Thanks to Liam, our favorite fictional royals are on their own for Christmas dinner. Hilarity and heartache ensue.
We open on Christmas Eve, with Eleanor writing a new love letter to Jasper. Since it’s almost Eleanor’s favorite day of the year, we’re treated to Eleanor’s Royals-studded performance of “Winter Wonderland.” This Hallmark Store fever dream was shown at the end of the episode before Christmas, but now appears to be sort of a dream/fantasy sequence. Afterwards, Eleanor continues writing the letter. “Love, Eleanor. P.S. I said love–and I meant it,” she thinks. This, of course, means that everything is about to go severely downhill.
After being concerned that they’re under threat of zombie apocalypse, Helena discovers that the reason she can’t find anyone is that Liam let them all go for Christmas. Liam did it because it’s what his father used to do, but what he doesn’t realize is that Simon used to do weeks and/or months of prep work before that would happen. “We have absolutely no idea how to fend for ourselves!” Helena says. Robert tries to look on the bright side–after all, they can do it together! “That sounds horrible,” Eleanor says.
Liam’s angst continues to grow in scope. He vaguely explores his current predicament to Eleanor until she realizes that he’s involved with Robert’s ex-girlfriend. “She’s extremely giving,” Liam says. “YEAH. Giving it to both my brothers,” Eleanor says, winning the episode for this comment alone. “If you haven’t gotten me anything for Christmas yet, I’m going to need a lot more weed,” she continues.
Figgy Pudding Shouldn’t Be Involved in Any Innuendo
Lord Chamberlain and Helena are in the kitchen trying to salvage dinner. While they’re looking for the figgy pudding, Helena turns to Lord Chamberlain and asks, “Do you want to have sex?” The direct approach can work, folks. They start enthusiastically making out against a shelf. The figgy pudding falls on them, giving Helena a black eye.
On the balcony, Helena explains that this is the first time in a long time that she’s in the palace for the holidays. In the past, she would always “go home” to Allistair’s for the holiday so she could spend Christmas with the man she loved. Chamberlain insists that she doesn’t owe him anything and leaves her to it.
Christmas Day Begins Going Downhill
Robert gives Cyrus the same bottle of wine that he just bribed the entire privy council with, warning Cyrus that his usual tricks won’t work. Cyrus warns that his nephew doesn’t want to go head to head with him, but Robert is confident that Simon prepared him to do just that.
Eleanor brings out the game of Crown, which is based on their family. Cyrus acts like a dick, calling Liam irrelevant. Helena causes a stir with her black eye. “I was attacked by figgy pudding while having spontaneous sexual intercourse,” she says by way of an explanation. The giant Christmas tree then falls on a drunk Cyrus.
Can We Get Through One Holiday Without Blackmail?
Robert confronts Jasper in the family gym to tell him he’s dedicated resources to learning about Jasper’s background. Robert is now aware that Jasper is actually American, that his parents are charlatans, and that he used to be one too. Robert pretends to brush that aside because Jasper was also the one who discovered Ted Pryce’s treachery. Also, he trusts Eleanor’s judgment in matters such as these. Sure.
Having learned his lesson about communication, Jasper spills what happened with Robert to Eleanor near immediately. She seems unfazed. “Have I told you how happy I am that you’re spending Christmas with me?” she asks. Jasper is thankful, but steps back so that they can be together as a family during their first Christmas without Simon. Eleanor asks Jasper about his own family and is sad to hear he won’t be calling them for the holidays.
Jasper freaks out to Sara Alice about his gift for Eleanor, claiming that she already has too much jewelry already. Sara Alice suggests drawing her a storybook and placing the necklace at the end. Sara Alice draws the art for a storybook about Frosty the Caterpillar, who wants to be a butterfly so the princess will love him, even though she loves him anyway.
A reporter named Harper calls for a meeting with Jasper. She’s aware that Eleanor is sleeping with her American bodyguard who once tried to steal the crown jewels. Jasper tells Harper to do whatever she wants to him, but to leave Eleanor out of it. Harper says she’s already got everything she needs to do the story and that if anything happens to Eleanor, Jasper will be to blame.
And now, the time that could have been saved by real communication. Jasper tells Eleanor he’s feeling suffocated by their relationship and that he can’t be in one. Eleanor blames herself, citing her use of the word “love” in her last letter. “I’m not worth it,” Jasper says, as Eleanor starts crying.
Jasper calls his father to wish him a Merry Christmas. He then breaks down on the phone, asking how much the reporter paid him for the information. Jasper thanks him for proving that he isn’t like his parents. Sara Alice comes in to ask about how Eleanor liked the present, but Jasper pretends he’s waiting to give it to her. Sara Alice admits that she didn’t get Jasper anything, who in turn asks for a hug. The scene is really sweet and deeply sad.
Simon Saves Christmas.
Hill saves their Christmas dinner by knowing how to cook. Robert gives a toast. Liam responds with his own toast, which makes me laugh out loud: “Hopefully everyone’s a little less full of shit this year…to Robert blowing me!” Everyone begins fighting over who should give the speech, but a devastated Eleanor says that it should be canceled.
Sara Alice tries to save Christmas by suggesting they open the presents from Santa. The presents were hidden by Simon, and they immediately melt the family. They all sit down like a normal family to open their presents. Simon gifted Helena her favorite perfume from when they met, which she had to give up because he was allergic to it. He gave Cyrus a cane with a note that read, “You’re not the untold story, you’re the secret weapon.” Robert ends up with a present meant for Lucius, since these were picked out while Robert was presumed dead. Liam ends up with Simon’s boxing gloves, while Eleanor gets Simon’s watch and a note explaining how proud she made him. Eleanor decides to be the one to give the holiday address.
Brother Vs. Brother: the Prelude
Liam goes to see Kathryn. “Being away from you has been impossible for me…I want you, I’ll fight for you,” he says. Kathryn tells him to stop. They never would have ended up together if Robert hadn’t gone missing, so they shouldn’t push it now. Liam is upset.
Next, Liam goes to Robert’s room to offer him the boxing gloves. He challenges his brother to three rounds in a boxing ring for charity. Robert tells him he won’t apologize for coming back. “I won’t apologize either…for being the person I’ve become since you’ve left,” Liam says.
The Christmas episode of The Royals was great. While I don’t love that they’ve started the break up drama between Jasper and Eleanor so soon–mostly because I hate that shows can’t figure out how to create tension within relationships without breaking the couple up–what they did in this one was emotional and frustrating in a good way, viewer-wise. Elizabeth Hurley continues to develop Helena’s character’s depth, but I think they need to give her more to work with this season than just an affair with the Lord Chamberlain. As always, the love triangle proves to be the weakest part, especially since I find Robert insufferable. I’m hoping that next week’s episode, which appears to be entirely devoted to it, moves things along.
Episode Rating: 8/10.