Although Her Majesty’s subjects are wavering in their support, we still love Queen Victoria.
Victoria this week on Masterpiece continues the anxiety from last week. Queen Victoria (Jenna Coleman) and Prince Albert (Tom Hughes) welcome Princess Louise. In an ideal world, Her Majesty should be peacefully recovering from labor. In reality, a fresh round of political protests threaten her safety and the palace houseguests continue to start unnecessary drama. For the first time, Victoria realizes that she is truly in danger of her biggest fear becoming a reality: losing the love of her people.
King Louis Philippe (Vincent Regan) wears out his royal welcome as he scares the junior royals with tales of Madame Guillotine. Bertie (Laurie Shepherd) knows he will be King one day, but he’s actively running away from the responsibility. Vicky (Louisa Bay) is asserting herself as a natural leader, but the law dictates she can’t inherit the throne due to her gender. Meanwhile, Feodora (Kate Fleetwood) is trying on Victoria’s jewels and trying to create a wedge between Victoria and Albert.
For the romantics in the audience, Francatelli (Ferdinand Kingsley) and Skerrett (Nell Hudson) give fans plenty to swoon over. He invests in a hotel and then he sets a date to marry Skerrett. Brodie (Tommy Knight) assists by giving the bride away. News of nuptials may raise a stir in the downstairs quarters, but for now, their romantic secret is safe. In a slightly less romantic and more leering way, Lord Palmerston (Laurence Fox) has set his eyes upon Sophie, the Duchess of Monmouth (Lily Travers). He may or may not have set up a riot to attack her carriage to “save” her.
Someone has sent the Chartists hundreds of guns in advance of their march to deliver the Six Points petition to Parliament. Patrick (Kerr Logan) turns out to be a police informer who is planted in the movement to assist in fomenting violence. Abigail Turner (Sabrina Bartlett) once again proves to be an MVP as she warns Queen Victoria that firing on the peaceful crowd would only result in more chaos. Albert convinces Victoria to not stick around for the delivery of the petition. On her way out of London, she stops the carriage to force Palmerston to rescind the order to fire on the crowds. She did not want to be seen as a total tyrant. The reversal allows Turner and Cuffay (CJ Beckford) to deliver a stunning symbolic defeat to the Duke of Wellington (Peter Bowles) on London Bridge.
Let’s hear from our Roundtable about their reactions to this very dramatic episode!
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.
Andrew (@MaestroMarvel): Musician, Page at the NY Public Library for the Performing Arts, former Renaissance Faire Actor.
Katherine (@Lady_madchan): Period Drama Lover, Poldark Superfan, and Travel Enthusiast
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
1) Feodora is continuing the Concerned Sister act. Has your opinion on her motives changed since last week?
Jan (@total_janarchy): Nope. She still seems extremely shady and also very jealous of Victoria’s position and life. It really felt like she was trying to come on to Albert when she said “we’ll take care of her” and touched his shoulder. Albert didn’t seem to be falling for her act. Also, her being in Victoria’s bedroom and trying on her necklace seemed pretty telling. I couldn’t decide if she’d stolen it or not when she came out and announced she was going back to Germany.
Andrew (@MaestroMarvel): Fedora was giving such a face when she found out the baby wasn’t named after her. And now they’re letting her come to the country, and promises to “fix” her? Sorry, but I’m still saying she’s evil.
Ginger (@ginjokat): I still do not trust her. My opinion has not changed, she feels Victoria has what is rightfully hers. Will she soften down the road or wreck havoc? She is cunning, placing her hand on Albert after the fight.
Katherine (@Lady_madchan): I think my take on her is becoming clearer. So nope. Those shots of her wearing Victoria’s jewellery and sitting on Victoria’s throne were pretty telling. She seems quite resentful of Victoria being born to be the ruler of England. I trust her as far as I can throw her.
Shannon (@QSassgard): Not a bit- okay that’s a lie it did change and it got worse. I think she has a crush on Albert and wants her sister’s man at least a little. Right now, Vicbert is as happy as can be, and to me, Feo comes off as jealous. Baby sister has everything she wants: happy marriage, enough babies to ensure the family continues for generations to come, a crown, money, castles, the list goes on. Albert is where she can try and mess with things. At first, I thought she was just after money, now she’s getting nasty.
2) Who do you believe set up the Chartists for potential failure and why?
Jan (@total_janarchy): I get the feeling that Palmerston and John Russell definitely had a hand in it with some help from “Patrick” (? I think that’s the name of the character with the guns who suddenly turned up as an agent and “didn’t know” Abigail). I can’t decide if they’re trying to infiltrate the Chartists to bring them down from the outside, if they want to blame the Irish possibly (esp with the gun running and pretend-Irish agent) or something else entirely.
Andrew (@MaestroMarvel): Conspiracy time! I think the chartists were framed for the guns based on the spy that was working for the police. But the violence was still not a good sign for them.
Ginger (@ginjokat): The British government. By planting the guns they caused dissention among the ranks and alarmed the Queen into taking action against the Chartists. Sowing the seeds of distrust. The powers that be do want one man, one vote as it weakens their authority. Change is coming.
Katherine (@Lady_madchan): Possibly Lord Palmerston and the PM. They seemed very aware of the set up. We really haven’t been given any other hints about anyone else. But it definitely could be someone we haven’t even heard of yet.
Shannon (@QSassgard): I don’t trust Palmerston I just really don’t. It’s cheesy to say honestly I do think it was him buuuutt….
3) Charles and Nancy tied the knot!! How deep in your Skeretelli feels were you?
