Cardinal Richelieu orders the assassination of Queen Anne to pave the way for King Louis to marry the daughter of a wealthy German count, forcing the Musketeers to seek refuge in a convent where Aramis finds a familiar face.
The perils of love
If this series has proven anything, it’s that it’s dangerous to fall in love with a Musketeer. Either your husband sentences you to death (Milady), you’re sent into exile for your own safety (Ninon, Agnes) or your infidelity is discovered and you’re forced to break your lover’s heart (Constance). At best, your love is destined to remain unrequited forever (Flea).
Knight Takes Queen gives us two romantic entanglements for the price of one, as Aramis discovers his former fiancée in a convent and ends up bedding Queen Anne.
The set-up for the episode is mildly preposterous as Cardinal Richelieu takes the drunken king at his word. He has been enjoying the company of Charlotte, whose father Count Mellendorf is keen to sell into marriage for a significant dowry, when he wishes aloud that he could get rid of his wife:
Better if Anne were dead. Better for me, better for the country. All our problems would be solved.
Richelieu engages Milady to recruit an outcast Irish soldier, Gallagher, and his band of mercenaries to assassinate the queen, who is holidaying at a lake outside Paris. Meanwhile the king goes hunting with Charlotte and the Count, taking the entire Musketeer regiment with him.
So far, so silly.
Is that a musket in your pocket, or are you just pleased to see me?
Gallagher’s initial attempt to assassinate the queen with a sniper shot mistakenly kills one of her ladies-in-waiting. Athos and Aramis seek refuge with Anne in a hillside convent, while Porthos and D’Artagnan ride to Paris to seek reinforcements.
The latter pair ambush the four men Gallagher sends after them, finding a promissory note which leads back to a Parisian money-lender. After discovering the garrison empty aside from Treville and three stable-hands, they narrowly miss encountering Milady, who has been despatched by Richelieu to tie up the loose ends, starting with killing the lender.
Meanwhile Athos and Aramis are surprised to find unlikely allies in the nuns, whose Mother Superior proves to be a willing fighter with a wicked sense of humour. Furthermore, Aramis is shocked to discover that Sister Helene is in fact his former fiancée, who fell pregnant but lost their child. Aramis believes her father sent her away, but learns it was in fact her choice when she recognised that his love of adventure meant that, had they married, they would only have made each other miserable.
Gallagher’s men launch a frontal assault on the castle, only to be repelled by a combination of Musketeer sharp-shooting, improvised Molotov cocktails and even a beehive tipped over the wall on to the unsuspecting men below. However, a second, more stealthy infiltration results in Helene’s death.
Aramis and the queen bond over their shared experiencea – Anne too lost a baby six years previously – and end up sleeping together.
Surely I’m safer with you than in the care of unarmed nuns?
Gallagher’s men launch one final assault. Athos and Aramis hold them at bay, but find themselves with a single shot remaining just as Treville and the others turn up to save the day. Athos goes after Gallagher and offers him the opportunity to surrender if he reveals the identity of his paymaster, but the Irishman refuses to break his word of honour and goes for his gun, forcing Athos to shoot him. However, they discover a money-box which links Gallagher to Milady.
Back in Paris, Richelieu plants incriminating evidence on the Count and forces a confession from him in exchange for his daughter’s freedom, making him look like the hero of the hour. However, Athos confronts him privately, letting him know that they are on to him.
Building to the finale
The episode gives us a stylish Musketeers take on one of the oldest TV tropes of all – the base under siege – with a healthy sprinkling of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, while neatly bringing together a raft of continuity and setting up next week’s finale.
The others tease D’Artagnan about his shiny new uniform after earning his commission last week, while Treville still carries the injury he sustained against Labarge. The romantic spark between Aramis and the Queen was planted way back in episode two, while the ongoing arcs involving Athos/Milady and Richelieu’s attempts to finance a new French navy move closer to their conclusion. Finally, the lengths Richelieu will go to in order to both further his own and his country’s position is further underlined. From killing his queen to framing another man for murder, it’s clear he will stop at nothing.
With the Musketeers now circling around both Richelieu and Milady, we’re set up for one final showdown, with D’Artagnan set to play a central role in the unfolding drama, just as he did in the opening episode.
Indeed, it looks like we might also have seen the beginning of another storyline to carry us into the show’s confirmed second season. Will Aramis and Queen Anne’s one-night stand produce the heir King Louis so desperately craves? But I’m getting ahead of myself, aren’t I?