Synopsis of The Musketeers 2.04 “Emilie” from my cable TV provider: The Musketeers investigate Emilie of Duras, a woman who claims to have visions from God that instruct her to lead her thousands of followers into war with Spain. After the first season of BBC’s The Musketeers, Peter Capaldi (who played Cardinal Richelieu) departed the series; subsequently, there have been greater departures from Alexandre Dumas’s novel than the show made during the first season. However, much of Dumas’s The Three Musketeers was covered in the first season. Thus, even if Capaldi had chosen to stay with the series, the current season’s plot would still be a significant departure from the source material unless the series was to take a two-decade jump and begin adapting Dumas’s sequel novel Twenty Years After. For instance, Constance Bonacieux is murdered by Milady de Winter near the end of the novel, and Milady is then tried and executed by the musketeers before she can reach Cardinal Richelieu for protection. However, Constance and Milady survived the first season of the series—no doubt in part due to the necessity of television needing to be populated by attractive young men and women who can become enmeshed in romantic entanglements and sexual innuendos (unless, of course, the series airs on a premium channel such as HBO or Showtime where the attractive characters can engage in actual simulated sex). With our four protagonists, The Musketeers is not lacking in attractive male characters that might help bring in a hetero-female audience, but killing off two of the three attractive female characters simply because those characters died in the novel could have disappointed the hetero-male audience who had developed an attraction to those characters. For instance, I was disappointed when another of my favorite TV series, Hell on Wheels, killed off Dominique McElligott’s character Lily Bell at the end of the second season. They never adequately replaced her with another sexually captivating character. Similarly, I would have been disappointed if Tamla Kari had left The Musketeers due to the death of Constance. Thus, with the departure of Capaldi, the series has had to depart significantly from the source material by Dumas by bringing in Comte de Rochefort as the major villain for the second season (the character was one of the Cardinal’s agents and a minor villain in the novel, and he didn’t appear in the first season at all). What concerns me about the series is not the departure from the source material but its departure from actual history. In my review of “The Good Traitor” (ep. 2.03), I half-facetiously and half-earnestly stated that we could account for the historical inaccuracies in The Musketeers by considering the series as taking place in a parallel universe. I love parallel universe stories; always have; always will. However, chalking up inadequate historical research by writers to “parallel universe” is not a concession I want to continue to make. Thus, after I finished viewing “Emilie” I was concerned that the resolution of the plot might not be historically accurate—but it turns out the episode might be historically accurate (just barely). Yet, I doubt the accuracy was intentional; it seems more likely the writers were barely historically accurate by accident. “Emilie” captivated me immediately because the eponymous character is essentially a Joan of Arc analogue—and The Maid of Orléans is even mentioned in the episode when Emilie says, “I am not Joan; I lack the courage to face the flames as she did.” Yet, Emilie is a Joan of Arc analogue nonetheless. Like Joan, Emilie has visions that she attributes to communications from God. In this case, Emilie’s visions have shown her that King Philip IV of Spain is the Anti-Christ, and that she must rally an army from amongst the French peasantry that she will lead into Spain to overthrow the devil for France’s King Louis XIII. Upon hearing of her, each of our protagonists has his own reaction to Emilie. D’Artagnan exclaims, “She’s mad”—to which Athos adds, “and dangerous” while Porthos remains mysteriously silent. However, Aramis’s response is the most curious. He’s willing to accept that Emilie might be a modern-day Joan of Arc (“modern” for Aramis in approximately 1631 because Joan of Arc died 200 years earlier in 1431). It makes sense that Aramis would be the musketeer who is most willing to accept the possibility of the validity of Emilie’s visions because Dumas based Aramis on the real-life musketeer Henri d’Aramitz (aka Aramitz). The grandfather of the historical Aramitz was an abbé (a minor Catholic clergyman in France). Additionally, Aramitz’s father was a musketeer officer who then took over the abbacy after the grandfather’s death—and Aramitz then assumed the role of abbé after his father’s death. Thus, with the historical Aramitz coming from a line of clergymen (and musketeers), it would make sense for the fictional Aramis to accept Emilie and her visions as valid religious phenomena—so Aramis plays the role of a deserter from the ranks of the musketeers to become one of Emilie’s followers. In an attempt to not spoil the conclusion too much, I’ll only say Emilie’s visions are explained away scientifically by the end of the story—which is how they should be explained as far as I’m concerned (since I have no belief in the supernatural). Yet, the scientific explanation concerned me because I wasn’t certain that such an explanation could have occurred in 1631—the approximate year in which this television series is set. Thus, I researched the issue a bit by checking my Oxford English