llywela: (Musketeers2)
[personal profile] llywela

Hey, this is a familiar set – one of Show's favourite locations, it's been re-dressed for different uses in every episode so far. Here, it plays the part of a large, bare and somewhat dank cellar, where Marsac has got a prisoner all trussed up.

I would ask what Marsac was planning to do about this guy if he'd got himself properly arrested and executed, post-assassination, but I suspect the answer would be, 'let him starve to death and good riddance'. As it is, having had the good fortune to get himself arrested by the only musketeer in the regiment he had any hope of persuading to hear him out, he's now brought the whole gang to meet the prisoner, who he claims to have found in a bar, 'drunk and bragging about killing musketeers'.

How convenient that he happened upon this bloke at just the same time that the Duke of Savoy was about to visit Paris. Coincidental timing, this show loves it.

Because Marsac is so keyed up about everything, having had five years of perilous living to develop absolute tunnel vision about the event that destroyed his life, he is pretty rough in his handling of his prisoner, eager to get the man to repeat his intel for the musketeers, who have to restrain him before he can inadvertently kill the man.

D'ARTAGNAN: Easy. He can't talk if he's out cold.
PRISONER: I was a soldier in the pay of the Duke of Savoy. At Easter, five years ago, he told us the French had come to kill him and put his son in his place.

This is the first we've heard of the Duke's motivation for the attack. But why would he think a musketeer training party was planning to stage a military coup against him? That's what the musketeers need to find out, if they are to make any sense of what happened. Unfortunately, they will instead be almost immediately distracted from this titbit of information by what they learn next.

ARAMIS: Go on.
PRISONER: We rolled out on Good Friday, slaughtered the musketeers as they slept.

The reaction shot here is Aramis, devastated, instinctively taking off his hat in homage to the dead, like a nervous tick, doesn't even know he's doing it – and he does it a lot in this episode, when the dead of Savoy are mentioned.

PRISONER: They were snoozing like babies when we crept into their tents…
MARSAC: They were my friends!

Marsac launches himself at the prisoner in fury at this taunt, kicking and punching, a man with perilously little self-control, and has to be hauled away by Athos, who is wearing his very best 'something stinks' expression. The prisoner, seeing which way the wind is blowing, hastens to give up more information in hopes of saving his life.

PRISONER: No, wait! Wait! I'll tell you who gave the Duke his information. I overheard him and his Chancellor, Cluzet, discussing his name. We knew where you were camped. We were tipped off.
ARAMIS: What name did you hear? Who betrayed the Musketeers?
PRISONER: Treville. It was a Captain Treville.

Dun, dun, DUN! Talk about a plot twist.

Everyone reacts with shock and disbelief. Aramis kind of stumbles back a bit, like someone just landed a sucker punch, while Marsac, who hasn't served under Treville for five years and is eager for someone to blame, is all bitterness.

MARSAC: Well, it makes sense, and every man has his price.
PORTHOS: You take that back!

Porthos hurls himself at Marsac, a knee-jerk reaction to the very suggestion that Treville may have been corrupted…and a very similar reaction to Marsac's own at the prisoner's taunts; there might have been an interesting comparison to draw between these two hotheads, if Show had been interested in exploring it. We've already seen how loyal Porthos is to those he cares about and how protective he is of them, it's one of his primary characteristics so far – this is the first time we've seen the extent of his personal loyalty to Treville, his immediate, instinctive outrage at the mere suggestion that the captain might be corrupt.

The very idea of betraying a comrade is anathema to Porthos, we saw that clearly in episode two, and here again we see his temper, loud and aggressive. He's a man who needs to do something with his anger when it rises, so his reaction to the slur on Treville's good name is perfectly in character, of course he can't bring himself to believe such a thing…but on the other hand, Porthos and Aramis have been portrayed as the very best of best friends up till now, like two halves of the same brain, completely in synch with one another, and when Porthos was in distress in just the last episode, Aramis could not have been more supportive, so it's kind of jarring that there's no reciprocation here; they don't get any similar scenes of friendship at all in this episode, and that's probably my biggest regret about the episode. In a story all about divided loyalties, it could have made for a powerful internal conflict for Porthos, being torn between loyalty to Treville as his captain and loyalty to Aramis, who has been shown to be his inseparable best friend and is greatly distressed here. Surely his protective instincts should be torn between wanting to protect the captain's good name and wanting to help and support his best friend?

I suppose we could argue that this is deliberate characterisation, showing where Porthos's primary loyalties and priorities lie: we've already seen that when push comes to shove, Athos will prioritise duty and Aramis will prioritise the people he loves, so perhaps our takeaway here is that Porthos will in the crux prioritise the regiment and chain of command. It just seems like there should be more internal conflict than there is, but instead, there is no conflict at all – and also not a single word of support or understanding for his supposed best friend, not even one, which is what makes it so jarring. Porthos really drew the short straw in terms of characterisation in this episode, he's written on a fairly one-note level throughout, and perhaps the writers would argue that there just wasn't room in the episode to devote more attention to him, but I think he could have been given more depth here just by tweaking existing scenes and dialogue. It wouldn't take much, just a gesture of two of comfort or an admission of internal struggle would do wonders, as opposed to the flat, unyielding line he actually takes from here on out.

Anyway, Athos, so often the cooler head when all around are losing theirs, intervenes before Porthos can hit Marsac and calls everyone to order, ushering them all through to the next room where they can talk more privately.

D'ARTAGNAN: The Captain? Really? The Captain? A traitor who organised the murder of his own men? It's impossible.
PORTHOS: Well, he's lying.

