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TV Review: Victoria (Series 2, Episode 3)

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This week, Daisy Goodwin and co. stepped up their game, with a riveting and dramatic portrayal of a difficult time in the monarch's life. 

The audience were lulled into a false sense of security at the start of this week's episode, with a seemingly light-hearted tone and topics of which everyone could have an opinion on. 

Nearing her time of 'confinement' in pregnancy and constantly being urged to take it easy in preparation for the birth of her second child, Victoria continues to bump heads with the forces of her husband and prime minister, as more matters of state arise that spark disagreements. 

Perhaps demonstrating her teenage naivety, Victoria proposes to hold a medieval ball in order to showcase a small silk business working in Spitalfields, whose livelihood is being threatened by the import of cheaper products. Although her intentions were good, Victoria divides the country and court with her opinion, as it must be questioned whether her lavish spectacle is the most sensitive decision when hundreds of thousands are starving on the streets of London. 

Unusually for the programme, we gain an insight into the lives of the poor in Victoria's England, as she ventures into the slums to consult and support the business that is suffering under the strength of the British Empire. Although we are offered glimpses in the form of Skerrett and the lives of the servants, this was enough to hit Victoria right where it hurt and offer a different perspective.  

This topic was an excellent addition to the programme as it reminded the audience of Victoria's youth and limited experience in royalty, with her naive and perhaps insensitive actions indicative of her age. It is here that we remember that this Queen was only 18 years-old when she gained such a monumental responsibility, and is consistently critiqued by older minds who believe that they could do better. 

Victoria's realisation of the rising anger and resentment of the poor towards her lavish lifestyle comes in the form of an unpredictably dramatic montage scene, which I believe was an excellent addition to the episode and added a new angle that shook things up a bit. The crazy camera motions and swirling noise that overwhelmed the senses made Victoria's panic feel raw and real, and was a welcome addition to the programme. 

Continuing with the theme of Victoria's youth, this week she was presented with situations that many others her age would most likely have gone through, and still do to this day. Sorrow came in the form of the loss of both her sweet canine companion and the man who was the object of her teenage crush in a devastating turn of events for the young queen. The degeneration of each was a sequence which I found difficult to watch, and was utterly heartbreaking. This would be a bad week for anyone, let alone a young queen who has the weight of the world on her shoulders. Rufus Sewell's performance was remarkable, with an amiable disposition and modesty that made his demise even more devastating. 

In other news, the fairy tale of Prince Ernest and Miss Cook reached its end, as he made his way back to Coburg, feeling wounded by the rejection of his old flame, Harriet. However, when one door closes, another one opens, perhaps concerning Lord Alfred and Drummond? *wink wink, nudge nudge*. Perhaps this may be too bold of an expectation for the Victorian era, but the tension is almost palpable. 

This week's episode did what Victoria does best - display and raise awareness for issues of the Victorian era, sprinkled with a modern twist which is remarkably ahead of its time. This week, we were able to discern the pros and cons of the growing British Empire - something which dominated Victoria's reign and remains one of the era's finest achievements and subjects of contestation. We saw the ever-growing tension between the rich and poor, and the struggle of small businesses against their competitors.

Once again, we saw the recurrent tenacity of Victoria's futuristic feminism, remaining obstinate and headstrong in her decisions and dishing out a regular helping of burns and sass. Lastly, this week was remarkable in its portrayal of Victoria as a young woman, rather than a queen, dealing with challenges that any of us would struggle with, crown or not. 

'Warp and Weft' was powerful, poignant and heartbreaking. Goodwin and Coleman continue to dazzle. 

Victoria airs on Sundays at 9pm on ITV 1.

 




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