Arthurian “Hey, It’s That Guy!”

King Arthur

Another film filled with familiar faces. Clive Owen leads the cast as Arthur. Ioan Gruffudd (a Welshman I know best as Horatio Hornblower [blame my brother], but also Mr. Fantastic in the slightly older Fantastic Four movies) is Lancelot, the primary narrator. Mads Mikklesen (later to be Rochefort in 2011’s Three Musketeers) is Tristan, joined by Ray Stevenson (Porthos in the same movie and Volstagg in the Thor movies) as Dagonet. Joel Edgerton (young Owen Lars in Star Wars) is Gawain, Hugh Dancy (Prince Char in Ella Enchanted) is Galahad, and Ray Winstone (Mac in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and voices Mr. Beaver in Chronicles of Narnia) is Bors. Keira Knightley is Guinevere, Stellan Skarsgård is Cedric, the leader of the Saxons, Ken Stott (he’s Balin in Hobbit and voices Trufflehunter the Badger in Prince Caspian) appears as Roman Marius. It came out in the wake of Gladiator‘s success and about the same time as Troy, Kingdom of Heaven, and Alexander; also big historical battle movies that attempt to “tell the real story” of popular myths. Produced by Jerry Bruckheimer (of Pirates of the Caribbean, which might be why some of the soundtrack is reminiscent; that, and written by the same composer).

This interpretation, like Last Legion, examines the Roman influence in Arthur. The opening screenshot states “Historians agree that the classical 15th century tale of King Arthur and his Knights rose from a real hero who lived a thousand years earlier in a period often called the Dark Ages. Recently discovered archeological evidence sheds light on his true identity.” Richard Barber’s King Arthur: Hero and Legend states “Arthur…was assigned the historical role of last defender of Britain before the Welsh were pushed back into the western hills (pg. 17).” In The World of King Arthur by Christopher Snyder “a new, independent Britain faced the overwhelming task of deafening its citizens and cities from barbarian invasions. Because he is the most famous of the British defends, the period has come to be known as the Age of Arthur (pg. 35),” roughly 400 AD. A British member of the clergy wrote in the sixth century that the Picts posed a serious threat to Britain and it was decided to hire Saxon mercenaries. The mercenaries were not loyal (surprise) and instead raided Britain, “until a Romano-Briton named Ambrosius Aurelianus assumed military leadership (pg. 38),” and victory at Badon Hill. Obviously, Arthur did not live during the chivalric age that he is so often associated with; there would be more written records. So this film is not far off in its assumptions, but still runs rampant with Hollywood History…eh, these things happened, let’s put them together.

Carrying on…Ioan narrates the beginning that as the Roman empire expanded, it came to conqueror the land of Sarmatia (present day Ukraine area). At the end of the battle, only five of the cavalry were left standing. They were spared, on the condition that they were incorporated into the Roman military, and their sons down the line would serve as well. “Better they died,” Lancelot remarks. He and the other Sarmatian knights would serve under Arthur. Fast forward fifteen years and the knights have a run in with the Woads (based on the Picts, but named after the woad paint they used). They escort the Romans to Hadrian’s wall, where the rest of the Romans are beginning to pack up and leave Britain. Arthur and his knights should be discharged, but the Roman bishop they rescued has one last mission for them before they can claim their papers. He wants the men to go north of the wall, into Woad territory and rescue a Roman family. Oh, and the Saxons are invading since the Romans are leaving.


The knights are angry at the deception; they have fought for a cause not their own for fifteen years, they want out. But they will follow Arthur. Lancelot is still the knight closest to Arthur and overhears Arthur pray to God to spare his knights. They argue over faith and belief; Lancelot does force Arthur to promise that if he should fall in battle, Arthur will burn him like the old customs.

The Saxons have heard of Arthur and are already planning on making their way to the Roman estate to take on the legend. At the Roman estate, Arthur demonstrates his strong sense of justice; he frees several pagans from being stoned in and left to die, including a young boy – Lucan, and a young woman – Guinevere, a Woad. Arthur insists on taking everyone who is able with them to escape the Saxons, knowing that it will slow them down. That evening, Merlin (the leader of the Woads, a bit different position than he normally has) instructs his men to trap Arthur, but not kill him. Merlin hopes to form an alliance with Arthur against the Saxons. Arthur is not keen on the notion, blaming the Woads for the death of his mother, a Briton. Merlin argues that based on that fact, Arthur is part Briton as well; these people left are as much his people as the Romans. They part for the evening. Guinevere ends up shooting and killing Marius when he tries to kill Lucan, leaving Marius’s son, Olecto in charge (a godson of the Pope and due to enter the church). Olecto reveals to Arthur along their journey that the man’s mentor was killed; the Rome Arthur has dreamt of doesn’t exist anymore.

The Saxons catch up to them at a frozen lake. Arthur sends the civilians away, standing with just his knights and Guinevere against a small army. Their bows can hit the Saxons, but the Saxons can’t hit them, so the Saxons move closer. Their combined weight cracks the ice (though why they insist on simply moving forward while the knights pick them off and don’t fire back; I don’t understand the tactics). Dagonet rushes forward and breaks the ice further, dumping a portion of the army. He falls in as well, but Arthur pulls him out. He’s been struck by an arrow and does not survive the battle. The knights return to Hadrian’s wall and are not exactly leaping for joy to finally receive their discharges. They should have never been sent on the mission and then Dagonet would never have died. The Romans still leave even when the Saxons camp out in front of the wall. The knights intend to leave as well; they finally have their freedom and want to return home. Arthur will stay and fight, bringing about another argument with Lancelot, who insists that this is not Arthur’s fight. Arthur pushes for his friend to take his freedom and live it for both of them. Guinevere comes to him that evening.

Cedric, after a meeting with Arthur, is excited to finally have an opponent worthy to kill. But he sends the battered infantry in first. The knights return to help Arthur and the Woads fire from the trees, decimating the Saxon force. Then the rest of the army rushes through the wall. The Woads have trebuchets (for some reason; I don’t think they were used in battle at that time period) and a full battle breaks out. Tristan faces off against Cedric and Guinevere goes after Cedric’s son. Lancelot sees her in trouble and takes over the fight. He’s shot by an arrow, but manages to throw his sword, killing his opponent. Arthur watches Tristan die at Cedric’s hand and fights the leader himself. A backwards stab does the Saxon in and through the haze, Arthur sees Guinevere beside a fallen Lancelot. Arthur cries to the heavens that it should have been his life. He feels he failed his knights; he never led them off the island nor did he share their fate. He holds to his promise to burn Lancelot. Ioan narrates the end that the knights gave their lives in service to a greater cause; freedom. Guinevere and Arthur marry; Merlin declaring him King Arthur. Arthur tells the masses that they are all Britons, united in a common cause. In the background, three horses run by, recalling a notion that Lancelot had grown up with that the souls of great warriors who died in battle are reborn as horses. The knights and King Arthur live forever in the legends told through the generations.

This has never been my favorite version of the Arthurian legend. It took several watchings for me to completely understand the story. The Roman influence threw me the first few times and deviating from the typical legend. I don’t quite understand how Arthur and Guinevere so quickly fell together. There’s really no love triangle (aside from long glances), but I’m okay with that. Arthur is the only character really developed. We get glimpses at the other knights. All of Guinevere’s costumes are impractical. Overall, not impressed. Never fear, we will get to some versions I actually like.

Up Next: First Knight

Arthur Started in Rome

The Last Legion

Taglined “Before King Arthur, There was Excalibur,” it has a lot of familiar faces. Colin Firth (King’s Speech, What a Girl Wants, Bridget Jones’ Diary) stars as Aurelius, Ben Kingsley (He was Nizam in Prince of Persia: Sands of Time) is Ambrosinus, Thomas Brodie-Sangster (we just saw him as young Tristan in Tristan and Isolde) is Romulus, the last Caesar; and so many other faces that we’ve seen in historical and fantasy movies; and a lot apparently end up in Game of Thrones [I really need to see that show] While the movie starts in Rome (and I am horrible with Roman names, they all sound the same), it does end in Britain.

Ben Kingsley’s voice explains during the opening of the movie that years ago, legend has it a sword was forged for Julius Caesar, then hidden by his descendant Tiberius. Those who bear the sign of the pentangle guard its secret, searching for the righteous man to bear it. Rome lies in a precarious situation, a new emperor is due to be crowned and the Goths are demanding compensation for their work for the Empire. Romulus, who we think is just a boy running about the streets, is actually the new Emperor; he has Caesar’s blood running through him. His father is controlling and dismisses his teacher, Ambrosinus once Romulus is crowned. Aurelius is charged as the leader of the boys’ personal guard. The Goths attack and overrun Rome one evening. Most of Aurelius’s men are killed, as are Romulus’s parents. The boys is brought before the Goth’s leader and luckily Ambrosinus is able to make an argument to keep them alive.

Now Aurelius must first rescue his men, then his emperor. He has an ally with the Constantinople envoy, who sends one of his guards to help. Romulus will be granted sanctuary in the East. Aurelius is surprised to discover during a fight that the guard is actually a woman, Myrah. While on the island, Ambrosinus recognizes pentangles and sends Romulus after the sword. A plaque at a statue of Tiberius states “One edge to defend, one to defeat. In Britannia was I forged to fit the hand of he was born to rule.” Aurelius, Myrah, and a few loyal Romans rescue Romulus and Ambrosinus and meet up with the envoy, only to discover that everyone else has thrown their lot in with the Goths. There is no safe haven for the boy in the East. The small group manages to escape once again and head for Britain, hoping to find the lost ninth legion and gain allies. They’re followed by Wulfa and his men.

Hadrian’s Wall, a monument to Roman law and order is deserted. The remnants of the ninth legion have integrated with the Celts. They’re no longer soldiers, they’re farmers and have to contend with Vortigyn. Rome abandoned them, so they abandoned Rome. The Goths meet with Vortigyn, informing him of the sword. He is familiar with the blade; in exchange for the boy, Vortigyn gets the sword, and Ambrosinus (there’s a continued flashback of Vortigyn branding a younger Ambrosinus with the pentangle [fun fact: the young man is Ben Kingsely’s son]).
last legion

The Romans start to settle in with the others living at Hadrian’s Wall. Romulus becomes friends with a young Ygraine. A little family starts to develop between Myrah, Aurelius, and Romulus. Then Ygraine is grabbed by the Goths and watches a family (her family? Not terribly clear) die and sent back to the village to inform them that Vortigyn wants Romulus. It is decided there will be one last battle to decide the matter. Aurelius convinces some of the legion to join him and they fight under the Red Dragon banner. They’re vastly outnumbered but fight anyways, eventually reinforced by the rest of the ninth. Romulus decides it’s a fine time to wander about; I don’t think he was really prepared for the battle. Aurelius is wounded defending the boy, using Caesar’s sword. Romulus picks up the sword when it’s knocked away and stabs Wulfa for his parents’ deaths. Romulus charges Aurelius to live; he fought like a dragon. The man tells the boy that he fought like the son of a dragon. Romulus declares, no more blood; no more war, and throws the sword. It lands in a stone.

Years pass and an older Ambrosinus is walking with another young boy, telling him the story of the last legion’s battle. Romulus took on the name “Pendragon,” meaning son of a dragon; and he was raised by Aurelius and Myrah. Pendragon is the boy’s father and his mother is Ygraine. Ambrosinus took back his Celtic name, Merlin. Indeed, the boy is Arthur. The film closes on a close up of the sword, only the letters “E. S. CALIBVR” visible: Excalibur.

Some of the effects are painfully obvious C.G. Why is it that if there is a woman, there must be a relationship? Can she not simply be a female warrior, like a man? Overall, the movie is passable, nothing spectacular. I like how it was tied in with Rome; but the story is a British legend.

Up Next: King Arthur (2004)

Another Tale of Tragic Love

Tristan and Isolde

This tale quite possibly influences elements of Arthurian legend, such as a love triangle. (Well, it’s French). The movie came out while I was in high school and my interest in Arthurian legend and Irish legends were already growing, though the marketing touted it as “before Romeo and Juliet.” Lots of recognizable faces. James Franco is the titular Tristan and Sophia Myles (she would later be Renette aka Madame de Pompador in Doctor Who) is Isolde. They’re joined by Rufus Sewell (Count Adhemar in A Knight’s Tale) as Marke, Mark Strong (Godfrey in Robin Hood and Lord Blackwood in Sherlock Holmes) as Wictred, Henry Cavill (Charles Brandon in The Tudors series and Clark Kent/Superman in the latest DC movies) as Mellot, and Thomas Brodie-Sangster (if his name isn’t familiar, his face is; he’s in Game of Thrones, The Maze Runner, and Nanny McPhee) as the young Tristan.

The scene is set, telling us that Britain in the Dark Ages after the Roman Empire left is divided amongst its tribes, leaving it vulnerable to Irish incursion. The Irish king fears Britain uniting. The scenery is gorgeous as the film opens, showing a young Tristan and his father, preparing for a tribe meeting. They are betrayed and both of Tristan’s parents are killed. He’s saved by Marke, who loses a hand. On the other side of the sea, young Isolde buries her mother and already doesn’t trust her father.

Nine years later, both are young adults. Tristan faithfully serves Marke and they are hoping to work out a treaty once again with the other tribes. He is friend with Marke’s nephew, Mellot and they have discovered a secret tunnel that comes up in the castle’s keep. In Ireland, the Irish king Donnchadh agrees to give his daughter, Isolde to the warrior Morholt in reward for his loyalty; she will be his bride once he returns from Britain. Morholt leads Irish soldiers in collecting tribute. Tristan confronts Marke; they must do something to rescue the young people that were taken as slaves. Marke agrees, but they must be smart and act together. Tristan leads a group in their rescue, but he receives a cut when fighting Morholt. He kills the Irish leader, but passes out a few minutes later; the blade was poisoned (we already know what befalls the victims from Morholt showing it to Isolde. She counters that there is an antidote.) Mellot lays his friend to rest in a boat, set to sea then lit with flaming arrows.

The boat comes ashore near Isolde as she prepares to run away from her father and Morholt. Isolde chooses to save the young man. The young couple eventually falls in tristan and isoldelove…Until Tristan’s boat is found and Donnchadh begins searching for the slayer of Morhot (his sword had been found with the boat); Tristan must flee, but Isolde cannot follow. Tristan returns to Marke’s warm welcome and informed that Donnchadh has been scheming. He has set a tournament, with his daughter’s hand in marriage as the prize, along with a healthy dowry; it is an effort to divide the tribes. Marke hopes that if he wins, he will hold the support of the other tribes. Tristan volunteers to fight for him. (Isolde had told him her name was Bragnae to keep her identity secret; he does not know she is the king’s daughter).

Tristan ultimately wins the tournament (after a vicious fight with Wictred, the main opponent to Marke’s treaty) and Isolde gladly says she will be his, but is disappointed to learn Tristan won her for Marke. Marke is a kind husband, but Isolde is still in love with Tristan. At first, Tristan insists that they cannot have anything to do with each other and avoids his adoptive father and new bride. But Isolde pleads and he eventually agrees to secret meetings. Marke manages to get the other barons to sign his treaty and he will be crowned king. He names Tristan his second, passing over his nephew, Mellot. Which does not endear Mellot to Tristan, who has also been favored as a leader. Wictred, who has begun to notice the attention Tristan pays Isolde, suggests to Donnchadh that the coronation would be a good time to attack. Marke even begins to suspect that Isolde may not be entirely faithful and asks Tristan. Tristan assures his adoptive father that his wife is loyal and tries to break it off with Isolde, burning their meeting place. She still insists that they love each other and must be together somehow.

The coronation arrives and the men ride out, as an old tradition. Wictred leads them to Tristan and Isolde. The barons abandon Marke and he’s forced to arrest the young couple. Isolde comes clean. Just as the Irish are at the castle’s gates, Marke lets them go. Tristan has Isolde get in the boat, then pushes it away. He stays and helps fight. Mellot, hoping that Wictred will show him more respect, shows the traitor the secret tunnel. He’s cut down for his trouble and realizes his error. Tristan uses the same tunnel to sneak behind the Irish, rallying Marke and his men with his timely arrival. Another fight with Wictred, Wictred landing mortal blows, but Wictred falls to Tristan’s sword first. Marke confronts the barons: “there is no middle ground! Slay us, or slay him [Donnachdh].” Fights break out among the opposition. Tristan has Marke take him to the river and Isolde brought. The movie ends with Tristan’s death; Isolde apparently buried him then disappeared. Their love did not bring down a kingdom, like they feared. Legend says that Marke was victorious and reigned in peace until the end of his days.

