Peter Hammond’s by now familiar directorial tic is firmly in evidence at the start of this episode, as D’Artagnan and the Musketeers pull up at a country inn. Rochefort has arrived ahead of them and he (as well as the audience) observe their arrival through a slightly obscured window.
That Rochefort is something of an underhand cad is clearly demonstrated when he shoots one of the Musketeers’ servants. His men, also carrying guns, then approach our heroes which, since they’re only armed with swords, hardly seems like a fair fight.
But it’ll come as no surprise that even with such uncompromising odds D’Artagnan and the Musketeers still manage to gain the upper hand. Plenty of swashes are buckled, but it’s still a struggle for the greatly outnumbered Musketeers to hold their attackers off – and in order to buy D’Artagnan some time to complete his mission they urge him to make his escape whilst they stay behind, still fighting furiously.
When D’Artagnan reaches the coast he indulges in more swordplay. For anyone who’s been upset of the lack of fighting in the last few episodes, the first ten minutes of this one (all shot on film) more than make up for it.
D’Artagnan meets with Buckingham. The Duke gladly gives back the Queens gift in another scene that’s uniquely shot. Buckingham has created a shrine to the Queen, complete with flickering candles, and Hammond chose to overlay even more candles over the picture. This gives the scene a rather strange look, but it sort of works.
It’s ironic that although the Queen is the woman he professes to love, his earlier dalliance with Milady de Winter obviously indicates that he’s not the faithful type! And just as we can lay blame on the Queen for giving him the gift in the first place, if he hadn’t entertained Milady in his bedchamber then she wouldn’t have been able to snip off a few of the diamond studs.
Poor Buckingham goes to pieces when he learns of Milady’s treachery. Simon Oates is once again highly entertaining as Buckingham, now rather highly strung as he and D’Artagnan try to prevent Milady from reaching the Cardinal as well as attempting to repair the Queen’s damaged gift.
Given some of the strange camera shots we’ve seen so far, I’m not sure whether the one some fifteen minutes in was an accident or another piece of Hammond planning. Buckingham and D’Artagnan exit from different sides of the frame, but the camera doesn’t follow them. Instead, for a few seconds we focus on an empty room whilst Buckingham’s voice continues off-camera. An intentional shot or a miscue? Hmmm.
It’s interesting that the three Musketeers don’t make any attempt to follow D’Artagnan after they finally manage to battle off Rochefort’s men. Instead they spend a convivial evening at the inn, eating and drinking – although there’s a twist. Porthos is perturbed to find that Athos wagered his horse in a bet with the landlord (and lost). Aramis is equally upset to discover his silver crucifix has gone the same way. Although this is nothing compared to the revelation that the meat they enjoyed earlier was Porthos’ horse! Lovely comic playing by all three actors, with a final pay off that Athos was lying to them all along and both Porthos’ horse and Aramis’ crucifix are unharmed.