[This is a review of The Musketeers season 1, episode 5. There will be SPOILERS.]
The Musketeers continues its "adventure-of-the-week" trend with another solid episode, entitled 'The Homecoming'. With Porthos on the run from Cardinal Richelieu's Red Guard, the rest of the gang must find a way to clear their comrades name before he's captured. Similar to last week's outing, there's a mysterious event that takes place in Paris, which only The Musketeers can solve. It would almost be appropriate to label 'The Homecoming' as repetitive if it weren't for Porthos' compelling back-story.
Creator/executive producer Adrian Hodges (My Week with Marilyn) and his crew are highly skilled when it comes to properly developing their characters, but after two weeks in a row of "who-done-it" stories, this device has become tiresome. The cardinal's assassin, Milady de Winter remains hidden, which is a shame, since she has been one of the more dynamic characters from the first half of this season. In a series consisting of only ten episodes, The Musketeers needs to be more cautious with how it spends the precious hours it has left.
With all that negativity out of the way, this action-adventure series possesses one of the better ensembles on television. Howard Charles is brilliant as the sullen, yet charismatic Porthos. A few weeks ago, we learned that our most lovable Musketeer was a descendant of slaves and abandoned in Paris as a young boy. 'The Homecoming' gives us a glimpse of how Porthos came to be the man he is today.
The Court of Miracles was a thrilling place to explore. As a younger man, Porthos ended up fleeing this den of thieves to seek a better life and it is also the place where he first fell in love. The lovely Irish-born Fiona Glascott (Episodes) plays Flea, a fierce woman who decided not to follow Porthos after he left. Even with the short amount of time we're given with her, the chemistry she has with our fugitive Musketeer shines through nicely. Again, this is largely credited to a talented group of writers led by Hodges.
Charon, portrayed by the talented Ashley Walters (Get Rich or Die Tryin') was another welcomed addition. The story of these three friends torn apart by time, love and obligation strengthened this surprisingly mediocre episode. The cardinal's plot to destroy the Court of Miracles in order to build a better Paris seems unimpressive next to the relationship Porthos has with Charon and Flea.
The mystery surrounding this week's episode is merely a device used in order to better understand where Porthos came from. These devices, in and of themselves, are not wrong, but when the story seemingly has very little to do with the overall plot, then the episode feels partially wasted. Honestly, how many conspiracies do we need in order to realize that Cardinal Richelieu is a bad guy? I think we get the point.
We're now halfway done with the first season of The Musketeers, with the BBC having already renewed the series for a second outing. Are you enjoying the episodic adventures of our heroes, or are you curious to uncover more of the bigger picture? Stay tuned to find out.
The Musketeers continues with 'The Exiles' next Sunday @9pm on BBC America.