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Welcome to criminalize a production of scandal and audio in partnership with I Heart Radio. Hello and welcome to the final episode of the first season of criminality, where we've been exploring the lives and motivations of some of the most notorious lady poisoners in history. I'm Maria Tomoaki. And I'm Holly Fry.


So when we started criminally, we were curious if crimes would look different with a little distance on the timeline and whether any of these perpetrators would emerge as sympathetic characters.


And we found out, yes, on both counts.


So this first season was all about poison and poison, specifically women poisoners. And we looked at a few dozen of them and their motivations to see what patterns might develop.


And there were definitely patterns.


Mainly we saw three first, the star of the season.


Yes, arsenic, the biggest character of them all. Truly, we could have called this the arsenic files and it would have been 100 percent accurate. Absolutely. So that is a surprise to no one who's been listening that that was a big theme throughout the season. It is probably the most common link among all of these women. And it seems like just one woman, Bill Gunnis, chose strychnine instead of arsenic. But she was like way, way an outlier in that regard.


And both of us will now always recognize the symptoms, always vomiting and abdominal cramping, fever, bloody diarrhea, a burning sensation throughout the body.


You know them, too, as I'm saying them, you're not a course. We'll think every malady someone around us has is is in fact, arsenic poisoning. Of course. Of course.


Now I'm going to be like, I have a fever. Somebody poisoned me. It's going to be like living in ancient Rome.


So actually, speaking of Rome, a second pattern that we saw was the quest for money and power. So financial and political gain, they were definitely motivation for many women this season.


If you remember early on, we we talked about Julia Agrippina.


And she was I think in her second episode, we highlighted her anyway. She was referred to as and I these are all quoted descriptions of her ambitious, ruthless, violent, domineering.


And as it turns out, she lived up to every single thing that she was described as. And she may have, in fact, poisoned half of Rome. You know, like she's busy. She was busy as long as you were in power.


She was definitely your rival. Yes.


And the third theme that came up a lot is really mental illness. And this one's tricky, right? We don't want to stigmatize mental illness because obviously there are plenty of people who would be diagnosed as having some sort of mental illness that are not in any way violent or dangerous, of course. But there definitely are instances where someone could have used the benefit of modern medicine or treatment. And not all of these poisonings were because it was just part of life or time and place like Juliette.


It just happened. And so it is a little bit more difficult to talk about women like Lydia Sherman and Velma Barfield, those shows where it was really, really hard to ignore the fact that there were mental health issues in the mix. And for some of those, those are really hard to get through. They weren't doing this for money or for power or really for any reason that we could readily discern. And these women lived in time periods where there wasn't help available if you had a mental illness and it often wasn't even recognized as having been that.




Or there was a stigma as well. So you might not want to seek out any sort of help. Right.


And so in those, there is a certain level of desperation that you kind of can't help but feel, as we talked through some of their victims and what had played out. Those are some hard stories. But there's actually there's a good but that comes out of the the first season as well.


There were a few women who really didn't do it. And I was actually surprised. I wasn't sure that we were going to come out of this season with anyone who really didn't do it.


Sarah Chesham, for instance, she went on trial for like three different times, maybe before I forget. Exactly. And I mean, it may as well just have been like the court of public opinion rather than real justice.


And when we learned that she her descendants right now are trying to clear her name because of that, I swear it was like I cheered at my computer.


I was like somebody looking out for this woman who the town just didn't really like and, you know, lined her up for a death sentence knowing that she really didn't do what they were saying.


She was my my my first example of that.


I think you came up and then the biggest surprise for me was Lucretia Borgia.


OK, so the Borgias are infamous for poisoning, but I love. Knowing that one, she was not a poisoner at all, despite her family's reputation. There's no evidence that she ever poisoned anyone, too.


There's no evidence she slept with any member of her family.


And three, she seems to just generally have been a smart and decent woman who happened to just be born into a really politically driven, corrupt and, frankly, poisonous family.


You know, but she wasn't you know, history has not been kind to her.


