It’s that time of year, when everybody’s coming out with their “Best-Of Lists” and we are adding yet another list to the pile. Welcome to The First Annual NOTTIE AWARDS, our version of the numerous Awards shows that get televised across the planet. Our list varies from other awards, in the fact that we cover the entire year of 2014. The NOTTIE AWARDS, breaks down the year starting with the 2013/2014 season’s conclusion, going through the summer shows as the first half of the year. The second half of the year covers the 2014-2015 Television season, making sure that all performances throughout the year, receive the recognition, they deserve.
As you peruse the list, you’ll notice that all categories have four names, except for two categories; Most disappointing series of the second half’s vacant. The other category that breaks the rule’s the Best Supporting Actor, in the second half, there were far too many outstanding performances to limit that category to just four actors. In all categories, the name listed first and in blue, won the category, the runner-up’s listed second and in red, the third and fourth names are just randomly listed.
All choices were made by Jason Jones and I, all decisions by the Judges are final (Although, We’d Love Your Feed-Back.)
And on to the Awards:
Best Actor: James Spader-The Blacklist, Tom Mison-Sleepy Hollow, Lee Pace- Halt and Catch Fire, Sean Bean-Legends
Best Supporting Actor: Peter Capaldi-The Musketeers, Walton Goggins-Justified, Jon Voight-Ray Donovan, Tom Felton-Murder in the First
Best Actress: Mackenzie Davis- Halt and Catch Fire, Joelle Carter-Justified, Kerry Bishe- Halt and Catch Fire, Kathleen Robertson-Murder in the First
Best Supporting Actress: Amy Acker-Person of Interest, Tamla Kari-The Musketeers, Sarah Shahi-Person of Interest, Marissa Neitling-The Last Ship
Most Disappointing Show: The Leftovers, The Black Box, Resurrection, Power
Best New Show: The Blacklist, Legends, Halt and Catch Fire, Murder in the First
Most Underrated Show: Justified, Supernatural, The Musketeers, Halt and Catch Fire
Best Show: The Blacklist, Person of Interest, Legends, Justified
Best Actor: Jeff Daniels-The Newsroom, Ioan Gruffold-Forever, Elyes Gabel-Scorpion, Matt Ryan-Constantine
Best Supporting Actor: Sam Waterston- The Newsroom, John Noble- Sleepy Hollow, Judd Hirsch-Forever, Misha Collins-Supernatural, Jesse L Martin-The Flash, Mark Sheppard-Supernatural, Michael James Shaw-Constantine, Robert Patrick-Scorpion, Mandy Patinkin-Homeland, Robin Lord Taylor-Gotham, Sean-Pertwee-Gotham, Donal Logue-Gotham, Rupert Friend-Homeland
Best Actress: Claire Danes-Homeland, Anna Gunn-Gracepoint, Emily Mortimer-The Newsroom, Alana De La Garza-Forever
Best Supporting Actress Olivia Munn-The Newsroom, Jacki Weaver-Gracepoint, Elizabeth Henstridge-Agents of SHIELD, Chloe Bennett-Agents of SHIELD
Most Disappointing Show: None Applicable
Best New Show: Forever, Scorpion, Constantine, Gotham
Most Underrated Show: Constantine, Forever, Scorpion, Sleepy Hollow
Best Show: The Newsroom, Homeland, Person of Interest, Forever
Before I even started grade-school my parents would ship me off to the local movie theater each Saturday afternoon, mainly to get rid of me for a couple of hours. Although some of the movies were kid-oriented, more often than not the studios produced these pictures for an adult-audience, some of the biggest films of the early sixties as I followed along the best I could. (I clearly remember walking around the house for days, shouting “I Am Spartacus,” until my father threatened to duct tape my mouth shut.) As a side-effect of those excursions, I developed a love for movies that remains with me today.
Many of the movies I saw at that age have faded into the shrouded corners of my memory, sometimes evoked if I see the film again. However, one film and one character made a huge impression on me, “Dr. No,” the movie that brought James Bond portrayed by Sean Connery to the big screen. I left the theater that day awestruck by the movie, but more so by Connery’s performance as 007, a hero that personified the meaning of COOL. A man that could take a slug from his Vodka Martini take out the bad guy and make out with incredibly sexy women, without mussing his hair.
From that point onward for the next few years I’d see the new James Bond adventure the weekend the movie premiered, entertained by movies like “From Russia With Love” and “Goldfinger” among others. Although a boatload of stories remained to be told, Connery decided to quit at his prime and in my eyes “the magic” in the Bond films vanished. Roger Moore, paled in comparison and Timothy Dalton, wasn’t even in the same area code as Connery. Although I’ve enjoyed Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig in other vehicles, I’ve never seen them as 007. Mainly because I concluded long ago I’m not a James Bond fan, I’m a “Sean Connery As James Bond Fan.”
Not long after Connery started his run as 007, a television show debuted on the BBC, that went on to become a global phenomenon even thought it’s debut drew very few viewers. The series had the misfortune of premiering on November 22, 1963 the day that American President John F. Kennedy got assassinated, however it was rebroadcast the following Friday and entranced England. That series, “Doctor Who” with William Hartnell in the title role, became a British Institution and 51-years later, the show remains as popular as ever having gone through far more incarnations of The Doctor, than James Bond.
It would stand to reason that being a huge fan of science-fiction and fantasy genre, that I’ve watched the adventures of The Doctor for decades, however even with many friends being big fans of the series the thought of watching the show never appealed to me. Ironically, the same guy that stopped enjoying the James Bond movies, after the first actor to portray the super-spy left the role, it took the actor that show-runner Steven Moffat chose to portray the twelfth Doctor for me to start watching the series. So I can now say I’m not a Doctor Who fan, I’m a “Peter Capaldi as Doctor Who Fan.”
Peter Capaldi first appeared on my radar this past summer, portraying Cardinal Richelieu in the BBC series “The Musketeers,” a series we recapped. He captured the screen and dominated each scene he appeared in as the advisor to the King of France, a man who went to great lengths to see his own agenda become reality. Though a villain in every sense of the word, the Cardinal commanded respect and proved himself as a worthy adversary. So when it came to my attention that Capaldi would soon debut as The Doctor, I naturally chose to see him in the role that I previously knew of only by word of mouth.
To prepare myself to enter The Doctor’s universe, I watched two BBC Productions; the first an entertaining and poignant film entitled “An Adventure Of Space And Time,” which recreated the series creation and William Hartnell’s portrayal of The Doctor, from 1963-1966. I also watched the 5oth Anniversary Special, “The Day Of The Doctor” that featured three incarnations of The Doctor, Matt Smith, David Tennant and John Hurt as the War Doctor. Though realizing it probably was an amazing episode for long time fans, and impressed by the special effects, the story most of the time lost and confused me. In retrospect, I’ve come to understand just how significant the tale is.
There were no such problems as I watched the first episode of Season Eight, entitled “Deep Breath,” perhaps the fact that it was an origin story made it easier to follow. However the main appeal of the episode to me, was the performance as The Doctor, a part as far removed from Cardinal Richelieu as possible. As viewers got to know the Cardinal, it became quite easy to realize which direction he’d take in any situation. The Doctor however is an incredibly mercurial character, he’s liable to go from one extreme to the other in a matter of seconds and Capaldi nailed it from the jump.
