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The Victoria Roundtable Marvelled at “The White Elephant”

Season 3 of Victoria on Masterpiece PBS comes to an end with the opening of The Great Exhibition in 1851. Queen Victoria (Jenna Coleman) and Prince Albert (Tom Hughes) may have won the day against the critics, but it comes at a high personal cost.

Related| I Am Angry Victoria: A Season 3 Review

Political drama threatens to overshadow the event. Lord Palmerston (Laurence Fox) takes a step too far as Foreign Secretary to personally congratulate and send an olive branch to the self-declared new Emperor of France. Some countries threaten to pull out of the exhibition as a result. Victoria and Albert are completely opposed to rewarding someone who violently overthrows a monarch. The PM and others in Palmerston’s party relish Palmerston losing his power. Palmerston has one more trick up his sleeve before leaving. He tells Feodora (Kate Fleetwood) her daughter Heidi would be a good match for the Emperor. She is already potentially matched to a German prince, but this doesn’t stop her social climbing.

Prince Albert is working overtime to make sure the final logistics for the Exposition line up perfectly. Like a college student cramming for finals, he stays up all night to go over paperwork and other matters. He is especially stressed about ticket sales. Victoria has the idea to make an appearance to boost attendance. In a refreshing change from earlier episodes, the royal couple doesn’t have to feign unity, Victoria and Albert are fully reconciled.

As Victoria finishes up her invitation list, she notices Sophie, Duchess of Monmouth (Lily Travers) is not responding to her letters. The Duke claims she is “too ill” to attend, but Victoria is immediately suspicious. She sends Abigail Turner (Sabrina Bartlett)  to investigate and Abigail reports back that the Duke has her under lock and key. Victoria threatens the Duke that she wants to see Sophie at the Exhibition or else.

The grand opening of the exhibition is a success as Albert channels an old Steve Jobs keynote speech. Sophie attends but the Duke has her eyes on her. Joseph comes up with a crazy plan to run away to America but she can’t leave her son behind. The young royals also get a slice of some matchmaking action. Bertie (Laurie Shepherd) proposes to Heidi but he’s turned down. Vicki (Louisa Bay ) meets her future husband but she doesn’t know it yet.

After the Exhibition guests go home, Victoria demands Feodora returns to Germany for her scheming with Heidi’s marriage. Once the meddler leaves, Victoria Albert reflect on their life together in the same spot where the proposal took place. After Victoria kisses Albert, he collapses from exhaustion.

Were we satisfied by the conclusion to Season 3? Let’s ask our Roundtable!

Andee (@andeesings): Host of Nerdeek’s Life Outlander Roundtables.

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.

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

Nerdeek Life Victoria-3x08-03 The Victoria Roundtable Marvelled at "The White Elephant" Reviews Roundtables

1) We know what the characters believe, but do you believe Palmerston wrong for congratulating the new French emperor and why?

Andee (@andeesings): If Prussia were the allies Britain was cultivating, then congratulating a French person who seized power doesn’t really seem like a smart thing to do. Especially because the LAST Napoléon was such a disaster. Also shouldn’t the person in charge of Britain’s formal policy have to consult with SOMEONE before making a decision like that? It seems like a big deal.

Jan (@total_janarchy): I think Palmerston believed he was doing the right thing. As Foreign Secretary, he was trying to be the ultimate in diplomacy, plus we’ve seen he doesn’t necessary embrace monarchy as the only way. However it was probably not a great idea given the political upheaval in France.

Katherine (@Lady_madchan): I think he was wrong.  I think he should have known better this time….  Didn’t he congratulate the man who overthrew the previous King in the beginning of the season?   And he probably should have seen the issue with Prussia too. Poorly played Palm

Valerie (@valderie): Yes, because dictators/ self declared emperors aren’t things to congratulate!!

Shannon (@QSassgard): Wrong, so very very wrong. Victoria and by extension Feo, Albert and the rest have more freedom than the royals today do but when the royals and the politicians are seen in such polar opposite positions it sends mixed messages. More importantly he had an attitude contrary to the PM whom he was working for directly. More than that French Emperor =/= not a good history with England. Or do we have to bring Wellington back?

Nerdeek Life Victoria-3x08-05 The Victoria Roundtable Marvelled at "The White Elephant" Reviews Roundtables

2) #FreeSophie is something we can all get behind, but did you really think Joseph’s plan was going to work?

Andee (@andeesings): I didn’t think it was going to work for a second. I was even surprised to see her getting stopped by her son later. That she even considered leaving her kid was shocking to me and I think her husband is a massive tool. I feel really bad for Sophie. She’s really stuck. Too bad her kid wasn’t a little older.

