TV Review: The Royals (1×08) “The Great Man Down”

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THE SITUATION: THE KING HAS BEEN STABBED

After an injured Simon is discovered, the family is put in protective custody until the palace is cleared. A reigning monarch must be sworn in while Simon’s fate hangs in the balance.

It Could Be You

Security brings the royal family through the secret passage to some sort of underground bunker, where Ted relays information about Simon’s attack and condition. He explains the agreement between Simon and himself, in which Ted let Simon go on walks alone, sparking some harsh criticism from Helena and Cyrus. The family descends into chaos and throws accusations at each other.

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Throughout the chaos, Helena keeps her calm demeanor: “Want a purpose for the monarchy? I’ll give you one. To stand before a worried, confused, grieving people, and in the face of great tragedy, inspire them.” Uninspired by her mother’s speech, Eleanor demands to be let out. Jasper follows her, but Eleanor calls him out: “Someone here is lying, and you have quite a track record.”

Back at the Palace…

Helena does a live broadcast to inform England of Simon’s attack, calling on the support of the British people while putting the referendum on the back burner. Jasper breaks Eleanor out through the tunnels to go see Simon. “I’ll protect her with my life, you can fire me later,” Jasper radios to Ted once they’re discovered.

Cyrus As Red Herring, Probably

Cyrus cashes in on his James Holloway blackmail—in order to make sure his family and the rest of England stay in the dark about his affair with Cyrus and his drug problem, James has to provide Cyrus with an alibi. As much as I feel like Cyrus is too obvious a choice for Simon’s assailant, demanding an alibi and then vehemently promising you didn’t do it seems like a pretty guilty thing to do. To further this, he threatens Ophelia for informing the rest of the family about his nighttime stroll.

Eleanor Wins the Episode

After the hospital visit, Jasper exhibits tenderness towards Eleanor, lightly caressing her arm and saying he missed her. “You realize I have trust issues, right?” Jasper says that she has to trust someone sometime. “Sometime” isn’t now and “someone” isn’t going to be him—she hits her panic button and tosses his cufflink at him, accusing him of trying to kill her father because he’s in love with Helena. Regardless of the truth, she can’t afford unnecessary risks. BAM, ELEANOR, SUPER BITCH! I say, to paraphrase Scream.

Nothing Is As It Seems

Eleanor tells Helena that Jasper is in jail for sleeping with the queen. Helena attempts to spin it, claiming that she was doing Eleanor a favor, since there was obviously something going on between them. Liam enters the picture, bitching Eleanor out for her behavior and spinning her already tilting world the opposite way.

RoyalFamilyDon’t fret, Eleanor—Liam is playing Helena. He’s acting as the perfect prince regent so he can be sworn in and finish his father’s work in abolishing the monarchy. As he’s about to be sworn in, Cyrus busts in the room, claiming Liam and Eleanor’s illegitimacy. Helena slaps him, but doesn’t refute the claim. Liam isn’t the only one with a plan, however—Helena and Cyrus were working together in order to put Cyrus on the throne. Ugh, if there was ever a moment to abolish the monarchy, this would be it.

ON THE PLUS SIDE

  • Ted Defends His Daughter
    When Cyrus advises him to “silence the only bitch [he] has left,” Ted points his gun at Cyrus. Unlikely as it was, I was hoping he’d pistol whip him.
  • Eleanor Gets the Best of Jasper
    Girl did the damn thing, right there.

HOWEVER…

  • Ted Points a Gun at a Member of the Royal Family.
    Pointing a gun at a member of the royal family may, in fact, be the end of Ted’s career as the head of security.
  • Pick a Direction, Jasper
    Is anyone else confused about Jasper’s intentions? I’m not sure the writers are sure what they are, because his treatment of Eleanor changes episode to episode in a big way.
  • Some Rando At the Gates
    After reviewing the tapes, the security team realizes that some weirdo was staring at the front gates for hours. No one found it weird that day? No?

The Royals did a fabulous job exploring the aftermath of an attack on the royal family—the family members’ reactions were varied and on point. Bonus points to Helena for her unwavering calm and Eleanor for her badass checkmate move against Jasper. I’m looking forward to seeing how everything shakes out during the rest of the season.

Episode Rating: 9/10

*gifs courtesy of tumblr

Bri is a 25-year-old born and raised in the swamps of Jersey. Just kidding, she lives at least twenty minutes from those swamps. She’s a publishing professional that moonlights as a writer. She enjoys going to concerts (anything from Rooney to Springsteen to NKOTBSB), roadtripping, and complaining that she truly belongs in the 1950’s, the 1920′s, or the 1980′s depending on her mood. She definitely owns more books than she should and reads every chance she gets. If you stop hearing from her, it’s because the book piles have fallen over and smothered her to death in the night. You can contact her at bri@theyoungfolks.com. Twitter: @bri_lockhart
  • osofine

    This is the first review of yours I’ve read. The recap/review was good, but no comment on the fact the show just turned into Hamlet? Or, should i say, Hamlets, as the twins seem to be splitting the role, complete with conversations with their father’s ghost.

    I feel pretty dumb for not expecting them to go there, considering the construction of the cast/family to fit the play, down to naming Liam’s love interest friggin’ Ophelia! My only excuse is being distracted by the parallels with the current British Royals, the most damning being Andrew’s daughters with the red hair and ridiculous hats. I only hope that the Princesses, Beatrice and Eugenie, have great senses of humor and strong self-esteem.

    I enjoyed the episode, but I kind of hope the heavy handed Hamlet redux was a one-off and we won’t see Liam driving Phi to drown herself in a jacuzzi. They couldn’t sustain an entire second season doing Hamlet, could they? I have a feeling fans of this show would be crying “worst series finale evah!” if the show ended on the same note as the play. This is not GoT.

    I was also disappointed that the man in the hoodie wasn’t Robert, having faked his own death and undergone plastic surgery. Oh well. As usual Eleanor was the best part of the episode, as you pointed out. Hopefully she will be keeping her royal closet and be back to rocking fantastic outfits next week!

    “Yeah, but, uh, she was born in a leap year, so technically she’s 6.”