For being so excited for this movie in high school, it’s fallen on my list. I see the definite influence for the Lancelot-Guinevere-Arthur triangle (which is about my least favorite aspect of Arthurian legend). The movie drags. I connect more with the emotions of Marke than either Tristan or Isolde. It took me several viewings for me to completely understand the storyline. It’s a dark film; as in, there aren’t many sunny scenes. Those that are sunny have a layer of clouds. At the end of this last viewing, I found myself craving a return to Musketeers.

In 2009, Great Lakes Medieval Faire’s theme was the court of Arthur. It was probably the second year I had gone and I remember hearing all the characters on cast and happen to mention “I wonder if they have Tristan and Isolde?”…within hearing of Merlin. Merlin brought the woman playing Isolde over to me. (A few years later, they did Romeo and Juliet and being early to the dance, I was ensured a partner: Puck. I had a wonderful time and that was when I decided I wanted to be on cast someday). It’s funny to watch some of the older videos; because now I recognize people. Oh, hey, I know Morholt (who shouts “For Ireland!” at the end of the match. Arthur says he owns that too…no you don’t). I actually know Puck. And Mordred. And Guinevere.

Next Time: The Last Legion

“All for One and One for All”

Season Three

Four years have passed and we’re thrown straight into the war. Athos is leading a charge in Spoils of War. He’s knocked down and the Spanish begin their attack, but his brothers Porthos and D’Artagnan defend their commander until he is up. Frustratingly, the general insists that the field must be taken, even though the French have no artillery to support them (“Go out there and die for [the king]” is not the most sound military advice). D’Artagnan remains reckless and leads another charge. They blow up the Spanish’s powder and win the day. But the three intend to discover what happened to their promised re-supply.

During the course of their investigation, they come across Aramis, now a monk at a nearby monastery, watching over children. This season’s new villain, Grimaud brings the weapons (stolen from the French army) to the monastery. One of Aramis’s charges, Luc, is quite brave and helpful, eagerly soaking up any stories Aramis tells of his companions. Aramis works with his brothers again and discovers that God made him to be a Musketeer, not a monk. He joins them as they ride back to Paris.

Meanwhile, in Paris, things are not as they left. The only musketeers at the garrison are cadets and they have to put up with the Red Guard, under the leadership of Captain Marchaux and taking orders from Marquis Ferron, the Governor of Paris (why we’ve never seen him before if he’s the governor, and Louis’s bastard half-brother [same father, different mothers, thus does not show on official family trees], I’m not sure. ‘Tis a plot hole). Constance, known now as Madame D’Artagnan runs the garrison while Treville continues to advise the king. Louis and Anne have grown distant; Louis only cares for his son, who is now five years old. Marchaux despises Constance, calling her an unnatural woman. Treville does manage to punch the man in the face (to our cheers).

Grimaud works with Ferron and he’s content to stay in Paris now that the musketeers have returned. The three elder musketeers report to Treville, who has them reassigned to Paris to keep order; D’Artagnan has gone ahead to the garrison to surprise his wife.

He gets thrown in prison in The Hunger, defying Marchaux when the man accuses refugees of stealing grain. Hundreds have fled to Paris for protection when the war ravages their land. One of their leaders is Sylvie, who encounters Athos when he discovers her pamphlets on equality for all (which equals to sedition at that time). He ends up working with her as the musketeers attempt to discover what happened to the grain (she even gets a few fight scenes). Treville argues for justice; there has been no evidence found against the refugees; though it turns out that the villainous trio of Marchaux, Grimaud, and Ferron are working together to frame them. Our heroes win out the day; Athos and Sylvie even kiss, starting a new relationship.

third season musketeers
Our four favorite musketeers are back

Brothers in Arms brings Louis’s younger brother, Gaston, the Duke of Orleans (this is historically factual), into play. Treville and Anne notice that the king is not acting like himself. Louis wants to build bridges with another family member who wanted to overthrow him (remember how well that worked last time, trying to forgive his mother). Louis does reveal to Treville (with Ferron overhearing) that he has the white plague; this will be his last summer. That is why he is spending all the time he can with his son. He swears his Minister to secrecy; just after Treville has admonished Athos that they should tell each other everything. The Queen does not even know.

Constance maintains her friendship with Queen Anne, though when the queen asks when the garrison will be treated to a child now that D’Artagnan is home, Constance shares her worries about bringing a babe into this chaotic world. Athos has to learn his place as Captain of the Musketeers, according to Treville. He should not be riding out constantly with his friends: I argue that he’s more effective that way and Athos is not one to abandon his brothers. He’s a Captain just returned from war, where his position was at the head of the charge, not sitting back and devising strategy. D’Artagnan is coming along nicely, tutoring the cadets and passing on the wisdom of “head over heart.”

Gaston manages to insult a group of veterans. Due to being the king’s brother, Gaston faces no recriminations while Louis doesn’t mind arresting the veterans. Gaston was carrying letters between him and the Duke of Lorraine (a cousin), raising an army against Louis. Of course Gaston doesn’t want those lying about, but he’s not the loyal family member that Louis desires. Tensions rise between the veterans and the royal family, with the Musketeers stuck in the middle. Porthos and Treville attempt to talk peace, but are held hostage. Porthos is disgusted that “I left a good clean war for this,” meaning the machinations going on in Paris. The Red Guard are given permission to fire on the veterans, only after Athos has had a chance to rescue Treville and Porthos. Of course, thanks to Grimaud, the attempt fails and an all out battle ensues. The Musketeers and veterans join forces against the Red Guard, aided by Constance and the cadets, and Sylvie and the refugees arriving. Treville punches Marchaux again. In the end, Ferron throws Gaston in the Bastille once he reads the letters.

An old face, Emile Bonaire reappears in The Queen’s Diamonds [it’s been a while since I’ve watched season three and I forgot the plot line for this one when I saw the title and thought it was similar to 2011’s movie]. Louis’s sister, Henrietta Marie is married to King Charles I of England (I doubted this was true, but looked it up and yes, it is), and has traveled to France for help from her brother; Cromwell has taken over London [I can give you a rant on Cromwell, if you’d like]. She was to meet with a Dutch financier and use her crown jewels as collateral to raise an army against the uprising. But her diamonds are stolen. By Bonaire. When the Musketeers catch up to him, he’s already sold them, so now they must track down the buyers and get them back. D’Artagnan is instrumental in retrieving the first set of stones, using his knowledge as a farmer to approach a horse that’s causing the other men difficulty. There’s a firefight to retrieve the second batch.

There’s a small side story involving Aramis and an old friend, Pauline. Turns out, Aramis grew up in a brothel before his father retrieved him. Pauline grew up in the same brothel and they were childhood friends. Pauline is due to be married to a wealthy noble, but she’s being blackmailed about her past by a servant. She ultimately kills the servant because she will not tell her future husband the truth. She has a break down right before the wedding (and we’re not entirely sure what happens to her). The story crosses over with the main plot when the last diamond is to be used as her wedding ring. The gems are returned to their owner and Bonaire will double the English queen’s money, if she lets him remain with his new wife, her lady in waiting. They’re free, but they can never return to England.

A prison escape occurs the same day as the dauphin’s birthday in To Play the King. This is all Ferron’s planning; while the court is occupied with the birthday celebration, Grimaud will sneak in and rob the gold vault underneath the palace, accessed by the prison, hence why the prisoners needed to be out of their cells. The Musketeers are sent to round up the escapees. Grimaud blackmails one prisoner, a former locksmith, to get him to build a new key in order to get into the vault.

Unfortunately, one crazy prisoner was in the mix, who thinks he’s the actual king (played by Stephen Walters, who is Angus Mhor in Outlander). D’Artagnan takes pity on him when he discovers the man was a soldier, caught in a siege that addled his mind. The young Musketeer takes the man to a convent to heal. The king remains mercurial; he wants his subjects, starting with Ferron, to swear fealty to his son. But he’s embarrassed when Ferron’s weakness (his spine pains him and makes walking difficult) causes the older man to fall to the floor. His adversary, Treville and Athos help him up and even little Louis comes to his aid. Anne leaves when Louis makes his remark. At the same time, the prisoner D’Artagnan took pity on is very dangerous, killing the nuns, and continues to the palace, coming upon the queen. Anne plays along for a while, but just as the prisoner begins to suspect her, D’Artagnan and the others come to her rescue. Louis is pleased she’s not dead, but that’s as far as his grace extends.

Treville still suspects that Ferron wishes to overthrow Louis, but he cannot tell the king, or Ferron will spread word of Louis’s illness across the continent. The Minister does overhear Ferron and Grimaud plotting that they need Gaston and Grimaud will ensure that the Aramis, Porthos, Athos, and D’Artagnan will not stand in their way again.

Death of a Hero starts ominously, Ferron talking about the day you die, and you don’t see it coming, narrating over the opening shots. Aramis is blindfolded, Athos faces a pistol, and a knife is held to D’Artagnan’s throat. So we fear that at least one of our heroes will not survive. Yet, they are safe for the moment. The pistol held at Athos belongs to Sylvie and they spend a rather interesting morning together (who knew the former Comte could be kinky?) Aramis is doing trick shots with Porthos, and Constance is shaving D’Artagnan. Ferron forges Treville’s signature, telling Grimaud that this will the Musketeers’ day to die; he has issued orders for Aramis, Porthos, and D’Artagnan to meet a messenger from the front. Grimaud handles Athos, finding him at Sylvie’s and brutally attacks him (none of the other refugees can bother to help Athos). Sylvie fires two shots at Grimaud and thinks he’s dead. When she returns with Athos, he’s gone. Athos fears for his brothers and calls Treville to the garrison. They ride out after their friends.

Porthos and D’Artagnan are ambushed on their trip. Grimaud comes along to blow up the building they’re hiding in. The two musketeers discuss that they don’t want to die yet. D’Artagnan still wants children (um, you should really have a talk with your wife, get both of yourselves on the same page). Porthos still wants a wife and child. “We refuse to die!” they resolve. And the roof caves in, trapping them. That is the state that Athos and Treville and the cadets find them. Athos frantically searches, until he fears that his brothers are dead. Porthos manages to come to, grasping D’Artagnan’s hand, echoing their earlier statement, calling attention to them. They’re rescued and now must go for Aramis.

In the meantime, Louis has decided to go on a pilgrimage to his father’s grave on the anniversary of his death. He’ll go with one guard, Aramis. Grimaud, when he finds out that Aramis is not with Porthos and D’Artagnan, orders Ferron to kill him, and the king. Ferron has already helped Gaston escape the Bastille. Ferron lies in wait, but cannot bring himself to kill his younger brother, especially after Louis places his trust in him to look after the dauphin and shows Ferron that he will be buried next to their father and acknowledged as family. Later, Louis confronts Aramis about the truth of his affair with the queen. Louis knows. He threatens to hang the musketeer (not helped along by Aramis telling the king that his wife was lonely; Aramis darling, while that may be true, don’t say that to the king). Outside, Grimaud confronts Ferron. Ferron stands up to the villain and is rewarded with being stabbed. He fires a shot in the air to warn Louis and Aramis of danger. A fight breaks out, Louis even helping shoot one guy. When he discovers his brother, Louis declares him a hero, worthy of a full state funeral. It comes out to the musketeers that Louis is dying, and Aramis warns the queen.

Fool’s Gold has our heroes pursuing Grimaud for his crimes. They come across a camp of women, displaced by the war. The four men wrangle an agreement to use the camp as a base for their search Another man in currently staying there, Bastian (played by Harry Melling, Dudley Dursely from Harry Potter), claiming to be an injured solider. The four musketeers soon discover that he’s not a soldier, he’s a deserter and worse, a convict. He and his men are searching the camp for loot they had stolen. Athos doggedly continues on the search for Grimaud, locating a cabin in the woods. The leader of the camp locks him in; she had acted as a mother to Grimaud when the man’s own mother tried to drown him since he was the result of rape. The mother still lives and is in the camp, Juliette. Athos escapes, but the woman poisons him. He stumbles upon the search party and is plagued with horrible nightmares as he fights the effect of the poison, layered on top of the hideous wounds he received from Grimaud two days before.

Back at the palace, Anne tries to make inroads with Louis, now possessing the knowledge that he is dying. She asks to be named Regent. Louis refuses at first, keeping their son from her; he cannot forgive her for her adultery (double standard; what do you call Milady de Winter? Treville even points this out). Anne does persuade Louis to name her Regent; she wishes to still be friends with him. They accept they never truly loved each other, but their marriage was a political alliance.

Porthos meets a young, pregnant widow at the camp, Elodie. While his brothers face off against Bastian and his friends (bar one who agrees to defend the women; he never wanted hurt them and is repulsed by the others’ actions), Porthos helps Elodie deliver her daughter. He offers to stay at the camp for a while, to help, but Elodie insists that France needs him.

Sadly, all of the work Anne had been doing with Louis is undone in Prisoners of War. Anne had secretly been negotiating with Spain through Aramis; not even Treville nor Athos knew. Grimaud captures Aramis and his plan is to discredit Anne; turn the people against her. Anne firmly tells the musketeers “I have been a French queen longer than I was ever a Spanish princess.” “Spain” (actually Grimaud) has asked for the release of Spanish prisoners in exchange for Aramis. The Musketeers have the unhappy duty of getting the prisoners from Marchaux and the Red Guards just as Marchaux is ready to hang them in front of a crowd. D’Artagnan releases his cousin, at the young man’s pleading (I didn’t want to trust him, and it’s a bit out of place for him to show up out of the blue). Of course, the musketeers (assisted by D’Artagnan’s cousin) rescue their friend and Grimaud frustratingly escapes again.

Treville and Constance try to counteract the bad publicity by having the queen support Sylvie’s education of the poor. She can spread her message farther with the use of a printing press. But it’s turned against her when someone (Grimaud) uses her seal to print scandalous drawings of the queen. And, to make it even better, Milady is back in town. Treville wants to hire her services as an assassin for the crown. He warns her against seeing Athos. She doesn’t listen, visiting Athos’s Captain’s quarters. One of the naive cadets unfortunately reveals that Athos is involved with Sylvie. Athos is not pleased to see his former wife (I would think it’s safe to assume they could be regarded as separated by now), despite a kiss. He fears she’s moved against Sylvie. Marchaux in fact arrests Sylvie and plans to whip her for her transgressions, even trying to get the woman to turn on Constance. Milady is hidden in the crowd when Athos arrives and releases Sylvie, shouting “to hell with the law!” A turn on his reaction to Milady’s deception; it was his duty to execute her for killing his brother. Athos tends to Sylvie and Milady agrees to Treville’s offer. At the end, Louis is angry at Anne and Treville is furious at Aramis for his actions and secrecy in the negotiation process.

The Prize startlingly begins with Louis’s death. One moment, he’s recovering from a simple sparring match with Treville, the next he’s coughing blood and dying in Queen Anne’s arms. Treville puts a plan into immediate action; Athos is to hide the dauphin, now king, in Paris, and tell no one; not even his brothers, especially not Aramis. “Civil war is coming to Paris and that child is the prize.” Gaston and Lorraine have an army stationed outside the city. Anne is furious when she discovers her son missing, not helped when the council reveals that Louis named Treville Regent at the last minute. The excuse used it that with the country at war, it’s better to have a solider at the head.
Treville does have another plan; he needs to separate Gaston and Lorraine. Step one is to convince the queen to pardon Gaston so he can enter the city under the ruse of seeing his brother laid to rest. Treville offers Gaston money so he won’t try for the crown. While Gaston is at the palace, they stage the dauphin leaving and Treville rides with Porthos to visit Lorrain and work that angle.

Athos asks Constance and Sylvie for help. The women disguise the prince and hide out with him at the abandoned tavern the veterans had used [episode 3, Brothers in Arms]. Louis, not exactly understanding all that is happening; sneaks out. He’s quickly recovered, but now they must hide in Bonacieux’s old house. Anne approaches Constance, begging to see her son. Constance compromises, but Marchaux and Grimaud are notified that the dauphin is in Paris and suspect Constance. Marchaux tries to take the dauphin when Constance meets Anne at a chapel, but Aramis is luckily to the rescue. He’s unhappy that Athos kept the information from him and Athos begins to suspect that Aramis has a point; secrecy will destroy their brotherhood. D’Artagnan is eager to help his wife. He takes charge of the child, hiding at the laundry that Constance had used when the boy was an infant. They almost escape Grimaud, but the man is clever and stabs D’Artagnan through the floor, revealing the pair.

