This week, Versailles is visited by the Prince Annaba from Africa. Louis has building hassles from the nobles, who steal his supplies, undercut his authority, and kill his guests in route. Phillipe is finally given his marching orders for war. And King Louis improves his view of the world, without even looking out the window.
Our Favorite Moments:
The King’s Old Mirror
In the opening scene, Louis doesn’t like the mirror he has for dressing. He doesn’t express why, exactly. It is full length, but made of several small squares, dividing his image.
“The problem with reflections is that most of them tell the truth,” he thinks to himself. To Bontemps, he complains that the nobles are undercutting his authority. “They do not see you as you should be seen,” says Bontemps. “They will,” retorts Louis.
Louis questions his valet further, “What kind of man do you think I am? Merciful?” If you desire. “Vengeful?” If conditions merit it. “All things then, to all people.” Equally and without condition. “As a king, I ask as a man.” We cannot separate one from the other. “As a King, I’d send my brother to war. Should he die there, as a man, I would mourn him. As a man, I’d seek favor of another. As a King, I cannot.”
The jacket fits well, sir. “I do not like this mirror.” His suit may fit, but not his image in it. He is a man divided and foggy, like this mirror. And he really doesn’t like the mirror, not one bit.
Of course, Phillipe has a mirror. Why wouldn’t he want to look at himself all day long? He’s so damn beautiful! But oh, Phillipe isn’t complaining about HIS mirror. Phillipe hopes to be sent off to war soon and asks Chevalier, his lover, to go with him. It’s his chance to prove himself. He wants to share the moment. But Chevalier declines. In the unlikely event, the king even sends Phillipe, Chevalier will look after Phillipe’s position in court. Sure he will. Phillipe sees through this. Phillipe leaves.
Henriette warns Chevalier, that Phillipe sees him for who he is. Chevalier says “Of course he does, and he likes what he sees.” Then Chevalier goes on to threaten Henriette with suspicions that she is the king’s lover. Seriously? That’s not a very good secret for him to wield over people. Everyone knows. Nobody seems to care. Louis may not like his mirror. Do you know what I don’t like? I don’t like this Chevalier.
Phillipe & Henriette’s Mirror
Phillipe asks Henriette her advice on which colored ostrich feather he should wear. He wants more color, inspired by Prince Annaba. They honestly care about each other. He is happy he is going to war. And she truly doesn’t want her husband dead. Phillipe acknowledges that his dream has always been of war and hers has always been his brother. And they are both getting what they want. It is all very sweet and a tiny bit bitter.
All the Other Mirrors
While Louis deals with his big foggy mirror and Phillipe lives with his smaller mirror, everyone else gets far worse mirrors.
Sophie’s mom Beatrice, who is worried about her position in court, complains that their chambers are smaller now. She has to deal with a tiny mirror. She makes Sophie look in the mirror and calls her, the fairest of them all.
The evil stepsisters of the court all have mirrors. They insult the visiting Prince, without so much as looking at him. They are consumed with their low tech selfies. Sophie really is too sweet for this court.
Prince Annaba has a mirror too. It is small, but ironically a solid sheet. He’s holding it together. That image is gonna crack soon.
You know who doesn’t get a mirror? Duke Cassel and Montcourt. Who needs a mirror with a fancy wooden frame, when the King doesn’t care how you look anyway? Instead, Cassel gets to stare into a framed portrait of the King, sent to remind him who’s the boss. And Montcourt and his men wear masks. That’s one way to avoid fixing yourself up.
The King’s NEW Mirror
The Queen is expected to be a good hostess to the African Prince Annaba. With Nabo found drown, possibly the matter of her infidelity has been handled. But Bontemps acknowledges and Louis knows, that the queen and the prince already met before, in Paris.
Throughout his visit, the prince threatens to negotiate with the Dutch instead. Louis keeps avoiding negotiations. At a gaming night, Louis receives a note and continues to make Prince Annaba wait. When Louis finally receives the prince, Annaba pours gold all over the gaming table. He’s here to place bets and remind the King of his country’s wealth. Which we presume Louis needs to finish Versailles. But the king walks away from the table.
Louis is met by Bontemps and Fabien with a note from Duke Cassel. Cassel doesn’t send his papers, as Louis had insisted, but offers one gold coin to help build Versailles. Louis’s feathers aren’t ruffled.
Louis finally starts his negotiations with Prince Annaba in the convent, next to his wife’s black daughter’s bassinet. “The Dutch have money, but no power. We have both.” Annaba wonders why he is standing in front of a baby. Louis continues, ”A close friend told me that God himself brought me this child for a reason.” Louis tells the prince, the Dutch, the English, the Spanish, would have killed the baby and the mother, but not King Louis, oh no. Realization sets in for the prince that the baby is his.
Any other country would lead strikes against his African nation with knowledge of Annaba’s father’s death. Why does that matter? Oh yeah, your dad’s dead, Annaba! That was the note that allowed Louis to walk away from your gold last night. He could kill you now or let every other country in Europe know about your father before you get home. Negotiations are done. I’m sure Louis will to be a fair and merciful overlord.
There you have it! Mercy AND vengeance handed to prince Annaba in the same basket. And Louis was able to send his brother into war with a clear conscience, and with full blessing to sleep with Henriette.
I hope Bontemps found a mirror big enough to reflect this new ego. Yes, he did! King and man are reconciled. All things, to all people.
Louis turns to inspect his new mirror. “Better.” I hope he can now see his shoes are hideous.
We are left with two issues, which I’m sure we’ll get into next week. Cassel burns Louis portrait. The irony is that Cassel said Versailles was a distraction for Louis. By cutting off supplies and temporarily delaying the distraction, Louis focused on securing the wealth of an African nation to fund a war AND Versailles. Louis doesn’t need the nobles now. Oops.
And Phillipe is shown on the battlefield with his troops. But it isn’t very colorful. It’s all very drab and dull. This doesn’t look glorious at all. Poor Phillipe.
I bet Louis still has some issues of his own too. That naked “tutor” sent by mummy when he was like 12, is still lurking in the back of his psyche.