‘Victoria’ Season 2: “Comfort and Joy” Recap

The royal family doing holiday cheer (Photo: Courtesy of ©ITVStudios2017 for MASTERPIECE)

Previously on Victoria: The Princess Royal’s illness worries Victoria and Albert, and disagreements over her care ultimately result in Lehzen getting sent back to Germany. Sir Robert Peel risks his position as Prime Minister in the name of repealing the British Corn Laws. And Drummond is sadly killed by a bullet meant for his boss, on his way to a meaningful dinner with Lord Alfred. If you need them, more details can be found in our full recap of “The Luxury of Conscience.”

While this episode serves as the Season 2 finale in America, most viewers will were probably able to tell that “Comfort and Joy” was originally a Christmas special. If its slightly padded runtime weren’t an immediate tell, there’s holiday cheer, festive decorations, lots of romance and, of course, a happy ending all around. It’s possibly an overly saccharine note to end the season on, to be honest, but after so much emotional upheaval, there’s something to be said for a solid hour that leaves us feeling hopeful about the future of almost every character. (It’s what Christmas is for, after all, isn’t it?)

‘Victoria’ Season 2: “The Luxury of Conscience” Recap

Jenna Coleman as Queen Victoria in "The Luxury of Conscience" (Photo:  Courtesy of ©ITVStudios2017 for MASTERPIECE)

Previously on Victoria: Victoria and Albert travel to Scotland, in the hopes of escaping their overly structured London lives. After slipping away from their hosts, the royal couple gets hopelessly lost in the woods. Luckily, they find a kindly old couple to stay with, who are not only straight out of a Pixar film adorable, but who also teach the royals how to appreciate life as commoners.  Elsewhere, Alfred and Drummond admit their feelings for one another at last, thanks to the pristine scenery and some clunky historical metaphors. At least they finally kiss, though.If you need them, more details can be found in our full recap of “The King Over the Water.”

This episode originally served as the Season 2 finale to Victoria’s U.K. run. However, the series also aired a Christmas special in December 2017, which will serve as the U.S. season finale next week. And all in all? I think that’s a good thing. There’s plenty of drama here, but I’m not sure it particularly leaves anyone in a great place going into a between seasons hiatus. Therefore, I’ll be relieved to at least get the chance to see where everyone ends up next week, before we begin the long wait for Season 3.

“The Luxury of Conscience” is, in and of itself, a strong episode. Characters are forced out of their comfort zones, and several must make difficult choices. Tragedy strikes one couple, while another finally comes together. If this episode perhaps lacks some of the escapist fantasy that made earlier installments such as “Entente Cordiale” or “The King Over the Water” so appealing, it certainly pulls no punches about the very real problems all our characters must face. Whether that’s the kind of story you want from a period drama like Victoria is up to you, but as a piece of entertainment, it nevertheless remains maddeningly addictive. 

‘Victoria’ Season 2: “The King Over the Water” Recap

(Photo: Courtesy of ©ITVStudios2017 for MASTERPIECE)

Previously on Victoria: The queen learns about the devastating potato famine in Ireland, but thanks to the cynical machinations of her own government her ability to help is fairly limited. After meeting an Irish doctor and hearing a personal story from one of her own dressers, Victoria leans on Sir Robert Peel to speak out for the Irish in Parliament. Elsewhere, Alfred successfully has functional toilets installed in the servants’ quarters and Ernest learns his playboy ways have landed him with a case of syphilis. The timing on this diagnosis couldn’t be worse, since Harriet’s husband just died in a freak hunting accident. If you need them, more details can be found in our full recap of “Faith, Hope and Charity.”

Once again, Victoria follows up a heavy emotional episode with a more light-hearted hour, sending our royal couple off on a trip to the painfully beautiful wilderness of Scotland. This episode has the benefit of being fluffy, romantic and fun, as well as serving as a much-needed break from all the death and suffering that comprised the bulk of last week’s episode. There’s little narrative point to this story, other than to remind us all that Victoria rules over a nation that doesn’t always look like London, but it hits some interesting emotional beats about how heavy a toll the crown takes on those who wear it. 

‘Victoria’ Season 2: “Faith, Hope and Charity” Recap

(Photo: Courtesy of ©ITVStudios2017 for MASTERPIECE)

Previously on Victoria: The period drama finally gave us a fun, fluffy episode, as most of the royal court heads off to France as part of Victoria’s plan to talk King Louis Phillippe out of a plan to marry his son off to Spain. This plan ultimately ends up being unsuccessful, but the trip is hilarious fun, full of lavish costumes, ridiculous French costumes, and lots and lots of Albert being a snooty jerk. The prince, it would seem, is having some emotional distress over the idea that he might really be King Leopold’s son, and basically takes it out on everyone else until he gets a talking to from his wife. Victoria, for her part, makes a moving speech about how she loves Albert for who he is, and the two end the episode more united than ever. (And, also, pregnant again!) If you need them, more details can be found in our full recap of "Entente Cordiale." 

Well, in case you thought we had just a little too much fun last week, Victoria goes straight back to serious again with an episode that focuses almost entirely on the 1840s Irish potato famine. “Faith, Hope and Charity” acquits itself admirably well, unflinchingly looking at the reprehensible attitudes among certain government and religious groups towards the Irish and poor people in general. However, the episode does perhaps overly rely on an overly kind characterization of Victoria herself, presenting the monarch as a woman with the best of intentions, who finds herself hamstrung and unable to do as much as she would like thanks to the cynical machinations of her own government. Is that entirely accurate, historically speaking? Maybe, maybe not.