Moffat’s described The Doctor as a restless sort, who bumbles into situations and reluctantly rectifies them. He doesn’t want the responsibility that a hero shoulders, but he ends up coming through in the end, most times. He’s got an extremely high opinion of himself and an ego to match, Moffat’s also said The Doctor’s perhaps a bit insane, or possibly stark-raving mad. Capaldi embodied those characteristics throughout the eighth season and he’ll display them again on Christmas night, as BBC America broadcasts the Christmas Special, “The Last Christmas.”
I remember at what point in that first episode, when I realized I’d be making The Doctor a regular part of my Saturday nights. The Doctor and his companion Clara, wound up in Victorian England, as The Doctor was coming to grips with his regeneration. He wore an old-fashioned men’s night-shirt and left the house of his host, ending up in an alley rummaging through the garbage that surrounded him. Suddenly he found an old broken mirror on the ground and tried to make it clear enough to see his reflection. At that point, a vagrant holding a bottle entered the alley and purposely made noise to alert The Doctor that he had company, that started the following conversation:
Doctor: It’s Bitey.
Doctor: The Air is Bitey, it’s white, mighty.
Vagrant: It’s Cold.
Doctor: That’s right! It’s cold, I knew there was a thing for it. I need um, I need clothes, that’s what I need. And a big long scarf. No, that would look stupid. Have you ever seen this face before? (pointing to himself)
Doctor: Are you sure?
Vagrant: Sir, I’ve never seen that face before.
Doctor: That’s funny, because I know that I have. You know, I never know where these faces come from, they just pop up. (Vagrant starts to distance himself from The Doctor) Faces like this one, look. (Grabs Vagrant by the arm and takes him to the mirror) Look, look, it’s covered in lines, but I didn’t do the frowning. Did you ever look in the mirror and say to yourself, I’ve seen that face before?
Vagrant: Well every time I look in the mirror.
Doctor: Yes, yes, but my face is fresh on. (Vagrant distances himself even further from The Doctor.) Why this one though? Why’d they choose this one? It’s like I’m trying to tell myself something, like I’m trying to make a point. But what is so important, that I can’t tell myself what I’m thinking?
Vagrant: Uh, uh….
Doctor: Well I’m not just being rhetorical here, you can join in.
Vagrant: Well, I don’t like it.
Vagrant: Your face.
Doctor: Well I don’t like it either. It’s alright up until the eyebrows, but then it goes haywire. Look at these eyebrows, they’re attack eyebrows. You can take bottle tops off with these!
Vagrant: They’re mighty eyebrows indeed sir!
Doctor: They’re cross, crosser than the rest of my face. They’re independently cross, they’ll probably secede from the rest of my face and set up their own independent state of eyebrows. That’s Scotch, have I gone Scottish?
Vagrant: You are definitely Scotch sir. I can hear it in your voice.
Doctor: Oh my, good I’m Scottish. Wait….I’m Scotch, Scotch, I’m Scottish. I can complain about things. I can really complain! Give me your coat.
Vagrant: (looking scared) No.
Doctor: But I’m cold.
Vagrant: But I’m cold.
Doctor: Well no sense in our both being cold, give me your coat. Wait, shut up, shut up. I’ve missed something, something that was here. (Rummages through trash, then grabs a newspaper, camera focuses on article about another victim of spontaneous combustion.) Here’s what I saw, spontaneous combustion!
Vagrant: What kind of Deviltry is this?
Doctor: They’ll probably blame it on the English.
It was a brilliantly acted scene and it displayed a lot of the qualities that Moffat said The Doctor possessed. The stories told throughout season eight, showed Capaldi reveling in becoming The Doctor and things like Daleks, Cyber-Men and the Tardis, became more than just meaningless phrases, that I heard from friends, or read about in articles.
I’m pretty certain, that I’ll remain onboard the Tardis, as long as Capaldi stars in the series. Whether I remain with the show after the actor gives way to yet another replacement, I’ll make that decision when that time arrives. At that point, I’ll determine if I’ve become a fan of the series, or remain a “Peter Capaldi as Doctor Who Fan.”
The Doctor Who Christmas Special, The Last Christmas, Debuts Christmas Night at 9:00 pm on BBC America.
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.
This most recent episode starts out the way each and every one of them should. Busy streets creating a chaotic battle ground for sword fighting. A man dismounts his horse and begins to unload his haul when a group of men try to separate his goods from him. Aramis and Athos spring into action. While that is going on, the King’s procession makes its way through and a young girl jumps onto the royal carriage and immediately falls off.
Side Note. This may sound exceedingly American of me, but the French language is a thorn in my side. I appreciate BBC’s attempt at authenticity. But can’t I get one guy named Fred Smith or a woman named Mary Franklin. I spend a decent amount of time Googling or skimming through IMDb just to make sure I’ve got names spelled correctly. Rant over, moving on.
As it turns out in 17th century France, educating women is a touchy subject. The girl the was flung from the carriage merely wanted to address the Queen about the education of women. While the Queen and the Cardinal debate exactly where the jurisdiction lies or whether its even worth contemplating at all, an attractive and fiery woman enters the room. I can only assume based on her tone and wit that she is the ‘rebellious woman’ responsible for the episode’s title. She said her piece and leaves.
King Louis: Did she just refuse my company?
Queen Anne: I believe she did, sire.
King Louis: Is that allowed?
Cardinal: Apparently Contessa de Larroque believes herself above the normal laws and conventions of society.
The Cardinal meets with Milady de Winter to exact some leverage on Larroque. Something he can use against her as he finds the prospect of educating women a bothersome problem that must be dealt with swiftly. The conversation is not met with an empathetic tone as Milady is a woman and takes some offense to the idea.
At Larroque’s house/place for learning we see Milady reading a book as the Musketeers enter uninvited. Athos asserts himself and his approach is not received well from Larroque. What follows is an interesting exchange between Athos, Larroque and eventually Aramis. It is flirty to be polite. Which is what makes it curious. Athos stands firm while Larroque advances. Asks questions of a personal nature. And all the while, Athos’ former wife looks on unnoticed.
The Cardinal meets with the man who was the subject of the robbery in the cold open. He is a priest that has a history with the Cardinal. Their meeting revolves around the idea that the Pope (Spain’s little monkey) has a problem with France’s treaty with Sweden. Apparently Sweden is running a muck with Protestants and the Pope doesn’t approve.
Back at Larroque’s place, she caves and agrees to accompany Athos while they check every room in the house for Fleur Baudin. Fleur has been missing since the incident involving Therese (the girl who jumped on the royal carriage). The flirtatious tone of the conversation between Athos and Larroque continue throughout the house. By the end of the search, more wit is exchanged and then saliva is exchanged. I may be falling for Ms. Larroque, so the shipper in me really wants Athos to follow through.
Luca, the priest visiting the Cardinal, comes with an agenda. However, the agenda is not exactly devious. They do the dance. Luca asserts that the Cardinals job aiding the King is compromising his job as Cardinal. The Cardinal retorts with decisions made for France need not be questioned by the religious element. Luca presents a gift and then a bombshell. The bombshell being that the Cardinal is the frontrunner to take over as Pope after the Pope passes. Which will be sooner than expected.
We rejoin Ms. Larroque in her home, but this time she is joined by Milady de Winter. (DANGER Will Robinson!). Milady is tending to Larroque’s hair and inquires about the ‘kiss’. They share some girl talk then Milady inquires about Fleur. “Just between us, is Fleur here?” Larroque stares blankly but does not deny it.
