Warning: Spoiler Alert
This week I definitely should not have read the description before watching. I am not a connoisseur of Alexandre Dumas nor can I claim to be a Musketeers historian. However, anyone who has seen or read their fair share of Musketeer lore should be able to immediately see the clues in “Aramis protects a young mother and her baby”. It is significant. I will spare any overt spoilers pertaining to the previously mentioned cryptic few sentences on the off-chance any of our readers have not seen the episode. We will move forward in the usual manner in an attempt to preserve the experience.
Aramis and D’Artagnan approach a small church on horseback discussing their duty at hand. All they know is that they were sent to escort a mother and child to Paris. They seem to be completely in the dark as to why. Aramis tells D’Artagnan that its best to not get involved. In the church there are two unsavory men questioning what appears to be a priest. Another priest hides under the stairs protecting a large book. Priest one is stabbed, left to bleed out on a floor covered with torn pages (presumably documentation of some sort). The men depart the church in pursuit of the child in question before Aramis and D’Artagnan arrive.
Once they arrive they find the situation more grim than they had expected. D’Artagnan enters the church to find the slain priest. The two men approach the mother (who has knelt by a grave *hint*) and takes the baby from her. Just then the two Musketeers pounce into action but they can only save the woman. The man with the baby gets away. Aramis instructs D’Artagnan to trail the men at a safe distance to figure out where they are headed. Instead of gratitude the woman advances on Aramis at knife point.
The woman saying, “I am faithful to my husband Felipe…” is really all you need to know. If you’re picking up what I’m putting down all of the tumblers should be falling into place revealing a great deal of the rest of this particular story. If not, nothing to worry about, it will be revealed in due time.
After some initial probing by Aramis, we discover that the grave the young woman knelt next to is indeed the grave of “Felipe”. Felipe, father to the kidnapped baby. The woman trots toward the church yelling for Father Duval. Aramis strongly recommends she not enter. Only so much grief a person should go through in a 3 minute span.
Athos and Porthos lead a charge (ceremonious one at that) through a small forest. On the other side is a royal gathering of some sort. I would suggest that it feels like fox-hunting if I knew any better. Just then, Athos notices an unidentified group galloping their way. All of the guards including the two Musketeers circle around to protect the King and Queen. Once tempers cool (momentarily) the King emerges from his tent. An older woman identifies herself as King Louie’s mother. Louie’s reaction is not warm to say the least.
“You were banished for life on pain of execution. You tried to steal my throne. Now I’m obliged to cut off your head and place it on a spike for all of Paris to ogle”. – King Louie
Back inside the tent, the Cardinal and Captain Treville attempt to calm the King’s nerves. The Cardinal even suggest showing restraint as beheading one’s mother is rarely received well by the people. The King goes on about how she was warned never to show her face in Paris. Then the King turns his gaze toward Treville then back to the Cardinal. “But we will find these assassins Cardinal, we can’t have people running around trying to kill my mother, not unless I tell them to.”
I normally wait for the story to develop before sharing some of the more enjoyable examples of writing, but this time I really can’t help myself. This exchange between Athos/Porthos and Vincent (Mother’s right hand) is worth showing.
Vincent: The King’s mother comes to you in peril and you treat her like a common criminal. So much for the chivalrous reputation of the Musketeers. I’m disappointed.
Porthos: On the bright side, you aren’t dead yet.
Vincent: You think I’m frightened of the King’s toy soldiers?
Porthos: For a glorified boot boy you’ve got an awful lot to say…
(Vincent begins to draw his sword)
Athos: DRAW IF YOU WISH. It will be our duty to kill you…and incidentally, our pleasure.
Vincent and ‘Mother’ claim they are being pursued by assassins and cannot risk going it alone. The Cardinal reiterates that the King is busy with issues of state. Curious since I think this all takes place during some form of Royal recreation.
Aramis has put the woman on his horse and they walk so that Aramis can try to piece together clues. At one point a group of villagers approach and make a scene. A large man says a few unkind things and spits at her feet. Aramis asks what just happened, and the woman replies with “ignorance and superstition”.
D’Artagnan has successful tailed the baby kidnappers to their holding destination. It is not Paris.