So it is interesting to really look at at the record a little more closely and find that that's not the case.


I was really disappointed that she didn't have that poison ring. But at least we know that her brother had it existed. Poison rings are a real thing. Just not for her. Just not for her.


But with all of this said and having looked at all of these, we each definitely had some favorites in the mix of sometimes very toxic women. So favorite stories, that is. And we also had some favorite drink. So today, what we're going to do is our finale to the season is each talk about our favorite three stories and our favorite three cocktails.


Yes, I kind of figured that we might be a little loose on this.


And I don't know if we Holly and I have not discussed what our favorite three and three are, so I don't know if we're going to do it.


It's going to be one big circle Venn diagram like the same. It's true.


It's true.


So for me, I actually thought that whole season that I knew who my favorites were. But when I sat down to think about the not just the women, but the favorite shows that we did, I liked small facts about some of these women, you know, like rat poison in the eggnog.


But I didn't really you know, it wasn't my favorite show. A lot of the deadly gossip was pretty good.


I landed on for one of my first favorite women tests. Now, I actually didn't like Belle at all. I always thought that in my top three I would have like maybe a Lucretia Borgia or a Julietta Fona. And as you can see now, they're not on my list. Here I am with Belle, right.


So I did a little bit of a weird pick, but she really had me at her correspondent's like I thought that Belle was so perfectly manipulative and her writing of tricolours need not apply one, my poison, her heart.


But ultimately, not only did she place great personal ads across the Midwest, you know, please come.


And in her love letters and I think I liked her the best because she just vanished.


Oh, yeah, that's a good one. I understand completely why you ended up landing on her. Initially, it took me by surprise, but because you are a writer by trade, I can see where that was the thing that you were like, yes, girl.


I'm like, look at her letters, her love letters. I was like, man, I get some inspiration.


Write My first pick was actually Sarah Bassett or Sally Bassett.


Oh, that she was that she's a great pick. She's not on my list, but she was on my longer list.


I love her story for a couple of different reasons. One, I think that's so clearly an instance of someone who is in a completely disadvantaged situation finding power and agency however they could. I absolutely love that. I love that right up to the end. She was I don't even know how to describe it. I almost called her a sassy pants.


But that's not it's not right. Reverent enough for the gravity of who she was.


It's not quite right. But I know what path you're going down, right.


When she's like the show starting, I'm here, I come. Yep. She literally walked to what she knew was her execution. And I love that she, at least, we suspect, encouraged her granddaughter to turn her in as a way to save her descendants and be like, this system is messed up and I don't want you to get punished any more than you need to be for this. It's disheartening, of course, that there are still people having racist arguments about whether or not there should be a monument to her.


I, I was not surprised. I have to say I was disappointed. Exactly. Yeah, exactly.


No part of me is like, really. Right. But no, not but I was like, damn it. Yeah, people get past this. So but I do love that she now is a folk hero as well.


I love that too.


I I'm going to jump ahead and say that the white toad, which you made for her episode, landed on my top three drinks last mine too.


But we'll come back to.


Yeah, we will. Welcome back to Criminalist. Who was your next favorite story?


So my next story was Lucasta, I liked her because she came up in a few different episodes like like she worked in the Shadows a few different episodes before we actually ever talked about her.


And, you know, it didn't really matter to me that there wasn't that much information about her growing up or where she came from.


I was really intrigued that somebody could work with Nero for 14 years and come out of it alive and well.


Ultimately, yes.


Once he was dead, so was she. But, you know, but he wasn't the one who killed her. Right.


So it was kind of amazing, you know.


And I mean, she was at a time when she was in Rome and Rome with love their poisons.


And you could see that she was in Nero's eyes, sort of this this poisonous assassin celebrity that he just wanted to I forget what he called her like.


He had an official title and he gave her.


And but mainly I really like I was saying, I really dug the fact that her name never appeared in other episodes. But she was there. She was in Julia, Agrippina, and she was also in an episode where it was I I believe it was.


