Victorious Blog, Episode 4: “An Ordinary Woman”

“But you are not an ordinary woman; you are a queen.”

This is the fourth post of the Victorious Blog series. Click here to read the series.

Upon recovering from learning that my colleague has ACTUALLY MET RUFUS SEWELL – with a picture to prove it! – I’m ready to talk about Victoria on Masterpiece: “An Ordinary Woman.”

[Editor’s note: Jonna is lying, literally and figuratively; after the excitement of a royal wedding, she has taken to her fainting couch with a case of the vapours. Feel better!]

How do you tell a familiar story without making it appear stale? Therein lay the challenge for Daisy Goodwin when writing this episode.  (Yeah, yeah, we know there’s a wedding …)

But Goodwin’s got some magic up her Victorian-era sleeve. Episode Four begins with familial gloating, peaks with gratuitous brooding, and ends with – excuse me, without the need for Madeira.

The gloating. 

We begin our journey in the gardens, where the Duchess of Sutherland gives the Dowager Countess a run for her money in the witty one-liner department.

Ernest: “There are some very curious-looking shrubs over there, would you be kind enough to explain them to me?”
Duchess, without skipping a beat: “Shrubs are my specialty, sir.”
*Exit Ernest and Duchess so the lovebirds can be alone to kiss … and breathe loudly*

While alone in the gardens, Victoria and Albert dart behind trees to avoid her mother’s gaze. Indeed, the Duchess would be quite proud of herself if she witnessed the canoodling.

But no trees can save the couple from the gloating going on inside the palatial walls. Uncle Leopold is spying on the couple through the drapes. And let me tell you: he’s delighted. His exact facial expressions are:

You can’t really blame the gloaters; those two crazy kids are actually in love. As Albert said in the last episode, it’s not even a “marriage of convenience” – no small miracle.

If we’re going to play the blame game, let’s focus on the terrible marriage advice being tossed around. As soon as Leopold stops patting himself on the back, he barges in on Albert and Ernest to tell Albert how to husband. Some gems of marital advice – from a guy who hasn’t actually been married since his “dear Charlotte” passed on 20 years ago – include:

“You will have no difficulty in molding her to your views.”

and

“Any man can keep a woman happy if he pays her enough attention and keeps his other women out of sight.”

Sure thing, Leopold.

The brooding.

Prince Albert is obviously a professional brooder. Top that off with a dash of Lord M.’s ruminations, and we have the broodiest episode to date.

The Victoria-Albert drama was a triple-layer cake that would have made Francatelli proud.

  1. Albert fights for a title and a decent salary. As Lord Alfred Paget says, “A man like to buy his own snuff-boxes.”
  2. Victoria needs marriage approval from the Privy Council, which is a tall order since Albert is German and *gasp* has a Catholic relative in the family.
  3. And, the icing on the cake: Albert and Victoria have to endure weeks apart when Albert’s in Germany.

It’s… complicated.

Speaking to Victoria before his departure to Germany, Albert says, “Normally, it’s the bride who has to say goodbye to the home of his youth. As with so many things, it’s different with us.”

Albert has to set aside his pride to make the relationship work. He doesn’t want to feel like simply the husband to the Queen, or – even worse – a subject. Luckily, Victoria seems reasonably sympathetic to his feelings and tries to make it clear that when she marries him, despite her title, it will be as an ordinary woman.

Despite her intentions to keep things secret for as long as possible, Victoria does eventually have to reveal the engagement to her mom … and Lord M. 

As we know, Lord M. tries to be like “Oh, it’s cool. No big deal. Love you, buddy,” but he’s obviously dying inside. This is not only the end of any glimmer of a romantic future, but also the end of Victoria and Lord M.’s working relationship.

The post-marriage goodbye is just too much.

In the end, through all the money drama, title drama and uncle drama, the two negotiate their way to the altar. Which leads us to …

A royal wedding!

The whole palace is abuzz with wedding talk, and even the downstairs servants are thinking about marriage.

Pretty much everyone downstairs seems to be having some sort of heartbreak/unrequited love situation. Who knew crusty Mr. Penge was such a softie? Miss Skerrett is sad about the thought of never getting married. Meanwhile, Francatelli acts like that kid in school who supposedly “only teases you because he likes you.” No thanks, Francatelli!

But as we know, it’s all about Victoria and Albert.

One of my favorite pre-wedding moments was Victoria’s declaration while getting dressed: “no diamonds.” It’s a perfect example of her trend-setting nature.

The pipe organ-laden wedding procession was breathtaking. Albert is not only a master brooder, but also a master slow-walker. I thought he was never going to make it to the altar, but he did. And once he did, the ceremony was gorgeous.

Really. Just look at that profile.

After the wedding, everyone’s elated (besides Miss Skerrett, who’s still bawling in the basement), and Albert and Victoria can finally be alone. Alone and nervous. Terribly nervous.

Victoria: “Do you want anything? Some … Madeira, perhaps?”
Albert: “No, thank you. I’m not … thirsty. ”
Victoria:  “No Madeira.”
And, just when you thought they couldn’t BE any more quiet, Albert echoes Victoria as he whispers a barely audible: “No Madeira.”

After Albert’s wild evening of note-taking at the, uh, nunnery (oh, Ernest! Such a troublemaker!), he begins their marriage in classic Albert style: loyal, focused and straight to the point. I’d like to see Prince Albert’s report card. Dean’s List for sure.

And the rest is history, folks.

A few more tidbits, courtesy of PBS:

Sometimes, Albert’s loyalty seems too good to be true. But he really was romantic in real life, too. If you’re not following Masterpiece on social media, it’s worth it just for their Victoria PBS Fact or Fiction posts:

The Cast Looks at Victoria and Albert’s Relationship:

I’ll be back next week to talk about Episode 5, “The Queen’s Husband,” which will follow Victoria as she gets her way at court and resorts to a folk cure in the bedroom.

Until then, what was your favorite part of this week’s episode? Comment below!

One thought on “Victorious Blog, Episode 4: “An Ordinary Woman””

  1. My thoughts:
    –Tom Hughes (Prince Albert) was clearly chosen for his ability to make anything sound like a whispered sweet nothing. (“Motorcycle cop…”)

    –“I think I would like my wedding dress to be white.” And thus every bride and dry cleaner in the Western hemisphere took a deep breath and said, “Yyyyyeah, okay…”

    –Duchess of Kent: “I’m afraid the Baroness has failed to teach you of the ways of men.” Go ahead; blame it on the Baroness. Thank goodness Albert is Albert; I bet there was a wholllle lot of stuff that old Kensington System left out. FROWN FACE.

    –Victoria literally running away from Lord M., skirts billowing as he watches her go. Sigh… our little girl is all grown up.

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