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De la Fère Manor

Athos goes storming back to the house, suddenly purposeful. He hauls out a crate of wine and starts to drink, no doubt hoping to obliterate all the memories that have haunted him ever since he arrived.

Personally, I'm dead impressed that all the wine is still there, if the house has lain derelict for five years; the authority of the de la Fères over their tenants must be pretty absolute to hold so fast even in absentia.

Athos drinks and he drinks and he drinks, in a moody montage of alcoholism and despair. Only when he is sufficiently blotto does he take a bottle with him on a little pilgrimage to the portrait gallery, where he hurls said bottle at his own portrait, just to ensure we have thoroughly grasped the point about just how much he hates himself.


Later

It is now dark and Athos has drunk himself into a stupor.

It seems no one from the village has come to talk to him about the unfortunate Remi, who will by now have been found dead shortly after the long-lost comte was seen visiting him, which has got to look suspicious as all heck, especially given Remi's role in the execution of said long-lost comte's wife – which surely everyone must know all about, because you can't keep a secret for long in a community like this. Maybe they're all scared of him, seigneurial overlord that he is. They've certainly seemed deferential whenever we've seen him ride past ignoring them utterly.

Anyway, Athos startles awake in the middle of the night to find himself in a crumpled heap on the floor, and slowly unfolds upright in the clumsy, lumbering fashion of the utterly inebriated.

The house is beginning to fill with smoke. Athos hazily registers this fact and begins to stagger from room to room toward the orange glow of a fire up ahead, coughing and spluttering, far too drunk and far too miserable to even remember what self-preservation is, never mind employ it.

The master bedroom is on fire.


Athos stares at the flames in bleary disbelief for a moment, and Tom Burke does rock bottom despair like no one else. Then he is surprised to hear footsteps out in the hallway. He turns – and his jaw just about hits the ground, because his supposedly dead wife is standing there holding a burning torch, which she has been using to set the blaze.


Milady looks almost as shocked to see Athos as Athos is to see her – and she at least knew he was still alive. Athos, for his part, has believed her dead for five years, and, you know, he is blind drunk right now, so he is completely knocked for six and at least half believes he's seeing an actual ghost here.


ATHOS: You're dead. I watched you hang.
MILADY: You didn't watch, did you? You couldn't stay to see your beloved wife choking on the end of a rope.
ATHOS: Remi.
MILADY: I seduced him. As soon as you fled, he cut me down and revived me. But look. I still carry the token of your love.

She pulls aside the ribbon at her throat to reveal the scar.

I have questions again now about Milady's survival. Did Athos not even hang around to see his wife buried? I can buy that he wouldn't want to view the corpse, which would have helped Milady and Remi get away with it, but how did they explain the lack of a body to the rest of the village, who must surely have known all about the execution? Did Remi claim to have buried her by himself in an unmarked grave in the grounds, or something? And I'm now picturing Athos riding straight to Paris in a drunken stupor that same day, immediately after the execution, unable to stay in the house another moment, just abandoning everything, including the supposed corpse, for someone else to take care of. How long, we wonder, did it take for him to find his way to a new life with the Musketeers – and how did he come to join the regiment, in such a state? Was he looking to pour his heart into duty…or was he hoping to get himself killed?

Even in his shocked, drunken, emotionally wrung-out state, Athos is beginning to put the pieces together now, realising that it was Milady who killed Remi.

MILADY: Put him out of his misery. He spent the last five years waiting for you to show up and discover his crime. He was half-dead already.

But why now, enquiring minds would like to know? Why did she decide to kill Remi and burn down the house now? She didn't know Athos was going to be here, so what triggered this? Was it because she knew he was going to be in the area and thought she'd better belatedly cover her tracks just in case? Was it her failed attempt at revenge on Athos in episode one that made her want to escalate matters like this? We aren't told, and it really is one heck of a coincidence that she just happened to decide on this little excursion of arson and murder on the exact same day that Athos just happened to have also returned home for the first time in five years.

Also, how have they managed to avoid one another for the past five years, both living in Paris, the one in service to the King and the other in service to the Cardinal? And why did it take five years for Milady to decide to take revenge on Athos in the first place, leading to his being framed for murder in episode one? Why has all this come to a head now? We aren't told of any particular inciting incident, and are left to wonder.

Anyway, Athos lunges for her now, enraged by her cold admission of murder, but he is drunk and uncoordinated and she evades him with ease. This scene is the first time we have seen husband and wife interact outside of flashbacks, and both actors absolutely smash it, the chemistry and sense of tortured history between them absolutely sizzles.

ATHOS: I'm dreaming.
MILADY: Drunk, perhaps. But not dreaming.


