Tonight, “The Musketeers” is set to close off what was a pretty successful first season on BBC One, and a handful of episodes that really accomplished quite a bit. It has told a dramatic and exciting version of the classic “Three Musketeers” story.
So what do we know already about a potential second season? Let’s start off, first of all, with the news that there is going to be one in the first place. The show is going to have an opportunity to air a new batch of episodes in early 2015, with filming for them getting ready to take place. More of the main cast is expected to concern, and we’re about to get into the exception.
One other obvious bit of news here is that Peter Capaldi, who played Cardinal Richelieu on the series, is not going to be back for the second season thanks to his position on “Doctor Who.” This isn’t exactly something that you can begrudge him for, since Peter was a childhood fan of the series and the job is really just too good to ever pass up. It’s possible that Richelieu ends up being killed off in the finale, anyway, since it is not particular clear at the moment how much the show really knew about his future on the series at the time in which they wrote and filmed the final episodes. (Update: In watching the episode, the Cardinal lived. The writers better think of something creative!)
For those of you who have heard good things about the series so far but are waiting to know when the first season will air in the United States, know this: The show has a tentative premiere date on BBC America for June. That’s not the same generous deal that “Doctor Who” has, and is more along the wait that American audiences have for “Downton Abbey.”
Review: Damn You, Doctor Who
Musketeers don't die easily - and sure enough, BBC One's Sunday night period romp will be back for further adventures in 2015. It's earned that reprieve - there's been the odd misstep here and there, but for the most part this first series has been strong stuff.
A pity then that the show's final offering this year can't help but leave the viewer unsatisfied. It's all the more unfortunate because the one major flaw with 'Musketeers Don't Die Easily' is not of its own creation - a problem the show could do nothing to avoid.
After a magnificent build-up that sees Peter Capaldi's Cardinal howling and scowling at any Parisian who stands in his path, this first run of The Musketeers essentially ends with Richelieu getting away with murder - again.
Any other week, you would accept that, but this being the finale - and crucially Capaldi's final appearance on the show - makes the whole resolution feel pat, simplistic and deeply unsatisfying.
In fairness, there's no way the writers of The Musketeers could have known when this episode was filmed that Capaldi would be resigning his post for a shot at the TARDIS, but nonetheless, it renders so much of what occurs on-screen here utterly moot.
The Cardinal's knowledge - or at least suspicion - that Aramis fathered Anne's child, his unfinished business with Milady de Winter and the Queen's knowledge of what sort of man he truly is - none of it will have much relevance when next we venture to 17th century Paris.
Under any other circumstances, 'Musketeers Don't Die Easily' would be considered a solid finale. Though its rather blatant that the rivalry between Athos and d'Artagnan is a ruse to expose the Cardinal's wrongdoings, the episode wisely wastes little time in confirming the viewer's suspicions and making us part of the conspiracy.
Wielding a weapon far more powerful than any musket, Maimie McCoy's Milady uses her feminine wiles to marvellously manipulate all those around her - again proving herself to be one of this show's most valuable players in the process.
Another of the show's strongest facets has been its guest cast, with the best of British acting talent stepping in as guest villains. Sean Pertwee is a fine addition to the roster - a little underused perhaps but playing things just the right side of pantomime as the unsavoury Sarazin.
There's no jaw-dropping twist, no major character deaths, nothing at all particularly out-of-the-norm here - and while some may find that frustrating, the truth is that The Musketeers isn't really that sort of show.
It's fun, it's tongue-in-cheek, it's cosy - the perfect show to watch on a chilly Sunday evening with a mug of hot tea - and this finale is a pretty perfect summation of that.
But ultimately the whole thing feels like it's been undermined - knowing that plans for the show's future have been derailed means that what should be a mostly satisfying finale instead leaves the viewer feeling short-changed.
Damn you, Doctor Who.
What did you think of the finale, ONTD? And would you rather see Richelieu recast or killed off?