Victoria Season 2 Christmas Special Recap: “Comfort & Joy”
Victoria’s finale is the longest episode to date, covering Albert’s bringing of the Germanic Christmas traditions to the English way of life, with extra morality for all!
People don’t realize how much of our modern life was shaped by Queen Victoria and her decisions in the mid-1840s. brides take for granted that they wear white, have cathedral length trains and cakes to the ceiling, when all of that was invented by Victoria for her own wedding, and then perfected over the marriages of her endless children. they also assume we’ve always done Santa Claus, that he looks like the dude on the Coca-Cola cans, and that the bringing in of trees to the house to keep them warm and stick presents under is merely the traditional way. This too is 100% a Victorian-era invention, with Albert bringing over what at the time were traditions of the Germanic parts of the Austrian Hungarian empire. (As those who know their history may recall, it wasn’t actually “Germany” until 1871.)
Albert: Christmas will always be a time of enchantment!
If the two-hour episode of Victoria had been nothing but a celebration of “Where Christmas As You Know It” came from, it would have been an excellent two-hour powerbomb of what the title promises “Comfort and Joy.” Especially when you add in that Ernest basically reveals our “idea” of Christmas is just some bullshit a man in his mid-20s who needs desperate amounts of therapy is clinging to from his four-year-old memories, all of which are completely wrong. Take an emotional egg like that to roll around, and then wrap yourself up with Albert’s mustache, Victoria flaunting the crown jewels, and voila! Thrown in a few engagements of characters we’ve been waiting to see seal the deal for embellishment and we’re there, plus those we don’t give a fig about, like Francatelli and Skerritt. To be fair, their engagement was good enough that it almost made me care about them for a second. (Don’t worry, I got better.)
The problem started when Victoria attempted to add a different bit of history along with it, the adoption of Sarah. This is not actually fully historically accurate. Yes, it is true that Princess Aina people of Yoruba were conquered in the 1840s, and that she was rescued from slavery by Captain Frederick E Forbes, who convinced her captor King Ghezo to hand her over as a “present” for Victoria. She was renamed Sarah (and called Sally) and brought to the Palace, where she was presented to Victoria in 1850, several years on from where we are in the tale. Victoria was highly impressed with her and decided to be the girl’s godmother. But she never lived in the Palace, she stayed with the Forbes, who treated her like their own child, and all this “bird in a cage” nonsense is just your typical British Christmas morality play.
Moreover, the addition of Skerritt’s mirror plot of “suddenly coming into money” and “inheriting slaves” is serious utter nonsense. The chance that a woman in her position wouldn’t drop the fuck out of everything, migrate to America, the land of opportunity and straight up take over a plantation, and be the owner of wealth generating humans is nonsensical. Someone in her position in this time period would have thought Africans beneath them, especially a poverty-stricken white woman. Not that she might not have been shocked and horrified when she got there and saw the reality with her own eyes. But this modern moralizing they have Skerritt do, including freeing the slaves via a solicitor, is just Victoria at it’s most unbelievable.
It doesn’t help that downstairs is mostly throwaway in this series, which also makes Fracatelli’s loss of his life savings, and Penge’s overhearing of their vows just so much filler b-plot we did not need.
Ernest: Christmas was a living hell.
Let’s get back to the stuff we do care about: after a season of Miss Coke being all but engaged to Alfred, he finally pops the question now that Drummond is out of the picture. (Wilhelmina cons him into the match by giving him “a lock of Drummond’s hair”. Where and how she got a hold of that, we shall not ask, but apparently, that’s the way to a gay man’s heart in 1840 something.) That solidifies Coke and Alfred as coming back for Season 3, at least for the time being.
She needs the excuse too because, despite the delightfulness of Diana Rigg as the Duchess, her term as Mistress of the Robes is coming to a close. Harriet and Ernest are also getting engaged, which means Harriett will soon be angling to get her Palace position back, now that it’s no longer a sexual harassment lawsuit waiting to happen. (In truth, Harriet did return to that position, in 1846. (She’ll continue to hold it on and off until 1861.)
And then finally, Christmas with Victoria and Albert. Albert frets about what you get the woman who has everything and ain’t giving it back, even if it was looted from other royal households. He settles on a tiara with Emeralds that could each buy a small country, because, go big or go home, I guess. Victoria, on the other hand, knows exactly what to get her husband: A portrait of herself. Charming! I was half hoping this might turn into The Gift of the Magi, but you know, with the Ernie and Bert happy ending instead of the original sad one. But not to be. The final gift exchange is played straight for the feels and with as little irony as possible.
Happy endings for all, except for Lezhen, who Albert isn’t going to let come back because he won that fight bitches. Happy Christmas Everyone!