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Victoria Season 3’s premiere “Uneasy Lies the Head that Wears the Crown” makes our roundtable feel anxious

American Victoria fans hail the return of Her Majesty

Nerdeek Life Victoria-3x01-02 Victoria  Season 3’s premiere “Uneasy Lies the Head that Wears the Crown” makes our roundtable feel anxious Reviews Roundtables

Victoria returns to Masterpiece on PBS with a literal and figuratively explosive Season 3 premiere. Queen Victoria (Jenna Coleman) and Prince Albert (Tom Hughes) face new and returning threats to their peace of mind on multiple fronts. The Chartists are taking over the streets of London demanding expanded suffrage. Some are even threatening to use violent means to force change.

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The fandom has had it’s own upheaval as UK viewers are incensed PBS is airing Victoria Season 3 before ITV. It must be pointed out that Mammoth Screen, the production company, inherited the early January time slot from Downton Abbey. In addition, Season 3’s filming schedule due to multiple factors missed the deadline for the traditional UK slot of August or September. This Roundtable has seized this rare opportunity for American fans to have a real say in the public opinion of the season.

Two VIP refugees from Europe’s revolutions suddenly arrive at the palace also threaten to disrupt the peace of the royal household. Victoria is also close to her due date with her sixth child, which increases her fears for the future. Once again, they are divided on how to deal with a political crisis. Victoria wants to while Albert sees the need for serious political change. Princess Feodora (Kate Fleetwood), Queen Victoria’s mysterious half-sister returns to England after many years in Germany. Victoria forgot all about her, but Feodora certainly hasn’t forgotten her younger and very wealthy sibling.

King Louis Philippe (Vincent Regan) gave Victoria and Albert the diplomatic cold shoulder last season, but he realizes the British are his only hope for safety after the French revolutionary forces overthrew the monarchy. (For the theater/literary nerds out there, yes this is where the Les Miserables plot comes in.) Unfortunately for Victoria, the new Foreign Secretary Lord Palmerston (Laurence Fox) is stirring up trouble by actively courting the support of the French revolutionaries. The new Prime Minister John Russell (John Sessions) begrudgingly goes along with Palmerston because he refuses to lose control of Parliament.   

The Chartists have a 6 point plan to help uplift the working class, but they are divided on how to make it happen. Abigail Turner (Sabrina Bartlett) wants peaceful demonstrations while Cuffay (CJ Beckford) thinks a stone or two thrown at the elite will force change. The downstairs staff are torn on how to handle this new climate. Francatelli (Ferdinand Kingsley) wants to leave court to be a self-made man while his fiance Mrs. Skerrett (Nell Hudson) appreciates what the status quo has done for her. King Louis Philippe is seen as a tyrant to the Chartists, and they are extremely incensed the palace is protecting him. They march through London to the palace gates and someone in the crowd throws a brick at the window Victoria was standing next to. The shock results in her water breaking and Albert cradling her to find safety and a doctor as the screen fades to black.

How could the end of the episode leave us in a cold sweat?!?!? Let’s see what our Roundtable have to say about the season premiere!

Andrew (@MaestroMarvel): Musician, Page at the NY Public Library for the Performing Arts, former Renaissance Faire Actor. Modeling page: Facebook.com/MaestroMarvelous

Jan (@total_janarchy):  Author and podcaster on a variety of pop culture subjects (Doctor Who, Star Trek, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, RuPaul’s Drag Race), cosplayer,  Anglophile, and lifelong costume drama junkie.

Catherine (@DrkKnightingale): Family Medicine physician contributor to Blacklanderz (Blacklanderz.com) and OutlanderBTS webcasts.  I enjoy crime and period shows more than any others.

Ginger (@ginjokat): Traveler, reader, period drama nerd – it all started with The Buccaneers.