Their absolute loyalty to the captain in the face of this allegation is highly commendable, and only what we'd expect of a musketeer, but on the other hand…such a blank dismissal of the claim is also kinda naïve. Because while d'Artagnan, I guess, is pretty young and inexperienced, both Porthos and Athos have been soldiers long enough to know that few things are as simple as they seem, that the political world in which Treville must necessarily operate is extremely murky – and that a soldier is duty-bound to follow orders, whether he agrees with them or not. They may not believe in Treville's guilt, but they know enough of how the world works that they should realise there may be deeper issues in play here that they don't yet have enough information to understand. At the very least, the allegation should make them suspicious enough to want to investigate more, to get to the bottom of both the massacre and the accusation, instead of simply dismissing the whole thing out of hand the way they do.

ARAMIS: How did the Duke find us so easily? Someone had to tell him, someone who knew our orders. It was Treville who issued them.

He says it quietly, like he doesn't want to be thinking this but finds the logic inescapable nonetheless. If the musketeer camp wasn't attacked by Spanish raiders who stumbled upon them by sheer chance, but was in fact attacked very deliberately by the Duke of Savoy, then it follows that they were betrayed in some way, whether deliberately or accidentally, because how else could the Duke have known they were there?

Like Porthos, it has already been well established that Aramis is intensely loyal to those he cares about, but his loyalty to Treville has here come into direct conflict with his loyalty to the musketeers who died in Savoy five years ago, this conflict coming hand-in-hand with what must be a devastating sense of personal betrayal. He looks shaken to his core at the very thought of it, but unlike the others he can't afford to just close his eyes and deny the possibility of it being true. Of the Fab Four, Aramis is the only one who was actually there, who was himself wounded and left for dead among the bodies of his friends, who knew and cared about the men who died, who fully understands what happened and what it means. For the other three, this is an intellectual exercise, a historical event they are on the outside of looking in, easy perhaps to dismiss out of blind loyalty to a commander who has never given them reason for mistrust, but for Aramis this is intensely personal. The very idea that he and his friends may have been betrayed must be agonising, but he can't just bury his head in the sand, as the other three do, because he knows in his gut that it could somehow be true and must therefore be investigated. How could he continue to serve under the captain with this left unresolved?

While the Fab Four are still debating, the prisoner very slyly starts needling Marsac the loose cannon, who has hung back instead of joining in the discussion.

PRISONER: Hey, Marsac. Your friends made a pretty picture with their throats slit…

It's as if the man actively wants to die, or something – Marsac's reaction is extremely predictable.

D'Artagnan, meanwhile, is arguing that the prisoner must have heard Treville's name somewhere, and Porthos adds that he'd say anything to save his own skin, Athos agreeing that there must be some other explanation, but no one suggests investigating together what that explanation might be, so that a fairly distraught Aramis now has all three of his closest friends united against him, too invested in denying the allegation on Treville's behalf to remember to offer any practical support in the wider investigation, which they also don't think to express any interest in continuing, now this accusation has been made. Aramis seems horribly isolated in this episode, most of which he spends in a state of escalating distress, and I long for even just one of his friends to say, 'okay, this looks bad, but don't worry, we'll get to the bottom of it,' but not one of them ever offers that kind of solidarity. The moment the allegation is made against Treville, they close ranks around the captain – leaving Aramis out in the cold.

Only belatedly do they realise that Marsac is throttling the prisoner – and by the time they've noticed, it is already too late, the man is dead. Bang goes the witness.

Marsac really is his own worst enemy. Aramis said he was once one of the best soldiers in the regiment, which, unless that's just the rose-tinted spectacles of nostalgia talking, underlines just how far he has fallen. He's so blinkered by his obsessive need to make someone pay for what happened in Savoy that he can't see anything else, and thus undermines his own efforts at every turn.

Streets of Paris

A carriage rattles through the street, driven by Red Guard, and comes to a stop outside a large building. Cardinal Richelieu disembarks in ostentatious fashion, swishing his cape around him. My, how Peter Capaldi enjoyed that cape while filming!

Richelieu is visiting a prison, which has Red Guard on the door. I'm never entirely clear on the duties of the various guards and regiments on this show, but the Red Guard do consistently seem to pull guard duty at the prison. Anyway, one of the Red Guard bangs on the door and the Cardinal is allowed in, looking all furtive.

Inside the prison

Rats scurry about, squeaking, as the Cardinal is escorted through the dank corridors by Spider from Corrie.

CARDINAL: Has anyone tried to contact your guest recently?
JAILER: How could they, when no-one knows he's here?
CARDINAL: It was a simple question. A yes or no answer would have sufficed.

Ha. Richelieu is awful, but I do love his snark. He is shown into Cluzet's cell.

CLUZET: Five years of waiting. I've often wondered why you didn't just kill me.
RICHELIEU: Well, a Spanish spy of your importance might prove valuable one day.

Spanish spy – well, now we know why Cluzet is banged up like this. I wonder how the Duke might have reacted if he'd actually been told his First Minister was a spy? Would he have cared? Or would he have taken action? Could all of this have been avoided if someone had just sat down and talked to the Duke about having a spy in his camp? Or were they too afraid of what Cluzet might then reveal to the Duke to risk it?

Cluzet wonders why the Cardinal has come to see him now, thus providing an opening for Richelieu to gloat.

RICHELIEU: Your former master, the Duke, is in Paris to sign a treaty that will bind France and Savoy together for ever. A historic moment, I'm sure you would agree.

