Warning: Spoiler Alert
The odds of a TV series getting aired are enormous and the chances of that series making it to a second season, aren’t much better. However, for a series to have a strong first season, then follow it up with an even better second campaign’s an impressive feat. The BBCA series “The Musketeers,” breaths that rarefied air, that few shows ever get to taste, that fact was obvious in the latest episode, entitled “Through A Glass Darkly.” While most nights, the major storyline revolves around one of our four Musketeers, this episode was a true ensemble piece, emphasizing the strength of the cast.
We first see a strange man in a building flipping a coin, as the camera pans wider we see there’s a brass contraption that’s a model of the planets revolving around the sun, with each sign of the zodiac displayed in a circle on the ceiling around it. This is 1682, so there’s no machinery instead a man wearing a white mask with a beak, like a giant hawk, moves the machine with a series of ropes and pullies.
The Musketeers ride up to the Palace grounds and start to guard, the outdoor contingent King Louis has gathered. The French King seems to have a strong knowledge of astronomy, telling his audience about the findings of Senor Galileo, whose proved that the moon rotates around the earth and the earth in turn, revolves around the sun. The bodies revolving as they do’s the cause of the solar eclipse, that takes place later that day. They will witness the event, at the building established by the famous Parisian astronomer Marmion, who according to the King’s adviser Rochefort’s transformed an abandoned fort, into a new world.
All the Musketeers accompany the party save Athos, who can’t stand the sight of the King’s mistress and his wife Milady De Winter. Porthos says that Louis will notice his absence, but D’Artagnan, responds that the only thing Louis’ noticed for weeks is De Winter.
We see the man again, this time flipping his coin outside, when a younger man walks up to him and the first man asks if all the preparations are in place for the King and his party. The younger man responds, he handled it personally. The first man flips his coin and tells the other man to call, which he calls heads and guesses wrong. The man who flipped the coin says and so it begins.
The Royal Carriage arrives on Marmion’s property and the younger man comes out to greet them, he says he’s the Great Marmion’s servant Robert, his master’s putting together the finishing touches on his display, but he’ll lead them to the fort. Constance tells D’Artagnan, she’s nervous and he assures her there’s nothing to fear. She says she just can’t shake the feeling. Robert points out to Louis the camera obscura on the top of the fort, which we’ll make their viewing the solar eclipse possible.
The Royal Party, the Musketeers and three members of Rochefort’s Red Guard enter the building. Rochefort immediately assigns the three men to different sections and they’re quickly killed by Marmion’s men. The rest of the group is on the upstairs level, as Marmion (the coin-flipper) talks to them from below. The King’s party’s surrounded by men wearing the identical white man with the prominent beak. I realize that fashions were more ornate and gaudy in this era, but if I see those guys with those masks, I hightail it out of that fort and head back to the palace.
They head downstairs where Louis greets Marmion as the great astronomer, they goes to the table used for the camera obscura. (A camera obscura’s an ancient device, which a pinhole’s cut into the roof of a building that’s dark inside. The device first discovered by the Romans, projects a full color image of what’s seen through the pinhole, with the use of mirrors, the image appears right-side up.)
Marmion starts to lecture his guests on their ancestors believing a solar eclipse was the end of the world. But even in this era of science, one should reflect on fate and each person’s place in the world. The King interrupts him, saying if he wanted a sermon, he’d have gone to church, we can see the disdain in the face of Marmion. He lifts the cloth and the image of the sun appears on the table, Robert provides all the guests with rudimentary sunglasses.
Back at the Musketeer’s barracks, we see Treville packing some stuff and throwing other things away, when Athos enters with a jug of wine and two glasses. Treville says he was a damn fool, turning down Louis’ offer to become his council, now he’s got Rochefort and no longer needs him. Athos says you’re still a Musketeer, but his former commanding officer says, no a new Captain will soon arrive.
Porthos and Aramis each guard one wall of the top floor, while D’Artagnan guards the bottom floor and keeps trading glances with Marmion. When the eclipse is total, the astronomer nods his head and all the guests get accosted, then held with blades to their necks. Just to show how serious he is, Marmion shoots one of the men in the party dead.
The Musketeers continue to battle Marmion’s men, when he shouts out one more step and the King dies. Aramis and D’Artagnan, immediately stop, but Porthos keeps struggling to get control of his opponent’s pistol. Aramis barks out Porthos and he reluctantly stops fighting.
Treville and Athos, oblivious to the trouble the Royal Party and their mates are in, watch the eclipse from the porch of the barracks. Treville, takes a slug of his wine and then says he’s lived there far too long, it’s time for him to visit new lands and new challenges.
Aramis looks down at Marmion and asks him to show compassion, at least allow the dauphin and the women to leave. Marmion walks up the stairs and stands right in Aramis’ face and asks what he said, the Musketeer, again asks him to at least allow the baby and the women to leave. Marmion smiles, then pushes Aramis through the upstairs window, and possibly to his death.