Shannon (@QSassgard) Cosplayer, Fanfic Author, Historic Seamstress found at facebook.com/qsassgard

Katherine (@Lady_madchan): Period Drama Lover, Poldark Superfan, and Travel Enthusiast

Nerdeek Life Victoria-3x01-03 Victoria  Season 3’s premiere “Uneasy Lies the Head that Wears the Crown” makes our roundtable feel anxious Reviews Roundtables

1) Princess Feodora, Queen Victoria’s mysterious half sister shows up out of the blue. What was your reaction to her?

Andrew (@MaestroMarvel): Evil! No one in Victoria’s Family has been proven trustworthy. Since the treasonous Cumberland in Season 1, I haven’t been able to trust anyone. And with her shady arrival, upstaging the queen, and the way she talks with the rest of the family, you know she is up to something.

Jan (@total_janarchy): I honestly had no idea she existed until tonight. I am a bad Victoria fangirl. I can’t find much about her online, so I don’t know how close to actual history Kate Fleetwood’s portrayal is. I get the feeling she’s somewhat shady, at least she’s playing it like that right now. There also seems to be some hinting that she was more than friends with George IV, but I might be misreading that.

Catherine (@DrkKnightingale: I immediately thought Feodora is shady and will cause Victoria problems.  I wouldn’t be surprised if she turns out to be a spy – I just don’t know for whom.

Ginger (@ginjokat): When the rowboat hit the shore with a thud I knew we were in trouble and so is the Queen. The Chartists may be at the gate but Feodora is in the Palace with her axe to grind.

Shannon: I’m not going to lie I saw a preview of the entire thing a week before hand- and sat in the museum room where it was shown with my phone “Did Daisy make this woman up?!” I’d never heard of  her and I know quite a bit about the period. Then again most of my research focused on Victoria herself or the whole Princess Victoria/Conroy “affair.” Though honestly with the amount of times this has happened to me recently over various time periods I shouldn’t be surprised- I learned Jane Grey had TWO sisters, and Katharine of Aragon had a baby half brother  in the past few years.

Katherine (@Lady_madchan): She’s very dramatic and passive-aggressive.  I’m reminded of Victoria’s relationship with her mother.  Victoria relationship with her half sister is very complicated.  That sister is definitely up to no good!

Nerdeek Life Victoria-3x01-04 Victoria  Season 3’s premiere “Uneasy Lies the Head that Wears the Crown” makes our roundtable feel anxious Reviews Roundtables

2) The Chartists are back, bigger and more violent than ever! What was your impression of the new characters from the movement?

Andrew (@MaestroMarvel): I think it’s about time we had the Chartists appear on the show with these numbers. But of course, the fact that most of them are so prone to violent means of protest is just making them unlikeable to a pro-monarchy audience. The characters themselves definitely stand out. I’m glad they have actors of color in these roles this season. The female chartists look to take a lot of positive attention.

Jan (@total_janarchy): I thought it was good that we got some new faces and are getting to know them and their grievances rather than just “nameless rabble that upsets Victoria”. Plus their motivations. Also interesting that we’re getting two factions (aren’t there always?) with one being in favour of violent revolution and other not. I did like that there was constant mention about women and women’s rights, however subtly, and that the female character (I can’t find her name anywhere online) is the one who is more sympathetic and rational. I would have preferred the ‘Let’s Burn It All Down’ guy to not be the one Black character that’s given lines etc.

Catherine (@DrkKnightingale): The movement has validity, the one woman (seamstress) is interesting but I suspect being played by the Irish guy. I just wish the rare person of color wasn’t so one with little nuance and so unlikeable.

Ginger (@ginjokat):  It would appear some are in the fight for the right reasons, while others may have more sinister motives. Not sure I have strong impressions after one episode. I have respect for the female Chartist and enjoyed the scene with the Queen.

Katherine (@Lady_madchan): They have legitimate issues and a real plight.  Some want to use peaceful means and others want to start a revolution. I am guessing that this storyline is a powder keg.