CLUZET: You're lying. Spain would never allow it.
RICHELIEU: Well, without you to pass them information, the Spanish have no influence. The game is over, and all of your secret labour on their behalf was in vain.
CLUZET: The Duke can't be so short-sighted. Spain would pay twice as much and guarantee Savoy's independence.
RICHELIEU: Really? What a pity you're not there to advise him.

CLUZET: He can't have forgotten how you tried to overthrow him.
RICHELIEU: That whole incident was a tragic misunderstanding.
CLUZET: You forget who you're talking to. I saw the orders with my own eyes.
RICHELIEU: So you did. And then you urged the Duke to violent retaliation. Now, if you hadn't given him that advice, you might still be free and the Duke would be signing a treaty with Spain. It's strange how history turns on the smallest decision.

As exposition goes, this is fascinating, hinting as it does at some of the backstory, the political manoeuvring and machinations that ultimately led to the massacre of a Musketeer training party in Savoy. Note Cluzet's mention of an attempt by Richelieu to overthrow him, which links to what Marsac's prisoner told the musketeers earlier, and Richelieu's utter dismissal of the claim as a 'tragic misunderstanding', not to mention the talk of 'violent retaliation' – we are beginning to untangle the complex web of events that brought about the massacre.

We also see clearly here that to a ruthlessly pragmatic politician like Richelieu, mere foot soldiers like Aramis and Marsac and the dead of Savoy are nothing more than pawns, to be used and discarded at will, their lives and suffering meaningless when set against what he would no doubt deem the 'greater good'. He's such a cold-blooded man. No wonder Treville, himself a soldier, finds the whole affair so disgusting – and yet he too is up to his neck in it, as has already been hinted.

Cluzet attempts defiance, but Richelieu just dismisses him utterly.

CLUZET: If you're trying to crush my spirit, you won't succeed.
RICHELIEU: Your spirit is of little interest to me, crushed or otherwise. Total solitude. Unlimited time to reflect. I almost envy you.

Streets of Paris

Elsewhere in Paris, the Fab Four and Marsac have presumably abandoned the corpse of Marsac's prisoner to rot, in hopes no one finds it and remembers seeing them there. There is certainly no mention of it again as they stroll through the streets still debating the issue of the hour: whether or not it is conceivable that Treville could have been involved in a plot that resulted in the slaughter of his own men, which dominates the conversation to the extent that no one seems to remember that the Duke has also been implicated, giving them another possible angle of investigation if they don't like this one. They are usually much better at criminal investigation than this...but that, I guess, is another theme of the story: the way personal involvement creates blinkers. In just the same way that Marsac's focus on revenge blinds him to all other considerations, the musketeers are simply too close to the allegation against their captain to be able to step back and view the bigger picture.

D'ARTAGNAN: Treville is a patriot, a man of honour. The charges against him are ridiculous.

It's interesting that d'Artagnan is so fervent here in defence of Treville, with whom he has had very little direct interaction over the four episodes of the show so far. D'Artagnan is not yet a musketeer, is not officially serving under Treville's command – and was given a pretty scathing dressing down by the man earlier – but his loyalty to the captain is absolute nonetheless.

ATHOS: We heard accusations, not proof.
MARSAC: Then we'll find proof.
PORTHOS: There's no 'we' here.

I wonder how much this dismissive attitude is about blind loyalty to Treville and how much is about prejudice against Marsac, the deserter they despise. Certainly they aren't willing to agree with anything he suggests or cooperate with him in any way, whether he is right or wrong. No one loves a whistle-blower.

MARSAC: Aramis, you were there. You saw the butchered bodies.

The reaction shot here is Athos, turning swiftly to glare daggers at the man, like he considers this a really low blow, which it is; Athos may not have experienced the horror of Savoy himself, but he understands how it feels to have traumatic memories stirred up. Already deeply unsettled, Aramis certainly reacts vehemently.

ARAMIS: You don't need to remind me!

But a moment later, he has command of himself again. This is one of the personality traits that makes Aramis such a complex character, because he is so intensely driven by his emotions and yet is so very good at keeping them tightly contained, the more negative emotions in particular. He wears his heart on his sleeve for all the world to see, but at the same time, what the world sees is only ever the surface, very rarely the deeper emotions beneath. In general, he is the most easy-going of the four and the least prone to emotional outbursts – it takes a lot to make Aramis genuinely snap and lose his temper, and he almost always pulls it back again almost immediately, everything always kept locked away behind that gentle smile and courtly manner of his. Here, caught in the middle, he is trying so damn hard to be reasonable and objective about this, to take a step back and view the situation as an impartial investigator rather than as a victim, in spite of Marsac needling him constantly on the one hand and his friends completely shutting down the their one lead on the other.

ARAMIS: Athos is right. There is no proof.
MARSAC: Don't you want revenge?
ARAMIS: I want justice.

That right there is a critical distinction. Marsac throughout this episode is interested only in revenge. It blinds him to all other considerations. He simply flops and flails from one target to another in an attempt to assuage his own pain. First it was the Duke – and in the wake of his failed assassination attempt he even threatened to kill Aramis, the only other survivor of the attack he was supposedly avenging, and that reaction alone proves that it isn't justice he's looking for; justice would be for them both, but vengeance is for himself alone and cares nothing for who gets in the way. Then it was his prisoner, a former soldier who'd confessed to direct involvement in the massacre, an easy target to salve his frayed nerves. Now it is Treville, based on unsubstantiated hearsay alone. He isn't interested in a true investigation, or in evidence, or in going through the appropriate channels, the merest hint of suspicion is enough to send him off like a bull in a china shop. Was he always like that, we must wonder, this hot-headedness exacerbated by his situation, or is this desperate obsession with vengeance further evidence of how far he has fallen, how very broken he is?

