I hope you came here to choose sides in the centuries-old enmity between France and England, because deposed King Louis Philippe is gambling in the palace and Albert is not amused. (Is anyone keeping track at home of how many not-amused jokes I can fit into a single season of recaps?)
Louis Philippe also tells the two now-speaking children of Victoria and Albert, creatively named Vicky and Bertie, about that time the English had their king’s head cut off. This would be bad enough on its own to tell two small children of a monarch, but then he makes sure to describe to them exactly what a guillotine is. THE FRENCH, am I right?
Louis Philippe and his eventual exit from the palace are but one of the many plots in play this episode, as the rioters are still rioting, Victoria’s half-sister Feodora is still scheming, and the footman continues to cast yearning glances at that neglected duchess. (I ship them so hard.)
But first! A baby!
Victoria’s sixth child is born amidst much screaming and a lack of painkillers. Feodora stands there with a modest smile on her face as they say they’re going to name the baby after someone who has a very special place in this family, someone very dear to them, someone who they will always keep very near to their hearts — Albert’s mother. Sick Feodora burn, guys. I am fully onboard. All hail Princess Not-Feodora.
Speaking of, what is going on with Feodora? Let’s make a List of Suspiciousness:
(1) She tries on one of Victoria’s necklaces in a very suspicious way.
(2) She makes her impoverished state clear when Victoria finally lashes out about Feodora not coming to her wedding and Feodora states she couldn’t afford it.
(3) When Victoria’s son Bertie is being a brat, Feodora says he reminds her of Victoria at that age (rude).
(4) After Albert tells Feodora that Victoria can be “volatile” after childbirth (five points from Ravenclaw, Albert), Feodora stands there looking real scheme-y.
(5) She tells a wiped-out Victoria, “All I want is to help you and you can always trust me absolutely.” DON’T DO IT, VICTORIA.
(6) When they arrive at their Very Fancy House, she casts a covetous eye upon the furnishings
(7) When Victoria storms off because she is rightfully furious, Feodora lays a creepy hand on Albert’s arm and says, “We can take care of her, together.”
All of this behavior is 10/10 for Shady Poor Relation Who’s Trying to Have You Locked Up and Steal Your Husband, and while the history-loving part of me feels for Real Feodora, who probably did not do any of this nonsense, the gothic romance-loving part of me is fervently clasping my hands to my bosom and pale with expectation. Feodora is Mrs. Danvers-meets-Single White Female and I am here for it.
For those seriously invested in what’s going on between Mr. Francatelli and Mrs. Skerrett, they bought a hotel and are now married. Mr. Francatelli is on my shit list. Despite numerous cues from Mrs. Skerrett that she doesn’t want to leave the queen, he’s made huge life decisions on behalf of both of them. With regret, I withdraw my endorsement from this formerly occasionally fun relationship.
The new, complicated relationship hotness is Neglected Duchess and Tall Footman. Neglected Duchess’s carriage is attacked by The People, who mainly shout and rock it back and forth a little. Lord Palmerston unfortunately comes to her rescue and insists on getting in and driving on with her, which I feel is scandalous. (Carriages have curtains!) Fortunately for Team Tall Footman, she later cries about her terrible husband’s treatment of her and her son, and Tall Footman is there looking concerned. He also sends multiple glances her way, though everyone knows Victorian servants are to stare straight ahead into space at all times, so this shall surely Come to Something. We’re meant to hate her husband, not only because he’s rude to her and their son, but because he uses words like “sniveling” and “mollycoddling.”
Back to the Chartists! Our individual rights friends are having a time of it with Victoria, as their recent violence has left her struggling to understand her real relationship with her people. They want to deliver the People’s Charter to Parliament, but the Duke of Wellington and Lord Palmerston, still very smug and punchable, want to post troops on the bridge to keep them on the far side of the river. Victoria is aghast at this idea, echoed by Albert, who says, “We have failed these people.”
Palmerston doesn’t care about any of this, probably because he wants to make sure his Seduction Carriage is safe from the masses banging on its windows and getting them all smudged. Victoria refuses to sign the order.
Good job, show, emphasizing that “to use soldiers to interrupt a peaceful movement seems the height of folly” and can only lead to a betrayal of trust and an even more fractured relationship between the government and the people. Victoria is extremely upset this episode as she tries to reassess what being a queen means if she can’t depend on the love of her people, most of which involves her gazing pensively out the window with a Toni-Braxton-in-“Un-Break My Heart” vibe.
Police raid the Chartists’ headquarters and find a ridiculous number of rifles. The revolutionary Irishman from last episode, Fitzgerald, is arrested on a charge of treason, but not before saying a romantic goodbye to Abigail, the Chartist girl from last episode who told Victoria they didn’t want to chop off her head. Fitzgerald, by the end of the hour, will reveal himself to be an undercover policeman and not acknowledge knowing Abigail in the slightest. Typical.
This new threat of revolution by way of firearms is enough to cause Victoria to sign the order for the bridge soldiers and evacuate to the Isle of Wight. As she leaves, she sees crowds of frightened citizens and soldiers marching everywhere. It’s striking to see London turn into a militarized city. Victoria can’t handle it; she tells Albert to stop the carriage and that she’s changed her mind.
The Duke of Wellington says this is “a woman’s prerogative.” Sit on it, Wellington. She demands the people be allowed to present their petition to Parliament and all but accuses Palmerston of planting the rifles. This is confirmed after she leaves, when he asks, “How the devil did she find out?” You can sit on it too, Palmerston.
When they’ve safely retreated to the Isle of Wight and yet another gorgeous house they own, because #monarchy, it’s revealed that the Chartists presented their charter peacefully and everything was fine. Victoria is furious that she left and slams a door off-screen, shouting, “I should have been there!!” It’s my favorite thing she’s done this episode. I hope Righteous-Fury Victoria appears more this season.
Questions for Next Time
• Will the show completely ignore history and have a thrilling Victoria-in-a-madhouse arc?
• Will Tall Footman ever speak to Neglected Duchess? Possibly in hushed tones while she looks down demurely?
• How long will Victoria put up with men condescending to her before she pulls an Elizabeth I and has them sent to the Tower where they shall rue the day they ever spoke of her “volatility” after childbirth?