Athos returns to Larroque. She continues her flirty ways in his presence. Athos puts a halt on the proceedings as he needs Larroque (or wants her) to identify the body of the dead girl. This immediately puts a halt on all the charm. Larroque is visibly shaken which is a departure from her general demeanor. Not to fear, once out of the smell range of the dead bodies, the flirting continued. They shared a short conversation about the curse of marriage. And just as Larroque was transitioning from the marriage issue to the prospect of sex, a man gets thrown out of a door literally.
The man doing the throwing is Aramis. He looks toward Athos and nonchalantly says, “Trouble.” The man being thrown is one of the Cardinal’s men.
Clearly on orders to flesh out this ‘heretic’ of a woman who dares to defy God’s rules about not educating women. A lot to digest there. Then inside, the Cardinal’s men are detaining women and destroying property. Athos and Aramis continue fighting off guards and their swords with the lethality of textbooks. Eventually, a couple guards emerge with a few young girls in tow. Larroque implores Athos, but his hands are tied. Perhaps if she had not lied about Fleur being there, this would have gone differently.
This is without question the best ‘King Louis’ episode to date. He is normally a whiny, spoiled, and entitled bore. But he has been fun tonight.
We find the Cardinal, Luca, the King and Queen discussing the matter of Ms. Larroque. The Cardinal starts in on the suffering the girls must have experienced. Then Luca charges in with typical Catholic overstepping consistent with the opinions of the day. Insinuating the presence of witchcraft. The King laughs it off.
King Louis: Contessa de Larroque? A witch? How marvelous. Can she fly on a broomstick? Make love potions?
Luca: Your majesty is joking but Satan is real. And his female familiars are everywhere amongst us. Evil must be extinguished no matter where it is detected. Rome, will be following these events with great interest.
(Luca looks to the Cardinal)
King Louis: What a wonderfully unpleasant little man.
Queen Anne: Witchcraft, what nonsense.
A couple of things with this. Did Luca just compare women who wish to educate themselves without the dependency of a man to the mindless human lackeys that work for vampires? One is real and one is not. Women = Evil has always been a concept that I have trouble with. Kings kill women for not producing male heirs (despite such fault falling to the man anyway). Women shouldn’t read, own land or vote, because they are somehow inferior. Yet woman, not men have the power to make people and men do not. Interesting that this idea of women are evil ever made it past the laugh test.
I would imagine over time, we at NJATVS will really push for a certain characters to receive credit for their performances. For example James Spader as Reddington is magnificent (The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences should be ashamed of themselves). You can look forward to our steadfast coverage of the Blacklist in a matter of weeks. Joe MacMillan (Halt and Catch Fire), Ichabod Crane (of Fox’s Sleepy Hollow), Castiel (Supernatural), just to name a few off the top of my head. I’d like to add Aramis of The Musketeers.
Athos, D’Artagnan, and even Porthos are what they are. There is some interpretation to the roles. However, Santiago Cabrera has added depth and texture to a character that has been as many times over as arguably any other character in annuls of television and film. Cabrera’s interpretation of the character Aramis, in my opinions catapults his version of Aramis into that rare group of truly exquisite characters in modern television.
The Musketeers arrive at the destination of Larroque’s ‘trial’. I’m telling you this feels like Salem North Carolina took a vacation to France. Athos is being Athos and standing on his moral high horse because Larroque deceived him. Aramis steps in and in a very Aramis sort of way, flips the perspective.
Aramis: You’re being hard on her. She was protecting the girl, not deceiving you.
He then has some words with Ms. Larroque. Words that in the right order and inflection would make most women weak in the knees.
Back at Constance’s boarding house where Fleur has been returned, D’Artagnan observes from a safe distance. There is crying and talk of accepting your fate in life. Fleur rejects the idea just in time to see the man of the house (Constance’s husband) return. Who is a p.o.s. of a man. He grabs Fleur and attempts to back hand her. D’Artagnan interjects, “that won’t be necessary”. He pulls harder dragging the girl towards the door. D’Artagnan interjects again. This time almost invading the man’s personal space with his finger extended towards the man’s face.
“If you hurt her, I’ll know.”
In the Cardinals office, Robert Baudin (Constance’s husband) asks the Cardinal for leniency when dealing with Fleur. The Cardinal only asks that she tell the truth at the trial. God will be watching.
This trial is a mockery. A figurative witch hunt. The Cardinal obviously takes the testimony of Fleur and attempts to twist it around to seem somehow dirty or wrong. The we introduce Milady de Winter as a witness. Madame de la Chappell is the name she’s going with today. This ought to be rich. And as she begins to lie straight through her teeth, Athos recognizes her voice. Right about the time she says she awoke with her clothes removed, Athos snaps.
After the short intermission presented by Athos, the trial continues. Well, at least the manipulation of what the trial continues. As the Cardinal delivers the verdict that Larroque is a witch that consorts with the devil and is condemned to die, the Queen enters. The Queen relays that unless the Contessa confesses her crimes absent of torture than she is to be spared.
Larroque says a few things including but not limited to “I have never consorted with the devil until now, and I’m looking at him (the Cardinal)”. Then the Cardinal attempts to claim that those words spoken are just as good as a confession. But he is unable to do so. He begins to gag repeatedly. They attempt to administer what I have to believe is a very medieval poison remedy, which the Cardinal fights against while the King resorts to his typical whiny self.
As we return, the Queen approaches Aramis. A subject in and of itself a sensitive subject for the Musketeers. Aramis has a thing for the Queen and at times the feeling seems mutual. Its best not to leave these two alone for too long. She noticed Aramis’ necklace on Larroque and infers that they are lovers. Aramis dispels this notice quite politely and quickly.
Inside the empty courtroom, Aramis and Porthos address Athos about the woman witness and his outburst. Before they can get an answer, the obnoxious Luca enters. The answer to who poisoned the Cardinal flew right off his tongue, “It was the witch”.
Milady, upon the Cardinal’s request, visits Larroque with the intention of forcing a confession. Instead of using force she leans towards manipulation. She claims that if the Contess does not confess, her pupils will die in her place. Which naturally she cannot allow. So she confesses to a crime that doesn’t even exist much less one she committed.
The Musketeers venture back to the would-be coroner to retrieve Luca’s bag that was stolen by one of the deceased. They inquired as to how the thief died. He was drinking and laughing then out of the blue he began convulsing. Just as the Cardinal had done previously. Well, maybe King Louis will actually get to put someone to death he genuinely doesn’t like.
The Musketeers, uncovering Luca’s plot, race back to the Abbey in order to stop whatever is in motion. Problem is they are unaware of the confession. Before they can get to Luca, Luca gets to the Cardinal. He attempts to stab the Cardinal in his bed. The Cardinal somehow musters enough strength to resist Luca. The Cardinal, while holding Luca’s arm with one hand, goes to stab Luca with a hidden small fork of some sort. After the Cardinal stabs him with the fork, Luca grabs it with his other hand just in time for Athos to shoot Luca and thus thwarting any further damage.
With that particular scenario neutralized, there is still the matter of Larroque set to burn alive (literally as they speak). In this moment of clarity and mortality, the Cardinal has a rare episode devoid of motive. As we watch the fire grow and I think to myself, “pretty people shouldn’t be burned to death”, the Musketeers leap into action. Screaming the sentence is commuted by order of the Cardinal. While tearing away the bundles of branches to get to Larroque. She says, “I am not to die today”. “Not today” replies Porthos.
