“An Attack on the King” provides a new perspective but no less scheming, teeing up a dramatic finale to follow.
This The Serpent Queen season 1, episode 7 recap for the episode titled “An Attack on the King” contains spoilers.
As The Serpent Queen’s framing device gets closer than ever to its present-day shenanigans, “An Attack on the King” switches perspectives. In this episode, it isn’t Catherine De Medici whose narration guides us through the flashbacks, but Mary Stuart de Guise, who approaches Rahima, still captive after having been caught in her chambers at Catherine’s behest at the end of The Serpent Queen episode 6, and tells her the story of King Henri’s death from her own perspective.
The Serpent Queen season 1, episode 7 recap
And Henri’s death takes a while. During the joust, his opponent’s spear lodged firmly in his eye socket, which the episode depicts in all its grisly detail. It’s a time of thoughts, prayer, and mourning – or at least it should be. Instead, the Holy Roman Emperor, true to form, takes the opportunity to propose an alliance that’ll secure the English throne for Mary and thus the Catholics, while Diane orders several criminals to be staked through the eye so that the doctors can figure out how to remove such a foreign object without killing the patient.
Not be the bearer of bad news, but it doesn’t work. Diane thinks the procedure has been a success and jumps the gun, inviting Henri himself, still visibly impaired, to a celebration of his miraculous recovery – where, cruelly but quite amusingly, he dies. Catherine isn’t thrilled about this outcome and tells Ruggieri as much, but this is what happens when you meddle in the dark arts, I suppose.
With Henri’s death, Francis takes the throne, concentrating far too much power in the hands of Mary. She believes, thanks to the Holy Roman Emperor telling her so, that Europe shall unite under the one true faith with her its living embodiment, but that’ll require a great deal of political meddling, including pushing Mathilde to turn on Catherine and signing an edict that bans Protestantism in France, which causes a literal brawl in the Privy Council meeting with a touch of comedy when Antoine Bourbon reveals in his fury that he has been sleeping with the Guise matriarch.
As the French crown begins its aggressive purge of Protestants, Catherine seeks allies. She comes up with Montmorency, who has converted to Protestantism thanks to the girl he took away from her father, and the Bourbons’ father, who is furious with their failure at court. Together, they come up with a plan to kidnap the King, which will, in a very roundabout way, force him to U-turn on the Protestant policy. I’m sure that will go swimmingly.
Back in the present day, Rahima, having listened rather dutifully to all this, agrees to find the letter between Mary and Queen Elizabeth which Catherine discovered earlier in the season. But when Catherine catches her, Rahima reveals the ploy and assures the queen that they remain “friends”, and thus on the same side. Among other things, the finale is sure to reveal whether or not she’s telling the truth.
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