Aramis, on the other hand, went through the same traumatic experience, and is demonstrably affected by it even now, but emerged from it unbroken: the wounds he suffered at Savoy were physical, but not spiritual, so to speak. Unlike Marsac, he isn't interested in blind revenge against any target even remotely suspected to be involved. Instead he hopes to find justice, which means establishing the truth before any further action can be considered.

But watch the blocking of this scene. Although Aramis is arguing against Marsac's extremist approach and is being completely reasonable – the allegation really does have to be investigated, having been made – he nonetheless finds himself standing alongside this former friend with his three current friends facing off against them. Where before there was at least sympathy, now his friends mostly just seem disgruntled that he hasn't dismissed the accusation out of hand, as they have, because, like Marsac, they have made up their minds up-front, without reference to any evidence.

So Aramis remains caught in the middle, loyalties pulled in every direction. What matters the most here: blind faith, or establishing the truth? And does it really have to be such an absolute either/or? Shouldn't there be room for both? Shouldn't it be possible to believe in the captain's innocence while still being prepared to investigate what really happened? They managed it when Athos was accused of murder, after all.

PORTHOS: This is the Captain we're talking about.
ARAMIS: Which is why we owe it to him to clear his name.
D'ARTAGNAN: So, really, we'd be doing him a favour? Let's hope he sees it that way.

Okay, the sass really isn't helpful just now, d'Artagnan! It's meant as funny snark, but comes across as unnecessarily snide, since Aramis is right that the best way to exonerate the captain is to investigate the allegation, but they are acting as if the very idea of an investigation is an insult to Treville's honour, end of discussion. And perhaps I'm labouring the point, but this comes across as both over simplified characterisation and a break with their established pattern. I mean, Treville and the Musketeers stood by Athos when he was accused of murder, steadfastly denying even the possibility of his guilt, but they still investigated the crime so that the actual truth could be determined, and remained sympathetic to the grieving d'Artagnan throughout. When such a serious allegation has been made and twenty men are dead, simply saying 'I don't believe it' is not enough. It wasn't enough for d'Artagnan, whose father had been murdered, and it isn't enough for Aramis, who saw his comrades slaughtered around him.

But I suppose denial is easier than facing up to the ugly possibility of what they might find if they start poking at this.

I imagine they would feel differently if they had been there themselves, if they were the ones who'd been treacherously attacked by dead of night and had seen their friends slaughtered around them…but then again, Aramis didn't need any personal experience of the horrors of slavery to be able to support Porthos wholeheartedly when he was so distraught at finding himself duty-bound to protect a slave trader. He simply saw his friend in distress and gave his support without reserve or condition, and thus was a source of great comfort to Porthos, even if he couldn't actually fix the problem for him. Then when it became clear that the authorities were going to let the slave trader escape scot free, the entire group drew ranks around Porthos to ensure he found some measure of justice, at least.

No one is offering any promises of justice to Aramis here, still less any practical support in his quest for the truth, nor any understanding of why it matters so much to him. I suspect that Athos, Porthos and d'Artagnan believe they are choosing Treville over Marsac, who is a stranger to them, a cowardly deserter whose word is automatically suspect, but I doubt it feels that way to Aramis, who is left to flounder while his friends actively withdraw from him just when he needs them the most. For the remainder of the show, Aramis is consistently the musketeer most prone to going off on his own to handle his problems all alone, but after his experience in this episode, I have to say I don't find that surprising! His takeaway from this episode is that his friends won't be there for him when he needs them.

D'Artagnan and Marsac proceed to needle one another a bit, Marsac complaining that this is none of d'Artagnan's business since he isn't a musketeer, whereupon d'Artagnan smugly points out that Marsac isn't a musketeer any more either, and I suspect d'Artagnan hasn't forgiven Marsac for a) eyeing up Constance, and b) getting him into trouble with Constance. Since Marsac's temper is on such a hair-trigger, he launches himself at d'Artagnan in outrage, but Porthos gets in his way and tells him not to go there, if he enjoys breathing. That's the protective Porthos we know and love, which is why I find it so jarring that we don't get to see him being such a stalwart supportive friend to Aramis when he needs it most, which would reciprocate the support Aramis gave him last episode. Treville trumps Aramis, clearly. That's the thing about putting characters in a situation where their loyalties are divided: it becomes extremely interesting to see the choices they make.

Forever caught in the middle in this story, Aramis pulls Marsac back and squeezes his shoulder by way of comfort and reassurance, himself remaining highly agitated.

ARAMIS: I have to know the truth.
ATHOS: I don't believe Treville is guilty and I never will, but we won't stand in your way. Do what you have to do.

Do what you have to do, but don't expect any help or support from us, is what he means. He says it tightly, like it pains him to even say the words, and he can't look Aramis in the eye as he says it. Athos, we know, retreated to the Musketeers after his previous life imploded on him when his wife murdered his brother and revealed in the process that she was not who he believed her to be; duty and honour are the belt and braces he relies on to hold himself together, so it's small wonder he finds it so painful to even consider the possibility of finding treachery and betrayal within the regiment, too.

But, you know, twenty musketeers died in Savoy, in highly suspicious circumstances, and all the denial in the world won't change that. Treville may or may not be guilty, but someone sure as hell is – Aramis is completely right about the need to investigate the allegation, now it's been made. Strange how the only one of the Fab Four with any personal stake in the matter is also the only one even trying to be objective about it.

ATHOS: One condition - Marsac stays under house arrest.

