Victoria Ties The Knot
Where does the royal wedding leave everyone else?
In an episode satisfying to romantics and process nerds alike, Victoria marries her cousin-turned-fiancé, Albert. Questions arise! Such as:
Albert, do you have a little...something, there? On your upper lip?
There are a lot of reasons why it's fun to make fun of Tom Hughes's rendition of Prince Albert -- Albert himself said so last week -- but it's the silly mustache that makes them all come together so conveniently.
Google has recently informed me that Hughes is actually pretty hot without it, and perhaps we would all be slightly less compelled to mock Albert if he looked less like a middling shoegaze frontman. To be fair, Prince Albert really did have a goofy little mustache, and Hughes does kind of resemble him. It's nice.
Is King Leopold a Catholic like Whoopi Goldberg is a Catholic in Sister Act?
When Victoria goes to ask permission from the Privy Council to marry -- how romantic -- the Duke of Wellington does some ahead-of-his-time concern trolling regarding Albert's Catholic relatives. After all, maybe Leopold has secretly converted Albert to PAPISM, AAAAAH, and is using him as a Trojan horse to Catholicize the royal family!
This is weird for two reasons. First of all, although Albert's Catholic relatives did give the real Parliament pause, the fictional Parliament here specifically mentions that Leopold converted when he became king of Belgium -- which isn't true. But also, has this guy met Leopold? He's so busy collecting his 50,000-pound-per-year allowance and scamming on his actress girlfriend, there's no way he's evangelizing Albert or anybody else. Alex Jennings is tremendous at all of this, by the way, so it's nice that there seems to be an endless market for him to play shiftless royal uncles. (He also played Edward VIII in The Crown.)
I'm sorry, did you say the courtiers wanted to "put the royal couple to bed"?
Victoria wants a smallish wedding with breakfast after, but is informed that royal weddings are traditionally held in the evening because "the courtiers wanted to put the royal couple to bed." That's awkward, and seeing Rufus Sewell explain to Victoria that "they were more direct times" is worth whatever time you put into this episode. Incidentally, the wedding scene is decidedly set in the daytime, so maybe Victoria nipped the citizen escort in the bud. Lord M himself clearly wants no part of putting anybody to bed, so maybe it's for the best.
Is Lord M really going to retire with the full back list of Oprah's Book Club?
Now that Victoria's married off, Lord M's work is done, no matter that her new "advisor" has spent about two weeks in England and never worked in government before. Since he's retiring -- the real Lord M was 61 when Victoria and Albert married -- he tells someone at the wedding that he plans to reacquaint himself with the Brocket Hall library.
Does this mean we're done with Rufus Sewell? Because I will go Full Victoria and strike with my ladies-in-waiting to get him back, if that's the case. I've gotten attached. And because they are basically infants, Victoria and Albert will obviously have plenty of marital/gubernatorial disputes for him to work out with wisdom and compassion. Also, Sewell's only forty-nine. Four more years! Four more years!
Are Penge and Hilde the new Carson and Mrs. Hughes?
So far, the downstairs portion of this upstairs/downstairs look at Buckingham Palace has been fairly unsatisfying; nobody cares about Skerrett's vaguely checkered past or Mr. Francatelli's creeping. But the arrival of the Germans has revealed a new and intriguing opportunity for surprise middle-aged love: it seems that the palace steward Mr. Penge is now back in the sphere of his old crush, Hilde, a maid in Albert's entourage.
In a poorly timed pre-royal-wedding chat on the stairs, Mr. Penge reveals that he wrote her a letter every week for a year after they were separated. Hilde never got any of them -- we see why a bit later, when we catch Penge looking over them, unsent -- but she would "very much like to read those letters." So would I, Hilde. So would I. Penge hasn't proven himself much of a catch in previous episodes, but it seems likely that he's just cranky because he's sad and lovelorn, and I am always in favor of the sad and the lovelorn being reconstituted by long-lost crushes.
Is the Duchess of Kent just a sad empty-nester now?
We haven't seen much of Victoria's mother, the manipulative and manipulated Duchess of Kent, since Lord Conroy took the bait and ditched her for an Irish title. Once Victoria and Albert are engaged, however, her complicated relationship with her daughter reasserts itself: Victoria wants to announce her engagement to Albert but doesn't want to give the Duchess the satisfaction of having arranged their meeting. She fails -- during the ceremony, we see how pleased the Duchess is, possibly because she loves her daughter and wants her to be happy, in a twisted sort of way, but more possibly also because she called the whole thing early on, and possibly also because she can relax and have a drink now that Victoria's finally married.
All of those things are reasons this show should zoom in on the Duchess -- she's Victoria's most complicated and least dispensable relationship. It's a bit unclear what her role is, now that Victoria is both ruling and married, but we have three more episodes to go, and I want to see how things play out for her. No centuries-old spoilers, please!