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[personal profile] llywela
Musketeer garrison

Some indeterminate amount of time later – enough time for Porthos to have re-joined the others and formed a plan of action with them – Captain Treville returns to the garrison, still in pouring rain, and he doesn't seem to have had the chance to swap his ceremonial one-shoulder cape for a more waterproof two-shoulder version, so he's looking pretty soggy as he dismounts and heads up to his office.

He finds three dripping wet musketeers and an equally damp musketeer wannabe lurking on the balcony waiting for him, looking grim. Intervention time!


This, then, is the concession Athos was symbolically agreeing to when he freed Marsac. He, Porthos and d'Artagnan might have stated their belief in Treville's innocence repeatedly since it was called into question, but they are prepared to stand by Aramis now in questioning the captain.

They haven't brought Marsac with them, let us note. Well, he's a deserter, so obviously they couldn't bring him – his life would be forfeit, and they'd be in trouble for harbouring him. But since he couldn't come with them for this, what exactly was the point of releasing him? Merely a gesture of trust, I guess, a concession.

TREVILLE: What's this?
ATHOS: We have a question to ask you.
TREVILLE: Why aren't you with the Duke?
ARAMIS: Five years ago, you ordered a troop of Musketeers into Savoy, on a training exercise. They were all killed, all except Marsac and myself.
TREVILLE: I remember.
PORTHOS: At the time, the attack was blamed on a Spanish raiding party.
TREVILLE: What do you mean, at the time?
D'ARTAGNAN: We have information that it was actually the Duke of Savoy who was responsible.

It really is an intervention, all four taking their turn in presenting the case to the captain in a deliberate show of solidarity, and to say Treville is shocked would be putting it mildly – he is completely blindsided, hadn't the slightest inkling that something like this was coming. We know from his earlier scene with Richelieu that he is somehow complicit, and that he is haunted by guilt about it, although we don't yet know full details, so this scenario, being challenged about what happened by his own men, including the sole survivor of the massacre, must be his absolute worst nightmare.

But he keeps his feelings well masked behind the angry authority of the captain, which is the only refuge he has here. If he can't tell them the truth and doesn't want to lie, all he can do is smack them down for insubordination and hope they drop it.

ARAMIS: You don't seem surprised.
TREVILLE: The only thing that surprises me is your dereliction of duty. Get back to your posts before I lose my temper.

Let us note that Aramis is right: Treville wasn't (of course) surprised to hear the allegation against the Duke…but he should have been, if he were as innocent as his men want to believe. The official story is that the musketeer camp in Savoy was attacked by the Spanish, out of sheer random happenstance, so as Captain of the Musketeers, if Treville were completely innocent of any and all complicity, he should be deeply concerned to learn that the Duke may have been responsible. He lost twenty good men in the massacre – twenty-one, counting Marsac's desertion. A captain with nothing to hide would have been all over this new information, would want to know where it came from and how reliable it is, would want to investigate further – that Treville does not react in this way is fairly damning in and of itself. If he already knew the attack was carried out by the Duke, not the Spanish, then he is complicit in a cover-up, at the very least, that much is immediately clear. So what else does he have to hide? The alarm bells are definitely going off now.

Military discipline exists for a reason, of course. An order is given and the soldiers are expected to obey it without question, that's how it works, that's how it has to work. A commanding officer cannot and will not explain the reasoning behind the orders he gives, and most soldiers will never have sight of the wider policies behind their missions. High level military strategy falls under the heading of state secrets, which is why Treville can't and won't explain himself here. But for that discipline to hold firm, the soldiers have to be able to trust their commanding officer. If they are going to risk their lives to fulfil his orders, they have to be able to trust that he will protect their best interests, that their lives won't be thrown away without good cause. That trust is what has come under threat here. If Treville is complicit in the cover-up of what really happened in Savoy, and stands further accused of betraying his own men to the enemy who slaughtered them, then the Musketeers can no longer trust him and the whole system falls apart – which is why they can't afford to drop this now. Obedience is critical to the smooth running of military operations, but blind obedience can be dangerous because it enables corruption. There has to be some degree of accountability. And thus an impasse is reached.

It speaks volumes to the captain's character that he will not permit himself to tell an outright lie to his men's faces about this. Instead he evades the questions. The more direct the question, the more he simply refuses to answer, hiding behind his authority as captain…and I wonder now how much of the heartache in the remainder of this episode could be avoided if Treville felt able, in this moment, to send the others away and then simply sit Aramis down and explain everything to him, the one man who actually deserves to know the whole story.

Instead, he marches past the Fab Four into his office and Aramis charges after him, a man on a mission, the other three following rather more slowly, since this confrontation is deeply uncomfortable for them all. It should be completely obvious to one and all at this point that Treville is hiding something…but how far are they prepared to pursue this confrontation, if he pulls rank and orders them to let it go?

ARAMIS: Did you know it was the Duke?
TREVILLE: I am not accountable to you.
ARAMIS: But you are to the men who died.
TREVILLE: Be careful, Aramis. You're in dangerous territory.
PORTHOS: Not as dangerous as Savoy was for your men.


Your men, he says, not our men There is never even the slightest suggestion in this episode that Porthos actually knew any of the men who died; if he did, his reactions would be different throughout. Yeah, all evidence considered, I am convinced that Porthos was not with the regiment at the time of the massacre, but joined sometime after, probably in that narrow window of time between the massacre and the arrival of Athos. After losing 20 men in one fell swoop, the regiment would have needed to recruit replacements, after all.

And I've been hard on the trio of Athos, Porthos and d'Artagnan in this episode, so I'm going to give them their dues for standing by Aramis here, in open defiance of a very angry captain, all for a cause they don't even want to believe in. I still think it's naïve of them to bury their heads in the sand the way they do for much of the episode, but standing with Aramis here is a very big deal, they are risking court martial just so he doesn't have to confront the captain alone. It just remains to be seen how far they are willing to stand by him.

