Still Star-Crossed has so far managed to exceed expectations. It was assumed going into the show that the narrative would quickly have Rosaline and Benvolio be married and then have the drama unfold. However, the show is allowing everything to be laid out episode by episode without rushing to the marriage part and it’s much appreciated. “All the World’s a Stage” threw Escalus further down the hole he keeps digging for himself by underestimating his sister, Isabella, who continues to have potential that hasn’t quite been tapped yet. There’s something brewing in her heart and mind and the unfolding events will see where she’ll go. The episode continued feeding us information, layering the mystery, and giving us a slow burn with the show’s primary relationship.
Rosaline and Benvolio have an easy chemistry. They have a tempered disdain for the situation they’re in more so than each other and if this episode proved anything, it’s that they make for an unlikely, but great team. Benvolio isn’t as sure about this marriage anymore and makes a deal with Rosaline. He’ll get her to the convent where she can claim sanctuary and their betrothal and plans for marriage can then be thrown out the window. They spend the episode engaged in fake smiles, stuffed pleasantries, and pettiness on Rosaline’s part toward Escalus. She’s finally taking matters into her own hands and makes her own bargain with her uncle. She’ll stop fighting the fact the she’s to marry Benvolio if Lord Montague restores Livia’s status. It’s a brave, selfless, and quite lovely thing to do. It’s a show of strength and character on Rosaline’s part that she’d go into a marriage, not for Verona, but for her sister. It’s something far more personal and substantial given the way they’ve both been treated by their own relatives.
Having Rosaline and Benvolio become betrothed now while the wedding gets planned for months down the line is nice in that it allows the eventual romance to unfold, for the characters to bond and team up without feeling rushed. The pace as of now is working for Still Star-Crossed and it’s creating some pretty decent tension and mystery.
The one odd thing about this episode is Lord Capulet’s arc. He’s seemingly wracked with guilt over his murdering of the cathedral’s architect and it looks like the stress of the situation has him seeing things. It turns out to be… Juliet’s ghost? I’m not completely on board with this subplot yet. Juliet gives a vague “beware!” before disappearing and I’m left to ponder why it needed to be included. It’s something I’ll wait to see unfold before making a final decision on it. The biggest information to come out of the episode was Rosaline and Benvolio coming to the conclusion that there’s someone else behind the conflicts in Verona. And it has nothing to do with either of their families. The tables are turning and Rosaline and Benvolio are becoming a team, finding a loophole that might get them out of their relationship. Everything’s definitely melodramatic at times, but it at least works within the scope of the show and the cast never over-performs.
“All the World’s a Stage” gave Benvolio a bit more character and saw Escalus undermine Isabella, but the best parts of the episode involved Rosaline’s character growth, her coming to terms with her betrothal, but still secretly fighting back and attempting to find another way out of it. Her and Benvolio’s apologies to each other as they became betrothed were sweet and spoke of their mutual feelings regarding their situation. I very much look forward to when they interact even more.