Warning: Spoiler Alert
This episode starts with the Musketeers escorting an unsavory man to Paris on two counts of murdering Musketeers. Their trip is stopped short as a second law enforcement group presents a warrant from the Cardinal for the same man’s arrest on a completely different crime. The Musketeers warn this new guard of the dangerous nature of this particular criminal. They don’t get five feet before one of them kicks the criminal (Labarge) from atop a horse. Probably not the best idea. Labarge then neutralizes each of these new caped guards, killing one in the process.
As control changes hands from the good guys to bad, the Musketeers watch. Sitting patiently on their horses, they watch.
Athos: I think they need our help…
Aramis: They’re just too shy to ask.
In short order, they are able to regain control. A gentlemanly thank you would have been nice. Instead they are met with a highly inappropriate, “Musketeer Scum”. Granted, their captain is dead. But, that is literally his own fault. He kick the bad guy that started this whole mess. I always enjoy those moments when someone or a group decide to give the Musketeers fair warning and then engage them in a sword fight. It always ends badly for the other guys.
Following the cold open we find Treville and the Cardinal going at each other over who had jurisdiction. Then the Cardinal made the wild accusation that “the Musketeers were lucky my red guards didn’t kill them.” Come on Cardinal, seriously? If the cold open is any indication, what follows should be laughable. The king suggests a duel of sorts. A musketeer vs a red guard to settle the argument. This ought to be fun.
D’Artagnan picks up where he left off with Constance. Which is dangerous in today’s modern era of marriage and relationships. But this is 17th century France. This will either work out nicely. Or it will work out horribly. I’m leaning toward the latter. There is a nice exchange between D’Artagnan and the man of the house pertaining to rent. But more importantly pertaining to D’Artagnan’s cloudy status with the Musketeers. He absolutely pulls his own weight but is as now not a commissioned Musketeer.
There is to be a competition between the Musketeer champion and the Red Guard champion. Prize money is involved. Take those two concepts, money and being considered the best Musketeer, and one would have to believe that D’Artagnan is more than interested. The Cardinal’s Red Guard were given a similar heads up. I don’t think the reaction the Cardinal got from his men is inspiring confidence.
While Aramis and Porthos ‘go fishing’ for a sugar momma to pay their entry fee into the competition, D’Artagnan has a more direct and honorable approach. He goes to Treville to ask permission to compete. And in doing so the show runners find a convenient way to tie up a loose end. D’Artagnan is not likely to be a full fledged Musketeer as long as he has a farm to tend to. Lebarge destroyed it, nothing holding him back now. This intentional courting of a rich widow is without a doubt painfully awkward. I’m afraid however, that the rouse is becoming almost sincere for Porthos. Meanwhile D’Artagnan is struggling with his limited prospects. Winning this competition seems to be a make or break moment.
In the courtyard, D’Artagnan is still angry and Athos is glad to help with some sparring (of the sword variety). Athos gives a nice and polite preamble trying his best to get D’Artagnan to recognize his emotional flaw. I absolutely love how this character flaw is something that normally gets fleshed out of any Musketeer tale in the very beginning. Much more realistic that it takes time to overcome. The contest is easily handled and won by Athos but a lesson is learned. Whether he uses it or not is a different story.
During the sparring, Athos says that Labarge is being held in the cushier, nicer jail. He says this to stir D’Artagnan’s emotions. Which it does. The young hot head leaves and demands to speak to the Cardinal. Naturally, the Cardinal takes this as an opportunity to recruit D’Artagnan to join the Red Guard. There is an outburst that the Cardinal matches in volume and tone.
The prospect of stealing away a would be Musketeer is all too alluring for the Cardinal. He has the Red Guard bring in Bonacieux (husband to Constance and owner of the boarding house). Tempted by the prospect of getting a contract to supply the Red Guard, he is propositioned to spy on D’Artagnan. Any strange behavior, habits and most importantly any female companion he may have. Funny since his female companion is technically married to Bonacieux.
