We are at the last episode of this new season. Are you excited? Will we get a major cliffhanger again? Will the King be poisoned? So many questions, so lets jump straight back in time to 17th century France and Versailles.
Madame de Montespan narrowly escaped Fabien last episode and is having a bit of a wash in her rooms. While she battles her conscience, Madame Agathe (And my fingers still want to write Agather.) is the total opposite and as calm as one could be. She sits in her house, waiting for something, it appears. That something is a wild Fabien and group of guards. The door flies open, they sweep in, for a moment I think she might be dead, but then she moves. The rooms are searched, things fly about. And we see a glimpse of a replica 17th century medicine cabinet hidden in a book. I do like that they included this. Here’s an article about it. Madame Agathe continues to be the calmness in person as her belongings are smashed all around her. Even as her little book of names is found. Fabien has a glance and we are allowed to have one too. Sophie de Clermont is one of the names. “Found a friend of yours?” Fabien orders Madame Agathe to be arrested.
From her house to the gardens of Versailles. We are with Thomas reading to the court. Monsieur is there with Liselotte. The Queen stands next to her husband, but that husband is busy ogling Madame de Maintenon. Fabien approaches and passes what looks like the curly head of the Chevalier de Lorraine. Louis steps aside with Fabien and I see four armchairs, when only two should be there. Our King is informed of Madame Agathe’s arrest and what has been discovered in her house. Fabien hands the book over and we can have another glance at the names. Duc de Luxembourg. Marquise de Montespan. Louis looks as if he is about to faint and his glance goes to Madame de Montespan standing alone a bit away from the main gathering of people.
M83 Outro-intro plays for the last time of the season and as we return from it, we find ourselves in the King’s bedchamber. Guards everywhere. Our King has requested to see Madame Agathe and she is being escorted to him now. Looking all smug and proud…. and being rather insolent. Show some respect, woman. I suddenly start to wonder what her actual issue is. I mean, last season with Madame de Clermont it was quite obvious, but what is Madame Agathe’s issue? Just general hatred towards the King? Bontemps suggests she should show a bit of respect and I back him fully. She pleads guilty, all smug, and asks of what our King stands accused. “Tyranny? Arrogance? Vanity?” Louis is ignores her remarks and inquires after Madame de Montespan. “She came to me for a love potion. Don’t tell me it didn’t work.” Madame Agathe continues with the smugness as Louis circles her and suggests she should be a little more humble in her situation. Why, asks she, her fate is already sealed. She does not care about anything our King has to say. He is not her master, Satan is and she will happily die for him. Blasphemies follow. She threatens the King, he can’t quite believe it. “We are equals, you and I.” The nerve of that woman, methinks. Bontemps got enough and shuts her up with a good slap.
Madame Agathe is dragged out and escorted to her cell. Passing various courtiers on the way. She knows probably quite a few of them and you can bet on those wetting their petticoats. Gaston is present as well and exchanges glances with Madame de Montespan. What to do? They need to stay calm. The Marquise thinks there is nothing that could possibly link her to evil deeds. Gaston isn’t too sure, he knows of the book. They must do something.
The Duc de Cassel isn’t doing too great now. He’s in bed and coughing his lungs out again. The Duchesse enters, looking touched and a bit guilty. She inquires if there is anything she could do for him and he asks for water. More coughing.
