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The Victoria Roundtable Travels to “Et In Arcadia”

This week on Victoria, fans were treated to a recreation of Prince Albert’s (Tom Hughes) country home Osborne House on the Isle of Wight. Although the scenery was quite fantastic, Her Majesty (Jenna Coleman) by the end of the episode needed a vacation from the vacation.

Lord Palmerston (Laurence Fox) should be working with Victoria on government matters, but he’s too busy trying to make moves on Sophie (Lily Travers) Lady Emma Portman (Anna-Wilson Jones) notices Sophie is likely headed towards disaster becoming too entangled with Palmerston. Feodora (Kate Fleetwood) also puts a massive wrench in his plan to hook up with Sophie by swapping rooms. Sophie realizes that Joseph Weld (David Burnett) might be an interesting escape option from her horrid household.

Meanwhile downstairs at Osbourne, Mr. Penge is the definition of pressed on Urban Dictionary. He’s forced to drum for the Queen and he’s losing control over the staff. Weld has been skipping Sunday sermons for swimming. (Once again, a swimming scene was censored by PBS.) He also can’t stop Charles (Ferdinand Kingsley) and Nancy (Nell Hudson) Francatelli from engaging in a little PDA. His staff appears to be on course for open mutiny.

Victoria spends a large chunk of the episode fighting with Albert about Bertie (Laurie Shepherd). He struggles with reading comprehension, and she believes Albert is far militaristic in his tutoring. Along with child rearing disagreements, there are a new round of political battles and Victoria is resisting Albert’s control once again. Adding salt to Victoria’s wounds, she feels betrayed by Skerrett handing in her 2 weeks notice, leaving her no one to confide in. Of course Feodora seizes this as an opportunity to manipulate the situation. Feodora acting like the new Baroness Lehzen only serves to drive a bigger wedge between Victoria and Albert. She throws a glass of wine at Albert at a dinner over his treatment of Bertie. At another point in the episode Albert claims Victoria doesn’t deserve respect. By the end of the episode, Albert becomes so incensed with her, he locks Victoria out of her study.

Should the royals headed for Victorian Divorce Court? Let’s find out what our Roundtable had to say about these events!

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.

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

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

Shannon (@QSassgard): Cosplayer, Fanfic Author, Historic Seamstress found at

Andrew (@MaestroMarvel): Musician, Page at the NY Public Library for the Performing Arts, former Renaissance Faire Actor.

1) Throughout this episode, we see a lot of tension between Albert and Bertie. Do you believe Bertie has a condition the Victorians would not have known about?

Jan (@total_janarchy):  They’re definitely hinting that Bertie was dyslexic which I guess is an actual theory (I looked at up as soon as the episode was over because it was something I hadn’t heard of before). There are also theories that he had attention deficit disorder as well. All of this makes sense in terms of explaining why he wasn’t a good student and preferred partying to more intellectual pursuits.

Ginger (@ginjokat): There is a good chance he has ADD/ADHD or perhaps Dyslexia. Or he is just a young boy with boundless energy.

Katherine (@Lady_madchan): In the tv show Bertie is definitely written like he had dyslexia…..   I don’t know about real life. It’s a decent diagnosis. But to be honest someone else writing the series might have written it like he had ADD.   

Shannon (@QSassgard): I’m not sure what direction Daisy is going into but from what I know of him in adulthood I don’t think so. It seems more like he was very much like his mother more than anything. Victoria threw herself into reading as a girl because she was bored- she had Feo for a few years as a child for company but after that it was mostly her on her own, with adult supervision at Kensington. Bertie doesn’t have that issue.

Andrew (@MaestroMarvel): Prince Bertie was never a strong student. He may have had a learning disability, but at least we see that he tries harder at the end of the episode.

2) Lord Palmerston’s #MeToo moment came to an unexpected end. Did you see that coming?

Jan (@total_janarchy):  No! I really thought he and the Duchess of Monmouth were going to get together, but it actually was highly amusing. Plus it was creepy of him to be skulking into bedrooms anyway. I actually expected a love triangle of Palmerston, Sophie and Joseph-the-hot-footman. Well, Palmerston is seemingly out of the way now (the historical Palmerston was quite the womanizer so who knows?) so she’s all Joseph’s. Maybe.

Ginger (@ginjokat): No, in Theodora, Palmerston has met his scheming match.

Katherine (@Lady_madchan): I didn’t see a #MeToo moment coming so I wasn’t surprised when it ended quickly.  

Shannon (@QSassgard): Eh. . . He just he’s too predictable for me to care too much with him. He’s a minor annoyance more than anything.

Andrew (@MaestroMarvel): I am so happy he got what he deserved, royally cockblocked! He has been a thorn on the side of every woman so far. And now this leaves more room for the footman and the mistress of the robes to get some action.

3) Mrs. Skerrett handed in her two weeks notice. Do you believe Victoria would have reacted differently if she wasn’t already on the edge regarding politics and Albert?

Jan (@total_janarchy):  I think Victoria’s so angry about everything that’s she’s pretending to be indifferent rather than melting down. Plus she’s the Queen, so getting weepy over the loss of a member of staff would be frowned upon.

Ginger (@ginjokat): The Queen would have been upset no matter what but perhaps would have handled it in a better manner.

Katherine (@Lady_madchan): Maybe not….   I think this might be how she reacts to these  kinds of situations. Later in life she wanted some of her daughters to marry “minor Princelings” so her daughter could stay in the UK rather than leaving.   

Shannon (@QSassgard): Victoria-god love her- is a selfish woman I wasn’t surprised she reacted badly. Truthfully, she took it better than I thought she would given all the drama with her sister, Albert, Palmerston, the issues in Frances and Austria etc. The poor woman may be selfish at times but she’s also under a lot of stress.