With that, she raises her flaming torch and smacks him in the head with it, knocking him down. Sober, vengeance-fuelled assassin versus drunk, self-destructive musketeer, he really doesn't stand a chance here – the contrast between her cool, collected poise and his rock bottom drunken despair really is stark. Their shared history brought each of them to where they are now.

ATHOS: Why are you here?
MILADY: To erase the past. To destroy it completely. I'm glad you came back. It is right you should die with this house.
ATHOS: The house where you murdered my brother.

Three episodes worth of hints and clues are all falling into place now – the terrible history of what happened between Athos and Milady five years ago. Ooh, and watch her reaction to this accusation, that one touched a nerve, and she bends over Athos now with a knife to his throat, fierce and furious.

MILADY: I killed Thomas to save our love.
ATHOS: You killed him because he discovered the truth. That you were a criminal who lied and tricked your way into my life.
MILADY: He was a fool and a hypocrite. He deserved to die. I thought you would understand that.


Okay, let's examine this for a moment, because this exchange here is the foundation stone of the Athos-Milady relationship through season one. From Athos's point of view, Milady was a grifter who long-conned him into marrying her, his brother learned the truth and she murdered him for it, and that was the point at which Athos's entire life fell apart, losing both brother and wife in one devastating fell swoop. From Milady's point of view, she killed Thomas in a desperate attempt to save the life of comfort she had created with Athos, the desired end justified the act entirely, and she admits no fault or remorse for the killing even now.

He deserved to die, I thought you would understand that, she says, and there are two ways we can take that statement. Here and now, based on the information available so far, it comes across almost as sociopathy, and at the time this scene was written, that was no doubt how it was intended to be taken, very much in keeping with the story as told in the original novel, in which Milady is portrayed as some kind of soulless demon, almost, and is dreaded as such by the superstitious musketeers.

This Milady, however, is a much richer and more complex character than her book counterpart, even while following much the same course in life. There is no soulless demon here, instead we are presented with a deeply damaged individual whose moral compass and choices in life are warped and constrained by the society in which she lives and the circumstances in which she finds herself, a character who is always permitted to have a valid point of view and rational motivations, even when behaving heinously. She is an antagonist and a ruthless, cold-blooded killer and remains such throughout, she never once expresses the slightest remorse for any of the deaths on her hands, but that is never all that she is, and I do appreciate how much more rounded she is than her book counterpart.

Season two goes further still and takes her at least part way along the path to redemption, at which point her exchange with Athos here is partly retconned by her claim that she killed Thomas because he tried to rape her – and while it is possible to read He deserved to die, I thought you would understand that as supporting this alternate version of events, it is very much a retcon, because if she had claimed rape as her defence at the time, it would come out here, it makes no sense for it not to. So yes, the rape claim in season two is a retcon that does not inform the backstory here, it can't because it's a twist that hadn't been thought of yet, and as a result of it, because Milady tells different stories at different times, we, like Athos, cannot know what the truth is. The only thing we can know for sure is that Milady killed Thomas, for whatever reason, and Athos had her hanged for that crime.

The fire is spreading. Heedless of the knife at his throat, Athos kind of rolls toward Milady and she clutches at him and hugs him, kisses his head, almost as if neither really knows what they are doing, drawn to one another and intimately connected to one another even now, after everything, and kudos to both actors for selling the hell out of the relationship and the weight of the history between the characters.


MILADY: Perhaps it's best it ends like this.
ATHOS: Do it. Do it.

But, with her knife at his throat again, she finds the locket he wears and opens it to see her pressed forget-me-knot inside, and is overwhelmed by emotion…

…and then the moment is over, because d'Artagnan is suddenly outside yelling for Athos in alarm.

Outside

Horrified to find the house on fire, d'Artagnan sees a cloaked figure escaping on horseback, but since that person clearly isn't Athos he doesn't waste any time on them, instead bursting into the burning house to search for his missing friend, because friend in danger trumps self-preservation any day of the week.

Milady rides away, and we are left to wonder whether or not she killed Athos before making her escape…but come on, Athos is one of the leads and this is only episode three, we all know he isn't dead – even if perhaps he wants to be.

Inside

Athos has collapsed on the floor choking with smoke inhalation, far too drunk and shell-shocked and self-destructive to even think about trying to escape the fire, and one thing this episode really drives home is just how fragile that poised, controlled façade of his truly is and how very broken he is underneath it. He crumbled shockingly fast here.

Lucky for Athos d'Artagnan came back to join him in his sub-plot, then, instead of staying with Aramis and Porthos in theirs, although exactly why he did is never really explained. But then again Show did make a point of showing us that d'Artagnan was the only one to really see the effect being back here was having on Athos, since Porthos was busy being injured and Aramis busy looking after him. D'Artagnan, on the other hand, spent a bit of time with Athos away from the others here and clearly saw enough of the state he was in to be worried. So, we can presume, he was worried enough to come back to check on him, and since he isn't a musketeer and isn't officially on duty, he got to do that. He'd have been expecting to find Athos in a drunken heap on the floor, though, I'd imagine, rather than the house on fire!