Like most young emotionally charged men out for justice, D’Artagnan makes the foolish mistake of impersonating a Red Guard to sneak into the prison that holds Labarge. With a full confession, D’Artagnan may just recoup some of his losses. So that is the goal. I love to tell you D’Artagnan was victorious and put Labarge in his place. I wish I could tell you that. Athos came to his rescue armed with a pistol. Crisis averted.
On their way back, Athos rushes D’Artagnan home for some needed rest. Then Milady presents herself to Athos on ‘neutral ground’. Invites him to ask any questions he may have. And then it becomes too familiar. They both gladly invade each others personal space. Then what follows had me yelling at my TV. I am a ‘shipper’ by nature. I am inclined to want two characters of consequence to become involved romantically. Make no mistake about it, I do not want Athos and Milady to get (back) together. As a matter of the fandom terminology, Athos and Milady are by definition my “nOTP”. Explaining that would take more time than it’s worth. So, suffice it to say, I REALLY don’t want these two to be anything other than adversarial. Which is how that scene is left.
More training in the morning. D’Artagnan is not faring well. And Athos continues to impart lessons that D’Artagnan thinks he doesn’t need. If you need a point of reference. This is eerily similar to the training program scene between Neo and Morpheus in the first Matrix. The newbie trying to gain the upper hand in one move. The wise leader deflecting his advances with ease, while saying things like, “Your problem is _______”. Live to fight or spar another day.
In Labarge’s cell he is joined by the Cardinal. There is clearly a familiarity between the two. The Cardinal has a proposition for Labarge. A proposition that could circumvent the whole getting executed bit.
Can someone please just of this woman already? Milady shows up again. This time in front of D’Artagnan. She offers him the 30 Livre that he needs to enter the competition. He accepts this gift as a lone to be paid back after he wins. One problem with that is that he is unaware that Constance is hocking personal items to get him the money.
Of course this transaction was witnessed by Bonacieux and Constance separately. Constance warns that he should not have taken the gift. D’Artagnan replies with, “Who else is going to just walk up and give me 30 Livre?” Well, Constance was and now there’s an issue. This feels like it will end badly at least for the immediate future.
There are entirely too many ‘look away’ moments in this week’s episode. Porthos is back at it with the widow. Again, either he is really trying to sell this situation or he’s actually falling for this woman. Or acting on impulses of a more carnal nature.
Bonacieux decides to go rooting around D’Artagnan’s room and discovers the small bag that had the 30 Livre but only remains the trinket that Milady gave him.
In the courtyard, the competition is to commence. And you wouldn’t you know it, there are four participants for the Musketeers. I’ll give you one hint, all four are familiar. Aramis takes the shooting contest with ease. Porthos being the gifted fighter, bests him man without breaking a sweat. Before the sword fight, Athos tells D’Artagnan that Treville will be judging his attitude as well as his skill. It appeared to actually sink in this time.
Maybe I’m late coming to the party. D’Artagnan has been working as a Musketeer for some time now. He has earned the respect of his fellow 3 Musketeers and their captain. All that’s left is the coronation. Add that to the loss of the family farm, or in other words no income to fall back on and no connection to prevent him from being a full-time dedicated Musketeer. The immediate concern is earning his keep. Which he can’t do as a farmer and must wait until he’s commissioned by the King. I’m starting to believe that while this competition is a real thing between Treville and the Cardinal, it is more important that it be treated as a test for D’Artagnan. If he passes, he becomes a Musketeer. And all of the rest fades away.
The Cardinal’s plan to stack the deck has materialized. The proposition extended to Labarge is obvious now. The Cardinal has commissioned Labarge as a Red Guard. I assume to win this little wager. Which is peculiar. If Labarge shows up as the representative for the Cardinal, everyone else involved is going to have a problem with it. As it turns out, the surprise will not be a surprise for long. Treville has been doing his own spying.
As D’Artagnan prepares to meet with the Musketeers and discover who will be their representative, there is an awkward moment with Constance. He leaves and she chases after him. There is an exchange, that includes an incredible line that I would use on my own wife if I thought she’d believe it came from me originally. And then we see the eventuality that was destined to occur on this episode. She goes in to kiss D’Artagnan. And in that moment, the crowd of people part just enough to reveal Bonacieux. DANGER!
