Victoria Season 1 Recap: Young England


In our finale of the first season of Victoria, the Queen and Albert face more challenges than just the imminent arrival of their first child.

And so we reach the end of the first season of Victoria, the strangely non-historical historical drama. And yet, as the season draws to a close, we see the seeds of where they will semi-adhere history in season 2 already planting — the coming power struggle between Albert and the Baroness, for instance, as well as Albert’s friendship with Peel who will be Prime Minister by this time next year. But first, Victoria is going to have to stop lying around and give birth to her damn baby already. Once we get an apocryphal quote or two out of the way….

"Albert: “Who is the biggest chicken killer in all of Shakespeare? Macbeth, because he committed Murder Most Foul….”Victoria: “We are not amused!”"

Quite right, it’s time to stop lying about in bed. With the Duke of Cumberland nipping at Victoria’s bedsheets, hoping for a death or two, and the downstairs staff tense as can be over the prospect of losing their employer, the whole of history, not to mention continued employment, seems to hang on the Queen popping out a healthy child, and preferably male. (As Mr. Penge observes, childbirth is a “nasty, dangerous business.”)

Tom Hughes as Prince Albert and Jenna Coleman as Victoria

(C) ITV Plc

But even as Victoria longs to escape her bedroom to worry less about the impending childbirth, the dangers are building. Everyone’s worried about Victoria dying in childbirth, but it turns out they should be more worried about the psycho fans that she’s been inspiring. Over the course of the episode, we see one young man, practicing with a gun, and obsessing over the Queen. At first we are led to believe this might be the same “Captain Childers” who has been writing besotted letters and fancies himself at the ready to free the Queen from her “golden cage” and “German tyrant.” But on her first carriage ride out to get some air, her route swarmed with fans, we meet Childers, and discover he’s mostly harmless, and that all he wants to do is pepper her with posies.

"Baroness: “You will not be following your mother’s example?”Victoria: “She was not a queen, and I am not a cow.”"

The incident is enough to throw Albert into fits of worry, including a freak out at the Baroness over the fact that he wasn’t aware of Victoria’s insane admirers, but Victoria is having none of it. besides, the Baroness has much bigger fish to fry, or cows to milk. She has been asked to bring aboard a wet nurse — a task which she, a virgin, and a city born lady, knows little about. Mrs. Jenkins finds herself coming to the Baroness’ aide, since, as a farm girl “she knows a good milker.”

Jenna Coleman as Victoria

(C) ITV Plc

But perhaps Albert’s worries are more founded than Victoria’s realizes. He thinks coming along with her instead of the Baroness will somehow keep her safer, but in truth once a madman is on the way, it doesn’t really matter who’s riding at the Queen’s side. And the madman is on the way. The show of course, turns it into Albert seeing the gun and pulling her down and protecting her. In real life, the man, Edward Oxford, was merely just a really lousy shot and missed them both. Despite the show’s suggestion that perhaps Oxford was somehow “Cumberland’s Creature” and that his orders came from Hanover, the truth is that Oxford really was a complete nutter, (as the show semi-admits) and the “Young England” society was a total figment of his fevered imagination, and he was found not guilty by reason of insanity. Either way, Victoria is now stuck in the house until the labor pains begin.

"Victoria: “Am I just a vessel now to be protected because I am carrying precious cargo?”"

Meanwhile, in the mid levels Ernest has returned to continue his mutual crush on the Duchess of Sutherland, a flirtation that continues to at least be amusing — a “harmless flirtation” as they both continue to insist, even as they have midnight meetings in bedrooms, that involve wig and hairfall fetishes. (Seriously, she’s had that hair up in pincurls for hours, and yet the hair fall in the back is straight as a pin? Please.) In the downstairs romance, Ms. Skerrett is faced with a proposal by Mr. Francatelli, who is proposing they both chuck the service altogether and risk it for a shot at being solidly middle class on the back of him opening his own restaurant. (Spoiler alert, in real life the real Mr. Francatelli did not leave Victoria’s service until 1842, which at the pace we’re going, will be around season 3.) To be fair, the real Eliza is right when she says that Nancy’s trust in Francatelli could blow up in her face, and she’s safer with an income and the single life, and no babies. But is that really the path to happiness?

Adrian Schiller as Penge and Eve Myles as Mrs. Jenkins

(C) ITV Plc

But never mind that. Back to Victoria, who has realized, upon being lectured by Hanover that she should abolish the constitution and become a despot that democracy is where it’s at. and furthermore, she’s not going to stay cooped up either. If the jury found the kid not guilty because he was nuts, then she will accept that, and put her bonnet on and go for a drive. And everyone will cheer, even Peel and Albert.

"Brodie: “THIS ROYAL EARTH OF KINGS….”Mrs. Jenkins: “Yes, yes yes, drink this first, then Shakespeare.”"

Now let’s go have that baby, shall we? Victoria, the Princess Royal, was born November 20, 1840. (Spoiler alert, she would go on to marry Prince Frederick of Prussia, and was later known as Empress Frederick.) But right now she’s a screaming squalling newborn babe, and all the bells of London are ringing and the staff are downstairs getting royally drunk. Downstairs, a wet nurse gives her own child away to become the brood mare for the upper classes. Cumberland marches off, unneeded. The Queen has lived. (Did you really think she’d let Cumberland be king?)

Next: Victoria Season 1 Recap: “The Engine of Change”

As our episode draws to a close, Francatelli leaves the kitchens for his new restaurant (though doubtless he will find reasons to return next year.) Skerrett grieves for her loss. And the Queen vows that when they have the next one, it will be a boy. We’ll leave all that for next season though. Until then…. Gloriana….  Alleluia.