The Musketeers 2.04: Cheeks flushed with the night
After a swashfree week due to the BBC showing men in shorts instead of men in leather, I'm pleased to say that this Friday, buckling was back, back, back. Here are some thoughts on The Musketeers 2.04: Emilie:
The peasants are revolting! Admittedly, not as revolting as you'd be if you were living in a wood with no proper toilet facilities, but they're all camping out to follow a lass called Emilie, formerly seen on Downton Abbey, in which Lady Edith was constantly trying to steal her baby. Now she's got a low-budget Joan of Arc thing going on, fainting a lot and having delirious visions about the King of Spain having hooves, as one does. The Musketeers visit her in her luxury tent and point out the flaws in her plan to ride on Spain and conquer it when you've only got one horse to share between 583 peasants, but she's not having any of it, and neither is her slightly scary mother.
The Muskeboys trudge back to Paris and convene in their canteen for brunch (dress code: unbuttoned shirts for all, today's special: porridge with a light swirl of ennui) to discuss this week's storyline. "I didn't become a Musketeer to destroy an honest woman's reputation," says Aramis. Of course not, sweetie: that's just what you do as a hobby. Over at the palace, the King is busy with "affairs of state", i.e. shagging Milady. He's getting curious about her scar, which I thought was a little strange since surely he saw her neck in its uncovered state when he first met her in the forest? Either he was too busy staring at her cleavage to notice, or she's run out of All-Natural Forest-Herbs Concealer Stick since then...
Meanwhile, the Parisian peasants are also revolting and killing off any recurring character actor with a dodgy Spanish accent that they can find. Ambassador Perales is understandably worried that he might be next for the chop, and may never live to have a scene that doesn't involve muttering at Rochefort in a cellar and/or getting slapped. But Rochefort's too busy tinhatting his OTP (himself/Queenie, grand total number of shippers: 1) to help, so Perales seeks revenge by messing up Rochefort's fantasy life by visiting his favourite cosplaying prostitute to see if she's willing to add stabbing to her list of customer services.
Speaking of doomed ships, Aramis/Marguerite is doing well in the post-coital prettiness stakes but very badly in the Having Any Future At All stakes, mainly due to Aramis being a lying liar who lies and yet can't force himself to say I lurve you. The problem is that Aramis is behaving like a COMPLETE ARSEHOLE at the moment, and yet he looks ever so lovely in sunlit soft-focus so I keep forgiving him. I suspect this is precisely the problem Marguerite has.
Aramis sneaks off to visit Emilie because he hasn't done enough manipulating of ladies with his distracting prettiness this week. I was amused that she soon started having dreams about him (I wonder, did she also have the one about Athos and the family-sized tub of banana yogurt? Because that's one of my favourites) but still made him sleep outside with the goats.
While Rochefort is unsubtly manhandling Milady in a corridor, Constance and D'Artagnan go down the pub and talk about Milady in front of Stealth!Athos, who has apparently spent years training to pass as a piece of furniture. Despite his perma-frown, or perhaps because of it, Athos is by far the funniest thing in this episode, lending an air of extra-dry hilarity to exchanges like "What are you going to do?" / "I'm going to drink.", yet at the same time, opening up just a teensy bit by allowing his boyfriend D'Artagnan to get drunk with him rather than moping alone. Hey, that's progress, innit?
Queen Anne decides that she and Constance have got to go and sort out this Emilie business, mainly as a distraction for Anne, who is justifiably peeved about Milady and her alluring "bedroom tricks". I suspect this means Milady knows the secret of how to change the cover on a double duvet without becoming irretrievably lost, tangled or insane. It is a notoriously fiendish art, probably involving witchcraft...
Out of the blue, Porthos receives a legacy from General de Foix (from a few weeks ago) and correctly identifies this as a future subplot about his parents. Treville refuses to give him any spoilers, however, so Porthos has to stalk off moodily to see if he can find out anything on Digital Spy or ONTD.
Oh dear, the unfortunate prostitute never gets a name to go with her outstanding gold platform shoes, because Rochefort is much too sneaky to get stabbed, even if he seems distracted by his own nipple. He also sends her severed ear to Perales in a gift box, which is deeply unpleasant. Well, the ear is: the box is quite nice, actually.