Given Marsac's status as a fugitive, that's fair enough. Aramis agrees and hands Marsac over to the other three to lock up again at their will. As they head off, Aramis calls after them.

ARAMIS: During the massacre, I wounded their leader, a cut across the back. If it was the Duke who led the attack, he'll still carry the scar.

I wonder when he expects them to get a look at the Duke's back! Before they part, Athos has one last word of caution for his troubled friend.

ATHOS: Aramis, before you go down this road, ask yourself one question. If it is true, what then?

Oh, now that's a telling statement. It is the first time any one of the trio of Athos, Porthos and d'Artagnan has so much as conceded the possibility that the allegation might be true, yet it is very clear that Athos thinks burying their collective heads in the sand might be preferable to having to deal with the consequences of learning the truth.

He doesn't stop to consider the other possibility: that if the allegation is not investigated, then the suspicion would linger, eating away at them like a cancer.

Louvre Palace gardens

Meanwhile at the palace, the royal family are making the most of the sunshine by spending the day in the gardens. While Queen Anne and Duchess Christine watch on from the portable pavilion, King Louis is play-fencing with the Duke and Duchess's young son, Louis Amadeus – which was, indeed, the name of the real life Duke and Duchess's firstborn son…but the real Louis Amadeus died in 1628 at the age of six. The only living child the couple actually had in 1630 was a one-year-old daughter, Louise (who, incidentally, was married off to her 49-year-old uncle when she was only 13 years old! Ick!), and their next son, Francis Hyacinth, wasn't born until 1632. But Plot required them to have a son and heir for this episode, so that the Duke can believe the Cardinal wants this son to replace him, so history has been re-written to keep Louis Amadeus alive two years after he should have died. Because Show has never even pretended to adhere to real world history, but exists in a little universe all its own!

While Louis plays with Louis Amadeus, the watching sisters-in-law have a chance to chat, somewhat awkwardly.

ANNE: Do you still long for Paris?
CHRISTINE: Savoy is my home. And motherhood is a great distraction.
ANNE: …so I'm told.

Look at that: episode four and we finally have our very first unequivocal pass of the Bechdel test. I just wish there was more to it than this brief little exchange.

Still, even if the conversation is only three sentences long, they pack a lot of meaning into it – the little eye-rolls they exchange speak volumes, sisters-in-law who have so much in common yet don't really know one another well at all, so diplomatic, making polite conversation and saying all the right things, not giving any ammunition to anyone who might be listening, but the subtext is loud and clear – not just about Christine making the best of a difficult political marriage, but also our first hint of Anne's longing for a child, which would seal her own difficult political marriage while also bringing her the same 'distraction' and comfort that Louis Amadeus is for Christine.

Meanwhile, Louis play-fencing with little Louis Amadeus is the most hilarious thing. I love that Louis is making the effort to bond with his nephew, but I especially love that he's too much a big kid himself to allow the little boy to actually beat him, and is gloriously ungracious in victory. Louis is awful, and I adore Ryan Gage's performance.

LOUIS: Ha! You lose, I win. France beats Savoy.

I love that the kid is so much more gracious about losing than the king is about winning!

Musketeer garrison, yard

At the garrison, Aramis sits alone at the Fab Four's regular table in the yard, lost in his own gloomy thoughts – remembering the events of five years ago, since those memories have been so comprehensively stirred up.

It's flashback time!


In a frozen forest, a younger Aramis – with longer hair, so we can spot the difference – stumbles around looking both shocked and severely concussed, head clumsily bandaged and blood streaking down his face.

I like the slightly blurred, dreamlike effect used to convey his head injury; the wounded Aramis can barely stand and doesn't seem to entirely comprehend where he is or what has happened.

It is snowing, the ground littered with ravaged tents, upended pots and dead musketeers, spilled blood frozen on the ground, and as his eyes fall on the bodies, in the background we hear distant shouts and clashing swords as he remembers what happened to them: a discordant, disjointed memory within a memory. He is not wearing a coat, despite the snow, is holding his right arm awkwardly, and has blood on his shirt (left side, just below the ribs) as well as his face, suggesting he has more than one injury, which is perhaps hardly surprising given what we know of what happened.

As Aramis's legs finally give way and he crumples to his knees, we see a distraught Marsac nearby, throwing down his uniform and fleeing.

I'm…a bit puzzled by the costumes selected for this scene, so I'm going to guess that shirts with no overcoats were chosen to demonstrate the unexpected nature of the attack, the musketeers attacked as they slept, but weapons belts and pauldrons are worn so that Marsac can tear his off. But it ends up leaving the weird impression that they kept their pauldrons on to sleep but not their coats, despite the freezing temperature! Why on Earth would they take their coats off and put the pauldrons back on over their shirts, in such weather? You'd think they'd want all the layers they could get!

Looking at the actual scene, it really is a miracle Aramis survived, not just the massacre but the exposure afterward, left wounded and alone in the snow. We aren't told how long it took for help to come, and the cold would have taken hold quite quickly, in that condition. So did Aramis at first hope and believe that Marsac had gone for help, the truth of his abandonment only slowly becoming clear? Did Treville send out a rescue party, fearing the worst? Or did Aramis manage to struggle out of the forest himself to raise the alarm, in spite of his injuries? We are left to imagine the aftermath for ourselves.

Also, seeing the scene of carnage in this flashback really drives home its striking similarity with the scene in episode one in which a group of slaughtered musketeers were found similarly in a forest in the snow. Given what we are shown of Aramis's Savoy trauma in this episode, that scene really should have been quite triggering for him.


