The Serpent Episode 2 is the 2nd instalment in this eight-part crime drama miniseries based on the real life murders committed by Charles Sobhraj (played by Tahar Rahim) in the 1970s. Sobhraj was a French thief, fraudster and serial killer of Vietnamese and Indian origin and his victims were young European backpackers visiting South-East Asia on the so-called ‘hippie trail’.
Episode 2 of The Serpent takes on the perspective of Sobhraj’s ‘wife’ Monique (played by Jenna Coleman). We find out that Monique’s real name is actually Marie-Andrée Leclerc, a French-Canadian from Quebec. The episode chronicles Leclerc’s seduction by Sobhraj as she slowly gets entangled in his web of deceit, lies larceny and murder.
Leclerc is portrayed as a bored Westerner who is enticed by Sobhraj’s exotic looks and ice cool demeanour. She falls madly in love with Sobhraj as he manipulates her emotions and leads her to become a collaborator in his devious schemes. Part of the manipulation is Sobhraj’s convincing Leclerc that his illicit activities are all part of a game, and Leclerc – as Monique – is merely playing a part, like living a fantasy.
As covered in our review of Episode 1, this miniseries has a non-linear structure and presented in roughly two time frames. The ‘present’ is 1976, where Herman Knippenberg (Billy Howle), a Dutch official based in Bangkok who is investigating a complaint relating to a missing Dutch couple.
Knippenberg’s continued investigations bring him closer to Sobhraj even as the ‘present’ events are mirrored in flashbacks. These constant time jumps can be a little jarring but as mentioned before function smoothly and effectively once the viewer gets used to the approach.
In fact, this mode of narrative keeps the viewer on his or her toes as more information is revealed with each different scene. For instance, based on Episode 1, it appeared that Monique was a willing accomplice in the sordid affair but The Serpent Episode 2 makes clear that this might not be the case entirely.
An exciting true crime miniseries that maintains the tension and engagement very well. Highly recommended!
… still there’s more …