Le sigh. I got my wish for only one episode, but my God how boring it was. Victoria’s government is in a snit because the Queen of Spain (Isabella II) is in need of a husband and the British are terrified that it will be France who provides him. Against the advice of Sir Robert Peel, Victoria decides to pay King Louis Philippe a visit and put a stop to the match. Her reasoning? Well, she tells Peel, she can talk to him monarch-to-monarch which is a little thing neither he nor we can do, and it’s beyond our comprehension.
Once in France, Victoria feels awkward and plain surrounded by Frenchwoman, all of whom paint their faces, and some of whom might moisturize with masks full of warm, raw meat, but never when men are waiting on them. She tries rouge for the first time and a new hairstyle, which garners her the attention of the French king and her brother-in-law, but not her husband. What a life.
Albert, naturally, is brooding in dark corners, quite upset that he’s apparently a bastard. (He wasn’t). It’s given him imposter syndrome and so he spends the episode leaving rooms when Victoria is meeting with her ministers because he no longer feels that he has a right to advise her. If I were Victoria, I would have let that one play out, though I will note that Albert riddled with self-doubt is equally, if not more, annoying than Albert pleased with himself.
His great act of rebellion – much like getting drunk and breaking glass last week – was skinny dipping with his brother and two men who only have eyes for each other. Sure. Whatever. It’s France.
My favorite moment came when Lord Alfred asks an innocuous question and Albert responds by muttering insults about the French darkly and under his breath. Lord Alfred’s bright and cheerful, “Well, your French is improving sir, I must say,” while refusing to engage and moving on makes him this episode’s MVP by a long shot.
In any event, Albert confesses that Leopold might be his father, Victoria calls BS and tells him she doesn’t care anyway, and Albert, his confidence restored, uses a metaphor about grapes to convince Louis Philippe not to marry his son to the Spanish Queen. They return to England in a triumph…only to find out shortly thereafter that the French king double-crossed them.
Look, guys, literally all of your ancestors had to learn this lesson, too.
In the very last scene Victoria tells Albert that she’s pregnant, so here we go again.
As for your weekly fact check, yes, Victoria did go to France in 1843, but it was in September of that year, while her third child was actually born five months before. Our timeline, naturally, remains skewed. As for the real Isabella II, she married a Spaniard, not a Frenchman, in 1846, while the real Antoine would eventually marry a Spanish princess, but, not “the” Spanish princess. And if the series does follow through on Louis Philippe’s character, then we should see him again next season.