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The season four premiere of The Royals serves to bridge the third and fourth seasons, showing us what happens over the course of four months. We get a preview of Robert as the new King, Liam signing his deal with the devil (the devil in question being Cyrus), Eleanor finding herself while working and exploring abroad, and Helena finding her chill with the TV. Same, Helena. Same.
Liam divulges the newly crowned King Robert’s secret to Cyrus: Robert paid Ted Pryce to kill Simon and was purposely stranded on that island to give himself an alibi. Liam wants Cyrus to help him prove it, but Cyrus is dismayed and a little impressed by the lengths Robert is willing to go to for the crown. “If he actually did it, maybe he deserves it,” Cyrus argues before agreeing to think about the proposal.
An incognito Liam meets with Kathryn to apologize to her over high tea. The scene serves no purpose other than to let us know that Kathryn is going away for awhile, which is preferable, to be honest–Kathryn has been more plot device than character throughout her entire stint on the show. All she does is make the absence of Ophelia and lack of Willow’s screentime more prominent. Afterwards, Liam bursts into Cyrus’s office and demands that Cyrus help him exact vengeance on Robert. Liam’s anger and clear hatred for his older brother is enough to convince Cyrus to help him and they toast over a fire.
For the next several months, Cyrus grooms Liam to be a master manipulator by partying and getting trashed all the time. Cyrus tasks Liam with seducing their waitress Greta, who is the daughter of the banker that set up the transactions between Robert and Ted Pryce. Liam proceeds to date Greta, who asks him to visit her parents with her. He agrees, immediately triggering his guilt complex. He shares these feelings with an unsympathetic Cyrus, who says he’ll never avenge his father if he doesn’t get over it.
Attempting to challenge herself and provide some distance between her and Jasper, Eleanor sets off on her world tour to create hotels with Sebastian. She spends her time away exploring faraway places and learning to like her alone time. Unfortunately, that alone time gets dangerous when a group of men with knives surround her. Luckily, her bodyguard Rosie saves her.
Upon her return, Sebastian points out that she hasn’t been walking, she’s been running away from her problems with Jasper. He hands her the stack of letters from Jasper, advising her to finally open all of them to figure out what she wants to do. Eleanor takes his advice, reading her letters overnight (interspersed with gorgeous scenery shots, obviously) and ultimately decides it’s time to go home.
Helena is furious at the newly crowned King Robert for having Spencer, her Lord Chamberlain, fired without her notice or approval. Robert quickly diffuses the situation, explaining that Spencer was writing a tell-all about his affair with the queen. “I expect the worst from you because I taught you everything I know,” she says lovingly, immediately forgiving him. Robert then suggests that she get to know Colin York, a married politician who might be making a run for Prime Minister, so that they have a puppet in Parliament.
A few months later, Helena is making more progress with Netflix than she is with this politician. “I was bored AF, but now I have television!” she says cheerfully. Robert makes a visit and assuages her fears that she’s become obsolete by asking for her help with a royal wedding.
Speaking of a royal wedding, Robert continues to flirt with Willow, reminding her that he put her at the top of his prospective brides list. When Willow tries to talk to Liam about it, he concentrates instead on his meeting with Kathryn, only focusing long enough to let Willow know that the only reason she’s on Robert’s list is to mess with Liam. While I don’t think he’s necessarily wrong, I do think that Willow is right to take offense at his comments.
Several months later, Robert gives Willow a necklace and asks her to go for a drink. She hesitates because of their professional relationship, but Robert assures her it won’t change things. This is, of course, not a real thing. Of course it would change their professional relationship. Liam apologizes to Willow for his earlier comments and explains Robert’s treatment of Kathryn, imploring her to ask Robert about it herself and go with her instincts about his response. When asked, Robert tells Willow that he was horrible to Kathryn due to jealousy. He then confirms that he meant it when he put her on the list, causing Willow to agree to go for one drink.
Robert faces Jasper with a challenge: if he ignores Mr. Hill’s warning to stay away from South London, can he trust Jasper to keep him safe? Jasper confirms that he’s not Ted Pryce, which both is and isn’t an answer.
Over in South London, Robert calls Jasper out on the fact that he’s been trying to contact Eleanor. Jasper doesn’t back down, saying that he’ll resign immediately if he’s not allowed to talk to her. Robert essentially tells him to chill and heads out to talk to the public. He gives a rousing speech, commiserating with the unruly populace about the way they’re treated by their government and the media and assuring them that they are the great hope of their area. Gunshots ring out at the rally, throwing South London into mass chaos. Robert is shuffled to safety in a car, while Jasper is left bleeding out on the stage–just as Eleanor texts him that she’s home and wants to see him.
This episode of The Royals was truly a bridge episode, but a necessary one. While the time jumps made the episode seem a little rushed, ultimately this digest format put the pieces of the fourth season in place and helped to not drag through the characters’ separation, something to be thankful for with Eleanor being in other countries the entire time. While most of the story centered around the changing relationships of the characters–specifically that of Cyrus/Liam and Robert/Willow–there was also forward plot momentum and the first cliffhanger of the season!