The Musketeers 1:04 - The Good Soldier
Confirmed this week for a second series on BBC One, The Musketeers is coming on in leaps and bounds from a simple all action drama, to one with far more depth and plenty of political intrigue. This week’s episode concerns the visit of the Duke of Savoy, played to perfection by Vincent Regan, who is coincidentally married to the King of Frances sister. Savoy is reluctant to sign a treaty with France, even more so when within the first moments of his visit an assassin in the grounds of the palace tries to kill him, and the Musketeers are dispatched to trace the would be killer.
Cue the main body of the plot, where the assassin is revealed to be Marsac, a deserter from the Musketeers and, along with Aramis, the only survivor from a mission into Savoy 5 years ago. At the heart of the story is the identity of the mysterious prisoner Cluzet, and the relationship between Richelieu and Treville. This goes far deeper into French politics and political double dealings than previous episodes, and it’s the uneasy relationship between Richelieu and Treville that forms the backbone of the episode, with Capaldi and Speer’s scenes together being the masterclass in acting one would expect.
As Treville is suggested to have betrayed the Musketeers, Aramis finds himself against them, and yet never quite loses his honour as he tries to get Treville to reveal the truth, and the performance here by Santiago Cabrera as Aramis is perfect as a loyal soldier, who finds himself out of his depth and into new territory whilst trying to retain his honour.
With a duel between the Duke of Savoy and Athos, which I’m pleased to say is a sword fight for narrative purposes rather than dramatic padding, this week's episode relies far more on plot and intrigue than dramatic set pieces, and is all the better for it. With the twist in the tale being that the Musketeers were sacrificed to Savoy to protect the Kings sister, who is Frances spy at court, the ending was a satisfactory conclusion to the episode. With the sexual tension being ramped up between D’Artagnan and Constance, and the King's character being revealed to be far more politically astute than before, this is bedding down nicely into being a well written, well acted piece of period drama that has rightly earned its second season.