The pentulamate episode of Victoria Season 3 features a diplomatic crisis for Victoria (Jenna Coleman) and a crisis with the construction of the Great Exhibition for Prince Albert (Tom Hughes). Reconciliation for the royal couple occurs when the two plots intersect with each other.
Don Pacifico, a British Jewish man is fiercely attacked by a mob including police in Greece because of his religion. Lord Palmerston (Laurence Fox) in a rare display of actually doing his job title persuades Parliament and government officials to assist a British citizen in need. Victoria signs off on this, but Palmerston recommends send a naval blockade to Greece in response. His guns-blazing plan however causes serious issues for the royal family as Albert’s European relatives and British allies almost declare war on England in response to what they see as a threat. Victoria has to rescind her permission for intervention, causing Palmerston to lose face and the favor of the public. He goes back to the drawing board to find a more peaceful solution.
Albert along with his planning partner are having issues with the builder’s estimates for the exhibition space as well as materials to be used. Brick and mortar are too heavy to be used for a temporary space. The press is not happy with these plans and devotes tons of print space to mocking cartoons. Some conservationists are attacking him for planning to tear down trees in the park. Others believe the public display will be an excuse for the poor riff-riff to invade respectable society.
Victoria asks the Duke of Wellington (Peter Bowles) for advice on the Greece crisis, but he uses it as the time to formally announce his retirement. At first she can’t comprehend someone being good enough to replace the Duke, but Lady Emma Portman (Anna-Wilson Jones ) advises her the job opening might be a good distraction for Albert. Working on reforming the army might rejuvenate his brain on the Exhibition plans or at the very least be another outlet for his skills. Albert politely declines the job offer.
The ongoing drama in the royal household has one situation diffused while the other explodes. After months of Feodora’s (Kate Fleetwood) jealous meddling, Victoria decides that she wants to disarm her by making an enemy her friend. She allows Feo’s daughter Adelaide to come stay at the Palace so she can find a suitable husband. On the other hand, Sophie’s (Lily Travers) relationship with Joseph is exposed. The vengeful Duke of Monmouth uses evidence from Mr. Penge (Adrian Schiller) to prove that Sophie is guilty of criminal conversation (the Victorian legal term for adultery). Sophie is forcibly committed to an insane asylum as punishment.
Albert reaches a breakthrough on the planning when an architect proposes a greenhouse shaped like the Victoria water lily. The design not only is cheaper than using heavy bricks, it preserves the natural specimens exhibitors want to display. The episode ends with Victoria and Albert tearfully reconciling as the rain begins to fall. After several episodes of arguing and anger, Victoria realizes Albert’s skills as a dreamer and scientific thinker are what make him a perfect husband while Albert realizes Victoria only wanted a husband who she could trust. Victoria and Albert return to the royal bedchamber to work on what’s most likely their eighth child.
Let’s hear from our Roundtable their thoughts on the episode:
Ginger (@ginjokat): Traveler, reader, period drama nerd – it all started with The Buccaneers.
Elizabeth (@LoTCosplay): A cosplayer of mostly Doctor Who and Disney who will watch almost anything that Doctor Who alum appear in.
Katherine (@Lady_madchan): Period Drama Lover, Poldark Superfan, and Travel Enthusiast
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.
Shannon (@QSassgard): Cosplayer, Fanfic Author, Historic Seamstress
1) Lord Palmerston is actually doing his job for once! Did you know about this incident in Greece before the episode and what was your reaction?
Ginger (@ginjokat): I did not know about the incident in Greece so it was interesting.
Elizabeth (@LoTCosplay): I didn’t know about it before, no! On one hand, good for him for sticking up for someone who’s been wronged like that. On the other…. it seemed more like an excuse to play some war games/chicken with other countries. At least it worked out for him this time(?).
Katherine (@Lady_madchan): I definitely didn’t know about this episode with Greece. I thought the episode looked rather odd and some of the players came off in a negative light. Albert was apparently more concerned about his German cousin. Palmerston was as usual trying to score political points. Victoria seemed to be the only one who cared about the well-being of the injured party to her credit……
Jan (@total_janarchy): I didn’t know about the Greek incident, so it was kind of a surprise. It did make me laugh because it felt very current in terms of Russia trying to manipulate things.
Shannon (@QSassgard): I needed more hands during the showing, between making notes for this, tweeting, and frantically looking up this particular incident. Daisy got me for the second time in a season! First springing Feo In is and now this!
2) Albert is back to being the science whiz kid we love! Do you believe he’s right or wrong for replacing Wellington and why?
Ginger (@ginjokat):Albert should stick to science and discovery, I do not see him as a military advisor.
Elizabeth (@LoTCosplay): I don’t think it’s the job that would make him happiest, really, but he does seem the type to be able to apply himself to whatever position he’s in. And not only apply himself, but find a way of doing something a bit better (and potentially annoying people who just want to keep doing things the old way but hey!). It does look like he’ll be able to balance his new position and his passions, though, which is good.
Katherine (@Lady_madchan): Oh he’s absolutely wrong for replacing Wellington. He was never a military man and hasn’t taken an exceptional interest in the subject. It just isn’t his passion.
Jan (@total_janarchy): I think he was right to not take the job because he’s not really a military man. His heart belongs to science and education, not military tactics etc.
Shannon (@QSassgard): Albert is insanely intelligent- when it comes to book smarts- but i think he lacks the practical knowledge to take Wellington’s place. More than anything it’s an attempt by Victoria keep him busy, hopefully those around him can control him when he gets on one of his tangents again. Don’t get me wrong his tangents can be good but he can also be overzealous.
3) Victoria is taking a different approach to Feodora, were you caught off guard by her change in tact?
