TV REVIEW: The Musketeers, S1, Ep 3: Commodities

The Musketeers has been enjoyable to watch thus far with plenty of romantic entanglements, swashbuckling and quippy one-liners. However, it’s been fairly lighthearted until now, with a turn towards the more serious aspects of the story. The episode seems to center around the shallow and duplicitous Emile Bonnaire (played by Battlestar Galactica‘s James Callis) but the true focus is on the backstory of Athos and some of Porthos’ past as well. It’s a welcome change in tone and delving deeper into these characters gleans interesting information for the future.

As soon as Bonnaire docks at the port of Le Havre, he’s being pursued by a number of different parties – Spanish spies, upset business partners and most importantly, his fiery wife/lookout Maria. However, it’s the Musketeers to the rescue to transport him to Paris to face King Louis’ wrath. On their way, the quintet are attacked with Porthos taking an axe to the back. Badly injured and in need of immediate help, Athos tries to push the group to keep going but Aramis (who’s the group doctor while on the road) and D’Artagnan, confused by his reluctance, insist that he will only get worse without medical attention.

They break through his frosty exterior and Athos takes everyone to a nearby village and to a Chateau – one that he reveals used to belong to him as Comte de la Fère, a minor member of French nobility. We learn through his memories that he was once married to Milady de Winter, who is now employed by the wicked Cardinal Richelieu. But we don’t know why they’re connected until it is revealed that Milady de Winter killed Athos’ younger brother. In turn, he ordered her hanging and the guilt and grief consumed him. What’s also ends up consuming his house is a fire – one set by his not-so-dead wife. With the others soldiering on to Paris, D’Artagnan saves him from burning but not from the turmoil running through his mind at this latest revelation.

The other part of the story focuses on Bonnaire and Porthos; we learn that his mother was a slave and he was left to fend for himself from age 5. Small comments made by Emile about Africa and Porthos’ heritage hint at what his real business is in France – he’s a slave trader. When the largest musketeer finds this out, it rightly sends him into a rage, one that makes him seethe even more so when we’re told that in 17th century France, slavery is evil and cruel but not illegal. The writers dip into the topic but shy away from discussing it much further. Bonnaire’s wife uses her wiles to help her husband escape but is quickly shot dead by a Spanish spy.

Determined to get Bonnaire to Paris to be punished by the King, they continue on and deliver the wretched man to the Cardinal. But instead of being punished, he is rewarded with funds to settle tobacco plantations in the Carribean to be worked by, you guessed it, slaves. Not quiet the ending anyone had in mind for this guy but not to worry – the more humorous tone of this show returns. The group exact their own justice by leading Bonnaire to a Spanish ship – where he will live out his life in prison instead of being fat and rich in the islands.

The shift of focus onto Athos and especially Howard Charles’ Porthos is great as they were starting to feel left behind next to D’Artagnan and Aramis. I’m looking forward to learning even more about them and from what we’ve seen of the ladies, they’re either evil, liars or cheaters. Let’s hope that they get fleshed out in something other than tight corsets (or lack thereof) soon.

Rating: 4/5

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One comment

  1. Amaechi /

    Loving this show and really like where this episode went with Porthos especially with the Alexander Dumas and his father’s link.

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