This week’s episode of The Royals is about revealing who will fall on which side when Liam carries out his plan against Robert and (hopefully) ends his reign. Spoiler alert: everyone is on Liam’s side, except maybe Willow, who is probably going to end up on Liam’s side next week. Shall we begin?
Surprise Help for Liam and Cyrus
The episode opens on a series of flashbacks: Cyrus and Liam workshopping their argument before Robert banished Cyrus, Liam and Kathryn working out their faux breakup when Robert tried to seduce her, and Cyrus and Liam’s brawl at the stag party last week. Essentially, if you didn’t originally catch the fact that Cyrus and Liam have been orchestrating this whole season, you will now.
The next part of their plan involves invading the home of Martin Caine, the man who helped Robert execute the blackout earlier this season. Aston deactivates the security system, leaving Cyrus and Liam free to break into his house. This seems a little dangerous for two extremely recognizable people, but it’s been proven time and time again that they all have no regard for their own safety. Caine’s desk chair turns around to reveal Helena, who’s been on to them the whole time. She reminds them that revolutionaries in their country have a history of imprisonment, execution, or both. They don’t actually have to worry (at the moment, at least); Helena is there to gather information for herself, as she’s been spying on Robert since Liam brought his concerns to her–after all, he was so convinced that Robert was up to no good that he was willing to disown Helena for it. Helena and Aston are working together and have been for a long time; she was the one who placed him at the Venezuelan embassy during Cyrus’s brief reign as king. Her next move: infiltrating Martin Caine’s high-stakes poker game.
Liam asks Jasper to go to the elder Riot Club (AKA, the Nobles) to judge how dedicated they are to Robert’s reign. Jasper reminds Liam that this puts Jasper’s job and life on the line, but agrees regardless–he’s fairly certain that they’ll show loyalty to Liam if he becomes king, as they’ll be loyal to whoever is on the throne.
Despite their great progress, Cyrus couldn’t be crankier. He’s upset that he’s the same spiteful man he always has been, convinced that he would be jealous of Liam if he becomes king and that Helena will get all the credit for saving democracy when they unseat Robert, Liam insists that isn’t true; he’ll look to Cyrus for guidance once he’s king, and Cyrus will definitely have the respect of him and the nation. Their conversation is interrupted by a text from Robert, summoning Liam to his office. In Robert’s office, Liam has a small heart attack while Robert somberly explains the months of questioning Liam’s loyalty. In the end, this overly serious conversation is all about asking Liam to be best man in his wedding. Cue Liam’s guilt complex.
Meanwhile, Helena buys into Caine’s poker game for $50,000. By the end of the poker montage, only two players remain in the room: Helena and Caine. Helena bets her winnings and a personal tour of the palace on a hand she knows she’s going to lose. She knew he drew the king, but wanted to see his skills beyond the poker game.
At the palace, Helena wastes no time in letting Caine know why he’s there. “Ever been to the palace, Mr. Caine?” she asks. “Not even when you were conspiring with my son for the blackout?” There’s nothing better than watching Helena get the best of someone, especially when that someone is an entitled rich white guy. She convinces him that the only thing protecting him is the current king, so he might as well cooperate. When he asks how she’s going to guarantee his silence, she strips down to lingerie to reveal that she’s been wearing a wire the whole time. Game, set, match. Helena tells Liam that Caine is in, and instructs him that he can’t trust anyone, which makes me worry that anyone might even include her. They’ve done a good job this season of withholding people’s motives and allegiances, I’ll give them that.
Jasper returns and informs Liam that all of the men–himself included–will stand with him if he goes against Robert. In order to honor someone that has been supporting him for a long time, Liam calls for Cyrus and his belongings to return to the palace. Cyrus argues that Liam’s soft heart is going to screw them over, that he would never do this for his nephew, but Liam disagrees. Liam hugs Cyrus, who is moved and surprised.
A Surprise End to the Robin Hood
After completing her latest Robin Hood mission, Eleanor opens the door to find a giant crowd of reporters, meaning her days as the Robin Hood are over. Helena and Sebastian discuss this in Helena’s bedroom after another encounter. Helena mentions offhand that Colin York is organizing a coup, which feels a little casual considering the subject matter. More on that later.
