A kidnapped baby holds the key to the sudden reappearance of King Louis’ mother from exile and a plot to seize the throne. Can Cardinal Richelieu and the Musketeers prevent a palace coup?
The heartbroken heart-throb
Aramis takes prominence in this week’s episode, as he ignores his own advice not to get personally involved in their mission to retrieve a mother and her infant child on Cardinal Richelieu‘s orders.
He and D’Artagnan arrive too late to prevent baby Henry from being abducted. However, in escorting his mother Agnes back to Paris he learns how she came to see the inner beauty of the deformed Philippe, eventually marrying him and bearing his child, only to watch as ignorant villagers beat him and burned him to death. In the process, he reveals how he became engaged at 16, only to be left heartbroken when his fiancée changed her mind.
King Louis is shocked when his mother Maria de Medici (Tara Fitzgerald) suddenly reappears, having been previously exiled for attempting to dethrone him. He is less than happy to see her again, at least initially.
Richelieu: Decapitating one’s mother is rarely popular with the people, sire. It always looks a touch ungrateful.
She claims her life is in danger, but suspicions arise when Athos and Porthos realise that a bloodless ambush was staged by either her or her mercenary lover, Vincent. They withhold this information from the king until they can uncover the endgame.
Richelieu learns that Maria was in fact Philippe’s mother – he was a hitherto unknown older twin of Louis. Maria intends to present Philippe’s son – her grandson – as the true king, deposing Louis and claiming power for herself.
However the Musketeers, aided by Constance, who infiltrates the house Henry is being kept in by posing as a wet-nurse, recover the child. Aramis proves to be a natural at singing to Henry, while Constance – rather implausibly, it must be said – uses his sword to take down one of Vincent’s men.
Knowing that Richelieu will kill Henry to preserve Louis’ position as king, Aramis tries to smuggle Agnes and her child out of France, but both the others and Vincent track him down. In a struggle with Vincent’s men, Henry appears to fall off a bridge into the river below. However, it’s just a ruse to fool Maria into believing her grandson dead and her plot ruined.
Richelieu ruthlessly ties up the loose ends to remove all evidence – both written and human – of Henry’s existence, all without the king being made aware of his mother’s scheming. Aramis and his fellow Musketeers return Henry to Agnes. She departs for a new and safer life.
Upping the threat level
This was a welcome improvement from last week’s rather pedestrian affair. The plot twists and turns smartly – enough to keep most viewers guessing, but without excessively tying itself up in convolutions in an attempt to fool everyone, Homeland-style.
More than just a traditional action-adventure, The Musketeers is quietly layering in the political and military backdrop to early 17th-century France. We already know about the unequal treaty France has with Spain and the king’s petulant frustrations with the way it curtails his ambitions for a new, more powerful and more prosperous nation. And we’ve also been made aware of the existence of threats closer to home, from the Duke of Savoy (The Good Soldier) to the cadre of regional nobles who Maria de Medici has rallied around her to help her take Paris.
Threats exist around every corner, and it’s hard to tell whether the greatest one will arise from outside the royal court or within it. Will Richelieu – again this week collaborating with Treville and the Musketeers rather than conspiring against them – be able to continue holding them at bay with his machinations? Will the duplicitous Cardinal himself emerge as the ultimate season-ending threat? He exists in a moral grey area, certainly, but he’s far from being a straightforward and unambiguous villain. And what role will Milady (absent again this week) have to play in all of this?
All this remains unclear, but we are certainly building towards a bigger, badder foe than those currently presented in the Musketeers’ mission of the week.
Don’t you just love it when a plan comes together?
Has D’Artagnan been watching The A-Team?