Anyway, d'Artagnan comes stumbling through the smoke and flames to find Athos, quickly hauling him to his feet and away.

Outside

Athos is on his knees staring at the flames, in a state of shock.

D'Artagnan comes rushing over with a skin of water to throw over his head, all anxious and agitated and doing the best he can while not having the faintest idea what's actually wrong, bless him. D'Artagnan has his faults, but he has a heart of gold and can be a real sweetheart.

Athos is dazed and numb and too broken in this moment to hold onto the secret he has kept from even his dearest friends for all these years – and he succeeds in freaking d'Artagnan right the heck out with his rambling revelations.

ATHOS: Since we arrived, I felt her presence everywhere. I thought I was imagining it.
D'ARTAGNAN: Who? Who?
ATHOS: My wife. She died five years ago now, by my orders. She was a cold-blooded murderer, so I had her taken from the house and hung from the branch of a tree.
D'ARTAGNAN: Look at me. Look at me! Are you saying the ghost of your dead wife tried to kill you?
ATHOS: She's not dead, d'Artagnan. She survived.
D'ARTAGNAN: This was her revenge?
ATHOS: It was my duty. It was my duty to uphold the law. My duty to condemn the woman I love to death. I've clung to the belief that I had no choice. Five years learning how to live in a world without her. What do I do now?


Both actors absolutely kill it in this scene, really well done: Athos in total despair, that intensely private man suddenly laid bare, and d'Artagnan incredulous, floundering beneath the weight of the revelation suddenly laid upon him. Even Aramis and Porthos, as close as they are to Athos, have never known this much about his past, and thus a new bond is formed between these two characters, who have already been drawn to one another as close and concerned friends ever since they met.

Now, there is a lot of debate within fandom about whether or not Athos was justified in having his wife executed, so let's pick apart what he says here: She was a cold-blooded murderer; it was my duty to uphold the law; I've clung to the belief that I had no choice.

Athos himself doubts the justice of his actions, aware that they were clouded by grief and betrayal, but most of the arguments against him are hinged on Milady's rape claim in season two, which is not in play here. Whatever we are told later, this episode does not offer attempted rape as Milady's motivation for the murder, and makes it very clear that the murder was the reason for her execution. She was hanged for committing a crime, not for being the victim of a crime. Even if Thomas did try to force himself on her, she still killed him, and far lesser crimes were punishable by death in this society; hanging a woman for murder would have been the expected form of justice, rather than something extreme or out of the ordinary. Self-defence is barely accepted as a mitigating factor now, never mind in the 17th century!

As for whether or not Athos was entitled to act as both judge and jury in the case, well, by today's standards, obviously not, but under the law of the day…he pretty much was. As the Comte, he held seigneurial and judicial privileges over the vassals on his estate, including his wife. Our present day justice system would require trial before an impartial judge and jury, but that modern standard can't be imposed on a story set in the 17th century. Under the law of the time, Athos did what would have been expected of him – he says it very clearly here: it was my duty to uphold the law. And that is the truth of his position. He was responsible for upholding and enforcing the law on his estate, and Milady committed a crime on his patch, basically. Milady may or may not be within her rights to feel angry and betrayed that he punished rather than supported her for what she did, but his peers would say he acted entirely properly in condemning and executing the murderess, wife or not.

But carrying out that duty was what broke him and sent him fleeing from his home and estate, not out of guilt but because his heart was broken, because the woman he loved had murdered his brother, because punishing her for that crime was his absolute duty, and the pain of it was more than he could bear.

I mean, he could have avoided the blood on his hands. He could have asked a neighbouring aristo to handle the trial and execution for him, and no doubt no one would have thought the worse of him, while modern sensibilities would be satisfied by a more impartial magistrate…but Athos would say it was cowardice to shirk his responsibility in that way and that he owed it to her to handle the trial and execution himself. No wonder he clings to duty above all else. It's all he has left.

Streets of Paris

It is morning, and Aramis and Porthos have reached Paris with their prisoner, who is deeply unhappy about the mount they have found for him, but finds them an impenetrable united front.

BONNAIRE: I refuse to arrive at the palace on an ass, and I'm within my rights to demand a fresh set of clothes.
PORTHOS: What rights?
BONNAIRE: The rights of every man to some fair treatment. Justice, dignity. A little dignity.
ARAMIS: You do know how ironic that sounds coming from a slave-trader?

Bonnaire has enough grace to cede the point, but then, shameless as always, goes for a final stab at talking his guards around, claiming to have turned over a new leaf, and I enjoy watching the reactions of Aramis and Porthos as he talks, the one stone-faced disapproval and the other all angry disbelief.

