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'Marie Antoinette' Recap: Episode 7

Daniel Hautzinger
Provence in Marie Antoinette
Provence sees his position at court slipping away when Marie Antoinette becomes pregnant. Photo: Caroline Dubois - Capa Drama / Banijay Studios France / Les Gens / Canal+

Marie Antoinette airs Sundays at 9:00 pm on WTTW and is available to streamWTTW Passport members can stream the whole show. Recap the previous and following episodes.
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An heir is finally on the way: Marie Antoinette is pregnant. The birth of a boy could cement her position at court as well as the alliance between France and Austria. Naturally, all of Antoinette’s enemies at Versailles hope for a girl.

But they won’t rely on hope alone. They also print a pamphlet of Antoinette copulating with cousin Chartres, insinuating that King Louis is not the father of the child. Antoinette is obviously furious; Louis demands that Maurepas figure out who is responsible.

The minister shuts down Versailles and searches both the rooms and bodies of all of the lesser courtiers, questioning some possible suspects, such as Madame de Noailles. He finds nothing.

So the search moves up a rank, and Chartres is brought in for questioning. Provence has planted a seed of doubt in Louis’ mind that the gossip might actually be true, while Chartres’ friend Saint-Georges thinks Chartres might actually be infatuated with Antoinette. Chartres simply finds it all amusing. But Maurepas knows that destabilizing the Bourbon line of Louis would be beneficial for Chartres, an Orleans.

Chartres certainly doesn’t seem concerned. He visits Antoinette and demonstrates his affection for her, but she orders him to leave; they can’t be seen together.

Maurepas also interrogates Louis’ aunts. One of them is defiant while the other quavers under Maurepas’ questions. They nearly admit some inadvertent responsibility, given their obvious dislike of Antoinette and spreading of cruel nicknames.

The pamphlet puts pressure on Antoinette and Louis’ marriage, with him asking her if there’s truth in it and her accusing his family. The family certainly isn’t innocent when it comes to Antoinette. At dinner, Josephine sows doubt about the health of the child, leading Antoinette to leave sobbing and Louis to follow. Even Provence tells his wife she was callous, but she just cries over her own lack of an heir.

Louis asks Antoinette to forgive him for implying she has committed adultery, and for the behavior of his family.

Maurepas turns his sights on Josephine, who admits that she is lonely at court but denies responsibility for the pamphlet. Maurepas should question Provence if he suspects him, she says—but only Louis can question his brother.

Maurepas at least discovers the printing press in town that produced the pamphlet and shuts it down—but the original copy is still out there somewhere. He has narrowed things down to two possible culprits: Chartres or Provence. Their chambers are both searched, and the original is found in Chartres’ rooms.

But Chartres proclaims his innocence, and Antoinette believes him. Nevertheless, he is sequestered. Provence demands an apology from Louis for searching his rooms, but Louis brings up his knowledge that Josephine faked her pregnancy—he can’t trust his brother at all.

Provence accuses Josephine of telling someone about the fake pregnancy, but she denies it—and shows Provence that she’s a talented schemer by revealing that she is behind the pamphlet, and still has the original.

Yolande hears Josephine laughing with Provence in their chambers and begins to suspect her.

Yolande has returned to Antoinette’s good graces, and sunk further in Lamballe’s. When Yolande dresses Antoinette one morning because Lamballe is late, Lamballe breaks down. She has an appointment with the faddish doctor Mesmer, who hypnotizes her. Lamballe praises Mesmer’s talents to Antoinette, who herself tries the doctor—but he tells her she’s too strong-willed to need his treatment. Lamballe is delicate; that’s why it worked on her.

Yolande believes Chartres is innocent while Lamballe disagrees. But while Yolande is on Antoinette’s side in that matter, she is still informing on the queen to her relative Maurepas for money. When she asks him for more, he suggests that she become a member of Antoinette’s bedchamber—an intolerable suggestion, because it would put Yolande under Lamballe.

Antoinette confronts Chartres in his house arrest and demands the truth. She tells him she believes his claim of innocence—and then her labor begins.

The court watches as Antoinette undergoes an agonizing labor, and Yolande uses the distraction to search Josephine’s rooms, where she finds the original pamphlet under a loose floor tile. She then returns to the birth and encourages Antoinette through her last few pushes. The baby is born—but Antoinette is unresponsive. Yolande cuts her foot with scissors to wake her up; Lamballe faints; Antoinette regains consciousness. She has given birth to a girl. Louis thanks his wife for giving him great joy, and both parents are happy.

So is the rest of the court: Provence and Josephine toast the girl, who cannot be the heir. Provence tells Josephine that they make a good team—and then he is called to see Louis, who has learned from Maurepas via Yolande of the original pamphlet’s presence in Josephine’s room.

Louis doesn’t believe that Josephine acted without Provence, and says he could have them both executed for treason. But he won’t; he’ll just never let his brother be involved in government. The court will be told a rogue equerry was responsible. Louis also gives Provence a black eye and demands that he address him as “Sire.”

Chartres is released, and visits Antoinette and her daughter. Antoinette appoints Yolande governess, upsetting Lamballe once again.

The Empress of Austria is also still disappointed with her daughter, for failing to produce a son. She tells her own son that they will wait to fight Prussia over Bavaria until an heir assures the support of French troops. Joseph can’t wait to make his own decisions—which won’t happen until his mother is dead.

Antoinette has named her daughter after her mother. Louis assures her that her enemies won’t step out of line again.