The daylight will always follow the dark, when The Musketeers of the Guard, founded by France’s King Louis XIII (1601-1643) and led by the fab four Aramis (Santiago Cabrera), Athos (Tom Burke), Porthos (Howard Charles) and d’Artagnan (Luke Pasqualino), are in charge of keeping Paris safe. The actors have all matured in their roles and into the leather outfits that have become their second skins, bearing the hallmark of a King’s Musketeer, the regiment’s emblem worn proudly on their shoulders.
The Musketeers are hard fit fighting men, who on a daily basis have to make decisions that affect so many people’s lives, apart from their own.
Throughout their careers with swords and muskets in battle on foot or horseback, the famous regiment all fought gallantly and survived until 1816 when they finally laid down their arms for good.
Since then and most especially for the BBC One smoking hot hit television series The Musketeers, all the tales of “…their bitter recollections have had the time required to change themselves into sweet remembrances”*
The scriptwriters for all the thirty episodes have been inspired by re-visiting the exploits of our four fabulous giants of fiction, whose tales were written down so eloquently by author Alexandre Dumas (1802-1870), nineteenth century master of the swashbuckling romantic age novel.
They excel themselves in this excellent television series right up until the final moments. Not too many spoilers now, so please don’t read on if you don’t want to know any details.
The man who brought the fab four’s adventures to our attention foretold in the preface to his original novel ‘… the heroes of the story…have nothing mythological about them’… and as we learn, they were living-breathing men who gathered a legend around them for their bravery and exploits.
Dumas says, “A short time ago, while making researches in the Royal Library for my History of Louis XIV, I stumbled by chance upon the Memoirs of M. d’Artagnan printed, as were most of the works of that period, in which authors could not tell the truth without the risk of a residence, more or less long, in the Bastille… written at Amsterdam, by Pierre Rouge. The title attracted me; I took them home with me, with the permission of the guardian, and devoured them”. They sent him on a quest to research what d’Artagnan related… ‘that on his first visit to M. de Treville, captain of the king’s Musketeers, he met in the antechamber three young men, serving in the illustrious corps into which he was soliciting the honour of being received, bearing the names of Athos, Porthos, and Aramis’.
We have been enjoying the stories surrounding their lives ever since. We are at the end of Series 3 of the truly excellent BBC One Television Series The Musketeers and in the grand finale we are reminded to always remember … all for one and one for all!
Grief can become your downfall in episodes 6 – 10 as series creator and lead writer Adrian Hodges and his colleagues including the various directors, ramp up the action, adventure, intrigue and action, ending the series with both love and romance presented with great élan. When their garrison is blown sky high it is Captain Athos who reminds them all that the garrison is not just bricks and mortar, it’s the place where The Musketeers gather together holding what is most dear within their hearts.
The day you die is just like any other day, and you don’t see it approach because you are too busy living. …says the voice of the evil Governor Feron (Rupert Everett is delicious) in the opening moments of Episode Six.
The tension builds as you see him putting his seal on a document he is hoping will determine our four heroes fate by sundown!
But all’s well, when the next thing we see is Aramis sunning his abs on a warm French summer’s day – so much eye candy for the ladies.
Then d’Artagnan receives a letter meant to be from Treville summoning The Musketeers out of Paris. But is it genuine?
Athos is missing and they have to leave without him, not knowing he’s in a battle for his life in a swordfight with the Series 3 resident baddie of all time, Lucien Grimaud (Matthew McNulty). There is only the lovely refugee Sylvie (Thalissa Teixeira) to come Athos’s aid, although she only wounds Grimaud as he gets away yet again.
Athos discovers his friends have all been lured out of Paris by deception and heads out to warn them of imminent danger.
Meanwhile the Red Guard headed by the unstoppable Marcheaux (Matt Stokoe) intercept them along the road to take Aramis back to the palace on the King’s orders. King Louis XIII (Ryan Gage) is waiting, dressed in a suit of very plain clothes because he’s going on pilgrimage to the mausoleum of his father.
He wants his priest-musketeer to go with him to the ancient cathedral of Saint Denis, burial place of the ancien regime. He and Aramis walk out of palace along the road together.
Ryan Gage as Louis XIII really shines in this final series, proving he’s far more than a handsome face, indeed he gives the King a shining inner strength as he faces certain death, knowing he only has a few months to live from the ‘white plague’ as it was known, tuberculosis.
d’Artagnan and Porthos are lured to a set of ruins in the countryside, where they come under attack from a gang of hired thugs and it will take all their skills to survive, especially when Lucien Grimaud arrives to blow the barn they are in up in an attempt to kill them both.
Before he arrived Grimaud has informed Governor Feron (Rupert Everett) whom he’s funding, that he wants him to kill both the King and Aramis at the Mausoleum, and if he fails him, he will kill Feron too.
Governor Feron has already visited the King’s younger wicked brother Gaston (Andre Flynn) in the Bastille and freed him so that they can help with he and Grimaud’s plans to overthrow the King in this time of weakness, killing the young dauphin, the future King Louis XIV.
In this the last five episodes our heroes have many many moments that are memorable in terms of their fighting ability, their camaraderie, their relationships with the various women, who come in and out of their lives, with the people of Paris
Above all is their former Captain Treville (Hugo Speer), who after sharing their lives shouting, laughing and drinking together has become the King’s Minister for War. His death when it comes during Series 3 is deeply affecting.
Alexandra Dowling as Anne of Austria Queen of France shines like a golden ray of sunshine in this final series. Beautiful, brave and determined in the timeline of history the show ends when she is Queen Regent over France’s most loved King, the young Louis XIV.
The small child playing the young Louis truly deserves a mention, apart from the fact he looks so much like portraits of the real King Louis XIV when he was small, he plays his part so well.
Tamla Kari as Constance the love of D’Artagnan’s life has been a backstop for them all, kind, compassionate, caring and fiery when needed, I am sure, she will, as we are sure to do, miss them all.
Mamie McCoy as the malicious assassin Milady is back one last time too, carrying out the orders of a new ‘mistress’ to remove the only impediment left likely to prove a thorn in the side of the young King’s life and reign – Gaston, d’Orleans.
In history Gaston was exiled after taking part in the Fronde, 1648-53, the complex plot hatched by the nobility against the crown, a fear and threat the young Louis would never forget and take dramatic steps in the future to avoid.
I have to admit to bias as far as the tales of The Musketeers, because I began reading about them under the bedclothes at night as a child with a torch when I was supposed to be asleep.
The character of The Musketeers surely influenced my idea of what man ought to be, strong mentally and physical, full of courage and conviction and not afraid to share emotions and have compassion for others beyond self.
Over the years since I have revisited their stories through many different interpretations, but I have to say none quite so affecting and as enjoyable as this grand swash buckling television series.
I will warn you though, that you will need to keep your box of tissues handy throughout the final ten episodes.
The Musketeers and their stories of hope always seem to come along at points in contemporary history when we need them to remind us about the principles surrounding honour, courage, faith and love.
As Athos so poignantly reminds us all at the very end as he leaves with Sylvie – it is love above all else that really always prevails, and we need to find it again at this tumultuous time on our own evolutionary path.
Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2016