The Musketeers Episode 8: ‘The Challenge’ Review

In love and war!

The Musketeers

Kisses all round in this week’s Musketeers… and you know what that means for their relationships? They will inevitably be pulled apart for dramatic effect.

Vinnie Jones guests stars as Lebarge – a fearless and violent regional Intendant, under arrest for the murder of two Musketeers who is the catalyst for a fight between The Musketeers and the Cardinal’s Red Guards. The King (Ryan Gage) decides it’s time to decide the strongest in a duel and as always provides some great comic relief in his and the Cardinal’s childish attempts to outdo each other.

D’Artagnan (Luca Pasqualino) is still waiting for a commission to become a fully fledged Musketeer and is determined to be chosen but doesn’t have the money to enter. Cue the two females of the cast both putting up the money. Unfortunately for Constance Milady got there first. Not to be left out when it comes to meddling in the lovebirds affair, the Cardinal hires Constance’s husband to spy on d’Artagnan and in doing so discovers the affair and orders Constance (Tamla Kari) to break her young lovers heart; to “give him up or he dies!” Tamla Kari and Luca Pasqualino‘s acting can’t help but make you feel for the torn couple, and show her husband’s delusion over his usefulness to the Cardinal.

The series is stepping up the pace and consequences nicely. Vinnie Jones provided a good foe but nothing we haven’t seen in any of his hard man roles before. Zoe Tapper however, proved better as the rich widow Alice Clerbeaux, who Porthos wanted to tap for money. The conclusion to their short dalliance turned out to be quite weak as Alice realises her naivety when it comes to what the life (and violence) of a soldier is all about – with the battle opening her eyes to the real Porthos.  It was an uncomfortable storyline, with Porthos using her vulnerabilities to obtain his competition entry money. It didn’t show Porthos or Aramis in a very good light and tarnished the Musketeers so called ‘honour’ from the beginning. It would have been more satisfying for her to realise the original reason for Porthos’ interest.

Milady is still playing a dangerous game toying with the Cardinal, d’Artagnan and Athos – unwittingly against each other. The kiss with Athos does indicate there’s still feelings between the waring couple. Maimie McCoy and Tom Burke portray the simmering lust for each other tangled with a great chasm between them perfectly. I’m fully expecting the finale to be a dramatic choice of choosing her loyalty between Athos and the Cardinal. Seen as we know Peter Capaldi is not returning for the second series the outcome seems pretty obvious.

D’Artagnan got to do his Princess Bride moment again which was great, I do love little in jokes like that. His relationship with Athos continues to blossom as Athos mentors his protégé revealing d’Artagnan is more like him than he knows. I’m sure Milady will vouch for that when Athos finally finds out their ‘connection.’ And I for one (not one for all) can’t wait to see the explosive final episodes.