“The Clockwork Prince” is all about the new prince in town, Albert (Tom Hughes), but are we really supposed to get over dear Lord M so quickly? I know, I know: A romantic relationship is impossible, but how has she already moved past him? While she’s off playing opposites-attract with her cousin, I’m standing over here wishing Lord M would tell me one more thing about the rooks.
Perhaps Victoria’s ability to move forward comes from the same sense of duty that Lord M grappled with in last week’s episode. Also, she’s a young girl and Albert is a handsome, age-appropriate dude. (It’s better if you just forget they’re related, trust me.) No matter the reason, it’s not too hard for Victoria to open her heart to someone else. Lord M, however, is having some issues. He doesn’t say a whole lot in “The Clockwork Prince,” but instead looks very pained as he watches Victoria grow closer with Albert. He’s losing her heart and her ear. As King Leopold reminds Lord M, his duties are sure to grow less cumbersome once Victoria is married and has another man to bounce ideas off of. He knows it is inevitable. Still, hearing Lord M mumble to himself that “only a fool” would turn Victoria away made me want to reach into my television screen and give the dude an inappropriately long hug. Lord M needs all the hugs.
Alas, this hour isn’t about Lord M’s feelings. It’s about Prince Albert. Since history is life’s greatest spoiler, we know Victoria and Albert will have an epic romance. Thanks to some great performances from Jenna Coleman and Tom Hughes, watching them fall for one another is still extremely entertaining.
Of course, deciding to get married isn’t as simple as Albert watching Victoria play a little piano while showing off her décolletage, or Victoria getting a look at that sweet, sweet mustache and furrowed brow. No, these two destined lovers are at odds when they meet. Victoria is fun and flirty — maybe too much for a queen, thinks Albert. Meanwhile, he is as serious as it gets. Albert doesn’t find anything funny about the whole of Great Britain licking Victoria’s face anytime they want to adhere a stamp. He doesn’t appreciate Victoria feeding Dash with her food at the dining table. Oh, and don’t even get him started on card games.
You would think it would take some major turn of events for Albert to develop any kind of feelings for Victoria, but in fact, it does not. All it takes is one steamy Schubert piano duet, a lot of touching, and a waltz.
Oh, that waltz! I mean, they really dance like no one’s watching! More important, Victoria’s sporting a corsage from Lord M’s floral shop and Albert instantly recognizes the smell of gardenias. His mother, who died when he was just a boy after some major family drama, would wear those flowers in her hair; the scent reminds him of her. Immediately, Victoria wants Albert to have the corsage. But where will he put it? Without breaking eye contact, Albert reaches into his boot, pulls out a knife and cuts a slit in his shirt for the corsage. Lord M looks very sad watching his flowers be used to steal Victoria’s heart, but every other person in that ballroom is most definitely turned on.
Victoria’s beaming the next morning and wants to continue to impress Albert, so he decides to bring the whole crew on a trip to Windsor. The forest surrounding Windsor Palace is top-notch and Albert loves walking amongst the trees. So, now Victoria loves trees, too. Young love!
Everyone is pretty hip as to why Victoria would suddenly become one with the forest, but it’s still not entirely smooth sailing for the courtship. Albert just can’t seem to get over how important Lord M is to Victoria. The two men disagree on some policy issues — mainly, Lord M’s seeming lack of empathy for the poor — and Albert isn’t a fan of Lord M’s British humor. No one is surprised.
Thanks to a less-than-subtle move by Albert’s brother Prince Ernest (David Oakes) — who we love, by the way, because although he is kind of slutty, he loves his brother very much — Victoria and Albert end up alone in the forest. Things get heated. I mean this in both the good and bad ways. First, the good: The two chase Dash through the woods. They are young and beautiful! They love trees! Things are great! When Albert sees Victoria without her hat, hair all disheveled, he can only marvel at her. She calls him out for thinking she isn’t serious enough, but he says she is just right. They do not make out, which is reason enough to send them both to the Tower. That’s some English monarchy humor; you’re welcome.
Before they can even think of mashing faces, they hear Dash cry out in pain. The poor little guy’s broken his leg. Albert doesn’t hesitate to cut off a piece of his sleeve (the dude loves cutting into his shirts, huh?) and make a tiny dog splint. Prince Albert is an expert in Renaissance painting and a DIY vet. What a catch! Victoria is beside herself. Before Albert thinks she’s an insane person, she explains Dash was her only friend in the world when she was younger. He hopes that isn’t the case anymore. It’s not — why, she has Lord M now! This sets Albert off. “Perhaps you should marry him!” he spits. He thinks Victoria has surrounded herself with sycophants, people blind to the plight of the English commoner. Victoria’s quick to remind Albert that while he’s been off on vacation, she’s been, ahem, running a country. She stands her ground, telling the prince that she doesn’t need him to tell her what to think. Albert’s response? “No. That’s Lord Melbourne’s job.” Aw, man. Now they’ll never make out!
Just kidding! Everyone knows they are into each other, even as they deny it. Albert decides that it’ll never work, and wants to leave. Thankfully, he has a run-in with Lord M, in which the prime minister is just the best AGAIN, and heavily hints that Albert has nothing to worry about. He’s very relieved. Meanwhile, King Leopold goes to Victoria to find out what really happened. After some prodding, she admits that she’s scared to propose (the queen has to propose to the guy, which is awesome) … because she’s afraid Albert will say no. He’s totally her lobster, you guys!
Before long, the prince is summoned by Victoria. He finds her dressed to the nines, bathed in candlelight, rocking some fresh gardenias in her hair. THIS IS IT, PEOPLE. This whole proposal scene is very, very cute. They are young people in love. Victoria, the queen of England, trembles as she speaks, she is so nervous. Albert can hardly wait for her to ask the question. When she finally says the words, “Will you marry me, Albert?” we get to see his lighter side. He tells her that his answer depends on … if she’ll let him kiss her first. Of course they kiss and of course he says yes and then they do that thing where the guy lifts up the girl and they spin around and kiss some more while he’s holding her, which seems romantic but also, I don’t know, uncomfortable?
Regardless, Albert, a man who doesn’t mince words, has one last thing he wants Victoria to know: He’s not just marrying her because he was told to — this is not a marriage of convenience. He barely gets the words out before Victoria responds that she knows, and she thinks “it will be a marriage of inconvenience.” It’s all very sweet and their declaration that neither has a choice when it comes to loving the other almost made me forget about the rooks. Almost.
For those of you who are concerned about the downstairs drama, we do get an answer to the Skerrett mystery. Her name is actually Nancy, and she’s covering for the real Eliza Skerrett (a friend? sister?), who had to decide between a job at the palace and keeping her baby. Our Skerrett is helping the real Skerrett pay her rent and feed her baby. All jokes aside, I really like Our Skerrett. She does things like laugh when dumb men don’t understand why she wouldn’t want to give up her job for a husband.
Also, Penge can speak German. He uses this secret to play some jokes on Albert’s valet and … oh, you guys, come on! Who cares about this stuff when there’s kissing going on upstairs? Kissing!