The Musketeers series 2 episode 9 review: The Accused

This week's penultimate series two episode sets the stage for a memorable Musketeers finale...

This review contains spoilers.

2.9 The Accused

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Written by The Return‘s Simon J Ashford and directed by Nicholas Renton (who also directs next week’s finale), The Accused continues straight on from the end of The Prodigal Father and fortunately loses little of the pace and impact.

Yes, The Accused had much to live up to, as it was clear the Musketeers’ world was about to be turned upside down as Rochefort’s plan finally kicked into high gear. Not only that, but as the penultimate episode of the season, its job was clear – bring everything together to deliver a finale fitting of the highs that the show has routinely hit. I’m pleased to say that the scene is set for a memorable series end.

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Stepping into such esteemed shoes as Capaldi’s was always going to be a big ask, but Marc Warren has truly elevated Rochefort into Capaldi’s equal, which is to say – he’s bloody good. Having donned the infamous eye patch, Warren has turned Rochefort’s subtly hidden rough edges into razor sharp ones. Look no further than the ferocity of his attack against Milady and you’ll see a man transformed by power and the taste of greatness. Such is Warren’s transformation and the conviction in the performance that even in silence his danger is ever-present. I just hope that whatever his comeuppance is, it’ll be equal to his threat.

It was also an episode where the Musketeers shone as a group. Aramis’ confession to his friends was well-played and Santiago Cabrera has steadily been bringing his A-game as the season has progressed. To be honest, he had to, otherwise how else could we sympathise with the womaniser and love rat who now faces ruin at the hands of his own deeds? The group as a whole was well-played, and although the team have rarely felt like the same tight-knit band of the first season, The Accused saw them back to their bantering and bickering best. That’s not to knock the time taken to explore each of the individual characters, as it has allowed the actors to bring a greater understanding and nuance to their performance so that the arguments and banter feel natural and not forced. Some shows never get that edge (look no further than Atlantis) and suffer all the more for it.  

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I’ve been keeping an eye out for the return of Catherine for some time now. I’d always thought that those pistols of hers would have a significant part to play in the end game – and although we’re only halfway through the finale and there’s every opportunity for her yet to make her mark, I was disappointed that more wasn’t done. Her role though, despite not being episode-defining, did have impact as it started a chain of events that brought the Athos and Milady relationship very much to the fore.

The thing is, despite her past, I’m sure we all can understand Athos’ mixed feelings as McCoy – and the show’s costumier, it should be said – have done a brilliant job of making Milady an exquisite seductress. The writers have done well to slowly move these two closer together over the course of the season so that when the embrace happens it may be a surprise, but it’s one that feels right nevertheless. I for one hope that this doesn’t start the domestication of Milday – because to neuter such a great actress and character would be a hard pill to swallow. 

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Also worthy of mention was Charlotte Salt’s Marguerite, who, for a relatively minor character has had significant impact. It many ways it’s through her actions and her almost constantly haunted look that we feel the real terror of Rochefort. His mental torture and manipulation of Marguerite (not forgetting his chilling acted ‘I am your God now’) is where the dynamic between hunter and prey becomes all the more clear for Salt’s achingly clear desperation. The real tragedy, and the one that Charlotte has done so well in conveying is the fact that she’s done this knowingly, fully accepting that her well-being and fate is nothing to him. I’m not sure what the series has in store for her, but it’ll be good to see her story get a proper ending.

I also now feel a little bad by criticising poor Lemay’s doctoring skills as he pays a harsh price for simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Whereas McClane had a wisecrack and a semi-automatic to fall back on, Lemay was powerless to do anything. On reflection, I do wonder if this was his fate from the beginning. Was he the sacrificial lamb to prove that the writers are willing to kill off supporting characters (albeit minor ones) and thereby raise the stakes for the finale? If so it’s a fair call, but I’m still doubtful whether they’ll be bold enough to take anyone else out of the game – although the preview paints a bleak picture for a few of them!

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It’s difficult to take the The Accused as an episode in its own right as so much depends on its resolution. However, I thought it did an excellent job of making the wait for next week’s finale all that more painful.  It also couldn’t have left us on a more darker note. With Aramis arrested for treason, d’Artagnan beaten and his Constance facing the noose, Porthos off on a near-suicidal mission (did anyone else have the ending of The Empire Strikes Back flashing through their heads at this point… or just me?) and with the rest of the cast being decided glum and persecuted, in many ways this was the perfect ending. The stakes are high, danger is everywhere and Rochefort got his eye-patch – the Musketeers has hit a high and next week’s Trial And Punishment can’t come soon enough.

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