The Musketeers Keep Your Friends Close

First shown BBC1 02/01/15 written by Adrian Hodges, directed by John Strickland 
The first series of The Musketeers was one of my tv highlights of 2014. From its fun title music (more Russian than French!), bold action sequences, strong cast and a refusal to dabble in post modern tricks it was a must see. Foremost amongst the attractions though was Peter Capaldi’s scheming Cardinal Richelieu; no swearing but ten times more dangerous than Malcolm Tucker. With the actor now somewhat indisposed this season 2 opener begins at Richelieu’s funeral and we’re off in another direction. Can Marc Warren, an actor with a reputation for slippery types fill the empty boots of villainry this time round?

"In case you hadn't guessed, I'm the villain round here."

It’s long enough from the end of the first series for the Queen to be giving birth to an heir, though of course we know that Aramis is actually the father. Meanwhile after Captain Treville turns down the offer to become Richelieu’s replacement (prompting a great reaction from Ryan Gage’s always fun King) the job eventually falls to Rochefort played by Marc Warren. This is after the Musketeers have joined him on a mission to rescue the General de Foix a man who knows the secrets of the French plans for Europe who is currently languishing as a prisoner in a Spanish castle.
We know the Rochefort is not to be trusted; indeed the Musketeers cannot fail to notice he’s shot an innocent man dead before the opening credits. This behaviour continues with further shootings and even the throat cutting of a priest who happens to wander in at the wrong time. It’s clear this is an unhinged villain whose shares the late Cardinal’s love of underhand schemes but is also personally vicious with it. It’s a great role for Warren who eats it up with relish.
After Rochefort is brought back to Paris the main part of the episode focusses on the rescue of de Foix and this again makes use of great locations and the series’ lack of cosiness when it comes to fighting.  Whoever choreographs it makes it look un-choreographed as much as possible unlike so many other programmes these days. There’s a desperation and realism to the action.
The episode also has time to weave into some of the ongoing plots. Constance gets a great speech berating D’Artagnan in particular and men in general while Athos’ previous women turn out to be very unlucky indeed and Porthos’ parenthood is explained (though not as yet to him) So there’s plenty to enjoy, plenty to chew on and by the end you don’t really miss the old beard twirling Cardinal at all. That’s what I’d call an early victory.


  1. The Musketeers was also a highlight of mine last year. I like how Rochefort is a grittier villain than the Cardinal ever was, but I don't find him as threatening...yet :)

  2. He does keep killing people though! I wouldn't like to argue with him!!