Are you thinking about where she married the beloved?




She would she would like ride through the streets with her lover and, you know, like it was kind of like a like I always called the prom moment where they're like in their limo and they've got their arms up. And Zachery and their dad didn't approve, but her lover went to prison because her parents didn't approve of him.


And his cellmate was an Italian chemist who was schooled in the art of poison and allegedly learned his poisons from Lucasta. So, like, she kept coming up.


And I just found that to be really interesting. And the fact that she she only poisoned for money as well, she didn't really seem to care about much else.


She had no vendetta. She just was trying to make a living. Exactly.


Which didn't even care what you want, you know, like how who whatever. You know, I can get to that by Friday, you know, like like in the dude, you know, like.


Yeah, good shit.


So let me see when I have a moment to work on that poison. Right.


My second choice I think might overlap with yours because it's wasn't she is my third voice, my third.


So let's talk about her. There are a million reasons to love her, right?


I mean, first, there were a million Catherines to go through life.


But she is my favorite, Catherine. And you're right. I mean, for me, obviously, like those red velvet robes with the golden eagles on them. She was right there. She hit all the checkmarks for me. Right.


It's like the clothes, the theatricality, the beautiful garden, palm reading, all of that.


I want to garden like that. But for me, one of the reasons that I love her is very similar to what you were just talking about with Lucasta. I had told you prior to this, like while I was doing an episode of research for my other show Stuff You Missed in history class. I was studying a piece of Parisian history from the sixties and lo and behold, that turns up. Yeah, but love was a and it was completely, almost completely unrelated to that story.


But it came up as one of those scene centers of like, no, you have to understand, love wasn't was the name that people were whispering in Paris everywhere. And it was almost like a a boogie man story, a boogie woman story, I suppose, in the sense of, you know, of course, there are poisons. You know, Lavoisier is plying her trade and she's taught other people and anybody could be poisoning anyone. And so when you think about that level of influence in a city that was at that point in time really making a play, France in the reign of Louis the Fourteenth, there was a very calculated effort for it to become a global leader.


And so in a place that was kind of really bolstering its own science, industry and textiles, many of the things that we still think of France as being a leader in today, right style absolutely was part of it. The arts was absolutely part of it. And yet here is this one woman. She is not part of any of that. She has her own thing in her reputation is still so huge that it eclipses all of those other social issues going on.


And she just becomes this dark, fearful figure in the shadows of Parisian society. Right.


And one of the things that I like to juxtapose with that is the fact that, like, when she would have her, I'm going to go, quote unquote, black masses.


You know, we learned that basically she was just putting a mattress on a set of. Chairs turn out the lights and like telling her guests that they're drinking the blood of infants, you know, but that they weren't, you know, just a bunch of pigeons.


She was so into the theatrics of it, which I think sucked everybody in to her. I mean, it's not like she was the only fortune teller in Paris.


Right. And I'm sure like her next level abilities in that regard to create atmosphere and like this sense of nearness to another world was part of how she became that scary story. You would tell people to frighten them. It's kind of one of them. So all I could think of now is bringing all publicity is good publicity. I think she totally was one of those people, you know, like I think she did what she did.


You know, she's like, oh, I just turned down the lights. It's all going to be fine. But she did have skill in that area.


She started fortunetelling when she was a kid, like cold reading, which, you know, apparently is the more difficult way to kind of get information out of people and use it against them. But, you know, she was like learning palmistry when she was nine.


Like, I think she was really in tune with how her clients worked and what their motivations were.


Oh, right. Like, if she were living today and decided not to pursue a career, that she she would have been like an A plus psychologist. Absolutely.


You know, she went legit, like. Yeah. She opted not to pursue a life of crime.


Well, I'm going to jump back to Lucasta for a second because we had talked I remember in that episode that she could have been an apothecary in a heartbeat, but she chose to be an assassin.


I jumped on your your third choice.


Did you have any runners up?


I loved the story of Lucretia Borgia, although she wouldn't have made it into my top three. But I honestly really always thought that Julia Tufano would make it into my top three to be me, too.