It is very unlike the usually sunny Aramis to sit around brooding like this, that's usually more Athos's style, but the rest of the Fab Four aren't around and aren't really taking his part in this anyway, and none of the other musketeers in the garrison are paid to speak, so he is left alone with his gloomy thoughts until the garrison cook, Serge, comes shuffling along to ask if he wants any dinner. Aramis being Aramis, he promptly rustles up a smile to pretend nothing is wrong, but says no. Not hungry.

ARAMIS: Serge? You remember Marsac?
SERGE: Oh, I remember him. A good soldier until, well…you know. It's this visit from the Duke of Savoy, isn't it? Stirs up bad memories.

Bless him, Serge knows all about it, then. As Serge wanders off, Aramis turns his head slightly and sees Treville up on the balcony, watching him.

Treville admitted to the Cardinal earlier that he has been haunted for five years by the memory of the decisions he took in Savoy. so with Aramis the only musketeer to return to the regiment alive, his very existence must have served as a daily reminder to the captain of what happened. Now, with the Duke of Savoy back in Paris, Aramis isn't the only one with bad memories being stirred up. No wonder Treville is watching him now, sole survivor that he is.

Treville nods affably enough when he sees that Aramis has noticed his attention, allowing not a hint of his inner turmoil to show. He has no idea that the finger of suspicion has been pointed in his direction.

Bonacieux House

In his room, d'Artagnan is busy packing. Constance appears in the doorway and is taken aback, wondering what he is doing, so he reminds her that she told him to pack his things. It's pretty clear that she didn't actually expect him to take her seriously, although it's probably a good thing that he did, showing that he respects her word, so she takes the opportunity to drive home the point of why she was so angry to learn that he'd lied to her.

CONSTANCE: I killed a man for you, yet you still don't trust me.
D'ARTAGNAN: I was trying to protect you.
CONSTANCE: I don't want protection. I want to be treated as an equal.

You tell him, girl. Too often in media we see men hiding behind this chivalric idea of 'protecting' the women in their life from an unpleasant truth, which is paternalistic nonsense, presuming that they are too fragile to deal with whatever the situation is while denying them the right of choosing for themselves, and in fact usually has more to do with wanting to avoid having to actually deal with the consequences of telling them the truth. If they are going to lie or hide stuff, they should at least be honest about why they are doing it! Too easy to call it 'protection' and then feel aggrieved when she points out that she neither asked for nor wanted that protection, and would have been better off being told the truth from the start.

D'Artagnan continues to make excuses.

D'ARTAGNAN: Well, I made a promise to Aramis.
CONSTANCE: So, you chose him over me?
D'ARTAGNAN: It's not that simple, okay? There's a question of loyalty…

Ooh, the way he says it is so patronising, I long for her to haul off and hit him. D'Artagnan is still very young and has a lot to learn. He was in a difficult position, sure, but agreeing to help Aramis did not compel him to drag Constance into the mess and then lie to her about it, he did that all by himself. They could have found somewhere else to stash Marsac. No, d'Artagnan made his choices and is still evading responsibility for the lies he told.

Of course, Aramis also lied to Constance, but d'Artagnan is the one she's angry with. The three musketeers remain a step removed from her at this point; they are acquaintances, connected by d'Artagnan, rather than friends on their own account. D'Artagnan is the one she has a relationship with, the one she considers a friend, the one who lives in her house – the one who, I have no doubt, suggested bringing Marsac here. So her anger and disappointment is reserved for him, no doubt heightened by his attitude – d'Artagnan is a sweetie, but he can also be a patronising, passive aggressive idiot at times, and Constance sees that side of him more than most. He takes their friendship for granted rather too much, and can at times impose on her generosity and good nature without giving much thought to what he is asking. He was trying to do the right thing by Aramis here, and that blinded him to the fact that it was the wrong thing to do by Constance.

Divided loyalty is the theme of this episode. Loyalty is a big deal in the world of the musketeers, so what do they do when that loyalty is pulled in different directions, this episode asks? How do they react when loyalty to one friend comes into conflict with loyalty to another, or to their captain, or to justice? Such conflicts of interest make for an excellent way of exploring what makes these characters tick and where their priorities lie.

To his credit, d'Artagnan sees the look of deep hurt on Constance's face, realises at once how that sounded, and now concedes the point entirely, giving up on his lame defence.

D'ARTAGNAN: I'm sorry. You're right. You're right. I won't make the same mistake next time.
CONSTANCE: Next time?

I like the little pause here, as if d'Artagnan is wondering just how big a hole he's dug for himself, and whether he should at least attempt to climb out, or just keep digging! Lucky for him Constance is a soft touch when he turns those beseeching puppy dog eyes on her; she likes him too much to stay cross.

D'ARTAGNAN: Well, I was hoping that you might change your mind.
CONSTANCE: Well, we do need the money.
D'ARTAGNAN: And I swear I'll never lie to you again.
CONSTANCE: I hope not, because next time, you'd be out on your ear. And…I'd miss you.

Bless 'em. D'Artagnan can be an idiot, but Constance is a delight – and together they are too cute!

Louvre Palace

Let us all take a moment to admire another beautiful room.

It is morning, and Athos and Porthos have reported to the palace to guard the Duke, as ordered. I might wonder why Treville sent these two and not Aramis, since the three are usually inseparable, but I suspect the answer is that, even without knowing the truth was about to come out, he thought it best to keep the survivor of Savoy well away from the Duke.

