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Tiffs, Tears, And Farewells: We Recap Season 2 Episode 6 Of “Victoria”

We have one more episode of Victoria to go, but after this week’s installment, I think we’ll have to have our “crying towels” at the ready for next week’s season finale (unfamiliar with the “crying towel”? Get in on the Twitter live-tweet session! Following the national hashtag #VictoriaPBS and our special hashtag #GPBLovesVictoriaPBS will keep you up to date with the current fandom trends).

In fact, there aren’t many scenes in this episode that weren’t spilling over with uncertainty, anguish, and broken hearts. You may want a cup of tea for this week’s recap.

Both Buckingham Palace and Parliament are in turmoil as the episode begins. The source of the royal strife is found primarily between Albert and Baroness Lehzen, who disagree with how the children should be raised. Albert’s convinced that open windows will lead to illness, and when Princess Victoria falls ill with a terrible sickness, it only adds fuel to his fire against Lehzen who is adamant her methods are more than satisfactory. But their simmering distaste towards one another comes to a head when Princess Victoria runs a high fever and, in Albert’s opinion, requires the help of a doctor, something Lehzen does not agree with. After a heated exchange, the Queen must step in and insist Lehzen send for the doctor.

Jenna Coleman as Queen Victoria
Victoria (Jenna Coleman) is torn between her husband and her nursemaid.

In Parliament, the two parties cannot come to an agreement of how to handle the current pushback regarding the Corn Laws. Sir Robert Peel is placed in a difficult position, one that, if enacted, would be poised to ruin his political career. The Tory party (which is the side Peel belongs to) believes that the Corn Laws should stay intact, which allowed minimal imported grain in the country and, in turn, allowed British farmers and landowners to control prices on their grain products. But as the high prices and lack of availability had contributed to starvation across Britain as well as the Irish Potato Famine, much of the country wanted to repeal the Corn Laws, including the Whig party. Peel had witnessed the effects of the famine and desired a change, so in a drastic move he ends up voting against his own party, siding with the Whigs instead, that the Corn Laws must be repealed for the better of the country as a whole, not just the landowners and farmers. This doesn’t bode well, for both personal and professional reasons.

Meanwhile, Lord Alfred Paget and Edward Drummond can’t forget their stolen kiss, as it seems what happens in Scotland doesn’t stay in Scotland. They dine together, Drummond telling Lord Alfred of his upcoming marriage as well as his desire to get out of it. He cares for Alfred, an affection he wants to pursue. But Alfred is hesitant: it’s still a time where a man, no matter his social class, could not be seen in a relationship with another man. It wasn’t only frowned upon by all members of society, it was also illegal. He begs Drummond to reconsider his choice, but soon after decides to accept Drummond’s suggestion to explore their affections for one another, inviting him to try the oysters at a swanky London hotel. The innuendo isn’t lost here, as oysters were at the time seen as an aphrodisiac. This isn’t an innocent request.

At this point, both Peel’s and Alfred’s unconventional decisions come to a head due to one person: Drummond. In an attempt to shield the Prime Minister from an assassination attempt post-decision regarding the Corn Laws, Drummond is shot and killed. Sir Robert Peel must now contend with Drummond’s blood on his hands in order to save his life as well as his conflicts with his own party. After delivering the news of Drummond’s death to Victoria and Albert, he insists that his time has come to resign as Prime Minister, something both queen and prince consort have a difficult time accepting. But Alfred’s reaction is even more tragic, as not only is he shown waiting for Drummond at the hotel for dinner, but the news of his death is delivered in the presence of the Duchess of Buccleuch, Wilhelmina Coke, and others, leaving him unable to show the true measure of his grief: he’s lost a lover, not just a friend. But Diana Rigg is shown to be exemplary yet again, as the Duchess comforts Alfred in private. His affections for Drummond is not lost on her, but she doesn’t condemn him for it.

Victoria Baroness Lehzen Princess Queen
Queen Victoria shares a moment with her daughter and baroness Lehzen

During the Corn Law vote and assassination attempt, Princess Victoria is finally treated by a doctor, and after a long stretch of uncertainty she is finally on the mend. But Albert cannot let Lehzen’s behavior go without repercussion. He gives Victoria an ultimatum: either she leaves, or he will, as there can’t be two nursemaids in the palace. Victoria chooses to cast off the last tie to her childhood: she’s dismissed her mother, she’s lost her childhood pet, and now she sends Lehzen away. It’s the last step needed for her to transition between childhood and adulthood.

Other side stories this episode included Mr. Francatelli and Mrs. Skerritt finally going on a date (was anyone else cheering besides me?) and Ernest, believing he’s cured of Syphilis and eager to propose to now-available Harriet, finds recurring sores in his bath as he prepares for the big moment. In yet another heartbreaking scene this week, we see Harriet waiting for him, clearly assuming he’s going to propose, only to be informed by Ernest’s valet that she should not wait for him any longer (was anyone else tearing up besides me?). Harriet’s heart is broken, but it’s clear that Ernest and Harriet’s story is not over. He has yet to be honest with her about the true nature of his health.

This episode in the UK served as the end of the season, as viewers waited several months before the next installment of the Victoria Christmas special. But for Masterpiece viewers, we’ll be seeing the season 2 finale next week! Tune in for the end of Season 2, “Comfort and Joy”, and get a glimpse of a Victorian Christmas as only Buckingham Palace could pull off. It pairs well with seasonal mince pies and a cup of tea.

The season finale of Victoria airs on Sunday, February 25th at 9 p.m.

Rachel Buchman Guest Blogger

Rachel Buchman serves as the Social Media Community Manager at GPB. She earned her degree in English Language and Literature from The University of Chicago and has been contributing to GPB’s social media platforms since 2016. She is an avid... more