Back at Buckingham Palace, Victoria and Lord M agree that Queen Elizabeth I had it all figured out by staying single forever. Marriage just leads to unhappiness, divorce, or getting cuckolded by Lord Byron, so why bother?
The following day, Victoria's uncle on her mother's side, Leopold, arrives to say passive-aggressive things about her height (we get it! she's short!) and how he would be living in Buckingham Palace if his wife hadn't died during childbirth (she preceded Victoria in the line of succession). For a country known for its stuffy manners, these people sure don't have any.
Victoria's mom doesn't waste any time conspiring with her brother about making Victoria marry their other sibling's son, Albert. If you're following along, yes, that means Albert is Victoria's first cousin.
And before you leave a comment, yes, I'm aware that this sort of thing occurs often in royal families to keep alliances strong, but it doesn't make the fact that Victoria and Albert share the same grandparents any less gross.
Never one to miss an opportunity to beat a dead horse, Sir John randomly chimes in from the sidelines: "YOU NEED A HUSBAND!"
Victoria announces that they can continue discussing how she's nothing without a husband, but that she has to go govern now.
Across town, Uncle Scar is upset that he's not the only power-hungry uncle around. Scar's wife has a solution: why doesn't Uncle Scar try to make Victoria marry George, one of the first cousins on her father's side?!
Lord M finds Victoria to tell her two things:
- Ew! Your first cousin?!
- Some starving poor people are protesting for their civil rights and getting shot.
Victoria is like, Oh, that's weird. Anyway, I can't wait to dance with you at the opera tonight! Somewhere, Marie Antoinette's headless ghost is floating around, wailing, You chop off my head for wanting to share some cake, but she gets away with this? Come on!!
Downstairs, the servants pick sides -- #TeamRussianGroper, #TeamCousinAlbert, #TeamCousinGeorge, #TeamLordM -- and place bets. They're all wrong. #TeamJess all the way.
At the opera, Russian Groper and Cousin George fight over Victoria with mean looks, while Leopold creepily stalks Victoria through binoculars.
After the performance, Uncle Leopold threatens Victoria with the idea that, if she doesn't take the safe, incestuous choice with Albert and instead marries Lord M, protestors will burn everything to the ground and probably kill her. Victoria obliterates him back into his proper place with this royal clapback:
"I think you forget that I'm of a royal line that stretches back 1,000 years, whilst you're the king of Belgium, a country that did not exist a decade ago."
Back at the palace, lead maid Ms. Jenkins gets an upsetting note from her sister, but doesn't want to talk about it. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ (Dear Victoria writers, you don't have to force a "downstairs" narrative in an attempt to be Downton. You'll never be Downton, and that's okay.)
The next day, Victoria and Lord M trot around on horseback, talking about boys. The verdict: Russian Groper is hot and gets what it's like to be a spoiled royal, but is he too foreign? As for Cousin George, he's the worst, but an incestuous English marriage would be super popular with the people. Decisions, decisions.
You know who else is English? Lord M! He and Victoria stop just short of winking at each other and licking their lips. (Fun fact: in real life, Lord M was 40 YEARS OLDER than Victoria, and they didn't like each other in that way. But reality makes for dull television, so here we are.)
Elsewhere in the palace, Victoria's mom complains to her brother about how poor she feels and asks for money. He quickly delivers a NOPE, reminds her she lives in a frickin' palace, and recommends she dump Sir John and get back on Victoria's good side. Victoria's mom blinks slowly and responds, No, but for real, can I borrow ten dollars?
Sometime later, Victoria is out in public to unveil a monument to her dead father. There are more soldiers than usual because the protestors are gaining steam. Some are even talking about pushing for women's right to vote. At this idea, Victoria laughs, "Now, you are teasing me!"
Russian Groper and Cousin George fight over who gets to help Victoria ascend a single small step. Victoria doesn't need help though; as we learned last week, her new rebel move is to confront staircases without holding onto people. You go, girl!
The moment she unveils the monument, protestors erupt in shouts and Victoria is whisked away to safety. Leopold pops up out of nowhere to remind Lord M that he's old and should stop flirting with his niece.
Later that night, Victoria plays with Lord M's telescope (this is not a dirty euphemism), while, across town, Lord M holds important papers and stares off into the distance. They're basically reenacting this scene, but with way more sexual tension:
Downstairs, the Italian chef is losing his hotness by the syllable, as he badgers Babyface Maid over her mysterious past. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ (Again, Victoria writers, we don't care about these forced B plots.)
The next day, spooked by his conversation with Leopold, Lord M stays away from Buckingham Palace, but Victoria, not well-versed in play-hard-to-get or he's-just-not-that-into-you, jumps in an unmarked carriage and goes to his house. Their interaction goes something like this:
Victoria opens up about how she thought Lord M was just a replacement father figure, but that she realized she wants him to be her daddy, in a sexual sense, too! Lord M says he can't do that because he's super busy being sad about his cheating, dead wife for the rest of his life.
