Episode eight will be the final episode of this season, and it has already been announced that there will be a second season.
We begin the episode with Rahima locating Ruggeri, who just happens to have a replica of Queen Elizabeth I of England’s seal. She meets with Catherine, who offers to tell her the rest of her story, but Rahima tells her that she should be the one telling her. We return to the past and a coughing King Francis in the midst of the kidnapping plot. He becomes seriously ill, and Catherine screams that the King is being attacked, which begins an assault. Catherine rides off on one of the horses, and she stabs Montmorency to allow Antoine, the regent, to escape. She claims it was Antoine who stabbed Montmorency.
Back at the palace, Mary is crying as it is revealed that Francis is dying. Catherine remains quiet as the men argue over who should govern the country. Some minds are already on the succession of Francis’s younger brother Charles and with the regent no longer trusted, a new one is needed, and Catherine sees the opportunity clearly. Catherine finds Mary praying at Francis’s bedside, and Mary tells her of her plan to soak France in blood in revenge. Catherine tells her she can be regent for the future King, which seems to please Mary. Catherine tells her of a plot against her regency by Montmorency, who has survived the stabbing.
Catherine finds Ruggeri, and he gives her opiates to give to her son to alleviate his pain. Meanwhile, Montmorency manages to escape his guards, but he is intercepted and convinced to take on the regency. The regent’s brother is questioned by Mary and Catherine, and Mary takes off his little finger as he refuses to give the information. She then faints upon seeing the end result. Catherine takes the finger back to Antoine, who is being kept hidden away, and shows it to him to prove that she has his brother Louis in custody. Montmorency finds the hideout and holds a gun to Catherine’s head while Antoine is being made to sign the regency over to Montmorency. But then he tells her that the agreement he made Antoine sign was actually in Catherine’s favour as she is the only one who can save France.
Francis rejects Mary’s pleas for the regency and kicks her out of the room just as Catherine returns. Catherine calms her and tells her that she will make it right. Catherine goes in and gives Francis the agreement that Antoine signed. He tells her that now she must persuade him, even though he is clearly in pain. She then offers him the opiates even though they will shorten his life. He begs for them with tears in his eyes. He signs the agreement after taking a sip of the opiates and dies.
Shortly after, Louis’ execution is stopped by order of the new regent – Catherine, and it’s only then that Mary learns that Francis is dead. Mary immediately goes into panic mode to plot against Catherine. Catherine moves to court to Chenonceaux, where she watches a panicked Rahima from her carriage. Mary writes a letter to Queen Elizabeth, which was intercepted. The return letter from Elizabeth is a fake – it’s always convenient to have a fake seal close by – and asks Mary to return to Scotland and unite forces to dethrone Catherine.
Back in the present day, Catherine asks Rahima if she is with her. Rahima declares that she is – on her own terms and reveals that she can read and write. She asks for a title and property, and Catherine smiles and tells her, “It feels good to be bad, doesn’t it?” Rahima then delivers the fake letter to Mary, who is delighted and immediately behind to prepare for her return to Scotland.
On the way to his coronation, Catherine tells her son Charles that she will never let anything happen to him. Meanwhile, Mary returns to Scotland only to learn that the letter was a fake and that Queen Elizabeth would never tolerate her presence on “British” soil. Rahima tells the viewer to trust no one.
And so we end the first season of The Serpent Queen. Overall, it’s not a program that highly valued facts or even stuck to the timeline, but I have to say that I really enjoyed Samantha Morton’s performance as Catherine, and the use of actual French castles was great. It’s a great series to just watch and not think about else, but if factual errors easily annoy you, it may not be the show for you.
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