Victoria this week featured a throwback to the Georgian themed ball and the return of some of Queen Victoria’s (Jenna Coleman) German relatives. By the end of the episode, what little joy the audience had from seeing everyone in their mid-to-late 18th Century finest slips back into despair.
The birth Prince Arthur, Victoria and Albert’s seventh child, renews concerns over Victoria’s emotional state. Throughout this episode, the allusions to the Georgian Era harken back to the rumors that Victoria inherited her grandfather’s madness. In reality, there are two distinct events driving her dismay. Secondly, her careful preparations for the florin coin turn into disaster as the crown she wears on the etching leaves out the inscription “DG” which translated from Latin means “by the grace of God.” Commentators at the time refer to this coin as the “godless florin”. Both of these incidents result in tantrums and outbursts throughout the episode.
Adding to Victoria’s anxiety, Uncle Leopold (Alex Jennings) makes an unexpected return to the palace. After the scandal of Season 2, he appears to offer an olive branch for Prince Albert (Tom Hughes). He cleverly played a Mariah Carey on Feodora (Kate Fleetwood) and pretended not to recognize her. Uncle Leo’s presence once again creates an impression in Victoria’s mind he is out to manipulate the situation once again.
The ball itself is an impressive display of court dancing and hybrid Georgian fashions. Sophie (Lily Travers) and Joseph (Weld) use the dancing as an excuse to finally consummate their relationship. After the ball, Victoria slaps Feodora after accusing her of leaking the portraits to the press.
After the ball, Arthur’s christening creates more emotional drama. Victoria and Albert have another intense argument over the so-called “godless florin” and Feodora’s emotional manipulation. She asks Albert when he stopped loving her because he refuses to see her as anything other than insane. Albert maintains that once again Victoria’s emotional twists and turns make it hard for him to care for his children.
Is Victoria truly mad or is she beyond fed up with people not validating her gut feelings? Let’s find out from our Roundtable.
Ginger (@ginjokat): Traveler, reader, period drama nerd – it all started with The Buccaneers.
Katherine (@Lady_madchan): Period Drama Lover, Poldark Superfan, and Travel Enthusiast
Valerie (@valderie) is a social media marketer and graduate student from New York City. She is currently pursuing her Masters degree in fan/celebrity studies, and has an intense love of history.
Shannon (@QSassgard): Cosplayer, Fanfic Author, Historic Seamstress found at facebook.com/qsassgard
1) Bertie has a really bad attitude throughout this episode. What would you do about it?
Ginger (@ginjokat): Normally this type of behavior stems from frustration. Perhaps he needs a governess who can work with him giving him the attention he needs. Bertie also needs boundaries and consequences for his behavior.
Katherine (@Lady_madchan): A few things. Put some space between him and his older sister. Probably educate him with his younger brother Alfred instead. Look into alternate schools of education for him for the time. And the last and the most difficult task, either speak to Albert about the way he approaches Bertie or stop him from being in charge of Bertie’s education.
Valerie (@valderie): I would listen to Victoria!!! He started acting up when his crazy aunt got involved in his life, and it’s been worse since he was being abused by his tutor. He’s very clearly going through some shit and only his mother – who is a little preoccupied with her own life and running an empire – is giving him the tender kindness he needs to cope properly. Albert has no idea how to actually deal with children, he wants Bertie to act like a kingly adult and he just needs to let him be a kid for a bit. Is it any wonder Victoria has so many hang-ups and is the only one who can understand/related to him? She went through nearly the same thing growing up.
But someone please get that child a new pet, that’s not a mouse.
Shannon (@QSassgard): Bertie, like his sister, is Victoria junior that temper didn’t come from strangers. I think on top of that whatever learning disability he is implied to have- my pet theory being dyslexia- is making him frustrated. He’s not trying to be as bad as he’s coming across. The poor kid is trying and failing to live up to Albert’s- arguably unrealistic- expectations.
2) Uncle Leopold is back! What do you believe is his agenda?
Ginger (@ginjokat): Unless I am naive, it appears he is coming back to repair the relationship with Albert. I could be wrong.
