TV Tango Search

Search

|              FREE: Ask a TV Expert
   TelevisionCakeAd

VERSAILLES Guide to Season 2: Q&A w/ Cast & Producer + Episode Guide, Characters

Maj Canton - October 14, 2017

VersaillesSeason2BlogMain_400x400

 
 

 

Ovation premiered Season 2 of VERSAILLES on Saturday, September 30, 2017 at 10pm. This new season reveals the dark underbelly of power as Louis sees the dream of his grand Versailles palace crumbling before his eyes. With phase one of the palace complete, most of France's eminent lords and ladies now live under the Sun King's roof. Drugs, gambling, and alcohol are rampant, as nobles begin to poison each other in order to get closer to the King and climb up the social ladder. Blinded by his passion for his mistress Montespan, Louis refuses to listen to the advice of the church and his closest advisors. Surrounded by darkness and depravity, he loses his sense of purpose and, in a desperate attempt to escape, leaves for war against his archenemy William of Orange. He must discover the path back to light and redemption to save his vision of Versailles. The returning cast includes George Blagden as King Louis, Alexander Vlahos as Philippe, Anna Brewster as Madame de Montespan, and Elisa Lasowski as Marie Therese.


Joining the cast this season are Greta Scacchi as Madeleine de Foix, Harry Hadden-Paton as Gaston, Jessica Clark as Palatine and Suzanne Clement as Madame Agathe.

 

 


This past August at the Television Critics Association (TCA) Summer Press Tour, Ovation presented a panel, "THE WOMEN OF VERSAILLES," which included stars Anna Brewster, Jessica Clark, Suzanne Clement, Elisa Lasowski, and Producer Aude Albano, Here are a few highlights (edited for clarity and readability) from that panel.




Jessica Clark as Palatine

Question: Jessica, your character [Palatine] is very outspoken, what is it like to play a character that out and open in a place where everybody else is so darn restrained?


Jessica Clark: I read letters written by Palatine and you can discern this incredible, ferocious, brilliant woman who didn’t really want to hold back. Diving into that, taking on a character who really existed and really was that wild was a complete joy.


Aude Albano: She is a force of nature. She is an iconoclastic young woman. She speaks her mind, will never compromise herself.

Question: What was it like being the new kid on the block in Season 2?


Jessica Clark: Obviously, for Palatine, there’s this sense of trepidation. She doesn’t know whether or not she’s going to be accepted. She’s still forceful but she’s a bit wobbly. In reality, my experience as a new actor on the show was entirely the opposite. It’s been the most joyful welcome, I was very quickly part of the VERSAILLES family.




Suzanne Clement at TCA.

Question: Suzanne, what was it like to play a soothsayer, a real truth teller?


Suzanne Clement: [Madame Agathe] was inspired by two real prisoners, Madame de Brinvilliers and La Voison. She is a woman who lives her life completely outside of society’s rules. I think she’s prepared to try just about anything to see how far she can go.


Aude Albano: She lives in the village and she provides potions and poisons to Versailles. She is a very opportunistic businesswoman. I think she is also a defender of the weak and the oppressed. But she has no limits and that’s what makes her dangerous.



Elisa Lasowski at TCA.

Question: The show is in English though there are many French speakers among the cast. What was it like navigating the language barrier in your performance?


Elisa Lasowski: I’m bilingual, and have been studying English since I was seven.


Suzanne Clement: We had an accent coach on set, which helped. But as far as my character goes, she could be from anywhere in the world, so I could forget about it.



Anna Brewster at TCA.

Question: Elisa and Anna, what can you tell us about the relationship between your characters, a wife and lead mistress?


Anna Brewster: There is much more to it than girls not liking each other. They’re two very different personalities. Maybe if they had similar views they could have liked each other. There are scenes where I could have been more bitchy but we decided on playing it with a bit more compassion. So there is respect there.


Elisa Lasowski: They started off as friends. But my character realizes that these women live at court, the king is going to cheat on me with all these women. So at the end of the day, we’re all women against that.



Aude Albano at TCA.

Question: All the grand plans that Louis XIV initiated during Season 1 start to unravel during Season 2. Can you talk about that?


Aude Albano: I really think Season 2 is about discovering the darker side of Versailles, of what happens when you lock up a bunch of ambitious, selfish, and self-obsessed people under your roof and they start to kill each other. The poisons are spreading. That’s really what the story is about in Season 2.