Everything comes to a head at Lorraine’s camp. Treville has managed to work out a treaty with the Duke, granting him the independence he wants and warning the man that Gaston cannot be trusted. Lorraine knows his cousin and knows that Treville is correct; he even tells Gaston when the young man shows up that he was “a tiresome and vindictive child,” and he “has not changed.” He does not stand for Grimaud abducting the dauphin and a fight breaks out. Grimaud stabs Lorraine several times. Gaston escapes. Treville grabs the boy and manages to pass him off to Porthos to escape, after taking one bullet. He turns, ready to face his last stand and is shot another time. Grimaud, in full view of Aramis and Athos, shoots their leader a final time. Grimaud escapes again and the musketeers are left to mourn their fallen leader. My tears echo theirs.

The show concludes with We Are the Garrison [and if you note, when a character dies, their actor’s name does not appear in the opening credits]. The Musketeers bury their leader, the four bearing his coffin, and mourn his death at a tavern. Athos is so grief-stricken that he cannot even drink. Constance suggests that Sylvie tell Athos some good news, but the woman says that the time is not right. Constance and Brujon return to the garrison for more wine. The rest of the musketeers toast their former captain. Bombs are thrown into the tavern. Athos, Porthos, Aramis, and D’Artagnan are the only four to emerge a few minutes later, in time to see an explosion from the direction of the garrison. D’Artagnan heads their race back, worried for his wife. The garrison is on fire; Porthos tries to hold D’Artagnan back, but the younger man breaks free and rushes in to save his wife. Another explosion tosses the other three back. Porthos is ready to rush in and save their comrade, but Athos tells him D’Artagnan is gone. They start finding some survivors and Sylvie arrives with refugees. As Athos is about to start grieving for their loss, D’Artagnan emerges, carrying Constance. He tells his friends that Brujon is still inside. We fear Constance is dead for a few minutes, D’Artagnan begging Aramis to save her, sobbing “she’s a Musketeer” (I was crying; I still cry every time I see this episode, despite knowing how everything turns out), but she coughs and opens her eyes.

Grimaud reports to Marchaux that only D’Artagnan died in the explosion (he left before seeing the man reemerge). They take Sylvie and send a note to Athos. D’Artagnan is their advantage. When they arrive at the refugee camp, Grimaud sends Porthos and Aramis away to be executed and threatens Sylvie. Athos tells Grimaud that Sylvie does not fear death. Girmaud’s dagger moves lower, pointing to the woman’s belly. A nod confirms; Sylvie is pregnant. D’Artagnan jumps onto the guards just as they’re about to shoot Aramis and Porthos. Aramis sends two shots up, so the Grimaud will think they’re dead, but they come out swinging. D’Artagnan lands some hits on Grimaud, stabbing his shoulder and leg. Then D’Artagnan turns and fights Marchaux. He’s incredibly vicious, but the coward deserves it. Marchaux’s dead, but Grimaud slinks off (will that man die already!)

Athos is terrified and elated at the news that he is to be a father. The child will have the best uncles, who will teach a boy to fight. “And if it’s a girl?” “Then we’ll teach her to fight off the boys.” Good answer! Athos thanks Porthos for his plan; he saved both Sylvie and their child. Later, Athos recommends to Queen Anne that Porthos be promoted. Anne inquires whether Athos is willing to take Treville’s place as Minister. Athos instead suggests Aramis. Anne will consider it. She informs the musketeer captain that a celebration will be held the next day, and all citizens of Paris are invited.

Elodie has shown up; the war found the women’s camp. Porthos has her stay with Constance for the time being. Constance comes across Grimaud in the cellar of the old tavern, though she doesn’t realize who it is. She offers to help him, but he’s gone when she turns around. The next day at the ceremony, Elodie recognizes him in the crowd, entering Notre Dame. Aramis takes charge of the queen and dauphin. Porthos, Constance, and Sylvie get everyone out of the cathedral, and D’Artagnan and Athos go after Grimaud. They pull the fuses on the kegs of gunpowder and chase after the fugitive. He and D’Artagnan trade blows for a moment, Grimaud landing a cut on D’Artagnan’s face. Then Athos insists that he faces the villain alone. D’Artagnan orders his mentor, “I will not raise your child.” Athos and Grimaud each stab the other, and Grimaud doesn’t give up until Athos holds him under water. Their enemy is finally defeated.

The ceremony continues, Athos wrapped in his cloak so his wounds can’t be seen. Anne disbands the musketeers, and reforms them to be protectors of all Paris citizens. The depleted garrison will be recruited from the city. The crowd cheers. As they all leave, Anne promotes Porthos to general; he will return to the front to continue the war. Louis adorably asks Aramis if the man is his new servant (I think this is the only thing the boy says the entire series). Anne begs him to consider becoming her Minister. Athos advises Aramis later to take the position; he’ll be able to watch over his son. While he won’t be known as the boy’s father, wasn’t Treville a father to them all in a way? Anne secretly contracts Milady. Her first target: Gaston.

At the garrison, the Musketeers promote Brujon to a full musketeer and gift him his pauldron. he will accompany Porthos to the front. Porthos has married Elodie so she’ll be provided for in case he dies, and suggests Marie Cessette as a name for the baby (his mother’s name). (I cry this entire ending). Porthos instructs D’Artagnan to only take the best candidates. D’Artagnan is puzzled; that’s the captain’s duty. Athos is taking a leave of absence. “You will return?” the young man almost pleads with his mentor. “Then we will continue this later.” Athos leaves a hat for his pupil (the lad finally gets a hat! And it looks good!) In the end, Aramis does take the position as Minister. Anne is pleased, considering she sneaks a kiss with him in the garden. I adore Athos’s closing quote (I am going to make a pretty art piece to hang on my wall sometime soon).

“What lies ahead of us, I wonder?”

“Really doesn’t matter.”

“Doesn’t matter?”

“Not if we face every challenge the way we always have. With great passion, hearts that stay true to all they hold dear. Courage, no matter how many enemies lie in wait for us. Father, that daylight will always follow the dark.”

“And love?”

“Above all else.”

s3 constanceThe costumes are great this season; they’ve evolved. The Musketeers’ are more militaristic; they have extra padding – you really see it with D’Artagnan. Athos in particular has longer hair (I like it). Constance’s new gowns are awesome, far more practical, bordering on masculine.

I still feel a bit jipped by this last season; there could have been so many more stories (and this is why fanfiction is wonderful!). We could have seen more of Constance and D’Artagnan together, D’Artagnan coming to grips with what his wife has been doing. s3 d'art coupleThere are some pleasant scenes, like the beginning of Death of Hero, when Constance brushes hay out of D’Artagnan’s hair. As for the other relationships: I like that everyone gets a happy ending, but I’m still not quite happy with the sudden pairings. It took two seasons for D’Artagnan and Constance to get together and Aramis and the Queen were in love with each other almost the entire show. Suddenly, Athos has a new girlfriend, with vastly different politics. She’s for equality and he serves the king. Yes, I am glad he is happy; he deserves it. But it still feels sudden. I can see how Porthos and Elodie work; but she was only in three episodes total. How coincidental that Porthos wishes for a wife and child and one appears for him. Again, I’m glad he’s happy and he deserves it, but I don’t see a relationship built. How well will it work out when he returns home?

As with Richelieu, I have a little bit of sympathy for Ferron (not much). In a way, he’s trying to do what’s best for France. He doesn’t want to kill Louis. He’ll certainly take advantage of his death. And he obviously dislikes the Musketeers, which does not endear him to me. Marchaux is a coward and a bully, content hiding behind stronger players (and as D’Artagnan points out; he’s an able-bodied solider who is not at the front). And being cruel to Constance makes me want to punch him, or have Treville punch him harder. And Grimaud is just evil. He delights in pain – and won’t freaking die!

So, what is your favorite version of The Three Musketeers? Do you like the 70’s version with Michael York and Christopher Lee? Who’s your favorite musketeer? [Mine is typically D’Artagnan, influence by Chris O’Donnell’s portrayal, but I adore Athos from The Musketeers]. Let me know!

Since I have spent the past watching various Three Musketeers and reading their fanfiction, my brain has been in Paris. I am still in a bit of shock that Notre Dame burned; it hits a little harder. I am fascinated by medieval architecture and the cathedral is a prime example of the Gothic style. The history of the building that may have been lost.  The citizens of Paris are in my thoughts.

Okay, happier thoughts:

Fanfic Recommendations:

Gaelicspirit, most notably The Details and Broken Places

Richefic, especially All for One which takes place over the entirety of season one

Tea, Coffee and Sibling Rivalry by Forest Archer; the kitten chapter had me laughing until I had to stop for air

Up Next: We move into Arthurian legend (a favorite of mine), starting with Tristan and Isolde

Rochefort is Even Worse Than Richelieu

Season Two

The second season opens with Cardinal Richelieu’s funeral (this was due to Peter Capaldi being cast as the Twelfth Doctor and having to leave the show) in Keep Your Friends Close. At the same time, Anne is giving birth to her child. The four Musketeers are riding to collect a man with vital information for the king. Unfortunately, that man is the Comte de Rochefort (played by Marc Warren, who does appear in one episode of Doctor Who), and I hate him from just about the first minute. He’s about to be hanged and when the Musketeers endeavor to help him, he ruthlessly kills one of his captors, who had let him go when ordered. Athos does punch him in the face later (Huzzah!). A prince, or dauphin as known in France, is born to King Louis and Queen Anne. Louis wishes for Treville to take the Cardinal’s place on his council, but Treville declines, stating he is more of a soldier. Louis is not pleased.

Enter Rochefort, who is an old friend of Anne. He tutored her prior to her marriage to Louis. And he’s just escaped a Spanish prison; he is a hero in Louis’s eye. His information for the king – General DeFrois is also in a Spanish prison; Rochefort advocates a rescue. There is tension with Spanish Ambassador Perades and we find out that Rochefort is secretly a Spanish agent. He plans to kill the Musketeers; their loyalty to the king is legendary and Rochefort intends to get close to both the king and the queen. In the meantime, Queen Anne has asked Constance to join her household as a confidante (remember, in several other versions of The Three Musketeers, Constance is one of Queen Anne’s ladies in waiting).

Rochefort accompanies the four musketeers. They escape the ambush he had planned; D’Artagnan has also gone ahead. (Santiago’s Chilean descent comes into play when Aramis speaks fluent Spanish) He swims beneath the prison and encounters the general’s sister. The rest of the plan continues as expected, though the musketeers continue to thwart Rochefort and they are still alive to return to Paris. Further threads are started for the season; Rochefort intends to drive a wedge between the king and queen. Constance and D’Artagnan still struggle with their feelings for each other and how they can live their lives. Constance has several valid points; if she leaves her husband for D’Artagnan, she’ll be surrounded by scandal. Any children would be illegitimate; and if D’Artagnan falls in battle there would be few paths for Constance. Aramis finds out that the Cardinal knew about him and Adele and Richelieu had the young woman killed for it. And General Defrois and Captain Treville may have information regarding Porthos’s father.

An Ordinary Man makes me angry at points. The king decides he wants to know what it’s like to be a normal person. The Musketeers sensibly try to talk him out of it; but he is king, so they must go along. Louis continues to behave like a child and he and D’Artagnan end up abducted by a criminal gang. Anne is frantic; their son’s christening is the next day and the king is expected to be present. Her faithful musketeers manage to solve the puzzle, while Milady shows up again and helps D’Artagnan and Louis escape. She enchants Louis, who pardons her, while he blames the musketeers for the whole debacle in the first place.

The Good Traitor deals with a Spanish General who wishes to defect to France, due to persecution in Spain for being a Moor (dark skinned and Muslim). He has a secret formula for white powder, but does not have the cipher key. He will give it to France in exchange for help rescuing his daughter. Events are not as simple as that. In one attempt, Porthos is injured and taken. The daughter tries to tell Porthos that he does not belong in France; eventually his friends will turn on him for his skin. Porthos firmly states that he is French. The musketeers and general try another gamble; resulting in the general’s death, on his own terms and his daughter safely away. Louis is once again disappointed in the musketeers and turns to Rochefort. Rochefort has also been making inroads with the queen, banking on their old friendship and after the events of the previous episode, now holds letters in her hand allying Anne with her brother, the king of Spain, for protection for her son, in case anything would happen to the king.

The subplot for the episode involves a feverish dauphin. Constance questions Doctor Lemay’s methods, such a bleeding. She ends up secreting the infant out of the palace and to a local laundry house where the steam can ease his breathing. The kings orders her executed for kidnapping the crown prince, but a moment later, when her actions are declared to have saved the babe, she is spared. She gains Doctor Lemay’s trust, but also Rochefort as an enemy. Louis has also taken Milady as a mistress – leading to an embarrassing scene where the queen enters to inform the king that his son is missing, only to find him finishing an evening with Milady.

Emilie also tends to rile me up. A young woman, Emilie, who is called Joan of Arc reborn, has dreams telling her that France must invade Spain; for Spain is the devil. She’s got a peasant army and tensions are such that Spanish citizens in Paris are being attacked and killed. Anne cannot stand by and watch her countrymen killed. If the king will not grant Emilie an audience, she will try to talk sense into the woman herself. Constance accompanies Anne to the camp. The peasants are not pleased to see the Spanish woman. Emilie’s mother goes so far as to suggest killing the queen, so Louis can marry a proper French woman. Aramis defends the queen, calling his loyalty to Emilie into question (he had come to the camp claiming he had defected from the musketeers in order to seek enlightenment, and get close to Emilie to determine what sort of threat she poses. He too insists that he is French, despite his Spanish look).

Turns out, Emilie’s mother had been drugging her food for years and was trying to ride the wave of popularity they were experiencing. When Emilie was young, she had suffered fits and had been stoned by villagers. Aramis is clued in to the true nature of Emilie’s vision when Constance had some of Emilie’s soup and suffers similar horrifying dreams. Athos helps Emilie through the withdrawal (Aramis states the man has experience). They are right, it was drugs, not God. The peasants turn on her and when her mother tries to rally them again, she is killed by a stone. It’s not a fun episode, the musketeers don’t really win and in the end, Louis relieves Treville of command, for helping Emilie instead of killing her. (Milady even tried to stand up for Treville; and gets told to leave that sort of thing to men).

Athos is returned to Pinon against his will The Return. His tenants are facing harassment from a neighboring baron and entreat Athos to help them. He has no desire to be in Pinon again and does not wish to be the Comte de la Fere any longer. Baron Renard cannot believe the notion of nobility no longer wishing to be noble. But he and his son Edmond will treat Athos like dirt in order to get his land. Athos’s musketeer brothers, and Treville come to find him and stay to train the villagers to defend their home. Also in Pinon is Catherine; a childhood friend of Athos’s and Thomas’s fiancée before his death. Her main desire is to be restored to her “rightful” place. It’s plain to see she had hoped to marry Athos before he married Milady and even hopes now to marry and gain a new title. But Athos gives the land to all the people. During his final duel with Edmond, Catherine holds a pistol to Athos and asks Edmond if he will offer her better terms and seems intent on killing Athos (she’s also mad that Milady is still alive). When Edmond moves with a knife in his hand, the gun goes off, killing him. Athos thanks his friends for helping him see his duty to his people. He still has no desire to return to Pinon and with it no longer being his land, he has no need.

Through the Glass Darkly is a dark episode. An astronomer, Marmion has invited the king and his court to view the eclipse. Athos chooses to remain at the garrison instead of accompanying the court and watching Milady flirt with Louis. As the eclipse strikes, Marmion begins his real plan; taking everyone hostage. Aramis argues compassion for the women and the dauphin. Marmion pushes the musketeer out a window. Porthos, Rochefort, and the other men try to make a stand; Marmion has Porthos and Rochefort taken to the dungeon. Now, they must work together in order to escape. Louis must play Marmion’s game, calling a coin toss to decide fate; Marmion arguing that it’s simple chance. Louis will not call at first, but Milady is willing to make a gamble with her life. She calls correctly and is free to go. She rides back to the garrison and retrieves Athos, Treville, and the rest of the musketeers.