Meanwhile, Porthos, Athos and Treville escort Marie (‘Mother’) and Vincent to an unnamed location. She tries to appeal to Treville, who is having no part of it. Just then, Porthos picks up on some movement just beyond the tree line. It’s an ambush. A poorly executed one. Everything was fine, until one of the assailants was thrown from his horse and Vincent tried a little too hard to kill the man before Athos could secure him for questioning. The first 15 minutes of this show is clearly a hall of mirrors.
Returning to the scene of the crime, Porthos and Athos survey the area for some indication of what just happened. Each detail points firmly in one of two directions. If this was actually a genuine attempt on Marie’s life it was the worst hatchet job ever. Or it was a diversion.
In the palace, the King, Queen and Marie attempt an uncomfortable couch session. An opportunity for Marie to try to explain herself from before (when she tried to steal the throne) and allow for the King to believe her lies. There was some good emotion portrayed by the actors, but painfully awkward to sit through.
As Marie makes her way to a bedroom, she is attacked. Well not really. The attacker simply wanted to ravage her in a moment of passion. As it turns out unrequited passion. The ‘attacker’ was Vincent.
In a dark quiet room Aramis and Agnes (the baby’s mother) sit and discuss Aramis past love and eventually what Felipe was like. At this point, I hate to beat the dead horse, but if you’re still in the dark you should start doing the math. She speaks of Felipe and ‘Mal-figured’ with the warmest heart she’s ever known. She even mentions how Felipe’s mother showed up to visit once (*hint*). Even mentioned how Felipe’s public demeanor changed once Henry (the baby) was born. The village people one day decided to beat him to death.
D’Artagnan and Constance stand outside the holding location looking for any sort of tip that might help them get in. Constance says she can fight and D’Artagnan laughs it off.
Constance: Because you don’t trust me…?
D’Artagnan: Because I would never forgive myself if you were harmed.
I am generally not a fan of the almost romance. The ‘Ross and Rachel Effect’. The idea that the moment the two people in question become a legitimate item is the moment the show is dead. I struggle with the idea that you can’t have both. Or that one results in the other. However, the show runners at The Musketeers may be the first people who I believe are doing this right. Since day one, there has been something, a spark, something that suggests a developing attraction between D’Artagnan and Constance. The beauty of it is that it is not in the forefront. This little thing is surrounded by action, corruption, etc. I am willing to gladly accept that their flirtations, concerns and overall behavior between themselves adds a nice quality to the show and yes, when it becomes something real, the show could be over. But that’s the beauty of it, it is presented in a way that fits like a glove.
While still outside, D’Artagnan is confused when he sees women leaving the compound. “Wet nurses” Constance said. They are using wet nurses because Henry is “feeding”. D’Artagnan’s head turns slowly enough that Constance gets immediately why the wheels are turning in his head. She resists but eventually goes along with the ‘pretend to be a wet-nurse’ plan.
About the same time Constance enters the compound under the disguise of a wet nurse, Porthos and Athos begin to tail Marie and Vincent who have departed the palace at an odd time for a walk. Once there, the two are invited into the compound minus the gunpoint welcome that everyone else gets. If their suspicions weren’t peaked by that notion, they would be when they noticed D’Artagnan and Aramis looking onto the same site with similar curiosity. Porthos identifies the woman as Marie De Medici. Agnes identifies her as Felipe’s mother.
Meanwhile the ‘not dead’ priest finds his way to an audience with the Cardinal where he presents his relevance to the story. Felipe was born deformed. Why was France cursed? But alas, there was a younger twin boy name Louie. IT’S THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK!!!!! but in reverse. Instead of restoring Felipe to the throne, Marie is trying to use the existence of Henry, the new heir to the throne as leverage to remove Louie and place her in power until such a time that Henry can take over. It’s not that it’s a stretch to use this storyline, it’s that it is brilliant in manner in which the decided to use this storyline. Felipe is always Louie’s slightly older brother. In this variation banished for his appearance and power of France handed down to Louie skipping the order succession. I love the subtle and not so subtle changes to the story that make it fit this show. Art is found in the nuance.
At the right time, minus Marie and Vincent, the Musketeer elect to storm the compound to get Henry and Constance out of harm’s way. Side note, I love how all of the rooms in all of the homes in France are conveniently large enough to accommodate the inevitable sword fight. Now jumping back to the recon scene with D’Artagnan and Constance, he was reluctant to let her play an active role for fear she could be harmed, despite her claims that she can fight. Fast forward to the present scene. Aramis is consoling the child and Constance is forced to defend them with the sword. It’s not as graceful as if it would be if the roles were reversed, but she wasn’t wrong. She turns the corner in time to run into D’Artagnan. He almost quotes Hannibal Smith from the A-Team verbatim, “Don’t you just love it when a plan comes together?”