In a cruel but brilliant twist, Treville (knowing what awaits on the other side) elects to not name D’Artagnan or any other Musketeer. He claims the only man worthy of representing them is Treville. D’Artagnan is visibly angry. But things are about to get worse.
Bonacieux confronts Constance upon her return. He as the husband of what I’ve interpreted as an arranged marriage, orders her to break it off with D’Artagnan. She refuses. He in turn paints a lovely picture of fiction about a plot to kill the Cardinal. Claiming the Cardinal despises D’Artagnan even more. When in actuality the Cardinal would love to have D’Artagnan. Bonacieux demands that Constance ‘break his heart so thoroughly, that he’ll never look at her again’.
Athos has a face to face with Treville over is odd choice. Treville keeping things close to the vest does not reveal why. One has to infer that if anyone will perish before Labarge, he is not going to put his men in that position. Athos sees this as a last attempt at glory. Articulates very clearly that Treville has stolen any opportunity for D’Artagnan to win his commission from the King. A lovely big brotherly moment from Athos.
The most painful scene I’ve witnessed from this show to date involves watching Constance try to shake off D’Artagnan. Using phrases she would never mean aimed at any one, especially not D’Artagnan. She essentially says, “I can’t risk my future for you”. Well, let’s just see about that.
As anticipated, the announcement of “Captain Labarge” is not going over well. At least the Musketeers are starting to see the motivation behind Treville’s decision. As the fight begins, it goes as expected. Treville is valiant while Labarge is absolutely not. As the fight ceases to be a sword fight and more of a brawl, the Musketeers led by D’Artagnan jump into the field of battle and take on anyone they can. As the Cardinal feels confident that he has won, the King stands up.
“Your man broke the rules Cardinal. Captain Treville may nominate another champion if he wishes.”
It would be a tragedy at this point if he did not choose D’Artagnan. Luckily for us this is television, and choosing D’Artagnan advances the story. Labarge is eager to face his new opponent. With the training from Athos and the recent disappointment with Constance, Labarge should be careful what he wishes for.
Labarge continues to underestimate D’Artagnan while D’Artagnan quite masterfully keeps his head. They continue to trade blows. Labarge continues to talk. And when D’Artagnan sees an opening, he takes it. A few swift moves that Labarge was not ready for, and just like that, D’Artagnan drives all of his sword through Labarge’s abdomen. The King declares the Musketeers the victors and marches down to ground level to address the winning regiment. The King stops just before D’Artagnan:
King Louis: You defended your Captain with great heroism today. I admire loyalty, more than any other virtue. Please kneel.
Athos (under his breath): Get on your knees before he changes his mind.
(The King takes a few paces to the left to draw his sword. Everyone looks pleased except the Cardinal)
King Louis: I hereby commission you into my regiment of Musketeers.
(D’Artagnan is visibly emotional, but not overly so. Then Athos places over his arm the seal of the Musketeers.)
King Louis: May you serve it always and with the same distinction I witnessed today.
Afterwards, the Cardinal confronts Milady De Winter about her loyalties. Specifically why she provided D’Artagnan the means to compete. The Cardinal even references her marriage to Athos. Which she replies with a ridiculous claim that she is planning on turning D’Artagnan to the dark side. Because as she put it, “D’Artagnan is the key” to taking down the Musketeers.
Porthos and Alice (the widow) have to conclude their respective story line. The competition seemed to refocus Porthos. It also showed Alice a glimpse into a world she is not prepared to endure.
Constance sits waiting for D’Artagnan to return. She asks if he will live in the Garrison now. He, very coldly retorts, I hope you’ll enjoy your respectable life and walks away. Down on street level a carriage pulls up. It is Milady. She says a few words and offers him a ride. Constance can see all of this from her window. She can’t bear to watch as she must believe he is moving on. After she turns away, D’Artagnan closes the carriage door and says, “maybe some other time”.