An awning luckily caught Aramis, so though he’s a bit battered, he climbs the wall of the building and makes his way back in. Marmion has sent Anne and Marguerite, the dauphin’s governess (and Aramis’s current lover…so he can be close to his son) along with the babe to one room; the rest of the courtiers are sent to another. Constance and D’Artagnan are tied together to witness Marmion with Louis. Marmion forces Louis to choose blindly which room a killer will be sent into. Louis ends up calling for the courtiers’ death; Aramis rescues Anne, Marguerite, and the baby. He meets up with the rest of the musketeers. They hear a loud moan, as Athos puts it, “that was either a wounded boar or Porthos.” Porthos had Rochefort dislocate his shoulder so they could escape, and pop it back in.

Back in the main room, Marmion tosses the coin for Constance’s fate. Louis calls wrong. D’Artagnan begs for himself to be killed instead. Marmion’s brother steps in front of the shot (they were the only two survivors of a plague town that starved to death during quarantine). Now Marmion’s sights turn to the king. Heads the king dies, tails they all go free. The coin lands head’s up; D’Artagnan is to execute the king. He and Constance instead work together with the rope tied between them to knock down the guards and the rest of the musketeers flood in to the rescue. Rochefort hunts down Marmion and kills him. Louis calls him a hero; he’s furious at D’Artagnan for the gamble and dismisses Milady for deserting him. Anne is pleased to see Constance, sorry that she had put her friend in so much danger. Constance will gladly bear it for the queen. She does run back down the hill to hug and kiss D’Artagnan. “I don’t care what people think; I don’t care what they say. This is my life and I want to spend the rest of it with you.” Their friends smile.

i don't care what people say

In A Marriage of Inconvenience the king begins to withdraw from his court and council, even the queen. He fears everyone is out to kill him, but Rochefort. To Louis, Rochefort is the one loyal friend he has and thus makes him First Minister. Rochefort blackmails Marguerite for information on Aramis, especially once he sees the jeweled cross the musketeer wears. Louis’s cousin is due to marry for a Swedish alliance, the musketeers escorting her, but assassination attempts plague her. Rochefort berates the musketeers at every turn and grants Treville the “honor” of retrieving the princess’s wedding present from the king, a portrait. Milady witnesses who shoots Treville. Aramis and Lemay, who has asked Constance along, work together to save the captain’s life (they all refer to him as captain even though he was technically demoted). Athos and Porthos investigate the gift and discover that the sketches don’t match the princess they are guarding.

Turns out, the princess is actually a professional assassin, alongside her lover, Francesco. They were hired by Rochefort to eliminate council members who stood against him. Milady is the one to wrangle to information out of Sophie. But Sophie has given D’Artagnan a gift; she killed Bonacieux when he walked in on her. She had noticed that Bonacieux struck Constance when Constance told the man she wished to be with D’Artagnan. Bonacieux dies from his wounds before D’Artagnan’s eyes, cursing the young man that he will never be happy. D’Artagnan has the unpleasant task of informing Constance of her husband’s death.

Porthos’s search for his father comes to fruition in The Prodigal Father. Treville, after gaining some strength back from his nasty wound, finally reveals to Porthos that his father was an old friend of his and Defrois, the Marquis de Belgard (Liam Cunningham plays the older man, a veteran of other BBC shows and Game of Thrones, among other credits). Belgard claims that Treville’s treachery ruined his life. He was the former captain of the royal bodyguard for Louis’s father. When Henry IV was assassinated, Belgard was the scapegoat. He retired from public life. Belgard also tells Porthos that his mother, Marie Cesette was the love of his life. She was a servant originally, but they fell in love and married in secret. His father disapproved and Treville was in league with him, kidnapping Marie and Porthos and abandoning them to the Court of Miracles. Treville told Belgard they were dead and Belgard puts the seed of doubt in Porthos’s mind regarding Treville’s making him a musketeer. Belgard remarried and has a daughter, Eleanor, with a horrible husband. They fight with Porthos.

In the background, they sell young girls into prostitution. Aramis, who had accompanied Porthos to Belgard’s estate, had seen two of them. One is dead now and the second is terrified. Aramis follows the girl to a house in Paris and informs Athos and Treville. Athos, D’Artagnan, and Aramis later investigate Eleanor’s famous entertainments, a tableau of innocence. They rescue the girls and head to Belgard’s. Porthos has confronted Treville on the truth of the matter with his father. Treville admits that he had taken Porthos and his mother to the Court. Porthos walks out.

Everything comes to a head when Athos, Aramis, and D’Artagnan arrive; Belgard pleads ignorance of Eleanor’s machinations, asking Porthos to defend him. But Porthos has questions for Belgard. He knows the portrait Belgard showed him of his “mother” is a fake; even though he was young, he remembers his mother’s face. Belgard must have just bought a portrait of any black woman. Belgard, Porthos, and Treville end up in a three-way stand-off. Treville reveals that Belgard was the one behind leaving Porthos in the Court; he had not wanted to be disinherited by his father and had threatened to kill the child and his mother. Treville had gone back to look for Porthos, but they were gone. And Treville is a man of honor; he would never commission anyone into the musketeers who did not deserve it. When Belgard pulls a gun on Treville again, Porthos shoots it out of his hand. The prostitution ring is broken up, Porthos rejoins his brothers and can now look at Treville with respect again.

Meanwhile, Constance has refused to move on from her husband, telling D’Artagnan they have no right to take advantage of the circumstances. She needs time. D’Artagnan warns her that he may not be there anymore when she finally makes up her mind. At the palace, Lemay approaches her, offering her marriage. He finds her a unique woman and believes they could make each other happy (he obviously is not aware of her affection of D’Artagnan). Anne talks some sense into Constance; Anne was born into a life of duty and privilege; she has never been free. But Constance is free. The young woman changes out of her black dress and rushes to the garrison. She admits her love to D’Artagnan, who asks her to shut up during her rambling and kiss him. (Fans cheer!) When she returns to the palace she discovers Rochefort attacking the queen. Rochefort confronted Anne about the jeweled cross Aramis wears. It had originally been a gift from Rochefort to Anne when he was her tutor. If Anne admits she loves Rochefort, he will forgive her. Anne slaps him, declaring him a monster. When Rochefort tries to force her, she scratches his eye with a hairpin (enter Constance). Rochefort is furious and declares that the king will hear of Anne’s adultery, shouting down the hall of treason.

Now we’re building for the finale. The Accused picks up right where the last episode ended. Constance fetches the musketeers to escort the queen to see the king, she quietly informs Aramis that Rochefort knows of the affair. The Red Guards and Rochefort stop Anne from seeing Louis; he is trying to turn Louis against Anne. Rochefort has Marguerite remove the dauphin from Anne and places Anne under arrest in her rooms. Athos forces Aramis to admit to their friends and Treville of what transpired at the convent. Well, Athos is the one to voice that Aramis slept with the queen. Aramis does say that the dauphin is his son. Treville is furious. They must come up with a plan. Milady approaches them; she has discovered that Rochefort is a Spanish agent. The stakes are now higher. Athos and Milady sneak in to find documents proving Rochefort’s guilt (after being waylaid by Catherine seeking revenge; Athos still cannot kill Milady). The couple shares a rather passionate kiss as they are hiding. They’re broken apart by Marguerite’s scream; the king has been poisoned.

Earlier, when the king was complaining of a headache, Doctor Lemay prescribed a drug to added to his wine; Rochefort switched the bottles. While Athos is following Milady, the other musketeers get Anne out of the palace, Constance staying behind to buy them some time. So, when Lemay is brought before the king, Rochefort brings Constance as well, claiming her a traitor. The king wearily orders them executed. Anne is safe at a convent (not sure if it’s the same as last time, different Mother Superior), but insists on returning to Paris once she hears of the king. Athos was unable to find documents incriminating Rochefort, but he has the idea to forge one. Porthos will make contact with the Spanish spy master Vargas and bring him to Paris to claim Rochefort as his. The rest of the musketeers return to Paris with the queen. They are caught upon arrival, Anne returned to her rooms under arrest and Aramis arrested for treason. Lemay is executed and Constance is forced to watch; she faces the same the next dawn. D’Artagnan rushes to see her, and is beaten for his troubles while Constance calls out “D’Artagnan, I love you!”

Trial and Punishment opens with the musketeers rescuing Constance from the gallows. She joins the men to help Porthos bring in Vargas. Treville bluntly tells the Spaniard that King Phillip would not want to see his sister die, which will happen if they do not stop Rochefort. Louis still wants to pardon Anne, but he sits and listens to Aramis’s testimony. Aramis tries to turn the trial on Rochefort, but Marguerite is brought out to speak against him and the queen. She plainly states “the dauphin is Aramis’s son.” She is appalled by what she has done; she drinks poison later, leaving the little baby wailing. Milady is the only one available to get Aramis out of prison, so he’s able to meet up with his brothers. Rochefort bullies the king into sighing Anne’s execution order and stalks off to completerochefort vs anne the deed. He empties the palace aside from his guards and enters the queen’s chambers with a garrote. Aramis and Constance go for the queen, Porthos and Treville take Vargas to the king, while Athos and D’Artagnan provide cover fire. Anne takes her sentence with dignity, but just as Rochefort lays the chain across her neck, Aramis enters and shoots the villain. Sadly, he’s not dead, and starts a sword fight with the musketeer. Constance gets a lucky hit with a pistol, but Aramis keeps her back. He stabs the double agent in the shoulder with a sword (it’s kind of grim, especially when Rochefort pulls it out). Vargas and the other musketeers face Rochefort. It’s over. But Rochefort still fights. D’Artagnan steps forward to ferociously take out Rochefort for trying to kill Constance. He suffers a slow death and admits that none of his actions were for Spain.

The day is wrapped up outside in the sun; Louis reunites with his wife and son. He apologizes to the musketeers, particularly Aramis; Rochefort had his head so turned around. Louis once again asks Treville to join his council, as War Minister. Spain has crossed the line. Treville accepts the post. He later makes Athos the new musketeer captain. Athos is now torn once again between love and duty; Milady has asked him to accompany her to England, where they can make a new start. He ultimately chooses duty, but I’m not sure if he per say chooses it, or that’s what he’s left with; he tries to see Milady at their meeting spot, but she is gone by the time he gets there. Aramis leaves his brothers; he made a promise to God that if he and Anne were spared, he would devote his life to God. Treville gifts Porthos with his sword to see him through the war. D’Artagnan gets a happy ending; he finally marries Constance, Athos is the one to give her away, but they have a short honeymoon due to impending war with Spain. The three ride out to find Aramis, knowing he would want to be beside his brothers.

Rochefort is more of a straight villain than Richelieu. I spent the entire season hating him (which might have been the point). He hired a prostitute to dress like Anne so he could play out his fantasies…that’s just, wrong. So wrong. I applaud Anne for keeping her wits about her when Rochefort came to her. I was glad that the Musketeers dispatched Rochefort; they all got their hits at him. I’m frustrated the entire time the Musketeers try to get ahead and Rochefort is there to turn its on its head, and paint them subpar to the king. I want to yell at Louis that the Musketeers are loyal, not Rochefort. Still don’t have a high opinion of Louis.

The stakes are higher this season. Just when things seem about to work out for our characters, something gets thrown in the way. Porthos discovers his father…and he’s a jerk. Porthos is angry at Treville…but Treville had his best interests at heart (this is a good thing). So much gets thrown in front of D’Artagnan and Constance being together; they eek out being happy; Constance chooses D’Artagnan, then her husband slaps her and orders her home. He dies. But she feels guilty. The young couple gets married! And war breaks out. Athos and Milady go back and forth; and honestly, I don’t think those two are good for each other. I think it’s great that Milady is a strong character, a woman who gets things done. But she’s like a spider with Athos in her web. The Catherine subplot really wasn’t needed. Yes, it makes sense that there were other people affected by Thomas’s death; but there was absolutely no reason for Catherine to appear in The Accused. I like Athos for the tortured good character that he is, but I also want to wrap him up in a hug. I adore Queen Anne; a compassionate ruler. She goes to keep peace, even when the group hates the country of her birth. And I think she deserves to be loved and Aramis is devoted to her. But it’s dangerous being attracted to the queen. On the one hand, Aramis should not have slept with her, considering her position. On the other hand, hey, at least the country now has an heir.

I want to say that brotherhood holds out at the end, but Aramis leaves them and war is on its way. Well, we’ll just have to see what season three brings.

Next Time: The exciting conclusion to The Musketeers story.

“Now, that’s the way to make an entrance”

Season One

We have finally arrived to the show I’ve been looking forward to re-watching for weeks, biding my time! It’s more historically accurate than some other shows *coughRobinHoodcough* but there are times they take some liberties. It’s the entertainment business, gotta let it slide. I adore the characterization in this production; gives the fanwriters lots of brotherly love moments to play with. The action is superb, the costumes are grand (properly worn in leather, which may not be completely period accurate, but it looks cool).

The show ran for three seasons, only ten episodes each season, since it ran in the summer, between the main programs. Aramis’s Santiago Cabrera was previously in BBC’s Merlin series as Lancelot (we’ll be getting to that series shortly), and Alexandra Dowling, who plays Queen Anne, was also in one episode of Merlin. Ryan Gage plays King Louis, though he’ll show up later as Alfrid in the Hobbit trilogy. The first season features Peter Capaldi as Cardinal Richelieu; Capaldi would go on to be the Twelfth Doctor in Doctor Who.

The series is set in Paris, 1630. We’re first introduced in Friends and Enemies to Alexandre D’Artagnan and his son, Charles when they stop at an inn on their way to Paris. Masked riders stop as well and end up killing Alexandre while Charles was taking care of the horses. Charles gets the name “Athos” from his dying father and sets out on revenge. Meanwhile, in Paris, each Musketeer starts their day. One man (Athos) has bottles strewn across his floor and uses a bucket of water, covered in ice, to dunk his head into in order to properly wake up. Another (Porthos) is playing cards against a Red Guard. They get into a duel and Porthos mockingly defends himself with a fork. And another man (Aramis) is in bed with a beautiful woman. Turns out, she’s the mistress of Cardinal Richelieu (this Cardinal doesn’t really claim to be pious). Richelieu returns early and so Aramis must jump out the window to escape. Adelle kicks his pistol under her bed for the time being. Aramis lands in front of his friends and they report to Captain Treville at the musketeers’ garrison. He has a new mission for them, another regiment of musketeers have gone missing. However, it’s much more than that when the Cardinal and the king get involved. King Louis had sent letters with the musketeers of sensitive nature to the Spanish. And now, the Spanish envoy is missing.

Catching up with D’Artagnan, he has stopped at a lodging house where he meets a beautiful dark-haired woman, and her pompous male accompaniment. The woman joins D’Artagnan in bed, where he discovers scars on her neck. The cocky young man offers to kill the man who caused them. Come morning, the lady is gone, though there is a bloody knife left in the pillow. When D’Artagnan investigates a scream, the man from the previous night is found dead. Bloody knife in his hand, everyone blames D’Artagnan and he has to jump out a window in order to escape (must be a trend amongst musketeers). He runs through a market and comes across a young woman, whom he asks to kiss him as a diversion. She takes offense afterwards and sends him on his way. He passes out at her feet. Next, he wakes with her over him. She had taken him back to her home. D’Artagnan thanks her for her assistance, but he must find Athos. She is familiar with the musketeer and introduces herself as Madame Bonacieux – Constance.

dart duel athos

The three musketeers are at the garrison when D’Artagnan strides in, loudly challenging Athos to a duel. He doesn’t listen when Athos insists he did not murder the boy’s father. Young D’Artagnan holds his own well against Athos. The duel pauses, but he starts again against all three, until Constance calls a halt. Treville next arrives with guards for Athos’s arrest. Even at the trial, Athos insists he is innocent; he did not murder anyone at an inn, nor did he attack a carriage. But the witnesses have his name. Louis, at Richelieu’s urging, makes an example of Athos and orders his execution. Aramis and Porthos pick up D’Artagnan to help clear Athos’s name, and to find proper justice for Alexandre D’Artagnan.

For brevity’s sake – they do solve the case. We find out that Milady, the woman from the inn, was the one who killed the man, apparently the Spanish envoy. She has Louis’s letters and reports to Richelieu. Louis demonstrates how desperate he is for the Cardinal’s advice, agreeing to disband the Musketeers if it will make the older man happy (that does not happen…yet). The true culprit? A band of Richelieu’s guards who went a bit too far. The musketeers, including D’Artagnan attack and D’Artagnan faces the man. At Aramis’s call, he does stop from killing the man, but when a knife is pulled, he acts defensively and stabs the man. All three arrive at the prison in order to stop Athos’s execution. Richelieu takes Adelle to the country; Milady had discovered that the pistol in her room belonged to Aramis, so he has her shot with the pistol, while she screams “I love Aramis” until the end.