BONNAIRE: I'm out of the slavery business. Thank you for inspiring a new Emile Bonnaire.
PORTHOS: You'd say just about anything to save your own skin.
BONNAIRE: Well, of course I would. Who wouldn't?

Yeah, they are having none of it, a completely united front, fondly anticipating the punishment they are certain lies ahead for Bonnaire. Off they continue to the palace.


Bonacieux House

Hey, it's Constance, making her first appearance of the episode after, count 'em, 43 minutes! I've missed her.

Constance wanders into her front room and is startled to find a woman there. Uh oh, it's Milady de Winter.

MILADY: Tell your master I have come about material for a new dress.
CONSTANCE: My husband is away at present. I am Madame Bonacieux. Can I help?
MILADY: You're his wife? You are so young, I thought you must be the maid.

Constance is dressed very simply for a day about household chores while her husband is away, her hair down about her shoulders. Milady in all her finery, elegant and poised, makes her feel humble and drab and they both know it. Putting these two together in a scene makes for a fascinating study in contrasts: Milady the spy, all double talk and innuendo, versus Constance the forthright, open and honest.

MILADY: You are very pretty.
CONSTANCE: So are you. What does that have to do with your dress?
MILADY: And spirited. Some might say rude for a common merchant's wife.
CONSTANCE: If you just tell me what you require, Madame.


Yeah, Constance has never seen this woman before, but immediately knows she is not on the up and up – a genuine customer does not behave like this, barging into the house unannounced and treating her with such disdain. Also, I'm in two minds over whether this brief exchange can be classed as passing the Bechdel test or not: the two women do exchange a few words on the subject of their respective beauty and manners, but the conversation in general is about a man, so I'd say not, all things considered. Close, but no cigar.

MILADY: You have a lodger named d'Artagnan.
CONSTANCE: Yes.
MILADY: He's handsome. Are you attracted to him?
CONSTANCE: I am a married woman.
MILADY: Oh, don't look so shocked. What could be more natural than for a married woman to take a lover?
CONSTANCE: I think you should leave now.

So Milady's fixation on d'Artagnan continues, perhaps heightened in this moment by his unexpected appearance back at de la Fère, interrupting her reunion with Athos. But poor Constance, of course, has no idea what all this is about – which, of course, Milady was counting on, using the landlady to get at the lodger, while also watching Constance's reactions here to gauge her relationship with d'Artagnan, trying to learn more about him.

MILADY: D'Artagnan and I have some acquaintance. One might say we are intimate friends.
CONSTANCE: Are you his mistress?
MILADY: I have a maternal interest in him.
CONSTANCE: You're not old enough to be his mother.
MILADY: Well, perhaps maternal isn't quite the right word.


Poor Constance. Milady is playing games with her and she wasn't prepared for it at all, can't begin to understand what this is all about.

Milady is satisfied that she has achieved what she set out to achieve, which was to unsettle Constance thoroughly and establish a new link to d'Artagnan, and announces that since Bonacieux is away she will come back another time. Constance, forthright as ever, would prefer it if she didn't.

MILADY: I don't think your husband would agree. I understand he is badly in need of money.
CONSTANCE: How could you know such a thing?
MILADY: Inform your husband Milady de Winter called. And tell d'Artagnan too, if you wish. So pretty.

So patronising – as, of course, she intended. And we learn from this exchange that Milady has done her homework: she knows where d'Artagnan lives and has investigated his landlord's finances, always on the lookout for a hook, always in search of a new angle. She is very thorough – and very dangerous.

Streets of Paris

Athos and d'Artagnan have made it back to Paris, not so far behind the others after all.

Athos seems well recovered from all the shock, smoke inhalation and rampant alcoholism of last night, but he is well practised in one of those things, at least, and after baring his soul to d'Artagnan, he has got his head back in the game enough to recognise the surviving Man in Black riding down the street just ahead of them.

He decides to go after the man himself, but not before cautioning d'Artagnan not to tell the others anything of what happened last night. He's kept his past a closely secret from his closest friends all these years and has no intention of confiding in them now – I'm pretty sure he'd also extract the truth from d'Artagnan's memory, if he could, now he's calmed down and sobered up enough to realise just how much he spilled of his innermost trauma to the youngster

D'Artagnan is quick to agree that he won't say anything, and looks a bit agitated still, uneasy with the weight of what he has learned. He heads off, leaving Athos to pursue the Spanish agent.

Bonacieux House

Left without any occupation, since Athos wanted to go after the Man in Black alone and Aramis and Porthos will have reached the palace with Bonnaire already, d'Artagnan has headed home to get changed after the long journey and his little brush with fire, and Constance wanders in just in time to get an eyeful of his naked back and saggy bottom; I think this is where I first started to notice that d'Artagnan's breeches always, always look a bit saggy around the bum.