And, you know, and not because she's Sicilian and not because we made a great drink about her.


And, you know, I. I just thought I mean, she was one of the first women who popped up who wasn't doing her poisoning for power. You know, she was doing it because she was helping women who were in dangerous, abusive situations. And this is going to sound odd because she was helping people in dangerous, abusive situations.


But it was almost refreshing to have someone to talk about who was using her skills not to kill off the emperor and his cousin and his brother and his, you know, like that piece of her.


It was just so new and different. And one of the episodes that we were doing that, she really stood out to me.


Yeah. Oh, Julia, my last one was Tili, I loved the episode of Tili, I do, too.


I feel like she would have been very difficult for me to connect with as a person. But her story is very fascinating and rough on rats.


I will never forget. I think we need shirts that have the rough on there, too. I just want to start with like arsenic on it.


Like it could be the chemical symbol.


I'm OK, right? Arsenic, just arsenic. There is that beautiful piece of art from the eighteen hundreds called the arsenic walts. That's like a man and woman. He's like asking her to dance and she has an a beautiful gown but they're both skeletons. I have it printed on a handbag. But yeah Tili story is so just bizarre and interesting. And because she's a little bit later on the timeline, we have a little more information. So we get to hear about how her strange trial played out, but also because it's such, I think, an important examination of human perception and what we think of as good and bad when you compare her to other women of the time who are doing very similar things and walking free because they were pretty.


Yes. Whereas she was not considered, you know, attractive in the the conventional way. She really had the book thrown at her. She did what we saw that we saw about a couple of times, I think.


But much earlier than Tilly, you know, in periods of time when I wouldn't say that you would necessarily expect it, but you kind of expect it.


There was one woman, one woman I remember who was about to be tortured, and I think her name was Marie. And I remember her exclaiming like there are hundreds of women in this town that you could be, you know, torturing. And I'm not going to name any of them. But I could you know, Tilly was not that kind of woman. She got a hard sentence where other people would have been.


It would have been lighter as a woman. Welcome back from Analia. Do you want to move to the more delightful part of the party? I would and I actually, since I already mentioned white toad, I will come up with an actual fourth.


I guess you don't have to for me. You know, it's super fun to be creative in the kitchen, obviously, like, I love playing with this stuff, but white toad was almost like accidentally way better than I ever would have anticipated. Delicious.


If anyone has not tried it, try it.


You know, like Holly and I have had conversations about this drink, and it may be, I think, both of our favorites from and I'm not I don't mean to speak for you, but I know it's in your top.


It is in regular rotation at my house at this point in the most fun part for me has been I have a couple of friends who are like, yeah, we make white toads all the time.


And there have even been a few people that have reached out to me on Twitter that have really liked it. And I just I love the idea that one day, two hundred years from now, someone may find someone scribbled recipe for a white toad and that will be the thing I have left for future.


They'll be like, I wonder why it's named white to the ginger cocktail called the white toad. I love it so much.


So we were just talking about Tilly. And so I actually have a question about Tilly's drink.


OK, I know that you bought special vodka for it, which I think was what? Bison, grass. Vodka?


Yeah, Sbraga. It's a Polish vodka. Yes.


So I read on the Internet. How is it going over there? I read it on the Internet. I always tell people, you know, like I don't even want to hear about what you read on the Internet. But like, I read that they put a blade of grass in each bottle.


Is that true? Yes, that's that's fantastic.


I read something true on the Internet. I know, right? Yeah. They put a blade of grass. And I think this is the case. I haven't really chased down a lot of information about it. But if you buy it in Europe, the ones that are distributed, they are sometimes come in this cute shaggy bottle cover that looks like grass has grown on it. Mine did not. Mine just came in a a very beautiful, simple, clear bottle with the blade of grass in the middle.


I guess we're gonna have to take a trip.


Oh, no, you've twisted my I now soon as we can go. Yes.


