VOD TV review: The Musketeers (BBC) – Episode 2
Buckling of swashes8
James R | On 01, Feb 2014
Photo: BBC/Dusan Martincek
After last week’s pants (in all senses of the word) opener, Episode 2 of BBC’s Musketeers delivers a big surprise: it’s actually rather good. Not so terrible it’s. Actually good enough to be, well, good. O
The plot – yes, there is one this time – is essentially a retread of Guy Fawkes. But French. Which basically means its sexier.
Sinister villain Vadim – a way sexier name than “Guy” – wants a change in power so d’Artagnan goes undercover (read: gets arrested for sword-fighting) and tries to get Vadim to divulge his evil plan. “The Musketeers betrayed me! I hate them!” he shouts in prison. He’s not exactly subtle.
But subtlety isn’t Musketeers’ speciality: nuance jumped out of the window in its underwear last week. Instead, the aim is rollicking swashbuckling – and here the programme more than succeeds. Yes, the swords spark whenever they clash, as though the production design team chose to research French history by watching Star Wars, but with all the kicking and spinning, the action is perfectly satisfying.
Even the script is slightly better the second time round: from Episode 1 grows from random woman whom d’Artagnan snogs in the street to married landlady whom d’Artagnan snogs in the street, while Aramis gets over last week’s loss by finding a new lover: the Queen. It’s a dreadful piece of characterisation, with the Musketeers still very much defined by who they’re bonking (or who they’re not), but at least Aramis is now a royal womaniser and d’Artagnan’s squeeze is a full-on affair with a name and a plot function.
That level of intelligence is matched by Vadim’s plan – the twists and turns are all so wonderfully signposted that even a CBeebies audience could predict the ending. But after the wobbly introduction, it’s an actual plot, at least, and one that doesn’t leave you bored for a minute.
For those worried all this storytelling could interfere with the sex, though, fear not: Milady is back and has clearly been instructed to breath as heavily as possible. Peter Capaldi makes the most of what little screen time he has, overshadowed by her heaving bosom. If his role becomes as important to the show as her breasts, BBC’s Musketeers could actually have legs. Episode 2 is far from the French Revolution that was promised, but it’s a start.
The Musketeers is available to watch on-demand on BBC iPlayer.