I would advise her to encourage him to close the door when he changes, but she doesn't seem to mind too much really. She is more concerned about Milady's visit, which is weighing on her mind.

The name Milady de Winter means nothing to d'Artagnan, of course, because he never thought to ask for her name during their brief encounter, he was too busy channelling his grief into lust and promising to kill a man for her.

Slightly mortified and trying hard not to show it, Constance describes the woman, but if d'Artagnan realises from the description who she means, it doesn't show. He asks what she wanted and makes nonchalant approving sounds when Constance says the visitor was offering her husband work.

CONSTANCE: My husband wouldn't approve of you receiving women alone in the house.

A pause. D'Artagnan is surprised, nods. Constance barrels on, struggling to put into words all the ways in which the visitor so deliberately unsettled her.

CONSTANCE: In case you intended to…. She frightened me, d'Artagnan.


D'Artagnan is surprised again, wondering what this means.

Rooftop at the Louvre

The surviving Man in Black settles into a sniper's position, rifle aimed at a nearby window, wherein Bonnaire is agitatedly pacing back and forth, awaiting his audience with the king.

How did the heck did he make it as close to the palace as this? First Vadim in episode two, and now this – don't they have any security around the grounds at all?

The Man in Black lines up his shot…but then the barrel of another man's gun is pressed to the back of his neck. So focused on the task at hand, he dropped his guard and didn't hear Athos sneaking up on him.

ATHOS: I'd suggest you put that down so we can talk.


Oh yeah, we are back on form, all right.

Louvre Palace, Richelieu's reception room

A nervous-looking Bonnaire is shown in to see the Cardinal, instead of the King.

RICHELIEU: It appears you had quite an adventure on your way here.
BONNAIRE: Some adventures a man can live without.

Bonnaire is tired, grubby and annoyed, and consequently struggling to muster his usual charm, not that it would get him anywhere with the Cardinal, who is calm and collected and enjoys having him at a disadvantage. Perhaps Richelieu should thank the Musketeers for delivering their prisoner in such a state, which strips away all his defensive colouring until what's left is probably as close to honesty as Bonnaire is capable.

RICHELIEU: I'm curious. How would you define a good adventure?
BONNAIRE: Where the potential rewards outweigh the risks, I'd say.
RICHELIEU: So, reneging on your deal with your business partner, Meunier: that was a risk worth taking?
BONNAIRE: Meunier's a man of low reputation. He's dishonest to boot. Nothing the man says can be relied upon.

Every buoyant, Bonnaire is beginning to recover both his composure and his verbosity, the eternal salesman, always ready to spin any story to his own advantage, desperate to worm his way out of trouble if he can. Richelieu eyes him shrewdly, weighing him up, and then goes for the jugular.

RICHELIEU: And what is the King to make of the rumour that you were setting up tobacco plantations in the New World and importing slaves to work them, in direct contravention of our trade pact with Spain? Did you imagine I would take no interest in a matter that directly concerns the King himself?


Bonnaire, for once in his life, is completely silenced and can only stand there, squirming. Richelieu is satisfied with this reaction.

RICHELIEU: With so much at stake I can only suppose the rewards of your enterprise must be very great.
BONNAIRE: Riches beyond dreams, Your Eminence.
RICHELIEU: Indeed.
BONNAIRE: I'm a patriot. I'm a true son of France. And it hurts me to see opportunity squandered.
RICHELIEU: Opportunities for France or for yourself?
BONNAIRE: Both.

Look at that: for once in his life Bonnaire chooses to give an honest answer – and it pays off, because this is an answer Richelieu can respect and make use of. Because he is keenly interested in the potential benefits of Bonnaire's ventures himself, Spanish treaty or no Spanish treaty.

Bonnaire is a born optimist and has a nose for an opportunity, opening his document case and strolling toward the desk with something of his old swagger.

BONNAIRE: If I might be permitted to, er lay out my plans in detail?
RICHELIEU: By all means. Explain them as if your life depended on it. Which, incidentally it does.

Louvre Palace

Aramis and Porthos are waiting for Bonnaire; Aramis lounging on a handy bench, having taken the opportunity to divest himself of his cloak and arquebus, while Porthos prefers to stand around modelling his cape in pensive, moody fashion, still slightly hunched around his wounded shoulder.


Bonnaire emerges from his interview with Richelieu looking shell-shocked, which Porthos thinks is promising.

PORTHOS: Execution? Imprisonment?
ARAMIS: Whipping? Wh-pssh!
BONNAIRE: Not quite, no. No, the cardinal and I have set up a joint stock company together. He's agreed to invest 10,000 livre of his own money, and I'm to set up tobacco plantations across the Antilles.
PORTHOS & ARAMIS: …!

So much for the Spanish treaty, not to mention the musketeers' fond expectation that Bonnaire would be punished for flouting it!