Shannon (@QSassguard): I may or may not have started humming “Les Mis” the moment they showed up. You hear again and again about the multiple revolutions France had over the years but mainstream fandom/movies/general history classes never seem to mention how the upheaval moved over to England as well. History always implies what Victoria thought: the English Channel was protection. In many ways it was but it wasn’t barrier that kept everything out.

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3) This season, the Vicbert babies have lines! Which little royal is your favorite and who is acting like a brat?

Andrew (@MaestroMarvel):  The royal babies are absolutely adorable!! So cute. I don’t have a favorite because I’m unsure which ones are gonna live (haven’t kept up on the family history). Bertie is a brat this first episode. Can’t tell if he is against becoming a king because he doesn’t want the responsibility or that he thinks being royal is for girls.

Jan (@total_janarchy): I absolutely loved Princess Victoria. I got the feeling that Daisy Goodwin is telling us that *she* would have made a better successor to Queen Victoria’s throne that her brother. If only those pesky laws of succession didn’t exist (and now they don’t). She was so poised and clever. Of course Bertie was a brat. I know an awful lot about him (and am sort of a fangirl despite all his faults) so I found it really funny that he was all “I don’t want to be King!” when, of course, later in life the poor guy had to wait forever for his mum to die before he could rule.

Catherine (@DrkKnightingale): Little Victoria is my favorite – intelligent and confident. Little Albert is a brat and history has shown he will cause his parents problems

Ginger (@ginjokat): It’s too early for a favorite. Everyone is going to think Bertie is a brat perhaps – I like him, he is feisty and he thinks only Queens rule England.

Shannon (@QSassguard):Vicky is precious and as far as I’m concerned was shafted by inheritance laws! #CrownsAreForGirls That adorable little demanding Victoria Junior is precious- Bertie is unsurprisingly annoying.  I’m sure he wasn’t ALWAYS awful, but we all know what he grows into. By the same token I can understand why he and Vickie are the way they are: Victoria may not be the most maternal of mothers, I think she’s afraid of becoming her own mother. She wants them to be happy and not stuck in a life like she had at Kensington.

Katherine (@Lady_madchan): Honestly both are adorbs and both are acting like brats.   My heart goes out to Bertie. He clearly believes that his older, more intelligent and put together sister should be the sovereign one day.   It’s almost like he would fit in today.

Nerdeek Life Victoria-3x01-06 Victoria  Season 3’s premiere “Uneasy Lies the Head that Wears the Crown” makes our roundtable feel anxious Reviews Roundtables

4) Queen Victoria has another random visitor, King Louis Philippe of France. Exactly how many times did you all think about Les Miserables, Hamilton or any other musical theater references during his scenes?

Andrew (@MaestroMarvel): As much as Les Mis and Hamilton may come to mind for some, revolution is never truly positive in this show. If it harms the monarchy, it’s bad for the characters in the show. Also, it’s France, revolution in France never works as we know from a century or rebellions and revolutions.

Jan (@total_janarchy):  I thought about Les Miserables for certain.

Catherine (@DrkKnightingale): I thought about Les Miz definitely. I also tried to remember if this is historically accurate.  

Ginger (@ginjokat): He did not invoke musical theater references for me. I was indifferent to him as a character. He is there to inflame the Chartists.

Shannon (@QSassguard): I may or may not have started humming “Les Mis” the moment they showed up. You hear again and again about the multiple revolutions France had over the years but mainstream fandom/movies/general history classes never seem to mention how the upheaval moved over to England as well. History always implies what Victoria thought: the English Channel was protection. In many ways it was but it wasn’t barrier that kept everything out.

Katherine (@Lady_madchan): LOL all of the time!  

Nerdeek Life Victoria-3x01-07 Victoria  Season 3’s premiere “Uneasy Lies the Head that Wears the Crown” makes our roundtable feel anxious Reviews Roundtables

5) The new PM John Russell is very different to Peel. On a scale of 1 to 10, how much is the new foreign secretary Lord Palmerston annoying you and why?  