The Cardinal is not completely flying straight. He still has a navy to build and no resources in which to do it. So his plan involved seizing all of Larroque’s land and assets and to exile her to a monastery where she will live out her days quietly. The Cardinal’s moment of clarity it seems served as nothing more than the fire to fuel his thirst for power.
Cardinal: Today, I find my vision clearer than ever. Nothing. No person. No nation. No God will stand in my way.
In a very Cardinal manner, he takes the religious relic that was a gift from Luca (also poisoned by Luca as a delivery device) and poured Luca’s ashes over it ordering a man to deliver it to Rome with his compliments.
In the woods on their way to deliver Larroque to her new residence, Athos and Larroque have a moment. He almost divulges his familiarity with the lying witness. She in turn warns him that Milady has the protection of the Cardinal and that Athos should tread lightly. She then proclaims that Athos could be the kind of man she could love.
“Too bad we’re not the marrying kind”-Athos
Fleur returns to the house where Constance and D’Artagnan sit. Fleur is ecstatic that a woman convinced her father to not sell her into marriage. Fleur believes that woman in question is Larroque, which Constance is happy to let her believe. When she leaves the room, D’Artagnan asserts that it was Constance who convinced the father. Then there is a development I did not see coming this soon.
D’Artagnan: You are the finest woman I have ever met. I don’t believe there is a more generous soul in all of France.
Constance: (putting her hand to his mouth) Stop that. You’re embarrassing me.
D’Artagnan: If I wanted to embarrass you, I should list all the reasons I love you.
(He looks off into the middle distance trying very hard to not make I contact. Constance looking intently into his eyes)
D’Artagnan: Of course when I say that, I mean admire, respect.
Constance: Say it again.
D’Artagnan: I admire and respect you.
Constance: Not that part you idiot.
D’Artagnan: …I love you.
(And then you can imagine what follows. These shows may have a rating system, but we try to keep our recaps and articles family friendly.)
This week I definitely should not have read the description before watching. I am not a connoisseur of Alexandre Dumas nor can I claim to be a Musketeers historian. However, anyone who has seen or read their fair share of Musketeer lore should be able to immediately see the clues in “Aramis protects a young mother and her baby”. It is significant. I will spare any overt spoilers pertaining to the previously mentioned cryptic few sentences on the off-chance any of our readers have not seen the episode. We will move forward in the usual manner in an attempt to preserve the experience.
Aramis and D’Artagnan approach a small church on horseback discussing their duty at hand. All they know is that they were sent to escort a mother and child to Paris. They seem to be completely in the dark as to why. Aramis tells D’Artagnan that its best to not get involved. In the church there are two unsavory men questioning what appears to be a priest. Another priest hides under the stairs protecting a large book. Priest one is stabbed, left to bleed out on a floor covered with torn pages (presumably documentation of some sort). The men depart the church in pursuit of the child in question before Aramis and D’Artagnan arrive.
Once they arrive they find the situation more grim than they had expected. D’Artagnan enters the church to find the slain priest. The two men approach the mother (who has knelt by a grave *hint*) and takes the baby from her. Just then the two Musketeers pounce into action but they can only save the woman. The man with the baby gets away. Aramis instructs D’Artagnan to trail the men at a safe distance to figure out where they are headed. Instead of gratitude the woman advances on Aramis at knife point.
The woman saying, “I am faithful to my husband Felipe…” is really all you need to know. If you’re picking up what I’m putting down all of the tumblers should be falling into place revealing a great deal of the rest of this particular story. If not, nothing to worry about, it will be revealed in due time.
After some initial probing by Aramis, we discover that the grave the young woman knelt next to is indeed the grave of “Felipe”. Felipe, father to the kidnapped baby. The woman trots toward the church yelling for Father Duval. Aramis strongly recommends she not enter. Only so much grief a person should go through in a 3 minute span.
Athos and Porthos lead a charge (ceremonious one at that) through a small forest. On the other side is a royal gathering of some sort. I would suggest that it feels like fox-hunting if I knew any better. Just then, Athos notices an unidentified group galloping their way. All of the guards including the two Musketeers circle around to protect the King and Queen. Once tempers cool (momentarily) the King emerges from his tent. An older woman identifies herself as King Louie’s mother. Louie’s reaction is not warm to say the least.
“You were banished for life on pain of execution. You tried to steal my throne. Now I’m obliged to cut off your head and place it on a spike for all of Paris to ogle”. – King Louie
Back inside the tent, the Cardinal and Captain Treville attempt to calm the King’s nerves. The Cardinal even suggest showing restraint as beheading one’s mother is rarely received well by the people. The King goes on about how she was warned never to show her face in Paris. Then the King turns his gaze toward Treville then back to the Cardinal. “But we will find these assassins Cardinal, we can’t have people running around trying to kill my mother, not unless I tell them to.”
I normally wait for the story to develop before sharing some of the more enjoyable examples of writing, but this time I really can’t help myself. This exchange between Athos/Porthos and Vincent (Mother’s right hand) is worth showing.
Vincent: The King’s mother comes to you in peril and you treat her like a common criminal. So much for the chivalrous reputation of the Musketeers. I’m disappointed.
Porthos: On the bright side, you aren’t dead yet.
Vincent: You think I’m frightened of the King’s toy soldiers?
Porthos: For a glorified boot boy you’ve got an awful lot to say…
(Vincent begins to draw his sword)
Athos: DRAW IF YOU WISH. It will be our duty to kill you…and incidentally, our pleasure.
Vincent and ‘Mother’ claim they are being pursued by assassins and cannot risk going it alone. The Cardinal reiterates that the King is busy with issues of state. Curious since I think this all takes place during some form of Royal recreation.
Aramis has put the woman on his horse and they walk so that Aramis can try to piece together clues. At one point a group of villagers approach and make a scene. A large man says a few unkind things and spits at her feet. Aramis asks what just happened, and the woman replies with “ignorance and superstition”.
D’Artagnan has successful tailed the baby kidnappers to their holding destination. It is not Paris.
Meanwhile, Porthos, Athos and Treville escort Marie (‘Mother’) and Vincent to an unnamed location. She tries to appeal to Treville, who is having no part of it. Just then, Porthos picks up on some movement just beyond the tree line. It’s an ambush. A poorly executed one. Everything was fine, until one of the assailants was thrown from his horse and Vincent tried a little too hard to kill the man before Athos could secure him for questioning. The first 15 minutes of this show is clearly a hall of mirrors.
Returning to the scene of the crime, Porthos and Athos survey the area for some indication of what just happened. Each detail points firmly in one of two directions. If this was actually a genuine attempt on Marie’s life it was the worst hatchet job ever. Or it was a diversion.
In the palace, the King, Queen and Marie attempt an uncomfortable couch session. An opportunity for Marie to try to explain herself from before (when she tried to steal the throne) and allow for the King to believe her lies. There was some good emotion portrayed by the actors, but painfully awkward to sit through.
As Marie makes her way to a bedroom, she is attacked. Well not really. The attacker simply wanted to ravage her in a moment of passion. As it turns out unrequited passion. The ‘attacker’ was Vincent.
