The Serpent Queen season 1, episode 6 recap

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The Snake Queen makes his supernatural innuendos clearer as Catherine takes a big step.

This synopsis of The Serpent Queen Season 1 Episode 6, “The Last Joust” contains spoilers.

During his first season The Snake Queen has toyed with the supernatural, but only as a metaphor for a notorious monarch’s complicated legacy. Many imagined Catherine de’ Medici to be a witch, so in a way she became one anyway; The series about her shows her explicitly dabbling in wizards and potions, and having prophetic dreams as an extension of that reputation. But “The Last Joust” weaves these elements more explicitly into the real-world storyline, in a way that makes one question whether we’re supposed to believe that Catherine is really a practitioner of one dark art or another.

The Serpent Queen Season 1 Episode 6 Summary

Catherine fantasizes about Henri dying during a tournament and Diane throwing herself to her death off a high ledge, and at least one of those things comes true. In fact, it comes true as a direct result of Catherine manipulating events to make it so, implying a real power contained within her – or perhaps the magician Ruggieri – that can manipulate real events. It’s odd territory for a historical drama to claim, but it makes things interesting I suppose.

Anyway, after I ratted on Rahima The Snake Queen episode 5, Catherine visits her in her cell to gas-light her and then shares more of her backstory, in which she continues to work with the aforementioned Ruggieri despite his warnings of consequences. But Catherine has a point about Diane blinding Henri to his duty as king, and not just because Henri would rather sleep with her than with his wife. With her increasing addiction to gold, Diane finds herself in even more trouble than before, and it’s not just the royal court that’s worse off, it’s all of France.

Diane’s influence is particularly important in relation to Mary Stuart, who is betrothed to the Dauphin Francis and has a claim to the English throne that could be supported by the Holy Roman Emperor once she is married. The downside is that Mary is considered a zealot and welcoming such a woman to court will inflame Protestants. Diane is pro-union because the cardinal is proposing a new tax on every ring of a wedding bell across France that would go straight into the pockets of Diane and her daughters. The Guises are in favour, for obvious reasons. The only thing that initially stops the marriage is that Henri has enough Dutch guts from all the wine he’s drinking to tell Diane no.

Catherine tries to use the time efficiently. After a conversation with Henri, she sends Mathilde to bring Montmorency into the Council of State as an “impartial adviser”. She tells the Bourbons that the king has instituted austerity measures that ban all official celebrations, including royal weddings. And she’s implying to Mary that Francis can’t father children.

Needless to say, Diane hasn’t, and because Henri is absolutely spineless, he eventually agrees not only to the marriage, but also to the personal invitation of the Holy Roman Emperor. Catherine realizes what she should have realized ages ago – that Henri is weak, will never put his country or his wife above Diane, and poses an imminent threat to France. So she returns to Ruggieri.

on the wedding day, Rupert Everett comes and plays the deplorable Charles V, and so does Montmorency, whose time has eroded his ability to say what people want to hear, rather than the truth. So he tells Henri that he’s even dumber than his father suspected, which the drunk king doesn’t take too well. Most confused and vulnerable, Catherine asks him if he will do tournaments to remind her of how he was when she first saw him, and she begs him to wear a green sash – like he did in her dream has done – with Ruggieri’s charm within.

During the tournament, Henri is expectedly killed.

Nowadays, Rahima sees that for what it is – murder, and perhaps rightly assumes at this point that Catherine is evil. Catherine laughs and reminds her that they aren’t that different, but she’ll be sure to cut her rations in half before she leaves. At the end of the episode, she tells Ruggieri that Rahima will do as she expects, while the two look ominously at Mary and the Marys. What is Catherine up to?

You can watch The Serpent Queen Season 1 Episode 6 The Last Joust exclusively on Starz.

Additional reading: The Serpent Queen season 1, episode 6 recap

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