I rather enjoy watching all three of their faces through this: not one of them can quite believe what they are hearing, even Bonnaire himself. His comedy music is back, which rather undermines the gravity of the situation and the character's unrepentant actions, but this is no joking matter, least of all to Porthos.

PORTHOS: These plantations, they'll be worked by…slaves?


Again, he can barely choke the word out, and Bonnaire has just enough grace to be shamefaced about it, but remains completely unrepentant; to Bonnaire, business is business and caring about the slaves as people would interfere with that, so he doesn't, simple as that. Why exactly are we encouraged to be amused by this man?

BONNAIRE: Yes. Yes, of course they will. I'm actually off to Le Havre to charter a ship.

One thing I really enjoy about this episode is how completely on Porthos's side Aramis is, and I always enjoy how passive aggressive he can be, an expert at using his charm and humour to intimidate. He slings an arm around Bonnaire's neck and towers over him menacingly…but can't actually do anything to him, and Bonnaire rides his luck.

ARAMIS: I thought you were out of the slavery business.
BONNAIRE: Circumstances, my friends. Adapt to circumstances. It's really all you can do.


He sidles past and away, leaving both musketeers seething, and I wonder how it is that this guest character has managed to dominate the episode so. Part of it is James Callis's acting, he's that kind of actor, drawing the eye of the audience in every scene, but he is also written to be a charismatic and fully formed individual and is given a huge amount of screen-time compared with previous antagonists-of-the-week. I do appreciate the entertainment value of the character, but I also find it troubling that the antagonist treated primarily as a comedy figure is an unrepentant slave trader, and I also regret that so much time is spent developing him for just this one episode, rather than on developing the secondary regular characters, some of whom don't even appear in this episode.

At this point, it looks as if Bonnaire is going to get away with it, escaping to a prosperous life of slave trading with the full blessing of the French government and in despite of international trade agreements prohibiting such a thing…but despite presenting him as a lovable rogue, for the most part, the show has also taken great pains to show the human impact of his actions, through the pain and passion of Porthos, who is one of Our Heroes, so there is no way he is going to be allowed to get away with it.

But if he isn't going to be punished by law, it will have to be achieved some other way…

Musketeer Garrison

And then it's later, and d'Artagnan is hanging out with Porthos and Aramis at their regular bench in the garrison yard, both now cloaked again, so I guess it must be chilly, but d'Artagnan either doesn't feel the cold or he left his cloak at home. Aramis looks despondent and Porthos is just a seething mass of bitterness. This is personal for him in a way it can never be for the others, however much they sympathise with his pain.


D'ARTAGNAN: Bonnaire has more lives than a cat.
PORTHOS: If only those Spanish spies had taken his last one, hmm? Or I had.
ARAMIS: What did they want with him, anyway?

Athos arrives just in time to answer that question, which is just as well, since no one else knew the answer; Athos clearly persuaded the surviving Man in Black to talk. Also, not even a hint of a hangover. Either he has built up one hell of a tolerance, or he is very good at faking it. Probably both.

ATHOS: The Spanish King wrote to Louis demanding he put a stop to Bonnaire's activities. The spies were sent to make sure he didn't escape en route and to shoot him if he did.
PORTHOS: Oh, we should have let them.
ATHOS: …?
ARAMIS: Bonnaire's in business with the Cardinal.
ATHOS: He won't be punished?
D'ARTAGNAN: Rewarded.


Athos is incredulous, and now they are all depressed.

ARAMIS: Well, here's to us dying together on some forgotten battlefield while Bonnaire ends his days old and fat and rich.
PORTHOS: That man will go on to destroy thousands of lives and there's not a damn thing we can do to stop him.


But Athos looks as if he might have an idea…

Le Havre

And then we're back in Le Havre, that same ship still bobbing gently in harbour in the establishing shot, even though several days have passed.

It is evening, already dark, and Bonnaire is in a bar, in lavish mood, buying drinks for the entire house and fussing over the women present exactly as if he didn't lose his supposedly beloved wife just a couple of days ago. So much for true love. He is wearing a shiny new outfit and looking forward to a 'disgustingly prosperous' life ahead.

But Bonnaire's erstwhile business partner Paul Meunier is lurking nearby and speaks out to kill the mood, still furious about being swindled. Bonnaire wasn't expecting to see him here, but remains unruffled, confident in the protection afforded by his new partnership with the most powerful man in the land, which…I'm a bit puzzled about how openly Bonnaire's partnership with the Cardinal is spoken of here. Given that their business venture is a direct breach of the treaty with Spain, you'd expect him to want it kept quiet to avoid provoking any diplomatic incidents.

Anyway, the Cardinal isn't actually present to afford any direct protection, which is a problem for Bonnaire when Meunier gives the signal for what looks like half the patrons of the inn to step forward, weapons in hand. Thugs hired to exact vengeance.