In a dark quiet room Aramis and Agnes (the baby’s mother) sit and discuss Aramis past love and eventually what Felipe was like. At this point, I hate to beat the dead horse, but if you’re still in the dark you should start doing the math. She speaks of Felipe and ‘Mal-figured’ with the warmest heart she’s ever known. She even mentions how Felipe’s mother showed up to visit once (*hint*). Even mentioned how Felipe’s public demeanor changed once Henry (the baby) was born. The village people one day decided to beat him to death.
D’Artagnan and Constance stand outside the holding location looking for any sort of tip that might help them get in. Constance says she can fight and D’Artagnan laughs it off.
Constance: Because you don’t trust me…?
D’Artagnan: Because I would never forgive myself if you were harmed.
I am generally not a fan of the almost romance. The ‘Ross and Rachel Effect’. The idea that the moment the two people in question become a legitimate item is the moment the show is dead. I struggle with the idea that you can’t have both. Or that one results in the other. However, the show runners at The Musketeers may be the first people who I believe are doing this right. Since day one, there has been something, a spark, something that suggests a developing attraction between D’Artagnan and Constance. The beauty of it is that it is not in the forefront. This little thing is surrounded by action, corruption, etc. I am willing to gladly accept that their flirtations, concerns and overall behavior between themselves adds a nice quality to the show and yes, when it becomes something real, the show could be over. But that’s the beauty of it, it is presented in a way that fits like a glove.
While still outside, D’Artagnan is confused when he sees women leaving the compound. “Wet nurses” Constance said. They are using wet nurses because Henry is “feeding”. D’Artagnan’s head turns slowly enough that Constance gets immediately why the wheels are turning in his head. She resists but eventually goes along with the ‘pretend to be a wet-nurse’ plan.
About the same time Constance enters the compound under the disguise of a wet nurse, Porthos and Athos begin to tail Marie and Vincent who have departed the palace at an odd time for a walk. Once there, the two are invited into the compound minus the gunpoint welcome that everyone else gets. If their suspicions weren’t peaked by that notion, they would be when they noticed D’Artagnan and Aramis looking onto the same site with similar curiosity. Porthos identifies the woman as Marie De Medici. Agnes identifies her as Felipe’s mother.
Meanwhile the ‘not dead’ priest finds his way to an audience with the Cardinal where he presents his relevance to the story. Felipe was born deformed. Why was France cursed? But alas, there was a younger twin boy name Louie. IT’S THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK!!!!! but in reverse. Instead of restoring Felipe to the throne, Marie is trying to use the existence of Henry, the new heir to the throne as leverage to remove Louie and place her in power until such a time that Henry can take over. It’s not that it’s a stretch to use this storyline, it’s that it is brilliant in manner in which the decided to use this storyline. Felipe is always Louie’s slightly older brother. In this variation banished for his appearance and power of France handed down to Louie skipping the order succession. I love the subtle and not so subtle changes to the story that make it fit this show. Art is found in the nuance.
At the right time, minus Marie and Vincent, the Musketeer elect to storm the compound to get Henry and Constance out of harm’s way. Side note, I love how all of the rooms in all of the homes in France are conveniently large enough to accommodate the inevitable sword fight. Now jumping back to the recon scene with D’Artagnan and Constance, he was reluctant to let her play an active role for fear she could be harmed, despite her claims that she can fight. Fast forward to the present scene. Aramis is consoling the child and Constance is forced to defend them with the sword. It’s not as graceful as if it would be if the roles were reversed, but she wasn’t wrong. She turns the corner in time to run into D’Artagnan. He almost quotes Hannibal Smith from the A-Team verbatim, “Don’t you just love it when a plan comes together?”
All four Musketeers reconvene with Treville. Treville has recently had a conversation with the Cardinal on the identity of the child, Marie’s intentions, and the Cardinal’s ‘need’ to secure that baby. While Aramis appeals to Treville, Treville is uncharacteristically cold. He turns to Aramis and says, “I’d go with you myself but I’m busy. Damn paperwork. It’ll take me the rest of the afternoon…at least” Only thing missing is the (wink, wink).
Vincent returns to the compound to find the baby missing. Athos, Porthos and D’Artagnan return to their own holding place to discover Aramis, Agnes and Henry are missing from there as well. They venture out to search for them. Aramis is trying to convince Agnes that she must leave Paris. She is expendable and worst case, so is Henry. He believes he has secured her safe passage.
Back at the palace, Marie suggests that the King go out and restart his ‘hunt’ that was interrupted at the start of the episode. Presumably to get him off the grounds as to make for a smoother coup. Luckily for us the Cardinal has pieced everything together about Marie and has the stronger hand by a significant margin. 3/4’s of the Musketeers are still trying to find Aramis, who they believe is trying to get Agnes and Henry out of the country. With the Musketeers at full strength, all looks promising. Until Vincent shows up with his merry men on horseback. Aramis convinces Agnes to walk away without Henry for a smoother get away.
They use barrels of brandy to create a bomb like diversion. Agnes looks back to see a massive cloud of smoke. Out of which rides Aramis holding Henry wrapped in blankets. He is immediately cornered on a bridge. In the struggle the baby is flung from Aramis’ arms and lands in the river a respectable distance down. Agnes comes running and screaming. Aramis will not permit her to dive in after the baby. She is inconsolable.
In the palace, Marie parades herself in front of the Cardinal in Queenliest best. She outlines the vague manner in which they will present the new heir and offer a choice to every one of allegiance or death when they storm the palace. So faced with a decision, the Cardinal calls for Captain Treville.
Treville: My condolences your majesty.
Marie: What are you talking about?
Cardinal: Such a tragedy. There will be no coup. No regency. No power. Just a sad deluded old woman with nothing. Your grandson Henry, he perished.
Marie: You’re lying.
(The Cardinal pivots to reveal Vincent in the distance. He looks and shakes his head side to side as if to gesture that they lost)
With the Musketeers present, the Cardinal informs them that the assassin looking to end Marie’s life was Vincent. Treville adds that is exactly all the king needs to ever know. Elsewhere, the Cardinal goes through an begins burning all of the documentation pertaining to the legitimacy of an heir named Henry. The priest who could present an eye-witness account of the birth is murdered.
Amidst the mist Aramis rides toward Agnes.
Agnes: What more could you want from me? Why drag me here now?
Aramis: I know you’ve endured hell. I’m sorry you had to suffer so terrible a blow. I apologize. I should have told you the truth, but if you had not been convincing as a grieving mother they would’ve seen right through it. This was the only way I could see you and Henry having any kind of life together.
Agnes: What life?
(Behind Aramis in the distance the other three Musketeers and Constance emerge)
Agnes: Henry? (soft cries in the background) Henry? Henry…? Henry.
D’Artagnan: You didn’t want to give him back did you?
Constance: Was it that obvious?
Porthos: It’s not every day you get to save the king’s life.
Athos: He’ll never be king, but he’ll be happier than the man who is.
Aramis: You didn’t actually think I’d take something so precious into battle.
Agnes: You kept him safe. Delivered him to me, as you promised you would.
Aramis: Take this (hands her a pouch we assume has money in it) make a new life together far away from France. Felipe would not want you to be alone forever.
Agnes: I have my son…I’d ask you to come with us, but you already have a family.
(Agnes looks to the Musketeers and Constance. They share an embrace)
Agnes: Thank you.
(Aramis turns and mounts his horse)
D’Artagnan: I think you’re losing your touch.
