Jenna Coleman battles the green-eyed monster as Victoria finds herself caught up in an exciting clash of comedy, romance, and drama.
The new series of Victoria hit the ground running in last week’s premiere – and it shows no sign of slowing down. We’re only into the second episode and already writer Daisy Goodwin is pulling out the big guns. Series 2 promised to show Victoria struggling to be a wife, a mother and a queen, and it certainly doesn’t disappoint here. Old faces lead to new problems, meaning the young monarch is in for a whirlwind of feelings this week. Jealousy may be “the most tedious emotion”, but it makes for some gripping Sunday night television.
There’s a lot to cram in, so early on there’s talk of filling up the nursery with more royal babies, and we’re quickly introduced to Lady Lovelace and her magical mathematics machine. Albert, a lover of trains and helmets alike, is completely enamoured with her work. “There’s poetry in it, I think… the music of the spheres!”. Victoria decides to throw a shin-dig for the scientists but soon finds herself jealous of Albert’s interest in Lovelace. She feels an “ignoramus” when she tries to join in their conversation, making basic confusions over engines and pi. Luckily, there’s a distraction on the scene for her and many a fan of Series 1. This episode’s biggest coup – the return of Rufus Sewell – is quick off the mark and we’re as thrilled as Victoria is to see him again. It’s finally time for Lord M to return to the palace.
“Are you going to leave without saying goodbye?”
After being mostly (albeit necessarily) forgotten in the latter half of Series 1, Melbourne is back – and he doesn’t miss a beat. It really does feel like he’s never been away, and Sewell completely steals the show whenever he’s on screen. It’s such a humble, understated performance, and his chemistry with Jenna Coleman remains fantastic. It really does make you wish there was a parallel universe where these two got together after all. Melbourne is loyal and steadfast to the Queen, even though it’s against his better judgement. When mirrored against Albert being (seemingly) unfaithful to Victoria, it’s easy to see why viewers might prefer Vicbourne to Vicbert. She even makes the long, long trip to Brockett Hall just to seek out his opinion. True to his ever dependable nature though, Lord M selflessly advises Victoria that she should “look to the future”.
And he’s right: there’s plenty of looking to the future this week. Victoria and Albert’s reconciliation in last week’s climax (ahem) leads to pregnancy number two. Victoria feels sick about it (in every sense), not helped by Albert scorning her in favour of a scientists’ dinner. This causes the two to fall out yet again until they inevitably make up once the misunderstandings become apparent. It’s good to see some domestic drama for the happy couple, but we hope every week isn’t just Victoria and Albert arguing before reconciling. After eight weeks, that might grow a little stale! Either way, it definitely seems that all will not be completely well in the weeks to come. Victoria refers to pregnancy as “the shadow side” of their marriage – and with eight kids yet to go, that’s a lot of darkness lurking on the horizon.
“Nothing the Queen can do will surprise me!”
Thankfully, the tone of this episode is anything but dark. In fact, this might be the most overtly comical that Victoria has ever been. Dame Diana Rigg continues to be Series 2’s finest addition with scathingly funny lines like “you look like a strawberry!”. Dash proves that there’s life in the old dog yet in a light-hearted moment where Victoria talks to him from across her desk. Then, about midway through the episode, there’s even a scene that’s completely played for laughs. The drama of Victoria and Albert’s forced communication is juxtaposed with messenger Brodie running back and forth between the palace and the dinner. It’s simple, it’s slapstick, and it certainly raises a smile. The show has always been playful, but Series 2 seems more willing than ever to let the laughs loose. With drama set to heighten elsewhere, this humorous direction feels like a welcome change of pace.
The rest of the episode, really, is business as usual. It looks great, it sounds great, the acting’s great. It goes without saying – Victoria has got this stuff down to this point. If there’s any stumbling block, it’s the ‘thief in the palace’ sub plot peppered sporadically throughout. It’s insignificant, inconsequential, and spread out far too thinly to truly captivate. It’s basically just there to give the ‘downstairs’ lot something to do while all the excitement centres on Victoria, Albert and Melbourne. But, when the main thread of the story is so enjoyable, it scarcely seems to matter. Hopefully, things develop further in upcoming episodes, but everyone knew where the attention was going to be this week. In that regard, this episode delivered in spades, while also setting up plenty of important things to come.
Two weeks in, Victoria is definitely back. Long may it reign supreme!