- Here come Porthos and Aramis, riding through the peaceful French countryside, disturbed only by the squeals of unfortunate peasant girls being whipped by a local maniac. Porthos is in search of a sonorously voiced character actor who may be his father, and finds him in the shambling form of the Marquis of Belgard, now living in cobwebby fallen grandeur and not changing his shirt much (pass the anachronistic Febreze, would you?). He's also got a massive chip on his shoulder about Captain Treville, and a daughter called Eleanor, who's married to the peasant-thrashing thug outside and wears frocks from the same shop that made Catherine de Médicis's bondage dress and the evil half of Milady's wardrobe. Basically, Porthos, I wouldn't rush to add her to your Christmas card list.
- Historical fact alert! It turns out that Porthos's mum's name was Marie-Cessette, which was the real-life name of Alexandre Dumas's grandma. Nice touch.
- Now here's Constance, looking pretty and sad in a graveyard in the symbolic rain, and tending the minimalist grave of her husband who was apparently too poor to afford a first name (or possibly just embarrassed to tell her what it was). She's feeling too guilty to get lovey-dovey with D'Artagnan straight away, but instead of being understanding, D'Artagnan decides to lay a massive guilt trip on her, which isn't very nice of him. I know his Muskefriends don't exactly lead by example in the healthy relationships department, but he really ought to know better. Frankly, it'd serve him right if Constance decided to marry the next presentable medical professional who randomly confessed his undying-yet-scientific love to her in a corridor... but whoops, I'm getting ahead of myself.
- Since last week, King Louis's chronic case of the emo blues has got worse and he's started communing with his bedspread and putting his food on the floor where he can watch it closely to ensure the roast chicken doesn't jump up and throttle him in the night. As a team of henchmen beaver away behind the scenes, making a suitably regal tinfoil hat to keep the space-rays out of the King's brain, Rochefort offers to taste the King's food for poison, but neglects to mention that the only royal dish he really wants to nibble is the Queen. Fortunately, his nasty brand of vigilance is being covertly combatted by a much better kind: Constance vigilance!
- As you might predict, a family dinner in the Belgard household is about as cheerful as your average Christmas in Walford. There's staring, sniping, spitting, a full-on punch-up in front of an open fire (cosy!), and no one bothers to eat the grapes. I was particularly roused by Aramis's spirited stand at the dinner table. Nobody sprays bodily fluids in Porthos's face, you hear? NOBODY
- Milady visits Rochefort in his scroll-filled fanfiction room and subtly lets him know she's on to his Spanish shenanigans. But when he starts quizzing her about Aramis's love life, she's a bit confused because, as far as she's concerned, Aramis is something that only happens to other people. Meanwhile, Aramis himself is auditioning for the RODs (Really Obvious Detectives) and correctly spots that a corpse who was kicked to death by a horse shouldn't have strangle-marks around the throat. Evil Eleanor exonerates her husband from blame with a half-baked excuse that is only slightly more convincing than "Oh yes, all the horses around here love to grab people's necks with their opposable hooves. It's a sign of affection! You mean this doesn't happen in Paris?"
- After visiting approximately 279 pubs off-screen, Milady manages to track down Athos. She offers to sell him spoilers for the next episode for 100 livres, but all he wants to do is hold hands and talk unconvincingly about patriotism in a way that really means "PLEASE DO A NICE THING FOR
MEFRANCE." Poor sweetie, he's really got it bad for her again, hasn't he? You can tell because he goes all soft and whispery and doesn't stab her for sipping his wine without permission.
- And if that wasn't enough, there's another unexpected burst of romance in the form of nice Dr Lemay, arriving at the palace to tell Constance that she's a "truly original person" and would she like to marry him? After all, they could have a lovely time sterilizing his-and-hers surgical equipment and tripping their heads off on hallucinogenic soup together, and hey, that awkward moment when his medical opinions nearly got her executed is all water under the bridge now, innit? Her surprise at this turn of events is, frankly, unsurprising.
- Gloves off and hankies at the ready now, because it's time for a big Porthos vs Treville face-off. Treville admits he did dump Porthos and his mum in the slums, and Porthos has swallowed Belgard's suggestion that he might have made Porthos a Musketeer because he felt guilty, not because Porthos is shit-hot at smashing people's heads in. Porthos virtually quivers with vulnerability and wounded pride here, and I really wanted to hug him and say "But you ARE shit-hot at smashing people's heads in, sweetheart! Don't let anyone tell you any different!" Still, he doesn't want to be "a fig leaf for [Treville's] guilt", even if that implies a rather large fig leaf. (Incidentally, I spotted that Treville now has a patch on the back of his jacket to cover the hole where he was shot last week. Continuity: your clue to quality drama!)
- As the Muskeboys walk through the market and plot to put the evil Levesques's human-trafficking operation out of business, what's this I spy? Yes, it's CARROTS, the world's most versatile vegetable prop, hardy enough to be used for multiple episodes without suffering any visible form of damage or decay. Put a bunch of Czech carrots in your drama today! They're the VEG that gives you the EDGE! (This has been a promotional interlude sponsored by the Czech Carrot Farmers Association.)
