Peter Hammond’s showy camera-work continues in the first scene, as the Cardinal subtly manipulates the King (John Carlin). Several of the shots take place through a window, thus giving the audience a restricted view of the meeting (and also ensuring that we’re placed in the role of observers, eavesdropping on their conversation). The Cardinal professes that the Queen is wholly innocent of any inappropriate liaison with Buckingham, but then smoothly changes tack and suggests the King host a Ball in her honour. And wouldn’t it be an ideal time for her to wear the diamond studs he recently gave to her …..
Carole Potter’s Queen is distraught (again). Lying on her bed, crying woe is me, she’s fretting about how to get the diamond studs back from Buckingham in order to prevent a hideous scandal. Although as I’ve previously said, it was silly of her to give them away in the first place. Never mind, if she hadn’t then there wouldn’t have been much of a story.
Madame Bonacieux is convinced that she can count on her husband to travel to England and save the day, but he’s now the Cardinal’s man. Not only because he’s been paid off, but also for more pressing reasons. “Intrigue frightens me. I’ve seen the Bastille. I’ve seen the torture room. Wedges of wood to drive between your knees to crush your joints.” Peter Hammond’s love of mirror shots continues, as do scenes shot with restricted views. Here it’s because D’Artagnan is upstairs, viewing the confrontation between husband and wife through a crack in the floorboards. As with the opening scene of the episode, it allows the audience a chance to eavesdrop on a private conversation.
Paul Whitsun-Jones departs the serial in this episode. Later to star as the rather ineffectual baddy in the Doctor Who story The Mutants, it therefore came as something of a surprise that he was amongst the subtler actors in these early episodes. Kathleen Breck continues to be a stranger to subtlety, as Madame Bonacieux responds to her husbands departure by flinging herself across a table in a highly theatrical manner. “Dear god, what am I to do?” If I was uncharitable, I’d say a second take, but I’m not so I won’t.
It’s clear that her prayers will be answered, as D’Artagnan – due to his overpowering love for her – will do anything that she asks. “Since I love you. Since I would go through fire for you. Since I am brave, loyal to the throne, I’m your man.” Brett continues to push his intensity level up to eleven, especially when Madame Bonacieux appears to reciprocate his love. The moment when they kiss is an interesting one – as D’Artagnan is rather clumsy, to say the least. A bungled take or was this Brett’s choice, attempting to show how young and inexperienced (in so many ways) D’Artagnan is?
The Musketeers are sidelined in this episode until the last five minutes. It’s fair to say that at first they’re not best pleased at having to go to London, but duty calls. Despite the fact that D’Artagnan isn’t even a Musketeer, they seem to have no problem in accepting that not only is he is charge but that he won’t divulge the reason for their mission. For Athos, if it means a chance to fight and die then he’s content, whilst Porthos and Aramis also relish the chance for a scrap, even if they lack Athos’ apparent death wish.
With four of them, the odds are that at least one will reach London to deliver the vital message. And one is all they need. “All for one and one for all.”