Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * *
Cast: Tom Burke, Santiago Cabrera, Howard Charles, Luke Pasqualino, Ryan Gage, Alexandra Dowling, Hugo Speer, Tom Morely, Thalissa Teixeira, Fiona O’ Shaughnessy, MeerA Syal, Lily Loveless, Harry Melling, Philip Barantini.
A fool always lets themselves be known by their cravings for gold, the glimmer of the precious metal as it dazzles upon the finger, as it collects dust in a vault, some cannot ever have enough and some see it for what it is, the means to survive. It is always better surely to have none and lived than fall foul to the curse of Midas.
It is not a modern curse, to fall under the spell of the valuable stone, but it was that in times of hardship rather than prosperity, seems to become a commodity that many would be willing to sacrifice their lives for. When that hardship comes from the harsh reality and fall out of war, then it is no surprise that the world turns itself inside out to possess the one thing that be bargained with more readily than anything else, save a person’s soul.
In The Musketeers episode Fool’s Gold, gold is the problem that haunts a self made village of desperate women and children who have fled into the woods and made a home, a place made safe thanks to the lost rewards of war. It is a sanctuary that comes not only with trouble attached from the outside but also one in which the Musketeers find lurking in the shadows on the inside as they are dealt a hand which almost costs them dearly.
Directed by Susan Tully, Fool’s Gold offers a complex look at the relationship between humankind, perceived wealth and the riches that are so often overlooked, life, happiness and a future; it is a complex game that many fall into the trap of believing that the former outweighs the latter, that if they have enough of one they can buy the other. It is a trap that costs more than people actually bargain for.
The episode also relies greatly on the ever growing hatred of King Louis and his wife. Finally forced to concede her guilt, the aura of fool’s gold comes into play once more and it is in this that the dichotomy of the episode hangs neatly. The scenes between Ryan Gage and the superb Alexandra Dowling may not have been in great abundance during the series, however when they have been touched upon, they have been played with tremendous style and pain staking resourcefulness.
As the series, and indeed the programme, starts coming towards its end, it is episodes like this, to be seen as both stand alone and ones that bring the whole story together, that make The Musketeers such a joy; it may be television gold but it certainly suffers no fools either.
Ian D. Hall