Previously on Victoria: Victoria struggled to find her equilibrium again after the birth of her daughter, as both her husband and her ministers attempted to keep the news of Britain’s defeat in Afghanistan from her. Albert, who’s enjoying his crack at power more than he probably wants to admit, also seems quite taken with one Miss Ada Lovelace and her amazing Analytical Engine. Victora’s new Mistress of the Robes – the Duchess of Buccleuch – arrives, along with her niece Wilhelmina, who seems quite taken with Prince Ernest. And, as usual in a time of personal crisis, Victoria once again turns to Lord Melbourne for advice and a pep talk, and we all tried to pretend that he wasn’t looking quite as ill and tired as we feared. (More details can be found in our full recap of last week's episode.)
If any of us were under any illusions that this season of Victoria was going to be a frothy, light-hearted affair, this double-episode promptly put that particular fantasy to rest. While this installment does feature some soapy fun – a costume ball, several dramatic family revelations, and the unfortunate return of Miss Skerrett’s identity theft subplot – the bulk of the story revolves around sadness, depression and loss. There are moments where the supersized story handles these issues well (everything involving Dash and Lord Melbourne) and moments where it does not (the quickness with which Victoria bounces back from a fairly dark bout of post partum depression), but on the whole, the episode is pretty compelling.