The Musketeers 3.07: The Marquis de Sade don't wear no boots like these
Who needs to go outside and experience Britain's requisite three days of summer when you could stay indoors and get sweaty watching the Musketeers? Not me, certainly. Here are my thoughts about Fool's Gold:
"Don't try this at home," the BBC One announcer warned just before the start of the show, and it was excellent advice. Shooting wine glasses off people's heads is SUCH a waste of booze, after all.
Yes, the Musketeers are turning the interrogation of one of Grimaud's hench-thugs into an afternoon of entertainment, probably because Pokemon GO hasn't been invented yet. Porthos is the genial gameshow host, D'Artagnan is the brooding bad cop and Athos is grimacing in pain, and not just because the garrison's carrot supply might get splattered with hench-blood at any moment, especially if young Brujon's William Tell impression goes a bit William Burroughs.
The hench-thug eventually confesses that Grimaud has ridden east, "but one night you'll wake and he'll be standing over your bed..." This makes Grimaud sound like the Evil Tooth Fairy, which I suppose is one idea if he ever gets bored with ring-collecting and badly-planned stabbings as a career choice.
Aww, I see Feron's still scowling at us from the title sequence, even though he is no more. I also note that, as well as being full of ladies generally, this episode was written by a woman AND directed by Michelle from EastEnders so plenty of girl power all round, hoorah!
Ouch, Athos is regretting hitting that henchbloke with his bad arm: presumably he spent the last 45 minutes of last week running on adrenalin, but now his bruises are catching up with him. Also catching up with him is lovely Sylvie, who turns up to say that if they're looking for Grimaud, the only way is Éparcy, and to share a few moments of awkward staring with Athos, whose thoughts seem to hurt him even more than his limbs.
Down at the palace, the King is peeved because Feron didn't get a full state funeral due to his inconvenient traitorousness, and possibly because Elton John wouldn't write a song about him either ("And it seems to me that you lived your life like an opium-addled fop / Always plotting and conniving, till you got the chop..."). Meanwhile, Louis refuses to discuss the Regency AND still wants to believe Gaston might not be evil, so he's clearly the Queen of Denial as well as the King of France.
Into the woods ride our intrepid foursome, until they get lured off the path by a small girl, like Red Riding Hood in reverse, and suddenly D'Artagnan and Porthos find themselves trapped in a massive net. Have they been captured by fangirls desperate for a follow-up to last week's rubble-strewn hand-holding? Have Musketeers been reclassified as a sustainable fish source? Or is it that terrifying scourge of all forest-based plotlines, EWOKS?
No, it's none of these things. It's actually a village full of women, who've made a secret home for themselves away from the pillaging and horribleness that seems to be rife in France these days. Their attitude to intruders is less than hospitable, but Athos tries to calm things down while Aramis is busy giggling to himself because LOL BONDAGE. "I've been tied up by women too, but it's only ever been recreational," he says, surprising precisely nobody. Come to think of it, we know from last week that Athos is no stranger to a spot of rope-based gratification either, so this means they've ALL had a go at it now. Which is only fair, innit.
Time to meet the village denizens. De facto leader Juliette is a bit hardcore and unwelcoming; Therese seems quite practical; Elodie is chatty and sweet, as well as being heavily pregnant; and Dudley Dursley is hanging around being vaguely suspicious. In other news, the village is being regularly looted, and Juliette admits to being a "friend" of Grimaud's mum (HINT HINT). Plus Athos is being REALLY grumpy, even by his own standards, but eventually consents to playing "I'll show you mine" with Aramis. Oh dear, oucharama. Judging by everyone's reactions, this is NOT going to go down in history as his most attractive shirtless scene. But mean Juliette won't lend Aramis a first aid kit, so poor Athos has to remain unstitched. Urgh.
Elodie catches Porthos having a wee and refuses his offer of help with the laundry (fair enough: he hadn't even washed his hands!). He confesses that her husband's regiment died in battle but they manage to have a bit of a bond anyway, aww. When Dudley Bastien turns out to be a deserter and in league with the looters, Juliette dispatches one of them (showing where Grimaud inherited his stabbiest tendencies) and Elodie turns out to be rather handy with a bow and arrow, despite having to work around her giant bump.
Athos's Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day gets even worse when he follows a cloaked figure into the woods. Roger the Horse is startled, throws Athos off and runs away. But before I can cry "Oh Roger, you splitter!", he arrives back at the village alone, apparently auditioning for his own Lassie-style spin-off series. Tch, the cheek of that nag! Before the other three can translate "random snorty horse noise" into "Athos has fallen over in the woods and is wandering around in a delirious haze of bruised misery!", Athos has literally stumbled upon a hut and got locked in by Therese, who's actually on Grimaud's side. Curses!
As Athos rolls attractively on the floor, Therese explains how Grimaud's mum tried to drown him as a kid and had a generally shitty life. She underestimates the power of AthosRAGE™ and he soon smashes down the door, but before she makes a getaway, she stabs him with a poison needle. Luckily his friends find him in time and take him back to the village for a night of groaning, sweating and delirium (and not the fun kind). His resulting nightmare is half a recap of This Season So Far, half the video for Total Eclipse of the Heart, but hey! At least there was no mushroom soup involved.