Andrew (@MaestroMarvel): John Russell is very spineless on the other hand and isn’t willing to make a stand until the queen forces him to. Lord Palmerston the foreign secretary is an asshole! Self righteous, egotistical, thinks he speaks for the people but he just wants to look good. The moment he said “England is like a beautiful woman. And I want to glory in her smile.” I knew I wanted to punch this guy in the face. I’m so happy the Queen told him off. Thank goodness he doesn’t take office as Prime Minister until 1859.

Jan (@total_janarchy): Probably a 5 because he’s clearly a rake and more than a little power hungry. It can’t go any higher because I adore Lozza (Laurence) Fox, and Lozza in Victorian suits chewing the scenery pretty much is a dream come true. Even if Palmerston *is* an ass, he’s still way too easy on the eyes.

Catherine (@DrkKnightingale): PM Russell is annoyingly weak – definitely a 1. I miss Lord M!

Ginger (@ginjokat): An 8. He is good looking, but he is also stirring the pot. Definitely not a good guy and has the new PM over the coals. Victoria is disgusted by him and yet when she looks at him, he is unsettling her.

Shannon (@QSassguard): Is 15 an option? I didn’t LIKE Peel too much but at least he had a heart. He was very much a politician but he had some morals, Palmeston on the other hand? We can push him off a cliff with Pench and I wouldn’t mind in the least. Every time he shows up I’m reminded of a line Queen Adelaide had in the “Young Victoria” film: “Just remember, you are the queen. He’s a politician. And politicians, whatever their creed, always resent the monarchy. They pass through, you stay.” Palmeston seemed like a petty little boy to me.

Katherine (@Lady_madchan): He’s incredibly annoying and grating.  He seems to mostly speak for the actual PM. There’s also something threatening about him and the way he might treat women.  

Nerdeek Life Victoria-3x01-08 Victoria  Season 3’s premiere “Uneasy Lies the Head that Wears the Crown” makes our roundtable feel anxious Reviews Roundtables

6) Things are getting more serious for Miss Skerrett and Francatelli. Do you think they’re going to make it down the aisle?

Andrew (@MaestroMarvel): If there is anything we have learned from Downton Abbey, no one working downstairs is going to have a happy relationship until the final season. While I enjoy their courtship over the last two seasons, there is no way the writers are letting them stay together without disagreements or infidelity mixed in.

Jan (@total_janarchy): I am starting to think that perhaps not. Skerrett definitely is having misgivings about leaving the Queen and I got vibes between her and the new (extremely tall and extremely attractive) junior footman during the scene about his wig. You can’t blame Francatelli for wanting to go out and be his own master, but I do wonder if Skerrett has as much resolve.

Catherine (@DrkKnightingale): I’d be very surprised I’d Miss Skerrett leaves the queens employ and marries  Francatelli. She doesn’t seem the type to lose her independence for a man.

Ginger (@ginjokat): They may but the road is going to be bumpy. Skerrett is so devoted to the Queen. If she has to choose her work or love, I am not sure Francatelli will come out ahead. I felt more confident about them at the end of last season.

Shannon (@QSassguard): The shipper in me wants to say yes but no I don’t think they’ll actually get married. She likes her independence too much; truth be told, I could see them ending up in a Mrs. Hughes/Mr. Carson on “Downton Abbey” thing where they get together when she’s older.

Katherine (@Lady_madchan): In a word ….   NO. Not this season anyways.  

Nerdeek Life Victoria-3x01-09 Victoria  Season 3’s premiere “Uneasy Lies the Head that Wears the Crown” makes our roundtable feel anxious Reviews Roundtables

7) We were not expecting the episode to end on that crazy cliffhanger! What do you believe Daisy Goodwin has in store for next week?

Andrew (@MaestroMarvel): Wow that was a way to leave your audience on the edge of their seat. A real first for the show. Next time, we are gonna get one hell of a birthing scene, a better explanation for the anarchists, and see if we can trust the new girl downstairs who sides with the chartists. Albert’s siding with the chartists and Marx might lead to him losing respect with the people and especially his wife.

