The plot this week was a tad contrived if we’re being honest. An unknown twin, deformed since birth, has been hidden away. Luckily, he found a beautiful woman who fell in love with him and they produced a son and heir — the true King of France. Contrived, but it worked.
Marie was a wonderful villain. While overthrowing her own son is despicable in the extreme, I understood her motives. Having been, in effect, the ruler of France for years, she wanted to be so again. I could well imagine her joy at discovering this grandchild, her way back to the throne.
Even better was the effect she had on two of the main characters. Although I would like to have learned more about her history with the Cardinal, this was a woman he took seriously. Probably because their motives are identical. Both understand how weak Louis is; both want to rule; they diverge on who will sit on the throne. Their scenes together were masterful, each trying to outsmart and outmaneuver the other. The look on the Cardinal’s face as he burns the evidence and has Duval killed at the end of the episode is simply chilling. It is a smile full of malice as he commits treason by removing the rightful king from the throne.
Louis certainly has mommy issues. In the past, he has been naive and a tad stupid. Here, he reverted to a childishness that was worrying. It wasn’t a childishness that inspires one to protect. It was one that made me believe he needed a long time out in a corner somewhere. His tantrum at not being able to go hunting bordered on the pathological and proves his mother’s assertion that “he is a weak man and a bad king.”
We got some real character development this week and some more backstory that was much more subtle than the previous episodes have been. Aramis genuinely begins to care about Agnès and for her son. Through his brief friendship with her, we learn that he fell in love at a very young age and had his heart broken. No wonder he only sleeps with women to whom it would be impossible to commit.
Speaking of developing friendships, D’Artagnan and Constance are quickly becoming my new favorite couple. I love the way they interact. She has become quite handy with a sword; he smiles much more when he is around her. He is the one who can convince her to do just about anything; she goes undercover with a confidence that emanates from her assurance that he has her back.
The end of this episode reminded us of what this story is about — the friendship among the four men. For a brief moment, I believed that Aramis was tempted to follow Agnès and to create a family with her. But, as she pointed out, he has one. As the four men and Constance ride off the screen, D’Artagnan puts his hand on Aramis’ shoulder. A gesture of comfort and comradeship.
I loved this one. Three and half out of four whatever it was, wrapped in swaddling clothes, thrown into the river.
Today’s History Lesson:
Marie de’ Medici was the second wife of Henry IV. A member of the extremely powerful House of Medici, she rose to power after the assassination of her husband by acting as Regent for her then nine year old son, Louis.
Easily influenced by others, her Regency was marked by significant changes to France’s treaties and alliances. Her biggest mistake was in allowing Armand de Plessis to become a member of her inner circle. He would later become Cardinal Richelieu and replace her as Louis’ foremost advisor.
Louis did banish her mother after she attempted a coup against the Cardinal and him. Several years later, they were reconciled and Marie held positions in Court for roughly a decade. She couldn’t leave well enough alone, however, and attempted another coup in 1630, the time this episode takes place. It did not, however, involve a secret grandson.
The idea of hiding a member of the Royal Family who is “not quite right” is not as antiquated as we might like to think. Queen Elizabeth had an uncle, Johnny, the fifth child of her grandparents. He suffered from epilepsy and had severe learning challenges. He was hidden away from Court until his death at the age of thirteen.
The reference to Little Red Riding Hood was anachronistic, but just barely. Charles Perrault wrote the first version in 1697. My guess is, however, that “what big teeth you have” is thanks to the Brothers Grimm who would not write the story for another century and a half. The reference to The A-Team was, without a doubt, anachronistic.
Milady, for the third episode running, was absent. I miss her.
Agnès was played by Amy Nuttall. You may remember her as Ethel on Downton Abbey, yet another woman who thought she would have to give up her child. Marie was played by Tara Fitzgerald, who is always brilliant.
The timeline of the Father Duval story confused me a bit, even the second time through. If he didn’t go to see the Cardinal until after the child had been kidnapped, why was the Cardinal after the child in the first place?
The action sequences continue to delight. Aramis leaping over the wall while firing his musket was just awesome and fun to watch.
The cinematography this week was stunning. Choosing to place the house where the baby is hidden next to the dyers was a wonderful way to bring splashes of color into a Paris that, until now, has been a bit drab.
Keeping in mind Josie's Law of Television, I wonder why Marie didn’t demand to see Henry’s body.
Aramis: “One thing you need to learn, D’Artagnan. Don’t get involved.”
Agnès: “What kind of woman do you think I am?”
Aramis: “I really have no idea.”
King Louis: “I can’t have people running around trying to kill my mother. Not unless I tell them to.”
Constance: “How can I be a wet nurse if I haven’t got any milk?”
D’Artagnan: “Don’t you just love it when a plan comes together?” Constance punches him, hard. “Obviously not!”
King Louis: “Being king can be so boring! It is so unfair!”
Cardinal: “Bravo. I’m not unable to savor a stratagem of elegant construction.”
Marie: “Are you feeling quite well?”
Cardinal: “Come now. Let’s not pretend we both don’t know what big teeth you have, Grandmother.”
Aramis: “I made her a promise.”
Athos: “Then, we’d better help you.”
Porthos: “You didn’t really think we were going to take the baby, did you?”
Athos: “If you’d told us what you were doing, we might have been able to plan this properly.”
Aramis: “Yes, sorry.”
Athos: “No, no. Let’s keep it suicidal.”
D’Artagnan: “Don’t get involved. That’s what you said. How’s that working out for you?”
Porthos: “It’s not every day you get to save the king’s life.”
Athos: “He’ll never be king. But, he’ll be happier than the man who is.”
ChrisB is a freelance writer who spends more time than she ought in front of a television screen or with a book in her hand.
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