D’Artagnan’s next adventure, Sleight of Hand has him going undercover to prison in order to discover a suspected terrorist’s plan. By this point, Athos has started to take an interest in D’Artagnan; he argues against sending the boy in, not because he doubts his skills, but because he doesn’t want the young man to die. Constance Bonacieux has also become fond of the young Gascon. When she visits the garrison with her husband, she confronts the three older musketeers and slaps Aramis for betraying their friend. Aramis is fine with the young woman slapping him. They get a chance to see their friend when they accompany to queen to pardon a few prisoners. Vadim, the terrorist, uses the queen’s visit in order to escape, taking her hostage for a moment. D’Artagnan accompanies him and does talk the other man out of killing the queen. During the ensuing firefight, Aramis covers the queen from bullet fire. Queen Anne is deeply impressed with the musketeer’s bravery and rewards him later by gifting a jeweled cross of hers to Aramis.

Vadim, however knows that D’Artagnan is in league with the musketeers. He ties the boy to kegs of gunpowder in tunnels beneath the palace. Our hero has fifteen minutes to get free. He just scrapes by, but when he goes to leave the room, the door ignites other lines. He gets a bit of distance between him and the blast, but is still thrown off his feet, as are the other musketeers. (After Aramis recklessly jumps on a grenade in order to save the queen; he’s lucky it was a dud). D’Artagnan confronts Vadim and mortally wounds him. We also start seeing a connection between Milady and blue forget-me-nots.

Commodities brings Athos’s past to light. It starts with the musketeers having to escort a trader, Emile Bonaire to the king; Spain claims he is violating their trade agreement with France. Emile is the first to call attention to Porthos being black (this is an homage to Alexandre Dumas’s father being a half-black Frenchman). Porthos admits that his mother was a slave who died when he was five. The musketeers are ambushed and Porthos suffers a deep wound from an axe. At first, Athos wants to ride on, but Aramis (the medic of the group) angrily states that Porthos will not survive that long; he needs stitching which cannot be done in their present position. Athos eventually admits he knows a place. They ride to an estate, Athos begins opening doors and shutters. When D’Artagnan inquires how Athos knew of the place, the older man confesses that he owns it. He was once the Comte de la Fere, nobility.

Porthos, after being expertly stitched by Aramis’s fine needlework, discovers that Emile is more than a simple trader. He is a slaver. The cheap labor he brags about in the colonies are slaves. Emile tries to argue that it’s simply business. Athos regrettably has to point out that while slaving is disgusting, it is not a crime.

Poor Athos (this is why he is a favorite character, a wooby that we want to hug and put to rights) is haunted by memories of the house and his former life. He had a younger brother, Thomas, who died, and was apparently the family favorite. He cries at his old bed, wine spreading on the cover. He later throws a wine bottle at his portrait. He remembers his wife pressing forget-me-nots into a locket. Yes, his wife is Milady (whom we know is still alive). He sends the rest of his companions on to Paris. Athos falls asleep, then wakes to smoke, discovering a fire set in his old bedroom. He turns and Milady is standing there with a torch. She’s surprised to see him there and he’s looking at a ghost. She hits him with the torch; she’s there to erase the past, destroy it completely. She’s more than willing to kill Athos. Athos brings up that she murdered his brother. Her retort is that she did it to save her love with Athos; Thomas was a fool and a hypocrite; he deserved to die. Athos begs for Milady to kill him. But she finds that he still wears the locket she gave him. D’Artagnan (having disobeyed orders) has returned and calls for Athos. Milady flees and D’Artagnan races in to save his friend. Athos brokenly divulges that he had had his wife taken from the house and hanged. But she’s not really dead.

“It was my duty! It was my duty to uphold the law, my duty to condemn the woman I love to death. I clung to the belief that I had no choice. Five years learning to live in a world without her.”

The episode ends with Bonaire and the Cardinal becoming business partners, but the musketeers get the last laugh. They set Bonaire up to be trapped by the Spanish.

The Good Solider exposes a secret of Aramis’s past. As assassin breaks up a meeting between the king and the Duke of Savoy (who is married to Louis’s sister). Louis and Richelieu are trying to persuade Savoy to sign a peace treaty with France. Hints are dropped about a massacre in Savory five years prior, of which Aramis is a survivor. Aramis discovers the would-be assassin to be his old friend Marsac. Marsac was a musketeer alongside Aramis, until he deserted after the massacre at Savoy. Marsac claims he knows the truth and blames Captain Treville. Aramis’s friends don’t believe Marsac, but for Aramis’s sake, investigate the claims. In the meantime, they hide Marsac at Bonacieux’s. Constance is not pleased to discover that she was harboring a criminal, angrily telling D’Artagnan to leave. Later, D’Artagnan promises to never lie again. Constance doesn’t want protection, she wants to be treated like an equal. When Marsac goes after Constance, D’Artagnan punches him. He once again apologizes to Constance. In return, she wants something that her husband can never find out about: she wants D’Artagnan to teach her to shoot, and sword fight, complaining “why do men have all the fun?” (this is why we like Constance)

constance shoot

The four confront Treville, but he will not admit anything. He has several angry discussions with the Cardinal, one of which Aramis overhears. Treville does not out his man to Richelieu and wearily admits to Aramis that he did hand over the musketeers’ orders, but knew nothing about a massacre until afterwards. Aramis is furious, punching his commanding officer and threatening to go to the authorities. When Marsac finds out, he punches Aramis and leaves with the intention to kill Treville. Aramis catches up to him and tries to talk his old friend down, but when Marsac starts firing, Aramis has to fire back. He hits his friend. “Better to die a Musketeer than live like a god,” Marsac states with his last breath. Treville and Aramis bury their comrade at the end of the episode.

The Duke is trying to discover whether France has been hiding his old councilor for the past five years. He thinks he has evidence, but when he goes to visit the prison, the musketeers have arrived first and switched prisoners. Humiliated, the Duke is forced to sign the peace treaty. As Treville admitted to Aramis and Marsac, the massacre was ultimately on the king’s orders; protecting their most important spy in Savoy, his sister. The Duke’s councilor, a Spanish loyalist, began to suspect her, so the musketeers were used to make the Duke believe there was an assassination attempt while the councilor was abducted. Louis even hints to Anne that there may always be an accident that kills the older Duke, putting his son in charge (and more liable to be sympathetic to French influence).

We discover more of Porthos’s background in The Homecoming. In the aftermath of his birthday celebration, where he shoots a melon off Aramis’s head, while drunk, Porthos wakes in the street, next to a body, with no memory of what happened. Red Guards assume he is the culprit and arrest him. The judge shows no leniency, calling Porthos a mongrel and orders him executed. He’s rescued, but not by the musketeers. Masked men take him to the Court of Miracles (it was brought up in Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame). Turns out, Porthos grew up in the Court. His old friend, Charon is king now. And his old friend, Flea is still there and now hooked up with Charon. (That doesn’t stop her from sleeping with Porthos; those two had been an item, but she won’t leave the Court).

The other musketeers investigate the young man’s death, connecting it with a plot to destroy the Court. The boy’s father was intent on regaining the wealth of the family, bought the land and with the denizens gone, would be able to collect rent once new houses had been built. And, Charon was his inside man, arranging powder kegs and allowing outsiders, disguised, to enter and blow the place up. (The man signs a confession, then shoots himself rather than be arrested.) Porthos eventually recalls the evening’s events and Charon’s part and confronts his friend. Flea takes a bullet to the shoulder for protecting Porthos, and Porthos and Charon fight. Aramis, Athos, and D’Artagnan have come to their friend’s rescue and Aramis ends up stabbing Charon when he tries to stab Porthos in the back. While Porthos misses Flea, he is happier as a Musketeer and has a new family.

In The Exiles, we once again hit upon the idea of King Louis having a secret twin. As Father Duval [who is played by the real life father of Tom Burke, who plays Athos] tells Cardinal Richelieu, Marie de Medici (yes, from the House of de Medici) had gone into labor before being able to return to Paris. A secret son was born before the rest of the council arrived; the boy was deformed and so whisked away when it was apparent a sibling was arriving. Philippe went on to live a quiet life, cared for by Father Duval. A young nurse was hired and she eventually fell in love with Philippe. They married and had a child. When they went walking about as a family, the villagers beat Philippe to death for his deformity. All the musketeers know is that Aramis and D’Artagnan were ordered to retrieve the mother and child and deliver them to Richelieu. But another group of men kidnap the baby.

Marie de Medici presents herself to her son, despite having been ordered to stay away after a coup she had set up to overthrow him (not quite what happened historically, but French history is not my strong suit). Louis can’t decide how to handle affairs. “Decapitating one’s mother is rarely popular with the people, sire, it always looks a touch ungrateful,” Richelieu informs Louis. She is sent away with a musketeer escort and then ambushed. This brings her to the palace (she has an unusual fashion style, for the period. I’ve noticed the heroes tend to be more accurate while the villains have a bit of a modern flair).

Aramis and D’Artagnan manage to locate the infant and D’Artagnan has the brilliant idea to send Constance in as a nurse maid, and get them information. They’re surprised when Marie de Medici shows up and Agnes, Philippe’s wife, informs them that she is Philippe’s mother. Constance keeps her cool until Marie leaves. The musketeers then sweep in, though Constance holds her own with a sword against one of the guards, to Aramis’s surprise. Treville still orders that Agnes and her baby, Henri must be taken to the Cardinal, though he states he will conveniently be busy with paperwork for a time. Aramis whisks Agnes and Henri away, intent on getting them to Spain. His friends follow him, Athos snarking about keeping the plan suicidal. They throw barrels of fine brandy into a fire to provide a distraction from Marie’s guards. Aramis takes a bundle across the bridge, but drops it in the water.

Richelieu informs Marie that her plans have failed. She will not be able to overthrow Louis and put Henri on the throne, thus ensuring another regency for her. She walks away with tears, though I’m not sure if she’s more upset about her plans falling apart or the loss of her grandson. The Cardinal kills Father Duvall and destroys the documents so there can be no further questions of Louis’s legitimacy.

Never fear, the episode ends happy; the bundle had not really been Henri. The musketeers and Constance meet Agnes and reunite mother and son. Aramis insists they leave France (funny enough, there is a sign to Avalon in the background of the shot), there are too many threats to the small family.

Early feminism gets a voice in The Rebellious Woman. The name Comtess Ninon de la Roque is brought up when a young woman is killed by the royal carriage, attempting to deliver a petition to the queen. Ninon educates women of all stations, teaching them scholarly pursuits, in the face of men saying it was a danger to fragile female minds. The Cardinal orders Milady to find evidence against Ninon, suggesting that Ninon’s interests in girls is not entirely wholesome. “How like a man,” Milady retorts (okay, I’ll cheer for her for that bit). The Cardinal wants her money to fund the country.

The musketeers visit Ninon and she’s attracted to Athos; there’s a battle of wits and he persuades her to allow a search of her rooms. The missing girl is not found, but Athos agrees to dinner with the woman. Neither of them are interested in marriage; Ninon will not be bound to a man, and Athos is opposed to the idea after the disastrous results of Milady. Their pleasant evening is interrupted when Aramis declares trouble at Ninon’s; the Red Guard are ransacking her library and have found several missing girls in a hidden room.

At the same time, Father Luca Sustini [the actor was also in BBC’s Merlin, there is a joke filtering about the various fandoms that BBC reuses actors and sets] has arrived to visit Richelieu from Rome. He gifts the Cardinal with a saint bone and informs his colleague that there is talk of who the next Pope may be; there are those who would support Richelieu’s bid for the position. When the subject of Ninon arises, Sustini declares her a witch for her progressive ideas and poisoning the minds of other girls. He urges Richelieu to be decisive; Rome will be watching with great interest.

Milady speaks out against Ninon at her trial, lying. Athos is furious; loudly declaring that she cannot be trusted. The court finds Ninon guilty and orders to be executed. The queen arrives with word from the king that Ninon will not be killed; unless she confesses by her own hand. Yet when Richelieu falls ill during the proceedings right after Ninon declares she’s looking at the Devil when she looks at him, Sustini loudly proclaims her a witch. Aramis rushes to save the Cardinal’s life. Milady continues with the plan, blackmailing Ninon that her friends will suffer the same fate unless Ninon confesses.

Preparations are made for a pyre while the musketeers search for the true culprit of the Cardinal’s poisoning. They trace it back to Sustini and arrive back at the monastery in time to save the Cardinal from being stabbed. Richelieu suspected it was Sustini, it’s an old papal trick to poison relics. He much rather keep his position and influence in France than become Pope. His vision is clearer now; no person, no nation, no god, will stand in his way. With his brush with death, he’s less liable to send someone else to theirs. Athos frees Ninon, but the woman must leave Paris. Her wealth will be taken by the crown, but she will receive a small stipend to live on. The Comtess de la Roque is officially dead. Ninon will still promote female education, but far from the Cardinal’s ear. Athos and Ninon share a tender moment, Ninon urging Athos to be careful of the dark-haired woman; she has the Cardinal’s protection. She could have loved a man like Athos, pity they’re neither the marrying kind. And the episode ends with a tender moment between D’Artagnan and Constance, admitting their love and kissing…and leading to other activities.

I enjoy the ending of The Challenge; it goes back to the simple dichotomy of Red Guards vs. Musketeers. After the musketeers escort a dangerous criminal back to Paris for the Red Guards to claim, LaBarge (played by Vinnie Jones, whose credits include King Gareth in Galavant, the bad guy in the first episode of rebooted MacGyver, and the Juggernaut in X-Men) kills the captain of the Red Guards. Richelieu and Treville start arguing over which is the better regiment in front of the king; Louis takes their wager and sets up a challenge; the winner will definitively prove which group is superior.

Treville announces to his musketeers there is a 30 livre entry fee, to create a winner’s purse (and cover the wagered amount). Aramis and Porthos must find patronesses. D’Artagnan hasn’t been receiving funds from his farm and turns out, it was one of the ones destroyed when LaBarge was working as a cruel tax collector in Gascony. Constance tries to help, but D’Artagnan eventually receives the needed money from Milady. She’s trying to play an angle with the Cardinal, claiming that D’Artagnan is a key in destroying the musketeers.

Richelieu begins stacking the deck in his favor. He has Bonacieux spy on D’Artagnan. Bonacieux catches the young Gascon in an affair with his wife and threatens Constance with D’Artagnan’s death if she doesn’t break it off with the boy. Constance does as she’s commanded and utterly breaks D’Artagnan’s heart; and her own. She silently sobs after D’Artagnan leaves, her husband watching in the next room. Richelieu also commissions LaBarge as the new captain of his guards, guaranteeing the musketeer champion will lose. Treville finds out what Richelieu is up to and declares himself the champion for the musketeers. Athos is furious on D’Artagnan’s behalf; the lad has it in him to become the greatest musketeer and Treville just took his best chance of being noticed by the king and winning a commission.

The day of the contest, when LaBarge steps out, the musketeers realize what Treville had done. The fight between LaBarge and Treville is intense; Treville lands a hit. LaBarge retaliates by stepping on Treville’s shoulder. Treville’s musketeers loyally come to his defense and a short fight breaks out between them and the guards. The king calls a halt. He will allow Treville to choose another champion since LaBarge broke the rules. Treville names D’Artagnan. Heeding Athos’s lessons of keeping a level head, D’Artagnan faces LaBarge. D’Artagnan fights with a ferocity and ultimately defeats the large man. Louis orders him to kneel and commissions him into his musketeers; his friends give him his own pauldron (it’s what they use as uniforms instead of blue tunics, though blue capes are a part of the uniform). D’Artagnan doesn’t get the purse; the king declares that the wagered money will go to the treasury since the rules were in fact broken.

D’Artagnan’s first mission as a full musketeer is to guard the queen as she bathes in a lake known to increase fertility in Knight Takes Queen. While Anne is away, Louis flirts with visiting Charlotte Melandorff. She comes with a large dowry (which would help the treasury) and her sisters have bore sons to their own husbands. Louis whines to Richelieu that he wishes Anne was dead, so he could marry Charlotte; it would be better for France. Anne must be barren since there have never been any children. Thus, the musketeers’ quiet mission becomes a lot more interesting. One of Anne’s maids is killed while borrowing her robe. She is spirited away by the musketeers, a whole troop of men on their tail. Porthos and D’Artagnan are ordered by Athos to return to Paris for reinforcements; Athos and Aramis will take the queen to the safety of a nearby convent.

