Is life a series of impossible choices or is it blind fate? If life is all based on fate, how much do we actually control? Or, is life simply a series of coin tosses made by a uncaring King or a merciless God? These are big questions, ones that require answers that are not facile or comedic. These are questions that demand a strong story that scares us and moves us. This episode was the strongest yet, in either season.
As the man responsible for asking the big questions, Marmion was a perfect villain. He was cold and calculating, yet vulnerable. His story was unusually well developed for a villain of the week, and it was moving. The choices he had to make are so dreadful that one can’t help but understand why he is making the choices he is now.
Because he was so good, the atmosphere of this episode was one of dread and unease. I began to believe that this show just might take the big step of killing off one of its main cast members. The fact that it didn’t is all right; because, although they are all still alive, each of them has been affected by what happened. It is fantastic set-up for the rest of the season.
Marmion was such a wonderful villain that we were able to see the other villainous characters in new lights. Rochefort, for example, proved this week that he is a worthy successor to the Cardinal.
One of the things this show does so well is allow the main villains to work with our heroes, not always against them. Rochefort and Porthos in that cellar, chained together, was fantastic to watch. They must work together to escape, and they do. In the meantime, however, we hear Rochefort tell Porthos about the woman he loves. We know it is the Queen, so when Porthos says, “You’ll have to sort her husband out first,” I got chills.
Rochefort’s grand plan is working. I was astonished at the end of the episode at the King’s dismissal of everything the Musketeers had done for him. Louis is a wonderfully drawn character. We see glimpses of bravery; we see glimpses of a man capable of great love. Yet, more often, we see a spoiled, petulant man who is completely blind to what is in front of him. His trust of Rochefort and his continual distrust of the Musketeers is, ironically, making Rochefort even more of a threat than the Cardinal ever was.
I gasped when Louis told Milady to move out of the Louvre for “deserting her King.” He has seriously underestimated this woman, even more shocking when one realizes what she did for him in this episode. I love her attitude, her fearlessness, her ability to do whatever it is that needs to be done. It isn’t often that a villain saves the day, but she did so this week.
As a result, Athos tells her that she has his respect. Milady appears to shrug his comment aside, but she does so without looking at him and with a smile on her face. There is a very thin line between hate and love and these two share very strong feelings toward each other. In many ways, theirs is the most interesting of the three love stories.
Although, Aramis and Anne’s love story is going in interesting directions as well. This is a couple we know will never have a happily ever after, so we have to watch them create small moments together. As they stood together over their son, the first time we have seen that happen, I was moved.
Another poignant moment happened as they watched what was happening at the end of the episode. While they are both smiling, both happy for the friends they love, they look at each other, smiles in place but with very sad eyes.
I think, however, that Aramis overplayed his hand this week. I strongly suspect that Marguerite now knows the truth. It would be hard not to. As Rochefort has already blackmailed her into spying for him, the fact that she now has this crucial piece of information is concerning at best.
While theirs is not the most interesting, my favorite love story is D’Artagnan and Constance’s. I love these two together and I love how they support each other and take care of each other. They make a formidable team. As they worked together at the end of the episode using the rope with which they were bound together, I grinned.
For such a dark episode, I was surprised at the happy ending. All credit to the story, it felt real. Here are two people that were willing to die for the other, so the fact that they came together at the end made perfect sense. Except, they did so in a very public forum. Louis’s question about her being married felt like foreshadowing. I am now very, very worried about Constance.
The final interesting choice in this episode was the fact that our four heroes were separated for most of it. The series is a story of four men, the sum of which is stronger than the individual parts. Yet, by pulling them apart, we not only got the strongest episode to date, we got incredible movement in terms of the long term story and character development.
My favorite episode of them all, to date. Four out of four solar eclipses.
-- The episode was beautifully bookended. At the open, Milady is literally standing between Louis and Anne. At the end, she is gone and the royals are hugging each other while Anne soothes Louis’s fears about the people who hate him. Similarly, Athos has to leave rather than watch Milady’s antics; at the end, he tells her he respects her. Aramis, bless him, just pines all the way through.
-- If anyone is wondering why Louis asked Milady to remove her things from a great art museum, the Louvre was the royal palace in Paris long before it housed so much famous art.
-- The art direction this week was exceptional. The fort at Chatillon, with its twirling planets, multiple floors, and ominous lighting was beautiful to look at and worked so well to increase the feeling of dread throughout.
-- An interesting directorial choice was made as Milady travels to Paris to get Treville and Athos. Every time we see her, she is removing another article of clothing until she is down to her shift. The transformation is complete as she returns to the fort; she has shed her gown and donned the uniform of a soldier.
-- What was “this” that Marmion handed to his people as they ran away at the end?
-- Passage from King James’ Bible, 1 Corinthians 13:
11: When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
12: For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
13: And now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
Marmion: “The immutable laws of chance must dictate the outcome.”
Milady: “Frankly, I would rather be dead than listen to your endless babble for one more minute.”
Louis: “Life is about choice, Marmion. It can’t be avoided. Now, some choices are unpleasant and they have to be made. But, there are always consequences.”
This is what I mean about glimpses of the better man underneath the lesser man.
D’Artagnan: “We can do anything if we dare, Constance.”
Constance: “Do you really believe that?”
Athos: “That was either a wounded boar, or Porthos.”
Athos: “Get the Queen to safety. And... come straight back.”
Unusually, it was Athos who had the two lines that made me laugh out loud.
Marmion: “You can’t kill a man who’s already dead.”
Rochefort: “I’ve never much cared for riddles.”
Milady: “So, that is the reward for virtue. To be left with nothing.”
Athos: “Not entirely. You have my respect.”
Constance: “I love you.”
D’Artagnan: “I know.”
Constance: “I don’t care what people think. I don’t care what they say. This is my life and I choose to spend the rest of it with you.”
D’Artagnan: “Do I get a say in this?”
Sigh... I just love a happy ending. At least for now...
ChrisB now understands it is possible to be in love with four men at the same time.