Warning! Spoilers follow
Hardly any spoilers are possible for the main plot of an episode called ‘Knight Takes Queen’, knowing the premise from last week’s preview: some of the Musketeers, Aramis included, are besieged in a convent, trying to protect the young Queen Anne. We already know, from previous not too subtle hints, that she has a weak spot for him, and Santiago Cabrera had a merely decorative function in the last episode, so he clearly had something big coming up. Not to mention that the ‘love story rota’ said it was his turn again.
If there are no surprises on that versant – and luckily Louis XIV was born some eight years later, so the scriptwriters are not attempting to rewrite history, at least –, the same can be said for the destiny of Aramis’s other love interest in the episode, a saintly nun who from the start wears an unmistakable sign on her forehead: ‘INCONVENIENT CHARACTER: I AM GOING TO DIE’. And yes, I assume this was a spoiler, in a sense.
If episode eight, for all its problems, had raised the standard of the show, this week unfortunately brings it down. There are no interesting developments, nothing that could not be foretold, and, it seems, even more unoriginal dialogues, except for a few well-played jokes. Louis XIII, who is normally funny, this time is odious, and Alexandra Dowling’s Queen Anne, normally sweet and clever, is mildly annoying. Richelieu’s wickedness, usually masterfully balanced, is brought to a whole new level: we know that the Cardinal is evil, but there is a scene here where he is at least as scary as Count Dracula. Milady murders and blunders, stupidly wearing strong jasmine perfume when she goes out to kill people, and paying her hitmen with purses bearing her mark (!), while D’Artagnan and Porthos are absent for most of the time, presumably busy with the filming of last week’s instalment.
The plot tries to achieve more depth bringing in a supposedly multifaceted villain, an exiled and dispossessed Irish Catholic nobleman, who unfortunately ends up caged into the stock persona of the ‘embittered loyal soldier turned rascal’. He shoots his own men for no reason at all – he is not even angry! – and dies in a way that again is predictable enough not to be a spoiler. Also, if we really want to be nitpicking, the actor, Lochlainn O’Mearain, is forty years old, so, since The Musketeers takes place in 1630, at the time of the 1607 ‘Flight of the Earls’ from Ireland his character would have been a teenager, and he could not have fought in the Nine Years’ War (which ended in 1603) as the script implies.
There are not, to be sure, only negative things to say. The best part of the episode is a relatively long sequence showing the first assault against the convent, filmed with some very nice camera movements that pan around the characters and down the walls, giving a sense of depth and height. The effect is quite epic, even if of course not on a movie scale. Aramis has, admittedly, some interesting character development, Athos really dominates the screen, with his quiet charisma and occasional dry humour, and the mother superior of the convent is quite funny. There is plenty of action, the director and crew do a great job, with a good eye for lighting, and the best possible use is made of the somewhat exotic locations. All this is not enough to avoid a certain disappointment, however, if you come to ‘Knight Takes Queen’ with the expectations matured in the past few weeks.
Sadly, the preview for next week – the series finale! – looks almost equally disappointing. To begin with, again there is no trace of Constance, who was the heart of the story, and it is impossible to avoid a sneaking suspicion that this first series will end without solving the mess they made with her last week. To make things worse, D’Artagnan, despite all he now knows about Milady, appears to be falling into her trap in a way that they will have a hard time to justify, and quarrels with Athos on the matter. The trailer shows little else, apart from a coffin with the Musketeers’ lily – which will almost certainly prove to be an irrelevant shot thrown in for dramatic effect (unless they kill off Captain Treville, which would be a nasty move). We know, however, that Peter Capaldi is not returning for the second series, so they will hopefully find a way to tie up Richelieu’s storyline, even if the real Cardinal only died in 1642. Ultimately, the show still has its potential: it will rest entirely on next week’s episode to determine whether it is definitely squandered, or whether we are left with something to look forward to for next year.
The introduction of the villain: he steps into a barn and, quick as the lightning and lethal as a cobra, shoots five MICE who are hiding in dark corners, with the five (!) loaded single-shot pistols he is wearing in every pocket, belt and notch of his dirty cape.
The obligatory awkward scene with the Queen bumping into a shirtless Aramis: the justification is that he was ‘fishing’, but there appears to be little more than a foot of water.
What did you think to this week’s episode? Dramatically entertaining? Or ridiculously cheesy? Let us know in the comments below