To War Rather Than To Bed
Episode 2 of The Serpent Queen follows the same flashback technique as its predecessor. The old Queen Catherine makes Rahima her maid and continues the story about her years in the Valois court. She also conditions Rahima to take revenge from those who have wronged her. The Serpent Queen has her eye on everything in the court, contrary to belief.
Young Catherine is on tenterhooks as her uncle, the Pope, has died without completing the dowry and she cannot produce an heir either. She devises a plan to keep her position secure and buys herself some time to strengthen her position in the Valois court. She breaks the fourth wall to speak about certain ‘visions’ that she has. She acts coy in front of the king and begs for mercy. She looks at the camera and tells the viewers to learn to exploit other’s weakness for one’s own benefit.
Mathilde, who is Catherine’s envoy, switches her loyalty to Diane for a selfish gain. She wishes to meet with Dauphin and engage in some intimate behaviour. Diane has her eye on every movement of the princess. She even finds out about Catherine’s affair with the stable hand and that Catherine is not actually pregnant with Henri’s child. Catherine immediately sorts to rectify her plan.
She tells Mathilde to prove her loyalty by asking her to give the poisonous apple to the stable hand. The royal family visits a house in the village which happens to be the stable hand’s home. There is a show of power and cruelty by the king and his eldest son as they kill the poor family. Henri’s ego is bruised when the stable hand pleads to Catherine for help. Henri slits the stable hand’s throat after realizing that his wife might be cheating on her.
After Catherine and Henri spent a night together, a few days later Catherine learns that she is not pregnant again. This frustrates her as her position at the court is threatened. She goes to the Sultan at his harem and propositions for an alliance.
When Aabis and Cosimo go to the forest, Cosimo meets the stable hand’s young son and gives him a puppet. Soon after the young boy is found dead in the forest by Catherine. This incident does scare her to some extent.
Soon, all goes according to Catherine’s plan and Henri leaves for war. When the ladies are seeing the soldiers off, Diane does not mince her words and threatens to make Catherine’s like ‘a living hell’ should Henri not return safe and sound from the war.
Towards the end of the episode we are brought back to the ‘present’ where Queen Catherine speaks to Rahima about teaching the maid a lesson. She gives her some gunpowder and says that it ‘goes well with brioche’. Rahima plants the gunpowder onto the bread dough in the kitchen. This dough is picked up by the maid who belittled Rahima and she goes to place it in the oven. There is a blast soon after, clearly hinting at severe bodily harm or possibly death for the maid.
Queen Catherine watches like a hawk from her chambers and smirks at young Rahima’s thirst for revenge and justice.
The Episode Review
Episode 2 of The Serpent Queen turns the screw and really kicks into high gear. As the days go by, Catherine struggles to set her foot in the court. The story progresses rapidly as we see the court bristling in action both in the past and the present.
The cast of The Serpent Queen play their roles brilliantly. Liv Hill as young Catherine shines brighter each day. From the costumes to the way the actors deliver their dialogue, The Serpent Queen is a delight to watch. The politics, diplomacy and the hypocrisy prevalent in those times reflects beautifully on screen with a water-tight screenplay and a run time of just under an hour.