VICTORIA Review: “Engine of Change”

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As VICTORIA opens, Victoria and Albert are listening to a concert when Victoria puts a hand over her mouth and suddenly bolts from the room. Because she is queen everyone else randomly gets up and the players stop playing, which is somewhat shocking and humorous—and includes an apt comment comparing the queen to a jack in the box. It leads to a great debate and confusion between Albert and Victoria about whether or not to call the doctor. It also reveals some interesting cultural differences via an exchange with the servants. The Germans are very to the point and say things how they are, while the English talk around them. So to Albert, Victoria is sick before she is found to be with child but to the English, she is indisposed and “enceinte,” the French word for pregnant because there’s no “polite” English word for it. For me, these little cultural differences and historical details are great and the show should have more of them. In fact, this episode was chalk full of them and I found it to be a much more charming episode than usual.

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As the news of Victoria’s impending child spreads, everyone seems happy but Victoria, you can tell because of the expression on her face. So it seems the actress has been intentionally keeping her face neutral because it was great to see the series of changes she went through in this episode—showing fear, happiness, etc just like a real actress. Victoria’s mother seems to be trying to use her pregnancy as an excuse to get close to her daughter, recommending things for nausea like brandy and cream, which Albert wonders if it is scientifically sound. He is constantly citing German findings on pregnancy and it’s pretty cute to see his excitement. The real drama of the episode stems from Victoria choosing a regent in the case she dies in childbirth but her child survives. After all, as her mother reminds her—dying in childbirth is the reason the throne fell to Victoria. To reassure her, Albert develops a Carol Burnett-type signal to tug on an ear when they want to publicly display affection. It’s these details that I always want to look up, to see if Carol Burnett borrowed from their love or if the show’s writers borrowed from the modern-day comedian.

Albert has expressed a desire to see more of the country and Victoria uses it as an opportunity to further her case for appointing Albert as her regent. He’s all German and a prince, so it’s not a popular choice, even if he seems like the obvious one to the audience. Against Albert’s citations of German medical journals warning against doing things while pregnant, Victoria decides to go for a visit with Albert and takes a select party of servants, leaving her mother behind. Albert feels that as her possible regent, he should be able to travel for her and desires some power of her own. Victoria explains that any power he has must be seen to come from her. So it seems that despite the fact that he has given England a potential heir, Albert is still struggling in his role as prince. I like that it’s an ongoing issue and wasn’t completely resolved. I also like that Victoria quietly takes care of things but it’s nice when she outright notes them as well, just for total clarity. Even when it is just moaning to her governess. It is interesting how much faith she puts in her governess. After all, her birth control method of jumping up and down got Victoria pregnant and as her mother unkindly pointed out, she’s a virgin and so doesn’t know much about pregnancy and childbirth either.

Albert is once again drawn to Sir Robert Peel, whom Victoria has determined to dislike because he’s not Lord M. Lord M isn’t mentioned at all in the episode from which he is absent—I wonder if he will show up in next week’s finale. So Albert is very into trains and sees them as the future. Victoria is less certain and wants to come to her own conclusions about things. While it’s awesome to see her so assertive and determined to go her own way, it usually turns out to be Albert’s. Which is cute, and fine because Albert is so progressive and socially active and Victoria’s worldview is somewhat limited. But the cuteness could give out should the couple fail to agree on things or stop their newlywed flirting. For instance, Albert rides on Robert Peel’s train, so Victoria does too. And loves it. And thus, trains are cool. But before they weren’t, because they involve Robert Peel. But now Victoria might be warming up to Robert Peel via Albert, and that’s just the way the next expected prime minister wants it.

Other moments of note include the Chef back at home continuing to woo Skerritt with his culinary delights—including his newly created chocolate bombe surprise, still a staple on many menus. The first time I giggled watching the show ever was when Albert’s servant got into a fight with an English servant that has been trying to trick him into making Albert look a fool—he slaps him and then the housekeeper says yep, I saw you slap yourself. It was a throwaway scene but so unexpectedly silly that it cracked me up. And I love the hints of the future, watching Albert be allowed to look at some royal papers means further responsibility and of course the finale, which must include a royal birth and a possible attempted regicide, judging by the previews.
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Victoria airs Sundays at 9PM on PBS

Read all of our reviews of Victoria here. 
Read our reviews of more of your favorite shows here.


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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