In other words, it's time for a belated Musketeers review. Here are some thoughts about Brothers In Arms:
- Personally, I've often imagined being awakened by a terrific banging from the Musketeers, but here's a weedy chap who's rather less enamoured with the experience. So who is this redheaded emo wannabe with his New Romantic stylings? He may look like the love child of Draco Malfoy and Ron Weasley, but it will later transpire that he's actually Gaston, Duke of Orleans, little brother of King Louis and an actual historical person. Pausing only to stuff his pockets with incriminating paperwork and give his hair a good crimping, he's soon being escorted to Paris by the Muskeboys in their shiny new swashbuckler-about-town outfits, but before you can say "Vic, I've fallen", he's taken the world's least convincing tumble from a horse and gets himself dragged to the nearest pub (well, it's never too early for cocktail hour, n'est-ce pas?)
- By pleasing coincidence, Sylvie happens to be visiting the same pub and Athos gives her a brief but excellent glance that encapsulates the entire sentence "Oh, hello nice lady who snogged me last week, fancy seeing you… oh SHIT, I'm meant to be at work, aren't I? Damn, damn, damn...." But then suddenly Gaston's wallet goes missing and before you can say "Are you sure you didn't put it in your other pocket?", the little oik has stabbed three non-speaking bystanders to death and caused a Mexican stand-off the size of... well, Mexico. And all before breakfast, apparently. You've got to admire a schemer with a work ethic.
- Although entitled nastiness runs in Gaston's family, I get the impression that even bastard big brother Feron would draw the line at an excuse as flimsy as "I am totally allowed to murder random extras because the Musketeers woke me up early and therefore it's all THEIR fault!" Meanwhile, the King's too busy being a drama queen to listen to Treville yelling important bits of backstory at him ("Gaston has been in exile because he tried to overthrow you! I don't know what you're doing but I'm 99.7% sure it's a bad idea!") and chooses to put on his blingiest crown and welcome Gaston into his shiny baroque play-pen for a bout of brotherly bullshitting and ring-kissing. At least it gives Treville and Queenie a chance to practise their synchronized eye-rolling.
- Treville tells off Athos for having adventures when the captain's supposed to stay at home and do boring stuff instead of having a good time. Athos somehow resists the urge to give a PowerPoint presentation on how delegating garrison administration duties to Constance has freed up 74% more time for vital beard maintenance and riding around looking needlessly sexy. "We must tell each other everything", insists Treville, and Athos ponders saying "Well, I really like this girl..." but thinks better of it. Out in the yard, D'Artagnan has suddenly grown up and is being all mentorish to the baby Muskecadets, saying exactly the same sort of stuff Athos used to say to him when he was little. Awww.
- Constance pops in to see her old chum Queenie, despite Marcheaux doing his best impression of an annoyingly yappy guard-dog. Unfortunately, both ladies are sad because of a) having no friends and b) living in a filthy war zone, respectively. Queenie wants to talk about boys and can't wait for Constance to join the I-Got-Knocked-Up-By-A Musketeer club but Constance is less keen, perhaps because she gets enough loud squealing and stinky laundry stains from living with 30 teenage cadets.
- It turns out that everyone Gaston stabbed in the pub was a war veteran, so the whole thing's a bit of a diplomatic minefield. The King's all "yeah, slaughtering random peasants is entirely justified if they touch your stuff!", and Sylvie is all "down with the fascist aristo oppressors!" and "I cannot believe Aramis is still coming on to me after embarrassing himself last week, sheesh", and Josephine the pub landlady is all "oops, I shouldn't have stolen this wallet and accidentally set an entire episode's worth of misunderstandings in motion, should I?"
- Not only does Feron have his own personal drug dealer, it seems he also gets private massages from Marcheaux. Blimey. Maybe the Red Guard should set up a side business in case the peasant-kicking trade doesn't pan out?
Then Gaston turns up and confesses that his purse had more inside it than small change, a past-its-sell-by-date condom and a loyalty card for Madame Lola's Gothic Garment Emporium. It was actually full of letters to dodgy nobles across the country, saying "lol, let's totally overthrow my brother, get a case of cheap vodka in and start a revolution!!!1!! YOLO", and Gaston correctly guesses that this knowledge will make family Christmas dinners at least 27 times more awkward than they already are.
- Oh look, someone's using Roger the horse as a noticeboard because the Post-It hasn't been invented yet.
"Meet you after the funeral with the stolen wallet", says the note, so the Muskeboys duly turn up wearing their best dignified frowns. Christophe the landlord is too emotional to finish the service, but luckily Aramis steps up to the mark with his Emergency Priest™ powers (he also does bar mitzvahs and weddings, but whatever you do, don't leave him unattended with the bride). It turns out that Grimaud has financed the funeral, and it's all a scam so the Red Guards can gatecrash, try to arrest everyone, shoot an unfortunate bystander, and promise floggings all round. Before it can turn into THAT kind of party, displeased Daddy Treville arrives to yell commandingly at everyone, while threatening to confiscate Marcheaux's key to the biscuit cupboard if he doesn't start behaving himself.
- Treville takes all the Muskelads to see the king but Aramis spots the cute little fruit of his loins skipping around outside and unsubtly wanders off. Astonishingly, nobody has yet clicked to the fact that an AWOL Aramis one week invariably leads to sweaty plot complications and/or pregnancies several episodes later. Captain Athos really needs to start tying him up on a leash outside...
