TV Show Review

TV Review: THE MUSKETEERS: Season 1, Episode 2: SLEIGHT OF HAND [BBC]

Luke Pasqualino The Musketeers Sleight of Hand

BBC’The Musketeers Sleight of Hand TV Show Review. The Musketeers: Season 1, Episode 2: Sleight of Hand was a slight improvement over Episode 1. Sleight of Hand, nonetheless, demonstrates that there is more than clichés that The Musketeers can deliver. Episode 2 has an intriguing villain and a rather interesting undercover storyline which make its 50 minutes good at the very least. Some characters thrive, like the King and some more important like the high-ranking hidden villains lose their presence. The good news however is that the writers of the show know how to construct a good and memorable villain. They have proved it in the first episode and they assure us in their ability to craft a swell bad guy in the second too. If only they could spare as much effort on the protagonists, the fight scenes and the overall story.

So far the formula is one and the same in every episode. A bad guy, the Musketeers handle every danger, a mystery surrounding a villain is resolved, this mystery puts a specific Musketeer in danger and meanwhile, the femme fatale is pursuing her interests. In those aspects, which actually form a very huge part of both episodes, the first two chapters of The Musketeers are quite identical. What has improved are the stakes-last time a Musketeer was in danger, now we have the main character threatened and the King. The little moments are improved-we see a Musketeer flirting with the Queen itself, a Musketeer throwing himself upon a grenade to shield the innocent. This time around there’s definitely more promise for a better future of the series. Clichés are being more consistently replaced by surprises.

More effort is also invested in the story. We start off the first twenty minutes with the outmost certainty at one thing and then very soon in the story a revelation strikes. The undercover role of D’Artagnan is quite interesting-it’s a dangerous mission that will keep you interested but unfortunately it will never keep you on the edge of your seat. The villain is the best thing about the episode. He is smart, brutal and as the episode progresses he gets more evil and totally unpredictable. He is a villain that doesn’t hide from us (the audience) and yet manages to fascinate us with his superb plan.

That being said, there’s a lot of space for improvement. The fight scenes are still a shaky, badly shot and edited mess and this is a great disadvantage in a motion picture about musketeers. The way it is, the most hard-hitting and impressive weapon our characters have are their noble speech and affinity for ironic and threatening jokes. They will impress you more than the defeat of an enemy in a sword fight. This time around there is nothing in particular to hook you up for the next episode. The story simply ends, although somewhat spectacularly and leaves us with nothing really for Episode III.

The Musketeers need to put an emphasis on its main characters. At the moment, they seem to be there only to rescue the day. Their characters are not explored; their desires are not put on the table. The antagonists are the one who go through character development and in the case of Sleight of Hand the emotional resonance itself was placed upon the bad guy. There is nothing bad in such a thing, but The Musketeers loses the audience’s interest when we are following boring main characters and despite their jokes and good acting, these Musketeers are badly underwritten. I am looking forward to Episode III, the preservation of the great villainy, the intriguing story and the development of the characterization of the protagonists as well the improvement of the essential fight scenes.

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Deyan Angelov

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