‘The Musketeers’ – Episode 2: ‘Sleight of Hand’ Review

A foolish Musketeer who takes his eye off the ball

The Musketeers

© BBC

Is d’Artagnan a fully fledged Musketeer or not?  That’s one of the questions posed this week as we are encouraged to look the other way as he becomes embroiled in notorious criminal Vadim’s plotting and gunpowder.

Imprisoned for illegal duelling and abandoned by his new friends The Musketeers, d’Artagnan is placed in a cell with Vadim.  Using his recent betrayal d’Artagnan tries to make himself an ally to Vadim and helps him create a riot to escape the prison, which also endangers Queen Anne on her visit to pardon some of the few lucky criminals.  Although Vadim appears to trust him he feeds him information about his plan for a peasant rebellion starting with his intention to kill the King and Queen.  However, his real ploy is to steal from them while everyone is guarding the targeted royals at the Easter ceremony.

Meanwhile Aramis has gained an admirer in Queen Anne after twice shielding her from danger.  Not surprising considering her husband doesn’t exactly exude confidence or romance.  King Louis’ belief that “Common sense is for commoners, not for kings, I will not have it said that the son of Henry IV is a coward” –  is humourous considering his pleading with the cardinal last week.  As much as I like Santiago Cabrera he’s starting to appear a little too smug as the lothario Aramis as opposed to his more gallant demeanor in Merlin.  Of course the Queen and Aramis would be treading very delicate ground should they pursue a relationship.  Will he actually fall in love with the Queen though?

The dialogue was a little off this week, too much exposition which could have been covered with a notice on the screen at the start telling us the date.  Instead Captain Treville informed us “tomorrow is Good Friday.”  D’Artagnan also fell foul of this later in the episode when he told the others “Vadim said the secret to a good trick is to make people look the wrong way” then proceeded to look totally thick by announcing he didn’t know what Vadim meant.  The action helped to make up for the dialogue with lots of use of muskets, swordplay and explosions, unfortunately the Cardinal was not so explosive this week only appearing to discuss the concern for the kings welfare and a few meetings with Milady to show he’s still plotting.  The Cardinal wants her to bring D’Artagnan over to the dark side which may prove interesting in coming weeks.  So far Milady has the upper hand over the Cardinal, but he isn’t daft – asking Milady if she found the necklace proved that.  She had better watch her back, it was obvious he knew she was lying and he does keep warning he’s not a person to make an enemy of.

The real star of this weeks episode was of course Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels actor Jason Flemyng who brought gravitas to his dangerous and conniving character to provide a simple good versus bad episode. Although the plot was highly predictable from the get-go, Flemyng played Vadim’s destructive personality with a hint of flair.

The Musketeers continues to provide a fun action romp but needs to trust its audience more to make their own deductions without having it spelled out. It’s still very early days and on the whole the series has started well with a few niggles – the bosom heaving female characters are inexplicably entwined in the plot via their relationships with the men.  They may not be damsels in distress but other than Milady they’re also not independent characters with their own stories.  Hopefully as the series progresses the background story arcs will become more developed and those little niggles will be ironed out.  I still thoroughly enjoyed it though.