But yes, it does have a blade of grass in it and I have used it in other cocktail's since and I continue to really love it. I didn't put the Polish kiss on my list of favorites, but that is one of my favorite spirits I have discovered throughout this one. It is a little bit different flavor profile than most vodkas and it just adds a little nice botanical essence to other drinks that you don't get with a regular vodka.


Refresh my memory. This was a vodka apple juice. Yes, it's called a Polish kiss.


So it's Dubravka and apple juice. And it is supposed to taste like apple pie. Mine didn't, but it tasted delightful. But I also mentioned that I used hippie unsweetened like. Right. Organic apple juice. So I may have taken away some of that yummy dessert flavor. Right.


Right. You took away the pie. Yeah.




I always wished that you had called it rough on rats or or don't die in the house.


One die in the house. Well, it's a drink that actually existed. I didn't invent that well.


True. True. That is true. This was very early on till I believe was our first episode. Yeah. Yeah. I don't think you were experimenting as much then.


Well, I was working on the one, the crazy mushroom drink, so I was very frightened.


That drink is crazy. I still haven't tried it. Actually it is one of the few that I have not tried.


I love mushrooms and I think it's going to be great and it's just that I haven't picked up the ingredients that I need to do it because I'm lazy.


There's no there's no shame in that game. I will say most of ours that we brewed our mushroom garlic liqueur that we made has largely gone into Bloody Mary's, which is something I drink a lot of. But my husband likes them, so they go in his Bloody Marys. That's actually great to know because I do like a Bloody Mary from time to time.


It can probably go into sauces and things to. Absolutely.


And it does do an interesting thing to Bloody Mary's, because since you're working with roasted garlic, there's a little bit of buttery ness to it that you wouldn't normally get in a liquor. And so it makes your Bloody Mary kind of taste like a sauce in another food item. It tastes very foody at that point. OK, now you've convinced me this is the next one.


My next drink that I liked was the botanists latte that's on my list, too.


I had Lucasta as a favorite show and a favorite drink all around.


I sort of surprised by that, I guess. But in general, she just became my favorite and I didn't pick it. Because she was one of my favorite women, I didn't mean because I just really like it, like there's culinary rosebuds in it, you know? I mean, I had to pick this drink. It's fantastic.


It's the latte I always wanted, right? Same.


I mean, I love anything that tastes like flowers were from the wrong time period.


No, I'm good. Now we have all the options. Are you well stocked? Oh, yeah. I mean, here's what happened when I was ordering culinary rosebuds. The first place I ordered from the order got lost. And so I ordered from another place and had them rush shipped. I got that second order and then the next day the first order came. So like, of course, that's how I had ordered both in bulk amounts. So I have a lot of culinary rosebuds to work with.


So I'm drinking botanist latte's on the regular at the.


Well that's that's certainly fine. I also tried it with oatmeal, which is also delicious. Yes, I love that one.


And like I have said before, like I really like a cognac or a brandy in a warm drink. And so it just to me that is like a great way to wind down the day on the nights. And I'm not just drinking coffee until all hours. And I actually think, hey, it would be great to actually take a moment where I'm not constantly taking in the stimulant and have a quiet drink that is relaxing. That's when the bottom is latte gets made.


Yeah, I've done it with oatmeal and I have also replaced because I don't usually have Earl Grey around, but I always have Lady Grey, which is citrusy version of Earl Grey. All good, all good changes.


Nice. I was going to ask because you never know with them, but I guess citrus and brandy goes fine together for some people. Yeah.


I mean, it's really a slight difference. The only difference between Earl Grey and Lady Grey is really I think it has like some orange peel in it. I think that's the only thing. Hmm, I know you and your sisters give me all the better. Listen, I had to have a tie for the third position, OK? I kept trying to decide and I just couldn't. And I'm hoping that you will just let me have it.


Oh, yeah.


So these were two part of why I liked them, as I don't think I ever would have like tried to make these on my own just to make a drink. It was definitely one where I was trying to come up with something new to go with the story. And so the first one is the one that I did for LA Espera, which is the Poison Society punch, right?