Adding intrigue, one of the sisters knows Aramis. She was his intended from years pervious; he had gotten her pregnant and he was due to marry her. But the babe was lost and she left him, entering the convent. When she reveals herself to Aramis, she claims that she did it as a favor for Aramis; they would have never been a good match, she felt. By entering the convent, she allowed him a life of adventure and freedom. Sadly, the young woman is killed when two of the mercenaries (who, for some reason are Irish. Not sure I quite understand why they had to be Irish) enter the convent. Anne, already attracted to Aramis, comforts him in his grief, in her bed. Mother Superior is awesome really; ready to help defend her convent, loading pistols for Athos while he and Aramis keep the mercenaries at bay. Aramis’s parents at one time wanted him to become a priest; he found he was better at dispatching people to hell.

Unfortunately, when Porthos and D’Artagnan arrive at the garrison, the rest of the musketeers are away on a hunt with the king and his guests. They are left with an injured Treville, the young stable boy, an old solider with one eye, and the cook. Richelieu is furious at Milady when he discovers that the man she hired to kill the queen did not succeed. He orders her to fix her mistake. She manages to pin the crime on Charlotte’s father, with sketchy evidence. Porthos, D’Artagnan, and Treville take their misfits and manage to mount a rescue attempt, arriving just when Athos and Aramis are out of bullets. When searching the mercenaries’ things afterwards, they discover the mark of a woman who is in lead with the Cardinal; Milady’s blue forget-me-nots. They begin to suspect that the Cardinal was truly behind the attempt on the queen’s life. Louis is quite pleased when his wife returns (he really is childlike; siding with whoever can hold his attention).

The first season ends with Musketeers Don’t Die Easily. All the plots are coming to a head. athos and miladyAthos drunkenly confronts his wife, threatening to kill her. His friends stop him, D’Artagnan coming forward when Milady pleads for the young man to save her, like he promised. Athos shoots D’Artagnan – in the side. Milady tries to persuade D’Artagnan to leave the musketeers and join the Cardinal. Richelieu has charged Milady with silencing Athos and his friends for good. Treville shows up to tell D’Artagnan that Athos will not serve with the boy; Treville has chosen his best swordsman, D’Artagnan must leave. D’Artagnan promises Milady he will does as she asks; he will kill Athos.

When D’Artagnan arrives at the garrison, he joins Athos, Porthos, and Aramis in Treville’s office. Turns out, this is all a ploy to catch Milady. They plan out their next step, to “kill” Athos. They make sure Milady is watching and do it in public. Aramis and Porthos shout insults at D’Artagnan after they spill blood on Athos. D’Artagnan goes to Richelieu, telling him that Treville is in possession of evidence against the Cardinal for the attempt on Queen Anne’s life. Aramis and Porthos will trade the letter for D’Artagnan. Richelieu arranges the exchange. Porthos confronts Cardinal about the attempted murder. Richelieu admits “I alone can make the decisions no one else can stomach.” One woman’s death is worth sacrificing to prevent civil war when the king dies without an heir. Richelieu snatches the letter. It is blank. Anne appears, alongside Treville; they heard everything. Richelieu begs mercy; everything he has done has been in the best interest of France. Only because she believes he is true in that sentiment, does Anne spare Richelieu (I believe him as well; the only reason he went after Anne was because his king wished it. It suited his own purposes as well, but Richelieu is ultimately loyal to France, putting its best interests first. This is what makes him a more complex villain that other adaptations give him credit for). Queen Anne’s influence now though with the king is higher than ever.

Richelieu gives up Milady to the musketeers; she is of no further use to the Cardinal. But Milady has her own insurance for her plans; she arranges for Constance to be abducted. When the musketeers confront her, she tells them where to be to retrieve the young woman. It is undoubtedly a trap. But they prepare. As the bonus feature states, it is their finest hour. Gun shots, explosions, and sword fights, the four of them take on dozens of bandits. D’Artagnan ferociously takes on the man holding Constance. Constance try to flee, but is caught by Milady. The four stride over to her, knowing she won’t kill Constance despite her threat. Athos steps towards his wife and Constance breaks free, flinging herself into D’Artagnan’s arms. Athos faces his wife. She begs for death; but he cannot. He orders her out of Paris. He departs, dropping the locket.

All seems right, but a servant comes running to Constance that Monsieur Bonacieux has tried to kill himself. Constance cannot leave her husband now, so D’Artagnan’s heart is broken again. The Cardinal is called before the king and queen and a small audience. Louis had “never expected this, after so long.” Anne is pregnant. Athos and Aramis exchange a look. The Cardinal later oversees a tender moment between Aramis and Anne; the musketeer promises to look over her son.

Fraternity, brotherhood; a huge theme of these Musketeers. Fans have deemed them the “Inseparables,” it’s always those four going on the most dangerous missions, those four appearing before Richelieu or the royal couple (yes, as some fans have pointed out, a bit like the Golden Trio in Harry Potter, “why is it always you three?”). And I am a huge fan of brotherly love, that friends can choose each other as family [I could go into a whole Supernatural spiel, but I shan’t at this moment. Maybe later in ‘Random Fandom.’] At the end of this season, while the Musketeers do not have glory, or money, or love; they do have honor.

My impressions of these characters after one season; Treville is honorable. Louis is whiny. I like Anne, even though she slept with Aramis; she is a kind woman. It is plain that her marriage with Louis is strained; I feel she only wanted a little bit of love for once in her life. Aramis could have stopped her, but was not in a place emotionally to be able to do that. Porthos is the most loyal friend someone could ask for. D’Artagnan is working on curbing his recklessness, but he’s young. Athos will make sure he doesn’t get himself killed. Athos is a tragic character who wants to see justice done. And I can respect Richelieu as a villain.

Next Time: Season Two

Sword Fights Can be Dangerous

The Three Musketeers (2011)

Some familiar faces are featured in this slightly modernized version of Dumas’ tale. Logan Lerman (Percy Jackson) stars as D’Artagnan at the age he was originally written, Matthew Macfadyen (we just covered him in Russell Crowe’s Robin Hood) is Athos, Luke Evans (he’ll go on to be Bard in the Hobbit trilogy) is Aramis, Mads Mikkelsen (we’ll see him in King Arthur [and we’ll see Ray Stevenson, who plays Porthos in that movie as well], he was the bad guy in Casino Royale and Doctor Strange, and was the father in Rogue One) is Rochefort, James Corden is Plantchet, and Orlando Bloom is Buckingham. Matthew Macfadyen voices the opening narration overlaid little figures depicting that at the dawn of the seventeenth century, after the assassination of his father, young Louis XIII took the throne, surrounded by enemies, most particularly Cardinal Richelieu. The Cardinal plotted to seize power; all of Europe was a powder keg, ready to explode into a war that would engulf the whole continent. Only a few men could prevent the coming apocalypse: the Three Musketeers.

The film actually opens in Venice, highlighting the skills of each Musketeer. Athos is a ninja in the water, aided by Milady. Aramis is standing on a roof a la Assassin’s Creed [all I know are the video game trailers] and flies down on his prey. Porthos is the big bruiser, the bait to catch their opponent. They retrieve three keys to open Leonardo da Vinci’s fault, on a mission to find plans. Being da Vinci, there is a further booby trap; Milady takes it out by sliding and bending backwards underneath the ammunition (um, how do you do that in a corset?) When the guards arrive, they break out of the vault by blowing a hole in one of the canals, flooding everything. The four cheer their victory, but are interrupted when Buckingham enters, Milady having poisoned their cups. She claims that it’s nothing personal, just good business (where have we heard that before?) Buckingham had a better offer. He looks at the plans; they’re for a war machine, a flying ship.

One year later, father and son are sparing. The father has one thing left to teach his son; his adversary may not always be as noble as D’Artagnan. He and his wife wish their son well and send him off to Paris. On the way, D’Artagnan encounters a man in red with an eye patch who will not apologize after insulting D’Artagnan’s horse. D’Artagnan challenges the man to a duel, but when he turns around, sword drawn, Rochefort shoots him – proving his father’s point. His shot grazes the young man’s arm, but Rochefort is intent on finishing the job, until a carriage stops. Milady comments that the young man is too pretty to kill. They leave him; they have business in Paris.

D’Artagnan makes his way to Paris as well. He spots Rochefort in the crowd and chases after him, running into Athos. They set a duel. He runs into Porthos next, and another duel. He misses Rochefort and finds Aramis next to his horse, issuing a citation. Young D’Artagnan argues with Aramis and sets another duel. At the palace, Milady visits the Cardinal. She informs him that Buckingham has built the war machine and is coming to visit Paris. Louis stops in and asks what Buckingham is wearing, so he’ll be fashionable.

D’Artagnan is waiting for his opponents and when they introduce themselves, realizes that they are the famous three Musketeers. He’s still willing to fight them, but the Cardinal’s guards show up. They outnumber the Musketeers, but when D’Artagnan spots Rochefort, he steps into the fight. He handles himself well, but the other three decide to join, due to the number of opponents. The crowd cheers. In the midst of the spectacular fight, D’Artagnan stops to flirt with a pretty girl. She inquires whether he is always this cocky. Only on Tuesday, he responds, or whenever there are beautiful women. He and the Musketeers are victorious; the three older men have forgotten what it feels like. Constance cautions D’Artagnan that people are not as simple in Paris, then leaves. D’Artagnan informs the Musketeers that Rochefort had tried to kill him, that’s why he was fighting. Any enemy of Rochefort is a friend of the Musketeers. They call the young man reckless, arrogant, and impetuous. He shall stay with them.

At the Musketeers’ home, D’Artagnan meets Plantchet, their servant. He is also a little disappointed to discover that his idols are not as heroic as he imagined. They’re obsolete. They’re warriors with no war to fight. Athos doesn’t believe in much anymore (the result of Milady’s betrayal). They need a great cause to fight for again. They are summoned to the palace to be reprimanded for their actions. Louis is actually quite impressed by their fight; even Anne compliments them for dueling for against forty, as she was told by Constance. She asks her husband to not be too harsh with the Musketeers, after all, boys will be boys. Louis rewards them for their courage, a purse of gold and new clothes. When the Cardinal asks for harsher punishment, Anne speaks up for Louis; the Musketeers are his guard. Louis does ask them to stop fighting, or there will be none of the Cardinal’s guards left.

Richelieu plots with Milady to create a scandal. They’ll plant love letters from Buckingham in Queen Anne’s drawers and steal her prized diamond necklace and plant with Buckingham. Buckingham will be humiliated, King Louis will be outraged, the queen will be executed and war will be declared between England and France. In France’s time of need, the Cardinal will assume the throne.

Buckingham arrives in Paris in his airship, insults the king, implies that he intimately knows the queen, and insults the Musketeers. He speaks to Cardinal regarding peace between England and France while Milady breaks into the queen’s chambers (in a action sequence that is more modern than historically likely) to plant the letters and steal the diamonds (which are guarded by a maze of wires, of course revealed using powder. Again…how do you do that twirl in a corset?) Outside, D’Artagnan speaks to Constance; she keeps turning him down. Louis asks for advice from the young man; the young king is unsure how to speak to his beautiful wife. D’Artagnan counsels the monarch to speak from his heart and show that he cares. Once her mission is complete, Milady reports to Richelieu; she is to accompany Buckingham back to the Tower of London with the diamonds. But she wants an insurance policy, both parties know the other can turn on them. The Cardinal writes a letter, giving his permission for whatever actions are necessary.

One of Anne’s ladies finds the letters and takes them to the king. The Cardinal counsels the monarch to throw a party and ask Anne to wear the diamonds to test whether the letters are real or not. Constance discovers the diamonds missing; the queen goes to the Cardinal (who is in the midst of fencing, skilled where other Cardinals are not), who lies, they both know, but she wanted to see it. Constance goes to D’Artagnan. When he needs a little further convincing to agree to the insane circumstances, she kisses him. He asks who is with him; the three agree. Rochefort calls for them outside, intent to burn the house down. They ride out.

Orlando-Bloom-Duke-BuckinghamThe guards are waiting at the port of Calais. Constance volunteers to be the distraction; she can help here. On the ride to England, the four plot how they will enter the Tower of London. Milady knows they’re on their way; she surmises what the Musketeers will do to Buckingham. The Musketeers know that she knows, so they must do the unexpected. D’Artagnan is their wildcard. He gets caught, but his task is to stall Buckingham. Athos, Porthos, and Aramis arrive with Buckingham’s war balloon and blows the wall apart. D’Artagnan leaps to join his friends. They pick up Milady on the way, thanks to Plantchat. She has the diamonds; she would not trust them anywhere else. Athos forces her to hand over the diamonds and is ready to shoot her. She drops off the ship.

dart roche duel

But their adventure isn’t over yet. The Cardinal had commissioned another war machine built, much larger than Buckingham’s. This one is captained by Rochefort, and he has Constance as his prisoner. Athos urges D’Artagnan to save the girl; at the end of the day, duty to country will not keep you warm at night. France will take care of itself. They’ll do an exchange, the diamonds for Constance. But Rochefort takes D’Artagnan prisoner. The Musketeers fire on the other airship, which gives D’Artagnan the opportunity to take the diamonds. He doesn’t get far. Another explosion knocks him out, allowing Rochefort to take the diamonds again. The Cardinal’s ship lands on Notre Dame and when it seems to be rising again, the Musketeers crash their ship into it. D’Artagnan gets up and chases after Rochefort. They duel intensely on Notre Dame, Rochefort landing several strikes on D’Artagnan, but when Rochefort was getting cocky, D’Artagnan catches his sword and stabs the villain. The diamonds are back in his possession.

They limp the airship back to the palace, crashing into the gardens. The Cardinal is ready to arrest them, but Louis comes out. They spin the tale of Rochefort being a traitor and give credit to the Cardinal, so he can’t speak out against them without revealing his intentions. Anne emerges, wearing the diamonds and all is right in Louis’s world. He intends to make more changes and thanks D’Artagnan for his help. Richelieu tries to recruit the Musketeers, but they’re happy with their jobs. D’Artagnan and Constance kiss and he salutes with the Musketeers.

The film closes on Milady on Buckingham’s ship; they had fished her out of the channel. He has an entire armada behind him and a fleet of airships, bound for France to retrieve what is his. And vengeance on Athos.

It’s a slightly modern take on the classic tale. The fights are wonderful, as to be expected with a Musketeer film. As pointed out, several aspects are unlikely for that time period (like that whole sequence in the beginning and in da Vinci’s vault). D’Artagnan is filled with youthful impetuosity, true to character. Anne and Louis are a happier couple, and younger. Orlando seemed to enjoy playing the bad guy. Mikkelson was devious as he tends to be. I did enjoy his duel with D’Artagnan.

The Musketeer tale holds a special place in my heart; it was the storyline of my local faire the year I was on cast. I was a humble peasant (well, wise woman…translation, witch). Our D’Artagnan was excellent and will probably always be my favorite. Energetic and youthful and he threw himself completely into the action. Watching the duels reminded me of some of the matches at the chess game; like grabbing a sword. Kids, not recommended. (In our case, it was the Duke of Buckingham who did the stunt).


I do like this version; high energy and full of adventure, like a swashbuckling movie should be.


If you have any questions about faire, let me know!  It’s full of wonderful people and I have lots of good memories!


Up Next: We start BBC’s The Musketeers series

A Whole New Generation of Musketeers

La Femme Musketeer

I remember first seeing this on the Hallmark Channel, but it is not well known and rarely shown on any of their current stations. It features Michael York as D’Artagnan (he was D’Artagnan in the ’70’s Three Musketeers movies [where Christopher Lee was Rochefort]) and John Rhys-Davis as Porthos. Gérard Depardieu (he was Porthos in Man in the Iron Mask) returns as Cardinal Mazarin. Like Man in the Iron Mask, the tale involves the offspring of the original four musketeers (“plagued by the offspring” is used a few times in the film) and like Princess of Thieves, the famous legend has a daughter, not a son. Valentine D’Artagnan has been well trained by her father and wishes to follow in his footsteps and become a commissioned musketeer.

