It’s fun to see the future villains, Marquise de Merteiul and Visconde de Valmont as good guys amid people even worse than the two of them. In the original Dangerous Liaisons, they were unsurpassed in cynicism and meanness, but in the Lionsgate Plus series, they are still apprentices.
Unfortunately, we approach the end of the 1st season, with two villains to scare: Jean, the Marquis de Merteiul, and Henri de Montrachet, the future surgeon of the King of France. That the two actors have already scared us in Game of Thrones is just a detail. With incredible twists, Camille seems to be ahead of Valmont. The two friends and lovers, compete with each other to discover the other’s weak points. As Camille does not reveal what happened at the Montrachets’ house, Valmont is inclined – just like Jacqueline – to buy Henri’s version, a respected doctor who apparently seduced the future marquise. Obviously, the truth is different, but for now, the goal seems to be revenge and obsession with a married man. We’ll get back to the topic.
The Montrachets will take center stage
Played by Tom Wlaschiha and described only as a “charismatic, charming and ambitious surgeon”, Henri has complete control over the mind and behavior of his wife, the pious Jacqueline (Carice Van Houten). Since we saw Camille’s flashbacks, we found out that she “adopted” the young woman who was in an orphanage, but that she threw her on the streets without mercy, even in the face of the young woman’s suicide attempt. Camille holds a deep grudge against Jacqueline and is determined to destroy her.
When the two are reunited on the streets (and Camille douses her with blood), Jacqueline is gaslit by Henri, who questions what she saw and accuses her of losing emotional control. He looks worried, but his insistence on doubting his wife seems suspicious. And now that we know that Jacqueline discovered that Camille and Henri were having an affair, she immediately blamed the young woman for having seduced him, ignoring Camille’s tears and claiming that this was not the truth. I’ll close here: Camille was sexually abused by Henri, who may even have tortured her in the midst of his “scientific research”.
And here is the important question. The book Dangerous Liaisons was written by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos, who lived with the nobles and was so precise in his choice to tell the story through exchanges of letters that many believed were real letters, with names changed for protection. Queen Marie Antoinette was one of the fans of the scandalous book and it was smart to see her dragged into the plot of the series.
Precisely because we know these details and that she was a woman hated by the people, accused of an active and diverse sex life, as suggested by Dangerous Liaisons. Another true character is the black swordsman and musician, Chevalier de Saint-Jacques (Fisayo Akinade), who was even the queen’s favorite composer.
But let’s get back to Henri. He can be inspired – very without compromise – by Pierre-Toussaint Navier, the private physician of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. Known as a great chemist and scientist, he discovered the nitrous ether (among other medicinal processes), and developed theses and research that are until today in the Collections of the French Academy of Sciences of the academy of Châlons, and in the Gazette de médecine. In the series, be aware: he is not what he seems to be.
Jacqueline, on the other hand – anticipating Madame de Tourvel – has easily fallen into Valmont’s game and is in love with him. The problem is that his charity triggered Pascal (Nicholas Denton). We discover that the Viscount not only lost his mother at a young age but saw her murdered in front of him by someone she was trying to help.
With a connection established between the victim and future tormentor, Pascal begins to question himself about Camille. He wants to understand the reason for the hatred because the version that Jacqueline gave about the young woman who threw him out of his house seems real. Instead of opening her heart, Camille closes it and the two walk away. However, Henri warns Jacqueline that upon being announced in her new position they will have to leave Paris for Versailles, that is, she will soon write to Valmont, not suspecting that this was the original purpose of it all.
Camille: the Marquise of Merteiul
As we know what Camille’s social position will be in the future, any suggestion that Jean would marry someone else turned out to be tedious. While she continued to settle for “little”, it is precisely Ondine who questions her about letting the opportunity to win such an important title pass by, letting others apply to marry the Marquis. Of course, only Camille has the true notion of how dangerous he is, but when she sees that she won’t have support or can trust anyone, she makes her final move. As he himself says, with the two united, France should be very afraid of them.
The game is just beginning
Episode 7 was the best of the entire season, with pace, and recording techniques (the hunt scene was double meaning all the time and made in shots with no apparent cuts). Amazing. Where do I see the fault?
Being a purist, I still haven’t found the meaning of Gabriel Carré’s obsession with Camille, a passionate Javert who doesn’t add up. And bringing characters like Chevalier Danceny and Cecile de Volanges right away was also empty, after all, they are young and inexperienced when Camille and Pascal use them for their amoral bets a few years ahead. But, given everything else, we can look the other way on this one.
Extremely well-acted and well-written, Dangerous Liaisons is a hit. Glad we have more!