Warning: Spoiler Alert
D’Artangnan: Alright, Just so I know, this whole ‘D’Artagnan the apprentice Musketeer’ thing, how long does it last?
Aramis: Well, as long as it’s funny.
In the middle of the night, just outside the Musketeer garrison, Porthos informs the others that Athos is drunk and has taken a woman hostage with the intent to kill her. Amidst the various claims of who this woman is, murderer, criminal, wife, etc she does what she should not have. Appeal to D’Artagnan for help. Then the pieces fall into place. She is to D’Artagnan? Acquaintance? Benefactor? One night stand? None of which are comforting to Athos.
Treville steps out to intervene. Athos clearing focused on D’Artagnan. As is Porthos. Aramis and Treville’s more pressing concern is to diffuse this situation without causing to harm to anyone. In an instant, D’Artagnan makes a move to disarm Athos. This results in D’Artagnan taking a bullet.
Before I continue. It’s easy to read each of our many recaps and pertinent articles as if they come in a vacuum. However, if you frequent the site as we hope you do, it should be apparent that we very much enjoy television. And therefore in many cases our affections will cross over.
I personally believe that those of us who have chosen to are experiencing something rare. I don’t mean in the history of television rare, but rare nonetheless. It has been a bit of a privilege to go on this journey of Peter Capaldi playing Cardinal Richelieu. What’s been even more intriguing as a great many of us witnessed just a couple of nights ago, was the introduction of Peter Capaldi as the new Doctor. The rarity comes in the experience of watching a talented actor jump between someone as self service, malicious and potentially evil as Cardinal Richelieu. Then six days later witness Peter Capaldi as magnanimous as The Doctor.
If you aren’t watching both, you really should. While Doctor Who has a certain following and may not be for everyone, watching Capaldi master the jump between the two is something everyone should witness. Also, in the sense of cross promotion, stay tuned to NJATVS routinely as a “Peter Capaldi as the new Doctor” piece will be posted in short order.
Getting back on track, the loose ends of the Cardinal’s plan are starting to unravel. And as any decent man hungry for power would, he is blaming the current situation on Milady De Winter. Their relationship feels like it has frayed beyond repair. Ultimately the goal was to get rid of the Musketeers, by death if need be. Now I think he would settle for getting this attempt on the Queen’s life out-of-the-way.
D’Artagnan never misses an opportunity to go shirtless. In the care of Milady De Winter, D’Artagnan finds the barrel of her gun pressed against his neck. She is looking for a show of loyalty. Some indication that she can trust the newest Musketeer. One thing seems apparent, saving her life is not good enough. He must end Athos’ life.
Treville arrives at the De Winter place. This is plain, direct and to the point. Athos will no longer serve next to D’Artagnan. If Treville has to choose, he chooses Athos. D’Artagnan is livid. Treville leaves and D’Artagnan looks to De Winter, “be at the square at midday, you’ll get what you want.”
Constance comes running to the Garrison to check on D’Artagnan. There is real concern in her eyes. She frantically asks questions of Aramis and Porthos. Not only does she not get the answers she was hoping for, she finds the answers that allow her to further place the blame on her own shoulders.
Aramis: Constance, why don’t you go home. If we hear anything, we’ll let you know. I promise.
(Constance trudges away)
Porthos: She’s upset.
Aramis: She loves him.
Porthos: But she said she didn’t.
Aramis: You believe that?
Porthos: He did.
Aramis: You only have to look at her. She loves him alright
D’Artagnan returns to the Garrison as he is met by Aramis and Porthos. Then Athos. Then Treville. This is shaping up to be a typical standoff resulting in a gentleman’s duel to the death. Each man is stern in his position. Then Treville says, “we’ll handle this in private”.
Next is a peculiar scene that sheds light on some background without going into too much detail. De Winter ventures out to meet an unsavory man (you may remember him as Gareth Lestrade on CBS’ Elementary). He physically more closely resembles a Johnny Depp-like cosplay from Pirates of the Caribbean who has let himself go. The proposition is simple. De Winter needs the Musketeers dead. This man has the means and the personnel to pull it off. Their previous history and his ‘investment’ in her, may complicate things.