The opening scrawl sets up: “In the year 1660, a bloody war rages between France and Spain with no sign of peace. In the French Court, a power struggle has begun between Cardinal Mazarin and the young King Louis XIV. The Cardinal is aided by his personal guard and King Louis is championed by his famous Musketeers.” Two men are discussing the situation at a battlefield; France is in danger of losing the war. One man has just returned from Spain on a mission from the king, and peace may be at hand. Though there are some who are not interested in peace; including Mazarin it is implied.

Next, we’re in the country, a masked person waiting as others surround them. Then they’re riding. The masked person is cornered in another field and a cloaked Michael York emerges and crosses blades with the masked individual. A bell rings, bringing the duel to a halt. The mask and hat are removed, revealing a young woman. D’Artagnan thanks the men who helped with his exercise, he and his daughter need to go home for dinner. D’Artagnan tells Valentine that she is ready and Valentine thanks her father for believing in her. But they must hurry for they are expecting company for dinner. Valentine is not fond of dresses, but she does ask her mother to brush her hair, like she did when Valentine was young [a very modern-looking haircut]. The family that is dining with the D’Artagnans has a son they may hope will catch Valentine’s eye. He’s very dull, spending most of his time talking about investments and tells Valentine that a woman should never spend more than a husband sets aside. Valentine chooses to demonstrate her knife juggling skills, impressing her father and I’m sure scaring their guests.

Meanwhile, at the French palace, King Louis is flirting with his mistress, Marie. Marie wants to know when they will be married. Louis informs her that if he was free to marry whom he loved, he would undoubtedly be with her. But as king, if his marriage can end the war…. Marie guesses that he intends to marry the Spanish princess Maria Theresa [historically, he does. And he did have an Italian minister, Cardinal Mazarin]. Louis attempts to pacify Marie that they could still each other. No, they can’t, she responds.
We see that Cardinal Mazarin keeps two separate books and has supplies meant for the troops sent to his estate in Tuscany. He hopes the war with Spain will continue to line his pockets. Villois, the captain of his guards, steps in. Mazarin wants the Musketeers thinned out. Villois confronts the Musketeer commander, Finot after his conversation with the Cardinal. Villois was almost a Musketeer, but D’Artagnan stood in his way.

King Louis holds a performance, cementing his image as the “Sun King,” and Marie is a violinist in the orchestra. They flirt afterwards, but are once again interrupted by needs of state. It is confirmed that the Spanish princess will be arriving in a week. In England, a younger Duke of Buckingham is hosting a party, but leaves in the company of a lovely woman, Lady Bolton. He takes her to his chambers and shows her his favorite portrait, Queen Anne of France. Rumor has it that Anne and the older Duke of Buckingham were unrequited love, on the Duke’s part. Then, the son turns to Lady Bolton; she pulls a pin out of her hair. As he’s kissing her, she pulls out a small blade and slices his neck. He falls back, dead. Lady Bolton takes the portrait and escapes.

Outside Plantchet’s tavern, Villois and some of the guards are running a line of gunpowder. Three friends happen by and the cocky leader, Gaston, challenges Villois to a duel, to demonstrate that the Musketeers are better than the Cardinal’s guards. His two companions eventually have to break up the fight. Plantchet wanders out to see about the commotion and comes very close to lighting the gunpowder (and we yell at the screen for him to stop). Later that evening, all three boys will be getting into trouble again; Etienne and Antoine for gambling, and Gaston for womanizing.

Valentine sneaks out, with her father’s blessing (and her mother looking on). D’Artagnan gives her a letter of introduction. He is already proud of her and offers her the advice to fight at the least provocation and never submit to insults or edicts. He gifts her his sword; there are only four like it in France. Along the way, Valentine runs into Lady Bolton’s carriage as its attacked. She rides to the rescue and Lady Bolton, after being surprised to learn that her rescuer is not a man but a woman, invites her into her carriage so they may ride to Paris together.

Valentine enters Musketeers headquarters right after Commander Finot finishes reprimanding the three rascals; he’d like to kick them out, but he places them on probation in deference to their fathers. Valentine and Gaston run into each other and Gaston challenges who he thinks is a country rube to a duel the next morning. Valentine wishes to speak to Finot, but he won’t see her. When she hands him her letter, he dismisses her as a woman; there has never been a female Musketeer. If she was D’Artagnan’s son, there would be no question. Valentine argues that her being female should have nothing to do with her eligibility (and women cheer!). If Finot was half the man her father said he was…. Young Captain Paul Moriac, whom is a childhood friend of Valentine’s promises to speak to the commander on her behalf. Valentine stays at Plantchet’s.

Lady Bolton sees Cardinal Mazarin. He slices open the portrait to reveal a letter (of course, he slices through the front of the painting, not the back, just to be extra vicious), from Anne to Buckingham, insinuating that Buckingham may be the father of Louis XIV (which would damage young Louis’s claim to the throne). With the letter, Mazarin can control Louis and thus France. Marie then bursts in; Mazarin is her uncle. She begs for help with Louis. Mazarin promises that Louis will not marry the Spanish princess (we can all guess how he’ll arrange that).

valentine d'artagnanMorning dawns and Valentine arrives for her duel, though she has dispensed with disguising herself as a boy [again, this only works if one lacks significant curves and hides their hair in their hat]. Gaston at first doesn’t wish to fight her, but she insists. When he catches sight of her sword, he calls he a thief; he, Etienne, and Antoine all have matching swords that belonged to their fathers. So did Valentine’s. That’s when they realize who she is (it must be several years since they’ve seen her). However, the Cardinal’s guards show up and another fight breaks out. The sword fighting is rather fantastic. Some of the flips and such are more martial arts-looking, but not to the extent of The Musketeer.

Back home, D’Artagnan is attacked by three men. His wife knocks out the ruffians with her frying pan. Actually, the ruffians are D’Artagnan’s old friends, Athos, Porthos, and Aramis. They had come to kidnap D’Artagnan and visit their sons in Paris. The trio are thespians now, putting a small show on in various villages. D’Artagnan agrees; his wife also wouldn’t mind if he checks in on Valentine.

Commander Finot has been ordered to take his Musketeers to the front. Moriac is temporarily in charge of the corps. Being on probation, Gaston, Etienne, and Antoine are not going with their comrades. Moriac hasn’t had a chance to speak to Finot about Valentine. She decides to follow Finot and prove herself in battle. Except she discovers that the troop has been ambushed by men with a cross tattoo (the Cardinal’s guards). Valentine reports Finot’s death and the attack to the king. Louis is irate; Mazarin has crossed a line. He is urged to increase his influence on France in order to decrease Mazarin’s hold. Louis officially agrees to marry Maria Theresa. He orders Moriac, now commander of the Musketeers to secretly find and guard the princess. Moriac takes Gaston, Etienne, and Antoine with him and gives permission for Valentine to train with the rest of the corps.

In the meantime, Mazarin orders Villois to ensure that the princess does not arrive in Paris. He wants no witnesses, so Villois is to take unmarried men to complete the task. With agreeing to marry to stop the war, Louis has to send Marie away. She storms out and to her uncle’s chambers for help. Mazarin is not in, so she sits to write a letter, spilling ink in the process. When she searches to find something to blot the mess, she discovers the old letter. She has to take it to Louis. Lady Bolton walks in and demands the letter. Marie is smart enough to realize that Bolton is in league with her uncle and they are not friends of Louis. Marie hides from the guards and runs to the Musketeer headquarters, making it as far as the yard in front of the building, where Valentine is practicing. But Lady Bolton has pursued her and throws a knife as Marie hands the letter off to Valentine. Marie warns Valentine that Lady Bolton wishes the king harm with her dying breath. Valentine holds a sword to Lady Bolton, but Bolton calls for conveniently passing guards and blames Valentine of the murder. Valentine runs and makes it back to Plantchet’s. She’s read the letter and decides to take it to Moriac; she has to get out of Paris. Plantchet and other musketeers in his tavern are arrested for harboring Valentine.

Some of the Cardinal’s guards follow Valentine and a fight breaks out when she reaches Moriac and the other three. When one is about to shoot Valentine, Moriac steps in front of her. He’s killed, Gaston dispatching the guard responsible. They bury Moriac, but must continue on their mission. Valentine will join Gaston while Etienne and Antoine go the other direction. That evening, Valentine reminisces to Gaston that Paul had begged her father for lessons and when he discovered Valentine practicing the same moves, he didn’t laugh at her. She had the fantasy at one time, that they would marry and be Musketeers together. I actually think they would have made a good couple. She feels that Moriac is dead because of her; Gaston hugs her and talks her into going to sleep.

D’Artagnan and the other three Musketeers arrive in Paris to discover Plantchet has been arrested. Plantchet fills D’Artagnan in on recent events and all four leave to hunt down their children (old men are hilariously grumpy and cranky in the morning). In the meantime, Villois has tracked down the princess, killed her guards, and abducted her and her ladies. He sends word to Mazarin, demanding new terms in their deal. The Cardinal failed to get Villois his family’s lands back and the man knows he cannot trust Mazarin. The Cardinal sends Lady Bolton to Villois. Those two end up making their own alliance after Valentine falls into their meeting (she and Gaston had tracked down the Spanish coach, thanks to Valentine recognizing Spanish lace, then she recognized Lady Bolton in town and climbed up on a roof to overhear their conversation). Villois suffers no revulsion to torturing a woman. Gaston hides, then follows so he knows where Valentine is taken.

Etienne and Antoine manage to get into trouble a few towns over and are about to be hung when their fathers come to the rescue [you can see where the ropes are prepped to be cut]. They catch up with Gaston, who tells them were Valentine is being held. She’s actually with the princess and her ladies and currently trying to pick the lock. Maria Theresa wonders if all women in Paris are like Valentine; no. She worries about marrying Louis. Valentine laughs; she thought that the princess is supposed to marry a king. There is further obligatory girl talk, but when Bolton and Villois enter and demand answers from Valentine, Maria tries to take on Villois. He then threatens to kill Maria and her ladies to get Valentine to talk. But he’s interrupted by a commotion above.

musketeer fathers and sons
L to R: D’Artagnan, Porthos, Antoine [Porthos’s son] Gaston [Athos’s son], Etienne [Aramis’s son], Aramis, Athos
The Musketeers have arrived (the old men are not able to climb up the side of a building any longer). Maria, when she took on Villois, got the key, so they escape their cell. Gaston, Etienne, and Antoine are surrounded by guards when Athos, Porthos, Aramis, and D’Artagnan turn up. D’Artagnan and Villois duel and Villois is about to win when Valentine arrives, orders Gaston to protect the princess, and takes over the duel. They end up inside and at some point, Valentine manages to lose her sword, getting her hands on kitchen utensils, but she’s knocked down and Villois is poised to run her through with the broken hilt of D’Artagnan’s sword. Valentine grabs the blade and catches Villois.

In the commotion, Lady Bolton takes the princess and her ladies, but once again they catch their abductor off guard and hit her with a shovel. When she comes to, Lady Bolton disappears into the sun and we don’t see her again [when I first watched the movie, I thought she would come back at the end to muck everything up]. Everyone heads off to Paris. One of the Cardinal’s men spots them and sends a pigeon to the palace. It’s intercepted by the king first. The older musketeers split off to free Plantchet and the other musketeers. At the palace, Mazarin greets Valentine and is about to have her arrested when they’re soon outnumbered by musketeers. Plantchet calls for Louis to come out. Maria Theresa steps out of her carriage and greets the man she is to marry. Valentine delivers the letter (finally) to Louis, and states that Marie was trying to protect him when she died.

We end with a ceremony, Louis thanking Valentine for her actions and commissions her into his Musketeers. D’Artagnan is the new commander, and he will give her no quarter. Gaston is stunned by the sight of Valentine in a dress (and a modern hairstyle). They all salute with their swords, the classic “all for one and one for all,” ending the film.

As TV Tropes would say, this is an example of Generation Xerox. Etienne is religious like his father. Antoine is the big bruiser. Valentine is a skilled swordsman like her father. Gaston flirts tirelessly with women. Mazarin echoes Richelieu in his desire to rule France. Lady Bolton is a copy of Milady de Winter. Villois is similar to Rochefort. I mean, for the audience that tends to watch Hallmark it’s a way for them to remember who is who and accept it as a Musketeer movie. I do like the film for having a female protagonist, and I think it’s great that D’Artagnan is so supportive of her dreams (unlike Robin in Prince of Thieves who would have preferred his daughter to engage in female activities).

Again, the sword fights are good; there’s humor; I don’t think Gaston is a good match for Valentine, there’s no spark on her side. I’m not terribly fond of the costuming, the leather looks too shiny, and Valentine’s hair is far too modern. I watch the movie to cheer a woman becoming a Musketeer.

Next Time: 2011’s The Three Musketeers

Musketeers All Grown Up

The Man in the Iron Mask

A later 90s film with some A-list stars; Leonardo DiCaprio leads as King Louis and Philippe, Jeremy Irons is Aramis, John Malkovich is Athos, Gérard Depardieu (he’s the fur guy in the live action 102 Dalmatians and will later appear in La Femme Musketeer) is Porthos, Gabriel Byrne (he plays Friedrich Bhaer in the Winona Ryder Little Women movie), and Hugh Laurie (of House fame) makes an appearance as one of the king’s advisors. The film is based on another of Alexandre Dumas’ novels and features the four primary Musketeers as older men; they’ve already saved France once. Jeremy Irons narrates the opening “some of this is legend, but at least this much is fact – when rioting citizens of France destroyed the Bastille, they discovered within its records this mysterious entry: Prisoner number 64389000–the Man in the Iron Mask.” [And that is actually historically accurate, there was a man in an mask imprisoned in the Bastille; it was the inspiration for Dumas. Everything after that is all a fictional story.]

The film is set in 1662, in the reign of King Louis XIV. The peasants are rioting in Paris because they’re starving. Louis, in the meantime is waging wars and when informed of the riots, has his advisors send rotten food to the people. He has sent the captain of his Musketeers, D’Artagnan to fetch Aramis, who is now a priest. Louis wants Aramis to hunt down the secret leader of the Jesuits, and kill him. That order given, Louis attends his party amidst much pomp. A beautiful woman catches his eye. Her name is Christine and she is the soon-to-be fiancée of Raoul, Athos’s son. That does not dissuade Louis. He catches her alone and flirts with her. Christine tries to refuse his advances, stating she is to be engaged to Raoul; but he is the king. D’Artagnan, who keeps a watchful eye on the spoiled king, interrupts Louis’s attempt to kiss Christine. Raoul has come to him to join the Musketeers and the boy is the son of D’Artagnan’s dearest friend.

After the incident, D’Artagnan visits Athos, in an attempt to calm his friend when Raoul enters and reveals he’s been called back to the front. He informs his father that the king’s eye has fallen on Christine and he will not marry the woman only to make her a widow by dying in a war. Athos is furious at the king and demands how D’Artagnan can still serve him. D’Artagnan has not lost hope in Louis becoming a better king. If Louis hurts his son, he will become Athos’s enemy, as will any man who stands in his way, he warns his friend. D’Artagnan promises to speak to the king. On his way back to the palace, the peasants have begun attacking Musketeers for distributing rotten food. D’Artagnan faces down the rabble and when rotten fruit is thrown at him, he catches it with his sword and admits they are right; he will speak to the king. To do so, D’Artagnan sneaks by the advisors waiting outside Louis’s door, using a secret passage. Louis promises that Raoul will return home soon. When he orders his previous advisor (Hugh Laurie) executed, the rioters shot, and the way he dismisses a woman right after bedding her, we can guess what his true motives are. He wants Christine and sending Raoul was the best way to accomplish that. He will do as he pleases and leave others to clean up his messes.

Indeed, we next see Raoul at the front lines and killed by canon fire. Christine is devastated when she receives the news, as is Athos. He rides to the Musketeer garrison on his way to the palace and attacks Musketeers who try to stop him. D’Artagnan tackles him and tries to talk him down. Athos calls D’Artagnan a traitor. That evening, Christine dines with the king; she had gone to him for help, her mother and sister are both ill and her father is dead. Louis seems caring and kind, but has no hesitation about bedding the woman the eve she found out her fiancée died.

The four Musketeers meet in a crypt, Aramis explaining Louis’s order for him to kill the secret leader of the Jesuits. Then reveals that he is the secret leader. He has a plan to replace the king. Porthos and Athos agree, but D’Artagnan cannot; he swore an oath and will not betray his king. Athos, still furious, warns D’Artagnan that the next time they meet, one of them will die. Next, Louis visits D’Artagnan, inquiring why he let Athos go. D’Artagnan responds that if a good man like Athos is now their enemy, they should examine why. Louis pays no attention to the warning and orders D’Artagnan to find Aramis, Athos, and Porthos.

