The Musketeers, S01 Ep08 – The Challenge

D'Artagnan's pauldron

This week’s episode is called “The Challenge”. It is indeed a challenge that changes d’Artagnan’s life forever. He is no longer an apprentice joining Athos, Porthos, and Aramis in their missions, but a true musketeer. He’s earned it because he has gone through so much in order to see his dream coming true.

Captain Treville fights LabargeEverything starts with the arrest of Labarge, a dangerous criminal. Following the murder of a Red Guard captain (of which Labarge is guilty), a contest is set between the King’s Musketeers and the Cardinal’s Red Guards: each side pretends to be better than the other, the rivalry between them being bitter. But now is their chance to prove it once and for all. Their champions will face each other in 3 rounds: shooting, wrestling, and sword fighting. Of course, at the garrison everyone is training, trying to impress Captain Treville: Aramis definitely is the best shooter, Porthos is the best when it comes to wrestling, and Athos is the best sword-fighter as he is training d’Artagnan (moreover, in ep. 4 Treville tells the Cardinal that Athos is the best swordsman in the regiment). Athos is now d’Artagnan’s mentor (a bit ironic, isn’t it?), and hopes that his apprentice will be the chosen one as he thinks he may be the greatest of them all.

However, Treville is clever enough (well, I never doubted it) to spy on the Red Guards, and he finds out that their champion is none other than Labarge himself. As he is a ferocious brute, the musketeers are no match for such a monster so Treville decides to face him: fight or die trying (when Treville shouted: “Come on!!!”, I was like: “Yeah, you go Treville!”). Anyway, it was stupid of him to show off, even though Labarge was wounded. Once again, Captain Treville proves why he is one of my favourite characters. He acts like a father to his soldiers, willing to die in this contest for the sake of his men (remember what he says when d’Artagnan and the others decide to fight Labarge: “What the hell are you doing?”). Treville knows that the musketeers are better than the Red Guards, but Labarge is no ordinary soldier. To be honest, my heart skipped a bit when Labarge broke his hand. Realising that Labarge is going to kill him, d’Artagnan and the others engage in combat. This is actually one of my favourite scenes: they save their captain. I treasure loyalty and I find this bond between soldiers and their captain very moving.

The conversation between Louis and the Cardinal during the fight is absolutely hilarious (and awww Louis cares for Treville and really appreciates him). The King offers Treville the chance to nominate a second champion, and the captain makes the right choice: d’Artagnan. Thanks to his talent and Athos’s training, d’Artagnan defeats him and wins his commission from the King. To me, this is the most beautiful scene of the episode: a teary-eyed d’Artagnan is congratulated by the King himself (Louis’s speech is so touching) and made a musketeer, now wearing the fleu-de-lis-decorated pauldron. His and the others’ reactions are so heartwarming that I even teared up a little. I am very happy for him, because he did his best to prove himself worthy of the musketeer uniform.

Porthos and Alice at the church

Every episode reveals more about each character, but now I would like to talk about Aramis and Porthos. Putting aside the fact that they are picking up chicks at the church during mass (I chuckled) and they are literally hustling in order to get the entry fee (desperate times call for desperate measures), I believe that both of them feel very lonely. Of course, they have true friends and the musketeers are like a family to them, but a woman that they truly love and children are a completely different thing. First, Porthos had to give up Flea (he loved her dearly); now it’s Alice’s turn. To be honest, I don’t think her reasons are very well-founded. Some have to put up with bigger hardships: Constance is married and Queen Anne is, well, the Queen. Both of them are single and she comes up with the reason that he’s a soldier. Anyway, they could be simply lovers, but that’s the script.

Of course Porthos is happy to have a friend like Aramis, but he is obviously sad to let her go. Aramis is afraid that Porthos will get married, which means that they will spend less time together (perhaps Porthos will even give up soldiery). I think this scares Aramis because he is most fond of Porthos and without him, he will be almost alone. Porthos’s line: “There is a life beyond the musketeers, you know?” breaks Aramis’s heart, because he doesn’t have a choice. He believes Adele left him for a wealthy and powerful man and the Queen is out of his league. He wishes to have a family (remember his conversations with Agnes), but he’s unlucky from this point of view. He is relieved to see that Porthos won’t leave the musketeers – better said, he won’t live him.

Constance criesNow, something that tore my heart out: Constance and d’Artagnan. They have such a beautiful relationship, based on true love and respect, and then her husband finds out (well, it was pretty stupid of them to kiss in the middle of the street), she has to break d’Artagnan’s heart so he will hate her (like that’s even possible), and both of them are agonizing. What really got on my nerves: she didn’t tell him the truh (communication is the key) and then she didn’t watch until the end to see if d’Artagnan got in Milady’s carriage (old movie tricks…). I really hope that they will be back together.

Speaking of Milady, so far the Cardinal has been a great ally of hers. From now on, I think he will be one of her most dangerous enemies. Her encounter with Athos is beautiful and sad at the same time. She notices that he still wears her locket and they kiss (my God, you can feel the sexual tension from miles away). It’s obvious that they still have feelings for each other (sickly love), but too much happened and they can’t move on. Milady is a merciless assassin, but I still feel sorry for her.Milady and Athos kiss

To conclude, this episode is pretty good and I can’t wait for the next ones!