What is the theme of Victoria’s third season? I’d have to say it’s the conflict of tradition versus innovation, whether writ large in the public arena and the fate of nations, or small within the home between family members. This push and pull provides the tension in every season.
Even the greatest of love stories has its share of antagonists, and for Victoria and Albert, random royals showing up on their doorstep have always played that role. Preying on Albert’s unease at playing second fiddle to a Queen, Feodora talked Victoria down at every opportunity.
The title of the first Victoria episode this season – “Uneasy lies the Head That Wears the Crown” – sums up Victoria’s life. She was born to the highest privileges and seeks to rule fairly, but she is plagued by people near and far who would tear her down. However, in this Season 3 finale, she plays the uncontested hero.
Selling The Great Exhibition
Albert has been burning the candle at both ends (just what one would expect from notoriously frugal Albert). He’s desperate to prove himself. Everyone is still skeptical about the Great Exhibition. Palmerston mocks it, the tabs call it a White Elephant (this very episode’s name) and predict the crowds will cause a new plague, the PM wants to declare a State of Emergency, and at the last minute, the Russian exhibits are held up by ICE, or maybe it was just ice.
Tickets aren’t selling because it seems the ladies who lunch crowd (who, any Broadway producer will tell you, are key to profitability) fears brushing up against the riffraff. It’s a disaster. Victoria has a solution: The Queen will be the opening ribbon cutting act. That’s the ticket, and tickets it does sell.
Prisoner of Love
Sophie is still locked in the attic, sobbing, guarded by Nurse Ratched.
Her solitary confinement is interrupted only by more threats from Monmouth to send her to the asylum and throw away the key altogether. But she’s holding in her hand the Queen of Hearts: Victoria. Sophie tells her hateful hubby that he’ll be sorry when the Queen finds out. Monmouth taunts her with, “Ha ha! I beat you to it, I already told the Queen my version and she’s not sending the cavalry, she only sent calf’s foot jelly.”
But Sir Duke didn’t account for the sisterhood of the traveling bloomers. There is a rumbling afoot to bust her out.
FYI: Calf’s Foot Jelly: Is a rather disgusting sounding (and looking) concoction; a gelatin made from boiling a calve’s feet, flavored with lemon. In Victorian times it was thought to be uber nutritious and a thoughtful gift to send to someone who’s sick. See a photo of the concoction, if you dare, and learn more.
Lord Pam is Facing His Waterloo
With his support for Louis Napoleon, who recently seized power in France and declared himself Emperor, Pam’s adoring public has turned on him once again. Sensing her husband’s predicament, Lady Emily returns from Ireland to save him from himself. Optimistic, they begin with a roll in the hay.
Sophie’s “Illness” as a Masterpiece Mystery
Abigail has a question for Queen Victoria: Um, how is the Duchess of Monmouth doing? #AskingForAFriend.
“Funny you ask,” Victoria replies, “Her hubby says, not well.” But Madge doesn’t seem convinced. Abigail offers to investigate. Capital idea.
Victoria gives Abigail a note to deliver right to Sophie’s hands – but when Abigail gets there, the staff refuse her entry. Luckily someone thought to bring bribe money, and it works. The Monmouth House laundry maid sings like a canary, giving away that the Duchess is a prisoner.
Abigail reports back to Victoria and Emma (and Footman Joe and Penge, who are standing by to eavesdrop), that she believes Sophie is being held against her will, on the grounds of insanity.
Say what? Victoria doesn’t think Sophie is cuckoo and neither does Emma. Victoria asks Joseph to go bring Monmouth to the palace at once, not knowing the blow up that could occur. Angry, tearful Joseph wants to snap Monmouth’s neck like a Yom Kippur chicken so Abigail makes it her business to send Brody instead.
Once in the throne room, Monmouth doesn’t know what hit him. Victoria is not buying his claim that Sophie is a lunatic, even a “hysterical nymphomaniac,” as diagnosed by his doctors.
Victoria has been pushed around by enough scheming men to know a sociopath when she sees one. And she knows men tend to say a woman is crazy when she expresses an inconvenient opinion – or any opinions.
