The Serpent Episode 4 is the 4th 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’.
The strength of The Serpent miniseries is its ability to squeeze out dramatic moments out of individual real life incidents and Episode 4 is no different. That and its non-linear narrative style which keeps attentive viewers on their collective toes. Once more, The Serpent – with Episode 4 – moves the storytelling around in time and brings us back to that period depicted in Episode 3, when Sobhraj, ‘Monique’ and Ajay were away from Thailand.
The episode begins in Katmandu where we see grisly charred human remains being found by a young Nepalese boy. Yes, this episodes gives us the details of our trio’s sojourn in Katmandu as Sobhraj continues on his murderous spree in search of hapless victims – young hippie tourists. And Nepal definitely provides. But there’s more to this episode than meets the eye.
The real narrative focus is on ‘Monique’ as she grapples with the reality of who Sobhraj is and the crimes that he has committed (and continues to commit). This naturally creates a moral conflict in her inner self and she obviously needs to work out this dilemma. Now, the problem with this non-linear narrative style is that we have already seen ‘Monique’ back in Thailand in Episode 3 and that fact strips most of the tension away from Episode 4.
Back in the ‘present’ (i.e. 1976), Herman Knippenberg, a Dutch official based in Bangkok is continuing his investigations into the activities of Sobhraj. In Episode 3, Knippenberg is being aided by Nadine Gires, a neighbour of Sobhraj, who is gathering evidence against Sobhraj. Will this brave act cost Nadine her life? That is the question to be answered, but in Episode 5!
… still there’s more ..