D’Artagnan, Porthos and Rochefort start to fight again, D’Artagnan, comes close to getting stabbed and Constance tries to interfere. Marmion fires a shot at the ceiling and says that’s it, he knows the pain of loss and grief, but unless they want to die, the fighting stops. Porthos glares at him and says he’ll kill him and the astronomer says to take him to the dungeon. Rochefort says he’ll have Marmion’s head and he’s then sent to join Porthos.
Marmion then approaches Constance and asks why she attempted to defend D’Artagnan and she says she has feelings for him, he’s her friend. Marmion laughs and tells his men to tie the two friends together with rope, D’Artagnan whispers to Constance they’ll get out of this.
Rochefort and Porthos, chained together by their hands, on each side of a pillar. Although the two men despise each other they realize they need to work together to escape. Porthos notices brass hooks on the walls in front of them and says if they can to one, they unlock their manacles. Rochefort tells him to try to reach one, but when Porthos stretches, Rochefort screams in pain from the chains on his arms.
Back with the Royal Party, Marmion says now it’s time to make choices and Louis asks what kinds of choices? The astronomer says simple choices with simple outcomes, then pulls out his coin, flips it and tells the King to call. Louis says what’s this for and Marmion once again says call, the King says he’s not saying anything until he knows what’s at stake. The astronomer says, you call correctly you live, guess wrong you die. Louis just sits there, white as a sheet and his mouth moving, but no words come forth.
He smirks and asks the rest of them if any of them are braver than their King and are willing to risk it all for their freedom. After several seconds of silence, Milady says yes, she’ll take the chance. Perhaps because she beat death once, she believes she can do it again. Marmion starts to tell her no second chances, no begging and De Winter says she’d rather die than listen to him for one minute longer. D’Artagnan, begs her not to do it, she smiles coldly and says she appreciates the concern. Louis says he forbids it and Milady says maybe she can help.
She calls heads and wins, Marmion sets her free but tells her if the King’s guards attack the fort, the Royal Party will die before they dismount. She leaves the fort, tells a young man she needs a horse, he helps her up and she gives him her tiara, then rides as fast as she can to the palace.
Back on the lower floor, an older man, part of the Royal Party stands up and shouts heads, I want to go next and I choose heads. Marmion flips the coin and it’s tails, as the man starts to beg, he’s shot in the back, dying instantly. Marmion smiles and asks, who’s next?
Aramis awakens on a lower roof, with a crow sitting on him and cawing, he pushes the bird off him, then reaches behind his head and pulls out a large shard of glass. He then sits up, then stands, then starts climbing the outside walls of the fort, so he can get back in and help rescue them all.
Marmion tells his prisoners, they think he’s cruel, but life’s cruel and fate’s cruel. D’Artagnan asks what fate has to do with it, they all share the same fate, but the astronomer says the privileged, the wealthy and the aristocracy, have a way of avoiding their fate. They never need to make critical decisions, Louis says some choices are difficult, but they carry repercussions.
Marmion smiles and tells the King he’s finally understanding the game, then says to two of his men, take them and they grab Queen Ann, their baby and the governess Marguerite, then take them away. Louis starts screaming, then crying and begging Marmion not to hurt his wife or son. Constance says he’s only a baby and Marmion tells more men to take the three remaining members of the Royal Court away as well. The only ones remaining are the King, Constance and D’Artagnan.
Robert and another man accompany the Queen, her son and Marguerite, Ann says they’ll get royally compensated, if they allow them to go free. Robert says Marmion’s his brother and he’d follow him to Hell and back. The Queen says he’ll meet him in Hell and Robert responds he’s already been there, he’s not afraid.
After they’re locked in the room, Marguerite says she’s scared and Ann says they all are, but they can’t show it. Besides they have the Musketeers to protect them. The governess says, yes but Aramis got himself killed, the fool, the Queen looks out the window to see if she can see him.
Milady rides up to the Musketeers barracks and Treville looks out his window and asks what she’s doing there? She says we need to talk and get Athos. Athos arrives and says she’s a liar and a cheat, why should they believe her story. De Winters says, Aramis is dead and the King’s in danger, want to talk about my credibility? Treville says he’ll gather the men, but Milady says they’re expecting an attack, we need to surprise them. Treville says we and she says she knows the location, she’ll guide them.
Treville leaves to gather men and Milady asks Athos why he’s staring at her. He says he’s truly surprised that she’s about to commit a selfless act, worrying about someone else instead of herself. She says if Louis dies, she’ll lose her place in the Royal Court, that would be disastrous. Athos shakes his head and grins then says forgive him for being naïve.
Robert comes back and asks to speak to Marmion privately. He tells his brother if they kill them all, they’re as bad as they are. He didn’t sign up for a massacre. Marmion says, to remember the plague years and he’s doing this for all they lost.
The astronomer then walks up to Louis and says do you choose one or two and Louis asks what that means. After a couple of more times, of asking without getting a response, he tells the King, his wife, son and the governess are in one room and the three members of his court are in the other. He’s sending his man down to kill which ever room Louis chooses, now the King’s hysterical, how can he choose without knowing which room his family’s in? Marmion says, if he doesn’t his man will kill them all.
