Red Scharlach (redscharlach) wrote,
Red Scharlach

The Musketeers 3.02: Discord and rhyme

Sting like a butterfly, float like a bee, and give schedule-shifting the red card, because a week later than expected, it's time to rejoin the Musketeers for episode 2 of the third season. Here are some thoughts about The Hunger, which despite the name is nothing to do with vampire David Bowie:

  • In what I hope is a promising sign for the intellectual content of the rest of this season, D'Artagnan rockets ahead and breaks the series record for earliest shirtless scene, at an unbeatable ONE SECOND into the episode. Well done, sweetie; all your hard work was worth it. Of course, we only get to see the finished results, while Constance gets a full view of the staging area...

  • Anyway, there's no time for lying around because the D'Artagnans have to pop out for groceries, which isn't easy because there's a riot going on. A load of grain has gone missing and refugees are getting the blame (now where have I heard this story before? Oh yes: actual reality). While go-getting activist-about-town Sylvie rallies the forces of righteousness, the real culprit is that nasty Grimaud. No, he doesn't want to open his own artisan bakery and flog bread rolls at 17 times the usual price; he's actually in league with the Marquis de Feron (who unsurprisingly is the kind of chap who has red wine for breakfast) and local grain-baron the Duke of Beaufort, and they're all planning to rip off the King. Sadly they don't rip off the unconvincing wig from Beaufort's head before they start; it's almost as unflattering as the poor Dauphin's.

  • Meanwhile, back at the garrison, Athos, Porthos and Aramis are having a hot and sweaty three-way because Aramis is out of practice. A three-way swordfight, that is. By the time they turn up to the riot, the Red Guards have already arrested a bunch of refugees AND D'Artagnan for going "GRRRR!" in a public place and other spurious crimes. So it's up to the Muskeboys to search the refugee settlement for traces of subtle topical symbolism stolen grain. Sylvie considers burning her extensive collection of revolutionary leaflets, but then decides to stash them somewhere that Athos can find them, enabling them to have a delightfully Freudian stand-off in which Athos comes over all no-nonsense and commanding and I have to go and have a bit of a lie-down.

  • D'Artagnan gets thrown in a dungeon, all the better to pick up useful bits of back story, and to bond with chief spokesrefugee (and Sylvie's dad) Hubert, on the grounds that they both like fighting injustice, plus he's the only other prisoner with lines.

    Also, do not poke with a stick

    Admittedly, another refugee called Leon does have some lines, but he turns out to be a Red Guard mole and gets viciously slapped around by Marcheaux, who's already collected enough Sadistic Bastard points this week to buy himself a month's supply of hair gel and some scar-enhancement lotion.

  • Just as Sylvie's telling the Muskeboys about the importance of sticking it to the man and quashing the fascist oppressors, here comes young Clairmont the Muskecadet, relishing his new role as Boy Most Likely To Burst Into A Room And Yell The Latest Plot Twist (quoth Athos, "We used to knock."). It turns out a passing ne'er-do-well is doing a spot of illegal grain-dealing, which gives Porthos and Aramis a chance to handle this with "our own special brand of tact and diplomacy".

    Good cop, bad cop, overexcited bystander

    Yes, it's time for a variation on the old "good cop, bad cop" routine, in which Porthos is the good cop, and Aramis is the gleefully limb-snapping psycho-monk who is having just a bit too much fun. It goes so well that the lads decide to pitch a revival of the Really Obvious Detectives (ROD for short), noticing a cart covered in Significant Dust™ and recalling memorable details from the Spotter's Guide To Horses That May Be Relevant To The Plot Later.

  • While engaging in some random but scenic falconry, the Duke of Beaufort mentions a rumour that Grimaud eats nothing but raw flesh. Feron denies this completely: he knows Grimaud won't touch anything that hasn't been freshly torn from the hands of an organic free-range orphan. Presumably this is why Grimaud is relegated to the role of grim observer at Feron's private wine-and-opium parties. (To be honest, I'm only guessing it's meant to be opium, but I don't actually know what dried opium looks like, unless the answer is "tiny slices of dried apricot, no really".) But just as Rupert Everett's amazing face is contorting itself into a paean to the decadent pleasures of mind-altering substances, Grimaud unexpectedly stages an intervention and threatens Feron with his own cutlery. Just what IS going on with these two? Are they related, or are they just villainously co-dependent? I'm guessing we'll find out.

  • After poor Hubert has shuffled off this mortal coil, D'Artagnan gets out of the slammer, full of the urge to do something non-specific about injustice because it's what his best friend for the last two hours would have wanted. Fortunately, the ever-sensible Constance is five steps ahead of him and drags her cute-but-hopeless hubby away, resisting the urge to hit him with a clue stick on the way. (By the way, is something meant to have gone on with Marcheaux and Constance, something more specific than him just being a generally sexist arsehole? From the way they dwell on it, I'm guessing yes, but I fear it may be deeply unpleasant.)

