Entertainment Weekly: ‘The Musketeers’ premiere recap: Secrets, swords and a lot of swagger

Interviewer: Entertainment Weekly
Date: June 22nd 2014

This isn’t the same Three Musketeers story that you know. Yes, there is sword fighting, defending the King, and loyalty between comrades. Just be prepared for more sass and style. Feel free to grab the similarly named candy bar as you settle in for an hour of action-adventure costume drama at its finest.

The show opens on a rainy day in France during 1630 as two men arrive at an inn on horseback. The younger one heads to the stables to tend to the horses, while the older goes inside to secure lodging. We learn that the younger of the men is D’Artagnan (Luke Pasqualino) and he and his father are on their way to Paris to petition the king regarding taxes; however before his father can start checking into a room, more guests appear armed with guns. One masked man claiming to be the Musketeer Athos demands everyone’s money and jewelry before fatally shooting D’Artagnan’s father. The last word he can tell his son is the name of his murderer.

Shifting now to Paris, the viewer is now introduced to each of the Musketeers. We start off with (the real?) Athos (Tom Burke), who appears to have fallen asleep with his best friend, a bottle of liquor. For Athos, the best part of waking up is drinking more and then dunking your head in a bucket of ice water. Then he shows us all the things you need to be a true Musketeer: A tilted hat used for style and effectiveness? Check. A sword complete with swashbuckling moves? Check.  A walk with confident swagger? Check.

We follow Athos into a pub where two men are playing a card game. One of them is a red guard, a solider who serves the cardinal, and the other is the Musketeer Porthos (Howard Charles). The guard accuses Porthos of cheating and attempts to start a duel. Initially Porthos is empty-handed until he finds a fork. The two battle it out with Porthos actually overpowering the guard using only that utensil until Athos grows tired of watching and ends things early by knocking out the guard. He also finds out that Porthos actually had been cheating.

Finally, we’re introduced to Aramis (Santiago Cabrera), who is giving a lady a personal tour of his battle scars. Before they can continue on the journey, they have to part because Aramis is not supposed to be there. The only way for him to leave is jumping out of the window. He manages to toss most of his weapons, except his pistol which is kicked under the bed, and narrowly escapes being found. The woman turns out to be the mistress of Cardinal Richelieu (Peter Capaldi) who serves the King and hates the Musketeers.

The trio is summoned by Captain Treville (Hugo Speer), the commander of the Musketeers, to look into the disappearance of a group of Musketeers who had been on a confidential mission for the King.

Meanwhile, D’Artagnan is on a mission of his own, to track his father’s killer and avenge him. He finds himself in another lodging house where among the questions the innkeeper asks him is whether he has lice or crabs. The house is clean, she tells him while calmly killing a roach. Dinner, clean water, and soap are all extra but the use of the communal towel is free! He’s soon taken in by a mysterious lady dressed in red who arrives with a Spanish gentleman and is lured into his bedroom. She reveals that she has marks on her neck from a man who tried to hurt her in her past, so D’Artagnan nobly promises to uphold her honor with revenge (as if he doesn’t already have enough on his plate).

When he wakes up the next morning, he’s alone in bed but the pillow next to him is bloodstained and stabbed with a knife. There’s a commotion outside and D’Artagnan walks out with the knife in hand only to see that the man the lady had come in with the night before has been stabbed to death. Looks like you’ve been framed, buddy.

He jumps out the window and runs from the accusing crowd. To hide he grabs a young woman and kisses her. Constance Bonacieux (Tamla Kari) is not amused and starts to put up a good fight of her own but then D’Artagnan collapses from his injuries. He awakens in Constance’s house where it’s revealed that she’s married.

Back in Paris, King Louis XIII (Ryan Gage) is trying to enjoy a little shooting practice, but Richelieu ruins his plans by informing him that there are reports that the Musketeers are stealing and killing. Treville denies this saying that there are no Musketeers missing or unaccounted for. The tension between the two men is obvious and the King appears to be just a pawn between them. Richelieu is angry that despite the fact that he counsels the King on everything, the Musketeers are beyond his control.

In the meantime, the man calling himself Athos strikes again killing a wealthy couple and tells their driver that Athos has spared his life.

