The Musketeers are back for their final hurrah and it’s been four years since we left them at the end of series two. Our brave heroes find themselves on the front line against the pesky Spanish and much has changed since we were last with them.
Spoilers for series 3 of the Musketeers contained below.
It is hard to know what the BBC expects from its tea time shows; however it seems to be the case that they want to please everyone. Sadly the truth is that it is incredibly difficult to make a show which delivers for all demographics, so you should try to pick one and hope that others may watch anyway. The Musketeers this season tried to be everyone’s friend, yet it sort of fell into a nothingness.
Series 3 of the Musketeers was much darker than the previous two series; there was a lot more killing and deaths to main characters than previous series. The problem is that at times it became comical, when a bunch of people would be stabbed but their blades couldn’t look any cleaner, or there would be a big fight only for all the bad guys to be alive and well at the end. To me it seems too graphic for kids, but too silly for adults.
The Musketeers has a tendency of following a very formulaic episode pattern, there’s a problem of some kind, the Musketeers swan in, get to know the people and their plight, a twist, some sort of standoff where the odds look stacked against them and then the Musketeers bravely defeat those insurmountable odds and save the day, rinse and repeat.
Due to this writing style you quite often get clumsy writing or writing which is too much on the nose. A great example of this was the episode about the refugees, I understand that you may have personal opinions on the situation in regards to refugees and it is currently a hot topic, but to make such a blatant show of it takes you out of the moment of the show, especially when it is done as heavy handed as it was in the Musketeers.
One of the best things about the Musketeers is that it has a strong cast which has great chemistry with each other. The Musketeers themselves are on top form once again. I felt that there was less humour in this series, which in particular hurt Porthos and Aramis, but I applaud the writers for trying to do something a bit different. You then have Treville in his new role is politician and confidant of the King.
One of the weirdest additions to the show was Sylvie, who was introduced as a strong republican, only for her to finish the series having helped maintain the monarchy and shacking up with a noble. Constance on the other hand was barely in this series, almost to the extent that having more than one woman on the show would be crazy.
The conclusion to the series was almost fantastic, however it ultimately fell flat. I get the feeling that budget constraints stopped the whole thing from being more grandiose. The set up was excellent, you had the army of Lorraine outside Paris, the King finally dying from his TB, Treville trying to find a diplomatic situation and Treville then showing why he was chosen above Anne as regent by reaching a peaceful solution, only for Grimaud to fuck it all up. I loved the killing of Treville; it fit the character perfectly, laying his life on the line to save the King of France, the greatest sacrifice. It also gave Grimaud a sense of danger that any character could potentially have died. This carried onto the start of the next episode where the pub that the Musketeers are in is blown up and the garrison is set on fire. Sadly it was downhill from there as the writers fell back into the classic Musketeers tropes.
Luckily for the show, they knew that the series was getting cancelled and they were able to write the final scenes accordingly. Everyone got a happy ending! Yay… Porthos was made the head general of the army, which is great and in line with the character, only to then end up in a relationship with that woman from a few episodes prior, who magically appeared in Paris all of a sudden. Aramis was given Treville’s old diplomatic role, allowing him to be close to his son and Anne, which was fair enough but a bit clumsy of Anne to choose someone who was heavily rumoured to be her ex-lover, especially when she was in a situation of uncertainty. D’Artagnan became the new Captain of the Musketeers and he and Constance lived happily ever after! The weirdest ending however was Athos, who gave everything up to go live a simple life with a pregnant Sylvie, which was a really odd ending to his character thread. I’m not a fan of every single character getting a happy ending because I think it cheapens the finish and makes it unrealistic, if everyone gets a happy ending then nobody gets a happy ending.
Every series a new villain is introduced, this time however they mixed it up a touch by introducing four new antagonists. We had Grimaud the traditional bad guy who is bad for the sake of being bad, then there was Feron who was more interesting in the sense that he had split loyalties, Gaston the King’s pompous younger brother and last and certainly least Marcheaux the head of the Red Guard.
Four new antagonists, yet only one had a well fleshed out character, which is really quite poor. Only Feron’s reasons for doing what he did were ever really explained at all, he was also the only one who was conflicted of the four main antagonists. Feron was a bastard and resented the manner in which he had been flung to the side, he was a drug addict and the combination of two led him to team up with Grimaud. On several different occasions Feron found himself conflicted, he wasn’t one dimensional as the other three were.
I liked how Marcheaux so often was made to look like a threat, it was cute. You can’t make someone look like a buffoon the entire series and then make people think that he is a capable threat at the end. Marcheaux lacked intelligence and sword skills, really a weak character who added little to nothing to the show.
Gaston was never actually a threat, he was used solely as some rich kid who may be scheming behind the backs of everyone, but due to it being clear that he had no ability to amount to anything, it was all pretty pointless. The manner in which they killed him was also frustrating, and I struggle to understand what the point of bring Milady de Winter back into the show only to use her so sparingly. Ultimately the Musketeers is a fictional story, but it is a fictional story which runs alongside actual history, and the real Gaston doesn’t die for a number of years after the events of this series.
Grimaud could have been an excellent primary antagonist; however he ended up turning into a bad guy for the sake of being bad. For a man who has gathered so much wealth and is apparently a savvy dealer, he sure made a lot of silly mistakes. He goes from being very elusive, to being super sloppy in a very short amount of time. Grimaud made so many basic errors it was laughable at times, I mean doesn’t he know that you don’t leave a bunch of no name guards to execute two of the main characters? I didn’t mind the whole kill Sylvie in front of Athos thing so as to punish him further, however why the hell would he not execute Porthos and Aramis himself? Grimaud was a generic bad guy 101, which is a shame because he could have been so much more.
The Musketeers as a series has always suffered from the issues which it had this season; it has never been an above average show and is generally overly safe. In many ways the ending of the series coinciding with the ending of King Louis the XIII’s life is pretty perfect and the show would have been much weaker without him. This season suffered from its weakest antagonist to date, despite them making the stakes higher than ever. The cast is great, the acting can be iffy from the episodic characters and the writing often leaves a lot to be desired. I’m not really sad to see it go, it’s a show which had potential but could never really reach that due to the constraints of its timeslot.
So what did you think of the Musketeers series 3? Do you think that Aramis has a lovely moustache? Are you wondering where you get one of those Louis wigs? Or are you just wondering how many times can Grimaud can be shot and stabbed before he would actually die? Well leave a comment and share those thoughts.