Back to Louis and the little book of names. He flicks through it, as Bontemps suggests that all names must the treated equally. Louis does not like that suggestion, but he knows Bontemps is right. Our King throws the book on his desk and stomps off via secret door to the Marquise de Montespan. While he is doing so, I shall take a moment to talk of what happened in history. As mentioned last episode, La Voisin was not the only one involved in the dark arts. Investigations in that department had been made since the case of the Marquise de Brinvilliers made everyone gasp in shock. Various sorceresses were arrested afterwards. La Voisin was arrested in 1679 as she left church after having heard mass. After La Voisin was arrested, several other members of the gang, among them her daughter were also arrested. The King found himself now in a very delicate situation. Unlike in the show, he had not much of a clue about what was going on in first and as those that had been arrested started to mention various names of nobles, the panic was great. He didn’t know what to do about, what he knew was if all of this ever surfaced, it would cause the biggest scandal in the world. Especially since Madame de Montespan was accused. If what the people said about her was true, then she won the King’s heart with the help of witchcraft, kept it with the help of potions, betrayed him, put him in danger, and so on. He could not have that…. but he also needed to investigate all of it. It was decided that the matter should be kept as secret as possible. A lot of the names mentioned were also people he was quite friendly with. Like his former love Olympe Mancini. She apparently planned to poison Louise de La Vallière. Marie Anne Mancini apparently planned to poison her hubby in order to marry her nephew. Obviously, when so many people are involved, it is a bit difficult to keep something a secret… thus certain people who were accused fled the country.
Our King enters the bedroom of a sleeping Montspan and she can’t quite believe her eyes. Him being there can only mean that he wants her back and he acts as if it was the case… in first at least… and she can’t help it not to show her bitchy side. Hinting that he must have amused himself with Madame de Maintenon. Non, he was just incredibly busy. She was waiting for him, hoping that he would return to her. The waiting is over, says Louis. She buys it…. undresses and places herself on the bed…. he joins her…. his lips roam over her skin… they kiss…. but then the mood changes. Our King knows it all. How she has betrayed him and he just gave her a chance to spill the beans and be honest with him, but she did not do it. She leaves her naked and weeping on the bed.
After a glorious outside shot, we return to our King. Le Roi greets the Duc de Luxembourg rather friendly and plays a bit of a game with him. “I need your help with a dilemma. I’m in two minds how to deal with my enemies. Do I educate them or punish them?” “Depends on what they have done, Sire.” “Well, if I came upon information incriminating someone I trusted, how should I deal with that betrayal?” The King should deal with the person as he should deal with any other traitor. “Even if it was someone like you?” Luxembourg’s face falls. Oh shit, he thinks. Louis gives him two options, tell the truth and walk out of one door, do it not and walk out of the guarded door. I think no matter what he does, it won’t end well for him. The Duc de Luxembourg decides for the truth and tells Louis, under tears, that his wife wished for the demise of her father. It was wrong. They shouldn’t have done it. He knows it was wrong and begs for forgiveness. Louis acts as if forgiveness is granted, but as thought, as Luxembourg wants to saunter out of the unguarded door, he is arrested. The case of the Duc de Luxembourg is a bit mysterious. His name was indeed one that was mentioned during the affair, but what he did is a bit unclear. One source suggests it was Louvois doing. They had quarrelled and Louvois somehow involved him in the affair, which lead to the arrest of Luxembourg and imprisonment in the Bastille.
Louis orders Fabien to arrest everyone mentioned in the book of names. What about Montespan, he asks….. not yet. Fabien executes his orders in a swift and we see various nobles being forcefully removed from their natural habitats. The Marquise de Montespan watches a lady being dragged away. So does Gaston. He’s everywhere and approaches the Marquise. Be calm, she tells him. They have nothing to fear. “But for how much longer? I say we make a tactical withdraw.” “And I say we push ahead.” “With what?” “There is one person who deserves punishment above all.” whispers the Marquise as more people are dragged out of the salons.
The scene changes, we are back in the house of Madame Agathe and have Gaston fumbling for something. It’s a sort of pouch he removes from a ceiling-hideaway. How did he know it was there? I do not know, but I remember I saw that pouch in the hands of Madame Agathe in a previous episode. Gaston sneaks out of the house and back to his rooms in the palace. The pouch is unwrapped and has various little bottles inside, without a doubt with poisonous content. His maid isn’t quite sure what to think as she spots the bottles.