I would love to drop the mic there and walk off stage left. However, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention one thing. It is only speculation, but I cannot fathom that this Marie De Medici storyline is over. Nor is the Henry storyline over. They found a brilliant way to incorporate a very well-known storyline into their story without compromising what they’ve already built. And it would absolutely be a shame to not tuck some of that away to bring back later.
As the fourth episode of the BBCA Original “The Musketeers,” we find the royal court’s waiting for a special visitor expected whose scheduled to arrive by this time. King Louis XIII was complaining about the delay as he’s anxious to sign a treaty with Savoy, a small county and the best option for France to buffer Spain. The Duke and his family will stay at the palace until both-sides create a treaty, or negotiating breaks-down and he and his entourage head back home the deal dead in the water. The Musketeers are standing nearby the French Royal Couple, as the wagon arrives the Duke, his wife and son, plus an aide to the Duke.
After the couples exchange greetings there’s a disturbance as a masked man from the nearby woods fires his pistol attempting to assassinate the Duke. Guards get the Royalty into the place as quick as they can, but the Musketeers split and search for the gunmen. Aramis is suddenly attacked by a man with a familiar voice, he quickly realizes is his old friend and former Musketeer Marsac, whom he has not seen in the last-five-years.
Aramis soon gets the top hand as he disarms his old friend has him get rid of any hidden weapons and asks why he shot at the Duke. Marsac explains that the ambush they survived five-years earlier that slaughtered 20 of their friends as they camped out for the night nearby Savoy’s castle, was not the deed of Spanish soldiers. Instead somehow the Duke and his aides got hold of Captain Treville’s field orders and it was actually soldiers from Savoy that had killed their mates. Marsac and Aramis were the only two of their regiment to survive the siege, as Aramis was badly wounded and Marsac carried his friend into the woods as they both hid until the attackers parted. Marsac overcome with guilt for surviving, tore off his uniform and went into hiding.
As Marsac is in the midst of telling his former soldier-in-arms the true tale of that horrid night, D’Artagnan finds them and asks Aramis what’s going on. Aramis tells the former farm boy about Marsac and asks to keep the info between them, they then take him with his hands bound to Constance’s home, where D’Artagnan lodges. Aramis and D’Artagnan both vouch for Marsac and Constance agrees that he can stay with D’Artagnan in his room. The two men then take him up to the room and tie him tightly enough that he can’t escape.
The Duke meanwhile refuses to talk about any treaty between France and his principality, until they have found and imprisoned the attempted assassin. There’s a very terse conversation between Cardinal Richelieu and the Duke over past grievances between the two, when the Duchess asks her husband, with them under the safety of the palace guards, shouldn’t they negotiate a deal so that the family can return to Savoy. The Duke questions her loyalty to him and their country and wonders aloud whether her true loyalty is to the land she was born in (The Duchess is the younger sister of Louis XIII.) She shows the hurt in her face when she tells her husband that her first and utmost loyalty is to him. He apologizes for the outburst and tells his wife he trusts her implicitly.
Treville meets with Athos, Porthos, Aramis and D’Artagnan as to how they lost the assailant, although both Porthos and Athos stories ring true, that duo believes that Aramis and D’Artagnan are hiding something and they demand answers. Aramis looks if he’s going to explain the situation, but the camera cuts to Constance’s house with all the Musketeers and Marsac. Constance is most upset with D’Artagnan because he lied to her even though they were friends. Marsac tells the four men that he can prove his story’s valid if they cut off his bonds, they do and the five men leave to see the former Musketeer’s proof.
They find a man bound to a pole by his hands and feet and Marsac explains he heard the man drunkenly boast about being part of the team that carried out the massacre. The man tells them that the Duke’s top advisor Cluzet, who was secretly working on behalf of Spain had gotten the battle plans of the Musketeers gave them to the Duke and the leader of the principality led the ambush. When asked where Cluzet learned about the plan, the prisoner says a man named Treville, implicating the Captain the men had always trusted. Marsac believes it instantly, while Aramis is unsure of Treville’s loyalty. Porthos, Athos and D’Artagnan, dismiss the story as lies and as they head back to question the prisoner further, they arrive just as Marsac had finished choking the life out of him, for talking about his fallen comrades.
Cluzet has been held in solitary confinement in a Paris prison for the last five years, captured by the French the night of the massacre. The Cardinal comes to his cell to taunt his prisoner, telling him that the Duke’s in Paris to sign a treaty and Cluzet is powerless to stop it. However at the same time the Duke and his aide are planning to try to find the former advisor. The aide ends up taking to a jailer at the prison Cluzet is in and he describes the former advisor perfectly.
Athos and Porthos are to guard the Duke during his stay and they head back to the palace. Before they leave Aramis tells them that he sliced open the leader’s back the night of the massacre so if it was the Duke he would have a long scar across his back. The Duke’s displeased with his new protectors comparing the two men to wolves. As the subject of the treaty comes up, the Duke proposes that he duel with Athos, if the Musketeer triumphs he will discuss the treaty, if he prevails he and his party leave for Savoy immediately.
Athos’ the finest swordsman in the King’s service easily bests his opponent, but his anger overcomes him and he makes the Duke look foolish in his loss. Treville chastises his soldier and tells him he’s to apologize to the Duke. The Musketeer heads to the Duke’s quarters and apologizes for being over zealous. The Duke still fuming removes his shirt and offers to engage Athos in a fair fight, as he tells the Musketeer he could see the soldier wanted to kill him during their duel. Athos tells him that he’s mistaken and does not accept the challenge. However both Athos and Porthos saw the scar on his back, proving he did indeed lead the massacre.
The Musketeers and D’Artagnan storm into Treville’s office and demand he tell them what he knew about the massacre five years previously. The commanding officer becomes indignant and tells them they are treading dangerous territory that could lead to them all getting court-martialed. They are not intimidated by the threat and keep pressing for more information. Finally Treville admits that he was in cahoots with Richelieu and allowed the plans to get to Cluzet, but offers no further explanation. Richelieu meanwhile finds himself in a precarious position, the Duke and his aide tell him that they know Cluzet’s imprisoned in Paris and if they find him all negotiations will end immediately. The Cardinal follows the pair to the prison sweating bullets the entire ride of visions of his plan falling apart consume his thoughts.
The Musketeers get approached by a hooded figure on horseback and shocked to find it’s the Duchess. She informs the soldiers that her husband is about to find his former advisor putting many lives in jeopardy including her own. The four men ride to the prison, get Cluzet and the guard hidden and put another man in the cell, while D’Artagnan masquerades as the guard in front of the cell. As the trio arrive Richelieu tries anything from keeping them out of the cell, but realizes the situation’s in hand when he sees D’Artagnan. They enter the cell to find an older man with horned-rim glasses inside, who inquires if the Duke is the new cook for the prison. Humiliated the Duke leaves the cell and chews out his aide for his incompetence. As they leave the prison, we see the Musketeers are 50-yards away, with Porthos’ hand tightly keeping Cluzet’s mouth shut.
We head back to Treville’s office and find Marsac has entered the office through the window with his only purpose to kill his former commanding officer. As he pulls out a pistol to shoot Treville Aramis enters and immediately points his pistol at his former comrade and Marsac takes out a second gun and points one at each of them. He fires a shot at the Captain but it misses its mark, however Aramis shot Marsac at the same moment and that bullet took his former comrade’s life.
