Warning: Spoiler Alert
Back in motion picture’s infancy, when folks gathered at their neighborhood movie theater, to enjoy silent films, the audience took to hissing at the screen, each time the villain of the piece appeared. This viewer’s tempted to engage in that archaic tradition, each time The First Minister and Captain of the Red Guard in France Rochefort, appears during an episode of the BBCA Original Series “The Musketeers,” shows his face, as he’s amongst the most despicable characters, ever portrayed on the small screen.
The former lieutenant to the late Cardinal Richelieu, Rochefort spent the last several years in a Spanish prison, finally released as a spy and sent back home to obtain information about the Royal Court. Equal parts, master politician and toady, he’s become the most trusted adviser to France’s dimwitted Monarch, King Louis XIII, convincing the King, that Rochefort’s the only man in his Royal Court he can trust.
We’ve known since early in season two, that Rochefort carries an unrequited love for France’s Queen, Ann of Spain, whom Rochefort first met when she was but a girl of 14. He was sent to Spain, to educate the sister of the Spanish King, the language and social graces of Paris, to become the eventual bride of Louis, after their marriage got arranged. Though at least a decade older than Ann, Rochefort fell hard for the future Monarch and believed she felt the same about him. He gave her a jewel encrusted Crucifix, which she promised to cherish forever.
What complicates matters even more’s the fact that Rochefort’s certifiably insane, even the most evil creature can get convinced to abandon their schemes, if one appeals to their self-interest; convincing the evil-one they will benefit more, by cooperating. However when dealing with someone whose stark-raving-mad, there’s no logic left behind, they’ve abandoned the idea of things going back to normal.
Season Two opened with the death of Louis’ most loyal adviser and surrogate father figure Cardinal Richelieu (portrayed in season one, by the great Peter Capaldi, whose now preoccupied riding in the TARDIS with his gal-pal Clara.) In the first episode, with the Queen’s urging, the King approached the Captain of the King’s Musketeers Treville, about becoming his new adviser. Treville politely declined, saying he’s a soldier not a diplomat, disappointing Louis XIII greatly, while questioning his Captain’s loyalty.
Rochefort got rescued and brought back to the Royal Court by the Musketeers, impressing the King with his brashness and his seemingly undying loyalty, to Crown and Country and named him Captain of the Red Guard, Richelieu’s former soldiers. He’s spent the entire season doing his best to appear in the best light as possible, while pointing out errors allegedly committed by the Musketeers, causing Louis to lose respect for Treville, stripping him of his rank and his soldiers.
Before continuing with our story, Marc Warren who portrays Rochefort’s done an amazing job with this role, conveying the evil and insanity, within the character, without turning the First Minister into a cartoon. Throughout the season, he exercised restraint with the part, until finally coming unhinged in the previous episode, expressing his love for Ann and attempting to force himself on her. A timely entrance by the Queen’s special adviser Constance Bonacieux, stopped the attack by Rochefort and Ann stabbed him in the left eyeball with a six-inch pin, apparently blinding him.
Rochefort, always had his own agenda after returning to Paris, he’d eliminate the King, marry Ann who truly loved him and rule the nation as a regent until the Dauphin could take the throne. However, earlier this season he became suspicious when he saw the Crucifix he gave Ann, around the neck of the Musketeer Aramis, a gesture of thanks for saving her life last season. However he eventually pieced together that Ann and Aramis were intimate and after she stabbed him said he would see her tried for treason for sleeping with a Musketeer.
The latest episode, begins minutes after Rochefort got stabbed, realizing the eye’s useless he has a maid get him a leather eye-patch to cover it with, he tells Louis he suffered a hunting-accident and the King likes the look on his First Minister. Constance gathers the Musketeers, telling them what Rochefort did to the Queen, holding back Aramis and telling him that Rochefort knows about Ann and his tryst.
The Musketeers tell the Red Guard soldiers to clear a path and they accompany the Queen to Louis’ quarters and the King blows a gasket when he sees Ann’s brought in an armed regimen with her. Rochefort’s playing things cautiously, accusing Ann of treason due to a letter she wrote to her brother, the Spanish King asking for help after Louis got kidnapped earlier in the season. She tells him why she wrote it and that she did at Rochefort’s behest, Louis asks like a pompous fool, ordering her back to her quarters and telling the Musketeers to return to their garrison.
