The Musketeers Episode 6: ‘The Exiles’ Review

Mother issues

The Musketeers

© BBC/Dusan Martincek

In my review of last weeks episode I complained about the lack of ensemble and female characters. Well this week’s episode well and truly fixes that. The abduction of a baby around the same time the king’s power-hungry mother arrives, despite her banishment on pain of death, is of course no coincidence. A simple job for Aramis and d’Artagnan turns into a battle to protect a mother and baby from being embroiled in a quest for the throne.

On order of the Cardinal and Captain Treville, Aramis and d’Artagnan are sent to collect Agnés, her baby and Father Duval (David Burke) and bring them to Paris. Their plan is thwarted when the baby is kidnapped by the armed guards of Marie De Medici – King Louis’ mother. The baby it turns out is a credible threat to Louis as King, as Agnés’ husband and her baby Henry’s father – Phillipe, is the hidden son of Marie De Medici (Tara Fitzgerald) and would have been the rightful king if his birth hadn’t been kept secret because of his deformity. Originally claiming to need protection from an assassin, it soon becomes clear her visit is purely to claim the throne in Henry’s name so she can rule in a way that she claims with keep the royal power supreme.

With all this unbeknown to Louis his reaction to the return of his mother is a mixture of anger and emotion after he had previously banished her for treason. He spends most of the episode crying and having temper tantrums and only serves to prove his mother’s opinion of him that, “he is a weak man and a bad king.” The Cardinal, of course, isn’t at all fooled by De Medici’s return, but enjoys playing the game as he pits his wits against her in what’s a very strong episode for Peter Capaldi. He also gets the best line of the episode when he points out to the king “decapitating ones mother is rarely popular with the people sire, it always looks a touch ungrateful.” Which is a little hypocritical considering he orders the murder of Father Duval and in all likelihood would have done the same to Agnés and her baby if it wasn’t for The Musketeers.

Aramis pledges to Agnés he will rescue her baby, as the story continues we see his vulnerabilities through Agnés story about the life and death of her beloved husband Phillipe; behind Aramis’s charm and smiles lies a lonely man who has not been in love since his teenage years. On Agnés departure he almost looked like he would be happy to leave his ‘family’ of Musketeers and go with her when she says: “I would ask you to come with us but you already have a family.” Santiago Cabrera played the wistful Musketeer with a quiet but powerful emotion.

Amy Nuttall should also receive credit for her portrayal of the grieving single mother who had the hardest job of making us care about what happens to her and the baby. Her wails when she thinks her son has been drowned and she has lost everything is heartbreaking … which made her reunion with baby Henry all the more satisfying.

A stronger episode that even gives Constance the chance to show off er fighting skills (which she seems to have learned rather quick), however, it was still disappointing that instead of being given her own story, yet again she’s just dragged in to help the Musketeers when they need a token women before being discarded in much the same way. Tara Fitzgerald fared better in that she was a strong female character but seemed very easily outwitted and believing of the death of her grandson. Would Vincent not have retrieved the body to prove it?

I did enjoy Tom Burke‘s dry sense of humour when delivering Athos’ line “no, no, lets keep it suicidal” and his philosophical “he’ll never be king but he’ll be happier than the man who is.” Which is an interesting line if you consider he’s also born into a family of nobility!