Last night J and I took a break from NaNoWriMo to watch the two-hour season finale of Versailles. (Well, I think J never stopped typing, and I wrote during commercials, so not a complete break. And I need to get back to it again soon, so like a side trip to a famous location, this is going to be sadly incomplete and miss a lot of good stuff.) The show focuses on the young Louis XIV as he begins to expand the family’s old hunting lodge into the palace we all know today. Louis is played by the wonderful George Blagden, who we both still miss horribly as Athelstan on Vikings, and it’s just about one of the prettiest shows on TV. The costumes, sets, and cast are all supremely lovely to look at it.
And none more so than the King’s brother, Philippe, Duke of Orleans, aka Monsieur. Played by Alexander Vlahos, Philippe is one of my favorite kinds of characters, a perpetually angry, wounded animal, lashing out at everyone around him. However, the show pushes the boundaries of how far a character can lash out and still be sympathetic. Not to give away spoilers, but the way he treats his wife in the first episode of the season and the last are so different that I’m not sure it’s so much a character arc as inconsistent writing. Since I firmly believe most shows should get a pass on questionable decisions made in the first few episodes while they are finding their legs, and I prefer Philippe in the finale to the Philippe of the pilot, I’m basically indulging in some willful forgetting in order to enjoy the show more.
Because it really did take the show about four episodes to find a rhythm with the characters, narrative, and editing. And once it did, I enjoyed the show more and more, and I’m very excited about where Season 1 left off. When we will get Season 2 in America is anyone’s guess. (Actually, it may have already been announced and I missed it, because I’ve been avoiding a lot of news about the show until I saw the season finale.) Season 1 aired in Europe about a year ago now, but only made it to Ovation here in the US in October, but perhaps, now that the show has a US distributor, Ovation will show it closer to the European air dates? I hope?
Anyhow, for anyone interested, Ovation will be having a marathon of all 10 episodes Thanksgiving weekend. I’d love for folks to check it out and come chat with me about Philippe and what a viewer can forgive and forget in both characters and writers. He’s an intriguing and complex character. Perhaps in between seasons I’ll have to try my hand at fanfic and see if that helps me figure him out.