Victoria Season 2 Episode 5 Recap: “The King Over Water”
After last week’s accidental tale about something serious, Victoria returns to being about very little at all.
Victoria has so far this season mostly balanced the serious with the frivolous. Recall, for instance, the episode where she goes to France which gave us 19th-century makeup, naked Albert in a lake, and a glimpse of how fragile the position of Europe’s monarchy was becoming. Last week, the show went a little heavy on the historical drama, but it was a highly effective episode all the same. This week, the show attempts something of the same sort, but unfortunately the moral of the tale is not heavy enough to balance things, and the show flies away on its own lightheartedness.
Duchess of Buccleuch: Such incompetance! How can anyone lose a Queen?
Not that they don’t try to make something of the assassination attempts on Victoria’s life during the period. Over the course of her reign, there were no less than eight attempts on her life. The show already touched on the first, Edward Oxford, at the end of last season. Tonight covers the next two, which in reality were attempted by John Francis, but are assigned here to John William Bean, who actually was the blame for the one two months later. The first, as we saw, the gun failed to fire*. The second, just as we saw, came the next day, when Victoria refused to give up her daily excursions.
(*Brodie is right that the pistol wasn’t loaded. Though this is patterned after Francis’ attempts, Bean’s pistol was revealed to be filled with tobacco, and his sentence was, as it is here, reduced to public flogging.)
This provides an excuse to send the royal party to Scotland. (No, not you Lehzen, nor you Francatelli.) Bagpipes! Rolling hills! Hot dudes in kilts with thick sexy accents! Victoria does Outlander, without the benefit of Sam Heughan! Skerritt gets hit on by the actor who will be playing Prince Harry in the new Lifetime movie, while Victoria is trapped watching bad acting!
The point of the latter is that Victoria is trapped wherever she goes. Whether she’s at home with guards everywhere in Albert’s version of security theater in Buckingham Palace or forced to sit through “upper class” entertainment while the downstairs crew gets to have actual fun, Victoria’s hope of escape never seems to materialize. But Skerrit doesn’t get to wear awesome period hats, so really, I would assume they were even no?
No, Victoria isn’t satisfied and stares longingly at the peasants the next day when they head out fishing. She convinces Albert that the two of them should ride back together, relying on his “sense of direction” to get them back to the castle, which he assures everyone is perfect. Of course, he then proceeds to get them fantastically lost, with no guards, no ID and not even fabulous hats to identify them as royalty.
Coke: I don’t know that I’m a very good judge of men
Harriet: Who is Miss Coke?
While Albert and Victoria go pretend to play at being peasants, and find themselves spending the evening with some very kindly Scottish folk who take them in, give them their bed, and teach them to cook meals over fires and darn socks, that leaves the rest of the supporting cast to cope. The show’s preferred pairing turns out to be Lord Alfred and Drummond, both of whom are now engaged. Alfred is also still toting about his bride to be, Wilhelmina everywhere he goes and she’s starting to wonder a little about him.
Despite her misgivings and suspicions, Alfred is determined to make the most of the time that he and Drummond have before they’re forced into playing to the heteronormativity of the time. Too bad that his fiance is smart enough to be keeping an eye on both of them, and sees their passionate kiss by the lake. Despite her mousy personality, I feel we should start the clock on Lord Alfred’s continued survival. Bury your gays is the cliche, they say, and one Victoria is old-fashioned enough to still subscribe to, unfortunately.
Ernest’s love for Harriet is Plot B, as the newly widowed blames herself and her feelings for the death of her husband. Ernest genuinely wants to comfort her, but she’s too angry (and ashamed) to allow anything to happen between them again. Still, Ernest forgives her and emotionally steps back as best he can. By the end of the hour, Marriet is considering that maybe she should marry again, but we are pretty sure Ernest won’t be a candidate.
Plot C is Skerritt and her Scotsman beau, which she’s only slightly more into than Francatelli. That’s mostly because, unlike Francatelli, at the end of the hour she’ll be able to leave him behind. The best kind of relationships! Too bad that Alfred and Drummond will not be afforded the same “what happens in Scotland, stays in Scotland mentality.”
Crofter’s Wife: If I’d known you were coming, I’d have made my oatcakes!
By the end of the hour, everyone is back in London where they belong, though Skerritt has taken up singing Scottish songs, which it turns out Francatelli knows too, in case we needed more reasons to ship them as a couple. Victoria has discovered that she enjoys the heck out of peasant cosplay and faux darning socks after she’s done with a long day of ruling the country, all the way to demanding raw fish delivered to their chambers so Albert can cook them over the fire. Hey, everyone’s got their escapist fantasies. This one will lead Albert to buy Balmoral Castle in Season 3.