And there’s Monsieur. With Thomas. Both are in the gardens and Monsieur has a little something prepared. Philippe is in a romantic mood and does his best to flatter Thomas…. but it does not work as planned, for it appears Thomas has gotten a bit suspicious. He excuses himself and hurries away… where does he go? Not to the King as he said, but to the Duc de Cassel. The latter looks as if 90% dead and is in bed. Thomas is not touched by it, but has the impression that Cassel might have talked a bit… it would explain why Monsieur is suddenly so eager to bad-talk his brother and talk of military secrets to Thomas. Cassel denies it…. Thomas strangles him. As it happens, the Duchesse de Cassel saunters in and sees it all.
Monsieur has relocated himself too in the meanwhile. He is with a pissed off Louis. Philippe did as he was told, he can’t really see it being his fault, Louis thinks it is. Thomas was supposed to come to the King an hour ago, but did not show. Philippe must have said something that made Thomas suspicious. “That’s not fair. I’m the one selling his arse for France.” What is being sold is not of too much importance to Louis and he orders his little bro to go and find Thomas… said Thomas is still in Cassel’s rooms. He got some explaining to do now. Turns out he knew of Sophie’s past, befriended her because of it, but then fell in love with her. She should come with him when he leaves Versailles.
A now pissed off Monsieur saunters to his bedroom, where a Chevalier sits on a chair… and we got some more jealousy. It appears the Chevalier has forgotten all he was told last episode and he doesn’t care about what Philippe has to say now. He bores me… and I never thought I would say something like that. Oui, I do not even feel like ranting about it anymore. It just bores me.
So lets swiftly carry on with Louis and Madame de Maintenon. In the gardens, our King places his royal derrière on a stone bench and tells Madame de Maintenon that he is now in possession of a record regarding the poison situation. She sits down next to him. Some of the people in the book are close friends. Louis knows what he has to do, but he hesitates to do it. “Look into my eyes. I believe in you. You must trust yourself.” “You are perfect.” Kissing. She breaks the kiss again. “I can not. It is wrong.” “How can it be? God has sent you to me. “You are married.” “It is a marriage without love.” “And me? What would I be? Love without marriage. Whatever exists between us is stronger, purer, than desires of the flesh.” She rushes away. Louis looks as if he does not quite share her opinion on the matter.
Someone’s rooms are searched. Turns out it’s Gaston’s. One of the bottles is missing. He tries to make himself invisible but is spotted and dragged away. His maid told on him.
Gaston meets some old friends in Fabien’s cellar as he is shoved past cells. In one of them lurks Madame Agathe, looking as if Fabien had some fun with her already. “You are defeated, witch.” It’s not over yet, she warns.
Oh, the tension. From the cellars to the rooms of the Duchesse de Cassel. She washes her dead husband and Fabien is there as well. He knows what she did, saw her name on that list, she pauses. He has erased the name. She has nothing to fear and should leave the past behind. She shoots him a disgusted look. “A word of warning. Your lover may not be the man you think he is.” “Everybody has their secrets.” She leaves.
Thomas is in a hurry to gather his belongings and does not expect to find Monsieur placed casually on his bed. Thomas is sorry about running off earlier, he had matters to attend to. “I’m sorry too. I came on a bit too strong earlier. Terrible habit. My passion got the better of me, but I thought I would stop by and apologise. See if we could not…. maybe…. try again?” Philippe tugs Thomas to the bed. Kissing and rolling about…. but what’s that? As Thomas has a fumble, his hand encounters something long and hard placed in Philippe’s hand…. it’s a dagger. “That’s not very nice of you.” Thomas leaps up and pushes Philippe off the bed and against the wall. The dagger pierces a painting. Philippe approaches, swinging his dagger, and Thomas grabs some sort of silver vase to disarm Monsieur. The attempt fails and Monsieur attacks again, both roll over a table. Thomas has the upper hand now and sends Monsieur to the floor with a hard punch to the nose. More punches follow, before Thomas grabs the dagger and points it at Monsieur. My heart aches at the sight… but I also think once more how very soap opera all of this is…. especially as the Chevalier enters. Thomas spots him and jumps out of the window as Philippe remains unconscious on the floor. The Chevalier calls for guards…. they are never close when one needs them… as he kneels beside Monsieur.
