I can’t believe they totally missed a trick by not invoking Waterloo (the actual bridge involved in this episode) in the title in some way.
So, we’ll get the less interesting drama out of the way first. Francatelli has decided that the best way to embark on a marriage is by going behind his future wife’s back, ignoring her wishes and objections, and making major, life-changing decisions without even consulting her or reaching a consensus. Yeah, this relationship’s gonna go the distance.
He buys the hotel (with his own money? Both of their money? It’s not clear, but definitely has implications as far as his douchiness goes. It seemed last week like he intended for them to go in on it together, but how would he have access to her funds before marriage? After marriage, yes, but not before, unless she gave it to him, which would have been pretty stupid. If it was his own money, then fair enough, we can’t really hate a man for spending his hard-earned cash as he likes. But if he used her money as well, that’s really, really bad.)
So, yeah, they’re hoteliers now. And he also set a date for their wedding which is, like, the next day. Jesus, Francatelli! This behaviour only becomes more offensive when she points out that she’ll have to give up her job when she’s married, so he’s essentially setting a very short timer on her employability and the time she gets to spend in the job she loves. Oh, and he mocks her work, too, just to add a cherry to the top of this shit sundae.
The show makes it seem, for a little while, like he’s going to get jilted at the alter, but Skerrett shows up after all. She even thought to bring a witness–a guy who looks somewhat familiar but I can’t remember who he actually is. Another servant, I think? Sorry, this is just how invested I am in the belowstairs stuff. The pair get married, and decide to keep the whole thing a secret between them and… that other guy. I’m sure all this secrecy won’t cause trouble at all!
The real story here is with the Chartists and their plan to deliver their multi-million-signature petition to Parliament. Oh, how very timely this episode seems. And how quaint, the way they seem to genuinely believe that Parliament cares in the least how many people in the country sign a petition.
The protest outside the Palace dies down long enough for Victoria to give birth to Princess Louise, but she barely has time to comb her hair before she’s dragged to a meeting with Palmerston, the PM, and Wellington (I think). They all tell her that a major military presence is needed on the streets of London immediately in order to put down this unrest. Victoria, however, refuses to allow it, believing the Chartists to be a peaceful people, because Abigail the embroiderer told her so. And surely she speaks for everyone in the movement, right?
No sooner has Victoria nixed the notion of the army on the streets than a raid at the Chartists’ headquarters reveals quite a lot of guns just sitting around in boxes for anyone to find. Handy! There are arrests, including this one Irishman whose name is so stereotypical it might as well be Paddy McShamrockface. He has just enough time to make an anguished declaration of love to Abigail before he’s bundled into a police wagon. I’m sitting here, baffled, wondering if I’m supposed to care about an out-of-the-blue romance between two very secondary characters we only met last week.
Word of all those rifles gets back to Victoria, who panics and signs the order to mobilise the army. She and Albert also put their plans to head off to Osborne back into action. But meanwhile, she cries about having lost the love of her people and Albert comforts her.
She’s not the only one in emotional distress. Duchess Sophie has a scare when her carriage is set upon by three men who yell a lot and hammer on the windows. Fortunately Palmerston comes along to drawl at them to be on their way. Once the ruffians are dispatched, he gets to bask in being her gallant rescuer for a bit. He’s a womaniser, so I’m sure that’s going to come back into play very soon.
Not long after, Sophie is told she’ll be going to Osborne, so she runs home to say goodbye to her son. A new Palace footman, William, is sent along for her protection, supposedly, but is really only there so he can witness her husband being an asshole to her. It’s all very, ‘Oh, I know you common types think it’s ok to say goodbye to your children and to even suggest you feel some affection for them, but our son will be a duke someday, and that sort of thing simply doesn’t fly.’ Looks like someone’s mummy didn’t hug him enough.
‘Scuse me, I need to go cuddle my kids.
K, sorry about that.
Speaking of kids and cuddling: Bertie and Vicky come upon Louis-Philippe standing in the hallway, just staring at a portrait of Charles I. He proceeds to tell these children (who are 7 and 8 years old, for heaven’s sake!) how Charles had his head chopped off, and that’s just what revolutionaries do.
Naturally, the kids freak the hell out and go running to the nursery, asking Victoria if someone’s going to chop her head off. While she comforts them, Albert gets his papa bear on and goes to L-P all, ‘WTF, man? You just terrified my kids!’ L-P just chuckles that he was giving them a little lesson in French history. What a dick. He, thankfully, decides it’s maybe time for him to leave.
Before that, though, he has a little chat with Victoria, who asks him if he misses France. He replies that of course he does, because France is the only civilised place in the world. He says this to the Queen of England who has given him shelter when he most needed it.
He goes on to say he’ll accept barbarity for not being dead. Wow, that’s good of you, your ex-majesty. Victoria worries that she’s going to look cowardly, running off to Osborne and he just kinda shrugs. Then there’s some discussion of where he’s going to go that results in her giving him Uncle Leopold’s old home, Claremont, now that Leopold doesn’t need it. Because he’s a current king, Louis-Philippe.
Now, all of this is playing on little Bertie’s fears and insecurities. Poor kid was already not so into the whole idea of being king someday and thinks Vicky would be better at it. She agrees, but explains that they live in a primogeniture world, and archaic and stupid rules win the day here. Once again, Victoria is called upon to mother one of her children, and she kind of cutely has a moment with him where she explains that the throne is their destiny, and they just need to suck it up, buttercup. She’s being portrayed as being much warmer and more maternal with her kids than the real Victoria was.
Feo continues to kind of glide around wearing Victoria’s clothes and playing the piano, but then gets bent out of shape when the new baby isn’t named after her. She, too, suggests leaving but Victoria insists she stay.
Back to the Chartists. Abigail goes to the jail to see if she can find Lucky Charms, but is turned away at the door. And that’s when she runs into… Lucky Charms. Irish accent gone, he claims not to know who the hell she is. Clearly, the guy was undercover and she takes this information and deduces that the rifles were planted.
She races off to the Palace where she insists Skerrett take her to see the queen. Skerrett does, probably figuring the worst that could happen is she gets fired, and Abigail lays out her incredibly circumstantial case. Victoria’s not sure what she can do, here, exactly, but the whole thing festers so much that, as she and her family set off for Osborne and the army takes positions at Waterloo Bridge under orders to stop the Chartists’ march with their petition, she stops her carriage and insists to all the men around her that the Chartists be permitted to take their petition to Parliament unmolested. Everyone’s like, ‘Ok, fine,’ and she and her family continue on their journey.
The Chartists deliver their petition (and I’m sorry to disappoint anyone hoping for a nice ending here, but it would be almost 20 years before any of the incredibly basic reforms the Chartists were hoping for were instituted), and the royals arrive at Osborne. We don’t actually see the petition being delivered or anything, because we’re too busy being shown around Albert’s Isle of Wight passion project.
While Albert is showing Victoria a sexy painting he’s positioned just above his bath, word arrives that the Chartists’ march was peaceful. Victoria throws kind of a wobbler about not having been in the city, which confuses me a little, because couldn’t she have stayed, if she wanted? How is this anyone else’s fault? Maybe it’s not and she’s just venting her frustration on the wrong people. In all fairness to her, she’s less than a month postpartum at this point, and those hormones are crazy. So, we can cut her a little slack.
Moment of Unexpected Hilarity
I don’t know why, but the sort of background moment where an exasperated Penge snaps, ‘Of course they speak English on the Isle of Wight!’ at a group of confused footmen cracked me up. Londoners think everywhere outside the home counties is a foreign country.