Treville is now almost shaking with fury, and there are two sides to his position in this scene, because on the one hand, yeah, military discipline is being flouted pretty massively here, but on the other hand…we've already seen enough to know that his anger is also coming from a place of fear and guilt, neither of which he can afford to let the Fab Four see, so it all gets channelled into rage, which then masks both his guilt and his evasiveness.


TREVILLE: I'm going to put this down to a fit of temporary insanity. Leave now and we'll say no more about it.
ARAMIS: How did our orders get into the Duke's hands? Who told him where we were camping? Why did he think we were coming to attack him?

All very reasonable questions, questions that any loyal musketeer should be asking at this point – including and perhaps especially the captain, if this allegation were truly new to him – and very reasonably stated, as well; this is the calmest Aramis has been in quite some time, but it is the calm before the storm, a thin veneer over the tempest beneath.

Treville, by contrast, is not calm at all, precisely because these are such reasonable questions that any loyal musketeer should be asking, questions that strike dead centre at the guilt he's been carrying around all through the episode, leaving him no place to hide. He cannot tell them the truth that's been eating him up inside since the Duke's arrival – so instead he explodes, and then Aramis explodes in his turn.

TREVILLE: Get out!
ARAMIS: Who killed those musketeers?! And why?!

In three full seasons, we almost never see Aramis shout like that, he almost never loses his temper so completely. That he does so here speaks volumes for his inner turmoil.

Treville looks around at the four faces before him, wearing various expressions of anxiety and dread. He has to know how bad this looks to them, how very shady the whole thing is looking right now. He is furious with them for pursuing this, furious with himself for his past actions, furious with the Cardinal for his scheming, furious with the whole world for everything that happened five years ago. This confrontation has completely blindsided him. He had no idea the truth was so close to coming out and can't understand how it has happened – therefore must be very afraid of what else might begin to unravel, if he can't persuade them to drop it.

TREVILLE: Who have you been speaking to?
ATHOS: It doesn't matter. What matters is the truth.
TREVILLE: Leave now and I'll spare you a court martial, and that's giving you a chance you don't deserve.


ATHOS: One last time. Will you answer our questions?
TREVILLE: No. I will not.

Outside

The Fab Four troop out of the captain's office: three of them looking dejected, while the fourth is all but bouncing off the walls with agitation.

ARAMIS: Marsac is right. How much more proof do we need?
D'ARTAGNAN: Treville didn't admit anything.
ARAMIS: He didn't need to. It was written on his face.

It was also implicit in both his lack of surprise at their information about the Duke and his general evasiveness, but we're straight back to this: the Trio of Disbelief preferring to immediately bury their heads in the sand again rather than face up to an unpalatable reality, which is kind of disheartening, given the givens – shouldn't Treville's reaction have made them worried enough to need to know more, rather than sending them spiralling back into total denial? Was it the threat of court martial that has them backing down so completely, their support falling away at the first hurdle?

PORTHOS: The Captain is the finest man I've ever met, and when it comes down to it, I'd rather be on his side than Marsac's.

He shouts this declaration right into Aramis's face, as if he can't understand why his friend won't drop the subject now. It's the most direct interaction the two have had in the entire episode and the aggression feels really misplaced, as if he's blaming Aramis for the doubt cast upon the captain's honour. I don't know, maybe he is. Maybe it's easier to be angry with Aramis for dragging all this up and refusing to let go than it is to face up to the ugly reality that something is badly wrong here.

But honestly, if Porthos truly thinks this is about choosing sides between Treville and Marsac, he has missed the point entirely. It certainly isn't about choosing sides for Aramis: it's about uncovering a conspiracy that led to the slaughter of twenty soldiers. There is already too much evidence pointing toward Treville's involvement for him to be able to rest until he understands why – as much as the others can't seem to understand why he won't drop this, he can't understand why they don't want to know or admit the truth.


ARAMIS: You may be content to do nothing. I'm not.

He goes charging off into the rain.

Louvre Palace

In the guest quarters, Duchess Christine is playing hide and seek with little Louis Amadeus…which of course she promptly takes as the opportunity for a child-free conversation with her husband, who is engrossed in paperwork.

DUCHESS: I didn't expect to enjoy so much of your company in Paris. I thought you would favour the Cardinal over me.
DUKE: There's a small matter to be resolved before we conclude negotiations.
DUCHESS: I suppose the Cardinal's trying one of his famous tricks. What a terrible man. You can't trust him at all, you know.
DUKE: I have no such intention.
DUCHESS: How devious you are. It's one of the things I admire about you.
DUKE: And? What else do you admire?
DUCHESS: No. Now you're fishing for it, and I won't indulge your vanity.

Watching this episode with hindsight, knowing the full story, we can see clearly that Christine is attempting to get a bit of information out of her husband about that 'small matter' still to be resolved, without it ever being obvious that she is doing so. Nothing that she says is out of the ordinary for an interested and concerned wife, and she swiftly diverts his attention from the subject once he fails to be drawn. She certainly succeeds in distracting him from his papers, as he draws her onto his lap now, where at the start of the conversation he'd flinched from her touch. What a balancing act their marriage must always be.

In the other room, Louis Amadeus is getting bored of waiting and calls for his mama to come find him, but the Duke has a question for her before she goes – a challenge, almost, and again we see what a constant tug-of-war their marriage is, love and suspicion walking hand in hand.

DUKE: What if I decide to defy France and side with Spain?
DUCHESS: Whatever you decide, I will support you until the end.
DUKE: And I love you for it.

Gontard interrupts at this moment, rather to the Duke's displeasure. Christine heads off to find Louis Amadeus – but lingers within earshot to be sure she hears what Gontard has to say.

