In the previous episode of Victoria, Albert threw an episode-long tantrum to get Lehzen fired, Prime Minister Peele got sick of all of these people and quit, and, oh yeah, the writers killed off Brunette Most Definitely Gay because we needed another reminder that gays don't get to have happy endings. Will Ada Lovelace pop back up to invent a mood stabilizer for Albert? Will Prime Minister Peele dedicate the rest of his life to orchids and dying alone, like Lord M? Will Brunette Most Definitely Gay's ghost come back and take a pottery class with his woulda-coulda-shoulda boyfriend?
Only one way to find out! On with the show!
Our episode begins in the Kingdom of Dahomey in West Africa, the place that inspired the bad ass group of women guards in Black Panther.
Inside a royal hut, the following exchange takes place:
Some white dude: Hey, King of Dahomey, you really shouldn't keep that child in a cage.
King of Dahomey: How dare you?! You don't even go here! I do what I want!
White dude: Don't make my Queen angry. And also don't irritate her man-baby husband because I can't take another episode of him whining and throwing tantrums.
King of Dahomey: He sounds like the worst.
White dude: He is.
King of Dahomey: Okay, how about this? I'll let you take this caged kid, if you get out of my face.
White dude: Deal.
Over at the palace, Albert is actually in a good mood! He's hopped up on Christmas, blasting Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas Is You," watching The Family Stone over and over (minus the sad ending), and plotting the amount of trees he'll bring into the residence. I'm sure he really loves the fact that Jesus was born, but I bet he loves the fact that Lehzen is no longer around even more.
Over in Hampshire, the caged child from Dahomey is now in a pretty dress, learning to play piano. The white dude turns out to be a captain, and he intends to give the child to Victoria as a gift. Surprise! I got you a human being! Yeah, that just doesn't feel right.
Speaking of children, Victoria's corset doesn't fit again.
You know what that means!
She's pregnant for the 9,724th time!
Victoria confides in Babyface Maid: "This is my first pregnancy since..."
9 months ago?
Oh, turns out she meant "...since Lehzen left." But both are correct.
Albert interrupts to say that there's a surprise for Victoria in the music room. Is it a lifetime supply of contraceptives? Please be a ton of condoms!
Unfortunately, the surprise ends up being quite the opposite: Uncle/Daddy Leopold and Victoria's mom, who are delighted at how quickly Victoria is churning out children. They almost burst into a cheerleading routine, in which they spell out K-E-E-P H-A-V-I-N-G U-N-P-R-O-T-E-C-T-E-D S-E-X!, but they save it for another time.
Speaking of sex, Ernst -- who puts the ho in "Ho ho ho!" -- is also in attendance and feeling awkward for a few reasons:
- Widow Bestie, whom Ernst just stood up with no explanation, is there.
- Uncle/Daddy Leopold is trying to marry Ernst off to a princess, who is also his cousin, because there's no such thing as too much incest in this royal family.
- Ernst can't have sex with either of them because of the syphilis he picked up in France.
It's tough being Ernst right now, but it might be harder to be on the receiving end of a child's insult.
Victoria's mom: "Do you remember me?"
Lil' Vicki: "Yes, you were the lady who always makes mama cross."
Downstairs, Hot Italian Chef and Babyface Maid are playing tonsil hockey and enjoying being straight. Meanwhile, Blond Most Definitely Gay is shirtless in his room, as he puts on a black arm band under his clothes because no one can know that his heart is broken. Hold on. Be right back. Gotta go sob.
In the throne room, the Captain attempts to gift the Dahomey child, whose name is Sarah, to the Queen. It's as awkward as expected. But, after hearing the story of how Sarah is actually a princess whose entire family was slaughtered, it is decided that she can stay. Victoria's emotional journey in a nutshell:
The next day, while Victoria and Sarah are out shopping for dolls, the Duchess of Buccleuch is loudly grousing about how crazy she thinks taking in an African orphan is. She is also disturbed by Albert's extravagant Christmas decorations ("In my day, we were perfectly happy with an orange!"). And she's displeased with her niece, whose name I just learned is Wilhelmina, for being over the age of 16 and still single. Anything else, Duchess?
