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Monday, August 8, 2016

The Musketeers: To Play the King

I know, it's been so long since my last Musketeers review that the season finale has aired and you probably thought I had given up on the show. Nope, I'm seeing this through to the end – just a bit more slowly than originally expected.
This episode was a whopping fifty-five minutes long, starting with a jail break that focuses on two particular men: an obvious madman who thinks he's the king, and a terrified man who stays crouched in his cell. For future reference, the former is called Boral and the latter Joubert.
Naturally the escape is all part of a nefarious plot involving distractions and chaos and kidnapping. With the Musketeers preoccupied with rounding up the prisoners and holding them in the garrison, Grimauld threatens Joubert with the life of his wife if he doesn't unlock the door he designed to protect the king's treasury.
Okay, some questions. What is this money actually for? Was so Feron could pay off the Dutch financier? If so, where did all the Dutch money go? If not, why didn't he just steal the king's gold in the first place (especially since he has to pay Van Larr a ton of interest)? And what did the original Dutch money get spent on?
Also, why didn't Joubert flee the prison with the rest of the men? And if he had, how would Grimauld have ever found him? And what was he doing in prison in the first place? This is not a particularly well thought-out episode.

The Musketeers realize the escaped prisoners are heading for the refugee camp, where Sylvie is promptly held at knifepoint. There's a nice bit of silent communication between herself and Athos when she demands: "who are you? What do you want?" which immediately tips him off to the fact that something's wrong.
Elsewhere there's another Constance/Aramis team-up, which I love (even though she seems to be getting more screen-time with him than her husband). They've always had an interesting platonic relationship, and much like Athos/Sylvie, they end up communicating silently when it comes to formulating a plan.
In a way that reminded me of Guinevere from Merlin, Constance not only notices Annabelle Joubert's absence but decides to check on her. Once at her trashed abode, another young woman tells them she saw Annabelle get dragged away, and leads Constance/Aramis to the house where she was taken. It's subtle, but this plot can only happen because women know and care for each other.
Two things stand out during Annabelle's rescue: firstly that Santiago isn't always the most emotive actor, but you can tell Aramis knows he's bitten off more than he can chew in his delivery of the line: "all five of us", and secondly that Annabelle knows Constance is approaching by smelling the scent of the garrison on her. 
Really? I mean, don't ALL the Musketeers smell like the garrison? Wouldn't it have been better for Annabelle to simply have faith that Constance would turn up, or for Constance to whisper: "it's me"? Perhaps it was meant to indicate Annabelle's Super Observation Skills, for she's already figured out that her kidnappers weren't escaped prisoners and that her husband's work is probably the reason for abduction.
***
Over in the palace, preparations are underway for the Dauphin's sixth birthday. Louis's enthusiasm is understandable, but Feron is more distracted by the reappearance of Van Leer, the Dutch financier (I recognize that hat).  It's not long before Treville finds out about all the money that's been lent to Feron, and he knows full-well that it wasn't spent on a necklace for the Queen.
Yet having obtained the incriminating documents from Van Leer, Treville not only TELLS Feron about them, but goes ahead and LEAVES them on the desk in Louis's room. How idiotic can you get??
Van Leer is promptly killed off when Feron confronts him in private, leaving Feron with a dead body on his hands. Marcheaux is called in to get rid of the body, but for reasons that aren't explained he didn't get the message instructing the Red Guard to delay the return of the prisoners until later that day – thereby giving Grimauld and Joubert more time to work.
As such, Grimauld and his men are still down there when the Musketeers arrive. Grimauld only just manages to escape unscathed and unrecognized, though it was clearly a stupid idea for him to have introduced himself to the Musketeers earlier in the season.
It's an episode for stupid decisions, as while all this has been going on, D'artagnan has tracked Boral to a church. Despite Boral attacking him with a knife, D'artagnan decides the best place for him is in a convent, guarded by defenceless nuns. (In another unanswered question, we never learn how or why Boral knew about the scheme to steal the king's gold. Is he psychic or did he overhear something?)
We've swung into a completely different plot at this point, with Boral having killed the nuns and somehow evaded security at the palace in order to break into the private royal chambers, conveniently destroy the papers on Feron's loan, and get the Queen from her bedroom to the gardens without a single person noticing. This is a silly episode.
After being ordered to dispose of Van Leer's body, Marcheaux has apparently just dumped it behind a hedge, discovered by the Musketeers and presumed to be the work of Boral. Gee, how lucky for Marcheaux that there was a madman wandering around, otherwise all SORTS of questions would be asked as to how a dead body got there.
Let's wrap things up: after watching Porthos and Athos independently suggest that Aramis keeps away from the Queen, they collectively save her life. Treville is forced into silence by Feron threatening to expose the King's illness to the world (which seems a weak way of keeping the status quo, but whatevs), D'artagnan feels really bad for shooting Boral dead, and for some reason this inspires Athos to go make out with Sylvie.
We finally find out what Feron and Grimauld are actually up to: wait until the King is dead and then put Gaston on the throne. Ah, but sneaky Treville is a-lurking and he spots them in conversation.
This was a strange sort of episode, which discarded one plot (the heist) and took up with another (yet another threat directed at the Queen) just over halfway through, with plenty of padding throughout: what felt like superfluous scenes of Joubert making a key, D'artagnan talking to Boral, and Queen Anne nearly catching Feron trying to dispose of papers.
There was a rather unpleasant depiction of mental health considering Boral is diagnosed with PTSD by Porthos. Though I liked D'artagnan's compassion toward him, it's somewhat negated when he shoots Boral dead after he ceases to be a direct threat (not to mention the meaningless murder of the nuns). And for some reason Louis is back to suspecting Anne of infidelity. When did that happen?
In all, not a strong episode; one that very much felt like a midpoint story that mainly served to put everything in place for the second half of the season.  
Miscellaneous Observations:
D'artagnan asks: "why do I feel like I'm fighting for the wrong side?" continuing the anti-monarchy theme that's prevailing throughout this season – though dear Porthos is still staunchly loyal to the King (even though he doesn't deserve it).
This week's "urgh fandom" moment comes courtesy of a poster on Previously.TV who called Sylvie an "upstart." Because being an impoverished refugee in search of equal rights is like, so entitled, you guys.
Here's a picture of what Joubert calls Annabelle's locket. Unless that word means something different in France, this is not a locket:
The Red Guard are completely useless throughout this – I know they're the bad guys, but they've still got a job to do.
What do we make of Feron's fall in front of the thrones when declaring his loyalty to the Dauphin? I couldn't decide whether it was a performance, or whether his subsequent oath was sincere.

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