GONTARD: Cluzet is here in Paris.
DUKE: Are you sure?
GONTARD: The prisoner answers his description in every respect.
DUKE: Damn Richelieu.

They hurry off together, leaving Christine standing there looking worried.

Bonacieux House

At Constance's house, Marsac is busy getting drunk. Releasing him from his bonds really was merely a gesture of trust, then, and no one has come up with anything practical for him to actually do so he's been left to sit around stewing.

Constance bustles around, clearly uncomfortable about her house guest – especially given his drunken state – but pretty much stuck with him…and in his cups, the worst of Marsac emerges, a man at rock bottom who can see no way back and who has spent far too long among the very worst society has to offer.

MARSAC: Take a glass of wine with me, Madame. It's been a long time since I had such attractive company.
CONSTANCE: Please don't pay me compliments, Monsieur. I don't want them.

Drunk with both wine and despair, Marsac catches at her hands to draw her to him, suggesting that she would be a lot more receptive if he were d'Artagnan – because even this stranger has noticed the bond between them – and Constance begins to struggle. She tells him not to touch her, but he only gropes her all the more, lewdly playing on his long years of exile as an excuse for demanding 'just one kiss'…

Constance slaps him across the face – and he snaps. Grabs her and grapples with her, because what show would be complete without a sexual assault on its resume, and of course d'Artagnan wanders in just in time to fight him off on her behalf.


D'ARTAGNAN: Touch her again and I'll kill you.

Brought back to his senses with a single punch – or possibly just currying favour, having been caught in the act – Marsac cowers.

MARSAC: My apologies. I used to be a man of honour, a musketeer. Now I hardly recognise myself.

This, I think, was the point of this scene: to drum home just how far Marsac has fallen from the man he once was, how irreparably broken he is, or at least believes himself to be. His situation is untenable and he cannot go on like this, that's the point. He truly is a man at rock bottom, with nothing left to lose. And that makes him dangerous.

Plus, obviously, the scene provided d'Artagnan with the opportunity to save Constance, thus generating an automatic bonding experience to move their relationship forward.

Musketeer garrison

In an upper room I'm almost certain we never ever see the inside of, in all three seasons – his own quarters, perhaps – Aramis stands at a window watching as Treville hurries down from his office and across the yard, away into the street beyond.

Bonacieux house

D'Artagnan returns to the kitchen, where Constance is clattering about washing the dishes, and tells her that Marsac is safely tied up and won't bother her again.

Okay, and that throwaway remark about Marsac being tied up again tells us loud and clear that he was only untied in the first place so he could be free to assault Constance, so that d'Artagnan could rescue her. There was no other plot-related reason for him to be freed whatsoever, since the musketeers didn't need him for anything and he hasn't done anything else while free.

I'm also going to note for the record here that Constance mostly remains on the periphery of the weekly adventures thus far, after her bold heroics in episode one. Here, she has provided accommodation for Marsac and a meeting place for the musketeers, but has not been included in any discussions or asked to give her opinion on the wanted fugitive she has been providing accommodation for. Nothing of the unfolding plot has been revealed to her, that we've seen, while the musketeers remain little more than acquaintances to her. She has no actual relationship with anyone but d'Artagnan, who provides her only point of entry into any given plot. She is a lovely character, forthright and determined, and Show treats her many times better than Dumas treated her book counterpart, but she needs to start forming relationships beyond d'Artagnan if she is to step beyond her secondary role in the ongoing story.

Having been genuinely shaken, Constance is now in Saving Face mode, trying to brush it off as no big deal.

CONSTANCE: It's just as well you came when you did. I might have hurt him.

Watch d'Artagnan in this scene. I mean, watch Constance as well, she looks beautiful, the way the scene is lit and framed, she looks like a Renaissance painting, but mostly watch d'Artagnan, the way he looks at her, almost as if he's seeing her for the first time. He's liked her since almost the moment they first met, but between her smacking him down earlier and now Marsac's attack, he's just beginning to realise how much more he feels, married though she is.

D'ARTAGNAN: I'm sorry. I've brought you nothing but trouble since I came here.
CONSTANCE: Well, it makes a change having someone else try to kiss me. I've never been so popular.

She's so brisk and down-to-earth, she's lovely, and he's right, he really has turned her life upside-down, but she just takes it all in her stride – even though she has been scared out of her wits multiple times since they met, she honestly doesn't regret any of it. I don't think she even knew how dull and restricted her life was, until d'Artagnan blew into it, bringing his musketeer friends with him, and introduced her to a whole new world of adventure and intrigue. She might remain on the periphery of most of those adventures, but she's seen enough to begin to realise how much more life could have to offer...and to want to be able to save herself, if need be.

So, when d'Artagnan tells her how much he wishes there was something he could do to make amends, Constance immediately knows what to ask for.

CONSTANCE: There is one thing. No-one in the world could know, especially not my husband.
D'ARTAGNAN: Of course. What is it?

She steps closer, leans in like she might be about to kiss him…and whispers in his ear.

CONSTANCE: Teach me how to shoot.


Bless her! Constance is fabulous. The episode has already referenced the fact that she once shot a man dead for d'Artagnan's sake, of course, but hitting the target then was sheer luck, really. That's why she wants to learn how to do it properly.

D'Artagnan was not expecting this request, and I love the little quaver he gets in his voice here, as he tries to recover his composure, because I honestly don't think he'd admitted to himself how damn much he fancies her until this very day, and dammit he was not prepared for this at all.

D'ARTAGNAN: Shoot?
CONSTANCE: Sword-fighting as well. I've always liked the look of that. Why should men have all the fun? Why do women have to be dignified and ladylike?
D'ARTAGNAN: Good question. I have no idea.


