The Musketeers S1E8 - "The Challenge" Recap

A prisoner named Labarge (The Musketeers serves up yet another tremendous guest star, Vinnie Jones!) is being escorted by The Musketeers for murdering two other Musketeers. The captain of the Red Guards takes custody of Labarge for killings some Red Guards. The captain makes Labarge angry and he ends up dead by Labarge's hand. The Musketeers try to help the (arguably inferior) Red Guards but they become angry, blaming the Musketeers for the captain's death. No, you silly men, the fault is at the hand of the one who wielded the sword.

The Cardinal and Captain Treville argue in front of the King over whether the Red Guard or the Musketeers are superior, leading the King to order a challenge between the best fighter from each groups. Meanwhile, D'Artagnan is still enjoying the sinful bliss of his affair with Constance.

Captain Treville announces the challenge to the Musketeers. Each man must pay an entrance fee to compete to be the champion with the winner taking all. The Cardinal asks the Red Guards who of them is the best fighter and one of them announces that the now-deceased captain was the best fighter. Labarge is imprisoned and stabs one of the guards in the hand with a fork when he doesn't like the "food" presented to him.

D'Artagnan asks for Captain Treville's permission to compete in the contest with the rest of the Musketeers. Meanwhile, he learns that Labarge was responsible for his family farm being destroyed. The farm was his only source of income and D'Artagnan is already behind on his rent. Porthos gets flirty with a widow named Alice. She is receptive to his advances and allows him to walk her home and they have dinner together.

Athos coaches D'Artagnan on his fighting. He becomes angry and goes to the Cardinal to confront him about the crime (and therefore his lack of pay). The Cardinal tries to offer him a place on the Red Guard but D'Artganan refuses. His temper stays high and the Cardinal orders him out. Afterwards, he orders Constance's husband to spy on D'Artagnan and report back with anything useful, especially if he has any "clandestine female companions." What a creep.

D'Artagnan breaks into the prison where Labarge is imprisoned, planning to fight him if he will not offer up a full confession regarding his farm. Labarge lights a cloth on fire, gives him a smack, steals one of this swords, and the fight begins. He even drops the sword just to show off his superior physical capabilities and when he prepares to snap D'Artganan's neck, Athos comes in to save the day. They get out and Athos scolds D'Artagnan for not thinking before he acts. Also, it's raining/storming outside because weather always matches the mood of protagonists.

Milady de Winter approaches Athos and things are understandably tense, though the still manage to snog. She warns him to leave her alone or he will regret it. The Cardinal visits Labarge to make a deal in which he will not be exchanged. Constance sells some of her household items to raise the money for D'Artagnan to enter the Musketeers competition. But Milady approaches D'Artagnan first and gives him the money he needs. He asks what the catch is and she says there is none - she only wants him to compete. Sure. He tells her that he insists on paying her back when she wins. She also gives him a necklace, which she claims is a good luck charm and a token of their friendship. Constance's husband sees the encounter from the window. D'Artagnan tells Constance about it and she is angry. When he asks who else is going to walk up and give him the money, she says no one. After he leaves, she opens her hand to reveal the money she raised for him. Meanwhile, Porthos and Alice make with the sex.

The Musketeers begin their competition and the Cardinal reveals to the Red Guard that he has commissioned Labarge. The Red Guard begin their competition and Labarge lays waste to his first opponent. The Cardinal is also shown to be holding a trinket identical to the one that Milady gave to D'Artagnan. The Cardinal announces to Labarge that if he wins the fight, he will be set free. If he loses, he will be hung. Captain Treville is shown to be watching the Red Guard practice from above.

While Constance's husband spies on D'Artagnan, he spots him and Constance kissing in an ally. Let it be known that adultery is not a good idea to do in public. Who would have thought? Captain Treville announces to the Musketeers that he will be the one to fight and represent them. Constance's husband orders her to break things off with D'Artagnan and she initially refuses, saying that she loves him. He says that if she doesn't, he will turn over D'Artagnan to the Cardinal which will result in D'Artagnan's death. He tells her to break D'Artagnan's heart so thoroughly that he will hate her. Talk about dramatic.

Athos tells Captain Treville that he has stolen D'Artagnan's opportunity to prove himself, not knowing the true reason for his doing so. Constance breaks things off with D'Artagnan and he is heart-broken, as is she. She breaks down in tears after he leaves and her husband heard the entire conversation.

It's competition day and the Musketeers are all shocked to see Labarge as the Red Guard competitor. When they note that Treville is not surprised, they realise that he knew all along. The competition will only be a sword fight. Labarge is quite the force to be reckoned with. Labarge gets the upper hand and stomps on Treville's upper arm/shoulder even after he appears to have won. How very sportsman-like of you. D'Artagnan charges forward, both for his personal grudge and to prevent Treville from being killed, and the other Musketeers follow suit. The other members of the Red Guard also charge forward and a fight breaks out. After it goes on for a bit, the King calls a stop to the fight and informs the Cardinal and all in attendance that Labarge broke the rules so Treville may nominate another champion in his place. Treville nominates D'Artagnan and Labarge laughs. During the fight, Labarge tells D'Artganan that he wishes he could remember burning down the farm, as it would make the victory sweeter. This only spurs D'Artagnan on and he runs Labarge through.

The King commends D'Artagnan and declares the Musketeers the winners. However, the prize money does not go to D'Artagnan as the rules were broken, and he also wants to collect taxes. He comes down and tells D'Artagnan that he showed great heroism in defending his captain and loyalty is the trait which he admires more than anything. He tells D'Artagnan to kneel and commissions him into the Musketeers, thus enabling him to earn a salary from there on out. Athos puts the patch on his arm and the Cardinal mildly sulks. D'Artagnan becomes emotional and is congratulated by his friends and Captain Treville.

The Cardinal confronts Milady de Winter and asks her which side she was on. She says that she was on his but then asks why he would give the funds to D'Artagnan to compete. She is not happy about his spying on her and he reveals that he now knows about her marriage to Athos and her previous name. She tells him that D'Artagnan is the key to destroying the Musketeers and is plotting to bring him over to their side. The Cardinal is skeptical and she says that he is underestimating her powers of seduction. He warns her that she needs to be as persuasive as she thinks she is.

Alice, whom Porthos had invited to the tournament, is turned off by all the violence present. He tells her he could never give up soldiering and she says she could never be a soldier's wife. He says he wishes things could be different and she tells him she is happy to have met him. They kiss and say goodbye. Aramis comes over and asks if he will marry Alice and Porthos jokes with him, "Who would look after you if I did that, eh?"

D'Artagnan returns to Constance's home to collect his things and they are still not on good terms. D'Artagnan encounters Milady in her carriage and thanks her for her patronage. She offers im a list and a tearful Constance watches from the window and then looking away, not seeing D'Artagnan politely decline the offer. "Another time, perhaps."

The Musketeers airs on Sundays on BBC One at 9PM.


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