This review contains spoilers.
2.7 A Marriage Of Inconvenience
Last week’s Through A Glass Darkly was a slight blip on what has been a strong season for The Musketeers and it is with some relief that A Marriage Of Inconvenience returns the series, if not to its peak, then at least some way to it.
Directed by Edward Bennett (Waking The Dead, Silent Witness) and written by, Steve Bailie (Casualty, Primeval), A Marriage Of Inconvenience is a surprising episode in that it had me raging for the first half hour, but then as the twist became more clear it forced me to see it in a new light. This was an episode that caught me unawares and I liked it the more for it.
So what was going on? Well, in the vein of The Good Traitor, the main plot – a series of failed assassination attempts against the King’s cousin to stop an alliance between France and Sweden was an effective means at bringing out all the other ongoing narratives and giving them a huge kick up the rear before the final sprint to season’s close. The fact that the Louise/Sophia Martinez plot was good in it’s own right gave A Marriage Of Inconvenience some added satisfaction, but the episode on the whole was a good example of being something greater than the sum of its parts.
So why was I raging so early on? Mainly because the perceived level of contrivance – you want to assassinate someone and have the opportunity to do it, then just do it! The repeated failures were starting to irk me – but then with the realisation that Francesco wasn’t all that he seemed, the penny started to drop. So hats off to Mr Bailie – well done (although I’m sure some of you will be screaming that it was obvious from the get-go).
At its heart, A Marriage Of Inconvenience is all about Rochefort. Although his character makes no real leap in dramatic development, this episode cements his worthiness as an opponent to the Musketeers, a threat to the King and a clear danger to France. I’ve mentioned before that peril in adventure TV is difficult if the main cast are always ‘safe’, but the way in which Rochefort is being used and what he represents, a single-minded, determined and dogged individual that gets what he wants without being encumbered by conscience, personifies that peril in a far more real way than if a gun was put to d’Artagnan’s head (because we know it would never go off). On top of what Rochefort represents, Marc Warren seems to be enjoying the hell out of the role and has imbued it with just the right amount of ‘nutball’ to make him dangerous as opposed to moustache twirling and pantomime-like. Surely he’s banished any lingering concerns that Capaldi’s absence would hurt the show.
Sticking with Rochefort, there was a nice symmetry in his rise to First Minister against Milady’s fall from grace. This will surely come back to haunt Rochefort especially as Milady now knows his secret. The weird thing is, are we now rooting for Milady? Has Athos forgiven her? It’s not entirely clear why, now of all times, Athos seems to be able to put the past aside, especially when his return home brought the events of that time into such clarity. Perhaps it was putting that past behind him that has allowed him to move on, (maybe such reasoning will be explained later – or feel free to speculate below). It certainly feels that Milady has turned into the quintessential anti-hero, even more so in that the characterisation for Rochefort has worked so well that you can’t help but feel compelled to see his downfall and, let’s face it, Milady does seem the obvious choice to be the principal instrument in any such move. Either way, Maime McCoy continues to be the real standout this season, so I hope that she gets to finish the season on a high.
We can’t forget the other big talking point. The resolution of the Constance, d’Artagnan and Bonacieux triangle. Considering the challenges that the couple have faced over numerous episodes and that in general their relationship had been extremely well written, I felt the death of Bonacieux to be a little bit of a cheat. It lets d’Artagnan and Constance off the hook far too easily. Don’t get me wrong, it was good to see Bonacieux with an arrow in him, and his final words, cursing the two lovers, was a reminder that he was indeed the innocent party (although slapping your wife is hardly an innocent action!). It’ll be interesting to see where this goes, and hopefully not down cliché lane. For those who have read the book I can’t help thinking about Constance’s fate and wondering if the series will be bold enough to follow a similar path. Certainly now that way is clear for d’Artagnan and Constance to live a happier life, there wouldn’t be a worse time for such tragedy to occur…
The story that nobody really wanted, that of finding out about Porthos’ parentage looks like it’ll be resolved, but does anyone really care – especially with all the other narratives going on? Porthos has probably taken the biggest hit of all the Musketeers this year, especially as frequently stole the limelight in the first season. Yes he’s had a few minor moments and next week could be ‘his’ episode but he’s largely been used as ‘muscle’ which is a bit of a disappointment considering his chemistry with the other leads and typically excellent comic timing. We’re not quite at the campaign for more Porthos yet, but without taking a significant step forward, by seasons end we might just struggle to remember his contribution.
A Marriage Of Inconvenience then isn’t the best of the season, but is a marked increase from last week and sits well within the season and series as a whole. Ed Bennett returns to direct next week’s The Prodigal Father which if based on the evidence of this episode – should be something to look forward to.
Follow our Twitter feed for faster news and bad jokes right here. And be our Facebook chum here.