But will he do it? He hesitates, all the arguments against visibly running through his mind, but let's face it, he's not going to say no to anything she asks, especially not today. So he agrees, and bless her, Constance is delighted.

See how far she's come since d'Artagnan barrelled into her life that fateful day. There was a time she would never have dreamed of making this request, it would never even have occurred to her – indeed, she had no one in her life whom she could ask. Even now, her husband would be horrified if he knew. But for all his faults, d'Artagnan has broadened Constance's horizons, their friendship providing her with hitherto unimagined opportunities to stretch herself and grow and learn what she is capable of, and it really is a beautiful thing.

Louvre Palace, cloister walk

In the wake of his confrontation with the Fab Four, Treville has come straight to Richelieu to tell him their dirty little secret has been compromised, because while to Aramis this is all about the betrayal and murder of twenty musketeers, to these two men it is about state secrets and the security of the realm.

But while in the presence of the Fab Four the captain was all steely outrage at their effrontery, with Richelieu he seems inclined to defend their desire for the truth…and in this reaction we see perhaps not only the captain's instinct to protect his men, but also his understanding of why they pursued the matter. In different circumstances, he'd have supported their quest for justice to the hilt.

RICHELIEU: What do they know?
TREVILLE: That my orders fell into the Duke's hands, that our men were betrayed.
RICHELIEU: Can't you control your own men?
TREVILLE: They want to know the truth. It's a matter of honour.
RICHELIEU: Honour? There's no word in the language more likely to cause stupidity and inconvenience.


That right there? That's the difference between Treville and Richelieu in a nutshell.

RICHELIEU: You do realise what's at stake?
TREVILLE: Of course I realise.
RICHELIEU: Then handle it.

There is a clatter nearby. Treville stops in his tracks and looks to see what it was; Richelieu doesn't notice a damn thing until he sees the other man stop to look. This again is the difference between the two in a nutshell.

The noise was Aramis, lurking – not his stealthiest moment ever. Treville stares straight at him as he tells the Cardinal it was nothing and catches up to continue their conversation; he's not about to get into a disciplinary matter in front of the Cardinal, of all people!

Richelieu has to go, anyway, expositing that the Duke has demanded an urgent meeting with the King.

RICHELIEU: Hopefully, he's finally come to his senses.

He leaves, and Treville goes straight back to ask a still highly-agitated Aramis what the hell he thinks he's doing.

TREVILLE: You think you're entitled to an explanation, but this is not your concern.
ARAMIS: You and the Cardinal, as thick as thieves – twenty dead musketeers. That makes it my concern.
TREVILLE: You think I won't have you arrested, that you're above the normal laws of soldiering?
ARAMIS: Did you betray your own men to the Duke of Savoy?
TREVILLE: You are meddling in complex affairs of state.
ARAMIS: It's a simple question. Did you do it?

There is a long pause here. Aramis is not backing down, in spite of every threat, and Treville has nowhere left to hide. He cannot lie about this, and can't evade the question any longer.

TREVILLE: Yes.


Aramis immediately hauls off and punches him to the ground, a furious, knee-jerk reaction to this admission of guilt, an entire episode's worth of pent-up emotion lending weight to his arm – and then hits him again, for good measure, hisses that this isn't over, and runs away, quick, leaving him bloodied on the ground, before the palace guard come to see what's going on.

Damn! Assaulting a superior officer – that's a really serious offence, in any army and any century…but does anyone think for a moment that Treville will press any charges for it, in the circumstances? Again, for a dedicated and experienced career soldier, Aramis really is startlingly insubordinate. And, I mean, he has good reason in this instance, but it remains true in general, not just in this episode. He gets away with it every time, too.

Bonacieux house

Aramis goes straight to Constance's to tell Marsac. Of course he does. Marsac is the only other survivor of the massacre, the one who started all this in the first place by uncovering the first threads of the conspiracy – plus, right now he's got to feel like the only person Aramis can actually trust. Treville has admitted that he betrayed them to the enemy, and the other three quarters of the Fab Four preferred not to know the truth, so Marsac it is…


…except that Marsac's goals do not match Aramis's, even now. This is one of the strengths of this episode: its exploration of all the ways in which two characters can be on the same side and yet on completely different pages simultaneously. Every single character has a different perspective on the plot, based on his (or her, but mostly his) unique set of circumstances and baggage. The different outlooks and aims of Aramis and Marsac have already been made clear, but this is where that conflict comes to a head.

MARSAC: What will you do now?
ARAMIS: Report Treville to the authorities. He'll face a court martial.
MARSAC: With the Cardinal involved, it won't even go to trial. We have to act, Aramis! Handle this ourselves.
ARAMIS: I'm a soldier, not a vigilante.
MARSAC: If you want justice, then this is the only way.
ARAMIS: It's not my way.

This is important characterisation for Aramis, pushing him to his limits and demonstrating clearly which lines he will and won't cross. He's been skating around the limits of discipline and duty throughout the episode, but he believes nonetheless in due process and rule of law, in justice. We saw this also in episode three, when he tried to comfort Porthos with his belief that justice would be served. Aramis believes in the system to which he has dedicated his career, and isn't prepared to abandon that belief just because his faith in one individual has been shaken. He doesn't believe in vengeance – and that's ultimately what divides him and Marsac.

I'm going to give a shout out here to JJ Feilds as Marsac. His performance has been excellent throughout the episode, and he works beautifully with Cabrera in a number of weighty, emotional scenes, including this one, to make the audience truly believe in the history between these two characters, who were once friends and who went through such a horrible ordeal together and are now on such very different paths, with similar yet ultimately diametrically opposing goals.

So Marsac backs down, or pretends to back down, and Aramis believes him, because he wants to believe him, because he wants to believe there's still a chance for this old friend to rebuild some kind of life.

ARAMIS: You're still a deserter. If they catch you, they'll hang you. Best thing for you to do is to leave Paris as soon as possible.