Jan (@total_janarchy): I was so happy for them! And also extremely surprised. The show was telegraphing that they wouldn’t make it to the altar and yet, here they are. However, Skerrett still hasn’t told the Queen so who knows how long this will last?
Andrew (@MaestroMarvel): SQUEE! I’m so happy it finally happened. But they’re not telling anyone, which means next episode, we’re gonna have SHENANIGANS!! I’m sorry but sometimes these tv tropes are really easy to spot.
Ginger (@ginjokat): We have been waiting for two seasons and then it happened so fast. Will Nancy’s devotion to the Queen get in the way? The drama is already laid out.
Katherine (@Lady_madchan): My Skeretelli feels are off the meter!!! I didn’t even expect her to show up at the church so I’m pretty delighted that they got hitched.
Shannon (@QSassgard): I sorta jumped ship at the last minute. Don’t get me wrong I think they’re adorable but I didn’t think they’d go through with it. Nancy felt/feels so indebted to the queen I didn’t think she’d leave her place. My gut says something will go wrong next week. We can’t have happy servants while Victoria is dealing with Chartists, Palmerston, and Feo.
4) Sophie, the Duchess of Monmouth clearly has an abusive husband. Who do you think is the better potential suitor: Lord Palmerston or the footman Joseph Weld and why?
Jan (@total_janarchy): In terms of her station and her position, Palmerston is definitely the better suitor for the times. He has a title, he has money, he has political power, and he’s ambitious. Plus he really seems to like her — that whole white knight situation when her carriage was attacked certainly appealed to him (I am still unsure if it was partially set up or not). Additional bonus for me: he’s Lozza Fox. However, Weld is probably a better person but I’ve watched too many Victorian (and beyond) costume dramas to think that someone with a title and someone in service could ever live happily ever after together, unless one of them (almost always the woman) wants to give up everything to be with the man she loves.
Andrew (@MaestroMarvel): Sophie needs to get away from the men of court. And parliament, and household. The footman is giving me a creepy vibe, and Palmerston is unbearable. But Palmerston is clearly the safer choice, just by position and the fact that the queen can put him in check.
Ginger (@ginjokat): Lord Palmerston will catch her eye and charm her. Joseph will admire from afar. Palmerston has her attention and is a diversion from reality for now.
Katherine (@Lady_madchan): I think both are problematic. Lord P is a socially acceptable paramour but he would obviously treat her badly. Joseph is the opposite. I suspect he may treat her quite well. But their relationship would never be nicely received by the aristocracy.
Shannon (@QSassgard): Please not Palmerston! I like her too much for her to end up with the tool. Weld is a possibility but I don’t see them lasting as a couple- her parents would have a stroke.
5) We were all holding our breath as the Chartists marched to deliver the petition! Did you expect the conclusion to the march?
Jan (@total_janarchy): I didn’t! I don’t know enough about that part of Victorian history, so had no idea what was going to happen. I really felt for Victoria since she didn’t want to leave and got forced to. She really does care about her subjects and wants them to love her.
Andrew (@MaestroMarvel): Thank god that march ended happily. I feel bad that the queen wasn’t there to receive the petition. It would have been a great moment for the queen to consolidate with the people. The scene where she was riding past the soldiers was intense.
Ginger (@ginjokat): Yes. What I did not expect was the eventual tension the events would cause between Victoria and Albert.
Katherine (@Lady_madchan): I didn’t know what to expect….. I don’t know about the historical events that inspired this period of the tv series. But I did know that this was the period under Queen Victoria’s reign when England came closest to revolution. So it really could have gone either way. It was really fun watching and not knowing what to expect!
Shannon (@QSassgard): Honestly, I kept waiting for someone to not get an order in time and all hell break loose. I yet again kept having Les Mis flashbacks.
Final Verdict: We’re convinced Geoffrey Sax Is A Big Fan of Selma
Victoria Season 3 has quite a few inevitable historical and pop culture parallels, The confrontation between the Chartists and Wellington’s army is the most important scene in the episode. Our panel as well as some fans on Twitter noticed camera angles and the overhead shots Sax used in his directing were very reminiscent of Ava DuVernay’s directing in Selma. (The Chartists were clearly luckier than the civil rights protesters to escape injury.) The score and the wide angle shots of the protesters were instrumental in keeping the audience in suspense as the characters marched.
Although this scene is a cinematic triumph, it misses the mark from a historical point of view. In reality, the Chartist protests were undermined by bad weather. In addition, Victoria was already well away from London before the army assembled to quell potential Chartist violence. What keeps this episode from sliding completely into the unbelievable territory is the insertion of the Police Inspector (Cameron Jack) and the scapegoat Patrick. He was the perfect man to set up due to existing anti-Irish sentiment from both working class men scared of new arrivals to London as well as those in government who remained unsympathetic to potato famine victims. In addition, government informers or disruptors infiltrating protest movements to steer events off course is something that happens even in modern times. Our panelists are in agreement that we do not expect Victoria to be 100% biographical all the time.
Everyone on the panel agrees this episode overall is a strong follow-up to the season premiere. The history of the Chartist movement is an excellent counter-balance to the interpersonal and family of the Feodora and Lord Palmerston plots. The quality of the acting, scenery, and costuming has not slipped since the last episode. Sabrina Bartlett continues to shine as the fiercely independent Abigail Turner. Ferdinand Kingsley and Nell Hudson did an excellent job with the Skerretelli wedding.
Will Feodora steal some more of Her Majesty’s necklaces? How much trouble will Skeretelli be in for tying the knot? We can’t wait to find out next week!