REVIEW: Will, S1 Ep4 – Brave New World

It seems like TNT might be realizing that Will isn’t as successful as they had hoped. After releasing the first six episodes online for streaming after only airing the first two, they have now released the entire ten-episode season on demand and online for streaming. Not only that, but they’ve also moved the show from its timeslot – it now airs two hours later on Mondays at 11 eastern.

I’ve expressed an extremely lukewarm opinion of Will from the beginning – but that doesn’t mean I want it cancelled. I’ve been known to stick with shows that I absolutely hated just because the writers knew how to craft an addictive-as-hell plot. Will seems to be going the same way. It’s not a great show, but it’s good enough. I still maintain that Shakespeare buffs would be a lot more interested in watching it if it were the story of a fictional playwright, with some inspiration taken from the Bard’s life.

Episode four of Will was okay. I didn’t love it, but I also didn’t hate it. There were certainly moments that I was swooning – mostly over the punk rock-inspired Victorian costumes at the party that Marlowe took Will and company to. I need at least several of those dresses to appear in my closet, stat.

The forbidden love/cheating storyline is still grating at me, but it seems that we won’t have to deal with it much longer. When Alice discovered Southwell’s manuscript in Will’s room, she left, and told him that he had to leave the theatre and and her family. Then she agrees to marry her suitor Keenan, despite her complete lack of interest or attraction. While she and Will do kiss and make up before the end of the episode, I’m hopeful that we could be nearing the end.

One character that I’ve never addressed in my reviews is Richard Burbage (Mattias Inwood), Alice’s older brother. He’s incredibly cocky and incredibly pretty – but certainly not the brightest. Unfortunately, there really isn’t much of anything interesting about him, other than his pretty face. History tells us that he is one of the most famous actors of his time, so he should certainly have a great story somewhere. Unfortunately, he’s pushed to the background most of the time.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about Richard is that, despite his pretty face and reputation for being narcissistic, he seems to be developing quite the crush on an entirely “ordinary” girl, Moll (Abigail Hardingham). She is certainly a foil to his self-absorption, and also breathes a refreshing air into the show. It’s nice to see that she doesn’t get lost in Richard’s good looks.

Luckily, in this episode Richard finally got to show some depth. He was surprisingly insightful when discussing story and character with Will – though still with his egotistical charm.

The highlight of this episode was the party that Marlowe took Will to. It was filled with the London elite, and they certainly helped keep Will’s newly-engorged ego in check. While the episode began with a montage of his success as a playwright, the party served to bring him back down and humble him. It was also a beautiful and debaucherous time.

Until it took a very chilling turn. Marlowe took Will upstairs to the “real party,” filled with famous names you’ve probably heard before. They indulge in some opium and Will has quite the religious and haunting hallucinations.

It prompts him to try to destroy Southwell’s manuscript, and to tell the man that he won’t join him. He wants nothing to do with the religious war that seems to have London in its grasp. Unfortunately, he can’t seem to escape it.

Topcliffe requests Will’s presence, and it seems that he has finally, somehow, been caught as a Catholic. Instead, Topcliffe reveals that he wants to use Will as his weapon against Southwell – he wants Will to write an anti-Catholic play. Now this is the kind of drama I can get behind, and it’s certainly what’s drawing me in week after week.

This episode had less Will and Alice, and more drama that isn’t about their relationship, so in my books that’s a win. The costumes continue to dazzle me. But overall, the show still doesn’t have that spark that would make it a real hit. I’m a hopeless optimist, so all I can say is that I’m rooting for Will.

Will airs Monday at 11 eastern on TNT. You can stream the entire first season here through your cable provider.

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