Posts by Lacy Baugher

‘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. 

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