Victoria tells him she expects to see Sophie at the Great Exhibition the next day. It’s an order. He has no choice but to comply. He returns home and unlocks Sophie’s door.
These royals seem to trade their kids’ betrothals like baseball cards. Albert declares Vicky will marry the Crown Prince of Prussia, but she has her own ideas. She tells Victoria she doesn’t want to go to Berlin, but her mummy tells her not to worry, that like her, she’ll marry for love.
Feodora wants an advantageous match for her little Heidi. Albert offers the King of Prussia’s brother Sigmund, based in Berlin. Yawn.
Lord Pam, in trouble over his endorsement of Louis Napoleon, senses an opportunity in Feo’s quest. He raises the stakes: why not marry the new French Emperor? Feo jumps at the deal that would make Heidi Empress of France, which means she would outrank Victoria. Not sure what board game makes that the case, but OK.
How are you going to keep her down on the farm when she could have all the swag Paris can provide? Free couture! Hello! Given that Lord Pam was right there when Albert declared Sigmund as the perfect match for Heidi, might Pam have gotten Feo to bite only to expose her true nature to Albert?
FYI: Princess Adelheid of Hohenlohe-Langenburg. Louis Napoleon did make a politically motivated marriage offer to Heidi’s parents (even though he’d never met her), and Lord Pam had nothing to do with it. Victoria and Albert were against the match, also for political reasons. But before Feodora and her husband could even answer, Louis Napoleon gave up on the idea and proposed to the Countess of Teba, who was a Rules Girl and was refusing his advances until he put a ring on it.
Heidi married a Duke and later became the mother-in-law to one of Victoria’s grandchildren, cousin Emperor Wilhelm of Germany, and is a matrilineal ancestor to both King Gustaf of Sweden and King Felipe VI of Spain.
The Queen’s Weather
On the Great Exhibition’s opening day, the royal family get all suited and booted for their appearance.
In a last ditch attempt to keep Queen Victoria away from it, corrupt copper Doubly reappears to warn that something dangerous could happen amidst the mobs, and the royal family should enter through the back way, unseen. He’s like the weather forecasters that warn of Nor’Easters that never arrive.
But Victoria says, “fiddle-dee-dee!” and off they go. Abigail has witnessed Chicken Little’s return with a horrified look on her face and walks away. Doubly follows her and asks if the Queen knows she’s a Chartist and Abigail tells him yes, he’s the only phony. Snap! Ah, how the worm has turned. This Chartist girl he kissed and discarded now has the ear of the Queen. He looked a bit worried there.
FYI: The Queen’s Weather: An idiom that means good weather when an outdoor event is scheduled. It originated with Queen Victoria who, more often than not, enjoyed good weather at her outdoor appearances.
It All Happened at the Exhibition
The crowds lining the way to the Great Exhibition cheer Victoria and Albert but yell “traitor!” and pelt Pam with tomatoes as his carriage passes. He backed the wrong horse. Keep smiling, he tells Emily.
As the royal family arrives at The Crystal Palace, the choir from Gilead sings God Save the Queen. It’s rather splendid. Albert, with gratitude, begins his speech by addressing Her Majesty (with a much different tone than when he called her that at the Osbourne House dinner table) and declares the exhibition, “the realization of the unity of all mankind.” Sigh. If only it were that easy. The crowds pour in and we see it’s going to be an enormous success.
Once in the maze of galleries, many characters make their big move.
Within this groundbreaking testament to international cooperation, Foreign Minister Palmerston doesn’t wait to be fired; he resigns, telling PM Russell, “I was defeated, you won the war.”
Albert introduces the Crown Prince of Prussia to his Vicky, who wipes away his kiss to her glove like she fears cooties. Heidi accepts at least Sigmund’s arm and they walk off to explore.
Thanks to her wing women Victoria, Emma and Abigail, Sophie is in attendance, freed from her keepers. Emma warns her to be careful, Monmouth is still watching. She meets Footman Joe, who tells her there’s a boat to America leaving from Liverpool and they can be on it. She says, but what about my son? And Joseph says he won’t be a child for long. (Um, but he is RIGHT NOW!)