The next day, Victoria changes up her look (because nothing helps one get over a breakup more than a fierce makeover).
A bunch of dignitaries arrive for a ball in Leopold's honor. Russian Groper and Cousin George fight over who will dance with Victoria first. Victoria chooses Russian Groper because hotness trumps foreignness.
In some hallway, Babyface Maid gets Mrs. Jenkins to spill on that letter she received from her sister. Turns out she has a nephew, whom she hasn't seen in a long while because servants don't get PTO privileges. He always said he would come visit her and he's finally coming to London....
... "to be hanged and then to be cut open while he's still alive."
Turns out he was part of the protesting movement. WOMP.
Back in the ballroom, Lord M asks for a dance, even though he just stomped on Victoria's daddy-issue-filled heart. He brings up the relationship Queen Elizabeth I had with the Earl of Leicester. Like their situation, it was a will-they-won't-they, forbidden love thing that involved a dead wife. Victoria imagines the point of this story is to say, Screw it! Let's French kiss like it's 1559! But his point is actually, I'm still just not that into you. Also: did you know I had a wife who cheated on me with Lord Byron?
Next up in the dancing request line: Sir John, who spends the entire song telling Victoria she needs to snag a husband to "keep her behavior in check" and pop out some babies already. Get some new material, dude.
The next day, Russian Groper gives Victoria a fancy gift with their initials spelled out in diamonds, and then announces that he's going back to Russia to marry some princess his dad picked out.
So much for #TeamRussianGroper.
Over at Uncle Scar's pad, he's still grumpy over being a 67-year-old heir, who'll probably never be King. His wife cheers him up: "Remember, even healthy women can die in childbirth!" Wow. I feel really bad for the real-life woman this character is based on. After a cursory dive into her Wikipedia page, I declare that this depiction is unfair.
Back at the palace, Victoria tells Mrs. Jenkins and Babyface Maid that she wishes she was a man because corsets suck. They both put up praise hands and say, Amen!
Mrs. Jenkins falls down for no reason and asks to be excused. Victoria is like, What's her damage? Babyface Maid spills all the details about Mrs. Jenkins' nephew and how most non-royals think the punishment for protesting should be a bit more lenient than being sliced up and gutted. Victoria is like, Hmmmmm, maybe!
Victoria finds Lord M and says she wants to sign a petition on whitehouse.gov or something to save the protestors' lives. He's like, Ummm, you're the Queen. You can just commute their sentences and set them up with new lives in Australia. She's like, Cool, we'll do that, then!
On a roll, Victoria runs off to take care of another bit of business. She informs Sir John and her mom that she will grant Sir John's request for money and a title in exchange for disappearing forever and ever. Shocked, Victoria's mom turns to Sir John to find out if he's really willing to drop her for a few coins. Sir John's response:
Later that day, Victoria tries to make amends with her mother: Hey, sorry about sending away your best friend / maybe lover and for humiliating your cancer-stricken friend and speeding up her death. Here's some fancy lace and a bigger allowance. We cool? Victoria's mom decides that they are.
The next day, Victoria is painting a portrait of Elizabeth I. She tells Lord M she's decided to take a page from the former Queen's playbook and be single forever, while getting some on the side (*wink*). For the hundredth time, Lord M turns her down and tells her to maybe consider marrying her cousin Albert. This Albert better be hot, geez.
Some time later, Victoria is playing a dramatic song on the piano, while everyone sits around her, pretending not to be bored. Cut to two men descending stairs. Their boots have tassels on them. Their faces have mustaches on them. They walk in and everyone stands, but Victoria is too focused on her music to notice.
Albert (rudely, in my opinion) walks up and distracts her mid-concerto. He says her name. With her eyes, she says, UM, WOAH, TOTALLY COOL WITH THIS MARRIAGE THING NOW.
After every episode, it’s only right to reward characters who’ve impressed and diss the ones that haven’t, so here goes:
PIECE OF COAL: Russian Groper. What a tease!
HONORABLE MENTION: Victoria's Mom. Losing all your friends and being left with a daughter who hates you must be tough. Here's a pity prize to go with the fancy lace.
BRONZE: The Protestors. What do they want? Basic voting rights! When do they want it? Preferably before they all die of starvation! Keep fighting, comrades.
SILVER: Elizabeth I. For inspiring independent women that they don't need a man (unless he's super-duper hot).
GOLD: Mrs. Jenkins' Nephew's Guts. They get to stay inside of him! Yay!
Until next week! If you miss me, read some of my other work or follow me on Twitter @xcusemybeauty!
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