At the palace, the King and the Dauphin are playing with gold-plated action figures and the Queen has peculiar orange sacks attached to her dress for some reason. Perhaps in the event of a constitutional crisis, she can inflate her frock into a life-raft, point out the emergency exits and float away down the Seine? Anyway, the King STILL does not wish to speak of the Regency and nobody wishes to speak of the Dauphin's wig, mainly because it is unspeakable. Queenie decides a Jerry Springer-style confession is in order, and admits she DID shag Aramis but only once and Louis's the only dad the Dauphin knows, so he should make her regent, please please please your solipsistic poodle-haired gittishness Majesty. "I will write a history worthy of you and your son," she claims, but promises nothing about deleting all her Aramis/self-insert stories from YeOldeFanfiction.net.
Meanwhile, the Dauphin's bio-daddy and his chums are fretting manfully in the forest but never fear: Athos is awake and has recovered from the poison, hooray! So it's hugs all round and even a kiss from D'Artagnan (there's an adorable kissy noise and everything!), and nobody mentions the fact that magic pixies have apparently come in the night and fixed his bad back as well (because nobody mentions THAT again either). In fact, they're so delighted that they don't notice Elodie emitting the classic Fictional Pregnancy Groan that means "I'm about to give birth at the next dramatically opportune moment!"
Aramis establishes what everyone surely suspected already: Juliette IS Grimaud's real mum. Admittedly, the issue was slightly muddied by the fact that she's only three years older than him in real life, but a) I suppose that's what her greying wig is for, and b) Grimaud's lived a rough life and hasn't had much time to moisturize. But before any more details can come to light, Bastien and the Looters (an unimaginative but accurate name for a band) turn up and take Juliette hostage. Quick, time to rally the village for a climactic fight scene!
Treville gives Louis a talking-to about pots, kettles and sexual double standards in the 17th century. We also get Treville and the King's entire relationship hilariously summed up in seven words: "Majesty, may I offer some advice?" / "No!"
The most dramatic moment to give birth is swiftly approaching, so Elodie starts panting and Porthos wins this week's Spotting The Bleeding Obvious award (with literal bleeding and spotting, in this case). Poor Porthos, finally getting some bedroom action with a lady but only when she's groaning in agony because a tiny person's trying to pop out of her undercarriage. To distract her attention at this painful time, Porthos tells Elodie a story about how he once deserted but nobody noticed because he came straight back. Aww, sweetie.
Meanwhile, Aramis is standing in the wood with a bulging chest (albeit not as impressive as his chest last week), then suddenly it all kicks off in a storm of ropes and rocks and yodelling stuntpersons, not to mention D'Artagnan doing a spot of historical parkour, bounding from rock to rock like an enthusiastic baby goat. Alas, Bastien finds there's no gold in the chest and Juliette confesses she spent it all at IKEA on stuff for the camp. Before tragedy can strike, Aramis shoots Bastien and makes it back to find Porthos has not only delivered Elodie's baby, but he's also cleaned up all the horrible messiness by himself. Definitely a keeper, that boy.
In an unexpected fit of common sense, Louis asks Queenie out for a drink, although disappointingly he means in their own dining room rather than down at their local wine bar (The Carrot and Cuckold). He describes their relationship as "France married Spain", but is it doomed to be overshadowed forever by Spain spending a passionate night with Chile when France was sulking in its room? Can't they just be friends, asks Queenie. Okay, you can be regent, says Louis, but you can NEVER mention this again to ANYONE: "Carrying this secret will be your punishment." Drat, she'd better cancel that order for a massive glittery banner saying "HEY EVERYBODY, I SHAGGED ARAMIS AND YES, HE'S AS GOOD AS YOU'VE HEARD" to hang outside the castle when Louis dies.
It seems that Porthos has a ready-made family now (awwwww!) and he even offers to stay with Elodie and offspring, but no – France needs Porthos more! Continuing the theme of parenthood gone awry, Juliette asks if Aramis has kids, not having noticed that his paternity status is permanently set to "It's complicated." Despite her issues, however, Juliette lives to toil another day and even gets a farewell hug from Aramis. Maybe when they DO catch up with Grimaud, they'll all shout "YOUR MUM WILL BE SO DISAPPOINTED WITH YOU!" and he'll simply die of embarrassment? It'd be one way of concluding things, at least.
In conclusion: Not exactly a light-hearted romp, but full of feeling and some excellent character moments for everyone, especially the oft-neglected Porthos, who is just a big bundle of adorableness that needs to be loved right now, yes? Also, STOP ATHOS FROM HURTING HIMSELF ANY MORE 2016. I know he's always had issues with self-hatred but now he's taking "soldiering on" to a whole new level and it's exquisitely painful to watch. Pretty great drama, though.
Next week: The antepenultimate episode of the season! And as if Athos's dream sequences needed to be any more traumatic, Milady's back in town. Blimey...