Queen Victoria (JENNA COLEMAN) - Victoria Episode 8 (c) ITV
Queen Victoria (JENNA COLEMAN) – Victoria Episode 8 (c) ITV
Eight weeks of gripping television have all come down to this. Life and death are hanging in the balance in the Victoria series finale.

But after a near faultless run of episodes so far, does Jenna Coleman’s ITV period drama go out with the bang it deserves?

There’s certainly a lot at stake this week. Victoria is now heavily pregnant, and very bored of it too. She’s desperate to escape the confines of the palace and carry on living her normal life. Albert is keen to protect her, but there are those who wish to free her from her “German tyrant”. As it turns out, the Queen has some rather over-obsessive followers. While one turns out to be a harmless admirer, another takes aim at her with a gun out in the open. The attempt on her life rocks her to the core, and Victoria is once again stuck within the same four walls.

Duke of Cumberland (Peter Firth) - Victoria Episode 8 (c) ITV
Duke of Cumberland (Peter Firth) – Victoria Episode 8 (c) ITV

Yet, even indoors, she cannot escape the thought of death. The tragic fate of Princess Charlotte looms large over proceedings, with fears that Victoria may too die in childbirth. As if waiting for the occasion, the Duke of Cumberland arrives on the scene. He’s now King of Hanover, but he’s got his eye on Great Britain as well, should Victoria and her child perish. He is without doubt the true villain of the piece and a thoroughly repugnant man – but could the assassination attempt have been his doing?

“The country will not take kindly to being ruled by a German”
Queen Victoria (JENNA COLEMAN) - Victoria Episode 8 (c) ITV
Queen Victoria (JENNA COLEMAN) – Victoria Episode 8 (c) ITV

Surprisingly, no. Although all signs point to regicide, it transpires that Victoria’s would-be assassin is actually just a delusional madman. The gun wasn’t even loaded, and so despite the terror he has caused, no death penalty can be given. This leads to a moral dilemma: does the Queen support the verdict of the British justice system, or push for his execution? Like a true monarch, she accepts the will of her people and once again goes out to show her allegiance. That’s not to say that Cumberland gets off the hook either, however. Victoria well and truly puts him in his place in a fantastically rousing verbal confrontation. “I am a better monarch than you could ever be” she says, and we couldn’t agree more.

Prince Ernest (David Oakes) and Harriet, Duchess of Sutherland – (Margaret Clunie) - Victoria episode 8 (c) ITV
Prince Ernest (David Oakes) and Harriet, Duchess of Sutherland – (Margaret Clunie) – Victoria episode 8 (c) ITV

It’s not just Victoria’s story that gets some closure in the finale though. We also see the return of Ernest, still in love with the Duchess of Sutherland. The flirting continues, and eventually they even kiss, but that’s as far as it goes. With dignity intact, he leaves with nothing more than a lock of her hair. There’s even less luck in store though for Francatelli and Skerrett, who part ways when she refuses to leave her job with him. It’s a brave decision to leave the pair without a happy ending, but it certainly leaves more tantalising potential for Series 2.

“She is not a Queen and I am not a cow!”
Prince Albert (TOM HUGHES) and Queen Victoria (JENNA COLEMAN) Victoria episode 8 (c) ITV
Prince Albert (TOM HUGHES) and Queen Victoria (JENNA COLEMAN) Victoria episode 8 (c) ITV

Every end is a new beginning however, and the episode reaches its climax with the birth of Victoria and Albert’s first child. The birthing scene is raw and intense, followed up by a beautiful scene of the royals holding their newborn. “We should call her Victoria,” Albert suggests, “after a great Queen”. On a subtle meta level, he could well be talking about the series itself. Victoria has been fascinating and enthralling from start to finish, played to perfection by Jenna Coleman and her fellow supporting cast members. What a triumph the drama has been, both on and off screen.

Victoria Will Return in 2017 (c) ITV
Victoria Will Return in 2017 (c) ITV

So, was the finale the absolute best episode ever? No, probably not. But it doesn’t matter, because the show has already set the bar so incredibly high to begin with. It did everything it needed to do, and more, wrapping up our first look into young Victoria’s life. As we slowly pan down the corridor for the last time, we are greeted with a royal decree. Victoria will return in 2017. If Series 2 is half as good as this one has been, we’re in for yet another treat.

To everyone who made Victoria such a success: many congratulations to you all! We leave you this message as you prepare to take the monarch through a whole new chapter of her life. Send her victorious, happy and glorious, long to reign over us, God save the Queen…!

The series premieres on Masterpiece on PBS from 15th January 2017.

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