The Duke, for his part, is in cantankerous form – and it is worth bearing in mind, during scenes like this, what we learned from both Cluzet and Marsac's prisoner. The Duke believes that the musketeer training party in Savoy was actually an invasion force sent by Richelieu to overthrow him. That belief lies behind everything he says and does in this episode, and is why he is so furious at being given a musketeer guard now. He's an antagonist in the episode, sure, his dishonourable actions during the massacre cementing that status, but he does nonetheless have a genuine grievance!

DUKE: A bodyguard of Musketeers. It's like being protected by wolves. Have you captured the man who tried to kill me?
RICHELIEU: We shouldn't allow ourselves to be distracted by minor issues.

Oh, Armand. How could he ever expect to get away with a line like that!

DUKE: My life might be a minor issue to you, Cardinal, but not to me.
RICHELIEU: You came to Paris to sign the treaty! Further delays are in no-one's interest.

It's like…being so ruthlessly pragmatic himself in most matters, he honestly can't comprehend why people get so upset about details he sees as unimportant, such as attempts on their life. His tunnel vision really is absolute, even more so than Marsac's. The Duke, meanwhile, is determined to be as difficult as possible.

DUKE: I will fight a duel…with this Musketeer.

He points to Athos. Gotta love the way he instinctively bypasses Porthos, who is big and burly, and goes straight for the slighter opponent; the Duke is definitely a man who believes size matters! Also, just watch the way Porthos and Athos immediately turn to catch each other's eye in disbelief and contempt – with just a hint of I've got this/you've totally got this thrown in for good measure!

DUKE: If he wins, then we discuss the treaty. But if I triumph, then I return home immediately.

Absolutely no one in the room can believe what they are hearing. The Musketeers, though, get right down to business – Athos looks to Treville for permission, gets the nod, and gets right on with preparing for the duel, Porthos shrugging in amusement as he helps.

The Cardinal's face, meanwhile, looks like this:

Simply aghast – how he hates not being able to control a situation. Capaldi is glorious in scenes like this.

RICHELIEU: Sorry. I assume you're joking? [to Treville] Will your man win?
TREVILLE: Athos is the best swordsman in the regiment.
RICHELIEU: That's not what I asked!

I do enjoy the little half-smile Treville gives him there. He's rather enjoying seeing the Cardinal so discomfited. King Louis, meanwhile, really doesn't know what to make of all this.

LOUIS: Is this a good idea, Cardinal?
RICHELIEU: That rather depends on the outcome.

And so the duel begins, right there in that gorgeous room.

Duelling is meant to be illegal, but this just proves that it you are powerful enough and important enough, the rules really don't apply to you. The King certainly doesn't care about enforcing the law here, he's just worried what the Duchess will think.

LOUIS: If you damage her husband, my sister is going to be very upset.

At first, the Duke appears to be holding his own, but this is an illusion, Athos is merely testing his opponent and very quickly gains the upper hand. By the time he has knocked the Duke to the floor and whipped his sword from his hand, right in front of Louis' throne, he is just toying with him. Athos, it seems, has a hidden taste for the theatrical!

The Duke is down, Athos gets his sword to his breast – and Treville calls him off, sharpish, because he's got rather a murderous glint in his eye now.

It seems fairly clear at this point that while Athos may not believe Treville was involved in the massacre, he absolutely believes Marsac's claim that the Duke was, and although it seems unlikely he ever met the men who died and he despises Marsac pretty intensely, he is hating the Duke here on behalf both of Aramis and the entire Musketeer regiment. Treville has to call him off twice before he backs down – drawing blood first, to drive home the point of his victory, since the Duke laid down that condition up front.

RICHELIEU: Shall we say nine o'clock in the morning?

Ha. He's such an oportunist, always so quick to roll with developing events.

Porthos now laughs and throws an arm around Athos's shoulder in celebration, drawing him aside.

PORTHOS: I'm glad it was you. I'd have cut his bloody head off.

He starts that sentence laughing, but ends it grimmer than grim. Both, then, are prepared to believe the Duke responsible for the massacre and hate him accordingly – I just wish they shown this kind of solidarity with Aramis to his face.

Treville now comes marching over, gruff and annoyed, because Treville has absolutely no chill in this episode; he is a man who channels guilt and discomfort into anger.

TREVILLE: Your duty was to win, not to start a war. You could have defeated him in a way that allowed him his dignity. Go and apologise.

No congratulations for Athos on his victory, then! But Treville was never in any doubt that he'd win – in fact, he was so confident that he fully expected him to diplomatically choose the manner of his victory. And he did choose the manner of his victory, in fact…but chose not to take the diplomatic route!

Musketeer garrison

Left to his own devices at the garrison, without, apparently, any duties to be getting on with, Aramis lurks in the yard until a quiet moment presents itself, whereupon he very quietly wanders up the stairs and lets himself into Treville's office.

He's not wearing his sash or carrying any of the weaponry he usually has draped about his person – it seems odd to see him without all his usual accessories!

Having set his mind to investigating, Aramis does a thorough job of rifling through the captain's desk drawers, beneath which he finds the key for a nearby cabinet – not exactly a filing cabinet as we know it today, but the 17th century equivalent. It is full of scrolls and documents, which he sets about exploring.

Louvre Palace – guest quarters

The Duke and his Minister enter what I am going to assume is a side room in the guest quarters.

GONTARD: That was foolish. You could have been seriously injured.
DUKE: I just wanted to wipe that smug look off the Cardinal's face.

Well, if that was his only goal, he gets to claim success after all! He goes on to repeat his suspicion that the Cardinal has been lying about Cluzet's disappearance all these years – which we know he has – and Gontard begins to say that he has news, but at this point they are interrupted by Athos, who has overheard just enough to add to existing suspicions, although he maintains an excellent poker face.