But Marsac already knows there's no way back for him, no happy ending. He resigned himself to that long ago, that much has been glaringly apparent throughout. The good soldier he once was died in that forest in Savoy, and after five years of perilous living, little more than an empty, broken shell of the man he used to be, he cannot let go of his obsessive need for vengeance now. So, having lulled Aramis into a false sense of security, he hauls off and knocks him out with a single punch. Bang, and he goes down like a sack of spuds – talk about a glass jaw!

MARSAC: I'm sorry, old friend. But you said you wanted justice. When Treville is dead, you will have it.

He helps himself to one of Aramis's pistols and walks out.

Louvre Palace, library

This is one of my favourite locations on the show – the set is absolutely stunning. Just look at that ceiling! And all the books!


King Louis, Queen Anne and Cardinal Richelieu stand to attention to greet the Duke as he comes swaggering in, all salt and bluster and outrage.

RICHELIEU: Such urgency, Your Grace. Are you finally ready to sign the treaty?
DUKE: There'll be no treaty, Cardinal. Not now, not ever.

He's so theatrical, the way he's staged this – like Miss Marple calling together all the suspects so she can publicly reveal which of them dunnit.

RICHELIEU: Might I enquire why not?
DUKE: Because France is a nation of liars and cheats.
RICHELIEU: I appreciate a melodrama as much as the next man, but an explanation might help clarify things.
GONTARD: Five years ago, a troop of Musketeers was sent to Savoy to depose the Duke and put his infant son in his place. By the grace of God, that plan was thwarted. But the same night, Cluzet, Savoy's Chancellor, disappeared. We now know he was abducted by French agents, and is in prison here in Paris.

This is the other side of the massacre, the perspective of the Savoyards. This is what they believe happened. No wonder they've been so hostile throughout. Presumably, they only agreed the treaty negotiations in the first place as an excuse to investigate Cluzet's very suspicious disappearance.

Louis and Richelieu exchange slightly worried glances; it's our first hint that Louis is aware of the whole sorry affair. Anne also looks worried, but not for the same reason – there's never the slightest suggestion that she knows anything at all about the matter.

RICHELIEU: There is, of course, not a word of truth in this absurd fabrication.
DUKE: Would you make peace with a nation that so outrageously meddles in the affairs of an independent state?
LOUIS: Well, I suppose not, if it were true.
DUKE: We have irrefutable proof.
RICHELIEU: By all means, present it.
DUKE: Oh, we can do better than that. We can pay him a visit.

With that, he turns and marches out of the room, a smirking Gontard at his heel. The royal party stares after him, stunned by this turn of events. Louis is bemused.

LOUIS: Does he expect you to follow?
RICHELIEU: I rather think he does.

But with so much on the line, he really can't afford to protest or refuse, so he quickly makes his bows and scurries away after the Savoyards – absolutely panic-stricken.

Musketeer garrison – yard

D'Artagnan is sitting alone at the Fab Four's regular table being served by Serge when Athos and Porthos show up to join him.

D'ARTAGNAN: Shouldn't you two be with the Duke?
ATHOS: Our services are no longer required.
PORTHOS: That's for sure. We need to speak to the Captain.
ATHOS: I need a drink.

Before he can help himself to that drink, however, a hooded rider comes clattering into the yard at speed – it is Duchess Christine of Savoy, and the final piece of the jigsaw finally begins to fall into place.


DUCHESS: I have no time for explanations. There's an important prisoner being held somewhere here in Paris.
ATHOS: You mean Cluzet?

Hang about. Where did Athos hear the name Cluzet? Porthos wasn't close enough to Gontard and the jailer to actually hear anything of their conversation earlier, and it hasn't come up anywhere else within musketeer hearing, either, that I recall.

DUCHESS: You know him?
PORTHOS: Not exactly, but we know where to find him.
DUCHESS: The Duke is on his way to find him right now. For the sake of France, he must not discover him. Many lives are at stake, including my own.
ATHOS: We can't stop the Duke entering the prison.
PORTHOS: Yeah, but that doesn't mean he has to find him inside.

A beautiful woman asks them for help, and they are on board, just like that, no more questions asked – or permission sought!

I do love that the solution we will now see unfold is Porthos's idea. He doesn't get much in-depth characterisation in this episode, but his keen strategic mind is a consistent personality trait throughout the show; not always highlighted or made a big deal of, but always a big part of who he is.

Cut to:

Duchess Christine gallops back out of the garrison – with the musketeers hot on her heels.

Streets of Paris

The Cardinal's carriage draws up outside the prison once more and a steaming mad Duke jumps out, followed by a smug Gontard and a very worried Cardinal.

Reaching the prison gates, the Duke demands to be given entry.

Prison

Our Heroes barge into the prison via the back door, much to the alarm of Spider from Corrie.

I might make some commentary here about the security of the prison, if they can just barge in like this and start throwing their weight around without authorisation, but I don't have the energy!

Streets of Paris

RICHELIEU: Whoever is supplying you with information is mistaken. Stop now, before you embarrass yourself.

Yeah, nice try, Cardinal – there's no way the Duke is backing down now, because he's got you bang to rights, and you both know it!

Prison

Porthos manhandles Spider from Corrie rather roughly as the startled jailer guides the team to Cluzet's cell, running all the way. No time to lose.

Streets of Paris

The Duke demands that the door be opened for him, and the Cardinal can't stall any more. In they go, and let's all take a moment to appreciate Peter Capaldi's face in this scene. Richelieu is absolutely bricking it at this point, mind working overtime to figure out how to get out of this and how best to handle it if he can't.


Prison

Cluzet is startled, to say the least, when Our Heroes barge into his cell. Jailer Spider starts to protest that he wants nothing to do with it – so Christine very neatly smacks him in the face with a gun and knocks him out.