Andrew (@MaestroMarvel): I’m happy that they are going to start a new life away from the Royals. The timing could not have been worse. She probably would not have been happy either way learning her ladies-maid was married behind her back.

4) If you attended the dinner with Lajos Kossuth, the Hungarian democrat, would you have listened to his speech or ignored it?

Jan (@total_janarchy): I ‘d have listened. Mainly because you can always learn something new from people. (Unless they’re just repeating themselves over and over again)  You don’t want to have a situation months from now thinking “Man, I really should have paid attention to Lajos Kossuth that night at dinner.”

Ginger (@ginjokat): It depends if I was hangry? I would have likely listened.

Katherine (@Lady_madchan): Listened. That info is need to know.   

Shannon (@QSassgard):  Considering the politics of certain people in my household I’ve gotten really good at half listening and rolling my eyes to myself: that would firmly be in the camp I’d be in. Victorian England wasn’t perfect but there were much worse choices for governments at the time.

Andrew (@MaestroMarvel): All the Slaps! She is so manipulative and if something doesn’t happen soon to stop her, she’ll leave an ugly mark on their marriage.

5) On a scale of 1 to 10 slaps, how many do you want to give Feodora and why?

Jan (@total_janarchy):  My ability to slap Feodora goes to 11. I knew she was a schemer but she’s really going beyond all expectations. Albert seems to be falling for her act because he wants someone to be sympathetic to his plight.  

Ginger (@ginjokat): 11 – She is a schemer and I do not care for underhanded people.

Katherine (@Lady_madchan):  100!  She is clearly trying to drive a wedge between Victoria and Albert.  She seems to want to stay in the UK indefinitely and prey on Victoria.   

Shannon (@QSassgard): She’s up to about a 20 at this point. She’s annoyed me since she popped up. The petty, jealous, nonsense is just. . . childish. I don’t think she’s afraid of going home I think she’s bored with her life.

Andrew (@MaestroMarvel): All the Slaps! She is so manipulative and if something doesn’t happen soon to stop her, she’ll leave an ugly mark on their marriage.

6) Victoria and Albert end the episode at a serious low point What would you recommend if you if you were leading their marriage counseling session?

Jan (@total_janarchy):  First of all, I would tell them to both sit down and be quiet until I was finished. Then I’d reprimand them both for not listening to the other or taking in their needs. So I’d make them work on communication skills and talking things through. Then Albert would get a long lecture on how he is not the one in charge, how Victoria is his wife and his queen, and she has other things to do than play Mrs Albert Saxe-Coburg on the Isle of Wight while the world is going into chaos. Just because it’s 1851 doesn’t mean he can’t learn a few lessons in feminism..  

Ginger (@ginjokat): With all the stress, the children and the vengeful sister who won’t leave they need to be more careful with each other. Listen to each other and talk out their issues. Sulking in a locked room or throwing water on someone is not going to solve anything.

Katherine (@Lady_madchan): They need to learn how to communicate in a constructive and civil way.

Shannon (@QSassgard): They need to go back to Scotland. It was all good when they were in Scotland and had a little “normal” time last season. Those poor kids need a break from their kids, the government, the people trying to overthrow poor Victoria, and most of all that stinking German half-sister. Couples bonding throwing Feo off the walls of Buckingham Palace maybe? Or Osborne House.

Andrew (@MaestroMarvel): if I could give them advice, they need to realize that their positions place a great deal of stress on their lives. They need to take time to focus on their personal selves. Albert needs to also respect that his wife has this great responsibility.

Final Verdict: We Enjoyed The Trip To Osborne House

Victoria’s recreation of Osborne House stole the show throughout the episode. The cliffs along the coast were very reminiscent of Poldark, but the costumes and high-end styling of the house firmly established the late 1840’s. We also appreciated the inclusion of the bathing machine to highlight the absurdity of Victorian modesty rituals. The cosplayers on the Roundtable are quite tempted to recreate Victoria’s bathing suit. The landscape as well as the interior views gave readers a strong impression that Osborne was a stately home fit for royals.

Although many viewers despise Albert by the end of the episode for his attempts to control Victoria, we appreciated how Albert figured out a clever way for Bertie to learn. The Victorians didn’t know dyslexia, ADD, or ADHD existed, but this was a gentle reminder to us all not to give up on someone who needs a different approach to learning.

In the Roundtable for 3×01, we shared concerns over Sophie and Joseph’s character, we’re glad this episode clearly developed their motivations and background story now compared to the first episode. Lady Emma Portman also had a chance to shine as the “fixer” of the upstairs servants. We found it interesting that she hinted at having a bit of a fling with Palmerston, and that makes her character much more intriguing to follow in future episodes.

Victoria’s diplomatic struggle over her decision to correspond with Kossuth was heavily diluted by the Palmerston/Sophie/Joseph love triangle and the strife with Albert. The scenes that dealt with the crisis did not have as much of an impact as they could have. Although the Roundtable does not agree with the people who believe this season is sliding too far into soap opera territory, we are slightly concerned that future episodes don’t establish the politics plot before diving into the household drama. We also dispute the claims that Feodora is ruining the season because her unpredictability replaces what would have been a very predictable retread of the postpartum focused episodes from Season 2. Even in the scenes that lean into the fictional drama, there’s kernels of truth there that the history-based critics are missing. The Palmerston room switcheroo as well as Victoria throwing a glass of wine at Albert were taken from eyewitness diary accounts.

Will Sophie and Joseph take the next step in their relationship? Will Victoria and Albert end up like royal roommates instead of a loving couple? We’re excited for what’s in store next week!

Victoria returns next Sunday 2/3 at 9PM EST/8PM CST on PBS.

We want to hear your opinions on Victoria this season!

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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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