Time for the “Big Reveal,” for the Musketeers, only Athos knows about Aramis’ relationship with Ann, but with the walls tumbling around them he needs to let Porthos, D’Artagnan and Treville in on his secret. They all gather in Treville’s quarters and after Aramis stammers and stutters, Athos reveals that their mate slept with the Queen, they’ve barely processed that, when Athos says there’s more and Aramis admits the Dauphin’s his son.
Porthos grabs him to bludgeon him, but suddenly realizes it’s his friend and hugs him instead, Treville’s not as accepting, saying that the next King Of France! Athos says he’s yet to tell them the worst, Rochefort’s aware and fixing to turn them in. Treville say’s they’re lost, but Athos, says he might know a way.
Rochefort enters the Queen’s quarters and orders Ann’s Governess Marguerite to take the Dauphin to Louis’ quarters, saying the Queen’s not fit to care for the Royal heir. Both Constance and Marguerite and Constance argue with Rochefort to no avail, Marguerite apologizes to the Queen. When they’ve left, Ann says to Constance that Louis will take her word over Rochefort’s.
The Musketeers meet with Milady de Winter and she tells them that Rochefort’s a spy for Spain and she killed the Spanish Ambassador at Rochefort’s behest. The soldier’s head back to the Palace to take the Queen to the monastery she hid in last season, Milady makes plans to meet with Athos later to show her estranged husband where Rochefort keeps his most important papers. Unbeknownst to all they’re getting trailed by Catherine, Athos’ late brother’s fiancée, who wants to kill Milady for destroying all their lives.
The Musketeers take Ann to the monastery, but Constance refuses to go, so she can keep an eye on the Dauphin, she tells D’Artagnan, that Marguerite’s a friend of the Queen and will insure her safety. Constance will find out later that Marguerite’s not in a position to help anyone, as Rochefort’s got her deeply involved in his coup-attempt.
The Court physician Doctor Lemay, gives the King a mild opiate to help him relax and it does the job, soon he’s telling Rochefort he’ll summon Ann and yell her he forgives her, she didn’t cause any harm. The First Minister’s unhappy to hear that Louis’ mellowed on the situation and decides to add a little poison in place of Lemay’s opiates. Marguerite sees Rochefort make the switch, he tells her if she talks she’s dead.
Sister Theresa, welcomes Ann and tells her she’s got a room as long as she needs it. The Queen thanks her and says she’s never countered on the Sister’s help more than she is right then. She goes into her quarters and shuts the door.
Catherine catches up with Milady and attempts to hang her, but Athos waiting in the shadows, saves de Winter and knocking Catherine’s pistol to the floor below him. He tells Catherine, Milady’s helping him on a mission to help save France, but she scoffs at his statements, saying he’s still in love with her.
The pair get to Rochefort’s office and de Winter shows Athos where the important papers are kept, they find nothing incriminating, but take his stamp and a couple of letters, when they hear him approaching. Milady shows him a hiding place behind a bookcase that Richelieu installed, Rochefort doesn’t detect them and leaves, the couple overcome by the close quarters kiss each other passionately.
Louis swallows the poison, Rochefort only put enough him to sicken and scare the King and it worked. Rochefort finds out Ann’s left the palace but seizes Lemay and Constance. Marguerite lies through her teeth, saying she overheard the Queen plotting with Lemay and Constance to kill the King. Louis says he can’t bare to look at them and sends them away.
Athos returns to the monastery with word that Louis got poisoned and Ann insists on returning to the Palace. If Louis survived, he’ll need her by his side and if he didn’t she must protect her son. However before they go, they get Sister Theresa to forge a note by Rochefort and attach his seal to it. Porthos takes the message to Paris.
Rochefort has an executioner cut off Lemay’s head in front of Constance and she sinks to her knees, in horror and pain. The First Minister says she can save herself by testifying against Ann and he’ll let her think about it over night, putting her in a cell.
Marguerite sends Ann a message, saying the King survived and she must return. She trusts her Governess, but when they arrive the Musketeers and Ann realize they’ve gotten lured into a trap. Ann’s confined to her quarters and Aramis to a cell as Rochefort tells him sleeping with the Queen carries a steep price. Next Saturday’s the final episode of Season Two, it should be a blockbuster!
The Story Continues Next Saturday at 9:00 pm on BBCA.