Dangerous Liaisons Season 1 Episode 2 Review: Conquer or Die
A shocking opening sequence set the stage for Camille’s perilous rise to power.
On Dangerous Liaisons Season 1 Episode 2, Genevieve de Merteuil checked out of the narrative but left a looming shadow over everyone’s future.
Genevieve’s departure will likely be a polarizing event, but we must see how it plays out before making final judgments.
It’s disappointing to lose such a significant power player early on.
Fridging a magnificent female character (and actress in Manville) always stings, even if it is for the development of another strong female character.
The relationship between Genevieve and Camille was so complex and unique. There was such promise of what they might have achieved together — the first three minutes were an absolute masterclass.
Avenge our sex. Devise strategies I could not even imagine. Conquer or die.
Genevieve de Merteuil
Genevieve’s words to Camille were her legacy. Perhaps she knew that Camille would be able to take up the mantle, and Genevieve could finally allow herself to rest.
The rubbing of salve on Camille’s wrists was a poignant, intimate touch.
It was as though Genevieve was healing Camille of her past trauma, of what appears to be her suicide attempt, but also foreshadowing the act Genevieve would commit — and succeed where Camille had failed (thanks to Victoire rescuing Camille).
Kosar Ali’s Victoire continues to be a superb, subtle character. The little details of her are so well considered — she deliberately did not cross herself in the church because, of course, she wouldn’t!
It’s marvelous just how much of a catalyst quiet Victoire has been in all this. This story wouldn’t happen without her. She saved Camille’s life and stole Valmont’s letters, which ended up getting him fired here. Now he can focus on pursuing his passion full-time — seducing rich women.
Some new characters entered the cha, most significantly Florence de Reignier (Paloma Faith), Jean de Merteuil (Michael McElhatton), and Jacqueline de Montrachet.
These people are wolves, and they will enjoy tearing you apart.
Faith’s Florence is delightfully wicked. Her type of character is a staple of the genre — wealthy, sexually hungry, and catty. Usually, I’d be hesitant to use the term “catty,” but she seems to revel in the comparison.
It’s her use of the word “pussycat” that tips off Camille about Florence being one of Valmont’s lovers. Florence certainly has claws, though; like a cat, she keeps them hidden until she’s ready to swipe.
Florence is also not above toying with her prey before devouring it, and Pascal’s naked walk of shame was a nice bit of levity within a fairly heavy, heady episode. Watching Florence maneuver around her new, unexpected adversary in Camille is delicious.
Jean de Merteuil: Do you know who I am?
Camille: Not a very nice man.
Michael McElhatton proves he’s cornered the market if you want someone to play a ruthless, intelligent, highborn gentleman. Damn, he’s good at being bad! We grieve being deprived of scenes between his Jean and Manville’s Genevieve! (We can hold out hopes for a flashback).
Jean sees Camille for what she is — an opportunist — but she holds some power over him, as his social standing is of great importance to him. Genevieve left Camille with a formidable challenge. Will Camille achieve it by sheer will?
It’s all about confidence in your hand, no matter what cards the other players may hold.
There is power in other people’s secrets. They will do anything to keep them hidden.
Genevieve de Merteuil
Before the end, we caught a brief glimpse of Carice Van Houten’s Jacqueline de Montrachet, who has undoubtedly left an impression on Camille.
Through Camille’s flashbacks and Camille’s attitude towards her, we can discern that Jacqueline was somehow responsible for the circumstances that led Camille to work for Madame Jericho. Are Camille’s scars to do with Jacqueline? Why does Camille so singlemindedly want revenge on her?
Speaking of flashbacks, we were treated to some very sexy scenes from Camille and Pascal’s first meeting. The chemistry between Englert and Denton is potent. It’s all in the eye contact, all the things they say, and the many levels underneath of what is left unsaid.
This undercurrent of raw intimacy between them colors their every interaction. It also gives insight into Camille’s complicated feelings around Pascal.
Camille is the one who taught him how to be the perfect seducer of women — does she then feel complicit in his dishonorable actions? Does she feel partially responsible for the death of Genevieve?
Pascal has seen every side of Camille — her strength and vulnerability. She feels foolish for believing she was more to him, though it was true, or at least, that’s what he is trying to make her think.
The garden scene had such high stakes because you could see that she wanted to believe him, but her pride won’t let her, and there was no way she’ll be able to trust him again fully.
This episode also highlighted the generalization of women as one indistinguishable entity. Even Genevieve had internalized it — she believed that by bringing down a man or two, Camille could avenge all women.
All women are trapped within this system that commodifies them. Camille calls out Pascal on his narrow view, hoping he will use it for good, saying that all women are different, and he must see each one as an individual — that is how he will succeed in his seductions.
Camille recognizes that Valmont will be able to seduce a particular type of woman with the lessons she gives him. She knows that the women of this rich, artificial, aristocratic world have never felt truly seen or been treated as anything more than a trophy or accessory.
To mourn you would first need a heart.
Hilton Pelser’s Gabriel still feels like a stock character at this point. He wants Camille, but why? Because she’s beautiful and willful and clever? He’s like a misogynist Javert, very focused but somewhat bland due to his singlemindedness, exemplifying lawful evil.
What’s little Rose (Mia Threapleton) up to? What game is she playing? She always seems to be around Madame Jericho when there is information to be heard and ingratiates herself at opportunistic moments. Keep an eye on that one.
The push-and-pull between Camille and Majordome is compelling. Hakeen Kae-Kazim’s gravitas and stoicism make for some intriguing choices.
He never shows his vulnerability, but his motivations are always clear. He was loyal only to Genevieve — it will be interesting to see how far that loyalty will push him or pull him down.
Camille: Perhaps I will be your miracle.
Majordome: You are my enemy’s enemy. That will suffice.
Anne Nikitin’s music is simply perfect. The strings tell a story all on their own, building tension and suspense, always seemingly commenting on the action and heightening the drama.
Where will Camille and Valmont go from here?
What secrets will be revealed about the mysterious Jacqueline de Montrachet?
How did you feel about the unexpected end of Genevieve de Merteuil?
Share your thoughts in the comments.
Mary Littlejohn is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.