We remember an insufferable movie from a few months ago that was yet another adaptation of “Dangerous Liaisons.” Anybody familiar with the story will say that it deserves to die a natural death and not be kept alive by numerous adaptations. Yet it continues to thrive. And the reason is none other than the ultimate fantasy of how love turns the charming villain into the loveable hero. Seriously, it is the absolute refusal of the “I can change him” trope to fade out that keeps churning out these adaptations. We wouldn’t have tuned into the show if it was not a source of our bread and butter. So here we are. We can say that there was an element of surprise in it. In a world of content that is getting fatigued by subsequent remakes of irrelevant classics, this particular “Dangerous Liaisons” brought in an element of freshness by somewhat remaining true to the original setting. This is how the first episode unfolds.
What Sets Camille Against Valmont?
One thing about “Dangerous Liaisons” is that it is visually stunning. The opening scene, where Camille and Pascal jump over the fence to get a view of the launch of the parachute, is beautiful. As they make their way to a secluded room that has the map of Paris drawn in stone and proceed to spend the night on it while talking about their possible futures, it is all kinds of sensuous and sweet. From there on, the real story starts. The next morning, Pascal asks Camille to marry him, but she reminds him of her debt to Jericho. She leaves, saying that he wouldn’t be able to afford her. Camille is a prostitute from the house of Madame Jericho, and she is working for her to pay off some debt. Her handmaiden, Victoire, is not fond of Pascal and is, in fact, extremely suspicious of him. While Camille is considering the question that Pascal has asked her, he has caused a different scandal elsewhere. He had an affair with Genevieve de Merteuil, and she had written him some letters, which he used to blackmail her for a title. Genevieve is desperate to get those back and maintain her marriage and position in society.
Meanwhile, Camille runs into an Inspector of Moral Discipline when one of her customers misbehaves with her, and she tries to get rid of him. It is quite clear that the inspector is smitten by her after she thanks him. Camille decides that she wants to marry Pascal and tells him so when he visits her. But trouble in paradise starts brewing when she discovers one of the letters Genevieve has written to him. Though heartbroken, he explains to her that he needs to do this to attain the money and means for them to live. Though she has her doubts, she agrees to forgive him if he promises to stop this. Pascal makes a promise and agrees to burn the rest of the letters.
Victoire hears their conversation and comes to know that the rest of the letters are hidden beneath the other maps in the cartographer’s office. She burns an imprint of Pascal’s key when the couple is sleeping and steals it the next day. It will be a while before Pascal discovers that since he is far from keeping his promise to Camille. He was disowned by his father after his stepmother poisoned him against Pascal, and that is the reason he has no inheritance or money. Other than his wage, he survives by befriending rich women for their money. Despite promising to burn the letters, he plans on keeping them for his own security.
Meanwhile, Camille is planning on running away with Pascal. Right when she is about to leave, the inspector who had previously rescued her comes to see her. Camille returns his money and tries to leave, but he gets violent. Victoire comes to the rescue, and they escape. But Pascal has yet to reach their meeting place. He had received a letter from one of his ex-lovers promising him a gift, and he went to meet her in hopes of getting some money. It doesn’t look like that venture was successful. Camille is waiting for him and is worried that he might have run into an accident. Victoire shows her the letters and lets her know that Genevieve is not the only woman he is involved with. Heartbroken at this betrayal, Camille decides to end her love for him. She had previously said that it was either love or war. Love ended; it was now time for war.
After visiting Florence, Pascal rushes to find Camille, but she has already left to meet Genevieve. Once she reaches her doorstep, she bargains with her. She promises to give her the rest of the letters in exchange for a life of privilege. Genevieve would teach her to be a noblewoman so that she could escape her previous life and exact revenge on Pascal. After initial hesitations, Genevieve agrees and decides to introduce her as the daughter of a friend and Victoire as her servant from Marseilles. The stage is set, and thus begins the start of the dangerous liaisons.
‘Dangerous Liaisons’ Episode 1: Ending Explained- Does Pascal Valmont Know Who Took The Letters?
In the final few minutes of the episode, Pascal comes to meet Genevieve at the opera to discuss whether she would find him a title. She replies, saying that she has found him one, that of a “blackmailer.” Pascal threatens that he only needs one letter to upend her life, but Genevieve tells him that he has lost that power. He is immediately doubtful and rushes to the hiding place. As expected, the letters are not there. While Camille and Genevieve enjoy the opera after he leaves, Pasca goes to church. He knows who has taken the letters, as he has only ever told Camille where he keeps them. He understands that she must be aware by now of the number of women in his life and must be seeking revenge. Pascal remembers her previous words that there is no in-between. Having sensed Genevieve’s attitude, he must have guessed that Camille is either under her wing or has her support in some way, making her way more powerful than him. He expects war. And he is not wrong because that is what is going to happen.
Final Thoughts: What Works For Dangerous Liaisons, Episode 1?
The original intentions of the author of “Dangerous Liaisons” were to bring forth “the corruption of the French nobility.” Yet the story was one where it was the women who were amoral simply because they sought happiness outside their marriages. That was the character of the main villain, the Marquess de Merteuil. It was a representation of the Madonna-mistress complex, which came out in the characters of the Marquess and the heroine, with the latter known by society to be the standard for everything that a lady should be. In the original tale, the author gave the hero a redemption, by using the mistakes of the women as an excuse for his flaws. The misogyny of the author can be understood as being the result of the time period he grew up in. However, in this rendition, the writer has given the women the room to be human, to be more than just someone who engages in affairs and merry making as a flaunting of their privilege, which was the perspective of the original writer. We see that primarily with Genevieve when she explains her marriage and her “mistakes” as the only things she could steal from society for herself, when her options of expressing herself as an individual were so severely limited. If this is how the rest of the show is going to be, there may be hope after all. We can’t get it out of our heads that, despite Pascal’s lie to Camille, he wasn’t going to abandon her. He also mentions that his only intention in keeping those letters was for his safety and not because he wanted to adversely affect Genevieve. Clearly, the writers don’t want us to hate him completely. Maybe we will watch this show with a pair of fresh eyes. Because if anything at all, we have been convinced to give this a chance.