Bonnaire is dismayed, and afraid, and I wonder just how long he expects to survive without his lady wife to look after him – and then Our Heroes jump to his defence, having been concealed in plain sight around the bar this entire time.

ATHOS: Attack Bonnaire and you attack the King.


Well, two musketeers and a musketeer wannabe jump to Bonnaire's defence – Porthos makes a big show of wondering why they should bother with such scum, while the others insist their duty is to protect the man no matter what. The debate gets quite heated…

ARAMIS: We have our orders. We obey them.
PORTHOS: I'll kill you too, you get in my way.

…and that, right there, should tip Bonnaire off immediately that this is a set-up: he's travelled with these guys for a number of days, long enough to see clearly how close Aramis and Porthos are and how fiercely Aramis has supported Porthos against him throughout – does he really believe they'd fall out over his protection now? But he is spooked and not thinking straight, and probably doesn't pay a huge amount of attention to anything not directly concerning his own safety and profit anyway. So he falls for it hook, line and sinker when the two musketeers start brawling and the thugs start to close in, and Athos bellows for him to go with d'Artagnan to the ship waiting for him in the harbour.

ATHOS: Hurry and you might live!

So melodramatic. But the key to this is to not give Bonnaire time to think, or he might start to remember minor details such as the travel plans he's made for himself…

Harbour

So d'Artagnan leads Bonnaire to a ship in harbour, no luggage but his precious document case slung over his shoulder, and Bonnaire is a bit incredulous but triumphant, and doesn't suspect a thing as he heads up the gangplank to meet the captain.


That triumphant smile is wiped right off his face when he is greeted by the surviving Man in Black and he realises he has been handed over to the Spanish. Talk about being hoist by his own petard.

Inn

D'Artagnan returns to the inn to find it a haven of peace and tranquillity, the fight having been completely staged. I'm impressed by how quickly they managed to contact Meunier and set it up with him, and would love to know which of them scripted and stage-managed the performance. I'm also wondering how they secured permission to spend a few days on this little side jaunt, since they aren't actually under orders to protect Bonnaire as he ships out – or are they? It isn't clear. Perhaps they went to Treville and told him everything and he gave his blessing, or at least granted a few days leave and promised to turn a blind eye; we've no way of knowing.

Porthos and Aramis cheerfully tease one another about their little play fight, while Athos hands Meunier the key to Bonnaire's warehouse – just how he got hold of that is anyone's guess!

ATHOS: Everything in it is rightfully yours. If I were you, I'd move it before the cardinal takes an inventory. No-one must ever know of this. Technically, we're both guilty of treason.
MEUNIER: My lips are sealed.


Only the third episode, and already Our Heroes are committing treason in the name of doing what they believe is the right thing. For Athos in particular, this is huge. I mean, Aramis seems to generally be up for just about anything and has been shown to be fiercely protective of Porthos, and d'Artagnan seems willing to go along with anything the others suggest, but this whole episode has drummed home how very important duty and legality are to Athos, so for him to deliberately flout both, in the interest of affording Porthos some small measure of justice, that's just massive. Athos can seem harsh when he has his emotional walls up, but behind those defences lies an incredibly loving heart.

ATHOS: So, as far as the cardinal is concerned, the Spanish kidnapped Bonnaire.
ARAMIS: And spirited him away.
PORTHOS: Embarrassing. But there's not much he can do about it.
ARAMIS: Godspeed, Bonnaire. May your time in a Spanish prison be long and uneventful.
PORTHOS: Let's see him adapt to those circumstances.

Bless him, Porthos is happy. Taking out one slave trader is not going to have any impact on the global trade at large, but it was a blow he needed to strike for the sake of his mother and all the others like her, and it warms the cockles of my heart to see his friends rally around him like this.


Streets of Le Havre

Later, as they leave the inn, Porthos makes a point of thanking his friends for their support with this, earnest and sincere. Bless him. Athos goes to slap him on the shoulder in manly affection, but Porthos is still protective of his injury and pull away.

PORTHOS: Oi! Mind my wound.
ARAMIS: Mind my needlework.

So of course Aramis promptly slings an arm around Porthos's shoulder himself, carelessly catching the wound, and it's all a bit cheesy but heart-warming with it.

The two besties wander off, leaving Athos to offer a few meaningful last words to d'Artagnan.

ATHOS: If only all wrongs were so easily corrected.

D'Artagnan, of course, knows exactly what he means by that, in on a secret that the other two do not share – the bond this forms between the two heightened by their mutual connection to Milady, if only they knew it.

