VICTORIA Review: “Brocket Hall”

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As “Brocket Hall” begins, we see a swarm of protestors even as VICTORIA is taking to her royal duties and giving speeches. Once again we’re on the topic of marriage and Victoria has no interest in getting married. Instead, she draws inspiration from Elizabeth I, the original female ruler. Elizabeth’s ghost plays a strong role throughout the episode, as Victoria seems to turn to her rule for help almost as much as she turns to the handsome Lord M. Speaking of Lord M, he’s dark and brooding and certainly has a way of dealing with Victoria, but I feel like a romance between the two is unlikely. When she says that when she first met him, he seemed like father figure she never had, I felt that made sense. When she then says she then developed romantic feelings for him, I was dismayed. It’s too easy and obvious of a plot twist as it’s what all the secondary characters have been hinting at all along and historically, it just doesn’t make sense. It turns out I was right—some very light research indicates that the real Lord M was not handsome and dashing and served much more as a father figure in teaching Victoria how to cope with her new duties.

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Speaking of new duties, a band of protestors, know as the Chartists are unhappy with the new ruler, and want her to know about it. But much of the protest is kept quiet from Victoria, she only knows a few things. What is interesting is that we will eventually get a glimpse of how the decisions of the upper classes affect those of the lower classes. Apparently, the act of protesting is considered treason and the punishment is to be drawn and quartered. Victoria seems vaguely troubled but Lord M assures her that is the way it is done and so she seems to accept and forget about the matter. It’s not until she notices Mrs. Jenkins (her nephew is amongst those to be put to death) is upset about something that Victoria more firmly comes out against the proceedings and instead has the whole lot sent to Australia. It’s a very small subplot but it does help me see the relevance of why the servants matter in the show. Unlike Downton, where I actually cared about all the characters equally, I haven’t really understood the purpose of the occasional look at the kitchens. The servants are all mean or mysterious and it’s hard to care too much—even Francatelli’s harassing poor Skerrett seems weak in the overall scheme of things.

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Because what really matters is Victoria getting married. Victoria has two uncles trying to marry her off—King Leopold of Belgium is into her marrying her first cousin Albert, whom she doesn’t have a high opinion of. And then there’s the Russian kid from the first episode. And of course, her British Uncle has a cousin for her as well. The British cousin’s entry into the race shows no interest in courting Victoria and is actually quite rude—he’s out and so that Uncle finally gives up on usurping the throne for a bit. And although the Russian guy is sweet and charming, he leaves once his father marries him off to a Danish princess. So it looks like Albert is the main contender—something the servants below stairs are busy tracking and betting on.

Victoria continually insists she isn’t into it but given that even Lord M has suggested it would be best if she marries, it’s kind of like she talks herself into going after Lord M as a viable option—he gently turns her down but still remains her very loyal servant. I’ve decided that Victoria’s seemingly immobile face is actually the actress portraying the famous queen as having a stiff upper lip—because at one point we see a tear and at another point, a sort of smile. Maybe if she was a bit more talented I would have realized that her blank face is a deliberate choice sooner.

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Although I enjoy some creative license with the storytelling, I know that Victoria and Albert were one of those rare couples that were actually madly in love, so I find it a bit annoying to constantly be throwing Lord M into the mix. Also, because I know so little about her reign, it would be nice to have a few things be portrayed accurately. Victoria on the show seems quite happy to keep her poor people alive and happy and well, but she didn’t really show clemency to the Chartists or take much of an interest in social justice. It’s not that she needs to be cold, but maybe not give a historic figure qualities she didn’t have?

In the meanwhile, Albert is on the way, along with his brother, although he hasn’t been invited by the queen but by her meddling uncle. Once he arrives, he interrupts Victoria’s piano concert by turning her pages and he looks as though he will lock horns with Victoria next week, as he attempts to woo her by controlling her. So far, only Lord M has been able to do that.  I can’t wait to see how it turns out, but I am increasingly disturbed by the lack of attention to historic accuracy. Knowing the overall larger picture, I want to know the smaller stuff too and I’m not getting it from the show as much as I would like.

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Season 1, Episode 2 (S01E02)
Victoria airs Sundays at 9PM on PBS

Read all of our reviews of Victoria here. 
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Carly is a freelance writer that watches too much TV while she writes blogs and articles about lifestyle including travel, food, fashion, beauty, home decor, entertainment, health, fitness and wellness and green living.
Follow Carly on Twitter: @CarlyZzee
Keep up with all of Carly’s reviews here.

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