Penge catches Joseph and Sophie together and apologizes for his part in their troubles. After which, Monmouth approaches Penge for one last detail: the name of that damn footman who “damaged his property.” But Penge ain’t havin’ it. He tosses Monmouth’s 30 pieces of silver back at him and tells the Duke to find another monkey.
Little Bertie, head over heels in love with cousin Heidi, finds her alone. He drops to his knee and sweetly proposes. As she gently rejects him, she lets slip that her mummy has promised her hand to the new Emperor of France, Louis Napoleon.
Victoria knows something is up between Sophie and Joseph. Did Emma and Abigail spill the beans, or was it one too many glances between lovers?
In a private tented enclosure, Victoria suggests Sophie should have a house in town where she can live with her son (will Her Madge order Monmouth to buy it for her?) She tells Sophie she’s glad she’s feeling better because she needs her by her side (which sounds like an order), and that she understands how women dream of escape (she’s been there, too). She reveals she’s up to the minute on Sophie’s affair when she asks the Big Question: “How far would you have to go to forget your child?” It’s clear that Victoria, Emma and Abigail are also, trying to save her from making what they think is a mistake.
When the royal family exits the Exhibition the crowd breaks into “God save Prince Albert,” right after “God Save the Queen.” Albert looks surprised and moved. He claimed not to want this adulation, and admonished Victoria for craving it. Will he now understand Victoria better?
After the Show
Sneaking down the stairs of Monmouth House with a small bag, Sophie looked more like a Nonatus House midwife on her way to a call, rather than someone leaving for America. Her footsteps are heard by little William, who pleads that he had a bad dream that he was lost and couldn’t find her. It’s the classic Hot Footman vs Pleading Child. Which will she choose?
Heidi interrupts Bertie while he’s fantasizing about slaying Napoleon’s soldiers. She offers him some chocolate but the sight of her upsets him and he runs off in tears, crashing into Albert. Bertie explains his broken heart and Albert sweetly tries to mend it, but is waylaid by the tea Bertie innocently spills, about Feo’s double-dealing of Heidi’s hand. With the news of Feo’s French ambition, Albert spouts his indignation about “your sister” to Victoria who, for her part, successfully stifles a smile and never says, “I told you so!” I would have!
Albert was the last person to get the memo on Feodora, but when he finally confronted her she dropped the last veil, allowing him to see what Victoria has seen all along. When Albert finally confronts her, Feo even stoops so low as to diss “unfortunate” little Bertie.
Feo declares she’ll leave in the morning, turns on her heel and exits the royal bedroom she had barged into yet again. Victoria follows her out. She defends her son Bertie from Feo’s cheap insult, but goes on to say she doesn’t have to go, that she understands Feo was just doing her best for Heidi, just as mummy dearest did for her when she banished her to leaky-roof Langenberg. And, while Feo may think she (Victoria) has everything, what she doesn’t have is a sister. Feo turns and sashays away. What do you make of that Victorians? What was Victoria really saying to Feo when she said, “There is one thing I don’t have. A sister.”?
God Save the Queen Prince
This season, we’ve see how Prince Albert was way ahead of his time in forward thinking and innovation, but still a product of it as well – as exhibited in his relationship with his wife. He’s an interesting (sometimes infuriating) mix of modern and traditional.
He was rather dim where his sister-in-law was concerned. Though we didn’t get to much of the scientific marvels on display in the Great Exhibition, we were glad to see the light bulb that finally went on over Albert’s head regarding scheming Feodora!
In the finale, Victoria finds Albert on the balcony gazing at his Crystal Palace creation in the distance. Of the Great Exhibition’s triumphant opening, she says, “It was a day to live forever,” – a line taken from history: Queen Victoria really did write that about the opening.
