Dangerous Liaisons Recap: The Game Is Afoot
Season 1 Episode 3 Editor’s Rating4 stars ****
Photo: Dusan Martincek/Starz Entertainment I love a period drama with mystery. There are so many lingering questions here, and I am on tenterhooks to see them answered. However, my hopes of a Secret Gay Romance between Jacqueline and Camille are swiftly evaporating. Let’s see how dangerous these liaisons are this week.
The last two episodes have been leading up to it, and here it is: the main plot. Camille summons Valmont to a couturier so she can chat him in the dressing room about her big idea. She tells Valmont she’ll forgive him if — IF — he seduces Jacqueline de Montrachet and makes her fall in love with him. He has to get proof via a letter. Hey, that’s just like original Dangerous Liaisons! Only here it’s not some creepy bet. It’s a creepy bargain. Because Valmont is now literally splitting an egg with his servant, Camille provides him with new clothes so he can be a Fancy Gentleman and win Jacqueline’s heart (presumably to then have Camille stomp all over it).
When Camille leaves and joins Victoire in the carriage, Victoire tells her she preferred her as a whore rather than a liar. Ugh, I miss Victoire. We just get tiny little moments of her, and Camille seems to be distancing herself from this amazing friendship as she gets increasingly caught up in her revenge on Jacqueline. Hos over other hos, Camille. What if, instead, you and Victoire make the marquis give you money to open a bookshop, and then you two run it and we watch a fun show about the people who come in to buy books? I’d watch that. But no, Camille can’t be bothered right now, because she’s busy throwing pig’s blood on Jacqueline. CAMILLE.
Valmont gets info on Jacqueline’s location from his queer opera-composer friend, and off he heads to Saint Sauveur. Someone points out Madame de Montrachet to him, and two seconds later, he’s vigorously sexing up this older woman in her carriage (she describes it as “very nice”). Turns out, definitely not Jacqueline! This was a predictable but fun plot point. On to attempt number two! Jacqueline is that lady who always wears white to church and a giant veil. Is it devotion or is it affectation when it’s this noticeable, ma’am? Pharisees praying on street corners, etc. Valmont, in full powdered wig and makeup, tries to hit on her and is brutally rebuffed.
Realizing that this is no “bang a lady in a carriage” gig, Valmont tells Camille this is an impossible task and the only body Jacqueline desires is Christ’s (haha, gross). Camille replies that maybe he can only seduce women without her consent. BOOM. On leaving, he says something about Victoire’s limited vocabulary, which is patently idiotic since Victoire is the co-owner of a bookshop and — oh, right. Well, she is also definitely smarter than Valmont, since he disclosed his letter hiding place while lying behind a curtain that literally anyone could have been on the other side of. And who’s the literal anyone who WAS behind that curtain? Victoire! Check and mate, Valmont. So he’s still on the hook for seducing Jacqueline.
Meanwhile, Camille’s got other shit to deal with, because the marquis has a guest, and she’s a real piece o’ work. Her name is Christine de Sevigny, and do we think that name is a tribute to Madame de Sévigné? Yeah, we’re all on the same page about this. Anyway, Sevigny is the late Merteuil’s cousin, and she says things like, “What sorrow you have endured — I can see it in the dullness of your eyes and skin.” That’s some hilarious but mean middle-school shit, Sevigny. Sevigny plots with the marquis to super-embarrass Camille so that she’ll leave. You guys. Omg.
Camille has no info about Sevigny, and she is very panicked about how she’ll lie to her face. This is so confusing, because if everyone knows Camille is a fake, what is the issue? Is it that Camille doesn’t know Sevigny knows? Is it like, we all know it, but if you don’t know an answer, you’ll be exposed to all of fashionable Paris society? I have no idea, but for some reason, Camille needs to know about Sevigny’s relationship with Merteuil. Majordome isn’t going to help her, but he finally caves and gives her a prayer book with a crib sheet inside. Camille somehow doesn’t pick up on this (OMG, CAMILLE), and she just hands it off to Victoire. Majordome has to basically just tell Victoire what’s what so that she can give the book back to Camille. This is already embarrassing for everyone. Be better at deception, Camille! You’ll never pass spy school this way.
I absolutely also do not understand why Camille didn’t ask Majordome about table etiquette after he flat-out offered. This is your Pretty Woman scene! Only here you don’t have kindly disposed people who will laugh when a snail goes flying off your fork. Majordome is your Héctor Elizondo, ma’am! Why won’t people use their resources. Anyway, Camille makes some table errors and people smile meanly about it because they suck.
Sevigny comes up with — again, a weird middle-school mean-girl vibe — a plan to bring a mesmerist into the house so that Sevigny can terrify Camille and use the dead marquis to get Camille out of the house. The mesmerist brings a giant tub filled with water, and everyone holds onto copper rods connected to the tub. Seems legit. Only Sevigny is about to get SERVED, because Victoire has been on the case and figured out that Merteuil felt that she and her husband had wronged someone named Ariadne. So now Camille knows that name, and when Sevigny starts going on about the ghost of Merteuil talking about an impostor, Camille cries out about Ariadne. It’s great. Well-played, Camille. The marquis is furious. Camille leaves the house.
Camille and Valmont’s paths cross a final time for this episode outside the church. I legit thought this was a dream sequence at first because Camille’s behavior is unhinged. Valmont is there with Jacqueline, who does not recognize him, because his wig is unpowdered and he has no makeup on. She hears him asking the priest, “But who will think of the children?” and he is IN with her. Yes, you are right, this continues to be very similar to OG Dangerous Liaisons. But better?? No, that’s nuts. OR IS IT?
We see another Camille flashback, in which Jacqueline drags her out past the gates of her house, saying she has brought shame and lies. Camille asks Jacqueline to forgive her, and Jacqueline says even God doesn’t forgive. Camille cuts her wrists in front of the gate and Jacqueline does not come. Wow. Geez.
And so, as Valmont speaks with Jacqueline in the street, Camille runs up, throws pig’s blood on Jacqueline, says, “Even God does not forgive,” and runs away. OMG. Omg.
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