Thomas runs for the stables, where Sophie awaits him already. He smiles and hurries over…. then there is the Chevalier again, this time with a pistol, aims… shoots…. Thomas goes down. Sophie rushes to him and he tells her with his last breath to leave…. She does so as Fabien and his men races towards her. He yells at her to stay, but she rides off….
Monsieur is back on his feet and in his brother’s bedroom. Face all bloody. The Chevalier is there as well and babbles about. He had no intention to cause trouble, but seeing Monsieur like this he could not help it. Enough, says Louis, but the Chevalier babbles on. Enough, says Louis again, adding that he will be given an income and rooms in reward…. rooms to which he is actually entitled to anyway…. and the Chevalier babbles on…. “For God’s sake, will you shut up?”
Louis moves to his brother. “Bother you are alive.” “No thanks to you.” “You were in the service of France.” “It would have been good propaganda, wouldn’t it? Had I died. Your brother sacrifices himself for you.” “Please try to be reasonable…” “What would you have written on my tombstone? Gave his arse for France?” Philippe moves away…. “Brother please…. if you had died tonight, I would have lost my closest friend.” “Why should I believe you?” “Because after all we have been through, after all the hurt I have caused you, you love me as I love you.” Philippe is unsure… “If you walk out now, you walk out on that love.” Brotherly embrace. “Tomorrow you will go to war, if that is what you wish.” Philippe looks to the Chevalier…. “No sudden last minute change of mind?” “I want you to go to Holland and destroy William of Orange. For me. For France. For you.” Needless to say that nothing of this actually happened and as touching as it appears, it is yet again a bit soap opera… which is a shame.
From scenes of brotherly love to Madame Agathe in her cell. She whispers witchy words as somewhere above her Madame de Montespan sits at her vanity table. Poison bottle in hand.
’tis is the next day… at least it’s bright daylight now… and we see a lovely shot of the Enceladus Grove. It was made between 1675 and 1677, and shows a scene of the fall of the Titans. The giant Enceladus is half buried under heavy rocks, suffering and struggling to get out. If I’m not wrong, Enceladus’ water jet is the highest of all fountains in the gardens. Afterwards, we follow Madame de Montespan to confession, but her tone is completely different now compared to what we saw in episode one. Bossuet can’t quite believe it, but is a bit smug anyway to have done the impossible. As in bring the Marquise back to the light. After confession, the Marquise inquires if she may stay in the chapel to pray… Bossuet got no issue with that…. and we know what she will actually do. Poison. Wine.
It appears to be Easter time and our King is getting dressed with some nice background music. Off to church he goes, with wife, brother and sister-in-law. Monsieur remarks it’s nice that his wife decided to stay…. and I again think she could not have possible gone back to the Palatine… King and Queen kneel to pray. Bossuet, famous for his sermons, leads this one. “Today is a day of resurrection. Of Hope. Of peace.” …. and the scene changes to Fabien punching Gaston. The latter got enough of being beaten up and says he can save the King’s life, but for that Fabien has to stop being Fabien for a second. Fabien plays the game and says Gaston shall be freed… change of scene to sacramental bread, wine and a weeping Montespan…. back to Gaston. “Hm. Easter Sunday. The sermon. Prayers. Tick tock.”
Fabien got the hint and rushes off… back in the church, our King is offered the sacramental bread… Fabien still runs…. the Queen is offered sacramental bread…. wine is poured…. Montespan weeps….Fabien still runs…. the King moves the goblet to his lips…. “Nooooooooooo! It’s poison, Sire.” How ironic that all of this happens on Easter. Shocked faces everywhere. Louis turns. There is Montespan weeping.
