The Musketeers 2.09: I betcha you would have done the same
After a Red Nose hiatus, the Musketeers return for their penultimate swash of the season. So here are some thoughts about The Accused:
We find Rochefort where we left him last week: having a bad eye day. Owww. Having said that, it doesn't LOOK as serious as the old nurse lady with no lines seems to suggest, but perhaps the special effects crew thought an eyefull of tomato ketchup would make less distressing viewing on a Friday night than a full-on gorefest. Whichever is the case, Rochefort is definitely peeved about it, and starts rummaging in his box of secrets for plot coupons that he cunningly put aside earlier in the series...
Poor Queen Anne is undergoing post-traumatic hairdressing from her oppressively silent ladies-in-waiting when the Musketeers arrive, ready to do anything to help her, especially if it involves a lot of marching purposefully down corridors. I must admit, it's a pretty good look if you want to resemble a pop star with a slinky male backing band: I particularly enjoyed Athos and Aramis's excellent synchronized sword-drawing behind her.
Of course, Rochefort is less than impressed with this performance, and has shown Louis the blackmail material he cunningly prepared earlier. Making a typically bizarre choice of things to get riled about, Louis is annoyed about his wife potentially betraying him to his archenemy, but is MOST annoyed about being interrupted mid-rant by complaints from the hoi polloi. Taking matters into his own hands, Rochefort decides to confiscate the baby, shut the Queen in her bedroom, be nasty to Marguerite (who's clearly having a terrible week and isn't enjoying her evil wardrobe one bit), and get his Red Guards to chuck the Musketeers out on their handsome arses. By the way, it's only just struck me that when the Red Guards have their helmets on, they look very Holy Grail. The jury's still out on whether they smell of elderberries.
Time for Milady to pay Rochefort a house call in his Den of Scrolls. She seems to have access to her own evil wardrobe again and is feeling pretty perky if her cleavage is anything to go by. She also can't resist taking the piss out of his eyepatch, and even though he tries to strangle her, she's justifiably gleeful about getting under his skin. Well done, girl: go and put another big tick in the Men I Got The Better Of Today box on that list you keep on your fridge door....
Okay, Aramis, it's time for you to confess your sins, and Athos only knows, there are plenty of 'em. Let's fetch Treville and all go back to Athos's place for a blockbuster episode of France's Most 100% Done With Aramis's Shenanigans! This wonderful scene managed to be heartstopping, heartwarming and hilarious in equal turns. Athos is a delightfully deadpan pillar of "I TOLD YOU SO" satisfaction that everyone else gets to share his entirely justifiable DONEness at last ("And still more..."); Porthos doesn't know whether to throttle Aramis or cuddle him, so goes for an adorable mix of both; D'Artagnan essays some quality sass while staring at Athos's rumpled bedsheets (as you do); and Treville pulls some world-class WTF faces, topped off with some brilliantly exasperated hat-tossing. But it's okay, folks. As dire as the situation seems, Athos has a potential plan, and fortunately it doesn't involve a rota for being handcuffed to Aramis's genitalia for preventative purposes...
Dr Lemay pops over to the palace to give the King some anachronistic aspirin, which is so effective that Louis comes very close to seeing sense. Rochefort realizes he must divert the King immediately, both for the sake of his plot and to prevent any more awkward flirting over his eyepatch.
Out in the marketplace, it's time to welcome back a previous guest star... CARROTS!! Oh, and also Catherine de Garouville, Athos's sort-of sister-in-law who's now stalking Milady with murder in her heart and her cleavage bursting out of her frock.
Milady doesn't notice her stalker, however, since she's much more focused on her date with Athos, even though he's brought his mates along and wants the plot spoilers she promised him last week. While Milady is usefully recapping all the Spanish ambassador shenanigans from earlier in the series which I had semi-forgotten about (whoops), Aramis and Porthos are outside having a long-needed bromantic heart-to-heart (awww, boys!), while Rochefort is playing a nasty little game of Switch The Bottle (it's a bit like Spin The Bottle, only with less kissing and more attempting to poison the monarch).
