Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 9/10
Cast: Tom Burke, Peter Capaldi, Santiago Cabrera, Howard Charles, Luke Pasqualino, Annabelle Wallis, Alexandra Dowling, Ryan Gage, Tamla Kari, Maimie McCoy, John Lynch, Hugo Speer, Alice Sanders, Hannah Sharp, Richard Hawley, Christian Jenner, Brian Pettifer.
A Rebellious Woman or a woman who understood the complexity of wanting equality in an age of misogyny and pathetic fear in wondering what education would do to a female mind. Not an episode set in the current era, nor back in the dark days of 1970s Britain in which sexism was incredibly rife but in the days of France in which the rule of law was not in the lap of the King as is supposed but in that of the Cardinal and of the Church.
Such was a woman’s lot in 17th Century France that just by standing up to be counted, to even have the suggestion of education, to admit teaching young women more than men wanted them to know was considered a type of heresy that was unforgivable to allow to breathe and would lead to accusations of witchcraft.
Darker deeds are being practised though in Paris as Papal Envoy Father Luca Sestini, played with a wonderful sense of authority by John Lynch, comes to the capital to make offerings and faint words to the Cardinal. The question of witchcraft is soon mooted as the plans of several men come together in a potent mix of treachery and falsehood, but just exactly who is on trial. A Rebellious Woman, by Renaissance standards, Ninon De Larroque, (Annabelle Wallis) the proto-feminist, may be accused but compared to MiLady she is a woman playing by better rules and not at the behest of a man with a cross at his neck but it is up to the Musketeers to investigate just exactly who is behind the turmoil.
Viewers only have to look at the likes of Amelia Lanyer to at least get to start to understand just how the rule of crown, church and state was so set against women reaching their full potential, of standing side by side with men in case the whole world of masculine authority was bought tumbling down, thankfully enlightened times, of proper understanding make the episode stand out in a way above all episodes so far in this series of The Musketeers. It also had the added attraction of having Peter Capaldi at its very core, both accuser and grasping genius, his role of Cardinal Richelieu is a particular highlight in a programme that is both absorbing and wonderfully written.
The Musketeers continues on Sunday.
Ian D. Hall