Victoria Season 2 Recap: “Entente Cordiale”
This week on Victoria, we learn that, when in doubt, always go to France.
Finally, our first single episode of the season, and it’s not actually about Victoria’s love life. With our young English queen married and in full broodmare mode, it’s time for the crown heads of Europe to worry about another country left in female hands: Isabella II of Spain. No matter that she’s 13, and really too young for this sort of thing yet. Patriarchy will out!
Duchess of Buccleuch: But ma’am, France is a godless country.
Victoria: Then you must bring your bible.
Holy time jump, Victoria! Victoria (the smaller one) has aged up rather suddenly, considering that Albert is still smarting over his revelation last week. It’s a correct time jump though. Last week’s episode left off in November of 1841 when Victoria’s second child was born, and Isabella is said to be 13 years old in this week’s episode, which makes it 1843. (Isabella II of Spain was born in 1830.) So did Albert really brood like a twit for over a year? (Of course not, because this “revelation” of last week was actually historically bunk.)
Despite France being one long stereotype (double kisses! french food! stuck up about fashion! a croquembouche!) Bruno Wolkowitch is a delight as Louis Philippe, the final King of France (oh pardonne moi, “King of the French”), and the only one to ever visit British soil. The pathos in which he brings to his plight of trying to establish the extraordinarily shaky French monarchy he was holding together by a supreme effort of will comes across very forcefully.
Even if you don’t know how this all turns out in history, one can almost feel for him and understand why he made the choices he did. One can also see why Victoria does not — she has never feared for her throne, and never will. She’s been shot at, but the people have never actually tried to kill her the way his have, or the way they will only a few short years in the future. (One hopes that since Louis Philippe will one day wind up exiled to England after the French monarchy falls for the last time, the character will reappear in future seasons.)
Meanwhile, the continued flirtation of Lord Alfred and Drummond is most peculiar. I can’t figure out if the show means to go there or what. Lord Alfred is obviously going to wind up married to Wilhelmina Coke, but perhaps that’s the point. Having her see Ernest for who he really is was quite a nice surprise though, and that was worth having him randomly appear in this episode. Exactly why Ernest is there is never properly explained, other than “he’s part of the main cast now” but nevermind. considering that Albert is in ExtraDour mode throughout the entire episode, it’s good to at least have the charming Saxe-Coburg in the house.
Louis Philippe: There is a time to be serious, but never before lunch.
Victoria brings along Skerritt, natch, as we do have to have some downstairs with our uppers. I found I didn’t mind her nearly so much in this position as simply “poor put upon person in the service economy struggles as personal assistant to very rich.” If the show were to have Skerritt play this particular note more often, it might be to the character’s benefit. The makeup sequence is adorable, by the way, even if the more, ahem, poisonous, of the lady’s toilette, are edited out.
The Duchess of Buccleuch is of course now obviously going to be here for comic relief only as she spends the entire trip being boorishly English. Though perhaps no one is quite so boorish and overbearing as Albert.
Albert really is painfully stuck up this episode, and over dour considering that he’s supposed to have had over a year to deal with his parentage. His complete freak out over the makeup is vaguely awful, though at least, considering Uncle Leopold and Ernest I’s predilections, Albert’s hysteria makes a sort of weird sense, though he really needs therapy. That the French are horrified that he strips to swim after all their liberties is pretty damn funny though.
But this being Victoria, it takes an act of very loud sex to get Albert to fully loosen up. Considering Alice will be along later in 1843, we can assume this is her conception or something. This also gets Albert to admit that his uncle/father is actually his father/uncle. (I keep imagining the end of China Town and the “sister/daughter” slap scene whenever Albert talks about this.) He tries out that claim of their children being illegitimate because of something that was done two generations ago, despite Victoria’s children being very legitimate, thank you very much.
Drummond: The trip was stylish, but not altogether respectable.
Victoria, being a nice romantic sort, tell him it doesn’t matter who his father is, he’s still her Albert. She knows who he is, even if he doesn’t. This leads to the weirdest analogy of royal marriage and a bunch of grapes ever. Albert’s point is that neither of them should do anything. Louis, cornered, agrees for now.
The rest of us know that the Affair of Marriages is coming in 1846, so it’s not very surprising when Peel announces upon their return home that Louis Philippe has already broken his word. At least we know that his first proposal for Isabella’s husband, his own son Antoine, did not actually happen. Instead, when the Affair of Marriages happened in 1846, the then-16-year-old queen married Francisco de Asís de Borbón (who was her double-first cousin.) Antoine d’Orléans, Duke of Montpensier, Louis Philippe’s son, married her little sister, Infanta Luisa Fernanda, on the same day. From this position, he would try and take over the Spanish monarchy and fail. Quelle Dommage.