The Muskeboys and Milady do the world's least subtle sneak into the palace (it's only marginally less subtle than painting themselves purple and dancing naked into the palace singing "Subtle Plans Are Here Again") but fortunately the Red Guards are too distracted trying to march in formation without their bulbous helmets falling off, and Milady's pretty confident about taking a bunch of burly men up the back passage. For a moment, it looks like someone may fall victim to Constance, in the Queen's bedroom with a candlestick, but fortunately the Muskelads manage to whisk the Queen away to safety, leaving Constance to babysit and Rochefort to dupe the King into a little recreational drug use before bedtime.
Athos saves Milady from the vengeful ropework of Catherine and most importantly, now realizes that his brother WAS an attempted rapist. This leads to Athos and Milady sharing some overwrought and whispery confessions down a dark alley, but technically there's no time for flirting since they're meant to be looking for evidence against Rochefort. But as if fondling another man's paperwork wasn't sexually tense enough, they're then forced to try the good old "We Must Hide In This Tiny Convenient Cupboard, No Honestly, It's The Only Way!" trick. Contrary to what you might expect, the Cardinal's secret cupboard is NOT bigger on the inside; in fact, there's barely enough space in there for Athos, Milady, seventeen shedfulls of sexual tension AND the cameraman. When Rochefort comes back, his suspicions are aroused by the recently snuffed candle (not the only hot wick in that room, I'll bet) and the smell of raging hormones, but luckily the King creates a distracting emergency by starting to froth at the mouth. Also unable to control their bodily functions any more are Athos and Milady, who enthusiastically get their freak on and come out of the closet: well, I suppose it beats the alternative of coming in the closet...
In all this overexcitement, I'd almost forgotten about the Queen and the other Muskeboys, who've now arrived at the convent from last series. Very sadly, the actress who played the Mother Superior last series has since died, so this time we've got all-new nuns. Everyone gets a bit fraught until Athos arrives and announces that he's somehow managed to come up with a plan while snogging Milady's face off (yes, multitasking, is there anything this man can't do?). Optimistically it relies on someone suddenly having brilliant forgery skills, but it's okay: there's an app a nun for that! I laughed out loud at "Sister, I could kiss you." / "Best not, perhaps.". Perhaps the BBC should give the convent its own spin-off series: a sort of 17th-century Heavenly Hustle?
Now we've got a forged letter, Porthos must take it to Spain and find Vargas the spymaster. Meaningful hugs all round, guys! All right, not you, Athos, not if you're worried that your wick may still be fizzling.
I must say, I'm impressed with how well Rochefort's keeping up his mad-eyed staring even though he only has one eye to do it with. He's also forging ahead with his Evil Plan no. 197: blame Lemay and Constance for poisoning the King, get Marguerite to back it up before she has a breakdown, start claiming to be God, PROFIT. Then when Lemay and Constance are languishing in prison, wondering where their flirty plot-times of last week went, Rochefort turns up to tell them it's Surprise Execution time. Poor Lemay: when he told his agent he wanted a bigger cut, this was probably not what he had in mind. ARRGGGHHHH.
The Queen and her Muskeboys return to the palace but since their contact is Marguerite, it's obvious that it's all going to go Horribly Wrong™. It turns out they're all invited to Rochefort's Red Guard house party. The theme is Major League Insurrection, and the first game is Anyone Who Speaks Up Gets A Zillion Guns Pointed At Their Head. This will be followed by Sniff Aramis's Man-Cleavage And Arrest Him For High Treason, and then at dawn by Cut The Head Off The Constance. Duh-duh-DAAAAHHH!!! In the distance, a wild Porthos rides across a field, an enchained Aramis groans in Aramisery, and Constance yells "D'Artagnan, I love you, but we only have fourteen hours to save the Earth!" It's a cliffhanger and a half and no mistake!
Overall: Wowzers! The scheming and plotting from earlier in the season is actually paying off, who'd have thought it? All the cast brought their A-game, all the characters had moments to shine, and the results were rollicking good entertainment that combined thrills, feels, phwoars and giggles. Classic Musketimes, in other words.
Next week: DRAMASPLOSION!!! Can the Musketeers prevent the contents of Aramis's trousers from destroying the nation, and save Constance from starring in her own one-woman remake of Wolf Hall? Well, can they? I bloody hope so...