Anna Brewster as Montespan.

Question: What kind of story do the costumes tell and how do they support the broader themes of the show?


Anna Brewster: Each of us have our own individual looks. And as soon as you put them on, you just feel the character, it’s really incredible. Six months of wearing a corset every day is quite intense.


Aude Albano: They really are the beating heart of season 2 because each one of them, in their own way, with their own personality and style, they stand up and fight for what they believe in, for what they want to achieve in Versailles, and for themselves.



George Blagden as King Louis XIV and Anna Brewster as Madame de Montespan.

Question: Can you talk about how extreme the politics and scheming became in Versailles?


Anna Brewster: I relate to the extremity of the love story between the king and me [Montespan]. Maybe we’ve all been in that situation, I have, and I know that you kind of go crazy and you do things that aren’t normal or sane. In those days, this kind of black magic and poisons, that was what they did. Now, we have social media [laughter].


Elisa Lasowski: That’s kind of natural, I would imagine. If we were locked in here for a very long time, we may go crazy, too. The reason Louis XIV brought everyone to Versailles was to control them. It was a pleasure palace and a prison at the same time. If people spend all day gambling, drinking and eating, they’re bound to have quite a few eventful nights.

Suzanne Clement: I think also when you have young souls in power, everybody is excited by power and anger. It’s this thing that ignites passion and it starts spreading. Anything to be talked about or anything to grab more of what you have or what you want.


Aude Albano: It’s a lifestyle where it’s important to know how to dress, how to eat, what to eat. It’s really a sense of sophistication that Louis XIV created. He was a visionary man – of course, there were some elements of dictator in him, as well. He wanted to prink his mark on history.



Jessica Clark at TCA.

Question: How much research did you do when forming your characters?


Jessica Clark: The letters were very helpful in opening up [Palatine’s] world. And into the world of Versailles. But there was also the element of wanting to bring bits of myself into the character, as well. Hopefully, that’s what I did.


Anna Brewster: I really had to go in and discover the history. I read some books and got the outline of what was happening. But I didn’t want to go farther than that. At that point, I wanted to work more with the scripts, to see my character’s arc and prepare for that. But you have to ask the question, “Who knows what these people were really like?” They were human beings, so I just try to make it a bit more relaxed and modern.

Elisa Lasowski: There’s always an element of historical interpretation. What’s fun about being an actor is just being able to discover subjects or things in a more precise way that you wouldn’t necessarily have an occasion to do. The queen is quite interesting because she was described quite differently by earlier historians than later historians. I had to find a way I could approach her and give her some kind of power.


Aude Albano: It’s important to note that, doing some research, of course this was a world ruled by men. But if you look closely, you will discover that Louis would surround himself with strong-willed, smart, witty, women. I wouldn’t say that they had power, per se, but they were so influential on his reign that somehow that makes them powerful. They bring their own power.


Character Descriptions




KING LOUIS XIV (Played by George Blagden)



Versailles is the mirror image of Louis. As the king’s power grows, so does the palace. But as the season begins, Louis is still haunted by nightmares. The kid- napping of his son, and the death of Henriette keep him awake and prevent him from finding peace. Yet he should be feeling satisfied: his palace is admired by the entire world, he shares his bed with the most beautiful woman in France, the nobility is behind him, and he is ready to invade Holland... But, much like his new palace, there is still much work to be done behind the beautiful façade. Cracks begin to show. Louis is trapped in the labyrinth of Versailles and is trying to escape from its Minotaur. Consumed by his ego and growing paranoia, the king is losing his way, blinded by his work, and by the eyes of Madame de Montespan... And it is women who will comfort him in his internal battle, even though Montespan appears to be pulling him towards the darkness and hastening his demise.




MADAME DE MONTESPAN (Played by Anna Brewster)



After winning the king’s affections, Madame de Montespan gets a taste for power and is determined to keep it. She flatters the king, fulfilling his sexual desires, and making him the envy of all. Her influence on Louis grows and spreads to his political decisions. She becomes the de facto “Queen of Versailles”. But no matter how ambitious and calculating she may be, Madame de Montespan is actually a vulnerable and terrified woman. She has seen what happens to favorites the king grows tired of. She knows that if the king’s favor should wane, the court would become a merciless den of predators. She is prepared to do anything to keep the affection of Louis, with whom she is hopelessly in love: even sell her soul to the devil.