  • Leon the mole has unsubtly planted some fake evidence in the refugee camp, but luckily Sylvie and Athos find it just as the Red Guards turn up to stick the boot in. Even more luckily, Sylvie turns out to be a dab hand with a sword and a well-placed knee. Athos is both sweatily dishevelled and mildly impressed, which doesn't usually happen until at least the third date.

  • Doggedly following his ROD-like hunch, Porthos finds the quarry of Significant Dust™, which in turn leads him to a Sizeable Shed of Stolen Cereals™, where he engages in some recreational thug-bashing and gets granola in his magnificent Battle Hair™. He's still worth a nibble, of course, but he's no longer suitable for viewers with a wheat allergy.

    Try Porthos with a crunchy topping as part of a nutritious breakfast

  • While Porthos is picking seeds out of his sensitive areas, the other Muskeboys take Sylvie for a night out at the Red Guard's tavern of choice. Well, only Athos and D'Artagnan actually get to go to the pub; Sylvie's handcuffed to Aramis and made to stay outside. But like the resourceful woman she is, she's soon digging all the fun she can out of this scenario, first by casually frisking him for gossip on Athos and then by putting her mouth on his face and her hands where he isn't expecting them, i.e. right on his impressive weaponry. I giggled loud and long at Aramis's inability to control his nether regions after four years of chastity. Totally and utterly silly, yet totally and utterly in character.

  • Meanwhile in the pub, D'Artagnan's making tempting suggestions that Athos can't take up because it'd spoil the rest of the season. Darn it.

    D'Artagnan hits Athos with his best line

    But before D'Artagnan and Athos can reschedule their double entendre for later, Sylvie uses Aramis's weapon to threaten Leon the mole, but Athos distracts her with a rousing speech and Marcheaux shoots Leon instead, having noticed that he'd make an excellent scapegoat. While Sylvie's enjoying Athos's hands-on approach to stopping a bar fight, D'Artagnan and Marcheaux start a major-league staring match: D'Artagnan's GLARE OF JUSTICE versus Marcheaux's STARE OF SMUGNESS. Sadly Aramis breaks it up before either of them can blink.

  • Back at court, the spinning camera of exposition allows the legal plot threads to be more or less tied up while giving me everybody a good stare at Athos's shapely waist from all possible angles. Then Porthos arrives and dumps a bag of grain on the floor: full marks for making a dramatic point, but minus 50 for causing a health-and-safety hazard that some poor non-speaking minion will have to clear up later.

  • And what are the King and Queenie up to this week? Squabbling passive-aggressively over their offspring's affections, apparently. Louis also takes the opportunity to slyly mention that the Muskeboys are back in town, and yes, that includes Aramis (the nod from Dauphin at the mention of his real daddy's slutty ways was hilarious). Instead of asking why there are apparently now only four grown-up Musketeers in the whole country, when I'm sure there used to be more (yeah, I know they didn't usually have any lines, but the war can't have killed ALL of them, can it?), the Queen says nothing and scuttles away rather shadily. Has Louis started to be suspicious again? What IS going on with him?

  • Speaking of the Dauphin's bio-daddy, he accompanies Sylvie to mourn her dead dad, and she gives him a slice of real talk, which heaven knows he needs (along with a cold shower and a chastity belt, obviously). Elsewhere, the silly Duke of Beaufort's plans have gone down the Swanee and Grimaud tries to go into a slow-motion death rage but Feron snaps him out of it. I've said it already but I'll say it again: just what IS going on with these two?

  • And it's a very warm welcome to a striking new recurring guest star this season: yes, it's Athos's Black Shirt of Shaggability. Looks good on him, would look even better on my any bedroom floor.

    Athos unbuttoned and unbowed

    "I don't do careful", says Sylvie as she lays a lingering lip-lock on him, which is fortunate because "Not Careful" is in fact Athos's middle name. I suppose it could be claimed that this coupling is a little out of the blue, but Sylvie does have eyes in her head and Athos has got this laid-back 'n' louche Captain Sexypants thing going on this season, so I don't think it needs all that much dramatic justification. And of course, it gives his friends an opportunity to take the piss out of him, which is as charming as hell. In fact, everything's all smiles and man-hugs... until Grimaud turns up to do a bit of Dramatic Foreshadowing™ on horseback. Still, at least the time Porthos spent poring over the Spotter's Guide To Horses That May Be Relevant To The Plot Later pays off rather nicely.

  • In conclusion: An oddly choppy episode that involved a lot of waiting for the characters to catch up with things that the audience already knows, as well as a fair amount of hinting about things that may or may not come to light in the season but are currently rather murky and lurky. Still, some nice character moments and I like Sylvie a lot, so I'm keen to see more of her. I'm also longing to see Constance and the Queen back together, but I believe that's coming up in the not-too-distant future...

Please note: Due to sport-related scheduling shenanigans, the next episode isn't until Monday 20th June. Once I've recovered from the shock of Muskeaction on a school night, I'll see you at some point shortly thereafter...
Tags: the musketeers
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