All four Musketeers reconvene with Treville. Treville has recently had a conversation with the Cardinal on the identity of the child, Marie’s intentions, and the Cardinal’s ‘need’ to secure that baby. While Aramis appeals to Treville, Treville is uncharacteristically cold. He turns to Aramis and says, “I’d go with you myself but I’m busy. Damn paperwork. It’ll take me the rest of the afternoon…at least” Only thing missing is the (wink, wink).
Vincent returns to the compound to find the baby missing. Athos, Porthos and D’Artagnan return to their own holding place to discover Aramis, Agnes and Henry are missing from there as well. They venture out to search for them. Aramis is trying to convince Agnes that she must leave Paris. She is expendable and worst case, so is Henry. He believes he has secured her safe passage.
Back at the palace, Marie suggests that the King go out and restart his ‘hunt’ that was interrupted at the start of the episode. Presumably to get him off the grounds as to make for a smoother coup. Luckily for us the Cardinal has pieced everything together about Marie and has the stronger hand by a significant margin. 3/4’s of the Musketeers are still trying to find Aramis, who they believe is trying to get Agnes and Henry out of the country. With the Musketeers at full strength, all looks promising. Until Vincent shows up with his merry men on horseback. Aramis convinces Agnes to walk away without Henry for a smoother get away.
They use barrels of brandy to create a bomb like diversion. Agnes looks back to see a massive cloud of smoke. Out of which rides Aramis holding Henry wrapped in blankets. He is immediately cornered on a bridge. In the struggle the baby is flung from Aramis’ arms and lands in the river a respectable distance down. Agnes comes running and screaming. Aramis will not permit her to dive in after the baby. She is inconsolable.
In the palace, Marie parades herself in front of the Cardinal in Queenliest best. She outlines the vague manner in which they will present the new heir and offer a choice to every one of allegiance or death when they storm the palace. So faced with a decision, the Cardinal calls for Captain Treville.
Treville: My condolences your majesty.
Marie: What are you talking about?
Cardinal: Such a tragedy. There will be no coup. No regency. No power. Just a sad deluded old woman with nothing. Your grandson Henry, he perished.
Marie: You’re lying.
(The Cardinal pivots to reveal Vincent in the distance. He looks and shakes his head side to side as if to gesture that they lost)
With the Musketeers present, the Cardinal informs them that the assassin looking to end Marie’s life was Vincent. Treville adds that is exactly all the king needs to ever know. Elsewhere, the Cardinal goes through an begins burning all of the documentation pertaining to the legitimacy of an heir named Henry. The priest who could present an eye-witness account of the birth is murdered.
Amidst the mist Aramis rides toward Agnes.
Agnes: What more could you want from me? Why drag me here now?
Aramis: I know you’ve endured hell. I’m sorry you had to suffer so terrible a blow. I apologize. I should have told you the truth, but if you had not been convincing as a grieving mother they would’ve seen right through it. This was the only way I could see you and Henry having any kind of life together.
Agnes: What life?
(Behind Aramis in the distance the other three Musketeers and Constance emerge)
Agnes: Henry? (soft cries in the background) Henry? Henry…? Henry.
D’Artagnan: You didn’t want to give him back did you?
Constance: Was it that obvious?
Porthos: It’s not every day you get to save the king’s life.
Athos: He’ll never be king, but he’ll be happier than the man who is.
Aramis: You didn’t actually think I’d take something so precious into battle.
Agnes: You kept him safe. Delivered him to me, as you promised you would.
Aramis: Take this (hands her a pouch we assume has money in it) make a new life together far away from France. Felipe would not want you to be alone forever.
Agnes: I have my son…I’d ask you to come with us, but you already have a family.
(Agnes looks to the Musketeers and Constance. They share an embrace)
Agnes: Thank you.
(Aramis turns and mounts his horse)
D’Artagnan: I think you’re losing your touch.
I would love to drop the mic there and walk off stage left. However, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention one thing. It is only speculation, but I cannot fathom that this Marie De Medici storyline is over. Nor is the Henry storyline over. They found a brilliant way to incorporate a very well-known storyline into their story without compromising what they’ve already built. And it would absolutely be a shame to not tuck some of that away to bring back later.