What was it about the 70s?

Was it the terrible decor, a blend of browns, oranges and creams that lead to so many serial killers.

The FBI’s definition of a serial killer: “the unlawful killing of two or more victims by the same offender(s), in separate events.”

This is the question I ask myself as I make my way through The Serpent, a BBC/ Netflix collaboration that began on BBC1 yesterday (January 1 2021)

It recounts the story of how the conman and murderer Charles Sobhraj who was known as the Bikini Killer, played by Tahar Rahim, was eventually caught and imprisoned. Posing as a gem dealer, Sobhraj and his girlfriend Marie-Andrée Leclerc, played by Jenna Coleman, traversed Asia in 1975 and 1976, committing a spree of crimes along the ‘Hippie Trail’. Dutch diplomat Herman Knippenberg investigates the disappearance of a young couple and soon catches up with Interpol’s most wanted man.

In keeping with the hedonistic lifestyle of the travellers in Thailand, the timeline is non linear jumping around nearly as frequently as Sobhraj travels around the world. In addition, it’s not a show you can treat as moving wallpaper as it flits between French and English in equal measure, to represent the bilingual skills of Sobrhaj and Leclerc.

I don’t want to give away any spoilers so just watch it as all episodes are available on BBC iPlayer now. It is also available outside the UK on Netflix.


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