Dictionary to see when certain words had entered the lexicon with their contemporary meanings, and I found that the two words I looked up in the OED entered publication history in the early 1600s—making them just barely historically accurate for a story set in 1631. Furthermore, because the historical Aramitz came from an aristocratic family and a line of clergymen, I accepted that fictional Aramis would have knowledge of these words and their scientific significance. The only historical error I found was with the specific catalyst of Emilie’s visions because the first reference in medical literature to that agent having those properties occurred in 1799 in the London Medical and Physical Journal. However, shamans had been using that item for thousands of years due to its “magical” properties—so I suppose I can let that one slide. Nevertheless, because that particular “magical” item had been used by shamans for thousands of years, I would have liked for the peasants Emily led to use the term witch in reference to another of the characters in the story, as witch trials were still a part of European history in the early 1600s. In the end, “Emilie” is an excellent episode that probably incorporated more of a 21st-century attitude towards religious experience than it should have. Aramis’s interest in the possible validity of Emilie’s visions as religious communications was easily outweighed by such statements as “Faith has little to do with reason” (which would not become an acceptable view of faith among the gentry for another 100 years or so—during the middle years of the Age of Enlightenment). In the end, my concerns over the historical accuracy of the story were mostly unfounded—though I doubt the writers know how close they came to being historically inaccurate. Instead, my only real gripe with the episode is the action Queen Anne took when she decided to confront Emilie directly. Emilie desired to have an audience with King Louis—a meeting that Anne urged her husband to allow. When Louis refused, Anne took it upon herself to meet with Emilie. However, rather than having the peasant prophetess brought to the palace, Anne chooses to travel to the camp where Emilie is surrounded by hundreds of her followers. Additionally, Anne does not take any armed soldiers or musketeers along for protection—because she doesn’t want to cause a violent confrontation—so Anne’s only companion on her journey into a potentially hostile camp is . . . Constance Bonacieux! Yes, the two women walk from the palace grounds unaccompanied and dressed in rather elegant rustic gowns instead of tattered peasant clothes. As they prepare to enter the camp, Anne asks Constance, “How do I look?” “Beautiful,” Constance answers. To which Anne remarks, “That’s not what I meant.” Really? Then what did you mean, Anne? Did you mean, “Do I look like I can pass for a peasant woman who has come to join Emilie’s cause?” Because if that’s what you meant, you really need to hire a consultant to help you pick out your peasant clothes. I mean, even your idiot husband knew enough to order one of his foot soldiers to undress so he could take the man’s clothes when Louis decided to go slumming in “An Ordinary Man” (ep. 2.02)—and you are far more intelligent than he is. Perhaps Anne isn’t any more intelligent than her idiot husband after all. Consider this scenario; Emilie believes God is showing her that Anne’s brother, the King of Spain, is the Anti-Christ—so Anne doesn’t anticipate trouble when she enters Emilie’s camp as “the Sister of the Anti-Christ”? Of course, the real reason for us to have Anne captured by Emilie’s followers is so that she can be “rescued” by Aramis and have the longed-for kiss between the star-crossed paramours that they have been needing since the first season episode in which they conceived the Dauphin in a night of passion. Finally, I was glad to see this episode do something further with Rochefort’s fetish for having a prostitute who somewhat resembles Anne dress up as the queen (complete with one of Anne’s actual crowns, as we learn in this episode). The previous episode’s kinkiness of Rochefort having sex with his Anne analogue plays a significant part in one of the subplots in this episode, and I welcome those seemingly isolated character bits linking up in meaningful ways. Final finally—as stipulated by Psycho Drive-In’s managing editor, Paul “Awesome Beard” McCoy—here is my review of the episode’s facial hair: There is no shortage of facial hair in BBC’s The Musketeers. The series correctly depicts a variety of beards and mustaches worn by men in the early 17th Century—with all four of our eponymous protagonists sporting a variation of a Van Dyke in this episode. D’Artagnan‘s beard and mustache are still not up to standards, but he is the youngest of the group and seems to have difficulty in filling out his facial hair. Yet, he seems to realize the importance of having hair on his face. In previous episodes he’s been relatively free of facial hair save for a thin and wispy ’stache and soul patch, but he’s now working on a Van Dyke and it’s . . . coming along. Of course, as the womanizing lady’s man of the series, Aramis needs to have the most nattily trimmed face. His Continental is in need of some trimming along the jaw line, but it’s very sharp overall. On the other hand, both Athos and Porthos need to visit the regiment’s barber, as their Van Dykes are on the verge of becoming full beards—with Athos looking the shaggiest. The Musketeers 2.04 “Emilie”4.7Overall ScoreReader Rating: (2 Votes)Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.