In the nursery, Sarah is spooked by the palace dogs. Like me, she is troubled by the fact that none of these dogs are Dash. #ResurrectDash #IMissPhotoshoppingHeartsAroundHisLittleFace
Victoria's mom and Albert try to convince Victoria to kick Sarah out of the palace, even though she has no one. I wonder if they would act this way if the princess was from Europe.
The next day, Babyface Maid visits a lawyer and discovers that she's just inherited property in South Carolina worth over a million pounds by today's standards!
The only trouble is that it's a plantation full of slaves.
Back at the palace, Uncle/Daddy Leopold finds Ernst lazing about with spilled mercury powder all over his room. Leopold is not fazed in the slightest and brushes off Ernst's concerns about spreading syphilis. Oh, please! There are worse things than spreading an STD to your cousin and maybe having deformed children with her! Do it for our incest-ridden dynasty!
That evening, the whole gang goes to the opera, where Uncle Scar pops up to say, Oh, hey, Victoria. I'm really bummed that you haven't died while giving birth to any of your 9,724 kids. P.S. I WANT MY MOM'S NECKLACE BACK!
Later that night, Sarah has a night terror and ends up wandering the halls, crying. Victoria rushes to comfort her, while Albert reiterates his opinion that they should just throw her out. Hmm, what's an unexpected way Albert could die?
The next day, something white and powdery is all over everything. No, not Ernst's mercury; snow! Everyone has a marvelous time ice-skating and playing in the snow, except for the patron saint of hissy fits, Albert, who's annoyed that Sarah is taking Victoria's attention away from him. He's literally feuding with a five-year-old orphan. Does his stankness know no bounds?
After another unexpected drop-in by Uncle Scar about taking back the necklace, Victoria tries to explain why she doesn't want to hand it over to a man who wished for her death for so many years. Being the supportive husband that he is, Albert takes Uncle Scar's side, treats Victoria as if she's being hysterical, and even manages to drag Lehzen's name through the mud one more time. Knock him out, Victoria!
Unfortunately, Victoria doesn't get around to it because Albert runs off to put more ornaments on the tree. I thought the point of sending Lehzen away was so Albert would stop being a prick? That sure didn't last long!
Sarah finds Victoria crying and asks, Oh no! Was your mom slaughtered too? After Victoria explains that she's just sad that her governess moved away, Sarah comforts her over her #FirstWorldProblems, and teaches her a coping mechanism: when you're devastated over the fact that your entire family was brutally murdered (or over the fact that your babysitter has a new mailing address), make a funny face and you'll momentarily forget how terrible the world can be!
That night, the servants host a house party downstairs. Everyone, including the royals, do si do and twerk and have the time of their lives... except for Blond Most Definitely Gay, who is all by himself.
On the flip side, Ernst has too many partners. His princess cousin sends him flirty Let's get married even though we have the same grandparent! looks, while Widow Bestie sends him looks that can best be summed up by this poem:
Ernst can't take it anymore, so he leaves the party to spend the rest of the evening reapplying mercury poison all over his body and sadly looking down at his crotch. But his moping session is interrupted by an unexpected visitor. It's Widow Bestie, who takes off her cloak to reveal lingerie! Have fun, you crazy kids, but remember that Jackie Chan and I want you to use protection!
After some rolling around, Ernst is seized by shame and tells Widow Bestie it isn't going to happen. He explains that he only liked her when she was prim, proper, and unavailable. Okay, crushing this girl's heart with a rude lie is one way to go about this. Another would be just telling her the truth? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Later that night, Uncle/Daddy Leopold finds Widow Bestie bawling in a dark hallway. Because he can't help himself, he blurts out, Oh, you bummed about Ernst's syphilis? Looks like Leopold owes Ernst yet another apology selfie locket.
Speaking of lockets, Wilhelmina got some of Brunette Most Definitely Gay's hair and created a keepsake for Blond Most Definitely Gay. I'm not crying; you're crying!
Blond Most Definitely Gay is so thankful that he proposes to Wilhelmina and makes out with her.
Um, my dude, you could have just gotten her an Edible Arrangement bouquet of chocolate-covered fruit to say thanks. I understand needing a rebound, but what are you doing?!
