So we left off last week with Camille throwing pig’s blood on Jacqueline de Montrachet in what seemed like a dream sequence, but it was extremely real. What happens next? We don’t see the immediate aftermath, but Valmont tells Camille that Jacqueline locked herself in her house and is not leaving. I get it, ma’am! Getting a bucket of pig’s blood thrown on you will make you nervous about going out again. Jacqueline is extra nervous because, as she tells her husband, she thinks she recognizes “the servant girl.” Ugh. The showrunners continue to ruin my “Carol but make it 18th-century” theory.
Extra ruinous to the theory is another Camille flashback, where she is plucked from an orphanage as an apparent teenager and brought to the Montrachet home, where Jacqueline tells Camille she’ll be a mother to her. Way to make it weird, Montrachet! So I guess the actual current theory is Camille finally felt like she had a home, then something happened (Jacqueline’s husband assaulted Camille is my guess?), and Jacqueline threw Camille out. If we ignore the mother comment, my initial theory was much better.
You really have to pay attention to this show. I am nothing if not a member of my distractible generation, so I missed that Valmont is seducing Jacqueline to get his letters back. That motive makes way more sense than just trying to get back with Camille. I mean, Camille is very pretty, but I think we know that’s not going to happen (and not only because we know about their weird dynamic in the original Dangerous Liaisons). Valmont starts to vaguely suspect that perhaps Camille has some history with Jacqueline after the whole pig’s blood incident, so he asks her for deets, and she refuses. He says Fine, I won’t seduce Jacqueline after all and walks away.
Something I very much enjoyed in this episode is the growing bromance between Camille and Valmont. I still love Camille’s friendship with Victoire, but Victoire is too good for Camille, and Valmont is that friend you can be your worst self with, which is helpful at times (mainly when you need to talk shit about someone).
At the Merteuil residence, we get some Florence Foster Jenkins–level singing from Emilie, Sevigny’s daughter. This is glorious. I watched it four times. I tried to figure out what she was singing by searching the lyrics, but she was singing it so badly I couldn’t parse out the words. Amazing job. Also, I see you, showrunners, with your consistent love of opera. We’ve had solid opera representation in every episode, with the best use of it at the end of this one. I’m not here to say opera’s just another way to rap, but … I’m not not saying that.
Sevigny and the marquis have an understanding about his soon-to-be engagement with Emilie, something that will upset her accompanist. The accompanist is Danceny, who falls in love with his music student Cécile de Volanges in the OG Dangerous Liaisons. Cécile is also mentioned in this episode, so basically, at this point, I have no idea where we are in the “this is a prelude” timeline. The show is very fun, though, so I don’t care.
When Valmont sees that his very handsome, popular, and wealthy stepbrother is in town, he sets new terms with Camille. She has to get dirt on his stepmother, and he’ll continue going after Jacqueline. Camille returns to Madame Berthe’s, which apparently is the place to be, and meets the Vicomtesse de Valmont. Camille implies she has hot goss on what really happened to Madame de Merteuil, and the vicomtesse invites her over. But then Camille says, ‘TWAS BUT A RUSE to get an invite because she needs someone to guide her through society. The vicomtesse is all about this idea for some reason. She advises Camille to destroy everything and everyone that stands between her and her goal. Damn, eighteenth century! I know there are people who still operate under this mentality, but my main goal is to listen to my audiobook and color on my coloring app, possibly while destroying some Tostitos Scoops.
The vicomtesse also clues Camille into the scuttlebutt that Merteuil is going to marry Emilie de Sevigny, which was not on Camille’s radar at all. Again, we know OG Camille eventually becomes the Marquise de Merteuil, but how? Is it blackmail? Because while the marquis has burned up the letter the marquise left for him, Camille now has something much bigger to hold over his head.
Before we look to that, though! How is Valmont faring with Jacqueline de Montrachet? Pretty well! He’s still pretending to be pious and love God the most. Valmont follows Jacqueline to the Foreign Mission, where a nun pleads for donations for the people they serve. Jacqueline puts her earrings in the collection plate, saying, “For the children,” and did anyone else immediately think of this? What a great movie. Valmont scoops them up again and donates nothing, chasing after Jacqueline as she leaves and telling her he donated twice their value (lol).