Katherine (@Lady_madchan): This time he doesn’t appear to have much of an agenda. Thus far he hasn’t really tried to direct Victoria or influence her. But we’ll see how things go. I did like the way he spoke to Albert about Bertie.
Valerie (@valderie): He was pretty tame this episode, all things considered, so I’m not sure. He seems like he’s just there to further drive the drama further between Victoria and Feodora.
Shannon (@QSassgard): What he does every night Pinky… to try and take over the world. Okay kidding… a little. World domination might be a little too lofty for Uncle Leopold, but he’s differently trying to influence the British throne and therefore Europe. I mean barring the fluke that was the Revolution/Charles II/James I situation England has always been the most stable monarchy in Europe. If nothing as illustrated by Feo and the deposed French king England is a safe place for them to bolt too- they can’t all run to Brazil the way the Portuguese royals did.
3) What was your impression of Victoria’s interpretation of the Georgian Era?
Ginger (@ginjokat): If she was aiming for Georgian era she landed in 18th century France or Vienna. It was more Amadeus than Pride and Prejudice. Not an empire dress in sight. Albert, Albert who fit your wig? Your sideburns were showing man…
Katherine (@Lady_madchan): It looked like she was focusing on the 1740s. The ball was incredibly cute. I don’t know the period well enough to appreciate the details.
Valerie (@valderie): Empty. Sure it was beautiful to see the costumes, but they were just costumes. No deeper connections to what they’re wearing or who they’re meant to be (aside from Sophie’s costume). Sure, it’s a great mirror for the accusation of madness that’s upon Victoria AND Bertie, saying it’s genetic and unavoidable because of King George. But like… if that was the case, why are all her other brats fine and dandy and not mad? Why is it only the chosen royals who are bonkers? Vickie is an annoying af older sister, but she’s not “mad”? Okay, sure.
Shannon (@QSassgard): So wrong but so pretty. Predictably the “OMG THREE FOOT TALL HAIR!” which didn’t actually last that long in the Georgian era was well represented. I was disappointed in the lack of Hedgehog hair dos- but that may be the historical costumer in me. They’re not terribly far off but how quickly does one forget about past fashions? I may or may not be trying to cosplay a couple of those dresses in the future. Sparkles, huge hair, and lots of makeup just call me Georgian Dolly Parton.
4) Sophie and Joseph did a lot more than sitting in a tree during this episode. What do you expect the Duke of Monmouth’s reaction will be?
Ginger (@ginjokat): One word – Revenge
Katherine (@Lady_madchan): Oh it isn’t going to be good. Sophie wasn’t compared to the 9th Duchess of Monmouth for nothing.
Valerie: Ruining Sophie’s life and taking her child away, and getting Joseph fired, at the very least. At the worst? Maybe a duel with Joseph because it’s a jab at his honor to cuckold him? Maybe he’ll try to kill him? Maybe he’ll try to kill her? I don’t know but I’m also pretty bored with this story line too. We get it, men are trash.
Shannon (@QSassgard): It’s not going to be pretty for Joseph- or Sophie. Part of me hopes he’ll take it out on Joseph who can at least handle himself but part of me knows Sophie will get a lot of the fallout. Already from the previews we know the little rat Monmouth is going to try and get Joseph fired.
5) Her Majesty finally SNAPPED! On a scale of 1 to 10, how excited were you about this scene?
Ginger (@ginjokat): 10 – It was as if Victoria was screaming behind glass and no one was listening. Her frustration was palpable. I have loved Albert since day one – who is this man? Where is Cher from Moonstruck? Snap out of it.
Katherine (@Lady_madchan): Probably 100! Feodora has been incredibly awful and insufferable since day 1 and really had it coming.
Valerie (@valderie): Well she snapped twice, sort of, and both times I was about it – so 10.