Which I actually thought was greatly named like I mean, it really just first before I even get to the drink, like it just invokes, like all of these women who are poison school, like dipping mugs into like this giant punch bowls for me.


Right. And it is so simple to make and it is so absolutely delicious for me. Almost dangerously delicious is a lot of fun. But for anybody that does recall, that was a combination of cranberry juice, champagne and amaretto and you can scale it up to make a big punch. Bowl sized serving of it is so simple it doesn't taste heavy. So like if you are in a social situation, it just doesn't make you feel like you're really, really drinking heavily and weighed down and oh, I just love it.


And the one that it tied with for me is again another I probably never would have made on my own, which is the one that we made for Lucrezia Borgia. Thrice wed. Yes, because it's full of nutritious fruit. But this was the smoothie, right?


I say that in and like I quote around that, you know, the alcohol smoothies, the smoothie. Yeah. So that's the one with watermelon, plum and apricots all blended together, pureed together with Prosecco and Ella McCoole. Teekay Bitters added. And that's another one. We're similar to Poison Society Punch. It is a very bright light flavor, even though there's a lot of fruit in it. I'm reluctant to call a cocktail nutritious feeling. But it is.


It is, as I said on the show, full of antioxidants.


I'm sure some are more nutritious than others. Yes, hundred percent.


But yeah, those are like both drinks that I literally like earmarked. And I'm like next party. Right, because you could also make the three swed in pretty large quantities and serve it is a punch or just make multiple glasses of it at a time to to bring it on trays. And it is so beautiful and yummy and it, it feels like you're getting your fruit serving in for the moment.


But also it's a way for me to find a drink that includes Prosecco that I like because I don't always love Prosecco. But in this it was slightly adorable.


I did not include it, but I did sort of have a tie as well. My tie was the pin Pinella. Oh, I think was maybe your least favorite drink.


I mean, I mean it had grappa and Nestor and lime juice.


I think there was one other thing in there and for me I felt like it was all the right flavors.


I spent a little time in Italy and it made me want to be in my backyard drinking it with the old man who used to give me greens on from his walk, you know, like he lived upstairs from me.


He didn't speak any English.


He would just yell my name down, you know, like I feel like that drink would have been perfect for that atmosphere.


So she didn't really make my list. But this was Julia Safonov and. But it did because I like the drink quite a bit.


It's yummy. Yummy. What was that tied with for you? It was the fourth.


You know, I, I ended up sliding in the botanists latte instead of the vanilla because the botanists latte to me and I didn't say this earlier, but it it's so easy to prepare and it feels so comforting when I put flowers in things that always just feels fancy somehow.


And it's just a lot, you know, like just a warm milk drink.


You know, I heat up some of their milk and I'm pretty much done, you know, that one landed in there because it's just I just really, really like it.


So I will say it didn't make my list, but I still am very, very proud of the Esther Carlson, because that was the one, if you remember, that had a flavor, changes your drinking it. And I was just proud that I figured out how to do it.


I have to say, I have watched you grow in the kitchen over the last couple of months in your alcohol endeavors and some good drinks came out.


I know, I. I can't. I can't wait to see what we come up with for next season. Me too. Me too. Because there will be more cocktails, we promise there will always be a cocktail or more criminal is coming.


Now is a great time. If you want to catch up on this first season, jump on it. You can binge it because we are about to jump right into a season on historical stockers. Once again, thank you to everyone who has been on this wacky, toxic, poisonous journey with us so far. It's really, really been an absolute delight to work on this season with you, Maria. Thank you. Thank you.


Beware the arsenic, Holly. Yes. And we hope that since we are now in a brand new year, that twenty, twenty one is way better for most people than twenty twenty and that we all have a lot more fun together. So come on back because we'll be here. It will be a fun season. Criminality is a production of QandA Land Audio in partnership with I Heart Radio for more podcasts from chandeliered audio. Please visit the I heart radio app, Apple podcasts or wherever you listen to your favorite shows.