The Musketeers 3.10: A new royal family, a wild nobility
Unbuckle your swashes, cast off your sweaty leathers, throw your undergarments on the floor and hold on tight to the hairy companion of your choice, because we have reached the LAST EVER episode of The Musketeers. Without further ado, here are my thoughts about We Are The Garrison:
Before this review ends up as a swirling tempest of overexcited exclamations, I want to make a preliminary comment about the unprecedented, nigh unspeakable levels of handsomeness that are achieved throughout this episode. How do they do it? Is it a chemical compound or a special camera filter? Is it just what happens when you leave four good-looking chaps to steam slowly in leather for three years? I may never know, but I raise my glass to it.
Alas, we must begin at Treville's funeral, the pomp and circumstance of which is soundtracked by Grimaud's prematurely smug voiceover: "Your grief is your downfall…", blah-di-blah-blah. Clearly he learned nothing from Feron's fate-tempting soliloquy a few weeks back; his hours on this fictional earth are now plainly numbered…
Post-funeral, everyone bar the Queen gathers in the empty pub for Treville's wake. You can tell it's a rough night because they're already out of wine and Athos isn't even drinking. He's also the target of meaningful stares from Sylvie, who has yet to tell him that her gynaecological garrison has a new recruit. In fact, fatherhood of various flavours turns out to be an ongoing theme this week, with Porthos emotionally declaring that Treville was "a father to all of us", but just as the late Minister is being toasted, some cartoon bombs get thrown through the window and the whole tavern gets toasted too. Eek!
By this stage, I was even wibbling that the title sequence still has pictures of Louis and Treville but just a gap where their names should be. Awww.
The Muskeboys pick themselves up off the pub floor (not for the first time) and go out to see what's going on. Oh no, what's that massive explodey thing in the sky?
Shit, the garrison's on fire, and Constance is in there! Her beloved runs in after her and ka-boom! Oh hell, has D'Artagnan been blown as sky-high as the BBC's special effects budget? There are blazing planks and manly tears everywhere, but not quite enough of the latter to extinguish the former. Various people are dragged from the wreckage, including a badly wounded Clairmont the cadet, but Roger the horse is okay, so that's something. Yet amid the general despair, who's this charging out of the flames like a grimly determined phoenix/Bambi hybrid? It's D'Artagnan and an unconscious Constance. For a terrible moment, Constance seems to be dead... but no, it's just that Aramis's medical powers of plot convenience are shot to shit this season, and she's actually fine. Phew! Brujon the Muskecadet is fine too, albeit a little charred: anyone for a portion of Brujon brûlé?.
Grimaud marches into the Tavern of Off-Duty Ineptitude (a.k.a. The Piss-Up and Brewery) and announces inaccurately that only D'Artagnan is dead (well, serves him right for skimping on fact-checking in favour of striking a Batman pose on the roof). Marcheaux, who has traded in his Red Guard captain jacket for some leather-based clubwear, is still a lazy git and and wants to handwave the whole problem but Grimaud's rather more focused on the evil task in hand, especially now he's got his mitts on Chekhov's gunpowder.
Next morning, our heroes gather for a bit of smouldering amid the rubble. There's no garrison any more... or is there? Activating the Rousing Manly Speech™ power he magically inherited when Treville died, Athos declares otherwise: "Wherever we draw breath, make a stand, save a life, that is the Garrison. We are the Garrison." Hoorah, and be still my quivering hormones...
Sylvie pops home to the settlement to pick up some supplies, but oh no, Team Sadistic Incompetence has got there first! Grimaud takes Sylvie hostage and alerts the Musketeers via a new messaging service he's developed that utilizes dead old ladies as couriers: he's calling it Snapneck. However, Grimaud doesn't know D'Artagnan's alive, so he's free to be their secret weapon, like a puppy with a nail gun.
"Why would you bring a child into this world?", Grimaud asks Sylvie. I dunno, because reliable birth control hasn't been invented yet? Or because hanging around with Aramis is like getting regularly bombarded with fertility rays? Or maybe because given the levels of sex Athos has been putting out recently, he could probably impregnate you just by looking at you? Whichever it is, it does lead to a rather good moment when Sylvie realizes Grimaud genuinely can't see anything good in the world at all. The best character beat he's had all season, in fact. And about time too.