After that, we see the three Musketeers, disguised, sneaking into a prison. Aramis meets with the prisoner in the iron mask; this is his escape. They make their way to an out-of-the-way estate, where the mask is removed. Once the young man is cleaned up, he bears a shocking resemblance to King Louis. Aramis sits everyone down and reveals the truth of Philippe. He is the twin brother to King Louis, their father knew that civil war could eventually erupt with two heirs and thus had the younger twin, Philippe hidden away at a country estate for sixteen years. Porthos remarks that that night was the only night he had ever seen D’Artagnan drunk. The queen was told that the younger son had died. Then, when Louis XIII was on his deathbed, he revealed the truth to his wife and son. That was six years ago. Philippe was taken from the country and put in prison, covered in an iron mask. Aramis was regrettably the one who put the mask on him. He had also been the one to take Philippe from the palace the night he was born. His plan now is to replace Louis with Philippe. The perfect opportunity is in three weeks when Louis plans to hold a masquerade ball. Afterwards, Philippe, as Louis, will send for Athos, Aramis, and Porthos and have them made advisors. Philippe is hesitant to agree at first, but when he confronts Athos whether the man agreed due to anger at Louis for getting Raoul killed, Athos explains that the Musketeers had shared the common dream of serving a worthy king. Philippe will do the switch so that he can be a king worthy of Athos’s service.


A box has been sent to Louis, for his eyes only, containing the iron mask. Anne, the queen mother rushes to her private chapel, weeping at the news that her secret son is dead. D’Artagnan comes to the queen; she embraces him as she cries, then kisses him. He states that he has always loved her, but due to their relationship being treasonous, they cannot be together.

Porthos, who has been feeling useless since he is no longer a young man, decides to hang himself in the barn. A rope has conveniently been left. Athos spots Porthos and asks Aramis what is going on. Aramis states that Porthos has been moping for months; Aramis has sawn through the beam. The beam indeed breaks…and brings down the entire barn. “I’m a genius, not an engineer!” Now that Porthos is done moping, maybe he can be useful for a change, Aramis tells Porthos. They take their turn tutoring Philippe.

At the palace, Christine receives Raoul’s last letter. He had forgiven her anything she may have done. Christine now feels guilty for what she’s done. Louis is not guilty, instead, angry that she no longer loves him and whispers that she will burn in Hell, he will not for he is king, ordained by God. He has his ball moved up and the Musketeers must move up their plans. Aramis goes to the queen and fills her in, while Athos finishes coaching Philippe. It’s not that the Musketeers want Philippe to be a bad king, but he must pretend at the first.

At the ball, Aramis and Porthos freak Louis out, letting him glimpse the iron mask. When he retires to his room, they sneak in and make the switch. D’Artagnan is guarding the hall, so Philippe must sneak out through the passage again. Anne enters the ball for a moment, and will wait until the morrow to speak to her son. D’Artagnan, surprised to see that the king has returned to the ball without his notice, picks up odd behaviors, such as “Louis” helping a woman when she falls and speaking kindly to Christine when she bursts in crying “murderer!” She had written, as Louis, to the general. Louis’s order had been to place Raoul in front of the canon, not at the back like Louis had claimed. D’Artagnan insists the king accompany him, and quietly orders his lieutenant to lock the palace down. The musketeers catch Aramis, Porthos, and Athos, along with their prisoner trying to escape. The older Musketeers fight and are almost out when D’Artagnan comes with “Louis.” He knows that the king beside him is an imposter. The four hold a staring contest, which Athos breaks, revealing the real Louis and holds a knife to his throat. D’Artagnan does the same to Philippe and they eventually switch the two men. Again, the four are almost away, when Louis demands Philippe’s capture. Philippe calls for Athos and D’Artagnan is devastated to see his friends leave.

Back at the palace, in Louis’s chambers, the truth comes out for D’Artagnan. Anne stops by for a moment, to plead for Louis to spare his brother’s life. D’Artagnan makes the same plea; he has never asked Louis for anything for himself. Philippe even makes the plea that he’d rather die than wear the mask again. Louis orders Philippe back into the mask and orders D’Artagnan to bring him Athos, Aramis, and Porthos’s heads, or the king will have his. In the hall, D’Artagnan and the queen speak briefly; Anne had never told D’Artagnan there were two (now, we’re getting suspicious). They’re interrupted by a woman’s cry. Christine has hung herself.

older musketeers

D’Artagnan has left a note for his friends, helping free Philippe. Aramis pulls out their old uniforms; they shall wear them in death. D’Artagnan leaves a rose for Anne (they have previously appeared in her chapel), wearing his old uniform as well. Louis and the musketeers follow D’Artagnan. D’Artagnan meets his old friends in the prison with Philippe; he has chosen to stand with them; but they’re trapped. The four Musketeers face D’Artagnan’s men. The four older men are efficient in their fighting. D’Artagnan has Athos spare his lieutenant. They manage to not die and take a moment to regroup. Louis calls out that he will allow D’Artagnan to retire in peace, if he surrenders now. The other three will be given mercifully quick deaths. D’Artagnan refuses, even when Philippe offers to barter himself for all of them. “If we must die, let it be like this.” He cannot give up his son – Philippe. One last “one for all and all for one,” amongst the friends, crossing their swords and they charge once again. D’Artagnan’s men don’t want to follow Louis’s order to fire, many of them turning their heads as they shoot. Again, those guys have incredible luck and manage to not die. Led by their lieutenant, they salute their captain. Louis goes for Philippe, but D’Artagnan steps in front. Philippe is now determined to kill his brother for killing their father, but D’Artagnan stops him. The lieutenant hears his captain refer to Louis as Philippe’s brother; he orders the rest of the men outside and bound to silence. D’Artagnan tells his son and his friends that this is the death he wanted, “all for one, one – ” Philippe weeps [I’ve been known to cry at this part as well]. The lieutenant stops Louis from escaping, declaring that all he ever wanted to be was D’Artagnan, blaming the spoiled young man for the death of a great hero.

When more guards manage to break down the door, the switch has already been made. Aramis, Athos, and Porthos are the king’s new royal council. They kneel. We next see D’Artagnan’s grave, which is engraved with the iron mask (Philippe had said that D’Artagnan was the man in the mask, presumably since D’Artagnan hid his relation to Louis all those years). Athos states “he [D’Artagnan] was the best of us all.” Philippe asks Athos one last service, let him love Athos like a father, and in time, let Athos love him like a son. The musketeers salute the three and Jeremy Iron narrates the ending. The prisoner in the iron mask was eventually taken to a country estate to live out his life, visited often by Queen Anne. Louis XIV led his country to an era of peace and was regarded as the greatest ruler of the French nation [not historically accurate; Louis XIV continued to wage wars, persecuted the Huguenots and Jansenists (but not the Jesuits), “and the utter mess he left France in is generally considered to be one of the ultimate causes of the French Revolution” – per TV].

The first time I saw this movie, I wasn’t terribly fond of it, mainly since King Louis was completely despicable. But once I realized that it shows the older four Musketeers, my interest piqued. D’Artagnan is the most complex character of the cast; the other musketeers don’t have quite as much of an arc.  The father/son relationship is nice between Athos and Phillippe.  To him, Phillippe is innocent and needs protection from Louis.  There’s not as much action, but then, since it focuses on the king and his twin, they don’t sword fight as often. The ending fight is very good, but it is a blatant demonstration of “we can’t kill the main characters…yet, so they can’t get hit by bullets.” The older musketeers easily handle the younger ones, which is explained to a point. But really? They aren’t even scratched by a bullet? There are five guys, running next to each other, in a hall, and you can’t hit one? You’re supposed to be musketeers? (I’m glad they didn’t die then, but it’s still hard to believe.)

Next Time: La Femme Musketeer

Aren’t There Supposed to be Three Musketeers?

The Musketeer

A not-as-popular re-telling of the Three Musketeers story; it focuses primarily on D’Artagnan’s story, even more so than traditional versions. The iconic three musketeers are barely side characters in this tale. It has a decent plot, but it also heavily relies on action and fight scenes. I don’t know most of the actors, though Tim Roth (Emil Blonsky from 2008’s The Incredible Hulk) is the villainous Febre, or “Man in Black.” Rochefort is an entire other character, and very minor [to the point that I didn’t know that was him until reading the credits]. Porthos’s Steve Speirs has had bit parts in other movies I’ve seen.

The movie, like a lot of the ones based on a legend, has an introductory card giving the back story; the English and Spanish are threatening France with war and King Louis XIII is a weak man, easily manipulated by Cardinal Richelieu. The Musketeers oppose the Cardinal. Next, we’re at a country home, a young boy sparring with his father; ’tis young D’Artagnan. A man in black rides in to demand taxes for the church, D’Artagnan’s father has nothing left to give. When D’Artagnan tries to stand up for his father, Febre kicks him. The father goes for his sword, but he’s cut down, as is his wife. D’Artagnan takes up his father’s sword and catches the man across his eye. Near dusk, an older man picks up D’Artagnan, Planchet. He will teach the boy.

Fourteen years later, Planchet and D’Artagnan stop at a tavern. They run into Rochefort (looking far fancier than I have ever seen Rochefort) and trouble. D’Artagnan shows off his skills fighting several guards at the same time; a vastly different fighting style than traditional swashbuckling films – a lot of martial arts mixed in. He and Planchet continue to Paris while Febre stops the Spanish envoy and slaughters them, leaving behind a Musketeer tunic. At the headquarters in Paris, D’Artagnan discovers from Porthos and Aramis that the Musketeers have been suspended, per the Cardinal’s orders and Treville is detained in one of his prisons. Meanwhile, Febre mocks confessing to the Cardinal, who is displeased he continues killing people. He wants political tension, not war. Buckingham is arriving soon and the Cardinal cannot have the king make peace with England. Without killing anyone, Febre is to make the king a fool in front of Buckingham. But, if needs must, Febre may kill.

D’Artagnan finds Bonacieux’s inn and is immediately attracted to the repulsive man’s beautiful niece, Francesca (a change from Constance, who is Bonacieux’s wife in the original text). But the young man also has a mission; he intends to rescue Treville from jail. He runs into Aramis and Porthos on the way and once he’s blown the doors, they do assist in fighting the guards. They all go into hiding together, though the young men go to a local tavern and Porthos introduces D’Artagnan to the rest of the suspended Musketeers. Athos is there (again, the original three are demoted to supporting characters and Athos is barely that).

Back at the inn, D’Artgnan hears creaking in the rafters; Bonacieux is peeping at Francesca bathing. D’Artagnan chases him away, but crashed through the ceiling into the bathing room. He and Francesca have a few tender moments together, Francesca explaining that her mother came with the queen from Spain [does that make Bonacieux her father’s brother? Bonacieux is a very French name; it would not make sense for him to be the brother of Francesca’s mother – though it does explain why she is named Francesca] as her seamstress. When she died, the queen has made an effort to help Francesca when she can.

That evening, at the banquet, the musketeers sneak into the palace as cooks and waiters. The banquet is then attacked by a mob of peasants, it seems. The musketeers sneak the king, queen, and Buckingham out, though not without several duels with very capable d'art and francescaopponents. Guards, disguised as rabble. When D’Artagnan returns to the inn, Francesca stops him and warns him that Rochefort and six of the Cardinal’s guards are in his room. They share a kiss for a moment, and then D’Artagnan gets away from the guards. In D’Artagnan’s room, Bonacieux confronts his niece, warning that they shouldn’t get on the wrong side of the Cardinal. He also wants their relationship to be better, in a disgusting way. She pulls a knife on him and threatens him. He scampers away and she takes a few moments in D’Artagnan’s room, finding an old Musketeer tunic.

D’Artagnan meets the Cardinal, who is very keen on finding out who D’Artagnan is, why he is in Paris and essentially, whose side the boy is on. He makes a pitch to persuade D’Artagnan to his side, but the lad is loyal to the ideals of the Muskteers. Febre emerges from the shadows after D’Artagnan has left. The Cardinal puts the next phase of his plan into action and has the Musketeers arrested (trumped up charges, of course). Treville declares he will no longer hide. Meanwhile, the Cardinal poisons Louis against his queen, having her dismissed from their discussion about Buckingham. So, Francesca asks D’Artagnan for help escorting the queen, in secret. When Athos, Porthos, and Aramis come to D’Artagnan for help freeing the other musketeers, he has to decline.

The small group encounters mercenaries on their ride (some more fight scenes, including D’Artagnan pulling an Indiana Jones stunt, making his way down the underneath of the carriage), but they make it to the home of an old friend of the queen. While Planchet waits for a blacksmith, D’Artagnan takes Francesca on a picnic. He explains that the old Musketeer tunic in his room was his father’s; when he was first taken in by Planchet, all he wanted was revenge, but the old man warned him that a Musketeer stood for higher goals. He gifts Francesca a tiny necklace and they exchange a few more kisses. After, D’Artagnan goes swimming and is in the water when Febre and his men appear. They take Francesca and shoot D’Artagnan after demanding where the queen is. D’Artagnan makes it to shore a little later and has to deal with the two men Febre left. But when he gets back to the house, the queen and Francesca are gone. A little girl holds the information; Febre had threatened to slit her throat to persuade the queen to write a letter to Buckingham. The man in black is holding everyone at Duchamp castle with an army.

D’Artagnan must wrangle together an army of his own. But the Musketeers are not keen to hear him, not after Treville died at the hand of Febre. Febre had come to Treville in his chambers and questioned him about D’Artagnan, both coming to the conclusion that it was Febre who had murdered D’Artagnan’s parents and it was D’Artagnan who had blinded Febre’s one eye. Then Febre burned the building. Febre had then gone to the Cardinal to inform him of the new plan, to kill the queen and Buckingham and thus igniting France and England into war. Louis would be disgraced and Richelieu could take the throne. Febre is mad. It’s said three times; it must be true [he’s more psychopathic, in my opinion]. Rochefort goes after Febre and is quickly killed for his trouble. The Cardinal meets with D’Artagnan in an alley and asks for the lad’s help in putting down his out-of-control monster. D’Artagnan agrees, but not for the Cardinal. When D’Artagnan confronts the Musketeers, they retort that his alliances are skewed, defending the queen rather than the king Disappointed, D’Artagnan leaves his Musketeer tunic, intent on rescuing everyone himself.

He is pleasantly surprised when the whole Musketeer corps comes to his aid outside of Duchamp. he wears his father’s tunic and they ride into battle. Planchet has a cannon hidden in his carriage, which helps break down the door. Now it’s Febre’s men versus the Musketeers. The queen and Francesca drop a bust out their window to show D’Artagnan where they are being held. He climbs up the tower, encountering four guards along with way. When he makes it into the room, Febre is ready to shoot the queen. Francesca steps in front of her, getting hit. But she tells a worried D’Artagnan, “I’m not dead, now will you please go kill him (most awesome line of the movie).” It’s a fierce duel between Febre and D’Artagnan, ending on ladders in a wine barn [not entirely sure what that building is]. As Febre is sliding down a ladder, D’Artagnan stabs him underneath.

D’Artagnan alongside Athos, Aramis, and Porthos are awarded medals by King Louis. France owes them a great debt and Buckingham owes them his life. As the Cardinal blesses D’Artagnan, the young man whispers he will come for the Cardinal, for his actions. Outside, Planchet’s carriage is decorated in flowers and Francesca has a beautiful new gown. When D’Artagnan goes to help her into the carriage, she mutters, “I’m not made of lace,” tripping her husband (I presume they are married now).

After falling in love with BBC’s series The Musketeers, this is a bit of a letdown (never fear, we will be getting to that series). I used to like it for its different fighting, but sometimes now it just makes the movie drag; like, how many crazy stunts can we make the actors do before we get a conclusion. The ending feels rushed. I hate how the original three Musketeers are harshly demoted. I understand this focuses on D’Artagnan, but so does the original and if you’re going to mention some of these other characters, at least do it properly. Why did another bad guy need created? I seriously thought Febre was Rochefort this entire time until I read the cast list. Francesca is a bit of an action girl, which is a redeeming feature for the film and she plays well opposite D’Artagnan. But he seems determined that he is the one to save everyone; he’s the main character to do any serious fighting.

Overall, a bit of a disappointment. I feel that they tried to do too different of a take and lost that swashbuckling quality that we love as a Musketeer film.

Next Time: The Man in the Iron Mask