Caution: This review contains spoilers on “The Exiles.”
The latest episode of “The Musketeers” on BBC America focuses on two different types of mothers, with a nice twist. Aramis (Santiago Cabrera) and D’artagnan (Luke Pasqualino) are charged with retrieving Agnes and her infant son from the country. However, the baby Henry is kidnapped before the men arrive, making the routine assignment anything but ordinary.
Meanwhile, King Louis’ (Ryan Gage) party is interrupted by the arrival of his mother, Marie de’ Medici (Tara Fitzgerald). She seeks protection, claiming that people are after her life. Louis is upset because de’ Medici tried to seize his throne before and was subsequently exiled. The conflict gives a bit more depth to the monarch, who is persuaded to provide help. Cardinal Richelieu (Peter Capaldi) gets a great line here as he says, “Decapitating one’s mother is rarely popular with the people, sire. It always looks a touch ungrateful.”
It’s a tenuous alliance between Treville (Hugo Spear) and Richelieu (Peter Capaldi) as they work to protect King Louis from his mother. Louis seems ready to accept his mother again into the royal household, a move that both officials do not see ending well. Eventually, their suspicions are revealed to be quite sound as political intrique mounts with the discovery that baby Henry’s father is the late twin brother of Louis.
The standout performances of the evening come from Capaldi and Fitzgerald. Their standoff as Richelieu and de’ Medici is pivotal to the fate of the French crown. Richelieu is asked to switch his allegiance as de’ Medici admits her plan to bring her armies into Paris within the hour. Fitzgerald perfectly radiates an aura of danger with her eyes and confident smirk, as Capaldi appears to walk the tightrope with measured unease and annoyance in his countenance.
There’s a clever use of hair and costuming to portray the potential shift in power as well: de’ Medici puts on a finer dress and more elaborate (and regal) hairstyle as she asserts her advantage over Richelieu. Richelieu’s black robes and deep red cape have also changed to a black robe with brighter red accents across his chest. However, the Cardinal manages to turn the tables on the conniving grandmother with his own news of the baby’s supposed death, thanks to the assistance of Treville.
Overall, the episode was entertaining. Aramis shines a bit as the central Musketeer, focusing on his promise to keep Henry safe rather than dive into a predictable plot line of romancing Agnes. For a couple of minutes, one could easily find the baby’s death believable. It also brought in another interesting villain. Marie de’ Medici is going into “retirement” but her return as an adversary for the Musketeers would certainly be welcome in the future, given that Capaldi will not be returning as Richelieu next season.
“The Musketeers” airs Sundays at 9|8c on BBC America.