PORTHOS: Not your average duchess, then?

No. No, she is not.

They hastily snatch up the jailer's key and hustle both him and Cluzet out of the cell – not a moment too soon, as the Duke is already stalking his way through the gloomy corridors toward them, yelling for Cluzet.

How does he know the way? Detailed directions were not included in the intel the jailer gave Gontard!

At Cluzet's cell, another man is hustled in to take the prisoner's place, but we don't see yet who it is. D'Artagnan, meanwhile, hurriedly throws on the jailer's cape and hat, taking his place outside the door just in the nick of time.

The Duke arrives, demanding to be shown the prisoner.

RICHELIEU: This is a waste of time. It's absolutely pointless…

…and then he gets a glimpse of d'Artagnan's face under the jailer's hat and executes the most beautiful double take you will ever see.


RICHELIEU: Do as he says!

So d'Artagnan lets them into the cell, and Richelieu has gone from agitated to smug in the blink of an eye – he doesn't know how this happened, but he is absolutely delighted by it.

The Duke steps into the cell, expecting to find Cluzet. But the man who turns around…is Serge, the garrison cook, with Cluzet's spectacles perched on his nose!


SERGE: Are you the new cook? I'm starving.

Ha. The Duke seethes and Gontard flails. He'd been so sure, from the description, that he was right…because, of course, he was right. Neither can understand how they've been fooled.

Richelieu, meanwhile, is triumphant, and I kind of hate that he gets to come out on top, after everything. The Duke has been lied to for years, was led to believe the French were actively trying to overthrow him, twenty musketeers were murdered – and after all that, the Cardinal, who plotted and orchestrated the whole thing and was thus inadvertently responsible for all those deaths, gets to come out of it all smelling like roses. It is already clear that there will never be any justice for the musketeers who died, just as the Duke will never be allowed to know the truth, because too many more lives would be endangered as a result.


RICHELIEU: Clearly there's been some mistake. How awkward. Paris has a number of excellent places of correction, if you'd like a tour of them all. No? Then perhaps we can turn our thoughts to more important matters.
GONTARD: There's still the issue of the assassination attempt.
RICHELIEU: Alas, we live in dangerous times. But surely a lasting peace between our countries is the best answer to violent threats.

And that's the last we hear of the assassination attempt; no one outside of the Fab Four ever learns who did it or why. It just gets written off as unsolved.

Furious, the Duke marches back out of the prison, hurling insults at the hapless Gontard. As he follows, the victorious Cardinal catches d'Artagnan's eye and gives him a little nod, acknowledgement of a service rendered…but you can be damn sure he will feel no sense of obligation for it whatsoever, and nor will the favour ever be repaid. Just as well the musketeers weren't doing it for him, then.

Just around the corner, Porthos has a hand clamped firmly over Cluzet's mouth to prevent him calling out to the Duke. That's how close this was. Everyone takes a moment to breathe again after a good job well done.

Musketeer garrison

Marsac, meanwhile, is busily sneaking into the garrison yard hoping none of the non-speaking extra musketeers will notice him.

Bonacieux house

Where the heck is Constance – or her servants – that she hasn't noticed an unconscious musketeer lying around in her house?

Anyway, Aramis comes round to find himself on the floor, minus a pistol, and regains his senses quickly enough to realise at once what this means.


He leaps to his feet and rushes out of the house at once – pausing only to snatch up his hat, because heavens forfend he leave it behind.

Musketeer garrison – armoury

Captain Treville is enjoying a quiet moment of reflection in the armoury, checking stock, when he is taken by surprise by a voice from behind him…


MARSAC: Treason has to be paid for, Captain.

…and he just sighs, like he's not really so surprised as all that. It's been that kind of week, after all – all the horrors and secrets of Savoy crawling out of the woodwork, one after another.

TREVILLE: I always thought you'd be back one day.
MARSAC: Was it money? Were you paid by the Duke?


TREVILLE: If you think that, you know nothing about me.
MARSAC: I'm going to blow you to hell. But first I want to know why.

As he speaks, Marsac steps forward, forcing the captain to move at gunpoint further into the room…which coincidentally also leaves the door wide open for Aramis to sneak up behind Marsac in his turn, his second pistol firmly aimed at his desperate former friend.

There's a line Aramis will not cross, no matter what the provocation, and this is it. He knows the captain is guilty and can't understand why he did what he did, but he will not allow Marsac to murder him in cold blood for it. He wants justice, not revenge.

Marsac promptly pulls out another gun to point back at Aramis, so we now have a three-way stand-off going on…

…hang on. If Marsac already had a gun of his own, why did he take Aramis's?

ARAMIS: Put your gun down, Marsac. Whatever the Captain has done, he will account for it at a court martial.
TREVILLE: There will be no court martial. The King knows what happened. I was acting on his instructions.

Damn! It's the final plot twist, and Aramis looks like someone just kicked him in the teeth. This is two episodes in a row he has placed his faith in the justice system only to have that faith trampled into the ground – but this time, subversive redress of the kind employed against Bonnaire will not be possible. There can never be justice for the musketeers who died in Savoy.

ARAMIS: The King told you to betray us?
TREVILLE: I was told to pass on your position to the Duke. Those were my orders, and I obeyed them.
MARSAC: What reason can there be for sanctioning the slaughter of your own men?

This is the kicker, the final puzzle piece to fall into place, the reason for every single thing that has happened in this episode.

TREVILLE: It was done to protect the King's most important spy in Savoy: the Duchess.

Louvre palace

In yet another beautiful state room, King Louis and the Duke sign the Cardinal's precious treaty at last, to polite applause from the watching court – including Queen Anne and a smiling Duchess Christine, who is betraying not a hint of her recent covert escapade.


