This week’s episode of The Royals was the best they’ve had in a long time. The third season really put the show in a heavy, dramatic place, and this episode did a lot to bring back the snappy dialogue and utter ridiculousness that made the show so addictive in the first place.
A Neverending Series of Hospital Visitors
Liam returns to the Palace from his first fact-finding mission with zero chill whatsoever. He immediately attacks who he thinks is Robert, but is actually a man named Hamish from a service called “Dopplebangers.” Do with that what you will. Cyrus hired him because he knew that Liam would pull a dumb stunt like this when he returned. He strongly requests that his nephew chill and tell no one until he can gather more information. Liam immediately runs to the hospital to tell Jasper, due to the above lack of chill.
Afterwards, Robert drops by for a less-than-friendly visit with Jasper. He’s pissed about Jasper’s bout of truth-telling at the press conference and informs him that he has no choice but to remain as his bodyguard. It’s so weird how “bodyguard” sounds like “target practice” in this context. Next up is Sebastian, who drops by to check in on him and briefly discuss Eleanor. I hope that their relationship becomes one of tentative friendship rather than romantic rivalry, because that’ll be far more interesting to navigate than a love triangle.
A Side Note Affair for Helena
Helena wakes up in the bed of Colin York, and suddenly it feels like we’ve missed something since they’re clearly in the midst of their affair. During a later conversation, she reveals that she was part of Cyrus’s conspiracy to have Eleanor and Liam declared illegitimate, which seems like an interesting choice. She decides to stop their affair–in theory for his family, but it’s actually for her own reputation. She’s about to be replaced by someone and she can’t risk losing the love of the people.
Save the Dance, Save the World
Back at the hospital, Eleanor dumps a bucket of mail on Jasper, to his chagrin. She doesn’t even notice, freaking out over there being too many people in the world for her to help at the same time. Jasper’s more concerned about her, pointing out that if she doesn’t leave, everyone will figure out that she’s his secret girlfriend. She decides that she’ll find someone to help in the hospital, killing two birds with one stone. She encounters Becky, a teen stuck in the hospital with a blood illness, who is bummed to be missing her opportunity to go to her high school’s dance with a boy named Devin. Eleanor decides that her project is going to be to bring the dance–and Devin–to Becky.
Dealing with high schoolers is trickier than expected for Eleanor, who stresses over Devin’s missing RSVP. She and Jasper have an adorable argument about how fourteen-year-old boys are awful, in which Jasper eventually comes around to Eleanor’s point of view and agrees to surprise Becky in Devin’s stead. When they get to the dance, they’re surprised to find that Devin showed up and is “a charming little shit” with only nice things to say about Becky. Their stubborn, profane acceptance of Devin’s kindness is easily the funniest scene in the episode.
Liam Maintains His Lack of Chill
When Liam encounters Robert, he immediately tells him that he’s excited to see him fall from grace. It’s surprising that Cyrus hasn’t killed Liam already. Robert then hits him with the idea that no one is going to believe him and that he’s no better than Cyrus, sealing his insults with the knockout line, “Say hi to Kathryn for me.” It’s difficult to watch someone so easily get the upper hand on Liam, but it’s also difficult to watch Liam be so terrible at this.
Enraged by Robert’s brazen behavior, Liam tells Robert, Willow, and Helena that Robert’s bank transfers to Ted Pryce are proof that he arranged for Simon’s murder. Robert explains that those transfers were to help Ted in the aftermath of his wife’s murder, which Helena confirms. Robert pats himself on the back for helping Ted’s family while Liam preyed on Ophelia in her time of need. Pushed even further, Liam pulls a gun on his older brother. Eleanor arrives and knocks Liam out to diffuse the situation, lamenting their family’s inability to spend any time together.
As the family would like this handled discreetly, they have Mr. Hill take Liam to his office for questioning. If Liam answers the questions correctly, he won’t involve the authorities in the matter. “Was Ted Pryce a good man?” Mr. Hill asks. His question leads to a discussion about how Pryce was once a good man, but went off the deep end. It’s too late for him, but it’s not too late for Liam. Once Liam confirms that it’s never going to happen again, Hill releases him.
Robert Courts His Ladies
While Robert strolls through the garden with his variety of society ladies, Willow admits to Helena that she was originally number one on his list. Helena is arguably the most supportive she’s ever been to another character on this show. She calmly asks if Willow removed herself from the list because of Liam, which Willow denies, since Liam never saw her that way. Helena understands, confirming that she should have a partner who truly sees her. Unfortunately, Robert is doing a good job of pretending that he sees her at the moment.
The last society lady we see is Cassandra, a smart, sexy choice who is quite remniscent of Helena (but not in a creepy Oedipal way). Rather than list her accomplishments or try to protect her secrets, she debates Robert on movies and gets sassy with the press, flipping their fashion-focused comments back with, “Pretty dresses won’t change the world, the women wearing them will.” Can we keep her? She’s fun, and I think it’d be fascinating to watch her and Eleanor take over. It doesn’t hurt that she’s literally the only girl who has real chemistry with Robert on screen, making for way better Robert content than I’m used to.
After the brief interlude where Liam pulled the gun, Willow checks on Robert. He brings in dinner for the two of them and feeds her some bullshit about Liam eventually finding his way back to seem sympathetic to his brother’s plight. He insists that he needs to be cautious about Liam after watching Cyrus’s interactions with his father over the years.
Cyrus is understandably furious over Liam’s behavior, explaining that all of their work has been for nothing. His only solace can be found in Liam knowing that Helena will never pick him over Robert–and that good boy Liam played dirty and has ruined Greta’s life in the process. After their conversation, Cyrus asks someone on the phone if they’re sure of something and angrily throws his drink in the fire.
When Eleanor discovers that Jasper is being released from the hospital, she informs him that he’ll be moving into her room. When asked about what Robert will think, Eleanor scoffs–he isn’t the boss of her. That challenge seems like foreshadowing!
While Helena wanders through the palace’s wine cellar, Robert watches over the city from his office, counting down to a city-wide blackout that looks like it’s going to result in danger for the characters on next week’s episode.
With this week’s episode of The Royals, the show seems to be back on track–the story has felt a little muted since Robert was brought in, losing some of the humor in favor of more serious drama. Robert’s courting and Eleanor’s quest to put on the perfect dance for Becky. It’s rare that we get to see Eleanor and Jasper as anything other than some tragic, angst-ridden love story. Seeing them act as a regular (or as regular as they can be) couple that works together and wittily bickers about a more lighthearted issue was a delight. Helena’s newfound kindness and quiet vulnerability when it comes to her future as the dowager queen is another example that shows the writers are willing to let the characters grow. I’m even interested to see where Robert’s storyline goes, which might just be a first.