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‘The Musketeers’ Episode 7: ‘A Rebellious Woman’ review

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‘That doesn’t make sense, even for the Musketeers.’

Like your friendships, it’s best not to examine Musketeers‘ plots too closely. The fun to be had is more character based, or possibly historical if you’re intrigued by the period setting.

This week, it was fairly obvious – even to your tired and inebriated reviewer – that the Eric Cantona lookalike was behind it all this week. There are no major shocks to be had here, depending on your tolerance for conveniently situated toasting forks.

Ninon De Larroque (Annabelle Wallis) is expanding female minds with her forward thinking and provocative notions of education, and earns the wrath of Papal emissary Eric Cantona Luca Sestini. Cardinal Richelieu may be forced to intervene, with the prospect of becoming Poper Capaldi dangled in front of him. Meanwhile, Athos gets to flirt and brood, as Ninon’s circle of learning includes Milady de Winter.

De Larroque is accused of witchcraft. Given the setting, this is chronologically plausible but the trial process has obviously been adjusted to fit the needs of Drama. The European Witchcraft hysteria is fascinating and worth putting on screen so we can forgive some tweaks to make it fit in the episode, though such a subject is worth a series in itself.

The Musketeers hasn’t been afraid to tackle weighty issues, though given its remit for swashbuckling it’s not always successful at balancing the two. They’re certainly worthy, but the points about equality in tonight’s episode are not likely to cause cogitation about present day gender imbalance.

The episode is won, once again, by the ever entertaining double act of Peter Capaldi and Ryan Gage. While Cardinal Richelieu is not the best at forward planning, he certainly does possess an ability to suavely claim credit once someone else has solved his problems for him. The demented relish of the Cardinal post-victory in this episode is really quite something.

The King, meanwhile, is still a detached and insolent manchild who looks like a posh spaniel. I could easily watch a half-hour sitcom of the King and the Cardinal (which, some hugely clunky expositionary dialogue reminds you, is one of the most senior positions in the church) just eating sandwiches and talking about their feelings.

While this is undoubtedly fun, there are still the occasional plot contrivances that fail to convince. Milady de Winter attends the trial of De Larroque, even though it puts her in close proximity to Athos, who then shouts completely unhelpful accusations that don’t include the words ‘That’s my wife’ at any point. It’s never been big on logic, but it has been big on handsome people heaving and twinkling and roguishly roaming about (though this week the Musketeers weren’t really in the episode that much).

Still, some character development occurred: Aramis is no longer in danger of becoming a good man, the transition is complete, and Porthos’ eyes seem to be saying ‘Hi, I’m Porthos, I’m the best one’ in every scene he’s in. Meanwhile, Constance and D’Artagnan have finally given into their urges, and swept basically everything in the house off the surfaces with their bums.

I’m completely confident that I will remember what Constance’s husband looks like when the affair becomes an issue later in the series.

Aired at 9pm on Sunday 9 March 2014 on BBC One.

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