But the stress of preparing for it – the long work days, sleepless nights, the not eating, the tsuris and cold hands – finally takes its toll on Albert. After a tender kiss with Victoria, he collapses on the floor. Victoria screams and looks around for help to arrive, but no on comes. Where are all those damn eavesdropping footmen when you need them?
Let’s hold ourselves together here. This is Prince Albert we are talking about. One is confident that he will awake in Season 4, Episode 1, and invent the 911 emergency system when he does.
FYI: Albert over-working himself in the lead up to the Great Exhibition did cause health issues. In a letter to Victoria’s mummy dearest, written two weeks before the exhibition, Albert wrote, “Just at present I am more dead than alive from overwork.”
The Top 3 We Are Not Amused Moments
3. I pictured all you Victorians at home, watching the scene where Albert tells Victoria she was right all along. How many of you yelled at him, “I told you so!” Come on, admit it! Victoria took the high road, but we didn’t have to!
2. Watching the Duke of Monmouth squirm and twitch under the gently intense interrogation of the Queen. Actor Nicholas Audsley does an excellent job portraying Monmouth as the definitive sniveling weasel.
1. The sweet scene of Albert taking Bertie’s broken heart seriously. After all the tumult, it was nice to father and son reconnect in this episode.
Her Majesty the Queen’s New Year’s 1852 Honours
Every year the Queen bestows honors (knighthoods and such) on deserving subjects. Here are this British Telly Dish blogger’s honors for Victoria Season 3.
Most Valuable Player
W.C. Fields famously advised actors, ’Never work with animals or children.’ The two kids who play little Vicky (Louisa Bay) and Bertie (Laurie Shepherd) prove him right each episode. They stole every scene they were in all season – even when they had nothing to say. I hope that next season doesn’t jump so far ahead that they have to be recast. They are terrific!
This award is open for debate. Yes, we missed the Duchess of Sutherland and Prince Ernie who were M.I.A., but they could conceivably return at some point in the future. Mrs. Nancy Skerrett Francatelli cannot. The cholera epidemic in Episode 4 sent her to that great banquet table in the sky, but she is not forgotten. And one assumes Francatelli could never return after that, either. Sigh. #RIPSkerretelli
After a very busy Season 2, Lord Alfred was pretty much an under-5 player in Season 3 as they rested his character. One hopes that Season 4 brings him back in off the bench. Maybe he’ll go Sophie’s route and be tempted away from his spouse by a studly footman. Hmmm…
Season 3 Cliffhangers
Historically, we know that Prince Albert has ten more years to live (and two more children to father with Victoria), but in those ten years, his type A personality led to ill health.
It’s a pretty safe bet that Albert will be back for Season 4, but what about the others left hanging?
Will Sophie leave her son to meet Footman Joe at Euston Station? If she doesn’t show, will Joe head to America on his own or go back to the Palace? Though now that Victoria knows, will he even have the option? Or will she get that house in town, for which she will need a footman?? Victoria, you’re a genius!
With the government about to change again, will Sophie even be back as Mistress of the Robes next season, or will a Tory mistress replace her, leaving us all hanging? She needs Her Majesty’s protection from her hubby, so one hopes she’ll be back!
Did the reappearance of Inspector Doubly mean he’s being set up to be Abigail’s love interest in Season 4, or was this just closure for the way he so coldly dismissed her in Episode 1?
Will we see Lord Pam again? Luckily, his fate is to be with Lady Emily, and she’s a kingmaker. She promises to love him forevermore – and to see to it he becomes Prime Minister (which again, history tells us he does). Until then, Lord Pam will use his cane twirling skills to become the first drum major for the West End London High School Marching Band.
And lastly but not leastly, is nemesister Feodora gone for good? It seems that she’s used all her nine lives by this point, but who knows. Watching her manipulate Albert, and his resulting treatment of Victoria this season, has been irritating. But it is the irritation to the oyster that creates a pearl; in this case the pearls of drama we enjoy. Who or what will irritate the oyster in Victoria Season 4? We await what the imagination of Daisy Goodwin brings us next January!
See our History Tidbits to learn the truth of some of some of the characters, places and issues that are featured in Victoria Season 3.