The Musketeers: 1.02 - Sleight of Hand

After last week I was looking forward to Episode Two of the Musketeers with baited breath. Riding high on the successful ratings of a mixed Episode One I was hoping for much more from this episode. I’m happy to say I found it. This episode sees much more confidence in the story as well as the performances of the Musketeers themselves, and a result it is a well written and well produced 60 minutes of drama with some punchier dialogue and far stronger plot than the début episode.
There is a nice subversion in the opening scene of d'Artagnan duelling illegally being all about fighting dirty to win, and not all about fighting honourable like gentlemen. This subversion of the norm continues with the Musketeers saying, when d'Artagnan is arrested, that he knows the code - ‘Every man for himself’.
This leads us into a plot full of twists and turns where d'Artagnan is thrown into prison in order to get information from a fellow prisoner Vadim, played by the brilliant Jason Flemying. Over the course of the episode more is revealed about the politics and power plays at court with Richelieu and Captain Treville working together to stop Vadim, whilst the King proves there is far more to him than we first thought as he refuses to stop his traditional greeting of the people, even though he is under threat from Vadims plot.

However Vadim almost outwits the Musketeers, being more interested in the Royal Jewels than revolution. As ever the Musketeers save the day eventually, despite some nice double crossing from Vadim, and there’s also development of a sub plot with Aramis saving the Queen, hinting at an undercurrent of romance that is set to run through the series. If last weeks episode was setting the scene and introducing the characters, this episode gave us much more character development as well as some wonderful sleight of hand diversions and plot twists.

Finally there was some good differentiation between the characters of each musketeer, and more depth was brought to the character of the King. Peter Capaldi is given plenty to do as Richelieu, showing us an intelligent complex man, who, despite the leaps and bounds in other characters in this story, is still the most rounded and fully developed character.
The intelligent plot and subtle mood shifts that brought this drama to life mean that the Musketeers, after a slow start, is shaping up nicely to be another BBC drama success.

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