We have spent eight weeks getting to know the Musketeers and the people in their lives. In this, the penultimate episode of the first season, these relationships shifted and the scene was set for next week’s conclusion. Plus, nuns were throwing bee hives. What’s not to enjoy?
As the Big Bad, Cardinal Richelieu has been an enigma. Occasionally working with the Musketeers, occasionally working against them, his true nature has only been hinted at. We now know that his ambition, his cunning, and his deceit are boundless. Especially when he makes a very grave error in judgment.
Everyone knows that the king is a petulant child and that his ramblings, especially after too much wine, should not be taken at all seriously. Yet, the Cardinal does just that and sets Milady the task of assassinating the queen. As his plan begins to backfire, the Cardinal wastes no time in threatening Milady and forcing Mellendorf to confess. Seriously, that is hard core and Capaldi was brilliant at showing us just how low this man will sink to protect himself.
He is not as protected as he believes. Due to some true stupidity on the part of Milady, or at least ridiculous plot contrivances (wearing a strong perfume as she commits murder and putting her signature flower on the box she gave to the assassin), Athos and the others have ferreted out who is the responsible party. Athos, in particular, has a multitude of reasons to bring the Cardinal and his associate to justice.
This was also Aramis’ episode. Back in “The Exiles,” we learned that he had fallen in love when he was much younger with a woman who broke his heart. What a shock, this very woman turns up at the very same convent where the Musketeers have taken Anne to protect her. Because she is a nun and, therefore, not someone he can or will seduce, he doesn’t notice her until she tells him who she is. Moving on…
It has been broadly hinted at before that the reason Aramis sleeps around without ever engaging his heart is that he never got over this first love. Turns out it’s true. I doubt it’s a coincidence that Isabelle tells him exactly what Agnès did — he is not the marrying kind and that he would crave adventure and danger too much to ever settle in one place for long. Aramis is seeing the truth in this. He let Agnès go and assuaged his grief over Isabelle’s death by sleeping with a married woman.
Not just any married woman, mind you. Aramis and Anne have been circling each other since the pilot. It was only a matter of time before they slept together, but this coming together was not true love. It was a “feel better” shag. He’s grieving; she’s afraid for her life.
The next morning, it is clear that he realizes what he has done and the ramifications of it. The conversation with Athos was one of the highlights of the episode and leads to the severe formality of Aramis’ interactions with Anne the morning after. The ramifications are yet to be seen, but it wouldn’t completely surprise me if Anne suddenly finds herself pregnant.
The overarching story, the siege at the convent, worked well. Gallagher shows us what any of the Musketeers could have been if they had taken a different path. The scene between Athos and him was brilliantly crafted. Both are soldiers; both are honorable men; both have a job to do which will, inevitably, lead to one or the other dying. Both accept that reality.
The best part of the siege, however, was the fighting nuns. I loved the Mother Superior and the scene where she proves she can load a gun made me smile. Plus, again, bee hives as weapons was genius.
This was not the strongest episode as much of it was contrived. The Aramis stories were on the weaker side, but the Cardinal showed us what he is really made of. The characters are in place for what should be an exciting finale.
Three out of four molotov cocktails made with French brandy and thrown by nuns.
The title of this episode is a tad on the nose, n’est-ce pas?
The cinematography of this show always amazes. The cold open, with Anne swimming in the lake, reminded me of a Botticelli painting.
D’Artagnan is the only man in this series who never wears a hat.
You gotta love a Mother Superior who quotes Psalms as she loads a pistol like a pro.
King Louis: “We will show our guests how the French hunt. With style and panache, and a cold eye for the kill.”
Athos: “We are King’s Musketeers.”
Sister Hélène: “I answer to a higher power.”
Athos: “This is not how a soldier behaves. A white flag. Officer’s boots. Your men holding line.”
Gallagher: “Whatever I once was, I’m not a soldier now.”
Athos: “You may not have the uniform, but once a soldier… And, soldiers don’t kill women.”
Gallagher: “Just the one.”
Athos: “You don’t happen to have weapons here?”
Mother Superior: “One musket and some charges. For shooting rabbits… and Protestants.”
Cardinal: “Don’t tell me you have qualms, because in your line of work, conscience is not asset.”
Milady: “An ordinary death does not concern me, but this is no ordinary death.”
Anne: “I may be cosseted, but I’m not a fool.”
Aramis: “About what you saw…”
Athos: “I didn’t see anything because I’ve been in here all morning, and so I couldn’t possibly have seen a thing, you understand?”
Aramis: “These walls are too thick. The garrison would be here before then.”
Athos: I cannot believe you slept with the queen!”
Aramis: “I thought you didn’t see anything.”
Athos: “They’ll hang you. And then, they’ll hang me for letting it happen.”
Aramis: “More chance we’ll be killed here and take it with us to the grave.”
Athos: “That’s a comfort.”
Aramis: “So, you’re good?”
Athos: “You load; I’ll fire.”
Mother Superior: “Simplicity. The essence of any good plan.”
Aramis: “This Gallagher was exiled from his country for being Catholic, his land stolen and given to followers of a rival faith. You’d think after that he’d have a healthy dislike of all things Protestant. I know I would.”
Porthos: “Instead, he agrees to kill our Catholic queen to allow a German Protestant to take her place on the throne. It doesn’t feel right.”
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.