The Netflix mini series The Serpent tells the shocking true story of a serial killer Charles Sobhraj who conned and murdered many unsuspecting young travellers across Thailand and India during the 1970’s. Like a “serpent” he has the uncanny ability to snake and slide his way in and out of captivity over the course of his criminal years. This amazing series tells the story of how he was eventually captured after a long and laborious journey by a few key individuals who simply could not rest until justice was served.
Tahar Rahim really shines in his role as the ruthless killer, who is also a lady’s man as he manages to steal the hearts of women who willingly become accomplices to his crimes. We saw him not too long ago playing a very different kind of role as Mohamedou in the Mauritarian. Tahar is definitely a name and face to watch out for in Hollywood with these recent powerhouse performances. The strikingly beautiful English actress Jenna Coleman plays Charles Sobhraj close companion and accomplice, Marie. Together they were like a Bonnie and C`lyde team except instead of robbing banks, they preyed on young unsuspecting hippies travellers and take possession of their travellers’ cheques and passports. On the other side of the coin, we have the righteous and conscientious Dutch diplomat Herman Knipperberg (played by Billy Howle) who took it upon himself to relentlessly track down the killers of young Dutch couple reported missing in Thailand. Amazingly he manages to uncover more and more evidence together with a few friends and associates, like amateur spies, while constantly battling all sorts of resistance along the way.
The story of Charles Sobhraj is something that spans over many years which only a TV series like this can manage to cover in a satisfactory level of depth. The Serpent has 8 episodes of one hour each, and each episode is packed with a narrative that would keep the viewer glued to the screen. In fact, I think the series could well do with another two more episodes at least to cover what happens to Charles in the later years after his capture rather than just being summarised briefly at the end of the last episode.
The Serpent is my favourite TV series of the year so far. It does everything perfectly, from its incredible true life story, to the convincing and mesmerising performances, and the beautiful cinematography capturing the 1970’s era perfectly over a wide range of locales including India, Pakistan, France, Thailand and Hong Kong. The level of details in which the film makers have put into this project is also very high. As I google the true story and compare it with the version here, I can see that many of the key events and characters were matched. I highly recommend this to those who have not watched this as it goes beyond just entertainment. It is informative as well as enlightening.