Phil Rowson

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Photo Courtesy Of BBCA

Photo Courtesy Of BBCA

Warning: Spoiler Alert

Regular readers of these pages realize how much this writer respects The BBC and their mastery of what’s now referred to as “The Limited Run Series.” Our cousins across the pond, have proven that oftentimes “Less Is More,” giving it’s viewers, a taut, exciting, fully fleshed out story in just ten episodes. The BBCA Original Series “The Musketeers,” did anything but slump, during it’s sophomore season, finishing the campaign that exceeded the exciting finale of season one, with an episode jam-packed, with intrigue, espionage, betrayal, ending with a wedding and the talk of war in season three.

This despite the loss of a major part of the cast in the first season, as Peter Capaldi, left 17th Century France, for the TARDIS, taking his character Cardinal Richelieu with him, as the season begins with the Cardinal’s funeral. Taking the part of “The Big Bad,” in season two, Marc Warren as Count Rochefort, former adviser to Richelieu, a prisoner of Spain for the last few years, who in reality got sent back to Paris, as a spy for the Spanish Crown. French King Louis XIII, looking for guidance got easily fooled by the wily Rochefort, as the man he’d eventually name First Minister of France, had his own agenda.

We found out early in the season that Rochefort tutored Queen Ann in Spain as a 14-year-old girl in Spain, when France and the Spanish arranged marrying the King of Spain’s sister, to at that point the next King of France. He fell in love with the girl, became obsessed with her over the years, believed she indeed love him as well and planned to knock off Louis, marry Ann and run the country as it’s Regent. However he deduced that Ann and the King’s Musketeer Aramis, had an intimate moment and Aramis fathered the Dauphin. In this episode he revealed that to the King, nearly costing the Queen and the soldier their lives, before he became discredited in Louis’ eyes.

The Queen’s consult and confidante, Constance Bonacieux’s about to get executed, early the morning after the day portrayed in the previous episode. Treville and Rochefort stand side-by-side witnessing the event, Treville says it’s cold-blooded murder, the Minister counters with it’s justice and the Captain says Rochefort doesn’t know the meaning of the word. She’s offered a blindfold, but refuses it saying she wants to see as much of the world as she can in her time remaining, the executioner starts to swing his blade at her neck, when he’s shot and killed from under the platform they’re standing on.

It’s D’Artagnan, who quickly rescues Constance, joined by Aramis they fight off the Red Guard soldiers, Rochefort starts shooting at them, but Treville relieves him of his pistol with a blade to Rochefort’s chin, he jumps on the back of Athos’ horse and the four ride off to a safe-house. They talk about killing Rochefort, but decide without Louis finding out that Rochefort’s a Spanish spy, then Aramis, the Queen and the Dauphin might still get killed. They’re relying on the fourth Musketeer, Porthos to get that done.

Porthos on horseback’s in the countryside as he looks at a lake from the top of a ravine, he then rides down to the lake and starts crying out a name Vargas, repeatedly, until a prosperous looking middle-aged man rides out to meet him. Porthos tells Vargas, the letter he received wasn’t from Rochefort, he forged it, he knew the best way to smoke-out the Spanish Spymaster’s through his operative at the Royal Court. Vargas smiles and says lets discuss this, when a shot from the woods misses Porthos and the Musketeer runs to higher ground and escapes.

Rochefort’s in Louis’ chambers in his attempt to poison the King’s mind against his wife, when Ann bursts into his chambers, begging her husband listen to her, she’s a good Queen and a loving wife and Rochefort’s making wild accusations. Louis says we must let the evidence get presented and she’s taken back to her quarters. The King says he should’ve let her speak, when his Minister says that Richelieu had evidence that Ann consorted with his Musketeer Aramis and the Dauphin’s the Musketeer’s son. Louis holds his head in anguish as he hears the news then tells Rochefort he wants the truth now.

Rochefort then heads for Aramis’ cell and tells the Musketeer, although he’s as good as dead, he can still save Ann and the Dauphin by making a full confession. The King will divorce the Queen, disown the Dauphin and let them live in exile. He sees the Musketeer doesn’t buy a word he says, so he says one more time you can save them both, then stomps out of the cell.