MADAME SCARRON (Played by Catherine Walker)



A shining beacon in the distance. That is what Madame Scarron, the future Madame de Maintenon is. Welcomed into the court at the request of Madame de Montespan to take care of the child born from her relations with Louis, she is a pious woman, utterly devoted to her task. To begin with, Louis barely notices her: she is older than him, with an austere air, and doesn’t seem to fit in with the atmosphere of the court. But behind the scenes, Madame Scarron is a fine, intelligent and ambitious woman. She possesses a quality that Madame de Montespan lacks: patience. An iron fist within a velvet glove.




PHILIPPE (Played by Alexander Vlahos)



Philippe has not forgiven Louis for Henriette’s death, and has decided to remain in Saint-Cloud, far from Versailles and his brother. But it’s a different story for Louis. He needs Philippe close by, and he must see him married once again: the choice of wife is a major political decision that will enable him to forge new alliances in the war against Holland. So he lures Philippe to Versailles by returning his lover to him, the Chevalier de Lorraine, who he had sent into exile in Italy. Philippe knows that, as is tradition, he has no choice but to accept the woman that Louis will choose for him. A woman who could not be further from the late Henriette: the larger-than-life Liselotte, Princess Palatine. Against all expectations, a bond develops between Philippe and Liselotte. But just as the knight had demonstrated with Henriette, his jealousy knows no bounds.




MARIE-THÉRÈSE (Played by Elisa Lasowski)



Marie-Thérèse is forced to suffer daily humiliation inflicted upon her by Montespan, the new “Queen of Versailles” and Louis’ favorite. She cannot bear to see her rival flaunting her rounded belly and catching everyone’s eye, especially that of the king. Nor can she tolerate the decadent atmosphere that has taken over the court and diverted the nobility from the path of morality and religion. In the hope of returning order to the chaos, she calls upon Father Pascal, her confessor and confidante. She also approaches Madame Scarron, who she can sense has a positive influence on the king.




GASTON DE FOIX (Played by Harry Hadden-Paton)



The son of Madeleine de Foix is a scheming and ambitious manipulator. He seeks power, fortune and fame; the perfect example of a venal courtier playing with the codes of the court of Versailles. When he misses out on the position of Minister of Justice, awarded to Cassel, he feels devastated and hopeless; having become the black sheep of the court, he wants to make him pay for the humiliation he has suffered.




PRINCESS PALATINE (Played by Jessica Clark)



Liselotte is a young, 19-year-old German princess, forced to leave her country and loved ones to marry Philippe and seal the alliance between France and the Palatinate. Despite her tender age, she is a force of nature who loves nothing more than riding horses, hunting, and eating. Extremely candid and natural, she has no interest in religion or etiquette. She is a free, iconoclastic spirit, who speaks her mind...But as strong and stubborn as she may be, she remains a young and isolated woman, a stranger in the court, and suffers the indifference of her husband and the repeated humiliation of the Chevalier de Lorraine.




CHEVALIER (Played by Evan Williams)



Having returned from a long exile in Italy, the Chevalier de Lorraine is the same as ever: flamboyant and mischievous; an incorrigible party-goer, possessive lover and rival of anyone who gets too close to Philippe. Initially flustered by the freshness and spontaneity of Princess Palatine, he becomes irritated by the bond that she develops with Philippe, and decides to make her pay. He takes cruel pleasure in humiliating her and mocking her “rustic” manners and lack of femininity. To boost his energy, the knight immerses himself in the potions and drugs circulating the court. He spots the opportunity for a lucrative...and destructive business.




MADAME AGATHE (Played by Suzanne Clément)



In her home nearby the palace, Madame Agathe receives noble guests, seeking her aid to win back a lover’s heart, rid themselves of an embarrassing husband or unwanted rival. She is an expert in divination and in concocting potions and poisons. She is an elegant, mysterious and very professional woman, especially when it comes to building her business and winning the loyalty of her clients. But she can become terrifying and ice cold, and is afraid of nothing and no one.




THOMAS BEAUMONT (Played by Mark Rendall)



The playwright’s quill has seduced Louis, who accepts him into his service as his personal historian. He is tasked with chronicling his exploits and recording the “official” history of Versailles. This cover enables him to spy on the king under the instruction of William of Orange. He takes advantage of his position to attend highly confidential meetings and approaches important figures in the court to glean information from them.