Behind them, we see a shadowy figure lurking, taking a step back behind a wall before d'Artagnan can turn and spot her. He heads off after his friends…and Milady promptly steps out to watch them go – the third episode in a row to end with her. This is a pattern now: each episode opens with d'Artagnan and closes with Milady. It'll be interesting to see how long it takes for that pattern to break!


THE END

Does it pass the Bechdel test? 
Oh, this one comes close, so close…but no, not really. Milady and Constance finally meet, which means we get to see two of our regular female characters sharing a scene for the very first time in the show, but their conversation is about a man. They do manage to exchange a few sentences that aren't about a man, but in the middle of a conversation that is, so I can't in honesty pass them for it.

Also, Maria Bonnaire has a cat fight with a bar wench her husband was flirting with, but the bar wench is not named and the two women don't actually speak to one another.

Named women in this episode: Milady, Maria, Constance

Queen Anne does not appear in the episode, and I miss her. On the flip side, Treville is also absent, and King Louis only appears in one scene.

Named men in this episode: Athos, Aramis, Porthos, d'Artagnan, Richelieu, Bonnaire, Remi, Meunier, Thibault

Is a woman captured? 
No.

Does a man have to rescue a woman from peril? 
No. Alas poor Maria, she is dead almost before anyone realises she is in danger.

On the flip side, Maria comes to her husband's rescue not once but twice before she is killed.

Is a woman threatened, harmed or killed? 
Yes. Maria Bonnaire is shot dead while attempting to escape with her husband.

Does a woman have to deal with a sexual predator? 
No. Bonnaire flirts shamelessly with a nameless bar wench, but he's just playing and she plays along, there's nothing predatory about it.

Is a woman 'spared' the ordeal of having to do/witness something unpleasant by a man who makes a decision on her behalf/keeps her deliberately ignorant?
No.

Does a man automatically disbelieve or belittle something a woman says?
No.

Does a man talk over a woman or talk about a woman as though she isn't there? 
Yes: d'Artagnan asks what they should do about Maria, who is standing right there, and makes a point of reminding him such.

Is a woman the first/only person to be (most gratuitously) menaced by the episode's antagonist(s)?
No.

Does a woman come up with a plan?
Yes. Maria both plans and enacts the rescue of her husband not once but twice.

Does a woman get to be a badass?
Yes. As peripheral characters go, Maria Bonnaire is fabulous and I'm really gutted that she dies – as much fun as James Callis is, I'd rather watch the adventures of Maria than Emile.

Did a woman write/direct/produce this episode? 
Yes, no, and yes. Susie Conklin wrote the episode, giving us our first female writing credit for the show, while Jessica Pope and Carmel Maloney were executive and co-producers respectively.

Is Paris colourful?
No. For all the talk of slavery in the episode, everyone in the guest cast is white.

Loose threads left hanging?
No mention of the damage done to the palace by Vadim and his gunpowder in episode two, when surely there should be some serious repair work still going on. Still no explanation of why d'Artagnan, a civilian, is accompanying the Musketeers on their missions. And still no follow up on Richelieu's discovery that Aramis had an affair with his mistress.

Verdict

There is a lot to enjoy in this episode, with some really meaty character development to get our teeth into. We are getting to know the lead characters really well now, delving into the group dynamic in more detail and slowly drawing out more information about each of the core four, although some of the secondary characters remain under-developed at this stage – Bonnaire was given more screen-time and development in this one episode than some of the series regulars have had in three episodes! The episode is a bit clunkily issue-led in places, but that issue was immensely socially relevant at the time, so good on the show for at least attempting to deal with it, and I enjoy the way the two sub-plots are so intimately intertwined: the story of Bonnaire and his slave-trading, and the impact of this on Porthos, and the story of Athos and Milady.

This episode gives us plenty of action, drama and emotion, banter and intrigue, brothers-in-arms bonding, and even a dollop of good old-fashioned h/c, with impromptu table-top surgery thrown in to boot – what's not to love? Overall and taken as a whole, another thumbs up from me for this one.


*Screencaps made by me; gifs in my collection made by very clever other people on the internet. These include Tumblr-users Tatzelwyrm, Marigoldfaucet, Ofthemusketeers, Doortotomorrow, Polyportamis, Evennstars, Iamanathemadevice, Sweetladylucrezia, Angelicaliza, Ladyofglencairn, Roseroberts, Kingsmusketeers, Nineteeninetyeightt, Sylviesathos, Musketeersbbc, Duckodeathreturns, Themusketeersdaily, Runakvaed, Unkindness313, Sigurism, Berniestark, Kynikey, Deivixxx, Harrveyspecterr, Lochiels, Walterobrien, Annamisdaily, Captaindamerica, Dealingdreams, Borgiapope, Iriswestt, Themusketeersgifs-blog, Morimundo, Punksteves, Spaceshoup, Rrueplumet, yurioplisestky, padmecat. All credit to them and anyone else whose name I have failed to capture!

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