In Treville’s office, the Musketeers stand firm. D’Artagnan and Athos share a quick exchange. Then all slowly turn to face Treville as if to receive instructions as to how this matter can be resolved or ended. And in that second or two of silence, the moment when you begin to accept that the show can no longer move forward without one of them meeting their maker, Porthos laughs. Then Aramis. In a seconds time, we went from “uh oh, this is really happening” to “those clever hooligan’s were pulling a rouse the entire time”. Well played Musketeers, well-played. After a loving embrace in the form of a group hug and some small talk about accuracy after three bottles of wine and Treville gets down to it.
Treville: Does Milady believe we have abandoned you?
D’Artagnan: Almost. There’s just one tiny detail I have yet to convince.
Athos: What’s that?
D’Artagnan: Nothing too difficult. (Look at Athos) I just need to kill you.
Elsewhere in the streets, D’Artagnan calls out Athos who is drinking with Porthos and Aramis. D’Artagnan demands an apology. Athos then suggests, or what? Then D’Artagnan does what I think a lot of us were hoping to see at some point. Walking slowly toward Athos he says as he removes the glove from his left hand, “Or…we’ll have to settle this like men”. D’Artagnan extends his arm holding his now removed glove vertically. And slaps the smug look off of Athos’ face.
Porthos removes D’Artagnan from Athos’ personal space. There is yelling. At this point they really need to sell this. Aramis says something to Athos about ‘the rules’. Athos responds with, “damn the rules” pulls out his gun and shoots D’Artagnan. He misses, but D’Artagnan does not. Or so we’re lead to believe. While he’s down, Porthos and Aramis spread pig’s blood all over Athos’ torso. Then react as if D’Artagnan has indeed killed Athos.
Naturally, this was all done so that De Winter would see. She then signals to Sarazin’s (Lestrade’s character) little errand girl. The errand girl runs off to find Constance. Playing on her emotions for D’Artagnan informs her he needs her help. Constance is delivered to a dark empty large room. Clearly, Constance needs to be out-of-the-way for whatever comes next.
De Winter and D’Artagnan seek an audience with the Cardinal. D’Artagnan outlines the severity of this current situation. He makes his request of protection and to be granted a commission in the Red Guard. The Cardinal responds unfavorably. Informs D’Artagnan that he will be hanged in the morning. D’Artagnan then put a blade to De Winter’s neck. As predicted, the Cardinal shows not affection for De Winter.
Cardinal: Well do try not to get blood everywhere…
Furthermore, the Cardinal goes on to inquire as to what value D’Artagnan has. He replies with the emergence of a letter signed by Gallagher (from the previous assassination attempt on the Queen) that implicates the Cardinal. D’Artagnan suggests the Cardinal use him as bait. Offer D’Artagnan for the letter.
As a wrinkle in the plan, the Musketeers are compelled to have a fake funeral service. From a distance, it looks legit enough. On the off-chance De Winter is watching, it needed to be believable. Closer, within the circle of Musketeers, Porthos and Aramis are essentially doing the color commentary to what Treville has to say on Athos’ behalf.
Treville: Athos was a loyal friend and a fine warrior.
Porthos: GREAT…Warrior. He was a great warrior.
Treville: A great warrior…
Aramis: And a brilliant swordsman.
Treville: A great warrior and a brilliant swordsman.
(Porthos and Aramis speak quietly to themselves)
Porthos: He’d like that.
Treville: His death was a tragic waste
Aramis: He was considered handsome.
Porthos: More rugged, I’d say
Aramis: Well, I suppose it’s in the eye of the beholder…
Treville: May I continue?
Forgetting momentarily that this was a fictitious funeral, Porthos actually gets a little misty eyed over the prospect of losing Athos. Aramis and Porthos eventually find their way into a bar sitting next to a man hunched in a dark hat (Its Athos for those not picking up what I’m putting down).
Athos: How was my funeral?
Porthos: The Captain had some very nice things to say about you.
Aramis: Porthos even shed a few tears.
Athos: I’m sorry to miss it.
Aramis and Porthos take “the letter” to meet with the Cardinal to trade it for D’Artagnan. Aramis and Porthos banter back and forth in a lovely exchange taking verbal shots at the Cardinal while taking turns snatching the letter back. Eventually, what happens is the are able to get the Cardinal to confess that giving France an heir is paramount to the value of one woman’s life. Just about the time the Cardinal goes to his “who’s the King going to believe?” The Queen turns the corner and suggests the King would gladly listen to her.