BONTEMPS (Played by Stuart Bowman)



Louis’ faithful servant has a ringside view of Madame de Montespan’s growing influence over the king and the court, and finds himself torn between his desire to protect Louis and his mission to obey him at all times. His friendship with the king will be put in jeopardy...




FABIEN MARCHAL (Played by Tygh Runyan)



Murders and poisonings plague the court, the enemy is everywhere, anonymous, and unstoppable. The king himself begins to doubt the ability of his chief of police to put a stop to the crimes. Fabien sees that the court is rotting from within. He uses Sophie as a spy in the parlors, and concludes, like Bontemps, that Madame de Montespan’s influence on the king is growing. During his enquiry into the poisonings, he approaches Claudine, the king’s doctor.




SOPHIE (Played by Maddison Jaizani)



Fabien uses Sophie to infiltrate the parlors of Versailles. As the poisonings increase, he relies on her to feed back to him private discussions and shameful admissions...Forced, by order of the king, to marry the Duke of Cassel, she discovers, at her own expense, the cruelty of life in the court of Versailles. When Palatine arrives, Sophie takes up the role of companion to Monsieur’s wife. A genuine friendship develops between the two young women: both of whom find themselves trapped in a marriage not of their choosing. But, although Palatine hopes that her marriage may one day blossom, Sophie knows that, for her, there is no hope of that... and decides to free herself, whatever the cost...




Season 2 Episode Guide

 


If you want to know nothing about the episodes at all, skip this section. Provided by Ovation, this episode guide includes general episode descriptions and specific plot details.

 

Episode 1: "The Labyrinth"
Saturday, September 30 at 10pm ET
Louis has every reason to be happy - his palace is expanding and is admired the world over; and his troops are preparing to invade Holland and crush William of Orange. However, he is still haunted by nightmares, and his paranoia grows, whilst his brother, Philippe, refuses to set foot back in Versailles. Louis finds strength and comfort in the arms of his favorite, Madame de Montespan, who is pregnant with their child, and whose influence continues to grow, much to the dismay of the King’s entourage, and, in particular, the Queen, Marie-Thérèse, who is forced to suffer daily humiliation inflicted by Montespan. Louis, however, has much reason to be afraid: poisonings are rife in Versailles, murders are on the increase, and assassins remain at large without a trace. Louis allows a “wolf into the sheep-pen” when he welcomes the playwright Thomas into his Court to write the “official” history of Versailles.

Episode 2: "A Still Small Voice"
Saturday, October 7 at 10pm ET
The Church rises up against the King, commanding him to end his adultery with Montespan. The bishop Bossuet forms an alliance with Father Pascal, who has come to the Court at the Queen’s behest to return order and morality to the Palace. But Louis remains deaf to their orders. He has managed to convince Philippe to return to Versailles, or more to the point, has coerced him, by returning to him Chevalier who he had exiled to Italy. But on his return, Philippe must wed the bride that Louis has chosen for him: the Princess Palatine. Fabien continues to investigate the poisonings with the help of Sophie, who is spying for him in the parlors. Montespan fears that the King will lose interest in her once she gives birth...so she seeks to retain his love by following the advice and aphrodisiacs procured by Madame Agathe.

Episode 3: "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes"
Saturday, October 14 at 10pm ET
Poisonings continue to spread, and Fabien’s investigations have reached a dead end. The King’s decisions are criticized, such as his appointment of Cassel to the position of Minister of Justice. To ensure Cassel is kept under constant surveillance, Louis decides that he must marry Sophie. She finds comfort in the Princess Palatine, to whom she has become lady-in-waiting. The marriage of Philippe and Palatine is celebrated, but Philippe, under pressure from the Chevalier, is unable to fulfill his conjugal duty...In the Court, Madeleine de Foix is deeply offended by Cassel’s appointment: she had done everything in her power to ensure the position was given to her son Gaston! Montespan welcomes her friend, the humble Madame Scarron, into the Court as the governess to her child.

