The Musketeers: 306 “Death of a Hero” Review
Reviewed by Lewis Hurst.
Well… that was certainly an eventful episode. I believe the internet term is a “Wham” episode. It’s good to know that even this late in the game The Musketeers can still keep audiences on their toes by pulling several shocking swerves in a thrilling piece of television.
I am of course talking about the death of Governor Feron. When Rupert Everett was confirmed to play the villain in Series Three; many, including myself, expected Feron to survive until the final episode. The show had other ideas. Feron’s death was shocking and an unexpected development. With the episode’s title being Death of a Hero, I was expecting the death of one of the show’s main leads, even a metaphorical death if not a literal one. In fact, I was placing my bets that either Louis or Treville would succumb to death’s embrace in this episode due to Louis’ sickness and Treville being marked for death (in my opinion) for quite a while now; the hero’s mentors nearly always die in popular fiction, look no further than Obi-Wan, Dumbledore and Gandalf. So for Feron, the villain, to die was an interesting move.
The episode showcased the deteriorating working relationship between Feron and Grimaud, with Grimaud seizing control and becoming the most dominant of the pair as Feron grew weaker and began to have second thoughts. Seeing Feron being quite humbled by how highly his brother regarded him, even going as far to give Feron a place in the family mausoleum which, as an illegitimate child, Feron normally would not receive and making Feron the official guardian of the Dauphin upon Louis’ death, was touching. The show didn’t spell out in that scene that Feron had changed sides, it was clear to see thanks to Everett’s acting skills. As Feron said “I will treat him as my own son”, it was plain to see he meant it and was in fact possibly the first entirely truthful thing Feron has said to Louie on screen.
And so, Feron attempted to stop Grimaud’s assassination attempt and defiantly and heroically stood up to his former ally. But yet, as they say, no good deed goes unpunished and Feron received a knife to the gut as a reward for his troubles. After failing to kill Grimaud, Feron decided to use his final moments to fire a bullet into the air, warning Louis and Aramis of the incoming attack; a truly heroic act. Feron’s character arc has been fantastic to see unfold on screen and he emerged as one of the show’s better characters. The fact he received a better character arc in six episodes than most shows give their characters in an entire series shows how skilled the writing team of The Musketeers has become. Like Peter Capaldi and Marc Warren before him, Rupert Everett delivered amazing acting talent to the show and will be sorely missed.
As well as focusing on Feron and Grimaud’s working relationship, the episode also devoted time to showcasing the relationships between other members of the show’s cast; the love of Athos and Sylvie, the friendship of Porthos and d’Artagnan and the bitter rivalry of Louis and Aramis. Each pair got several scenes showcasing developments in the relationships and showing things changing between them. Athos once again chose duty over love and ended his relationship with Sylvie, a decision he will likely come to regret similar to how he regretted leaving Milady de Winter. While we’ve most likely not seen the last of Sylvie (and I’ve no doubts the two will get back together) it’s a shame to see Athos, again, rejecting love; something he so clearly needs.
Porthos and d’Artagnan on the other hand are closer than ever before thanks to their experience. The two have rarely been alone in the show’s run, so it’s great to see some development of their friendship. If anything, the episode showcased what a good rapport Luke Pasqualino and Howard Charles have and it’s frankly almost criminal the show hasn’t showcased it enough before now. When Porthos and d’Artagnan both talked about why they can’t die and defiantly shouting “We refuse to die!” was a powerful moment. Porthos’s disappointment of not being able to eat breakfast and joy at finding wine was also a nice nod to the character’s tendencies to be portrayed as the more gluttonous of the Musketeers in various adaptations.
Meanwhile Aramis and Louis finally faced off as Louis confronted Aramis about the truth of his and Anne’s affair. Finally seeing Louis confront the truth of matter was a long time coming and to see it finally happen was great to watch. The silent fury Louis displayed was unexpected, but indicative that Louis’ suspicions (first planted by Rochefort) had taken root and all he needed was confirmation. The fact Aramis “got off” rather easily certainly indicates this has been on Louis’ mind over the time skip. The fact Louis had accepted he wasn’t the Dauphin’s father biologically was also interesting, the spite that Louis showed when he told Aramis that he will never be in the Dauphin’s life showed a completely different side to the character; one more ruthless and cold. Perhaps, with Feron’s death, Louis may showcase his darker side even more. The development also allowed Anne to learn her husband was dying. As Aramis warned, as a Spanish queen in a French court she will lose all her support once Louis dies and all her enemies will conspire to remove her from power. Since Louis doesn’t have long left, we’ll probably see some of this political scheming before the series is out.
This episode also showcased some great directorial flair. The action sequences in this episode were pretty well directed and certainly had the flair we expect from the show. The shootout in the churchyard was a particular standout alongside Porthos and d’Artagnan’s stand. I must also point out the opening of the episode, which showcased each of our heroes to be in apparently mortal danger before these threats were revealed as harmless while Feron speaks about how death can surprise you at any time, for being particularly effective. I must also commend it for actually telling us who dies in a very subtle way by having Feron deliver the speech. The episode’s themes on surprises played into this well; the episode is filled with “surprises” for both the audience and the characters again showing that The Musketeers excels when building it’s episodes around a singular theme.
All in all, this was possibly the strongest episode of Series Three yet. It had a great plot and some excellent character development for most of the main cast; sadly Constance and Anne are remaining dreadfully underused. But Feron’s death allows for some exciting possible story developments along with the action scenes being back on form; although someone please tell Paul Englishby to compose some new themes as hearing the same track again and again in every action sequence is getting tiresome. The Musketeers Series Three is quickly emerging as the show’s strongest and with only four episodes to go, it’s almost impossible to wait and see where the show goes next.