D’Artagnan finally reaches the garrison of the Musketeers and finds the trio. He calls out Athos and challenges him to a duel. (“Hello. My Name is D’Artagnan. You killed my father. Prepare to die!”) Athos is all who the heck is this kid and WTF is going on? D’Artagnan attacks while Athos calmly defends with Porthos and Aramis comically commentating. They eventually join in because D’Artagnan cannot be stopped and is determined to take on all three to avenge his father’s death. The fun is halted however when Treville arrives to say that Athos has been arrested for robbery and murder.

The quick trial in front of the King and Queen consists of Richelieu reading out the list of charges against Athos and providing witnesses such as the innkeeper and driver who say that Athos was the man they saw. The King orders Athos to be executed to the delight of Richelieu.

Porthos and Aramis manage to convince D’Artagnan to come with them to find the false Musketeers. It happens so fast that even Constance can’t believe how quick they turn him around. (“This morning you tried to kill him and now you’re best friends?”) D’Artagnan brings them back to the first inn where they uncover the body of the man he shot. It turns out that while there are two bullet holes on the coat, there’s only one on the body, leading them to believe this coat belong to the missing Musketeer.

In jail, a priest comes asking Athos to confess, but the only confession he has is that the woman he loved died. A brief memory of a blue flower and a woman in a blue dress follows.

Meanwhile, Richelieu is approached by a visitor, the mysterious women who had been with D’Artagnan, known just as Milady (Maimie McCoy). He asks for her help to discredit the Musketeers, though he hadn’t wanted the murder of her companion. She hands him the missing letters from the King, and he asks her to find out who the owner of the pistol is.

This fight scene showcases each of the three’s fighting styles. D’Artagnan is very emotional in his fighting. Porthos uses more of his fists with punches and kicks. Aramis is very showy in his swordplay using his cape and swashbuckling with style.

D’Artagnan find the captain and begins his “avenging father’s death” duel part two. He finally manages to hold him down, but Aramis tells him not to kill him as they need to bring him in for questioning. Just as D’Artagnan turns his back to walk away, the captain lunges at him with a knife but is killed immediately by D’Artagnan’s quick reflexes. They find the stolen uniforms and with the confessions, this is all the proof they will need.

And quickly they need to bring that proof, because Athos is being led to a firing squad with Milady watching from a window. He shouts for his death to come quickly, but then the Musketeers arrive with his release signed by the king. There’s great rejoicing and a nod of understanding is shared between him and D’Artagnan.

The scene then shifts to Richelieu, who is out for a ride with his mistress in the snowy woods. He shows her the pistol and says that she has deceived him. She yells out that she loves Aramis before being shot. Richelieu then goes to the jail cell where guard who confessed is being held. The guard says that it’s a good thing he didn’t tell them the truth, that Richelieu was the one that really was in charge of all this. Richelieu offers him a drink to toast his loyalty which ends up being poisoned.

The episode ends with Milady entering a confessional booth to speak with a priest about how even with her past there was a man she loved and asks why God abandoned her. The priest tells her she is an abomination, which puts her in a rage and she ends up choking him. It turns out the man she was talking about was Athosm and she’s the woman in the blue dress from his memory.

Wow! There was so much happening in that first episode! This is a great introduction to everyone and to the show itself. I really enjoyed all the subtle humor in the writing. The chemistry between the three Musketeers is nicely played and bringing in D’Artagnan into the mix should be interesting. There’s also obvious chemistry between him and Constance (even though she’s married) and also what’s going to happen between him and Milady? Plus what about the revelation at the end of her and Athos?

Also of note, unless they were fans of The Thick of It, this is probably the first introduction many American viewers will have to Peter Capaldi’s acting prior to the new season of Doctor Who. He’s playing such a smarmy bad guy here that it’ll be a major switch when he takes over as the Doctor later this summer.

I did notice that no one actually speaks with a French accent, but otherwise the show looks like it’s going to be a lot of fun and adventure. It’ll be great to see more interaction between the four main guys as well as how they’re going to handle Richelieu trying to take them down. Prepare for a swashbuckling summer!

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