Victoria Recaps

‘Victoria’ Season 3: “A Coburg Quartet” Recap

Uncle Leopold's in town! (Photo: Courtesy of Justin Slee/ITV Plc for MASTERPIECE)

Previously on Victoria: The queen takes the court on a trip to Ireland, in an attempt to make up for what is apparently decades of royal neglect of the Emerald Isle. The visit is a public if not a personal success, because although Victoria makes a sincere effort to start fresh with the Irish people, Albert insinuates his wife just wants another crowd of people to cheer for her. But we do get to meet Lord Palmerston’s frankly amazing spouse, Emily Lamb, who not only seems to adore her husband, but to have somehow carved out a marriage and a life that works for them both. (Even if it does include acknowledged infidelity.) Read our full recap of "A Show of Unity" this way

Victoria is a soapy costume drama and, as such, it doesn’t often get the respect it deserves. Sure, there are occasionally ridiculous storylines – Duchess Sophie’s literally bodice-ripping affair with a hunky footman isn’t exactly what you might call prestige drama, for example. But Season 3 has made a genuine effort to tell complicated stories with emotional heft in a way that few period dramas attempt. Last week’s installment saw the show exploring various ideas of marriage and what it means for a romantic relationship to be successful one. “A Coburg Quartet” takes that theme one step further, expanding outward to wrestle with the larger umbrella of family, and what it means to love someone.

‘Victoria’ Season 3: “A Show of Unity” Recap

Victoria, in her element. (Photo: Courtesy of Justin Slee/ITV Plc for MASTERPIECE)

Previously on Victoria: Tension lingers between the queen and her husband, as Albert insists that his wife’s obsessive need for love and adoration from her subjects is borderline psychotic, while Victoria argues that he just doesn’t understand what it means to be a monarch. A cholera outbreak strikes London, resulting in the death of many people – including Nancy Skerrett Francatelli, who goes from finding out she’s pregnant on the eve of her husband’s restaurant opening to dead in the space of an act break. Yikes. (Need more details? Our full recap of "Foreign Bodies" is here.)

After the tragedy of last week’s installment, Victoria pulls up stakes and sends everyone off to Ireland following an assassination attempt that convinces the queen she must work to mend the frayed relationship between the crown and its Irish subjects. Much like Season 2’s “Entente Cordiale”, a new location makes for the best episode of the season – but not because this installment is a particularly lighthearted romp. No, instead, “A Show of Unity” uses the introduction of Lord Palmerston’s – quite frankly, amazing – wife, Emily, to present three competing, fascinating pictures of marriage.

'Victoria' Season 3: "Foreign Bodies" Recap

The queen and young Bertie in a sweet moment (Photo: Courtesy of Justin Slee/ITV Plc for MASTERPIECE)

Previously on Victoria: Victoria and Albert are vacationing at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight, because London supposedly isn’t safe thanks to all the political upheaval going on. Victoria frets about being so far away from her government, but Albert is having the time of his life, bullying his eldest son Bertie through overbearing educational practices and occasionally bossing his wife around. Surprisingly, Victoria and Lord Palmerston – after much sniping and scrapping – finally come to something of a tentative détente, while the Foreign Secretary and the queen’s sister Feodora both discover some secrets about one another. (If you need more details, our recap of "Et in Arcadia" is here.)

In its third season on-air, it’s nice to say that Victoria is still capable of surprising you. Rather than settle for a paint-by-numbers recitation of history, the show is more than willing to lean into the often ridiculous nature of royal life, make things up for the sake of narrative drama or kill off one of your faves that it can’t quite figure out what to do with. It does all three of these things here, and “Foreign Bodies” is an episode that works on multiple levels as a result.

'Victoria' Season 3: “Et in Arcadia” Recap

Vacation is definitely not Victoria's favorite mood. (Photo: Courtesy of Justin Slee/ITV Plc for MASTERPIECE)

Previously on Victoria: The Chartist movement continues to pick up steam, as the threat of armed conflict grows. Victoria eventually backs down from having her military fire on her own citizens and the protestors present their People’s Charter unimpeded. The queen’s quite upset over the prospect that her people might not love her as much as she assumed they once did and, following the birth of her sixth child (Louise), she and the royal family flee London even though much of the public escalation with the Chartists turns out to have been engineered by her own Foreign Secretary. Elsewhere, Skerrett and Francatelli secretly marry, even though Nancy appears to harbor severe misgivings about leaving the queen’s service. (Need more details? Our recap of "London Bridge is Falling Down" is here.) 

After two episodes of darkness, Victoria gets back to its soapy roots with an episode stuffed full of romantic intrigue, political squabbling, bad parenting and blackmail, all set against the beautiful scenery of the Isle of Wight. This is what we precisely the sort of thing we tune into this show for, at the end of the day. And “Et in Arcadia” is certainly the most entertaining episode of the season thus far, even if half of it is almost certainly made up from whole cloth. 

‘Victoria’ Season 3: “London Bridge is Falling Down” Recap

Francatelli and Skerrett finally get their big day. (Photo: Courtesy of Aimee Spinks/ITV Plc for MASTERPIECE)

Previously on Victoria: As revolution sweeps through Europe, everyone is increasingly concerned that such dangerous ideas could cross the Channel and make problems for Victoria. Though the queen insists her subjects are not a revolutionary people, the growing Chartist movement indicates otherwise – and an angry mob even makes it to the very gates of Buckingham Palace. Elsewhere, a bunch of new faces abound for the new season, including a nondescript new Prime Minister (Lord John Russell), a belligerent and manipulative new Foreign Secretary (Lord Palmerston), a new Mistress of the Robes (Sophie, Duchess of Monmouth) and a heretofore unmentioned German half-sister to the queen (Feodora). Need more? Our recap of "Uneasy Lies the Head That Wears The Crown" can help. 

Victoria continues its Season 3 flirtation with darker subject matter as the Chartist rebellion grows more dangerous in London. Despite Victoria’s insistence that the movement means her no harm, no one else seems to agree with her, and the tumultuous times even bring previous Prime Minister Lord Wellington back into the public fray.

‘Victoria’ Season 3: “Uneasy Lies the Head That Wears the Crown” Recap

Lilly Travers, Jenna Coleman and Kate Fleetwood (Photo: Courtesy of Justin Slee/ITV Plc for MASTERPIECE)

Previously on Victoria: There is too much for a single paragraph. We have recaps for both Seasons 1 and 2 if you need a refresher on everything that’s happened already.

Victoria, a show that’s previously been known for its fancy costumes and swoony romances, appears to be trying to take things to the next level in Season 3, and prove it can be a Serious Drama. It launches its third season with a dark, uneasy first installment that focuses on the threat of revolution creeping through Europe and mob violence escalating at home.                   

‘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. 

 

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