After he quotes one bible verse, she calls him “a man of genuine faith.” Ma’am. You deserve to be tricked. (I do not mean it, but OMG.) Valmont spins her a tale where he is one of five brothers, four of whom became priests because their whole family loved God so much, and he had to promise to inherit the title and fortune that came with it. He can’t find someone to marry because he needs someone who understands that God is his no. 1. She is INTERESTED. Valmont invites Jacqueline to pray, and while she’s praying the rosary, he holds her hand. Understandably scandalized, she runs away.
Valmont is on top of this, though, because he finds out Jacqueline’s maid and coachman bang in her carriage while she prays, so Valmont blackmails them into setting up a highly orchestrated situation where Jacqueline thinks Valmont is establishing a school for orphans. I’d say this wouldn’t work in the age of the internet, but I think we know it would. Now Jacqueline is going to donate money to Valmont’s made-up school, so they’re going to be together a lot, one presumes, planning it.
Okay, let’s get on to the sex dungeon.
The marquis tells Victoire that the Ariadne mentioned in the marquise’s letter is a girl, but Valmont tells Camille that Ariadne is someone who works at The Labyrinth. The Labyrinth is a private club on the DL due to its support of unnamed predilections (there are many, as we see!). I do wish the club was called something else. I know the Hellfire Club was taken, but that’s so evocative. “The Labyrinth” sounds like a virtual reality game parlor in a strip mall.
Camille dresses like a man, and she and Valmont buy their way into The Labyrinth. Victoire waits outside and hires a carriage for their inevitably necessary quick getaway. We immediately see masks, which I refer to in my notes as “Eyes Wide Shut nonsense,” but it gets much more “WTF” right away as Valmont and Camille greet a seated man with bloodshot eyes having his temples massaged by someone dressed like a statue. Look, whatever floats your boat. Apparently, people’s boats are floated by things like walking pigs on a leash, standing naked in line with other gentlemen as you get whipped, and being an archbishop but also lying nude on the floor while a lady steps on you — ET CETERA.
Right away, Camille sees Ariadne, who discovers that Camille is in disguise. Camille tells Ariadne she’s there because of the marquis and his connection to the name Ariadne, and Ariadne intimates that they’re being watched through the wall and have to bang. But as they bang, Ariadne gives Camille info. Really, really secret and important info? And, like, she gives it up really easily. Camille must be absolutely amazing at sex. She learns that the marquis’s link to The Labyrinth is that HE OWNS IT. AHH! Intrigue!!! He uses the sex workers (forced sex workers, it seems? Since Ariadne talks about them earning their freedom?) to learn secrets about the patrons, which he can then use. Oh my God!
Valmont stumbles around and gets the guards called on him, so they have to rush into the waiting carriage. Valmont and Camille laugh and Valmont refers to their future adventures. Camille asks him, is that not what brothers do? BROMANCE.
However! Camille and Victoire arrive at the Merteuil house to find their bags packed and outside the home, and Majordome tells them the marquis is at his engagement party (!) and ordered them to leave. But sucks to be you, marquis, because Camille doesn’t need your old burned-up letter now. Majordome advises her to leave because the marquis can do whatever he wants without consequence, and you can’t win against that sort of power. “You don’t know me,” Camille tells him.
Victoire sighs heavily (favorite), and we immediately cut to the credits as Der Hölle Rache plays! This is the famed Queen of the Night aria by Mozart, and if you didn’t shout “OMG SO APPROPRIATE,” it’s because you did not yet know that Der Hölle Rache essentially translates to “Hell’s Vengeance.” It’s Camille’s theme song!
How will Camille acquire the Merteuil name? How will she and Valmont take down the very impressive vicomtesse? And when will Gabriel stop being the creepiest man ever to live? I know I didn’t talk about him in this recap, and that was a choice because he is the absolute worst. GET IT TOGETHER, GABRIEL.