Vargas and his men search for Porthos, when his Captain says they’re venturing too far out, if the French catch them any further they’re dead. Vargas says they can’t risk the Musketeers survival and tells his men to fan out and find him. Porthos’, ready and waiting with his pistols all loaded and in position, quickly kills the first man that discovers his location, then quickly kills two more. Vargas’ party now down to five men, including himself.

Rochefort convenes a hearing on Aramis’ guilt or innocence, having the Musketeer swear on the Bible, that he’s about to tell the truth. When Rochefort asks if he slept with the Queen and fathered the Dauphin, Aramis says those are lies and that he knows he won’t let Ann live as she knows that he’s a spy for Spain and has filled the King’s head with lies. Louis is watching the proceedings through gaps in his ceiling boards and wonders if Aramis accusations have any validity.

The First Minister brings in the Dauphin’s Governess Marguerite, who admits to sleeping with Aramis, but says he’s the Dauphin’s father and he and the Queen were intimate. She then breaks down crying trying to extend her hand to Aramis, when the guards take her from the room. Rochefort sentences the Musketeer to death in a manner fitting to his crime, he walks ahead of the guards as he goes back to his cell.

Rochefort, then visits the King, saying Aramis will get put to death immediately, however how does Louis want to handle the situation with the Queen and Dauphin and Louis says, not now Rochefort. The Captain of the Red Guard tries to press the matter, when the King tells him not only did he just lose a Queen, he lost his son, the only one he ever had.

Back in the woods, Porthos quickly kills his next attacker, but then struggles viciously with the next man, until he recovers his blade and jams it between his opponents shoulders. He’s unarmed and surprised when an attacker is upon him brandishing a pistol, but the man’s killed by a shot coming from the woods, a second shot rings out, killing the Captain, leaving Vargas alone. Treville, Constance, Athos and D’Artagnan come out of the woods, Constance puts a blade to Vargas neck and tells him to surrender. Vargas asks Treville if they always bring women to fight their battles, Constance asks how he knows she didn’t bring men to fight her battle, while Treville takes his pistol.

Vargas at first refuses to speak, but when he finds out the Spanish King’s sister’s in danger of getting executed, he admits that Rochefort’s a spy for Spain. He says that Rochefort had the most remarkable tolerance for pain, he ever encountered, he thought if he could turn him, he’d serve Spain well. However, even he had no idea, what Rochefort was up to.

Aramis, tries in vain to break his chains, then prays that if Ann and his son are spared, as well as himself, he’ll renounce everything and join a monastery. He then hears his cell door start to open and says he’s not worthy of God’s grace, but he’s shocked to see it’s Milady de Winter, who killed the guard and came to free him. She tells him to high-tail it out of Paris and Aramis says he’ll be a wanted man if he escapes, Milady corrects him, telling him she rescued him.

Rochefort hears the Dauphin crying endlessly, he walks into the nursery to find Marguerite dead on the floor next to the crib, a bottle of poison in one hand, a suicide note/confession lying beside her. Of course Rochefort immediately rips up the note, then leaves the nursery, for someone else to find the dead Governess.

Milady brings Aramis to the house and they greet their lost mate with hugs. Everybody ignores de Winter, except Athos who comes to her with a cup of wine, which she refuses. He thanks her, then asks her plans and she says she’s starting a new life in England, Athos scoffs, says it constantly rains and the food’s terrible. However she wants him to join her and start a new life with her, she tells him she’s leaving in two days and will wait for him until dusk at the crossroads to join her, otherwise he’ll never see her again. D’Artagnan, interrupts the conversation, saying we have to get Vargas to the Palace.

Rochefort gives Louis a document to sign, authorizing executing the Queen, he tells him that the Musketeer escaped and likely confederates are coming to rescue her, which will set-up conflict and civil-strife. Louis stares at the document then starts crying saying he can’t condemn his wife to death. Rochefort says then he wants the unfaithful wife to remain by his side and a boy not his son to inherit the throne? Louis gets angry, then signs the order telling Rochefort to do it quietly and quickly, he promises he will. He then tells his Red Guard leader Villefort, to clear the palace of everyone but the Red Guard.

