The Serpent Episode 3 is the third 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 3 focuses on a character who has been depicted in The Serpent previously but not quite developed yet. This time around that character is young Frenchman Dominique Rennelleau (Fabian Frankel) who we had seen living in the same residence as Sobhraj and Monique (Jenna Coleman).
The Serpent utilises its non-linear narrative to create tension for the viewer with respect to the sequence of events concerning specific characters. This is exploited to the fullest with Rennelleau. The Frenchmen is another victim duped by Sobhraj and manipulated by the psychopathic killer to remain in his thrall. We are never quite sure what has happened as we move from one timeline to another.
As previously mentioned, 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 is investigating the activities of Sobhraj.
At the end of episode 2, Knippenberg had connected with Nadine and Remi Gires, neighbours of Sobhraj who have deep suspicions of Sobhraj’s true nature i.e. as a murderer. The episode uses Nadine’s story to intersect cleverly with that of Rennelleau with the non-linear narrative keeping the viewer on edge throughout. A superb development of tension!
Frustratingly, Knippenberg does not seem to make much progress in Episode 3 despite obtaining vital information from the Gires. However, that fits in with the events laid out in the narrative and keeps the dramatic tension high for the viewer. Now the question is – will the paths of Knippenberg and Sobhraj cross in the ‘present’?
… still there’s more …