In the woods Treville, Aramis, and D’Artagnan meet up with or intercept Milady De Winter. She acknowledges that the Cardinal has finally betrayed her, but no matter. As she believes she’s already won with the death of Athos. In the best “he’s standing right behind me, isn’t he” moment maybe ever, Athos indeed was standing behind her. Problem being, De Winter still has the Constance card to play. She all but orders all of the Musketeers (minus Treville) to show up in a particular alley at a particular time. The set up is in place.
De Winter with Sarazin’s assistance march Constance out as bait. The intended result being that those not considered Musketeers would be like shooting fish in a barrel. What ensues is a wonderfully choreographed fight sequence. Afterwards, De Winter attempts one last stand that was destined to fail. Constance runs into the arms of D’Artagnan recanting all she had said episodes before. Then in a very Musketeer way, Athos shows his benevolence and let’s her go. Never to show her face in Paris again.
At about the moment you begin to rejoice about all of the immediate story lines wrapping up, they throw one big monkey wrench into the whole situation. Monsieur Bonacieux has attempted to take his own life in response to the idea of living without Constance. Upon discovering that she has not perished, he begs her to never leave him again. Which naturally, slams the brakes on complete closure.
The Cardinal is summoned by the King regarding a matter of the ‘highest importance’. Leaving out the dramatics, the Queen is with child. The very reason the spawned the assassination attempt in the first place. Now, I’d be more than content to let you believe that good old King Louis finally got the salmon to swim upstream. But that would be irresponsible of me. Do the math. Last week, the Queen and Aramis could not keep their passions at bay any longer. Then lo and behold, she is with child. The King tried and tried for what seems like years to produce an heir. One night with Aramis and the Queen is pregnant.
The following scene was a bit of a misty one for me. Two things at work here. 1) I am a shipper by nature and am inclined for the pairings to work out, even if it compromises the story. D’Artagnan and Constance. Aramis and Queen Anne. Porthos and the widow. 2) The exchange between these two is beautiful. The Queen talking about her unborn child. Aramis talking about her unborn child as if it were not his. I don’t even think you need to be a father to feel the gravity of this banter.
Queen Anne: I’m convinced this baby will be born strong and healthy…like his father. It will be a boy, I’m certain of it.
Aramis: I pray he will have his mother’s great wisdom and judgment.
Queen Anne: And his father’s courage.
Aramis: I will watch over your son and guard him with all my strength and heart. I will lay down my life for him, if necessary. He will have no more devoted servant.
Queen Anne: Tis only what I’d expect, coming from the King’s Musketeer.
Although, I did not find the closure to all story lines I was hoping for, I am content with how season 1 concluded. They left the Constance thing open, which if we’re honest, is exactly what the show runners should have done. More importantly, I believe the final scene mentioned opens the door a great deal.
As I’ve admitted before, I cannot claim to be a Dumas or Musketeer historian. Just an enthusiast. The introduction of Queen Anne carrying Aramis’ child opens up the possibilities immensely. If they approach it straight up as described, the story has legs. If Aramis and the other three Musketeers approach things as business as usual, it will create a wonderful dynamic. What is more intriguing to me is the possibility of exploiting the Man in the Iron Mask angle.
Again, not being an expert. The question is, how does nobility see the transferral of power? What circumstance is required for power to leave the King and end up with the Queen? Is there a scenario that removes King Louis and turns power over to young Aramis Jr? Where does the Cardinal go from here? Does Milady De Winter stay gone? Many many questions to be answered in season 2 and beyond.
One thing is absolutely a certainty for me. Due to my wife and her fandom, I am well aware of the brilliance found in the BBC’s ‘Sherlock’. I have seen other shows from the BBC that in their own right are a quality product. The Musketeers, in my humble opinion, is at worst the second best BBC program available. If you’re asking me personally, I would put The Musketeers as the #1 BBC show. Ahead of Sherlock and yes, even Doctor Who.
We don’t have the time to break down the X’s and O’s of exactly why I feel that way, but rest assured it’s not just a fan boy reaction. This show is incredible. The BBC should be proud. And while The Musketeers and Sherlock only represent a small portion of what the BBC puts out, I would put both The Musketeers and Sherlock up against 90% of the shows the American Broadcast Networks put out. If this is your first exposure to BBC programming, let it be an indication that it should not be your last.