Peter Capaldi’s absence from the Musketeers is hardly noticeable (though he will be sorely missed) in this second episode. The emphasis is on King Louis. The sometimes-childish king gets his share of adventure after asking the Musketeers to take him out drinking.
In an era where technology is not as advanced as today, King Louis can afford to slip in the street in a civilian garment without being recognized by the plebeians. Very few commoners can claim to have seen the king up close, and it works in his favor. This episode, if anything, was Ryan Gage’s opportunity to show us the extent of his talent as an actor.
Some may remember him as Alfrid from The Hobbit, the unlikable servant to the Master of Lake-Town but Gage’s King Louis is one character, we cannot help but like. As childish as he is, impossibly naïve and petulant, he nonetheless attracts our pity. After all (historically speaking) Louis XIII of France did ascend the throne at the age of eight, which would technically mean that his childhood was not exactly the most fun. No wonder that our King Louis wants to dwell with commoners and escape the confines of the castle…
…Until he is kidnapped, of course. Along with D’Artagnan, King Louis is taken in the kind of adventure he was certainly not expecting. Captured by slave traders, the two have to find a way to escape before they get shipped to Spain. So far, the Musketeers’ encounters with the King have been sparse and very short. It was time to have some form of bonding moment and the honors were given to D’Artagnan. Some talk about losing one’s father ensues and it seems that the gap between noble and lower class has been shortened.
Perhaps the highlight of the episode has to be given to the return of Maimie McCoy as Milady DeWinter. She is a difficult character to like (though it is impossible to compare her to Joffrey Baratheon) considering her actions in the first season, but a familiar figure is never unwelcome. Her life was spared on her promise to never be seen again by the Musketeers, but here she is. Milady saves d’Artagnan and the King twice. The latter is impressed with her bravery—no, he is smitten by her. Milady has never been known not to be aware of her charms, which she uses to get what will enable her to stick around in the next episodes: King Louis exonerates her from her crimes as a token of his gratitude. Of course, unused as he is to the world, he has no idea of her past. It will be interesting to see how Athos will take this turn of event.
Meanwhile, Queen Anne and the Comte de Rochefort have to deal with the absence of the King in the imminent event of the Dauphin’s baptism. In Rochefort we have a replacement of the Cardinal. He is the new resident villain and his relationship with Queen Anne is quite ambiguous. The two definitely share a past, but of what nature, we do not know yet. Whereas the Cardinal was King Louis’ closest confidant (which enabled him to carry out his traitorous schemes) it appears that it will be the Queen’s turn to be manipulated. Rochefort pales in comparison to the Cardinal but I think we need a bit more time to acclimatize ourselves to his presence.
The episode’s end sees the usual return to normality. King Louis comes back to court just in time for his son’s baptism and our Musketeers are reunited. Their efforts go barely acknowledged, as the King willingly returns to his position of power, being the spoiled child that he is. He forgets the family of Pepin, one of the poor men who were captured by the slave traders. It is the Musketeers, who, prompted by D’Artagnan, gather their money to offer it to his wife. This last scene summarizes exactly why we love this series: despite their flaws, the Musketeers are ultimately good-natured. It is always interesting to watch their goodness being challenged in a society where corruption, lies and deceit abound. Even better, they maneuver their way through it with their usual charm and humor no matter what the situation is.
The first two episodes have been lacking in terms of Athos and Porthos. Considering that D’Artagnan and Aramis are the two charmers of the group, it seems less surprising. However, I hope that the future episodes will even things out by allowing the former two to have more screen time. With Milady back in the picture, we can surely expect to see more of Athos at least.
featured photo from edna.cz