ATHOS: I have come to apologise. I was overzealous.
DUKE: You won a fair fight.

The Duke turns around at this point to change his shirt, and I'm going to say he's a bit sweaty after the fight rather than call it a plot contrivance to allow Athos to get a good look at the great big scar across his back, just where Aramis said it would be. Proof positive that the musketeer training party was attacked by the Duke and his men rather than the Spanish – and also proof positive that the Duke really did lead the attack on the musketeer training party himself, rather than entrust it to his soldiers. He's a very hands-on ruler!

DUKE: You wanted to kill me. I saw it in your eyes. Why?
ATHOS: You are mistaken. What motive could a musketeer possibly have for wanting to kill the Duke of Savoy?

All credit to Tom Burke for managing to sound so polite and so mild and yet so utterly murderous at one and the same time!

He leaves the room and re-joins Porthos.

ATHOS: Did you hear all that?
PORTHOS: I saw the scar too. Marsac was right about the Duke.
ATHOS: That doesn't mean he's right about Treville. Perhaps we should find out what Monsieur Gontard really knows.

Okay so they are both now on board with the fact that there is some kind of conspiracy surrounding what happened in Savoy five years ago, and having found proof of the Duke's direct involvement are now prepared to investigate further. I just really regret that neither one ever gets to have a proper conversation with Aramis about it, instead leaving him with the general impression that they stopped caring about justice for dead musketeers the moment the finger was pointed at Treville.

Streets of Paris

The glorious sunshine that greeted the Savoy delegation has given way to heavy rain as Gontard makes his way through the streets, closely followed by Porthos, who is on his Maximum Stealth setting.

Inn in Paris

Gontard is meeting with Spider from Corrie, who he bribes for a description of his prisoner.

JAILER: Around 50. Tall. Long, dark hair. My height or taller. Pale. Prison has been hard on him.
GONTARD: He's the right age and build. It could be Cluzet.
JAILER: Who's he?
GONTARD: Doesn't matter. Anything else?
JAILER: There is one more thing. He wears spectacles, little round ones with horn rims. Is that important?
GONTARD: You have no idea, my friend.

So Gontard is certain now that he has located Cluzet – as, of course, he has. As he hurries away, he walks right past Porthos without noticing him. He has no idea he is under surveillance.

Bonacieux House

Athos and d'Artagnan have returned to Constance's house, where Marsac is still under house arrest, still securely bound, and I've got to say, it's probably a good thing Bonacieux is away so much on business – I can't imagine how he'd have reacted if he came home to find this vagabond tied up in the stock room! But we know they keep servants, so now I'm wondering what they are making of it all!

Constance herself is not present for this discussion, and I'm also wondering just how much they've told her about what's going on, because although we were shown her reaction to being lied to, we haven't seen her included in any conversations about the massacre that would allow her to understand the reasons why. She's a deeply empathetic woman, and you just know she would have a useful contribution to make, if included – if only helping to bridge the gap between those seeking truth and those who'd rather deny it.

Anyway, they've come together so that an increasingly agitated Aramis can brief the others on his findings. I'd like to think that Athos has also told Aramis about his duel with the Duke and what he learned from it, because I'm pretty sure both Aramis and Marsac would find that comforting, plus it would bring a bit of balance back to their interaction, which is sorely needed, but we are not shown such a conversation. Instead, the focus remains on the allegation against Treville and the divide this has caused.

ARAMIS: The Captain keeps a record of every Musketeer campaign since the regiment was founded, all except that one night. There's no documents for the mission in Savoy – no maps, no letters, nothing at all. Coincidence?
D'ARTAGNAN: Perhaps you just didn't find them.
ARAMIS: His filing is meticulous. There's nothing there. The documents have either been removed or destroyed.

I love this throwaway little titbit of character information about Treville: his filing is meticulous. Of course he'd be conscientious about the paperwork!

D'ARTAGNAN: I'm still confident there's a perfectly good explanation.
MARSAC: I'll be happy to hear it.
ATHOS: I admit it's troubling, but I agree with d'Artagnan.
ARAMIS: So, you're content to do nothing? How much evidence do you need that something is badly wrong? What does it take to make you act?

I'm going to give kudos to Cabrera again here, because Aramis is almost vibrating out of his own skin with agitation at this point, all his usual wisecracking charm completely stripped away. Horrified by the direction the investigation is pointing, he's unable to make any sense of it at all, and is desperate for even one of his friends to bend just a little, to meet him halfway with a bit of support and understanding, instead of this blind denial of the evidence laid before them.

ATHOS: I will never believe the Captain is a traitor.
ARAMIS: You think I want to?

It isn't a rhetorical question, but sounds more like a plea, swift and sincere. He doesn't understand where the evidence is pointing and is asking for help, but the others are reluctant to give that help because they don't want to admit where the evidence is pointing.

MARSAC: Let me help. I give you my word as a gentleman that I won't try to leave. Aramis, tell them. You know me.
ARAMIS: I used to.
MARSAC: Every word I have told you has turned out to be the truth. Why would I deceive you now?

The decision rests with Athos, the de-facto leader of the Fab Four, who must choose how to proceed, now that things have come this far. Can he continue to close his eyes and pretend there's no case to answer here, or will he admit that something is badly wrong and take action accordingly?

At last he gives in and cuts Marsac's hands free.

Streets of Paris

It is still pouring with rain as Spider from Corrie makes his way back to the prison to return to work.

Porthos, who has swapped his ceremonial cape for a rather more functional one, in light of the weather, lurks around the corner, watching him.

On to Part Three


Date: 2017-08-22 10:31 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)


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