This week I’m coming to you live from the ancestral homelands of the north-east, although you probably can’t tell from this angle. In practical terms, this means that I can’t make silly graphics today and thus am reliant on silly graphics I made from this week’s teaser clip. Fortunately, however, I can still have silly thoughts, so here are some ponderings on A Marriage of Inconvenience:
The Muskeboys’ mission this week is to pop out to the countryside and pick up Princess Louise, a cousin of King Louis who’s being packed off to Sweden for a strategic flatpack marriage to a bloke she’s never met. Ah, the 1630s were so romantic, weren't they?
It turns out that Porthos has a more impressive (albeit anachronistic) knowledge of Swedish stereotypes than Aramis does. Who knew?
She claims she’s going to miss the warm sun of Italy, but fortunately she’s brought along her own warm son of Italy in the form of Francesco, her rather pretty bodyguard. Admittedly, he doesn’t seem as swashbucklingly efficient at dispatching bad guys jumping out of haystacks as our own dear Musketeers are, but perhaps he’ll get more practice later in the episode.
Oh dear, Rochefort is feeling very pleased with himself this week. He’s got an open shirt, more medallions than one man can handle, and a big room full of scrolls containing his multi-chapter self-insert fanfiction ("Queen Anne/Dashing Blond Handsome Hero, OTP 4EVAR, don’t like, don’t read, HATERZ!!!") No wonder he’s so peeved to receive a bad review from Cardinal Capaldi, posting beyond the grave to call him "not entirely of sound mind". Oooh, harsh. Mind you, given that Rochefort then stabs a councillor bloke without thinking about who’s going to clean up afterwards, I can’t help thinking that the Cardinal may have had a point.
In a pretty church, Louise gets her womb blessed by an archbishop who immediately gets it in the neck, quite literally, thanks to a hooded baddie with a crossbow. Faster than you can shout "Down with the oppressive patriarchy!", the Musketeers scamper into action and immediately manage to establish that the archbishop was... um... shot with an arrow. Of course, this snappy deductive reasoning is not enough to impress Rochefort, who demands to know why they can’t stop arrows using the power of handsomeness alone. (Well, it’s a fair question. If anyone can, it's this bunch...)
Still, there’s investigating to be done, so it’s time for Athos and Porthos to pitch their own CSI-style series, under the working title The Really Obvious Detectives (ROD for short). Their reasoning may not be subtle, but they can fondle pieces of phallic evidence like nobody’s business.
Proving Athos’s earlier sassy remark correct, Louis really hasn’t changed since he was a kid, and has decided to have the king of all hissy fits, locking himself in his bedroom and refusing to speak to anyone except Rochefort. "Oh Rochefort," he sighs, "if you were REALLY my BFF you would throw Milady out of the palace, send Princess Whatshername to Sweden so I don’t have to talk her, AND send a chamber orchestra to come over and play the greatest hits of Motörhead REALLY loudly, to scare the bejeezus out of that crowd of random extras who are milling around outside my room for NO REASON." Rochefort says okay, if Louis agrees to come to a council meeting later and perhaps considers putting on some pants he hasn’t slept in.
The Musketeers assure Princess Louise that she’ll be Perfectly Safe™ so frequently that she probably expects to die in the next 30 seconds. Meanwhile, Rochefort finishes shoving a corpse into a box just in time for Marguerite to waft in wearing her pushiest push-up corset and a face of imminent woe. He tells her he’ll continue to be horrible to her unless she brings him Aramis’s necklace. Has he become an obsessive jewelry collector, or is he simply trying to stop people staring at any chests other than his own?
Constance’s husband turns up wanting to know why he didn’t get any of the cloth business for the three zillion new frocks that Milady ordered before she got given the royal elbow. But when he hears Constance is giving HIM the elbow in favour of D’Artagnan, he gives her a nasty slap and any sympathy we had for him gets thrown out of the window. And speaking of sliding scales of sympathy, Marguerite and Aramis get to have an awkward "it’s not you, it’s my royal bastard lovechild me" break-up conversation in the corridor, ostensibly so she can steal his crucifix, but incidentally to remind us that Aramis has behaved like a total git to her. A swooningly handsome and charming git, admittedly, but still a git. Plus he’s so vain, he probably should have noticed Marguerite had stolen his necklace three corridors before he actually did…
"Should I be avoiding windows?" - Someone else has already come up with an excellent response to Princess Louise here, so I didn’t have to. Phew.
Treville gets ridiculously angry about being sent to pick up a wedding present. I suspect he was disappointed that he wasn’t asked to organize the hen night entertainment too, since he has plenty of previous experience in that field. He also suggests Athos might be good at being the new captain of the Musketeers because he’s ever so sensible and authoritative and manly and… oh, I know, Treville, I love him too.
