The Three Musketeers. Part Six – Branded

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The King is upset that the Queen isn’t wearing her diamond studs and the Cardinal sees the chance to discredit her by giving the King the two studs he obtained from Milady de Winter.   But the Cardinal is foiled when she reappears shortly afterwards wearing it – and since Buckingham was able to get it repaired in England, the Cardinal’s two diamond studs are superfluous.

It’s intriguing that Milady is the one who’s out for vengence.  She wants to see D’Artagnan stretched on the rack, whilst the Cardinal would prefer to win him over to his side.  He professes admiration for D’Artagnan’s bravery, although this doesn’t prevent him from deciding to strike at him through his mistress, Madame Bonacieux.  The Musketeers warned him this might  happen, so it’s maybe another sign of D’Artagnan’s inexperience that he gave no thought to protecting her.

Kathleen Breck continues to demonstrate that she could scream for England as she’s carried off by Rochefort’s men.  D’Artagnan is characteristically hysterical at the news, allowing Brett to go soaring over the top once again.

He’s neatly contrasted by Young’s pragmatic Athos, who tells him that he’s only lost his mistress, not his soul.  When D’Artagnan snaps back that Athos seems to love nobody, he agrees and has little sympathy for his friend’s claim that he shares a deep love with Madame Bonacieux.  “You child! Every man believes his mistress loves him. He’s deceived.” Athos’ deep cynicism constrasts well with D’Artagnan’s boundless romantic yearnings.  Athos then tells D’Artagnan a tale about a friend of his (although it’s obviously about him).

It’s another chance for Peter Hammond to craft some striking images.  Athos’ friend married a beautiful woman, but was shocked to discover some time in to their marriage that she bore the sign of the fleur-de-lys seared into the flesh of her shoulder – the brand of a criminal.  As Athos reaches this point in his tale, a giant fleur-de-lys is projected on the wall and Athos goes over and stands in front of it.  He then tells D’Artagnan that he put the woman to death, which explains why he has a rather jaundiced view of the female of the species.  It’s a wonderfully delivered monologue by Jeremy Young.  “Killing her has cured me of women. Beautiful, fascinating, poetic women. May god grant it does as much to you.”

Milady de Winter persuades her brother-in-law to kill D’Artagnan and then confides to her maid Kitty (Pauline Collins) that she’s a winner either way. If D’Artagnan dies, all well and good, if not then she inherits the family fortune. Mary Peach hasn’t had a great deal to do up to this point, but she seems to enjoy being able to let rip in this scene.

As D’Artagnan does battle with Lord de Winter (Patrick Holt), a voice-over (an unusual storytelling device for television, although one very common in radio) pops up to move the action along to the house of Porthos’ latest mistress, Madame Coquenard (Delia Corrie). He’s quite shameless in telling her that he needs money for a new horse, clothes for his servant, etc. And since her elderly husband is a wealthy man it seems logical he should provide the cash. Her cuckolded husband, listening outside the door, doesn’t seem too keen though!

D’Artagnan spares Lord de Winter’s life. Since de Winter would have told him that the duel was because of (imaginary) slghts made by D’Artagnan against his sister-in-law’s honour, it’s a little odd that D’Artagnan doesn’t treat Milady with more caution when they meet for the first time.

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