This review contains spoilers.
3.7 Fool’s Gold
Following last week’s Death Of A Hero was always going to be a tough ask.
It’s interesting to see down which route The Musketeers went – keep up and maintain the pressure until the end, or have a breather and then go all-out for the remaining three episodes. Certainly, Fool’s Gold went for the latter course (presuming that the last three episodes do indeed go hell for leather!), but that’s not to say that this is lesser Musketeers – in fact it’s a highly enjoyable episode whose place in the series seems perfectly right. I’m sure not all of you will agree, as the momentum from last week was significant, but I have my reasons…
First and foremost, it’s fitting that a story focused on women should be directed and written by an all-women team. Directed by Sue Tully (Michelle Fowler from EastEnders!) and written by Kelly Jones, the story revolves around the Musketeers stumbling into an unknown village of women who have lost their husbands to war. The Musketeers are still on the trail of Grimauld – who is now very firmly in their crosshairs after attempting to murder them in an intricate and vicious fashion last week. Of course, this being television, the village has its own problems and is under siege by bandits who would like their ill-gotten gains back. Off the bat, it ticks all the right boxes for a Musketeers adventure, but most important of all it’s an episode that feels like it’s right for the heroes to get their teeth into, (while of course, not forgetting all the other significant season machinations happening in the background). Defending the vulnerable, morally complicated situations and some good excuse for action is what we need from this show. There’s all of this and some important character work back in Paris between Louis and Anne to boot, so yes – boxes well and truly ticked.
Ryan Cage has very much impressed this season and continues this good work in Fool’s Gold. Almost completely gone is the buffoon – his portrayal of sobriety and the impact of his forthcoming death works incredibly well in the context of the series, I only wish we’d seen more of this sooner – and the interplay between him and Anne was nuanced without the need for stating the obvious. We didn’t need the ‘but what about Aramis!’, but this was bigger than that and it was good for a show that has had its fair share of frivolous moments to recognise the importance that Louis’ death would have on France. Likewise, it was good to see Anne being unequivocal in her approach, and the look of pain on her face when she realises that this is not reconciliation from the King, but a form of punishment (at least in his view) is, again, well played and points to the King’s underlying greatness as a proper bastard.
However, these developments were very much on the side, while the centre of the action takes place with the Musketeers and their hunt for Grimauld. I’ve said before that the show works best when focused on the Musketeers themselves, and although last season was overall very good, all too often it was their co-stars who walked in the spotlight. We’ve not had that this season and the drama works much better for it. It is why when we have episodes like Fool’s Gold they still shine because the chemistry and relationship between the four leads is used to best effect as opposed to exposition for someone else to claim the glory.
Fool’s Gold also managed to eschew another Musketeers problem in how the writers try to contemporise modern issues. Showing these women affected by problems in wartime was a much more restrained approach to highlighting both a historical and contemporary issue and was much better handled than the on-the-nose approach of the immigrant episode we saw earlier in the season. Fiona O’Shaughnessy was the stand-out as the conflicted leader who must look after the village whilst suffering from some severe trust issues. Lily Loveless was also good as the pregnant Elodie (though it would be nice for once if someone wrote a character whose pregnancy wasn’t so close to popping, as what’s gping to happen becomes all a little obvious). Having said that, it was nice to see Porthos get some love from the writers.
I did have one problem this week: mysteriously vanishing wounds. You can’t make a big thing out of someone’s wounds (Athos) only for them to seemingly heal by the end of the episode. Yes, I appreciate that there’s TV time and real time… but come on, this isn’t Star Trek.
So yes, Fool’s Gold was a likeable, worthy edition to the series. Next – the run in to the end…