Katherine (@Lady_madchan):  Definitely not. It seemed like it would fail from the moment Joseph started to speak about it.

Jan (@total_janarchy): I wasn’t sure. I figured that Victoria already had lost someone she cared about greatly (Skerrett) so having Sophie run off to America with Joseph was probably not going to happen unless there were more actors who wanted to leave the show. It also seemed like poor Sophie is not being allowed to have a happy ending.

Valerie (@valderie): Hell no. At the most I thought maybe she’d steal her son and *then* go with Joseph, but I doubt she’ll leave the queens side after it was the queen who saved her!

Shannon (@QSassgard): Nope. It was too “straight from a Harlequin romance novel” to work. Actually I’m pretty sure I’ve read that Harlequin romance novel. That whole plot seemed like a ploy to bring in just how bad marriages could be.

Nerdeek Life Victoria-3x08-06 The Victoria Roundtable Marvelled at "The White Elephant" Reviews Roundtables

3) If you were in charge of America’s booth at the Great Exhibition, what would you pick to showcase?

Andee (@andeesings): Back then? Probably some sort of steam engine. I’m not surprised they brought the Colt revolver though. ‘Murica was ‘Murica even back then and really they are incredible feats of engineering. Maybe a player piano? You see those in old west saloons too. Hah!

Katherine (@Lady_madchan): Since my country Canada wasn’t recognized as an independent nation until 1867, I had to look up if it participated in the Great Exhibition. And we did! Resource rich Canada showed mining and mineral samples in a very popular exhibition. However fur, wheat and timber also could have been good choices too.

Jan (@total_janarchy): Elias Howe’s sewing machine (from 1845). American foods. Matthew Brady’s daguerreotypes (which actually was part of the US’s exhibit).

Valerie (@valderie): The Liberty Bell, a copy of the Declaration of Independence broadside, maybe something of George Washington’s… you know, stuff to really stick the American revolution to them!

Shannon (@QSassgard): If you were in charge of America’s booth at the Great Exhbition, what would you pick to showcase?  At the risk of bleeding over to my Steve Irwin soapbox? Pull a Russia and show off some of the minerals we have, the wildlife. We have so much That Eurasia doesn’t. People think North America is boring because we don’t have giraffe or elephants but there is so much. We have the only marsupial not found in Australia, a gigantic emerald deposit, old growth forests etc.

Nerdeek Life Victoria-3x08-07 The Victoria Roundtable Marvelled at "The White Elephant" Reviews Roundtables

4) Prince Bertie is quite the drama queen! Is he taking this whole being the heir thing too far?

Andee (@andeesings): He drives me insane. But also I think that he’s had so much pressure put on him by Albert about being the future king, wouldn’t you start taking it to heart and start taking it so seriously? They only remind him basically every episode that he’s the future king. And really there’s no getting around that, he IS. I think they do a nice job of showing that he really WASN’T as smart and capable as his older sister.

Katherine (@Lady_madchan): I figured he’s just being an 8 year old kid. Really he should have been watched more closely by his parents or even a nanny at this point…  And why were people treating his decision as a serious one?   Since when have heirs-to-the-throne made decisions like that at 8?  And since when have those decisions been respected by their parents?

Jan (@total_janarchy): I think as Crown Prince, he’s finally accepting his role. Unfortunately it’s been drilled into him from the moment he was born, so he’s got to embrace it. I did love that he had a crush on Heidi — foreshadowing of Bertie’s incredible fondness for women.

Valerie (@valderie): I don’t think so, because look at who his father is and how Albert has acted literally all season in regards to Bertie. Every tiny mistake on Berties part is the end of the world because He WiLl NeVeR bE a GoOd KiNg!!! Albert claimed all season that Victoria was dramatic but damn, birds of a feather.

Shannon (@QSassgard): The poor kid is in the throes is his first romantic attachment! Well, one-sided romantic attachment. I kept having flashbacks to Spencer Breslin playing Prince Jacques in “The Princess Diaries 2” when he danced with Mia at her party “If this were my party we’d be kissing by now.” Princess Alexandra has quite the shoes to fill when she comes around.

Nerdeek Life Victoria-3x08-09 The Victoria Roundtable Marvelled at "The White Elephant" Reviews Roundtables

5) On a scale of 1 to 10, how much did you cheer on Feodora’s BYE FELICIA moment?

Andee (@andeesings): It was an 8 for me. Watered down by the fact that Victoria told her she could stay with that cheesy sister line, giving her the power to turn her back on Vicky. It would’ve been awesome if Victoria had said something like, “Oh Albert found out you were a manipulative bitch finally, take your daughter and pack the hell up.” I’m surprised she didn’t try to stay to keep trying to push her. Also I love the actress that plays her, so.