You probably ask yourself right now if this really happened… and the answer is not like it is shown and even then we ain’t too sure. Apparently, in 1677, Madame de Montespan uttered a desire to see the King dead in case he should leave her and in 1679 apparently hired La Voisin to have Louis XIV and his then mistress Angélique de Fontanges killed. La Voisin was apparently unsure about it in first, but then, with the help of friends, decided to do so by poisoning a petition. A sheet of paper that contains wishes and could be handed to the King. She travelled to court, but on that very day there were too many petitioners and the King did not collect them himself. La Voison went home again, planning to hand the paper over on a different day, then decided to burn it and go for a different plan. She was arrested the next day and the reason why I said apparently so often, is because this story is part of a confession made under torture. Nobody can for sure say if it is true, or just a made up story. The same goes for the story of Madame de Montespan and black masses.
What is true, is what we see next. Louis and Madame de Montespan are in the council room. For some reason Madame de Maintenon is there too and stands in a corner of the room…. a subtle hint of what her role be next season? The Marquise says she is innocent of wanting to poison Louis and Louis gets the book of names out. Why did she then buy poison, he asks. It was a mistake and she did not poison anyone. And what about the satanic mass and that Father Etienne? “No. I could never do such a thing.” Louis has enough. “I gave you my heart… my soul… my love.” He looks to Madame de Maintenon. The Marquise expects to be send away now, but non, she will stay. She will remain at court like a nobody, that is her punishment. He actually did that. After her involvement was made known to him, he did break with her, but could not send her away, thus made it clear that she was to remain. He even still visited her every day and acted as if nothing happened for quite a while. Why? Because breaking with her openly would have caused suspicion regarding her possible involvement and Louis did not want that. Also, she was the mother of quite a few kids and he had plans for those kids.
Monsieur is getting ready for war and admires himself in a mirror in company of Liselotte and the Chevalier. What is she supposed to do if he is killed? What about their son? Monsieur says she will find someone else to act as father and glances over to the Chevalier… I just think ‘really?’ Philippe gives his wife a good-bye kiss and turns towards said Chevalier. “How do I look?” Not too bad. One Philippe thinks the other Philippe should be happy for him, while that Philippe thinks the first Philippe should be a bit more grateful. Why go to war and risk his life? This is all very touching, but I still roll my eyes a little due to the previously mentioned issues regarding someone being a brave soldier…. “I will always love you, but there are things that I must do before I can love you again…. as I wish….. and you deserve…..” They can be quite sweet if they want. Monsieur leaves after a whispered “go” by the Chevalier and he remains behind with Liselotte. She takes his hand…
The last scene of this season takes us outside. Madame Agathe is bound to a pyre and in front of her are several folks of the peasant class, behind those placed a bit higher, the noble class. La Voisin was convicted of witchcraft and was burned in public on the Place de Grève in Paris on 22 February 1680…. half a year later, her daughter started to link Madame de Montespan to poison and black masses.
King and Queen appear and the pyre is lit. Madame Agathe feels the heat of the fire on her feet. And there is the Dauphin. He looks well. Wonder what he was up to in the meanwhile…. looks like he has grown a bit again…
“The Sun King!” yells Madame Agathe towards the peasants. Telling them to rise and that one day there will be no Kings anymore… foreshadowing the French Revolution. The last thing we hear from Madame Agathe, are her screams as the fire consumes her body.
…and so ends this second season. I was entertained, but I also have questions… and this will not be my last post on the matter. I did a season summary last time and shall do one this time as well. In the meanwhile, I thank you for reading and experiencing this season with me. I did complain a bit more than last season and I must admit I find last season a little better.
If you fancy to read more about poison and murder at the court of the Sun King, I recommend you the case of the Marquise de Brinvilliers, the story of La Voisin, and that of Claude de Vin des Œillets, who we did not see this season, but played a role in the whole thing.
Also the books of Lady Anne Somerset and Holly Tucker: The Affair of the Poisons: Murder, Infanticide and Satanism at the Court of Louis XIV & City of Light, City of Poison: Murder, Magic, and the First Police Chief of Paris
I shall see you at the summary and thank you again for reading and commenting.