The first series of The Musketeers (based on the characters created by Alexandre Dumas) was good, old-fashioned, swashbuckling, musket-filled fun. But with the departure of Peter Capaldi as the show’s arch villain the future of the series seemed uncertain. Luckily, while Capaldi is off traveling through space and time the rest of the show’s core cast are still having a jolly good time fighting in the streets of 17th century Paris and this second series proved to be just as exciting as the first.
If I had to pick one highlight I would definitely choose the dialogue; the witty, dramatic writing is a real credit to the show. One moment I will be laughing aloud at some sarcastic comment and the next I find myself wanting to jump through the screen and beat up the bad guy. This series the ‘Big Bad’ was Rochefort (played by Mark Warren) whose performance as the series went on got progressively more complex and disturbing. Seriously, that guy has issues. His obsession with Queen Anne was bound to lead to disaster but throughout the ten hours he was on our screens he was able to quite successfully ramp up the tension until everything came to a head. But even in the midst of all this there are still moments of hilarity.
Louise: I haven’t seen the King since we were children.
Athos: You’ll find he’s barely changed.
Milady’s redemption story was also one of the more interesting aspects of the series. It was enjoyable to watch her using her skills for good sometimes, even if her methods were morally ambiguous. And Ryan Gage does a marvellous job as the petulant, immature King Louis, whose entire character perfectly exudes the manner of one handed too much power far too young and has grown to be a man used to getting his own way. He’s hopelessly annoying and there are times when you just want to slap him, but his dry humour is enough to endear you to him.
King Louis: Why do people harp on about the beauty of the sunrise? It happens every day with tedious regularity.
My favourite episodes this series were The Good Traitor (episode 3/10), A Marriage of Inconvenience (7/10) and Trial and Punishment (10/10). These episodes had just the right mix of action, humour, plot progression and private moments of character development. I particularly enjoyed Rochefort’s downfall, when everyone he’d wronged got to have their revenge. And that ending! Not going to lie; for a moment there I thought the show was over when everyone looked like they were going their separate ways. I can’t have been the only one laughing at the prospect of Aramis as a monk!
One thing in particular that I found irritating was the slight repetitiveness of certain events. For example whenever something goes wrong the Musketeers are blamed – in spite of the fact that it was them who saved the day – and Rochefort is praised as a loyal subject as the King gushes about how amazing he is. I understand that this is supposed to explain why Rochefort is able to manipulate and scheme his way to such a powerful position unchallenged but it does make you feel like you’re stuck in a loop.
For being classically entertaining television The Musketeers Series Two lands a solid 3/5 stars. It’s the sort of television you don’t have to think about too much so it makes for some action-packed, light-hearted viewing.