Katherine (@Lady_madchan):  I didn’t.  Feodora doesn’t have my support. But it solidified my impression of her a jealous, bitter poser.

Jan (@total_janarchy): Again, I went to 11. She couldn’t leave fast enough. What an ungrateful, awful woman.  

Valerie (@valderie): I loved that Albert FINALLY came to his senses but was pissed that of course he couldn’t take Victoria at her word and had to personally experience Feodoras betrayal to believe her. I hated that even after all that, all the things she said about HER and her son, Victoria was still  kind to her. Let the door hit her on the way out and then some, please!!!

Shannon (@QSassgard): It’s about freaking time! Solid 13/10. Feo was mildly annoying in the beginning but she got so annoying so quickly. Can we keep Heidi next year and ditch Feo?

Nerdeek Life Victoria-3x08-10 The Victoria Roundtable Marvelled at "The White Elephant" Reviews Roundtables

6) THAT ENDING THOUGH, WHY DO YOU WANT TO HURT US DAISY GOODWIN??!!! What was your gut reaction?

Andee (@andeesings): Haha. I don’t. They have to set up his health problems now, don’t they? I wonder if he’ll die in season 4 that would be TERRIBLE. Then I’d hurt her. It has to last at least till season 5 for that!!!

Katherine (@Lady_madchan): Oh no Albert! .  Wait again, what year is it?

Jan (@total_janarchy): I was just gobsmacked, especially after the earlier scene where Bertie thought his father was dead. I immediately ran to check what year Albert actually passed away, and thankfully he has about another decade of story time. The Great Exhibition was in 1850, and spoiler alert: Albert died in 1861, but he was ill with stomach issues for several years prior, and then a scandal involving Bertie and an actress “friend” made him worse.

Valerie (@valderie): It didn’t come as much of a surprise when they kept pointing out how odd Albert was all episode, how cold he was constantly. My gut reaction was: don’t sit alone in a hallway saying “Albert!” Go and get some damn help, woman!

Shannon (@QSassgard): I was off to the bookshelf to double check the year Albert died! Had to double check how long Vicbert have left together. Spoiler alert they have a decade! Honestly, two cliffhangers in one week- especially the LAST week- is evil even by Daisy Goodwin standards. We can only hope the US gets the show

Nerdeek Life Victoria-3x08-02 The Victoria Roundtable Marvelled at "The White Elephant" Reviews Roundtables

Final Verdict: Season 3 Ended On A High Note

We know Albert still has about a decade before he passes away, but this was a perfect ending to keep fans wanting to know about what happens next. It is also a fitting end to a very turbulent season politically and emotionally. Our panel is relieved that Feodora has FINALLY been shown the door. Albert and Victoria have come to terms with their differences in outlook and leadership style.

The recreation of the Great Exhibition is the clear standout in this episode. The Crystal Palace set design recreation clearly had some assistance from special effects, but the blending of constructed and digital staging is seamless. Within the exhibit halls, the recreation of what each nation’s booth is incredibly detailed. The costumes of both the royals and the general public seal the deal on immersing the viewer in the event.

Once again, Louisa Bay and Laurie Shepherd steal several scenes with their humor and also vivid personalities. We especially appreciated Bertie’s adorable meltdown after Heidi’s rejection and Vicki’s side-eyeing of her cousin.

The panel is divided however on if this season is superior to or weaker than Season 2. Season 3 overall has a very different tone. Some on the Roundtable are missing the presence of characters established in earlier seasons, especially Skerrett and Francatelli. What the Roundtable can agree on is that the returning cast remain at the top of their game and the new additions this season rose to their level. Although many fans despised Feodora and some fans also did not like Lord Palmerston, it’s hard to imagine some of the best scenes in the season without Kate Fleetwood and Laurence Fox.

We have a lot of hopes for Season 4 of Victoria. Even before the cameras begin to roll, we hope the UK fans will ignore all of the Debbie Downers on social media and give Season 3 a fair chance. We’re looking ahead to learning more about the early and mid 1850s from the British perspective. Victoria and Albert we hope will have a slightly easier time in Season 4. We hope that sending away Feodora means David Oakes can reprise his role as Prince Ernst. He’s our favorite on the Coburg side of the family! We’re also looking forward to the new characters and historical cameos as well. Until then, we have plenty of Queen Victoria biographies and episode bingeing to keep our minds occupied.

Victoria Season 3 is avaliable on PBS Passport or Amazon Prime’s Masterpiece channel.
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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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