Musketeer garrison

ARAMIS: You sold us out…to save the Duchess?

I like how that sentence starts as an angry explosion, but is reined in even as he speaks. He has the general air now of a man whose entire world has been turned upside down and no longer knows where solid ground might be found; this episode has been the most horrendous emotional rollercoaster for him.

Treville is still being held at gunpoint by Marsac, but his explanation is very much addressed to Aramis. Marsac is as much a victim of Savoy as anyone, but it's the man still under his command who matters to Treville in this moment – and watch Aramis's face as he listens, you can see his mind whirling, frantically trying to absorb this new information and what it means, trying to decide what to do about it.


TREVILLE: Cluzet was a Spanish spy. He began to suspect she was passing us information. We had to distract the Duke and snatch Cluzet before he exposed her.
MARSAC: Twenty of our friends were murdered!
TREVILLE: I was misled!

The captain is usually so stoic, so stern...but not here. All his guilt and grief is poured into that line, his voice breaking. In five years, he has never been able to vocalise any of this before. His eyes are fixed on Aramis as he continues, and his explanation sounds almost like a plea for understanding.

TREVILLE: The Cardinal allowed the Duke to believe your mission was an assassination attempt.

It all comes back to the Cardinal in the end, and we still don't know the precise sequence of events. Savoy is quite a distance from Paris. How much warning did they have that Cluzet was about to blow the whistle on Christine, and what form did that warning take? How much time did they have to take defensive action? Was the musketeer troop already in Savoy for their training exercise when the decision was made to sell them out to the Duke like so many sacrificial goats, purely for the sake of expedience? Or was the training exercise itself no more than a front from the start, those twenty-two men sent quite deliberately to their doom? We aren't told.

The most likely scenario is that it all happened during a state visit by the Duke and his court to Paris. Cluzet tipped his hand, somehow, and the plan to silence him was then thrown together in haste by the Cardinal, perhaps taking advantage of the presence of a musketeer troop in Savoy at the time – and I imagine that surely even he could not have predicted such a wholesale slaughter. He'd have simply decided the musketeers would make an excellent decoy, talked the King into agreeing with him, and had Treville leak their location while himself priming the Duke to suspect some kind of coup so that he'd go charging off to challenge the invading army, leaving Cluzet unprotected. I can imagine Treville arguing against the plan, but being overruled and having to go along with it, because the good soldier of the episode title always obeys his orders.

Both Treville and Richelieu have to have known that they were placing the musketeer training party in grave danger, that there would be loss of life as a result of the plan, but I suspect they also expected the Duke to challenge them openly and make a fair fight of it. Instead, he slaughtered them in their sleep – and all concerned have had to live with the choices they made ever since. There are so many layers of guilt and responsibility in this story. Surely there should have been some other way of snatching Cluzet, one that didn't involve the sacrifice of so many lives in such dishonourable circumstances…but it is far too late now for anyone to start asking that question. What's done is done.

Treville looks tired and defeated now, as if he's been waiting for five years to be made to pay for his part in what happened, and is ready for it – he admitted to the Cardinal that he's been haunted by it daily. He followed his orders, like a good little soldier, told himself he was doing what had to be done to protect the best interests of the nation, or at least the best interests of the King's sister…and as a direct result twenty men under his command were murdered. If Marsac were to shoot him now, I think he'd probably say it was only deserved.


Aramis, on the other hand, seems more at peace now than he has in this entire episode. He just needed to know the truth, needed to know that there was a reason why – and now he does. It's a horrible truth and has to be a horrible feeling, to know that he and his comrades were betrayed by both their captain and their king, but the reason why that choice was made is one he can understand and make some kind of peace with. No more secrets, no more suspicion. This is a position from which he can move forward.

Marsac is another case entirely, however – instead of finding peace in the explanation, he seems more tortured than ever, unable to see past his own need for some kind of release and unable to see any way of achieving it that doesn't involve death.

ARAMIS: Put the guns down.
MARSAC: You heard him! You heard what he said! He's guilty!
ARAMIS: And you heard his reasons, so put them down. Marsac.


But Marsac has gone way too far to let this go now. Five years on the run, five years of obsession – and he's a deserter under sentence of death. He knows there is no way out for him, no future, and no hope.

MARSAC: This has to end here, Aramis. You know that.

And in that moment everyone knows how this is going to end. Marsac won't do it himself – he'll make Aramis do it for him. And he does. He shifts his aim to shoot at a clutter of weapons on the table, so that the ball ricochets and makes everyone duck, and Aramis's aim goes wild as a result – and then Marsac raises his second weapon, and Aramis hauls out yet another gun, and they both fire in the same moment.

Marsac misses. Aramis does not. Savoy has claimed its final victim, and Aramis rushes across the room to catch his old friend as he falls, mortally wounded.


ARAMIS: I'm sorry, old friend.
MARSAC: Better to die a musketeer than live like a dog.

They are his last words, spoken almost as a benediction. Marsac wanted to be put out of his misery, and was selfish enough not to care that he was placing the responsibility and guilt for his death on the shoulders of the only man in the world he could call friend.

Moments later, the room explodes into life as a bunch of Random Extra Musketeers come bursting in to see what all the shooting was about, but Aramis neither sees nor hears them, sitting on the floor clutching at Marsac's body and grieving for the friend he once knew.


He's not going to get over this in a hurry…except, of course, that this season is highly episodic, so we already know the incident will never be mentioned again.

Louvre Palace

And then it is later, or possibly even the next day, and the deputation from Savoy are preparing to take their leave.

RICHELIEU: I look forward to a new age of peace and prosperity between us. France and Savoy belong together.

The Cardinal is smug. The Duke and Gontard seethe impotently. Everyone takes their leave of one another – ooh, and look at the cute little wave the Cardinal gives young Louis Amadeus, that's pure Capaldi rather than Richelieu!