- Out in the garden, Feron and Gaston are meant to be babysitting the Dauphin but they'd much rather discuss the chances of horrible things happening to small children and be unneccessarily bitchy to the Queen. She's soon distracted by a passing Aramis, who's keen to talk about old times, but it's all a bit awkward, especially since Queenie's all "not now, Aramis, we are standing within a 20-foot radius of ALMOST EVERYONE WE KNOW" and besides, Aramis can hear Athos's eyes rolling from the other side of the garden.
- Sporting a fashion look that's like a cross between Phil Oakey circa 1981 and a pair of curtains, the King's still refusing to listen to sense and yelling about "faaaahmily" in a way that suggests he may be auditioning for EastEnders. Now, I guessed the King must be a goner the second he coughed, because Dramatic Coughs are generally dramatically significant (leading my friend Kathryn to coin the term "Chekough"), rather than being just a cough and it's fine. Sure enough, he confesses to Treville that he has the white plague, which apparently means tuberculosis (this did actually kill the real life Louis XIII). Treville has a good old manly sniffle at this news, ostensibly because he really does care about Louis (awww), but more likely because he's moved by Ryan Gage's rather excellent performance in this scene, and even more probably because he foresees the apocalyptic amount of hassle this is going to cause and that he's going to be the one who has to sort the whole mess out.
- Treville goes down to the Pub of Revolt, entirely alone except for a large Porthos, and finds everyone polishing their massive weapons. Not making the situation any less kinky, Christophe the landlord decides to batten down the hatches and have a hostage situation/bondage party. "Where's the Minister and my Musketeer?" asks Athos outside, trying to distract Christophe with an unexpected spot of Porthosshipping. "This is never going to happen", he adds, reading
my fanfictionChristophe's list of demands.
- The situation at the palace is equally grim, with Athos and Queenie representing the forces of reason against the triumvirate of poor hairdressing and even worse decisions that is the Brothers Bourbon. "Oh hell, I'll have to go down there and be all heroic and manly", realizes Athos. So that becomes the plan. Well, until the Red Guards get a signal to charge in and murder everyone, that is.
- Down at Siege Central, it's more noticeable than ever that all the Musketeers who aren't the four regulars are in fact 12 years old. D'Artagnan has a go at ordering them around but they go all wibbly in the face of battle and Aramis has to do a rousing speech to sort 'em out. Inside the pub, Christophe refuses to be intimidated by Porthos's boots or Treville's impressive manspreading and his wife STILL hasn't fessed up to her pilfering, when D'Artagnan and Aramis come in from behind and get the party started… well, in a manner of speaking.
- Aramis: "Still got it, I see."
Treville: "Most of it."
- Then it's all a bit of a blur for a while. Grimaud blows up the pub, the Red Guards charge in, and suddenly it's "Shit, We'd Better Team Up!" time. Well, except for Josephine the landlady, for whom it's "Shit, I'd Better Confess To D'Artagnan" time. There's a crescendo of background music, Gazes of Undying Brotherhood™ from the boys, and a spot of synchronized swordage from Porthos and Aramis that's almost as boyband-worthy as Athos and Aramis last season. And as if this wasn't enough, here comes Action!Constance, giving Marcheaux a taste of her trademark poke-in-the-neck manoeuvre, closely followed by Action!Sylvie, giving Athos a rousing reminder of her asskicking talents. Then for the grand finale, it's 200%-Done Treville, giving Marcheaux a well-deserved punch in the face AND a kick up the bum, hoorah! Never mind, Marcheaux, at least your bloody nose matches your outfit. In fact, the only one who's not happy is Josephine, who dies from a fatal dose of karma to the midriff. Ouch.
- Treville shows the King the incriminating letters to Gaston's penpals, earning Gaston an accommodation downgrade to the Bastille (one bed, no WiFi, en suite bucket, please ring room service for extra cockroaches).
- And ooh, what's this? Gosh, it's Athos and Aramis filling the garrison courtyard with UST (Unresolved Sweaty Training), which provides another gloriously gratuitous outing for Athos's black shirt of shaggability. In fact, it's practically falling off by the time Sylvie turns up for a bout of not-in-front-of-the-cadets sexual tension. I giggled at the fact that the contents of Athos's mind in this scene are almost as clearly visible as the contents of his shirt: "Oh hello, here she comes, better play it cool, flirt a bit, look as if you don't really care but suggest that a snog might not be totally unwelcome... hey, where's she going?? You're not leaving now, are you?? What?? Eh??? *sulks for rest of afternoon*"
- Down at the Bastille, Gaston's got nothing to amuse him but a symbolic chess table and gloating visits from big bro Feron for the occasional family bitch-off. Still, at least it gives him lots of time to compose songs about himself. Sing it with me: "No one sneers like Gaston, no one jeers like Gaston, no one winds up the four Musketeers like Gaston…"
- In conclusion: a rather frustrating main plot that's basically an impasse between two unreconcilable forces – the Musketeers can't really do anything about anything until the very end when suddenly it becomes possible to save the day by swashbuckling (quelle coincidence!). Still, lots of moments to enjoy, some interesting plot pieces laid down for later use and some rather nice relationship moments that will hopefully pay off soon…
Due to the vagaries of a) BBC scheduling and b) me being thrown off my usual routine, the next episode is on Saturday night (i.e. tomorrow, as I write this), so you won't have to wait a whole week for my input. Well, unless I suddenly become seventeen times more confused than I already am...