Time for the Really Obvious Detectives Athos and Porthos to practise their Bad Cop/Bad Cop interview skills and talk to the crossbow-maker, who says the murder weapon came from the Red Guards’ armoury. Frankly, the arrow could have had a tag attached to it saying "THIS IS ALL ROCHEFORT’S FAULT" and the level of suspense would not have been unduly affected. Of course Rochefort denies all involvement, and then diverts attention by frisking Milady. He claims to be making sure she hasn’t purloined too many souvenir soaps and tiny bottles of shampoo from the palace, but actually he just wants to steal her jewelry on top of everyone else’s. Is Rochefort determined to become the sparkliest princess in all the land? I think we should be told.
Oh dear, Milady’s show of determination in the face of adversity seems to have made Athos all gooey-eyed. He wants to give Milady everything he has, but she can’t help noticing that "everything he has" fits inside a very small bag. Instead she elects to treat him mean and keep him keen, leaving herself free to eye up young Francesco’s impressive pommel in the street and watch him taking Treville roughly from behind. Well, a girl’s got to get her entertainment wherever she can.
Ooh, it turns out that it was Rochefort who gave Aramis’s crucifix to the Queen in the first place. Poor Anne clearly didn’t realize what trouble regifting can cause. Add on Marguerite spilling too many beans about Aramis mooning over the Queen and we’ve got a massive pot of trouble being brought to the boil. I can’t wait to see how hard Athos’s eyes are going to roll over this one…
With Treville’s life in danger, the Muskelads invite Dr Lemay over to help with their pitch for a 17th-century version of ER or Casualty, possibly to be entitled Antiquated Really Gory Hospital (ARGH for short). After Lemay’s failure to invent forensic science on his previous appearance, I laughed like a drain at his cunning plan to soak all his medical instruments in hot water because… um… well, GOD LIKES HOT WATER. Yep, the Supreme Being just loves it when people put the kettle on. It Is Written. Why not go and have a cup of tea now to celebrate? Anyway, Treville does a lot of BAFTA-worthy groans and squeals, Aramis proves he’s good at getting stuff out of holes (if only he could get himself out of the massive one he’s soon going to be in, eh?), and Dr Lemay still thinks Constance is the best thing since hot scalpels. Awww.
Next up on Really Obvious Detectives, it turns out the artist who painted Princess Louise’s portrait is dead. "Find the preparatory sketches!" declares Athos hilariously. And in a SHOCK TWIST, it turns out that Princess Louise is NOT Princess Louise at all, but a cunning stand-in, and the whole plot is about assassinating politicians! (Well, either that or the artist was just really bad at drawing faces, but such thoughts do not trouble the RODs.)
While Not!Louise is preparing for a climactic spot of assassination, Bonacieux turns up and has to sit around waiting for accidental death to find him. Fortunately it does, in the form of a crossbow bolt to the chest. This is not merely an accident, but in fact an act of extremist shipping from Not!Louise, whose motto turns out to be "Constagnan till I die – literally!", or whatever that is in Latin.
Anyway, Aramis and D’Artagnan are too busy thinking about their love lives to turn around and notice a brightly dressed woman with a crossbow right behind them, but fortunately the Really Obvious Detectives ride to the rescue and save the day with their realness and obviousness. A few innocent carrots do get sliced in the crossfire but since this entire show now seems to be sponsored by the Czech Carrot Farmers Association, I assume there are plenty more where those came from.
Bonacieux dies cursing D’Artagnan and Constance, and hoping that their heads will turn orange and fall off at an awkward moment. Both D’Artagnan and Constance end up with Bonacieux’s blood literally on their hands, due to a somewhat unsubtle gust of symbolism. Yeah, I know they were the ones that had an affair, but is the moral really meant to be "Don’t have affairs"? Surely it should be "Don’t leave your hat in the same room as an assassin"?
For an exciting moment it looks like Milady is about to invite Not!Louise (real name: Sofia) to join a newly formed guild of elegantly gowned lady assassins, possibly to be named the Frill-Killers. Alas, Milady decides there can be only one, and gives her unfortunate rival the alternative prize of stabby-stabby death. Shame.
To round things off, Aramis is reunited with his necklace (now soaked in an aura of Ominous Foreshadowing™), and Treville tells Porthos that he’s now willing spill the beans about Porthos’s daddy, but now’s not a good time. Maybe same time, next week? Does that sound like a good moment?
When Louis started to rummage in his pyjama pocket, my mum predicted he was about to get rid of Rochefort by giving him 50p to buy himself some sweeties. But nope, he gives Rochefort a ring and proposes gives him the job of First Minister. "Kiss my ring, peasants!" says Rochefort to the world. "Do you mind if we don’t?" say the Musketeers, all firmly gazing into Rochefort’s face to avoid having to stare directly at the lurid knobbly thing that's just come out of the King's pants. Oh, boys.
Overall: An episode that felt like it had quite a lot squished into it, but most of it was pretty entertaining. Not!Louise made an interesting guest star, Rochefort’s machinations are starting to feel a bit more dangerous, and all the Muskeboys got stuff to do. Still, those boys REALLY need to talk to each other more. Come on, open some wine, undo a few buttons, share some of that inner turmoil with each other. I promise you’ll all feel so much better for it...
Next time: Porthos finally has a daddy! King Louis has another hissy fit! And Milady gets the lowdown on the Aramis situation! It's all kicking off, folks…