After two action packed episodes introducing us to BBC’s newest heroes we finally slow down a step. After watching this episode I found myself moved for many reasons, it was an interesting one for the series to put on so early in the run but a great story was told.
At long last we had character development from Athos and even a lot of story developing Porthos. It was a refreshing change of pace and quite a heart warming story that really saw the bond between the Musketeers shine above all else.
Instead of having an outright bad guy this time out, or even an outright bad motive, the story was about Emile Bonnaire, strangely portrayed by James Callis pretending to be Johnny Depp me thinks, a trader who has just arrived back to France and finds himself wanted by many, but in the hands of the Musketeers.
By the questioning of Porthos on their ride back to France you could tell he was a slave trader and by the end of the episode there was no doubts the theme of this story. Something we don’t really think about these days but a lesson that still is to be learnt in my opinion in many quarters of the world. Porthos said it best when he said that all men are born equal, to Bonnaire everything was unimportant other then himself.
It was nice seeing some emotional moments for Porthos, it would be so easy playing him as a joke, in fact it would be too easy to have him and Aramis the constant comic relief and only giving Athos and d’Artagnan any real drama to sink their teeth into. It is safe to say that Howard Charles played Porthos so movingly in this episode that you can forget those little moments (the best way to help Porthos when Aramis is stitching him up is to punch him etc, etc) that are so Porthos-ish and for a change remember that he too is a person. Human drama doesn’t always have to be about love triangles and women (men if the main characters are women) sometimes they can be something much more important.
Of course there were still plenty of moments with all of the cast, who would have known that Aramis not only is a great seamstress but he’s damn proud of his work (even if that work tends to be on Porthos’s back)? Bonnaire, other then being a echo of what everyone thinks dashing pirate-esque men should be now *cough*Jack bloody Sparrow*cough*, was quite a fun character, larger then life but twice as ugly when you get to the bottom of it.
Through all the laughs that you have with Bonnaire though you can’t mistake the black hole where the characters heart is meant to be. Hardly a second thought to riding off when his wife is shot trying to free him, and when d’Artagnan finally catches up no tears, no emotion, nothing but a joke about farm boys and horses. A man who thinks so little of people, a man that the audience starts off loving (who is this fool that’s just stumbled into the room?!) to a man we can all detest for different reasons. A man whose’s only priority is his own life. In a way played pitch perfect by Callis.
I guess the big news is that Athos has had some character blown into him. Personally I still find him quite wooden, and seeing his scenes with Milady before he had her hanged didn’t change my mind on that. Burke has flashes of being great and then moments of being really… Not into it. This episode was a great one for Athos though and there were plenty of moments that I think he got it right. Not only that maybe the shadow of his past can be changed a little from depressing to burning rage, after all he now knows Milady is alive and well and still on her criminal path.
Still there is a long way for him to go.
I was blown away by the fact that d’Artagnan was actually really good, he slotted in perfectly to the group this time and didn’t feel like an outsider. I guess that was the problem for me in the first two episodes, he was an outsider, but it didn’t work because Athos felt that way too. This time he’s much more apart of the team and his relationship with Athos is probably what the two characters need, it’ll be hard for them to match up to Aramis/Porthos though.
But the best part of the episode was the morale story.
This man who was destroying hundreds of lives was then given the go-ahead by the King (through the Cardinal) to carry on destroying people’s lives for the betterment of France. Or because the King was bored of Spain dictating to him what he should do. It didn’t matter that this horrible excuse for a man was a slaver or anything else, what mattered was France, the King and Bonnaire surviving. It was nice to see him getting his comeuppance.
It isn’t every day you get a story told so well.
The change of pace was great, the focus on the characters was a nice thing and you get a growing sense of who these people really are. I like that they aren’t just the Musketeers, the BBC is giving them their own identity and making us care about them.
Plus Ryan Gage as the King should win awards for the wonders he’s doing. I won’t bore you to death telling you how his one scene was just perfect in every way. So under appreciated online in my eyes.