The Musketeers: 308 “Prisoners of War” Review
Reviewed by Lewis Hurst.
After eight episodes of waiting, fan favourite character Milady de Winter has returned to The Musketeers. Maimie McCoy’s presence has been greatly missed on the show (due to her real life pregnancy), so seeing her name added back to the opening titles was an excellent surprise upon viewing this episode.
You can be forgiven for thinking this episode would be all about Milady’s return, but it actually turned out to be a rather small part of the episode. This was a clever move. It allowed the main plot to advance while Milady developed in the background. It makes sense that, in the universe of the show that with all that’s going on the return of Milady wouldn’t be a big deal. The episode seemed focused on wrapping up Milady’s lingering plotlines; what with Athos officially “dumping” her and Milady settling for becoming a hired assassin for the crown.
Seeing Milady and Sylvie finally meet was also great to see, with the scene almost feeling like Milady was judging Sylvie. She didn’t mean harm, but apparently simply wanted to evaluate if Sylvie was “good enough” for Athos which was a surprisingly mature attitude. However this doesn’t mean she didn’t take pleasure in watching Sylvie receive her public “punishment”. And upon seeing that Athos cares deeply for Sylvie, perhaps more deeply than he ever cared for her, it solidified her decision to accept Treville’s offer. It contributed greatly to Milady’s complex character and solidified why she’s one of my favourite characters on the show. Even though Milady’s arc seems to be wrapped up, I do hope we get to see her again before the show concludes.
Of course this was bolstered by a wonderfully sublime performance from McCoy, who once again shows herself to be the best actress on the show, who can more than comfortably hold her own against the rest of the cast.
The rest of the episode meanwhile dealt with three other plotlines; a hostage situation with Aramis, d’Artagnan pondering what to do with his cousin and Anne attempting to improve her reputation among the people of Paris. These subplots worked well within the episode, but it’s hard to see what long term effect they will have over the next two episodes. Especially since at the episode’s end nothing has really changed apart from Anne’s reputation being shaky, but it already was before this episode. With the show being on its final three episodes, I was expecting less filler and more consequences. So to see Grimaud acting like a pantomime villain and all but doing a “Curses! Foiled again!” routine was very disappointing. Not to say the show has to always have a consequence heavy plot, it’s just a shame to see the show put the entire plot on hold again when there isn’t really enough time left to doing so.
So yes, the Grimaud having Aramis hostage subplot was a little disappointing. The same could be said for d’Artagnan and his cousin. The simple fact is, it didn’t feel like it contributed anything to his character. It was a pretty much pointless waste of screen time. It did nothing to develop d’Artagnan and did nothing to further the plot in any way. The entire subplot felt like an afterthought.
As for the Anne subplot, the scenes themselves were good, but again there was no consequences. It didn’t feel like there was an actual effect on events. This episode was an excellent opportunity to bring some much needed advancement to Anne’s storyline, but sadly this opportunity was wasted in favour of a filler storyline with no effect on the plot.
Perhaps it’s because the show is nearing its end, but in my opinion having filler episodes this late in the game is troublesome at the least. If the show’s finale ends up rushed, it will be disappointing that the show chose to waste valuable screen time on impact less in the final three episodes.
However that said, the episode had its strong parts. The Milady and Sylvie sequences were particular highlights. The action was fairly well directed and entertaining. And to say the various subplots (bar Milady’s) were disappointing for their lack of consequences, they were still pretty entertaining, contributing to a decent, but not exceptional, episode.
I also couldn’t help but notice the mention that Milady had married (and apparently murdered) a British Duke. I wonder if we know what became of the Duke of Buckingham in this iteration.
Overall this episode had some great ideas, but sadly no major consequences made this a would be forgettable filer episode if it wasn’t for Milady’s return. Every scene involving Milady was excellent. So perhaps it was the exceptional high quality of those scenes that dragged the others down in comparison? Regardless, this was an enjoyable instalment if not one of Series 3’s best. An extra point for the high quality Milady scenes.