When she confronted Feodora at the ball, I loved it because she is the most annoying and boring jerk character. I cringe and zone out whenever she’s on screen. Their relationship in real life, between Feodora and Victoria, was not like this. When she confronted Albert, I wish she had destroyed him to be honest. He deserved that slap, and more. Victoria is not mad, she’s being tormented as a plot device that is different from history. The same way Albert, in the show, can’t deal with his children, he can’t deal with his wife. This Victorian stiff upper lip and disregard for emotion from Albert is largely what is tearing the family apart. And Feodora feeds into this, making it worse. The simple solution would be for Victoria to have them both drawn and quartered for treason. If we can ignore history for plot in other regards, why can’t we do that here?
Shannon (@QSassgard): It’s about freaking time! Feo has gone twenty steps too far away but selling the tickets? Um no! I mean making money off of an employer- dressers selling used hankies or undies- was one thing… Feo isn’t a housekeeper or dresser she’s held to a different standard. She’s a princess in her own right and as we saw wanted to try her luck with the previous king though Princess Victoria nixed that plan.
6) Why do you believe Albert continues to gaslight Victoria about Feodora?
Ginger (@ginjokat): Is Feodora that vexing? Is there something we are not seeing? I want Feodora gone, give her walking papers, two-week notice, eviction papers – whatever you want to call it – I say goodbye – Vicbert needs to heal.
Katherine (@Lady_madchan): I am not sure that I find it completely believable that Albert doesn’t see through Feodora. I suppose he supports Feodora since her approach involves logic albeit flawed and twisted logic.
Valerie (@valderie): I think part of it is that Albert doesn’t see what we see, and he doesn’t know Feodora like Victoria does. He also refuses to engage with emotions, so he sees Feodora as this calm, “rational” woman who is the opposite of his wife the last few episodes. Lord knows the man only values what is rational!!!! Hey Victoria, to paraphrase Ariana Grande: break up with your husband, I’m bored.
Shannon (@QSassgard): Despite his history with his father and his “father” Albert is very much a family man he’s been one since day one. I think he WANTS Feo, and Leopold to have good intentions. He WANTS the extended Hanover/Saxe-Coburg-Gotha(-Saalfeld) family to work as a family not only for himself and Victoria but for the Vicbert babies and their futures. The two of them are well on their way to being the Grandparents of Europe they’re so well known as.
Final Verdict: Vicbert is on the rocks again, and we’re siding with Victoria
The heart of Victoria is the enduring love of Victoria and Albert. Even when things get rough, they find a way back to each other. In the past, the couple found a way to balance Victoria’s emotions with Albert’s rationality. The Feodora situation is making their united front increasingly impossible to maintain. Many fans are criticising this episode and in fact the entire season for pushing Vicbert apart, but we believe these critics are missing the point of not only Feodora’s emotional manipulation but also forget that it is unrealistic for Vicbert to be lovey-dovey 24/7.
This episode alludes to the specter of “madness” in Victoria’s personality, but the Roundtable believes that Albert indeed deserves some of Victoria’s ire. Albert is denying that something is wrong and calling the victim crazy which is the textbook definition of gaslighting from a narcissist. We have admired Albert’s rationality in the past but he can’t see how Feodora is taking advantage of it to drive a wedge in his marriage. While we don’t condone Victoria’s more physical manifestations of anger, but we do understand how effective Feodora’s emotional abuse is. Victoria isn’t insane, she’s lashing out against people who refuse to validate her feelings. People like Feodora alienate their victims from potential allies, and turn loved ones against their targets. Emotional abuse in this fashion is historically accurate. If Feodora wasn’t in Season 3, Palmerston or another royal courtier could easily create similar tension in their relationship.
Rosalind Ebbutt and the costume design team once again went all out with the depiction of the Georgian ball. These scenes are a visual delight in not only costuming but cinematography and staging as well. The costume design of the Georgian ball was impressive, but it must be pointed out that fans expecting a completely accurate dress design probably had their expectations too high. The mish-mash of different points in 18th Century fashion was evident in the official portraits from the event. Sacque-back gowns are in the same space as polonaises and the wigs are all from the excesses of French fashion of the era.
Alex Jennings deserves a shout out for reprising Uncle Leopold. We’re hoping the final 2 episodes of Season 3 present more opportunities for Victoria’s relatives to return to the palace and for Feodora to exit.