The Musketeers : Sleight of Hand

The second episode of the BBC’s portrayal of Alexander Dumas’s novels. Yes it took me over a week to watch it but a review I will write nonetheless.

The series got off to a good start in their first episode and it carried on strongly with the second.

The plot again was very simply, it was spelled out within the first 5 minutes and left us with a chance to follow the characters and the action without really second guessing. Jason Flemyng was great as the villain, Vadim, bringing out the best of d’Artagnan along the way.

Still the highlights of the show was Aramis and Porthos and even though he was tragically underused (unlike the Queen) Ryan Gage’s King Louis XIII was a masterpiece.

So what is there to like about Sleight of Hand?

As I said it is a very simplistic mystery that the Musketeers are trying to solve, they get d’Artagnan on the inside of the plot and then follow his leads. It lead to a lot of stories for the future getting set up (Milady/d’Artagnan, Aramis/Queen Love triangle etc) as well as letting characters shine. Last week we first met them, this week we had to have known them. There is no point carrying on with heavy character development at the risk of losing plot to it and this episode held it nicely. It had some lovely little moments (mainly with Aramis or Milady and Richelieu) but the story was the important part of the day.

And the story was great. Indeed a Sleight of Hand, whilst Vadim moved his pawn pieces in an attempted assassination of the King his real plan was to steal the crown jewels right out from under their noses, and it oh so nearly worked. Vadim was played perfectly understated, every scene he was in just the look on his face was enough to steal the moment, I struggle to think of anything ground breaking that the character did other then move the plot along but he stole every scene. And he had the Musketeers fooled as well! d’Artagnan played along to his tune and he nearly got away.

I have to say the real strong point of these two episodes have been the friendship between Porthos and Aramis though, them two on screen together and you know its going to be enjoyable. They play off each other so well, Porthos takes none of Aramis’s charms whilst Aramis is so much more optimistic then Porthos. At this moment its a good thing it isn’t called the Three Musketeers because Burke really hasn’t had much of an opportunity to shine as Athos. It is sad to have to say that but he’s still just a frown.

I say this but the scene where he and Aramis are interrogating Vadim’s mistress showed signs of a good Athos coming through, but at the moment the character seems to have too much baggage on top of his performance and he really hasn’t become part of the team yet.

I’m not sure what to really say about d’Artagnan, I find him boring and a little too bland. I’m hoping for a little more but he has this constant “the world is against me and I don’t want to be here I want to kill you all” look that I just want Athos to slap out of him.

Those two need to come a long way to reach the wonders that Aramis and Porthos are reaching already.

But let me talk about Ryan Gage for a moment. Last episode I couldn’t help but be melted by his charm as the King and this week he was in one scene really and flashes of another but he really was a wonder to watch. The way he delivered the line “Common sense is for Commoners” was truly wonderful. There was simply not enough of his character in this episode, such a gem in the whole series and yet his wife (played by Alexandra Dowling) was in too many scenes for my liking. I understand the character they are trying to portray but it simply was too much. She plays her well but the character isn’t to my taste.

It was another strong episode in a series that really seems to be gaining steam now. I just wish they’d stop promoting it with the saying all for phwoar because it might turn some people off watching what is actually a fun, action full series that really does just let you relax and forget the world around you.

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