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The Royals S01E06: The Slings and Arrows of Outrageous Fortune; Review by Robin Franson Pruter

the_royalsOriginally aired on 19 April 2015
Written by Mark Schwahn
Directed by Jean de Segonzac

Starring Elizabeth Hurley, William Moseley, Alexandra Park, Merritt Patterson, and Tom Austen

My rating: ★★★ stars

The first episode of the series where the problems don’t drag down the good points.

The young royals are off to Monaco for a wild weekend of fun and frolicking in the sun. Surprisingly, this adventure turns into an opportunity for introspection for Eleanor, Liam, and Ophelia. Thus, we viewers are treated to some good character development. We see a different side to these three. The new facets don’t reflect inconsistency but a broadening of our knowledge of the characters.

Eleanor reconnects with her first love, Beck (Andrew Cooper), who steals her bag of drugs as soon as she arrives. Forced to spend the whole weekend without illicit substances, Eleanor proves to be, if not happy, happier, and she seems younger. At the end of the weekend, she puts on her jaded attitude like a change of clothes upon her return to England, and we see how much of her regular personality is a performance.

Liam and Ophelia finally connect as a couple once they’re away from the paparazzi and the specter of Liam’s position as crown prince. They get a chance to be playful with each other, proving that they do have some chemistry. I’m not completely sold on their relationship, but I’ll admit it does seem to have promise.

We also get to see more of Liam’s dorm-mate, Ashok (Manpreet Bachu). He serves as the hero’s comic sidekick. The hijinks he gets into are predictable and not as amusing as the writers probably thought they were. However, his character is not unappealing, so his presence remains neutral to the show. I would have appreciated a more original character, but Ashok is inoffensive.

Back in London, King Simon has returned from his trip to Canada. I’m still convinced that Vincent Regan thinks he’s on a serious program, but I like the grave, thoughtful, and gentle Simon. He’s the most grounded of the entire family, and the only one who appears to have an understanding of self. In this episode, we realize how sad and lonely he is. I’m tired, however, of people saying how great a king he has been. Good writing would show us he’s a good king, not tell us repeatedly. I want the writers to present a crisis and let us see how Simon deals with it.

The one wildly off-kilter plot twist this week involved Queen Helena and Jasper. When Jasper, having lost control of his relationship with Eleanor, requests a transfer to a new field of duty, Helena makes him her bodyguard. At first, I thought that Helena was trying to keep him close in order to ferret out his secrets. Instead, it turns out that, when she has him transferred to her personal service, she wants him to provide “personal service,” really personal service.

This storyline deviation, coming on the heels of a whole episode of Helena declaring her love for Alistair, doesn’t make sense. I’m not sure if this is just an attempt to make the show more sexy and outrageous, to get people talking about the content on social media, which is why I think many plot twists occur on other serialized shows. (I’m looking at you Shonda Rhimes.) To judge this narrative shift fairly, I’ll have to see what’s done with it in upcoming episodes. Will we learn the queen’s motivation? How will this twist play out? Did it occur just to give Jasper a taste of his own medicine? I don’t know the answers yet, but, so far, I’m more jarred than intrigued.

I think this episode should provide a lesson to the writers on how good The Royals can be when they’re not trying to be shocking and scandalous. If they let the characters interact naturally, they have an appealing program. The life of people in a royal family is inherently interesting. The more wild and wanton they try to be, the more contrived the show seems.

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