If you were to watch this episode of The Musketeers on iPlayer, you’d be warned beforehand that it’s only for over 16s, due to its disturbing imagery. And they mean it, with this episode’s plot seemingly ripped from a horror movie, featuring a psychopath’s deadly coin tossing game and more deaths than a trap in Saw.
The episode started innocently enough, with Louis playing with the Dauphin, embarrassing Anne and educating the court, all with one demonstration of the upcoming eclipse. Then Rochefort invited the court to view the eclipse at a local observatory, which turned out to be the worst plan ever as their host started killing people left, right and centre, forcing the king to choose who to kill and playing games with the lives of the courtiers.
The dangerous games meant that characters were thrust into new combinations. One way of telling if you’ve got strong characters is if they can work in different situations, interacting with different characters in different ways that still feel true. So, here we had Rochefort and Porthos bonding in a cell, Athos gaining a new respect for Milady, and Constance and d’Artagnan being forced into action over their feelings for each other.
Milady got another chance to shine in this episode, taking the initiative to gamble for her escape, bringing the rescue, dictating tactics and fighting to save the royal family. Maimie McCoy is still absolutely amazing in the role, showing off the character’s ruthlessness as she tries to maintain her influence at court. The show might be called The Musketeers, but right now, the more interesting and nuanced characters are the ones in the margins, like Milady and Rochefort, the ones whose lives are actually in danger each week (if it happened to Peter Capaldi, it could happen to anyone).