Well... apparently it has, at least for now. I can't promise I'll recap every episode this season, but I'm going to start optimistically with some thoughts about episode 2.01: Keep Your Friends Close:
- Preliminary confession: I actually first saw this episode at the Musketeers press launch in December: my adventures there are recorded in this Tumblr post (warning: may contain gratuitous handsomeness). But enough boasting: on with the recap...
- Ring the Cloister Bell because Cardinal Capaldi is dead and has failed to regenerate! The King is the only one who's even remotely sad about this, but he's sent the Musketeers galloping over a scenic hillside in search of a new bad guy. It doesn't take them long to find one, in the form of Rochefort, who's equipped with an attitude as bad as his wig and a penchant for villainy of the "look over there while I unsubtly shoot this bloke and claim I had a good reason for it!" variety. Just the kind of villain a rollickingly silly adventure serial needs, in other words.
- Meanwhile, back at the palace, Queen Anne is busy throwing fruit around and giving birth to the future Louis XIV. The King is delighted, possibly having failed to realize that he won't be the loudest screaming brat in the family for much longer, and DEFINITELY having failed to realize that the real babydaddy is at this moment riding through a forest, dragging Rochefort behind him on a rope like a particularly unkempt shih tzu.
- Blimey, Anne gets her pre-baby figure back startlingly quickly, even by modern celebrity standards. I look forward to the tabloid exclusive about how she used a combination of extra-strength corsetry and fear of hideous execution if her husband ever finds out she's been shagging the staff. Having said that, the King hasn't noticed anything yet, since he's too busy sulking about Treville refusing to be his new political adviser/BFF (I like to imagine the requirements of the job include setting the King's ringlets and talking about boys). Treville, however, is more concerned about rallying the Muskelads to rescue his own BFF/ex-boyfriend, who's in prison in Spain.
- Gosh, it's Constance and D'Artagnan in soft-focus flagrante... well, no, it's just Constance daydreaming amid the laundry, but it's pretty raunchy for the middle of the afternoon. But before Constance can start earning a few extra francs by charging passers-by for a ten-minute zone-out in her Patented Sexy-Sheet Dream-Yurt, her patronizing husband arrives to take her to the palace. It turns out that the Queen has decided to hire her as a live-in BFF, all the better to enable romantic subplots, girlie chats, and mutual moping about how terribly tough it is to grope a muscular Musketeer. Interestingly, with this development AND the introduction of Marguerite (see below), the show has theoretically improved its chance of passing the Bechdel test at some point. I'm now mildly curious to see whether this will ever occur. Good luck finding something to chat about that isn't "which Musketeer has the best arse", ladies...
- Speaking of new girl Marguerite, here she is at last, carrying Aramis Junior around and parrying some opportunistic flirtation from his daddy. Entertaining as this is, it is merely an hors d'oeuvre to the main course of one of Athos's most classic and withering eye-rolls at Aramis, during which he manages to convey the sentiment "OMG ARAMIS, I cannot BELIEVE you are a) trying to get close to your baby when you KNOW it will all end horribly, b) probably still mooning over the Queen behind your luxuriously stylish facial hair, and c) shamelessly flirting with some poor woman LIKE THE TART YOU ARE (yes, I know you ONLY looked at her and waved but THOSE THINGS ARE HIGH-GRADE FLIRTING FOR YOU) whose heart you will probably BREAK MESSILY in order to further your own continuing interests in plans a) and b), and I will probably have to clear up the mess and IT WILL BE TERRIBLE, NOW REMIND ME WHY I AM YOUR FRIEND AGAIN???", using only the single word "What?" Now, THAT'S some quality acting right there, Mr Burke.
- Back in the main plot, Rochefort's villainous plan is apparently "to replace the Cardinal in the King's affections", and in order to do this, he plans to have all the Musketeers killed. That may seem like an over-optimistic scheme for the first episode of a series called The Musketeers, but Rochefort is probably planning to pitch a replacement rom-com about he and the King being best
fuckbuddies and skipping happily through the meadows of France together, taking pot-shots at passing peasants. Awww.
- Okay, it's time for the Muskelads and Rochefort to take a trip down to Spain to rescue Treville's ex, the General de Foix. This involves several cunning plans: the Musketeers all wearing civilian clothes for a change (mostly involving ridiculously pouffy sleeves), then swapping them for Spanish uniforms (involving ridiculously pouffy trousers); Aramis speaking Spanish (¡ay, caramba!); and D'Artagnan doing his very own Pride & Prejudice tribute by jumping in a moat with his shirt on (although given the state of the water, he's more like Mr Dirty than Mr Darcy).
- This season, the BBC are airing the show after the watershed, which means we are allowed slightly more on-screen naughtiness than before. This is most obvious in the scene when D'Artagnan gets his shirt off (good lad, taking one for the team there) but is almost immediately upstaged by the sight of A LADY'S BOTTOM. Yes, it seems bare bums are now canonical, and thus a pressing query arises. Namely: in the interests of equal-opportunities objectification, does this mean we will be getting to see A GENTLEMAN'S BOTTOM in a later episode? Does it? DOES IT? I really do think we should be told. Possibly with diagrams, if required....
- Anyway, after putting her bottom away, the lady in question turns out to be General de Foix's sister, and is not only a sensible woman but also a committed slasher, jumping immediately to the conclusion that D'Artagnan and the unconscious Spaniard were planning some semi-conscious (but hopefully consensual) sexytimes. She also has excellent observational abilities, which she demonstrates when the rest of the Muskeboys turn up and everyone has to escape via the Convenient Deathslide of Doom.
- "An act of naked aggression!" - Disappointingly, this is the kidnapped Spanish guy's description of the Musketeers rescuing the General, and not a description of the regiment's annual Nude Duelling Day....
- Okay folks, it's the end of the episode and there are prizes for everyone. Rochefort gets a decent haircut and an official appointment as
Chief BaddieCaptain of the Red Guards. D'Artagnan gets a Snog of Maximum Misunderstanding from the General's sister, in full view of a deeply disappointed Constance. Constance gets a questionable new dress made out of sofa fabric and a rather good speech about being "a woman in a world built for men". Aramis gets unexpected and upsetting closure to the tale of Adele, his late lady love from back in episode 1.01. Cardinal Capaldi gets to continue pissing people off after he's gone, which must be exactly what he would have wanted. Porthos gets an interesting subplot set up about his mysterious daddy, and Treville gets to angst moodily about his own involvement in the Porthos family's dysfunction. And Athos gets to stalk off moodily in a hat, presumably in the direction of the nearest pub. Hoorah!
- In conclusion: Rollicking, riproaring and regularly ridiculous, this episode was a rousing reminder of the world of the Musketeers in all its leather-clad handsome silliness. I suspect Rochefort will never do much more than scowl and come up with evil plots that never come off, but he was entertaining enough and several subplots have been neatly laid down for future exploration. I missed this show more than I realized, and I only hope it can stay as much fun as this every week.
- Next week: The King has a night out with the Muskeboys and Milady comes back from her holidays with some very kinky boots. Tune in and find out whether I manage to review it...
* Well, three. Does that count as several?