Eleanor, upset that someone would reveal her secret and stop her from helping others, storms into Helena’s room. Unfortunately, a secret booty call has just finished, so Eleanor is treated to the view of Sebastian standing in the middle of Helena’s bedroom in his underwear. Eleanor, upset that Helena has once again broken her trust, accuses her of telling the press that she was the Robin Hood: “This is what you do. You take things that I care about.” Helena requests that she trust her, but Eleanor can’t do it anymore.
Jasper brings Eleanor further newspaper articles, showing her that her stint of Robin Hood moments have started a movement. People all over are going out of their way to help others. She’s still bummed that she can’t do it herself, asking Jasper whether he thinks Helena leaked the information to the press. He chooses to focus on the positives instead of the negatives.
Helena asks Sebastian if he was the one who leaked the information about Eleanor’s Robin Hood status to the press. When he denies it, she asks if he told Robert. She doesn’t need his answer; she knows that he’s been feeding information to Robert since Robert has been talking about Colin York’s coupe all week, the coupe that she made up as a test for Sebastian. She shows him to the front door–he won’t be coming back.
Bad Surprises All Around for Willow
Willow surveys the ridiculous wedding gifts they’ve been receiving and suggests that they have people donate to charity instead. Robert laughs it off, tickled that she has such a good heart. He mentions an interview she did, mentioning that she shouldn’t be so political with the press–let him be the bad guy! “So stand still and look pretty?” Willow asks slowly, catching his drift. He laughs it off again, saying of course not–just stay away from politics, religion, and sports. Sure.
Eleanor catches Willow in the process of stealing Eleanor’s and Liam’s stash, and the two bond over their hardships while they smoke. Eleanor assures Willow that Robert cares about her point of view, then asks what she thinks of Robert permanently disbanding Parliament and declaring himself to be the sole governing body of England. Based on Willow’s stricken expression, Robert didn’t share that information with his lady love. Willow flees, upset.
Cut to Willow and Robert arguing. She feels like she can’t trust him, and he continues to give her reasons not to. I truly hope that they don’t end up married. “We’re not going to be co-kings. I’m going to be king and you’re going to be my queen,” he explains. “I wouldn’t be so sure of that,” she throws back, thankfully.
Later, Robert summons Willow to inform her that he needs the ring back. Don’t get too excited, everyone–he gets down on one knee to explain that he’s made some mistakes with her, he was taught to operate on his own, and he’ll never take her for granted. “We’ll stand together, we’ll find our way together,” he explains. Listen, I have no interest in these two being together, but I have to point out how risky that move was–what if she threw the ring at him and ran out? Just saying. Next point: that speech sure did sound familiar…
Jasper doesn’t want to keep secrets from Eleanor (another plus for character growth), so he tells her that Robert isn’t a good guy and Liam is plotting against him. THE DOOR, EVERYONE. CLOSE THE DOOR WHEN YOU HAVE CONVERSATIONS ABOUT TREASON. Eleanor immediately jumps up to stop Liam from what he’s doing. Jasper tries to argue that Robert is not a good guy, but Eleanor leaves. Jasper doesn’t attempt to go after her, so I have to say that Jasper isn’t making the best wingman move here. Thankfully, Eleanor runs to Willow instead of Robert. She asks whether Robert is a good man and Willow rehashes their conversation. This sequence doesn’t actually make much sense, but the point is that Eleanor is able to finish Willow’s sentences. Robert’s dialogue was ripped from her and Jasper’s letters. Tears fill her eyes as she tells Willow, “You can’t marry him.”
Most of this week’s episode of The Royals is pure setup; not entirely unexpected, considering next week’s finale, but a little disappointing that we had so many big reveals with no action. Kudos to the writers and actors for the way they’ve hid both Helena’s and Liam’s motivations for most of this season. To that point, the way they’ve handled Robert and Willow has been rather uneven; they tried to slow burn them for a little while, slammed them into the smug royal fiances without considering Willow’s past characterization, then started to break them down in a rather uneven way. However, credit where credit is due for the Jasper/Eleanor letter twist–majorly messed up. It’s been a little while since I’ve complained about him, but no one is here for a Cyrus redemption arc.