Episode 4: "Miasma"
Saturday, October 21 at 10pm ET
Madeleine de Foix is thrown into prison for murder by poisoning. Before her last breath, she sends Gaston to the only person who may be able to help him win a position in Court: Madame Agathe. At the Palace, Louis and Montespan's child has become gravely ill. Whilst Scarron and Claudine are sick with worry, Montespan feigns her distress so as not to make an enemy of the King. Louis sees the illness as a sign: could it be a message from God? Louis is suffocating, the pressure from the Church is becoming intolerable. In Court, the Chevalier is getting caught up in drugs and squandering Philippe’s money on gambling, in the vain hope of attracting his lover’s attention. Sophie discovers her husband Cassel's cruelty at her own expense, who make her his prey. But the predator himself is put in danger when Thomas commands him to provide him with confidential information on Louis’ plans in Holland.

Episode 5: "War and Peace"
Saturday, October 28 at 10pm ET
Louis is afflicted by terrible insomnia, which feeds his paranoia. He dismisses Fabien from his duties, and distances himself more and more from his entourage - with the exception of Montespan. Fabien goes to live with Claudine to start a new life, but Claudine continues her investigations into the source of the poisons. Gaston has made a pact with Agathe: having won back the favor of the Court, he must help Montespan to rid herself of her enemies, and expand the witch's customer base. Louis decides to assign the Dutch War to Philippe, much to everyone’s surprise. But his paranoia prevails, and so, to assure his own glory, and to escape the palace that oppresses him, Louis eventually decides to go into battle himself. Philippe, humiliated, finds unexpected comfort in the arms of Palatine. Consumed with jealousy, Chevalier seduces Isabelle, Colbert’s young niece, who has newly arrived to Versailles.

Episode 6: "The Sands of Time"
Saturday, November 4 at 10pm ET
The King’s army wins several victories on the Dutch front, but it isn’t enough for Louis, who wants to crush Holland and bring William of Orange to his knees. But he doesn’t foresee William’s guile. He draws Louis into a trap and forces his army to retreat. During this time, in Court, Marie-Thérèse oversees a pious, austere rule. But her authority is questioned by the courtiers, starting with Philippe, who takes on the role of King-for-a-Day during the visit of the Sultan of Bijapur. Philippe gets caught up in the game, spurred on by Montespan, and disobeys the Queen’s orders by organizing a decadent evening in his quarters. Montespan takes advantage of the evening to push Isabelle, who she views as a potential rival, to the worst excesses. In town, Claudine has finally uncovered the source of the poisons, but she has also attracted the attention of dangerous criminals.

Episode 7: "A Night"
Saturday, November 11 at 10pm ET
Louis and William of Orange engage in a merciless face-off. In a game of cat and mouse, they size each other up, study, and challenge one another. At the end of this formidable one-on-one, Louis finally emerges from the tiredness that paralyzed him, and made him so dread his own creation, the Palace of Versailles. Imbued with a new energy, he returns to the Court, leaving his demons behind...but he is still unaware of Thomas’ double dealing. Montespan feels more and more isolated, and starts to doubt the sincerity of her friend Scarron: could she too, also be in love with Louis? Complicity between Philippe and Palatine grows, leaving the Chevalier bitter and desperate.

Episode 8: "Le nouveau régime"
Saturday, November 18 at 10pm ET
Louis is determined to regain control over his palace and his life. He begins by ending his relationship with Montespan. Humiliated in front of the Court, she decides the unthinkable: if God has forsaken her, then it's to the Devil she must now turn. Palatine falls gravely ill, leading to fears she has been poisoned. Gaston’s misdoings backfire on him when the Maquets, ruined by his blackmail, put an end to his days within the walls of Versailles. Fabien agrees to return into the King’s service, determined to finally put an end to the Poison Scandal.

Episode 9: "Seven Shadows"
Saturday, November 25 at 10pm ET
Montespan seals a pact with the Devil by taking part in a black mass. In Court, Philippe diligently enforces Louis’ commands and grows closer to Thomas, who seems to have fallen under his charm. Chevalier, ravaged by jealousy, is determined to fight off and eliminate his new rival. Louis, accused of authorizing the massacre of the Palatinate, breaks down: Has God completely abandoned him? He turns to the only person who can bring him internal peace: Madame Scarron, now Madame de Maintenon. Louis, reassured once again, realizes that Agathe could be at the source of the poison scandal.

Episode 10: "Of Blood and Stone"
Saturday, December 2 at 10pm ET
Humiliated by her fall from grace, a desperate Montespan prepares for revenge: if she cannot have Louis, then Louis must disappear. But the trap closes without remorse. Thomas realizes that he has been discovered and prepares to escape.