It seems Milady is having a lovely time living in the palace and fondling the upholstery at will. Hello clouds, hello sky, hello pretty gardens... urgh, hello Rochefort, what do you want? Ah, he wants to blackmail her into killing someone because he's found out about her assassinating past from the Cardinal's dodgy priest chum. I was extra amused by this scene because Milady's opulent overdress looked like something Julie Andrews might have made from the curtains in The Sound of Music, which made me start humming "How do you solve a problem like Milady?"
By the way, Milady's got a HUGE royal-funded wardrobe now, divided into Good Dresses and Evil Dresses. Perhaps there's a central area devoted to Outfits of Ambiguity, I'm not sure.
Queenie and Constance go to see Emilie in their best peasant chic outfits, and manage to remain undiscovered for less than two minutes. However, this does lead to an hilariously awkward moment for Aramis: "Woman-I'm-Only-Flirting-With-For-Plot-Reasons, meet Royalty-I-Knocked-Up-In-The-Last-Series and Friend-Who-Will-Probably-Slap-Me-When-She-Finds-Out-What's-Going-On. Hey, let's skip the summary executions and have some soup!" Constance then has a soup-induced slow-mo dream sequence that's part Total Eclipse of the Heart and part We've Got Some Blood-Bags And We're Gonna Burst Them Messily. Constance finds it worrying, but nowhere near as startling as suddenly finding out that Anne is also a member of the I Shagged A Musketeer (And I Liked It) club.
After what seems like hours of whining and wishing he could devote his life to citrus fruit, Ambassaor Perales finally gets a note saying he can go home to Spain. Unfortunately, before D'Artagnan can fight his way through the phallic vegetable market to tell everyone that It's A Trap™, Milady swishes by in one of her most evil outfits and scratches Perales to death. Whoops. Personally, I blame Athos who, lovely though he is, continues to be embarrassingly bad at the game of Spot Your Evil Ex-Wife When She's Two Feet Away From You.
In an attempt to be useful, Aramis has collected a souvenir flask of suspicious soup and gets Constance to call that nice Doctor Lemay from the previous episode to test it. Lemay is obliged to tell them that he can't help because FORENSIC SCIENCE HASN'T BEEN INVENTED YET, but he clearly wants Constance to like him so he'll have a stab at it anyway. If he ever wrote up a paper about his research techniques, I imagine it would look like this:
Hypothesis: Drinking this soup makes you trip balls. How was hypothesis tested? Drank soup. Result: Tripped balls. Hypothesis proven. QED.
Hooray, another triumph for science.
With evidence on their sides, the Muskelads ride off to fetch Emilie and admit her as an emergency patient at Athos's private detox clinic (advertising slogan: "He Has Some Experience In These Matters"). It's not quite the Betty Ford Center, but Athos will bring you cheese and wine, hug you while you're screaming and look attractively dishevelled while he sits in the corner and re-toxes himself, so I'd consider that a holiday. (Back in the real world, I was delighted to find out that Tom Burke adlibbed the line "Your visions are from soup, not God.", bless him.)
In the absence of Perales, Rochefort decides he needs a new conspiracy buddy and decides it's Manipulate Marguerite time. Meanwhile, Milady pops down to the market for a bit of fabric shopping and a spot of incidental Athos-baiting among the phallic vegetables.
Now thoroughly demushroomed, Emile goes back to the camp and tells everyone else to go home, have a cup of tea and calm down. Perhaps appropriately given how she poisoned her daughter, Emilie's mum gets stoned... but not in the fun way. Ouch.
So, is everything groovy now? Nope, Rochefort's blamed the whole episode on Treville, and now Treville, with the greatest of respect, has been fired as team captain. Duh-duh-DAAA!
Overall: Much more fun than the plot summary made it sound, with loads going on and very little filler. More Muskeboys than we've seen lately (yay), plus interesting things for the ladies to do, and a few laugh-out-loud exchanges. Plus, while rewatching it (as I always do before I write these reviews), I found all the ominous close-ups of soup particularly giggleworthy, so if nothing else, this will go down in history as the LOL SOUP episode. Hey, maybe the BBC should consider producing a range of tie-in grocery products?
Next week: Once again, there IS no next week, because the BBC are showing rugby instead. Bleurgh. But in two weeks, we get Athos being kidnapped and damp and rumpled, and everyone else looking concerned. Hmm, maybe I'll need that extra week to brace myself for the excitement...