Treville then explains that the reason his plans got to become possessed by Cluzet, was to create diversion so they could kidnap him, saving the Duchess’ life in the process. The advisor was a spy for Spain, while the King’s sister was spying for him and Cluzet had recently found that out. They removed him from Savoy before he could inform the Duke. However Richelieu double-crossed Treville by stating that the exercise that the Musketeers were on was actually an assassination attempt of the Duke. Which led to the massacre in a pre-emptive move.
The Captain and Aramis bury the former Musketeer and Aramis states that Marsac’s soul had died five years earlier, but his body finally caught up. He then sticks his sword into the grave a sign of respect for a fallen Musketeer.
The story will pick up again next Sunday night onBBCA.
Charles Dickens “A Christmas Carol” and Alexandre Dumas “The Three Musketeers,” maybe the two works of great literature adapted to the screen, more often than any other novel. BBC America has brought back the Dumas classic to the small screen, as the pilot of “The Musketeers” premiered Sunday night. The production is beautifully filmed and authentically portrays France in the year 1630, complete with all the opulence for the Royal Class and covered in grit and grime for the peasants under the rule of King Louis XIII (Ryan Gage.)
The story opens on a rainy late afternoon as an older man and his younger companion are riding horseback en route to Paris. We quickly realize that the man Alexander, is the father of the younger man D’Artagnan (Luke Pasqualino), as the son asks his father whether they should end their trip for the evening and find lodging. Alexander replies that he could ride straight through to Paris, but to make D’Artagnan happy he agrees to seek sleeping quarters. The pair soon come upon an inn, Alexander enters the house to register, while his son goes into the barn to set up their horses for the night.
Alexander walks in to see an elderly man sleeping in a chair and nobody else around, he bangs on a horseshoe suspended from the ceiling and a man soon responds. A large man who appears about 40-years old comes down the stairs and welcomes his guest. As the three men are getting acquainted inside the house, a band of men ride in wearing the uniforms of the King’s Musketeers, but wearing bandanas to cover the lower part of their faces. As they dismount, one men shouts to the others to check the barn.
The rest of the men walk inside the inn and the spokesman and apparent leader, introduces his group as the King’s Musketeers and identifies himself as Athos. He then asks the three men to empty their pockets of money and jewelry. Alexander responds to his captor that he was always under the impression the Musketeers were honorable men, but their actions prove otherwise. The leader replies that they have yet to taste his cruelty and pulls out a pistol to shoot Alexander, but the old man pulls out his sidearm and the bandit shoots him instead. He then shoots Alexander who is fatally wounded.
D’Artagnan encounters two of the men in the barn and proceeds to fight them both with his sword, when he hears the gunfire he shoots one of the men, while his accomplice flees on horseback with the rest of his squad. Alexander stumbles out from the house and his son tells him that the man he was chasing had gotten away. His father falls to the ground and D’Artagnan realizes his father is grievously wounded, Alexander’s dying word is the name of his assailant, Athos.
We head to Paris and find the real Athos (Tom Burke) is waking up and nursing a massive hangover. He revives himself by drinking a slug from the bottle from the night before and then fills a wooden bucket filled with cold water and submerges his head in it. He then does some warm-up exercising, gets dressed and heads to the local pub, where he encounters his fellow Musketeer Porthos (Howard Charles.) Porthos’ engaged in a game of cards playing against a member of the Cardinal’s red guard. The other soldier is certain that he holds the winning hand and starts to grab for the pot, when Porthos stops him and then produces the true winning hand.
The member of the red guard accuses his opponent of cheating and holding cards up his sleeve. Porthos laughs at the accusations, which gets the other soldier more angry, he produces his sword but Athos informs him, that if he kills Porthos who does not have a weapon, it would be murder. Porthos then picks up fork that looks like a tiny trident and starts dueling his opponent using the eating utensil. After watching for a while Athos, bores of the fight and knocks out the other soldier with a blow to the back of the head. Walking out of the pub he asks Porthos where the third member of their team is, then becomes agitated when he realizes the answer.
The third Musketeer Aramis (Santiago Cabrera), is enjoying the company of the woman he professes to love, but its a complicated relationship, as she is also the mistress of Cardinal Richelieu (Peter Capaldi,) who is on his way to her home and will arrive momentarily. The Musketeer, tells her that the Cardinal does not love her like he does, but she tells her lover that Richelieu pays the rent. The commotion in the street below informs the couple that the Cardinal has arrived and Aramis must leave immediately. She suggests he jump out her window, but the length of what would be his fall dissuades him from doing that. He throws his sword and coat out of the window then realizes his pistol is on her floor. She tries to toss it to him, but accidentally kicks it under her bed just as the Cardinal enters her chambers. Aramis is hanging onto the ledge beneath the window by his fingertips, when Athos and Porthos arrive on the scene.
The Musketeers head to their headquarters and get summoned by their commanding officer Captain Treville (Hugo Speer), who informs them that a fellow Musketeer who was on an important assignment has vanished. Treville informs them that finding the missing soldier is their top priority.
D’Artagnan has arrived in Paris and finds accommodations for lodging in an establishment run by an elderly woman. She informs her guest that the fee he is paying her is only for a room and a bed, anything else he wants whether it be a meal or soap will cost extra. Later that evening, he is sitting drinking in the building’s main room when a heavyset man and a beautiful woman arrive and check in. The woman informs the old lady that she wants fresh water for her bath and D’Artagnan jokingly tells the woman that it will cost extra. The rotund man asks D’Artagnan whether he was addressing him, to which the young man responds only if he answers to Madam. The man turns to the woman that he refers to as Milady (Maimie McCoy) and excuses himself, informing her he will teach the brash young man some manners and pulls out his sword. D’Artagnan produces a pistol and tells the other man to put his sword down and walk away, his female companion tells the man named Mendoza to ignore the “drunken lout.”
Later that evening D’Artagnan and the woman pass each other closely on the staircase, he soon realizes his sidearm is gone and that the woman has it. She tells the young man that he really does need to learn better manners than kisses him full on the mouth. When he asks about Mendoza, she tells him not to worry. After they make love he becomes aware that she is still wearing a velvet collar around her neck, although she is otherwise totally nude. He pulls it aside to see that it hides a scar on her neck, she tells him that the scar came at the hands of a former lover. D’Artagnan offers to kill the man for her and she replies that she might take him up on his offer one day.
He wakes the next morning to find that he is alone in the bed and the pillow his companion had been lying on, was now stabbed with a blood-covered letter opener. Seconds later he hears screams from the hallway and he runs out there with the letter opener still in his hand. He sees Mendoza’s dead body and the woman who runs the house accuses him of killing Mendoza. He jumps out of an upper story window to escape, but the woman sends the rest of the lodgers after him. As he is running he sees an attractive young woman selling from a cart, he embraces her and kisses her as the people looking for him run right past them. The young man is rather proud of his quick thinking until the young woman kicks him in the family jewels.
She immediately feels remorse for her actions and starts having sympathy for the young man. He asks her if she knows where she can find Athos and she responds that he is her friend and why is he searching for the Musketeer. She then introduces herself as Madam Constance Bonacieux (Tamla Kari), and tells D’Artagnan that if he intends on a fight he is in no shape to have one. He then passes out at her feet seconds later.
