Tag Archives: Ed Stoppard

The Musketeers: Queen Ann Accused Of Treason

Photo: Courtesy Of BBCA
Photo: Courtesy Of BBCA

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.

The Musketeers: Rochefort Seemingly Can Do No Wrong

Photo Courtesy Of BBCA
Photo Courtesy Of BBCA

Warning: Spoiler Alert

It’s not very often that a secondary character can alter the trajectory of a TV series, make that character a villain and the odds decrease even more, and bringing that character in during the second season of a series, the chances become wafer slim. Despite those overwhelming odds, Marc Warren’s come into the second season of the BBCA series “The Musketeers,” and his character, Rochefort’s become a major focal point in almost every episode of the second season. Although, he wants to see the French King Louis dead, Rochefort’s made himself indispensable to the Monarch and his most trusted adviser.

There were times watching the most recent episode “An Inconvenient Marriage,” that reminded me of watching professional wrestling when I about ten or eleven-years-old in the mid-sixties (Sorry, if they wrestled after Gorilla Monsoon, I don’t know them.) As a child I got outraged that some of the bad-guy wrestlers, took a blackjack out of their shorts and hit their opponents in the head with it, with the referee allegedly unaware, what took place.

I almost found myself screaming at the French King while watching this episode, out of frustration, as Rochefort got rid of two of Louis’ closest advisers and walked away at the end of the episode, with a promotion. Of course it helps to have an overgrown spoiled-brat, who only becomes involved in things that interest him as a boss. However Rochefort still has two mighty obstacles to overcome, the distrust of the Musketeers and the knowledge of his deepest secrets, by Milady De Winter, an opponent not to trifle with.

The show doesn’t tip it’s hand often, but something felt hinky about this episode from the opening scene, as if something was amiss. I couldn’t put my finger on it at first, but things started to fall together far too conveniently, for fate to be it’s only guide. A woman seemingly averting danger at every turn for most of the evening, seemed a little too lucky, to keep avoiding death.

Although I’m not a psychiatrist, or play one on the Internet, I think it’s a safe assumption to make that Rochefort’s certifiably insane. He truly believes that he’ll have the King of France killed, marry Queen Ann and rule the country of his birth. Even if he were to kill Louis and somehow, convince Ann to marry him, the people of France would never allow him to ascend to the throne. Perhaps because he’s loony-tunes, he’s able to walk through mine-fields without getting harmed, so far anyways. Rochefort’s comeuppance awaits and I look forward to watching him squirm like the rat that he is.

The Captain of the Red Guard and now First Minister to King Louis, set a plan into action that allowed him to kill two of Louis’ inner-circle and he nearly succeeded with taking out two more, as Captain Treville, nearly died from a gunshot wound, while Chancellor Dupre, barely survived an attack on his life. Rochefort hired a male and female assassin team to portray Louis’ cousin, Princess Louise of Mantua, scheduled to wed the King of Sweden, thus ensuring a treaty between Sweden and France.

The fake Princess rides in a carriage, with her partner and lover Francesco playing her bodyguard. Something felt wrong, when a few minutes after the Princess asks them to pull over so she can get some fresh air and stretch her legs, the party gets ambushed. Of course the Musketeers, although outnumbered, barely broke a sweat before killing all their opponents.

The Princess gets blessed by the Archbishop of Paris and we see someone seemingly have Louise in their sights, but at the last second she trips and the Archbishop’s  killed when the arrow strikes him in the Adam’s Apple. A bit later Rochefort walks in berating the Musketeers and chiding them, he then says he hopes they’re up to the task of guarding the Princess, before she embarks to Sweden.

Queen Ann tries to see her husband, but when she knocks on his bedroom door, he tells her to go away. Rochefort, says the King’s not receiving visitors, but Ann beseeches Rochefort to try to talk with him. He knocks on the door announces himself and Louis lets him in.

The King says I want Milady out of the castle and I don’t want to deal with my cousin Louise, Rochefort says it’ll appear that Louis is against the marriage but the King tells him that’s nonsense. Rochefort tells him that Dupre’s arriving that afternoon and Louis really should meet with him. The King says fine but until then he’s going to bed as he’s exhausted.

Porthos and Athos recover the crossbow and the arrow that killed the Archbishop and admire the craftsmanship. Treville says there’s just one man capable of this work, it’s Boucher, a Huguenot, that despises the Catholic Church and the French Monarchy. They have Boucher come in and he immediately recognizes the work as his own, then tells them the weapon and arrow got seized by the Red Guard and they keep all his stuff in their armory.

Athos questions Rochefort about the crossbow and arrow and the Red Guard Captain, says perhaps it got stolen from the armory. He then says he’s got 500 soldiers, how’s he to know if one went rogue? He then sees Milady leaving the Palace and he takes back the necklace Louis gave her as a present, then tells her if he sees her in the Palace again, he’ll arrest her for stealing. De Winter says you don’t want to make me your enemy.

Rochefort suggested to Queen Ann that Treville pick up the wedding present for Louise, one of the reasons why, giving Francesco a chance to kill him. Milady recognizes Francesco when she leaves the Palace, follows him and watches him shoot Treville. The Musketeers hear about it quickly and are able to save their former Captain’s life, with help from Aramis, Constance and the Royal Court physician Dr. Lemay.

Constance sent a message to her husband Bonacieux, that she needed to talk to him and he shows up at the Palace. She tells him that she and D’Artagnan are in love and he backhands her in the face, splitting her lip. He tells her she’s coming home and he’ll be back later that day to collect her.

The present that Treville rode over to get was a painting of Princess Louise by an artist, Athos and Porthos head over there, they find the artist’s murdered and the portrait stolen. However they see by the artist’s sketches of Louise, that the woman under their protection’s not the princess.

Rochefort tells D’Artagnan to go to the courtyard and greet Chancellor Dupree, he’ll guard Princess Louise in his place. When the Musketeer leaves, Rochefort brings in a crossbow and arrow for the fake Princess to take out Dupre upon his arrival. However, Athos and Porthos arrive at the same time as the carriage and scream for the Chancellor to get back in his carriage, the arrow ends up dead center of the doors. They see the shot was taken from the Palace and D’Artagnan runs in to catch the archer.

He finds it’s the fake Princess, she tells him to drop his weapons, while having a gun aimed at his heart. She says she did him a favor and he’s welcome, but Porthos and Athos capture as she attempts to escape. She’s thrown in a cell, shackled when Milady walks in and says if she tells her who hired her, she’ll free the trained killer. The woman tells De Winter that Rochefort’s a Spanish spy, that’s why they allowed him to escape. Milady says until she heard that she was going to free the woman, then sticks a blade in her heart.

Rochefort tells Louis everything and of course the King’s so proud of the way the Captain of the Red Guard handled things, he names him First Minister. Rochefort’s gaining power on a weekly basis, who’ll be the one to stop him in his tracks?

The Story Continues Next Saturday Night at 9:00pm on BBCA.