- While Belgard is busy buttering up Porthos by giving him semi-awkward hugs and handing out family souvenirs, Athos and D'Artagnan turn up for the Levesques' swords-at-the-door "entertainment", secretly hoping it's one of those parties where you all swap horse bridles and then mysteriously end up sleeping with the person you came in with. Unfortunately it's nowhere near as fun as that.
Instead, it's an unpleasant evening where young ladies get auctioned off to the highest bidder for horrid purposes. D'Artagnan wants to be sick, but luckily Athos takes charge before any vomiting can occur and saves the day by being masterful and commanding all over the place. All the girls get rescued and I collapse in a swooning mess on the nearest chaise longue. Later, back at the garrison, I spotted that Athos was sitting around with his shirt hanging off while everyone else had their jackets on, so either he lent his coat to a shivering maiden or someone had been administering first aid for his bruises caused by Evil Eleanor's tea-tray. Either way, I definitely approve...
- Next morning, Constance finds Anne playing with baby Louis, and Queenie's thoughts can't help turning to the Dauphin's daddy, possibly because Aramis also makes cute giggly noises when he's rolling around on the floor. Somehow Constance didn't twig the truth about the baby's parentage when she caught Aramis and Anne mid-snog a few episodes ago, but now she knows why the baby's a snuggle-magnet for half the ladies in the palace.
- Unusually, the garrison is alive with the sound of girls giggling and eating apples. That young chap who was gawping at Milady's corset a couple of weeks ago has probably fainted in a corner with shock. But much as the Musketeers would probably love to hang out with the ladies all afternoon, curling each other's hair and talking about boys, they can't because it's time to gallop off and find out what Porthos is doing.
- What Porthos is doing is wandering around Belgard's house, thinking "One day, all these decorative antlers and bits of dusty furniture could be mine. Hmm, not sure if want." when he hears suspicious noises and finds another kidnapped girl locked away. Belgard arrives and says "This has nothing whatsoever to do with me and by the way, why don't you just shoot my son-in-law RIGHT NOW?", a cunning distraction technique that's almost as subtle as pointing behind someone and yelling "UNEXPECTED PTERODACTYL ATTACK!" Then there's a big family gunfight, Levesque gets it in the belly from his unrepentant father-in-law, and the Musketeers gallop in to join the fray.
- Porthos, Belgard and Treville slip indoors for a Mexican stand-off between father figures, but in a fight between sonorously voiced character actors, you know Treville's going to beat any manipulative schemer of a bio-dad any day and of course he did. But it was also rather satisfying that Belgard failed in the end because he underestimated Porthos's intelligence. Not a very clever thing to do, was it?
- I laughed out loud at Porthos's "bigger than yours" comment with regard to Athos's estate. Plus, Marquis is also one up on Comte, so Porthos's rank is bigger too, or at least it will be when his dad kicks the bucket. And if that wasn't enough, Aramis and Porthos even got their own Leia/Han moment: "All for one?" / "Yeah, I know." Awww.
- Clanging chimes of doom alert! Rochefort's in the royal bedchambers, quizzing Queenie about her crucifix, and getting disproportionately disappointed that she doesn't remember promises she made to him when she was 14. As if we needed any further evidence of Rochefort's creep credentials, urgh. Back when I was 14, I probably promised to love Duran Duran forever, but guess what? I've changed my mind since then. (Don't mind the occasional song, though.)
- Fired up by Anne's advice to get out there and
shag a Musketeerbe happy, Constance throws on her most Disney Princess outfit and tells Dr Lemay thanks, but no thanks. Fortunately they agree to stay friends, which means he can keep his job as medical consultant for the next episode of Really Obvious Detectives. Next she skips down to the garrison for a reunion kiss-up with D'Artagnan, while the other Muskeboys stand around smirking in the background. And finally, she scurries back to the palace in time to save Queenie from attempted rape at the hands of the scarily unhinged Rochefort, distracting him enough for Anne to do some serious hairpin damage to his eyeball, ARGH ARGH ARGH. But before you can say "you don't get wounds like that from a scrunchie", Rochefort has stormed off, yelling about treason and planning to tell the world about Anne and Aramis. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear...
- Overall: We've literally been waiting all season to be told the truth about Porthos's father, so there was a risk of anticlimax here. Admittedly the mechanics of it were not especially interesting (I guessed that Belgard wasn't going to be a nice man) but Howard Charles really sold the sense of what it all meant to Porthos and relished having something dramatic to get his teeth into. As for everyone else: well done Constance for being lovely; boo to D'Artagnan for even doubting her for a minute; and ARGH to Rochefort who deserves every horrible consequence the plot can throw at him, quite frankly. (Maybe we can disguise his bollocks as turnips and tell Roger the horse to start nibbling?)
- Next time: Aramis's mess of a love life finally hits the fan, and Rochefort wears an eyepatch in a hopeless attempt to look like sexier Rocheforts of the past. I can hardly bear the suspense.
Now folks, remember that there are no Musketeers next week due to Comic Relief. I know, it's most distressing that we have to wait two weeks and even America gets to see the next episode before we do. If I were a French monarch I'd slam my bedroom door noisily and yell "OMG IT'S SO UNFAIR!!!" at this point. But since I'm not, I'll see you in a fortnight...