As Covert!D'Artagnan gets his lurking orders, Athos quizzes him about love and relationships, a sweet scene hampered only slightly by the backdrop of agonized groans and squeals coming from Clairmont on the operating table. And speaking of our heroes' love lives, enter a surprise Elodie from two weeks ago, giving Porthos a chance to interact cutely with a baby. Although I'm virulently allergic to babies myself, I must admit that Porthos + baby makes an undeniably adorable combo. It's the bigness/littleness thing, innit. Although come to think of it, Porthos + kitten would be even better...
Okay boys, what do we say when we're off to fight dirty with Grimaud? "No mercy." / "No rules." / "No honour." No argument from me, lads, since I'm now typing from a puddle on the living room floor. Porthos and Aramis immediately get dragged off to be executed by henchmuppets, which goes as well as you might expect, due to Covert!D'Artagnan dropping in from a great height. Athos and Sylvie get handcuffed and although it's a lot less sexy than the last time they played with restraints, Athos finds out about the bun in Sylvie's oven and they have a bit of a moment anyway. Then it's MASSIVE PUNCH-UP TIME, at least until Grimaud runs away for the 400th time this season, crawling into a cranny with what looks like a Swiss army knife stuck in his shoulder (ouch). A more satisfying result occurs when D'Artagnan goes scarily hardcore on Marcheaux's weaselly arse (gosh, little D'Artie has grown up a lot, hasn't he?) and flings him onto a random spiky object that conveniently happens to be lying about. Ding, dong, the dickhead's dead!
Right, back to the garrison for a chat about Athos's impending daddyhood. The other Muskeboys can't wait to be uncles and Tom Burke does a fantastic line in giddy delight with an undercurrent of shit-I'm-a-grown-up panic, spilling into tearful it's-just-too-muchness (awww). In an adorable attempt to make his friends as happy as he is, Athos recommends Porthos for promotion and shamelessly suggests to Queenie (with a killer glint in his eye) that Aramis would be an excellent replacement for Treville, due to his "ecclesiastical" knowledge (well, he certainly knows a lot of people in the Biblical sense) and "his charm... a great asset with those prickly ambassadors." Is that a euphemism, as in "I gave him a good kick in the prickly ambassadors"?
Elodie's got a hammer and isn't afraid to use it. Nor is she afraid about Porthos being a soldier, which puts her ahead of the widowed Alice, Porthos's ladyfriend from season 1. Porthos needs a woman who's willing to share him with France, you see. Fortunately, there's plenty of him to go around.
Poor Brujon watches as his chum Clairmont dies, and even though Constance is very calm and sensible about it, she then goes downstairs for a bit of a weep, because not even a mighty woman like Constance can put on a brave face forever (awww). But oh no, Grimaud is lurking in the cellar and Constance has never met him before so she doesn't know she's in danger! Conveniently, despite this temporary setback to my frazzled nerves, he vanishes through his personal portable wormhole as soon as she's de-knifed him.
Queenie and Mini-King arrive at the cathedral for a big memorial service, since Queenie has decided that the people need to be united, and apparently what will unite them is if they can all point at her and declare "Mon dieu, that woman's hair is ENORMOUS!"
Luckily, Elodie spots Grimaud lurching into the church disguised as a priest – for a moment I thought he'd given up wanting to be Batman and decided to come as Zombie!Richelieu, but no, he's actually impersonating Guy Fawkes: he doesn't have the Puritan hat but he DOES have the cellar full of gunpowder and it looks like there may be fireworks. Oh shit, thinks Constance, now I've got to stop a massive social occasion and it's all going to be REALLY awkward. It all goes quite smoothly, however: Porthos and the Muskeladies (excellent band name) evacuate the cathedral while Aramis takes the Queen (NOT LIKE THAT) and Mini-King to safety (which is handily located about 50 feet away), and D'Artagnan and Athos make a run for the cellars to stomp on Grimaud's fizzing fuses.
With the explosions averted, Athos demands some quality one-on-one time with Grimaud (well, it's only fair since D'Artagnan took out Marcheaux earlier), and for important plot reasons, the duel takes place in a big tank of water. In case you hadn't noticed Athos's embrace of happy things this week, he announces that you don't have to live alone (hoorah, good message!) before diving in for the kill. And of course, Grimaud dies making Athos soaking wet and breathless (double hoorah of a mildly pervy nature!), thus rendering his existence not entirely pointless! It's all right, D'Artagnan, you can come in now: it's all over bar the deliciously heavy breathing...