The Musketeers, Vargas and Constance, make their way into the Palace and exclaim their surprise at the emptiness, they’re soon joined by the Red Guard and the fight’s on. Constance and Aramis head to save Ann while the other four escort Vargas to Louis’ chambers, Louis hears the fighting outside his room and the group enters, with Porthos clutching the sword he killed Villefort with. The King says if he’s going to die, he’d rather get shot then stabbed, Porthos laughs and introduces Vargas.

Rochefort walks into Ann’s quarters and starts stroking her neck, she tells him he’ll never touch her again, then he produces the chain he’s going to choke her to death with and puts it around her neck. He starts to tighten it, when he’s shot in the shoulder from behind by Constance, he turns around to see her and Aramis with his sword drawn. He then starts dueling with Aramis, who knocks him down twice, before taking his sword and stabs Rochefort in the back of his shoulders, the blade going deep into the First Minister’s back.

They say that the Russian Mad Monk Rasputin, survived getting shot, hung, drowned, electrocuted and a host of other tortures before succumbing to death. Rochefort may’ve been modeled after Rasputin, as he pulled the blade out of his back and then went into the hallway, to see the Musketeers and Vargas. The Spaniard tells him it’s all over, he told the French King everything, Rochefort spits out, you betrayed me and Vargas responds you left me no choice.

Athos tells Rochefort to surrender, but instead he tries dueling all four Musketeers, but it’s D’Artagnan that starts truly fighting him, finally running his sword though Rochefort, as he stabs him in the gut and the sword rams through his back, then pulls it out. Rochefort sits down, looks at Ann and says he’s all alone, then takes one last raspy breath and dies. Aramis prepares to close his eyes, but Ann stops him from doing it.

Outside the Palace, Louis meets with the Musketeers and Treville, he apologizes to Aramis for believing Rochefort’s lies. Aramis says no apology’s needed, all part of service of the King and Louis says spoken like a great French soldier. He then apologizes to Ann, saying she’s a wonderful wife and Queen, then picks up the Dauphin and says the boy looks just like the King, he then tells Treville he needs to talk to him.

Ann thanks Aramis and his friends for saving her life, then Louis summons her as well to be in on the meeting with Treville. The King tells him that he’s declaring war on Spain and Treville’s to become his War Minister, he then says Treville best not turn him down a second time. Treville graciously accepts the promotion and all are happy.

The four Musketeers leave the Palace grounds and Aramis informs his mates, that he’s leaving to join a monastery. D’Artagnan and Porthos try talking him out of it, but Athos asks if that’s what Aramis truly wants and he replies with all his heart. Athos then hugs him and Porthos asks if he’s letting Aramis go, Athos responds that Aramis’ letting them go. They all hug and Aramis walks down a road without looking back.

D’Artagnan and Constance get married, as Athos gives away the bride while Porthos plays best man. The Priest pronounces them man and wife, but Athos’ lost in thought as he thinks of Milady waiting in the carriage for him. He starts to leave to mount his horse when Treville stops him saying there’s war with Spain approaching all leaves cancelled. Athos says he’ll return to the barracks as soon as he’s finished, Treville says he’s riding to the barracks immediately, as Louis named him War Minister and he’s promoted Athos to Captain. Athos says he’s unfit to lead anyone, but Treville says the men all love and respect him.

De Winter sits in her carriage and waits, just as she’s about to leave she hears a horse approaching, but alas not Athos. He however leaves the barracks to find her, but finds only her glove remaining.

Constance kisses her new husband goodbye, before the Musketeers head off to battle. Porthos says it seems weird just the three of them and Porthos says if Aramis knew of the impending war he’d return looking right at Treville. The War Minister tells his three Musketeers to return after they’ve set things up, but before they cross the border, the soldiers realize that means Treville will have their mate ready and waiting. The three take off racing each other giddy as schoolboys as they head off to War.

Season Three Has Already Been Given The Go-Ahead And We’ll Return To The Story Once The New Season Begins On BBCA.