Tahar Rahim plays serial killer Charles Sobhraj in The Serpent (Picture: BBC/Mammoth Screen)
Warning: spoilers ahead for episode three of The Serpent.
At a glance, one might assume that the people serial killer Charles Sobhraj (Tahar Rahim) surrounds himself with in The Serpent are willing to do his bidding no questions asked, choosing to ignore the innate baseness of their leader.
But in the latest episode of the BBC drama, we discover that one person in the service of Charles (who is going by the alias Alain) has begun deducing the true nature of his supposed friend’s character.
When we first meet Dominique (Fabien Frankel), he appears quiet, unassuming and subservient, at the beck and call of Charles and Monique (Jenna Coleman) to carry out domestic tasks at the couple’s home as they welcome guests to Kanit House in Bangkok.
So how did the young Frenchman come to be a part of their lives?
While episode two of The Serpent focused on the backstory of Monique, who comes from Québec and whose real name is Marie-Andrée, the third places a spotlight on Dominique.
After working on a yacht in Australia for two years, Dominique is aimlessly travelling in Thailand in search of adventure when he stumbles across Charles’ path.
Charles (going by the name Alain) and Dominique go swimming (Picture: BBC/Mammoth Screen)
Taking advantage of Dominique’s trust, Charles does what we have seen him do on several occasions – he purposely makes Dominique ill, bringing him back to Kanit House so he can pretend to care for him.
Dominique steadily becomes more and more unwell, routinely throwing up as Monique feeds him his ‘medicine’ twice a day.
However, he finally notices that something untoward is going on when Charles and Monique’s pet monkey dies after devouring his medicine behind his back.
Nadine, a resident of Kanit House, becomes concerned about Dominique, she tells Dutch diplomat Herman Knippenberg (Picture: BBC/Mammoth Screen)
Gradually, Dominique starts spotting other strange occurrences. Why does he have the alarm clock that belonged to an American visitor called Teresa (Alice Englert), who went for a night out with Charles and his assistant Ajay (Amesh Edireweera) only to never return?
Why is it, as he asks Monique one night, that ‘everyone who comes here gets sick’, a question that prompts her to shut her front door in his face?
Eventually, Dominique asks Charles if he can have his passport back, which Charles had been storing for him in his safe.
After expressing his desire to return home to Paris to his parents, Dominique freezes with shock as he discovers that Charles has replaced the photograph in his passport with his own.
Not only that, but his tourist visa has expired. Essentially, he is trapped – unable to escape the man who he now realises has been keeping him captive.
Nadine tried reaching out to several embassies in Bangkok after learning the truth about Charles (Picture: BBC/Mammoth Screen)
In a moment of desperation, Dominique calls his parents, the young man reduced to a young boy as he listens to his mother and father’s pleas for him to come home.
But while it may seem as though all hope has been lost, a timely trip to Hong Kong for Charles, Monique and Ajay provides him with the perfect opportunity to escape.
Nadine (Mathilde Warnier) and her husband Remi (Grégoire Isvarine), a French couple who also live at Kanit House, reach out to Dominique to check if he’s ok.
Angela and Herman try to discover if Dominique actually made it out of Bangkok safely (Picture: BBC/Mammoth Screen)
Having decided that they can be trusted, despite their friendship with Charles and Monique, Dominique tells them everything – how the couple have been making their guests sick and how they have been involved with multiple mysterious deaths.
With Nadine and Remi’s help, Dominique is able to fix his passport with his own picture, find a viable tourist visa that he can travel home with and obtain a plane ticket back to France, becoming the first person we have witnessed on The Serpent to successfully escape Charles’ grasp.
In one of the most emotional moments of the series, we see Dominique reunite with his parents at the airport, the couple relieved beyond words that their son has returned safely to them.
Remi informs Angela and Herman that Nadine hasn’t returned from the post office (Picture: BBC/Mammoth Screen)
However, Dominique’s absence from Kanit House spells trouble for Nadine, who – along with her husband Remi – has relayed everything that Dominique told them about Charles and Monique to Dutch diplomat Herman Knippenberg (Billy Howle) and his wife Angela (Ellie Bamber), who have been investigating the deaths of a young Dutch couple in Bangkok.
Having just received word from Dominique in the post office that he managed to make it back to France, Nadine is approached by the foreboding figures of Charles, Monique and Ajay, who have returned from their vacation to find Dominique gone.
Feigning delight at their return, Nadine agrees to travel back home with them in their car.
But as we discover at the very end of the episode, Nadine does not return from the post office when she is supposed to, leaving Remi, Herman and Angela in a state of worry about her whereabouts.
Could Nadine be the next victim to fall into Charles’ trap, or will she also manage to evade his clutches?
The Serpent returns next Sunday at 9pm on BBC One and is available to watch on BBC iPlayer.