The show writers have some nerve perpetuating the gays-can't-have-happy-endings trope with Brunette's death, and then smearing this BS on top.
In more disgusting news, Albert refuses to get Sarah a Christmas tree like all the other kids, because why not ostracize an orphan and add to her misery for no reason?
Since it's been a few hours since he last picked a fight with Victoria, he tells her that she's only thinking of herself in trying to help this little girl, and that she has mommy issues. That's rich coming from someone who pouts about his mom every other episode, and has such intense daddy issues that an entire recap from this season was called just that.
Downstairs, Babyface Maid starts to feel bad about all those slaves she just inherited, so, instead of buying a bed and breakfast with Hot Italian Chef, she frees them all, even though it means she has to give up her dream of filling an Olympic-sized pool with gold coins.
In the music room, Albert is loudly singing Christmas carols while banging on the piano. Isn't Christmas the best, Ernst?! Remember how awesome our childhoods were and how in love our parents were? Because Ernst has been through a lot of crap recently, he has no patience for any of this: Our mother hated our dad so much she slept with his own brother! Oh, and are you forgetting she abandoned us on Christmas Eve? Invest in a therapist, dude.
Who's got mommy issues now, Albert?
Meanwhile, Victoria can't seem to find Sarah. When she asks if anyone has seen her, Victoria's mom says, "Probably in some corner somewhere. Maybe she's outside in the snow." The 'hopefully frozen to death' is not spoken, but heavily implied.
Victoria runs outside to find her, but stumbles upon a grumpy Albert ice skating quite aggressively. He glowers at her for no reason, and then proceeds to fall through the thin ice. Is cheering not the appropriate response here? Drowning under an ice-covered lake is not exactly being eaten by a lion, but I'll take it.
Oh, damn, Victoria manages to save him.
Sarah is safe too, and tells Victoria: Hey, thanks for this bummer of a slumber party, but I'm ready to go back to the captain's house where grown adults don't bully me. She is sent away the following day, and Albert smiles as he etches another check mark on the wall next to Lehzen's. Two down; next up: anyone else Victoria shows a passing interest in.
Downstairs, the Babyface Maid / Hot Italian Chef storyline wraps up with a quickness because there are only a few minutes left in this season:
Babyface Maid: Hey, I gave up all my money and am back to being wildly poor!
Hot Italian Chef: That's hot! Let's get married right away and struggle to make ends meet for the rest of our lives!
Babyface Maid: Sounds good! Remember that entire year we passive-aggressively ignored each other for no reason?
Hot Italian Chef: LOL! We're hilarious.
Elsewhere, another couple is also fast-tracking their romance. Blond Most Definitely Still Gay But Burying It Deep Down Inside gives Wilhelmina a ring to make it official, and they carry on like they're actually in love and the waterfall scene never happened.
At Christmas dinner, everyone is having a splendid time pretending that no one has syphilis, and no one regrets marrying Albert, and no one just signed up for a miserable, closeted life. But the perfect illusion is threatened by a visit from Uncle Scar. Is he going to snatch his mom's necklace from Victoria's neck? If he going to set all the Christmas trees on fire? Is he going to throw up blood onto the dinner table like the dad in Downton Abbey?
Oh. None of that happens. He just says: Hey, y'all. Since this is a Christmas episode, never mind all the crazy things I've done and threatened to do. Let's eat! Everyone agrees to not admit they hate each other's guts until next season.
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: Albert.
HONORABLE MENTION: Babyface Maid. Props on doing the right thing instead of becoming the Paris Hilton of the 1800s.
BRONZE: Sarah. She's a survivor, she's not gon' give up, she's not gon' stop, she's gon' work harder!
SILVER: Thin Ice. Thanks for trying.
GOLD: Brunette Most Definitely Gay and Dash. In some ways, they're better off up in heaven. I hope they're having a blast being best friends. 💞
That’s all, folks! It’s been a pleasure watching along with you this season. Until Poldark starts up again! If you miss my thoughts on Victoria or pop culture in general, follow me on Twitter @xcusemybeauty, listen to my podcast The Cooler, or relive all my other Victoria / Poldark / Downton Abbey recaps!