After sitting there terrified, he finally chooses one and says God forgive me. The man goes to kill the occupants of room one. As he reaches the area, he gets the keys to the room from the guard, then goes into the room where the rest of the Royal Party are in and kills the two women and men. Just as he finishes, Aramis enters the area, he waits for the killer to leave then looks at the carnage in the room. He then realizes there’s just one guard and starts to formulate a plan.
The man reenters the room and the King asks who did he kill and gets met with silence, he begs them to tell him who survived. Finally D’Artagnan reaches his limit and screams damn it, stop torturing him. Marmion says that the Queen and the dauphin are still alive. Louis sheds tears of joy.
Aramis stands in the doorway, feet away from the guard and asks what he thought about the eclipse? The guard gives chase but Aramis soon overpowers and then kills him, he then breaks down the door of the room Queen Ann’s in and rescues them, saying he’s getting them to safety.
Milady, now wearing slacks and a riding jacket with her hair pulled back, isn’t recognized by the guard at the gate. She says she needs to get to Marmion to deliver a message and the guard says his master’s not receiving visitors. She says if Marmion doesn’t get the message, his master will kill the guard with his bare hands, he lets her in, she pulls a knife and throws the guard backwards over a cliff. Treville and Athos quickly follow and take out the rest of the outside guards, then the three head to the fort.
Because Porthos can withstand pain better than Rochefort, he has the Captain of the Red Guard to grab his hook, he gets it but dislocates Porthos shoulder in the process. They get free and Rochefort asks if Porthos can walk, he says his legs are fine but Rochefort has to put his shoulder back in place. He says he isn’t a doctor, and the Musketeer says all he has to do is pull his arm as hard as he can. Suddenly Treville and Athos hear Porthos scream, Athos says it’s either an angry bear or Porthos.
The three Musketeers, Rochefort, Treville, Milady, Queen Ann, her son and Marguerite all meet up. Athos tells Aramis to get the Queen and dauphin to safety, then head right back to the fort, so they leave the fort.
Back with Marmion and his prisoners, D’Artagnan asked what made him then way he is and the astronomer tells him he and Robert are the only survivors of their village. The plague infected their village and people healthy that morning were dying that night. However it seemed as if the plague would only kill a few, when Louis ordered the village barricaded. The people didn’t die by the plague, they died from starvation as Louis failed to provide food for the village.
His wife died first as she wouldn’t eat a bite while their two sons were hungry. It got to the point when Marmion only had enough food for one son, he loved them both equally and couldn’t choose, so he flipped a coin and his younger son won. His brother died that night, but a week later Marmion lost his younger son. He says Louis starved his village to death out of indifference.
Robert then pulls his brother aside and says we have to leave now, or the King’s soldiers will find us and kill us. Marmion says he won’t leave until the King’s dead inside. Then he tells Louis, the game’s back on, call right and Constance will get freed, call wrong she dies. He calls wrong and Marmion heads over to shoot her. She tells him to look her in the eyes and realize how ashamed his wife and boys would be of him.
D’Artagnan says take my life instead, the astronomer asks why and he says he loves Constance. Robert tries to talk Marmion out of shooting D’Artagnan, but can’t so he steps in front of D’Artagnan and takes the bullet in the chest. Marmion asks his brother why and he say’s it was his choice then dies. The astronomer breaks down sobbing.
Treville’s no longer a Captain but he still gave the orders, telling Aramis and Porthos to take out the two guards on the top floor and the rest of the crew to follow him. Porthos couldn’t let the moment go by without a good-natured dig and says yes sir Captain.
Two guards take away Robert’s body, then two other men grab Louis by the arms and stand him up as Marmion’s about to shoot him. D’Artagnan says that’s not right let fate determine the outcome, we win you set us all free, we lose and you kill the King. Marmion agrees but says D’Artagnan will execute the King if they lose. He flips the coin and tells the astronomer to call it, he says heads you’re freed, tails the King dies, it comes up tails and Marmion starts to hand the pistol to the Musketeer, when the cavalry comes to save the day. They kill all but Marmion and Louis screams he wants his head, Rochefort sees him running down a hallway and shoots him dead.
Louis tells Milady to pack her things, she’s no longer wanted at the palace. She says that’s what I get for being noble, kicked out? Athos says well you won my respect, she replies at one time that would have meant something. Rochefort tells the King he killed Marmion and Louis says he’s the hero, ignoring the Musketeers really saving the day.
They all meet up at the Royal Carriage, Constance and Ann embrace and start crying, then Constance sees D’Artagnan in a field and runs to him. She says she loves him, she doesn’t care what people says she’s spending the rest of her life with him. The two then kiss passionately, as Ann watches glowingly and Aramis has an ear to ear grin.
The Story Continues Next Saturday Night at 9:00 pm on BBCA.