Jan (@total_janarchy): It looks like more upheaval and more concerns. Obviously we know that Victoria and Albert survive the ordeal(s) but it’s definitely turbulent times for them!

Catherine (@DrkKnightingale): There will be a brief uprising and Albert will freak out, then there will be arrests with the queen giving birth and the country will calm in the glow of a new princess or princess.

Ginger (@ginjokat): The Chartist are not going away, the Queen cannot leave the palace. Will we learn the Irish lads motives?

Shannon (@QSassguard): Baby panic is never a bad thing from a dramatic point of view. I spent far too long wracking my brain trying to remember if anyone actually got past the gates of Buckingham Palace at some point- beyond Boy Jack esque incidents. Victoria has faced people at her gates before and come through it as a stronger queen, then again she wasn’t in labor when it happened before. The poor woman needs another vacation in Scotland. It’s funny how SHE is always blamed for things she really has no control over. The politicians are the ones protecting grain taxes, forbidding large sections of the population from voting etc but Victoria is the one to pay for it.

Katherine (@Lady_madchan):
Another Vicbert baby for sure….  More unrest. More drama with the sisters and more of that annoying Lord P.

Nerdeek Life Victoria-3x01-10 Victoria  Season 3’s premiere “Uneasy Lies the Head that Wears the Crown” makes our roundtable feel anxious Reviews Roundtables

Final Verdict: “Uneasy Lies the Head that Wears the Crown” proves Victoria Season 3 is off to a strong start with capturing our historical and emotional interest.

The episode title “Uneasy Lies the Head that Wears the Crown” comes from Shakespeare’s Henry IV. Along with Queen Victoria, he was faced with threats of assassination. The “lone wolf” assassination attempts of earlier seasons pale in comparison to the thousands of angry Chartists ready to storm the palace gates. Tension and turmoil are the main themes for Season 3, and the episode overall does a fine job establishing that theme. The action sequences, special effects on the crowd scenes, and the cinematography in these scenes are key in the success of convincing the audience to feel as anxious as the main characters are. Although some of our panelists may miss the more romantic episodes of Victoria, they appreciate that 1848 was a critical turning point in British and European history. The scenes with the most violence still felt rather restrained compared to other period dramas on television.

The turning cast showed they were at the top of their game. Although we have seen Victoria pregnant many times already, Jenna Coleman added a new level of anxiety to her performance. We also appreciated her adding the subtle side eyes every time Palmerston said something completely inappropriate. Tom Hughes continues to  Tom Hughes continues to balance Prince Albert as a critical thinker and as a devoted husband. As far as the new cast goes, Laurence Fox and Kate Fleetwood stole the show. The fans want more scenes with Palmerston and Feodora butting heads with the established cast.

Our panel is slightly concerned that the new footman Joseph Weld (David Burnett) and Sophie, Duchess of Monmouth (Lily Travers), the new Lady of the Robes) do not seem as well integrated into the plot as the other new characters were. The explanation for the changes in the servant staff also were abrupt. A scene might have been deleted.s Victoria in the past has the humanizing of the faceless servants as a priority in storytelling. There are still many episodes left to give the new servants a chance to shine.. We are also concerned about our Chartist characters Cuffay and Turner not regressing into one-dimensional villains. 

Will Victoria deliver the baby safely? What new drama will the palace houseguests start? Let’s find out next Sunday!

Victoria returns next Sunday 1/13 at 9PM EST/8PM CST on PBS.

We want to hear your opinions on Victoria this season!

If you’re interested in joining, message Amanda-Rae via Twitter message https://twitter.com/amandarprescott

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About The Author
Amanda-Rae Prescott
Amanda-Rae is a frequent period drama cosplayer live-tweeter. She contributes to Blacklanderz is the host of This Week in Mammoth Screen Dramas Fancast, a podcast devoted to following the production company behind Victoria. She is also the founder of the Poldark Costuming Project.
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