I waited for The Serpent to release on Netflix in order to make my decision about whether or not I should watch it. In the end, I decided to go for it – I was in the mood for a truth-inspired serial killer story, especially one that did not occur in traditional locations such as London or New York, but a more exotic one in the form of Thailand. I didn’t exactly binge watch it – I was happy with one episode per day pacing – but then again, I almost never binge watch anything, so that doesn’t speak against the series. And while I don’t think it’s a masterpiece, it’s exactly what I needed for entertainment last week. Consequently, I decided to give you a few reasons why you should watch it:
1. Eight episodes and it’s done
It takes a certain agree of willpower to commit to a series that is just about to launch its 7th season. Even a couple of seasons already, and I’m factoring in how much the time spent on the entire series could go into something potentially more interesting. This is why I like limited series – you have the episode list, and you know there won’t be any more. Any small doubt about that goes to the dust bin in this case, as The Serpent explores Charles Sobhraj’s story from beginning to end, and doesn’t leave any room for prequels, sequels or spin-offs.
2. It’s set in an exotic location
As I was saying in the into, too many crime thrillers take place in London, or New York, or a slightly different mixture of American and British locations. Which is why Bangkok, Thailand functions as a very fresh setting for the main action – with some parts of India and Paris taking secondary stage at certain points. While less filming took place in Bangkok than originally planned, because of Covid restrictions, The Serpent still does a great job presenting its unique charm.
3. It explores an interesting period
And it’s not just the location that the series nails, it’s also the times. It’s set in the mid 1970s, which saw a large number of North American and European youths with hippie leanings venture onto pilgrimages to holy Buddhist sites in Thailand, India and Sri Lanka. On their travels, they ventured through countries such as Syria, Iran and Afghanistan, which at the time were rather liberal and certainly not war torn. It provides an interesting view on these times, which are usually explored from a much narrower cultural lens.
4. Some of the acting is top notch
Fresh from his Golden Globe nomination for his role in The Mauritanian (also on Netflix), Tahar Rahim did an outstanding job here as Charles Sobhraj, portraying him with a calm confidence that is only rivaled by his idiosyncratic personality. Jenna Coleman also displayed her A-game in her complex portrayal of Marie-Andrée Leclerc, a character who finds herself very internally torn relative to the events of the series. Billy Howle puts on a very believable Dutch accent and does wonders with his role as a very determined young official.
5. It’s based on real life
Sometimes, knowing that a story actually happened makes it even better. The series is based on the real story of Charles Sobhraj, and the ups and downs that have taken place since the events largely explored here. Sobhraj is still alive today, but I would definitely encourage you not to read up on it before you finish watching The Serpent.