Ginger (@ginjokat): No. She wants to repair her relationship with Albert, frankly, she must be tired of the friction. Perhaps a new approach with Feodora may help diffuse the situation. If not, I still feel Feodora has to go.
Elizabeth (@LoTCosplay): Now that she understands what her half-sister has been through and how she feels about what’s happened in both of their lives, I’m glad that Victoria’s found a way to help her- even if her main motivation is to get her to stop interfering with her and Albert’s married life! You can tell Victoria’s still not pleased with her, but maybe with Feo’s daughter in the picture now (an actual child as opposed to the grown woman that her sister the Queen is despite how she treats her), she’ll have other priorities. It seems like it’d be difficult to arrange a good marriage for her daughter while still meddling in her sister’s life but I suppose we’ll have to wait and see.
Katherine (@Lady_madchan): Yes I was a bit caught off guard by Victoria’s new more mature approach to Feodora but she did well. I think she started to feel empathy for Feodora when she realized that Feodora also missed out on being queen and was relegated to the sidelines.
Jan (@total_janarchy): I thought she was very smart to try and extend an olive branch, even if it was to protect herself rather than from true altruism (which personally Feodora doesn’t deserve)Shannon (@QSassgard): After that talk with Palmerston no not really. You really do attract more flies with honey than vinegar. The niece showing up was surprising though! We knew Feo had kids I just didn’t think one of them would actually show up. There’s only next week left in this season so sadly we won’t see much of Vickie already being over cousin Heidi- hopefully they’re back at it next season
4) On a scale of 1 to 10, how much did you swoon at Vicbert’s rain-drenched reconciliation?
Ginger (@ginjokat):I didn’t swoon, one could sense it was coming. It was long overdue though – I was ready.
Elizabeth (@LoTCosplay): 10000000000000000000/10. They may still have things they have to work through, but it was utterly lovely and so reminiscent of some of their earliest scenes. I’m so glad they’re seeing eye to eye again.
Katherine (@Lady_madchan): The Vicbert reconciliation was one of the most memorable scenes this series. It was just adorbs!
Jan (@total_janarchy): I went to 11. It was very sweet. Poor Albert looked so cold, wet and miserable that he needed a hug.Shannon (@QSassgard): Romance is not dead! Solid 9. Although in that smarmy little shipper “Thank god they love in England they seem to need rain for a romantic makeup.”
5) Sophie ended up in the asylum where the women who fall out of line with the patriarchy go. We all expected a trainwreck, but did you foresee this ending to her affair?
Ginger (@ginjokat): I was expecting revenge but not placing her in an asylum against her will.? Thinking about a Victorian era asylum, nothing good can come from this.
Elizabeth (@LoTCosplay): I knew it couldn’t end perfectly for Sophie, but that is NOT what I expected to happen at all! Something humiliating given how her husband was acting, sure, but I didn’t expect him to go all Gaston on her like that. And to torture her with the thought of a reunion with her son only to have him pulled away before she could even touch him only added to the heartbreak. Vicbert’s back together now so my only hope for the season finale is for Sophie to get justice.
Katherine (@Lady_madchan): My heart is breaking for Sophie. I actually thought she might end up divorced with no access to her son. So the asylum is a bit of a left turn but not incredibly unexpected either .
Jan (@total_janarchy): I didn’t foresee that — I actually thought that her stupid husband was going to kill her, but I know that it wasn’t unheard of for husbands to have their ‘inconvenient’ wives put away on the slightest provocation. “Hysteria” was quite common and what women were put through was terrible. Given we have one more week to go, I’m hoping that poor Sophie might have a happier ending with Joseph after all. And this just gave me even more reason to hate Penge.
Shannon (@QSassgard): I wasn’t thinking asylum- my dark little mind went to death. In hindsight her husband has an heir he doesn’t NEED a wife anymore so long as he can get Sophie’s money, money that isn’t legally hers anymore. This isn’t the end of it though. It can’t be. Joseph is going to be Joseph and bluster in- probably get hurt/fired- what interests me is what Victoria will do. She’s too close to Sophie not act somehow. After the gaslighting Albert/Feo have pulled this season- and that discussion she and Albert has over the shape of Bertie’s head- I’m dying to see how this comes out.
Final Verdict: We’re Back on Team Vicbert!
We wanted Albert to shape up and make up, and he passed the test with flying colors! He validated Victoria’s emotions and had constructive feedback for her regarding the Greece crisis. Most importantly, he realized that Feodora was a negative influence. The Great Exhibition, even more so than the Cambridge deanship, was the perfect chance for his skillset to soar. His heartfelt reconciliation upended the gaslighting Victoria was struggling to deal with. Daisy Goodwin reprising the “I am not a child, Albert” line from Season 1 was a brilliant reminder to Albert’s defenders that by supporting him talking down to Victoria and calling Victoria irrational, they’re supporting oppression of her feelings and mind.
Although some may feel this shift happened too quickly, in previous seasons the penultimate episodes also sped up the plot. The key is that it disproves the theory the critics of this season have that the show doesn’t care about Vicbert anymore. This season has chosen character development through conflict versus a copy and paste version of Season 2’s plot. Or even worse, a paint-by-the numbers romance.
Lily Travers is the scene stealer this week as she brilliantly portrayed the rise and the sharp fall in Sophie’s fortunes. We cried seeing those brutes hauling her away as if she murdered someone. The writing returning to the allusions in S1 to “criminal conversation” drove the point home. Her Majesty might have suffered from a bit of mansplaining, but nothing compares to what truly abusive Victorian husbands were legally able to do.
Next week, we’re hoping Victoria can use her royal powers to throw Monmouth in jail!