The Musketeers: 307 “Fool’s Gold” Review
Reviewed by Lewis Hurst.
The Musketeers has so far had a fairly solid run for its third and final series, so as the show enters its final stretch you could be forgiven for being confused why it would opt to do another filler episode and put the main plot on hold. However “Fool’s Gold” did lead to a fairly entertaining side story that provided some much needed expansion on the story of Grimaud.
Perhaps this episode’s main failing was a distinct lack of aftermath from Feron’s death in the previous episode. Apart from a brief exchange near the start where Louis requested Feron receive a proper burial despite being a traitor, Feron’s death had no bearing on the episode which is disappointing to say the least. If the show is going to kill a major character it would be nice to see some aftermath of that. But I suppose there’s hardly enough time for all the characters as it is, so there’s not going to be time for everything.
The episode provided an interesting concept by introducing a community of women and children who have taken up arms to defend themselves from a world roamed by cruel men. You have to wonder if The Musketeers crew has been taking a lot of notes from recent popular movies and TV shows, since the concept is eerily similar to the Many Mothers from Mad Max: Fury Road. That concept however wasn’t explored well in the movie itself so it’s good to see it more fleshed out here. The basic idea is intriguing enough to carry more than one episode (and could potentially carry its own show) and raised a lot of interesting topics about how the world we live in, both now and throughout history, leaves women and children to suffer in a world run by men.
While the episode was not claiming “all men are evil”, it does point out how normal it was (and still now in some parts of the world) for women to just expect to be raped. When Athos tackled Theresa, her cold response of “Do what you want, I don’t care anymore” hammered home the episode’s message; note how Athos is horrified at what he just did and how his actions were interpreted. That said however, the plotline of the community fighting back against the all-male soldiers oppressing them was a little too on the nose with the feminist message. While a feminist message is always welcome, there’s often less aggressive ways of doing it. Add in the fact the plotline wasn’t particularly interesting and it all fell a little flat. And then it just gets awkward when you consider the women needed men (the Musketeers) to help them overcome their oppressors, which makes you wonder exactly what the episode was trying to say.
We also saw a look at the psychological damage of rape through Juliette, as we learn that she is the mother of Grimaud and tried to drown him as a child due to her psychological issues with him being a child of rape. It’s a horrifying idea and highlights how damaging rape can be to someone’s psyche. And it certainly shows how Grimaud became so evil, due to his damaging childhood. However I am a little disappointed with the show for using the stereotype of “children born from rape end up bad”. Even though it’s a touchy issue, it’s disheartening to see this idea continuing to flourish in media.
That said however, it was good to finally get Grimaud’s origins. The character has been an enigma for so long it was well past time for him to be fleshed out. And the show managed to do it without having Grimaud actually appear, despite a brief appearance in Athos’s fever visions. It was a very novel way to show a character’s backstory, hearing his story second hand allowed it to feel less prejudiced for and against him. When villains tell their own story it always paints them as the victim, so seeing it from someone else’s viewpoint before, most likely, hearing it from Grimaud’s in the future was a nice touch.
A nice addition was Porthos forming a close attachment with Eoldie. Porthos has always drawn the short straw when it comes to character development and storylines and it seems the writers are becoming desperate to fix this. Elodie was a geat addition to the guest cast, with Howard Charles and Lucy Loveless showing good on screen chemistry.
Speaking of guest cast, this episode featured some very talented guest stars. The aforementioned Lucy Loveless (The Fades) was excellent along with a great turn by Meera Syal (perhaps better known to Cult Fix readers for her guest roles on Broadchurch and Doctor Who) as Theresa, Grimaud’s adoptive mother and Harry Melling (better known as Harry Potter’s Dudley Dursley) making a return to screen acting after a successful few years on stage. Fiona O’Shaughnessy also gave a good turn as Grimaud’s mother Juliette. While it’s a shame we’ll likely not see a mother/son reunion on the show, giving Grimaud a mother added a lot more to his character especially since Aramis possesses that information.
It was also great to see Louis and Anne reconcile, in some way. The two have been at odds the entire series so for them to bury the hatchet at last was a long time coming. Even though Louis will never forgive Anne fully, he decided not to punish her further; deciding that simply living with her secret for the rest of her life was punishment enough. It was a great scene and was the highlight of the episode.
Overall, Fool’s Gold was an adequate entry in the series. It touched on some touchy topics with a great concept but was a little too on the nose with its feminist message making the plotline feel more like a tool for the message rather than it feeling a natural extension of the message as well as the episode itself contradicting it. Perhaps with a little more work this plotline could have been a great feminist instalment. The show missed a great opportunity to have Constance (who has been criminally underused this series) accompany the Musketeers and be the one who inspires the women to fight the attackers, providing a much stronger message. Some great scenes, guest actors and character development however did elevate proceedings providing the show’s probably last ever filler episode as we enter the final three episodes.