The evacuated crowds are allowed back in the cathedral (we skip the bit where they're all milling about outside muttering about the poor event planning and lack of toilet facilities), and watch in mild confusion as Queenie immediate sacks all the Musketeers and rehires them. Is this is some sort of tax dodge? Whatever it is, they're now the People's Musketeers, so I presume that everyone now gets a go on them. Form a nice orderly queue, folks. No shoving.
And now, the celebrations can begin. Mini-King gets a proper line at last and it's a belter: "Are you my new servant, Aramis?" (not exactly, your Majesty, but your mother has plenty of experiences of his "services"). Porthos is promoted so he basically becomes General Dumas, father of Alexandre Dumas (if you want to know more about him, I can recommend his biography, The Black Count). And Queenie offers Aramis the job of First Minister, which he meets with a resounding "ummm… no". Oh, for heaven's sake, man, think it over. We'll come back to you in a bit.
Time for Porthos and Elodie to take a stroll through the market together. Not only does Porthos propose (awww) but this scene also hails the final appearance of a favourite Musketeers guest star: yes, it's CARROTS. Farewell, most valiant of vegetables! You're up there with the anachronistic tomatoes of Merlin in TV's Perennial Pantheon of Produce.
Also, I take the carrots to be an undeniable symbol that Porthos and Elodie's relationship will last, even though they've only known each other for about three minutes, because in Musketeerland, carrots are ETERNAL. More seriously, it's lovely that Elodie's baby is named Marie-Cessette after Porthos's mum (first mentioned last season), who was herself named after Alexandre Dumas's grandma.
Aramis dithers hopelessly about the impossibility of combining fatherhood with ministerhood, but as Athos points out, with reasoning that's both eminently sensible and extremely touching, Treville was basically their dad, so if Aramis gets promoted to full Trevillity, that's pretty much a licence to be a dad to the Dauphin. Awwww.
I was wondering who had inherited the secret code for Treville's Activate-Milady! button: turns out it was Queenie. She's got a mild irritation she needs to get rid of, and Milady's discreet extermination services are required. But who's left to assassinate? Ah-ha, I had literally forgotten all about Gaston! Well, there's no one more deserving of a flying stab in the back, frankly. Well done, Milady! You've been undressed by kings and you've seen some things that a woman ain't s'posed to see. Now swish away stylishly and get your own spin-off assassining series…
Right, folks, Kleenex at the ready because it's time to say goodbye. Hugs all round for Porthos, because he's off to the front! (Presumably he and Elodie have tied the knot and consummated it while we were watching Milady do her thing, yes?) Brujon is promoted to official Musketeer and Mildly Confused Sidekick Boy! Perhaps most startling of all, D'Artagnan gets promoted to Captain because Athos is leaving with Sylvie to go on a gap year! And Aramis is left standing alone... or is he??
And lo, Athos and Sylvie stand on the road out of Paris, looking for all the world like a fairytale prince and princess. And not only is Athos about to be a dad, he's also become a fairy godfather to his friends, by granting them just what they've always wanted. First of all, for D'Artagnan – a hat!
Viewers, I actually cheered out loud at this bit. Never has a piece of headwear been so legendary to so many for so long. Meanwhile, Porthos has found himself a ready-made family, so Athos grants him a new career with fancy armour and plenty of justified reasons to kick the shit out of people, hooray! And as for Aramis, he gets to see his son every day AND snog his beloved Queenie behind random bits of architecture! If I were to quibble, I'd say I'm not totally sure Aramis is cut out for political power – he's never been great with sensible decision-making, has he? – but hey, royal council meetings just got a whole lot prettier, so who cares?
Goodness me, Tom Burke's voiceover was so lovely at the end. Passion, courage, faith and love. Viewers, I cried buckets. (And I also started shipping Roger the Horse and Sylvie's horse, but you probably didn't need to know that.)
In conclusion: Delirious heartwarmingness. Happy tears. Amazing lovely things coming to a satisfying end. Oh, and handsome men in leather. Did I mention the handsome men in leather? A zillion thanks to the wonderful cast and crew who made The Musketeers such an entertaining slice of telly for three years, and thanks to everyone who read these reviews, commented, tweeted, giggled, quibbled and encouraged me to keep writing them. In the words of a contemporary philosopher, it's been emotional.