A full musketeer guard is in place, Aramis among them, staring off into the middle distance once more. We are left to imagine what explanation, if any, was given to the other three. As the Duchess passes, she pauses to talk to Athos.

DUCHESS: One thing you should know. I love my husband. Very much.

She loves him, but she spies on him – and for her sake, twenty musketeers died. Twenty-one, counting Marsac. Wheels within wheels, this episode has 'em, and so many questions are left unanswered. Does the Duchess know how high a price was paid for her safety? Does she know what her husband did – not that he attacked a troop of musketeers, but the full circumstances and dishonourable nature of that attack? Does she know that the only survivor of that murdered troop is standing right there, determinedly not allowing his feelings to show? Have Athos and the others been told the whole story now? Or has Aramis been sworn to secrecy on what is, after all, a state secret? We will never know.

The King and the Cardinal, meanwhile, are chatting among themselves.

RICHELIEU: Young Louis Amadeus is a fine boy. He will soon make an excellent ruler of Savoy.
LOUIS: Not yet, Cardinal. The Duke is still a strong man in good health.
RICHELIEU: Accidents happen, Your Majesty. One must be prepared.

Oh, dammit, and even now, after everything, he is still plotting and scheming, caring not a jot for the collateral damage along the way.

Bonacieux house, garden

It is later, and Constance is having her very first shooting lesson with d'Artagnan – the perfect excuse for getting right up close and personal, as their relationship continues to grow.

D'ARTAGNAN: Don't snatch at the trigger. Your arm's far too stiff. I'll show you. Here. Right, straighten up your arm. Keep your arm up, elbow loose. Deep breath. Sight down the barrel. Relax. And fire.


Bullseye. Constance is so thrilled with herself, she's adorable! Bless them both.

Cemetery

Okay, so it was a lovely sunny day in Constance's garden – but at the cemetery, it is pouring with rain as Aramis and Treville stand together at the unmarked grave where Marsac has been laid to rest.

Here we catch another glimpse of the jewelled crucifix gifted to Aramis by the Queen, and see the significance it holds for him, as he raises it to his lips.


Treville, let us note, is wearing his ceremonial breastplate once more, a gesture of respect to a former soldier.

ARAMIS: Marsac's spirit died in that forest in Savoy, five years ago. Just took this long for his body to catch up. We're soldiers, Captain. We follow our orders, no matter where they lead, even to death.

The captain holds out a hand, Aramis takes it, and both manage a faint smile; this is the only way either one can make peace with what happened – and they have to make peace with it, in order to move forward and continue to serve together.

Treville heads off, leaving Aramis alone with his memories.

Flashback

In his memory, Aramis is back in that forest in Savoy with the snow falling thick, hearing the shouts and cries of the dying musketeers as Marsac drags him away from the fighting and collapses across him in tears.


Present

ARAMIS: Rest now, Marsac, with your brothers.


He plunges his sword into the ground as a grave-marker – that's gonna be expensive to replace – and slowly walks away through a sea of identical crosses, the graves of fallen musketeers.

This is the first episode not to end on Milady de Winter, who does not appear in this episode.

THE END

Does it pass the Bechdel test? 
Yes! This is the first episode in the show to unequivocally pass the test, albeit with just the one very brief exchange only between Queen Anne and Duchess Christine of Savoy.

Named women in this episode: Queen Anne, Constance Bonacieux, Duchess Christine of Savoy. Milady de Winter does not appear in this episode.

Named men in this episode: Athos, Porthos, Aramis, d'Artagnan, Treville, King Louis, Richelieu, Duke Victor of Savoy, Gontard, Cluzet, Serge. The jailer also has a substantial speaking part, but is not named.

Is a woman captured? 
No.

Does a man have to rescue a woman from peril? 
Yes. D'Artagnan saves Constance when Marsac attacks her.

Is a woman threatened, harmed or killed? 
No – well, sort of, since the entire story turns out to revolve around the protection of the Duchess, but she isn't directly threatened in any way. And at last, a guest female character gets to survive an episode!

Does a woman have to deal with a sexual predator? 
Yes. Constance is assaulted by Marsac, pretty much for no other reason than to drive home the point that Marsac is a lowlife at rock bottom, and so that d'Artagnan will have an opportunity to save her.

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?
Yes. Aramis and d'Artagnan lie to Constance about Marsac when they ask her to take him in – 'for her own good', as knowingly aiding a fugitive could get her into serious trouble, but it denies her the right to make that choice for herself, while she could get into just as much trouble for aiding a fugitive unknowingly, so it doesn't really protect her at all.

Does a man automatically disbelieve or belittle something a woman says?
Kind of. D'Artagnan is pretty patronising to Constance when she complains about him lying to her.

Does a man talk over a woman or talk about a woman as though she isn't there? 
No.

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?
No.

Does a woman get to be a badass?
Duchess Christine is pretty fabulous.

Did a woman write/direct/produce this episode? 
No, no and yes.

Is Paris colourful?
No. Outside of the core four, everyone is white.

Who Saved Who?
Aramis saves Treville from Marsac.

Loose threads left hanging?
Still no follow-up on Richelieu's discovery of Aramis's affair with his mistress – it's pretty much too late now, even a slow-burn follow-through really needed to be seeded by now. Still no explanation of d'Artagnan's status with the Musketeers.

Verdict

This is a strong, character-driven episode, an excellent vehicle for Aramis, bringing all kinds of depth and nuance to the character. It's also a very busy and very full episode, with lots going on, and as a result some of the secondary characterisation is a bit thin, with Porthos especially suffering in this regard, but on the flipside we get to see beneath Treville's stoic façade for the first time, while Constance also takes a big step forward, both personally and in her relationship with d'Artagnan. Big thumbs up, this one is a favourite.


*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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