This review contains spoilers.
3.8 Prisoners Of War
So we’re finally into the home stretch of the last season. This has to be the point at which The Musketeers will either make good on its past successes or fade away as another BBC also-ran. The season hasn’t quite been as strong as the last, but then it’s by no means been a failure. A slight slump in the middle hasn’t overshadowed some great character work by the show’s regulars as well as some excellent work by some of the newcomers.
Prisoners Of War is an episode of two stories, one continuing the Musketeers’ chase for Grimauld and the threat against Paris from Louis’ death, and the other, the return of Milady and the more intimate danger she poses to our heroes. I have previously moaned about this series not getting on with the main arc and chasing irrelevant subplots down increasingly annoying rabbit holes. However, for once I’m surprised – Prisoners Of War works far better than it should considering the duality of the episode. Directed by Udayan Pasad (The Tunnel, Silent Witness) and written by James Payne (Mr Selfridge, a lot of EastEnders), much credit should be given to them both for keeping the main story going – at pace, whilst reintroducing perhaps the best character of the show and making the danger that much closer.
What’s interesting is that just before this episode I was all ready to cry foul on the showrunners’ claims that this wouldn’t be a single ‘big bad’ season, as with the death of Everett’s Feron there was really only Grimauld. Stokoe’s Marcheaux, despite some occasional spotlight-stealing is just not on the same level. Although Grimauld’s presence here is still very much to the fore, the introduction of Milady and her all too unhealthy interest with Athos has presented a different form of malice, and in many ways a more potent one. Shaking the show up with her introduction this late in the game is actually a smart move as she’s a more than capable replacement for Feron and yet gives the character relationships a very different dynamic. It might even pump some life into Athos’ love affair with Sylvie, which has been relatively turgid of late.
So Queen Anne has gone from lonely women to full on mover and shaker – negotiating peace with the Spanish and bringing enlightenment to the people. That’s a hell of a change, perhaps a little too much but I can just about buy into her radical passion considering Louis has now gone full-on fruit-loop. Ryan Gage puts in another scene-stealing performance, albeit one all too fleeting within the episode. It was also good to see Aramis get more to do than just think how much it sucks to be him, although there wasn’t anywhere near enough interaction between him and Grimauld. Ultimately we never really feel that he was in any danger – which was a wasted opportunity considering Grimauld’s penchant for violence.
The whole Spanish prisoner storyline and the plot to discredit the queen was well worked, not overblown and carried the action of the episode. The most irritating aspect was yet another ability to add to Grimauld’s already impressive super powers. So alongside an outfit that can slow bullets or even deflect them and the ability to heal incredibly quickly he also has the power of mind control. That’s the only reason I can think as to why none of the Musketeers decided to chase him when he ran for his horse (considering he was roughly ten steps away from them). If he doesn’t fly in the next episode, or at least have lasers for eyes I’ll be personally disappointed.
Of course then there’s the return of Milady. Maimie McCoy has been much missed this year as her presence always loomed large over the previous seasons and she was such a great foil for the Musketeers – especially the over-passionate and gloomy Athos. Her introductory scene with Treville is great, filled with fun and menace. On a separate note, could someone also tell me when Treville became Richelieu’s understudy – because surely employing Milady to assassinate for anyone, even if it is the crown, is still a little on the naughty side of things. I’m hoping that we’re all supposed to be perplexed by his behaviour, even though it means she’s got a good reason to hang around. I also can’t imagine the Musketeers will be too happy about this, so we can only expect trouble ahead on this one. Back to Milady – is it me, or does she look just a tad more deranged than before, that look she gave at Athos during Sylvie’s lashing surely spells trouble for them all – see, aren’t we all glad she’s back!
Prisoners Of War manoeuvres all the right pieces in all the right places for what should be an exciting finale – roll on next week.