Caution: This review contains spoilers.
Since the first episode of the second season, “The Musketeers” has dropped hints about Porthos’ father. Finally, in “The Prodigal Father,” we get to meet the reclusive and mysterious Marquis de Belgard. It’s a chance for both Liam Cunningham and Howard Charles to shine in their portrayals as reunited father and son. However, as Captain Treville (Hugo Speer) points out, it’s not so simple as that. Years ago, Treville left young Porthos and his mother in the Court of Miracles, hardly a nice place to be cast out.
Porthos also meets his half-sister, Eleanor (Emma Hamilton), and her husband Levesque (Steven Cree) whose mistreatment of servants catches the eye of the other Musketeers. As one can imagine, it’s hardly a happy family reunion except for the Marquis, who is pleased that Porthos is more skilled at fighting than Levesque. However, Porthos is conflicted about his whole life, wondering if his status in the Musketeers can be attributed to Treville’s guilt rather than his own skill. Ultimately, Porthos’ abandonment can be traced back to the machinations of Belgard after all, stitching up the temporary rift with Treville, who can be considered better father material anyway. My only criticism is that the fake picture of Porthos’ mother was way too easy to figure out as just that, given the fellow’s reaction of confusion and surprise to his father’s “gift.”
Meanwhile, Constance (Tamla Kari) stubbornly prefers mourning Bonaciex’s death rather than rushing straight into the arms of D’Artagnan (Luke Pasqualino). In the end, she comes to her senses and things finally seem to be going well for them. Also, Rochefort (Marc Warren) is continuing to gain influence over King Louis (Ryan Gage), who is in fear for his safety. The distressed monarch signs papers which give Rochefort full control of the household and perhaps other affairs of state. (Always read the fine print before you sign.) Nonetheless, Rochefort’s devices are of no secret to Milady and to some extent, the Musketeers. Even Queen Anne’s (Alexandra Dowling) good esteem of him crumbles when he attacks her in her chamber. Luckily, Constance’s return comes just in time to save the queen from immediate harm but not from accusations of treason concerning her Majesty’s connection to Aramis (Santiago Cabrera).
Certainly, Rochefort is quite creepy but I’m not entirely convinced that he’s shaped up to be a great villain this season. Don’t get me wrong, Warren has been very good with his performances of the material he’s been given. Throwing a new villain into the mix supposedly gave the production team an opportunity to try new things, it’s been said. Take for example, the new adventures of the king, giving Ryan Gage more to do than merely fuss and be a childish ruler, which have been welcome avenues to add another dimension to his character. However, it seems that most of the time, Rochefort pops up in pursuit of the queen or to play court to the king. Rather, I would attribute the “darker” and more action-intense plots to the change in time slot. Greater flexibility in the plots could still have been managed even with Cardinal Richelieu in control of the king’s guards.
Stay tuned for next week’s episode, which looks to be centered on Aramis and Queen Anne. Will Rochefort succeed in his plans?
New episodes of “The Musketeers” airs Saturday evenings on BBC America at 9|8c.