, the first set of vagabonds that spies this carriage would have a very easy game to kidnap her. The Queen of France.) Sophie waits and waits and waits… no carriage in sight…. the Queen has changed her mind and returns to Versailles.
Marie-Thérèse returns to Versailles at nightfall and runs straight into her hubby, who is very surprised to see her. Why did she not go to Spain? She explains she started to feel unwell and thought the long voyage might make it worse, thus has decided to return. Louis is suspicious.
We move on to the salons, where the Chevalier sits with the Duc de Blaye. Everyone laughs and giggles as the latter shows his paintings of Madame de Maintenon. He is urged to talk a bit about her: “Ah, Françoise. One word: triangular.” More laughing and giggling, but not from Liselotte. She discovers the Duc was not led away as she enters the salons…. and in comes the one everyone laughs about… accompanied by the King. The Duc spies her and hurries, surprised to see her in such glorious company, to hide his paintings. All apart from the most daring one, which he happens to leave on the table. The Chevalier hides it quickly behind is back as the King draws closer and ask what everyone is laughing about. “Something unfit for the royal presence, Sire. I shall destroy it.” Louis smiles and stretches his hand out… the Chevalier hands said portrait over… Louis looks at it and beholds the well-formed bosom of Madame de Maintenon on said portrait…. his face falls and so does hers. The King wishes to know who painted it and looks at the Chevalier, ready to send him to prison. The fault is not theirs, says a shocked Maintenon.
From the salons, to the royal bedchamber. Maintenons explains to a very pissed off Louis that she was in dire need of money after she lost her husband. She had no-one and nowhere to go, apart from Villarceaux, which offered the money she needed and protection. But it was not as she expected it would be, because in order to achieve something one had to… you know. “So you became a whore?” “I committed sins that I regret.” Louis can not understand how she could do that. She betrayed his trust by lying to him. He believed in her and if he can not believe in her… in what can he believe then? She touched his heart. He trusted her and she was not honest with him. Madame de Maintenon suggests to remove herself from court to atone for her sins. Louis returns there is nothing she could do that would make up for it. She can not expect his forgiveness and she leaves, without curtsy. He sinks down with tears running down his cheeks, her portrait in the background. As mentioned above, her working as whore is pure fiction.
We stay with the King. After a probably very sleepless night, he wakes Bontemps and orders him to have his horse prepared. Bontemps says that everyone in the stables is probably still asleep. He should wake them up then. Oui, Bontemps and hurry with that… wake Lorraine up as well. The King desires distraction in form of a fete. Louis XIV had the habit to ride out and hunt early in the mornings, before his official rising ceremony, but he always returned to bed in time for it. The sun has risen as we see Louis on horseback. He races through the forests and Bontemps and the guards can hardly keep his pace. Louis is soon out of sight and as Bontemps and guards finally reach him, the royal-horse in on the ground and Louis covered in dirt. Bontemps suggests that perhaps there is a chance something could be done about the broken leg of the horse, but Louis thinks differently and shoots it.
A sobbing Queen writes a letter to the Emperor in the next scene and tells him that she felt unable to act according to plan. While she begs for forgiveness, the Chevalier has organised yet another fabulous party and swings his cane as he presents the court a new fabulous drink called chocolate. I find he acts even more like a buffoon, compared to last season and you might remember that I had much to say about this. By now, I kind of get used to him not having anything, apart from the name, in common with the actual Chevalier de Lorraine. Don’t get me wrong, Evan does an amazing acting-job, and so does the rest of the cast, I just find it very sad what this character has turned into… and that actually goes for a lot of characters. Anyway. We leave the chateau to see Madame de Maintenon depart. The Duchesse d’Angers with her and does not really know what to think about all of that. She better hurries quickly back inside, because it appears that not far from her a group of men have gathered to take revenge on the King.
Bastien is among them and eager to strike, but held back by the other three. Meanwhile, Fabien follows the Duchesse de Cassel on her way through the kitchens and outside through a guarded servant entry. He did not see how she took a hidden missive into her possession in the kitchens…. and guards, who are not too far away, appear to be entirely blind and deaf, for they do not notice Fabien being attacked by Bastien and his men although there is quite a bit of noise.
Back to a cane-swinging Chevalier and that new fancy drink. Chocolate was already well-known by that time. It was introduced to France from Spain via Marie-Thérèse upon her marriage to Louis XIV and became the most fashionable drink. Chocolate was thought to be good for the body and the spirit and recommended as a breakfast drink. Marie-Thérèse drank and ate so much chocolate that she got very round and her teeth were in a terrible condition. The latter already at the time of her marriage. Louis decides to try that new drink as well and approaches a very nervous Liselotte. His gaze his firm, but there is kindness in it. Liselotte tells him that Madame de Montespan was the one who sent the Duc to Versailles. Louis expression changes as Liselotte says she should have sent the Duc away the moment he arrived. He eyes her and says there is always need for sturdy women in the Colonies. (The way he looks at her, and her reaction, makes me think he might mean her… but it could also be Montespan. Jules thinks the latter.) Louis suggests that Liselotte could make up for it by spying on the Queen for him.
The last scene brings us to Spain, where Leopold receives the Queens letter. She can not be trusted, he figures, and sends word back to France aka Sophie. The Queen must die. What. I need a break… and will see you hopefully next episode… that is, if you are not entirely fed up with me by now.