Victoria Season 1 Recap: “The Engine of Change”


With only one more episode this season, Victoria finds herself with child, and her condition requires covering the monarchy in case something goes wrong.

When we last left Victoria she was jumping up and down, hoping this somehow kept her from getting pregnant with Albert’s baby. This week, we jump ahead in time to see just how painfully ineffective this method has been. Morning sickness does not become her, and is causing the cattier men among the cabinet (and the downstairs staff) to talk.

"Lord Chamberlain: The Court rejoices at your news…Victoria: But. Your eyes are full of but."

I will stay there is something about watching a whole bunch of bewigged men applauding a woman for spawning. Though perhaps not quite as hilarious as Victoria’s mother, whose old wives’ remedies for morning sickness include “cream and brandy” (a horrendous mixture if you ask me, and probably more effective at bringing everything up ahead of time), “laying down all day” and basically ignoring her job. Laughter? Also right out. “Bad for baby!” Victoria, thankfully is having none of it, except maybe a bit of the brandy. Unfortunately what she cannot get out of is something all new parents face in life — if they should die while their child is still helpless. In modern society, it’s a few papers, and a godparent ceremony if they are so inclined to that religion. Here things are more complicated since the child who survives becomes King or Queen in Diapers.

Jenna Coleman as Victoria and Tom Hughes as Prince Albert

(C) ITV Plc

Victoria’s choice is the obvious one: Albert, starting the uproar over him in Parliament all over again. They of course, have to approve these things, don’t you know. Amusingly enough last week’s little speech in front of Peel is having an effect. Wellington blunderbusses about, acting all trumpian over “being ruled by Germans.” (“We already are,” observes one of the Tory members dryly, a reminder of Victoria’s own roots.) But Peel stays quiet and even looks slightly unsettled at having to be the one to break it to Albert that Victoria’s mind must be changed.

"Victoria: That can’t all be wrong.Albert: Yes, they can."

While the drama of the regent brews, Albert is far more concerned  with convincing Victoria that modernity is a good idea, and his latest hobbyhorse, now that he’s finished acting as a white savior type for men of color across the pond, is to champion railways. Unlike the anti-slavery bit last week, which was based in historical fact, this one seems to be made up from whole cloth, though Albert was known for his modernizing influence throughout all of Victoria’s reign, and one supposes championing locomotives would easily fall under said purview. It is also a good reason to get Victoria out of the house, and into Tory territory, in hopes of campaigning to get them to vote Albert as regent.

Tom Hughes as Prince Albert

(C) ITV Plc

Despite an attempt or two by those downstairs to embarrass Albert, he shows up to shoot with the English and promptly puts them to shame. Peel shows up too, and the two quickly bond over the concepts of progress, even as the Giffords, who Albert is supposed to be winning over, look more and more disapproving. But even as Victoria tries to keep Albert away from his trains, he and Peel are running off to take a ride. The sequence that follows is magnificent, as Peel clearly assumes they will sedately ride in the carriages in that back, but Albert insists on riding up front, standing atop the engine.

"Albert: Carriage be damned! We ride here!"

Just as the men who run the railway are congratulating themselves on a job well done, having not killed Prince Albert and all that, Victoria shows up. Despite arguing with Albert over his decision to spontaneously go riding on top of engines, she has decided it is her turn to discover the glory of the railway. C’mon ‘n Ride It, girl, and do the royal wave to the peasants as you go by. Sorry Gifford, sorry Wellington, and sorry to all those who thought that Victoria might, in the end, cater to their insistence of staying with the old ways. Victoria is ready to face the future with Albert, with their child to be, and drag the lords and dukes of the country, kicking and screaming, along with them.

Jenna Coleman as Victoria and Tom Hughes as Prince Albert

(C) ITV Plc

Meanwhile, downstairs … I mean, look the food porn of the Francatelli scenes was divine. But I really don’t care about the false triangle of Brodie, Skerrett and Francatelli, since Brodie is, after all, a child, and Skerrett is way too old for him. And the Jenkins-Skerrett friendship has already been established, so I’m not sure what the whole fabric embroidery scene was supposed to do, other than endear her to us more. But if Skerrett’s scenes, such as they are, continues to provide excuses to have Francatelli invent the modern day desserts and show them off to us Food Network style, I suppose I shall not complain. After all, where else will Great British Bake Off get their ideas of Victorian Week come next season on Channel 4?

"Peel: I beg to inform Her Majesty that in the unfortunate event of her death, her selection of regent has the full support of the Tory Party.Victoria: That is encouraging news. But quite academic. As you can see, I am far too busy to die."

By the end of the hour, Albert is assured of support in Parliament for his spot as Regent, should our Queen fail to make it through childbirth in the finale. (Spoiler alert, she’ll be fine). Victoria has also reconsidered that her husband should just be a plaything who sits about on the piano while she works. After all, he’s taken England on as his own country, by his own admission. And he’s really big into industry and modernizing. And being Queen is a lot of work. Might as well start delegating to someone who wants to take on the projects.

Next: Victoria Season 1 Recap: “The Queens Husband”

Next week: the finale, as Victoria readies herself to give birth to the first of their eventual nine children. But even though the Tory party stands behind Albert, there are those who insist on creating drama, and attempt to fight to be named Regent instead.