When he regains consciousness, he finds himself in a house with Constance tending to his wounds. He asks where he is and she informs him that he is in her husband’s house. He tells her he needs to leave and once more asks her where he can find Athos. He tells her that Athos killed his father in cold blood and he must seek revenge.
The next scene opens at the Musketeers headquarters and all three of the soldiers are standing in the courtyard when D’Artagnan arrives. He then asks the trio who is Athos, and the soldier immediately identifies himself. D’Artagnan tells him to prepare to die and lunges at Athos with his sword. The confused Musketeer asks the young man why he wants to kill him and he responds because Athos killed his father. Athos tells D’Artagnan that he is mistaken and he does not want to take the young mans life over a mistake. He soon disarms his opponent and tells him the fight is over. The young man refuses to quit however and throws a knife in his opponent’s direction hitting a wall close to him. At that point Aramis tells the young man that his friend told him the fight is over and if he wants to keep dueling he will now face two adversaries. Seeing that D’Artagnan still won’t give up, Porthos joins in and the trio soon have their opponent pinned to a wall.
Constance enters the fort right at that moment and chastises the Musketeers that they have the young man outnumbered three to one. Athos tells her they weren’t going to harm him and then pull their swords from his neck. D’Artagnan tells Constance that he is now totally confused, he was certain the Musketeer had murdered his father, but now he doesn’t know what to believe.
We get our first glimpse of the Royal Court as King Louis XIII was shooting at birds when released from their cage, an activity that his wife Queen Anne (Alexandra Dowling,) is noticeably bored with. Captain Treville and Cardinal Richelieu soon arrive, each with their own agenda for the King. The Cardinal starts denigrating the Musketeers, much to Treville’s consternation. Richelieu then tells all gathered that he has heard tales of a band of Musketeers who are nothing but murderers and thieves in uniforms. The Captain dismisses the stories as foolish rumors.
We head to a stretch of open road where a young man is driving a carriage containing his Master and Mistress, when he comes upon what looks like a dead soldier in the middle of the path. After kicking the body, the driver starts to turn him over when he realizes the soldier is not only alive but he is holding a pistol pointed at the driver’s head. The phony Musketeer tells the driver to let his friends know that the Musketeer named Athos has spared his life. As the driver runs away, the assailant shoots the man and the woman inside the carriage.
Richelieu’s mistress is looking at the pistol left by Aramis that she has hidden in her top dresser drawer when the Cardinal arrives. She hides the weapon then asks her lover if he is feeling well, or is suffering from a headache. The Cardinal then verbally tears apart everyone he works with, but tells his mistress that she is the only person he can trust. A momentary look of concern crosses the woman’s face but disappears quickly.
Captain Treville encounters the Three Musketeers, as he arrives with other members of his regiment along with two members of the red guard. Treville then sadly informs Athos that the two members of the red guard have arrived to arrest him, as witnesses have stepped forward with stories of a man identifying himself as Athos who has robbed and killed people over the last few weeks. The Captain then tells his soldier that he had assured the red guard that he would not give them any trouble. After the soldiers take Athos away, Treville tells Porthos and Aramis that if they hope to clear their friend’s name they have to track down the missing Musketeer. The pair then ask D’Artagnan if he could identify any of the phony Musketeers and he replies that he shot one of them back at the inn. The three men head back to the place that Alexander died.
The man’s body was still at the inn when the trio arrived and immediately Porthos and Aramis realize that the corpse was not a Musketeer despite the uniform he was wearing. D’Artagnan then notices the uniform jacket had two bullet holes in it, while he shot the man just once. As they examine the body they quickly discover the bullet hole that killed him, but there is not a wound that matches the other hole. They soon deduce that it was a stolen uniform and they track down a squad of dead Musketeers including the soldier they were looking for. As the men examine the scene Porthos sees a Spanish coin and laughs, as it is the second one that he has seen that week. When the other two men asks where he saw the first one, he tells them that he won it from the red guard soldier during their card game. The three men quickly deduce that the red guard soldier who accused Porthos of cheating played a role in the deaths of the Musketeers.
The next scene was rather surprising as we find out that the French King’s Brother-In-Law, is the King of Spain (Queen Anne’s brother.) The Monarch has written a series of letters meant for the Spanish King and given to one of Treville’s men to deliver, however the letters and the messenger have vanished. In the messages Louis XIII makes overtures to his Spanish counterpart for a treaty between the two countries. If the letters became public, Louis would be perceived as the weak ineffectual ruler he actually is.
Back in Paris, the three men hunt down the member of the red guard and inform they will get a confession out of him either the easy way or via torture. After first denying involvement, he then admits that he was part of the group that committed the heinous acts. He refuses to name who was in charge at first, but when he is staring down a bullet, he names a red guard Captain named Corte as the leader and the one who is impersonating Athos.
The King and the Cardinal are in the midst of a discussion, when Richelieu criticizes the passive way that France is dealing with Spain, whom the Cardinal proclaims is the nation’s enemy. Louis XIII reminds Richelieu that Queen Anne is from Spain and the Spanish King is his brother-in-law. The monarch soon becomes a simpering wimp, as he confesses to the Cardinal about the letters he sent to the King of Spain and tells Richelieu that the missives have been lost. Richelieu does not reveal what he knows and puts on an act for the King, stating that he will have to retire from public life. The King is almost crying as he begs the Cardinal not to stop being his adviser. He apologizes for not informing Richelieu about the plan and promises he will always heed his advice and grant the Cardinal’s wishes, what ever they are. Richelieu tells the King that he will remain his loyal servant.
The three men track down Corte and his squad and Aramis tells his two companions to wait for his signal as surprise will be their greatest ally. D’Artagnan completely ignores the Musketeer’s request as he immediately charges the squad screaming out Corte’s name. The three men vanquish their enemies quickly, leaving only Corte alive. Although D’Artagnan truly wants to kill him, the two soldiers tell him they need Corte alive, to prove Athos’ innocence and save him from a firing squad. Seconds later Corte tries to kill D’Artagnan only to die by the young man’s blade which he raised in self-defense. Porthos states that with them recovering the stolen uniforms and the member of the red guard’s confession, they should still be able to prove that Athos was not the killer.
We meet up with the Cardinal and his mistress who are in a carriage on a trip that Richelieu tells his companion is a surprise. Her anticipation soon ends as the carriage stops in the middle of nowhere. The Cardinal has found out about her clandestine relationship with Aramis and he is about to have one of his soldiers murder her for being a traitor. She goes to her death chanting that she loves Aramis, until a bullet silences her forever.
Athos is in front of a firing squad and finally screams out to the soldiers to shoot him already. However Porthos, Aramis and D’Artagnan arrive with a letter from the King revoking his sentence. The four men then head to the pub, thinking about the one woman he truly loved that he believes he killed. After showing him approach her in his memory throughout the episode, the woman finally turns around and we realize she is Milady.
The final scene of the pilot is in the cell of the red guard soldier who confessed about the plan and implicated Corte. Richelieu enters the cell and makes social niceties with the prisoner. The soldier responds that the only reason he would be happy to see the Cardinal, would be if he came with news of his release from the prison. Richelieu tells the prisoner that is the reason for his visit, as he has arranged for the soldier’s release. He then produces a bottle and two cups and pours them each a drink. The soldier quickly drains his cup, but then notices Richelieu has not taken a sip. Seconds later he realizes why, as the Cardinal has killed him with poison.
The story will pick up again next Sunday night onBBCA.