Synopsis of The Musketeers 2.06 “Through a Glass Darkly”: The King, Queen, Dauphin, assorted courtiers (including Milady de Winter) gather at an old palace that has been turned into an observatory by renowned astronomer Marmion. Little do they suspect that their fates are literally in Marmion’s hands as they begin to watch a solar eclipse with the aid of a camera obscura. In my review, I noted that “The Return” (2.05) was my favorite episode from either of the two seasons of The Musketeers. After about 15 minutes of watching “Through a Glass Darkly” (2.06), I thought it might become my second favorite episode based on how much I loved those opening 15 minutes. However, by the end of the episode I thought it was my new favorite episode. Yet, after a few days, I have reevaluated my reaction to the episode, and there are two plot holes in it that bother me enough (collectively) that caused me to lower it back to being my second favorite episode. Still, I can’t recall ever having consecutive episodes of any TV series coming in as my two favorites. While the acting on The Musketeers is always competent in that it does not draw attention to itself, it’s the writing on these two episodes that impressed me the most. They tie together thematically—and while their shared theme has a lot to do with my admiration, they’re not my favorites because of the theme. Instead, I love the way the writers and show runner handled the thematic material. For instance, the same basic theme was also used in “An Ordinary Man” (2.02); however, that was my least favorite episode of the entire series because of how it was handled. I could probably make a case for the other three episodes of the current season that have already aired also touching upon the same basic theme of the social obligations between the elite people and the common folk within a society. It’s a social theme I cover in the classes I teach, and it is often an undercurrent in my own nonfiction, fiction, and poetry. Thus, I would naturally be drawn to any show that also brings up the topic. However, even though it had the same theme, I didn’t care for “An Ordinary Man” because it focused on King Louis XIII—the one character in the series that I can’t bear to watch except in small amounts. Yet, I did note in my review of that episode a twist on the story that I could have embraced: Later, in the tavern when Louis is saying stupid shit, Porthos says to Athos, “We should show ’im what it’s really like to be poor in Paris.” Indeed, that might have been a very engaging episode that I would have thoroughly enjoyed. It turns out that showing Louis what it’s really like be common (though not in Paris) is part of what “Through a Glass Darkly” is about, as the astronomer Marmion uses the modus operandi of Batman villain Harvey Dent (a.k.a. Two-Face) in letting a flip of a coin decide the fates of the people he encounters. However, Marmion doesn’t have a two-headed coin with one side scarred; he just has a regular heads-and-tails coin. The tail side of the coin has three fleurs-de-lis; however, apropos to Marmion’s plan, the head side is a profile image of King Louis XIII—the man Marmion forces to call heads or tails when he flips the coin. You see, while Marmion is the one who flips the coin, it is Louis who chooses which side of the coin will determine the fates of the Queen, the Dauphin, his assorted courtiers, and even himself. The “fate” was primarily who would live and who would die—for, like Batman’s coin-flipping villain, Marmion is the head of a mass-murdering gang of thugs who allow the coin to decide their actions. Marmion’s scheme, which he constantly refers to as a game, has one main purpose—to teach Louis a valuable lesson about the effect decisions have on other people (particularly the common people, whose lives he does not fully consider before making his decisions). In this context, a statement Marmion makes near the beginning of the episode when he is about to reveal the sun through his camera obscura takes on a different meaning: “We must consider our own place in the universe. Do we control our fate, or are we merely the playthings of a power beyond understanding?” Rather than God, Marmion was also referring to the common people being the playthings of kings (or governments in general)—with the elite rulers of society being “a power beyond understanding.” In fact, one of my students had a similar reaction to a writing assignment I gave the class. I presented a social problem without an easy solution and then asked what a government (any government, not a particular one) should do to address the situation. The student was frustrated by my question and she tried to get me to clarify what part of the problem the government should address—but that was the point of my question. The problem is multi-faceted, so the question is only: “What should the government do to resolve the problem?” She grew more frustrated and confrontational, for as the ruler of the classroom I was suddenly a power beyond her understanding. In the end, she frustratedly wrote: The government will do what they want to do with this issue whether it is debated or not. The decision will be based on their precious money or their closely held beliefs. What I think should be done is irrelevant because I don’t have power. In “Through a Glass Darkly,” Marmion explains that a blockade was ordered around his village after an outbreak of the plague occurred there. To prevent the spread of the disease, no one was allowed in or out of the town—which, of course, is an appropriate quarantine procedure. However, Louis did not order for food to be delivered to the town, so the majority of the people starved to death—including Marmion’s wife and two sons. I was so caught up in the drama (not melodrama) of Marmion’s murderous scheme that hinged on coin flips and choosing between what’s behind door #1 and door #2 that I only saw one of the two obvious problems in the plot while I was watching the episode. The problem bothered me slightly (but not enough to ruin my enjoyment of the story): How did a man from a small rural village of only 100 people become the famous astronomer that Marmion is supposed to be? While that aspect of the story lacked verisimilitude, I was able to overlook it due to how greatly it was outweighed by my enjoyment of seeing Louis agonize over whether he made the right call in choosing between doors one and two, or between heads and tails. However, after the episode was over I focused on another plot problem, which led me to a series of questions: Why was it the King’s responsibility to order food to be delivered to the town? Isn’t there some sort of plan already in place about how to handle these quarantine situations involving the spread of the plague? Did the people in the other towns that underwent quarantine also end up starving to death because of a bureaucratic error? The answer to my last two questions may have been hinted at when Marmion indicated that the majority of his townspeople did not succumb to the plague. Perhaps the delivery of food supplies wasn’t an issue before Marmion’s town because the previous towns had higher fatality rates caused by the disease. In any event, despite the two plot holes, the drama inside the palace involving coin flips, binary choices, murder, and mayhem still made “Through a Glass Darkly” a great episode. Oh, and it also brought those two crazy kids D’Artagnan and Constance to the realization of how much they love each other and can’t stand to be apart. However, this sudden satori of their true feelings for each other in the face of the fate that rested in Marmion’s hands means that we probably won’t be seeing Lucie de Foix again—the daughter of the general the musketeers rescued in “Keep Your Friends Close” (episode 2.01), and a woman who openly kissed D’Artagnan in front of Constance. It’s too bad if Lucie is not to reappear, as she was a lovely blonde woman whose golden hair was a nice contrast to all the dark-haired beauties in this series. Instead of an interesting romantic triangle, I guess we’ll just have to make do with watching D’Artagnan and Constance kissing a lot. Oh, and in this closing picture of D’Artagnan and Constance as they are about to kiss, notice the rope burn on Constance’s left wrist (there is a similar burn mark on her right wrist, too, but it’s harder to see in this picture). I wonder if the rope burns were applied by make up for the sake of authenticity or if Tamla Kari actually suffered real rope burns during the scenes in which Marmion’s men tied up Constance. Either way, there is some verisimilitude for you! The Musketeers 2.06 “Through a Glass Darkly”0.0Overall ScoreReader Rating: (0 Votes)Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related One Response The Musketeers 2.07 “A Marriage of Inconvenience” - Psycho Drive-In March 8, 2015 […] the relationships and responsibilities between social classes—“The Return” (2.05) and “Through a Glass Darkly” (2.06)—The Musketeers returns to its primary fare of political intrigue (both state and personal). While […] Log in to Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.