The BBC’s take on this classic work of fiction by Alexandre Dumas captivated me almost from the start with its gorgeous cinematography and costumes, historical time period, and strong bonds of brotherhood that make for interactions both poignant and hilarious. Most importantly for this article, however, are the abundance of romances it gives audiences to fall in love with, all of them playing out in the form of triangles. Divided into three distinct types, the showrunners cleverly wove each one into the fabric of the show.
First is the most recognizable romance associated with Musketeers mythology—D’Artagnan and Constance. The BBC took a relatively book-accurate approach regarding this storyline, having Constance already married to a pompous controlling man named Bonacieux when she first meets D’Artagnan. It takes him crash landing almost literally into her life for Constance to realise how much she longs for an adventurous, unconventional existence alongside a man who treats her as an equal, respects her opinions, and admires her ability to handle a sword. The longer D’Artagnan remains in Paris and involves her in Musketeers antics, the more stifling the life she had before him grows. Their influence on each other’s lives proves to be the catalyst they both needed to embrace their true selves, leaving Bonacieux to become merely an obstacle to their happiness.
In slight contrast to the above romance, the second triangle (and my personal favourite) is not in the original book. It involves Aramis (the Casanova of the group), Queen Anne, and King Louis. Though one of the more restrained, mature love stories in this show, it’s also the triangle with the highest stakes. Due to her status as Queen, almost every interaction between Anne and Aramis carries an undercurrent of danger which only escalates as the series goes on. This triangle highlights Anne’s deep desire to be loved for herself, independent of the restrictions of duty and royal life. She also sees in Aramis everything her husband’s not, someone strong, intelligent, brave, loyal, and passionate. And Aramis finds a woman that’s a match for him; out of all the women he’s loved, she alone displays the kindness, courage, and selfless endurance that draws him. His affection for her and the consequences of their one night together are what drive all his actions going forward.
While I personally cannot condone infidelity, these first two triangles represent the duty/arranged marriage vs. love match dilemma present at the time. The creators make it clear their opinion on who should win by writing the husbands of these women as a bully (Bonacieux) and overgrown child (King Louis). These triangles also fulfil the forbidden love trope and do it exceedingly well.
The third triangle, however, is the most well-rounded and complex of them all. This one features a male, the brooding and intense Musketeer Athos, at its centre. Torn at first between his wife, the infamous Milady De Winter, and his sense of duty/honor in the first two seasons, season three introduces his only other serious love interest, the revolutionary-minded and outspoken Sylvie. Outside of switching the genders, this love triangle distinguishes itself by not having one part of the triangle be someone the audience actively wants to root against. Athos’ relationship with Milady is a complex, convoluted one that, though it’s destructive, maintains a thread of desire and hope, particularly in season two. Both Milady and Sylvie are of an independent, stubborn nature, a personality trait I believe attracts Athos. And while Sylvie would seem to be the most obvious best choice for him (not being a murderess with a dark edge), I must admit to still wishing Athos and Milady could somehow move on from the ashes of their shared past together, such is the power of their rich chemistry. This is one love triangle which really leaves you torn.
The last triangle is the most unconventional of the four, with Porthos’ calling to be a Musketeer acting as the third wheel in any relationship he might have. The sweetheart he had in his youth chooses to remain in the Court of Miracles, still steeped in the life Porthos fought tooth and nail to rise above. His second love interest is a noble woman, but this ends when she can’t handle the reality of being emotionally tied to a warrior. So, while Porthos’ dedication and passion for the life he has carved for himself thanks to the Musketeers are two of the most admirable defining qualities of his character, they are also major factors in the inevitable demise of potentially serious love interests. This all changes when he meets Elodie, a strong, courageous young woman who understands who he is, and is willing to share him with his work.
One of the primary goals of love triangles to engender angst. In BBC’s The Musketeers they contribute in a very significant way to the core of the narrative, coloring almost every action, and forming a huge part of both the storytelling of the show and the individual characters arcs. Which is your favourite?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Hopeless romantic, fervent bibliophile, and aspiring word-smith, Kirsty Pearce also has a deep love for fantasy, fairy tales, & history. With a wide range of TV obsessions from Outlander, Bitten, & Grimm, to Dancing With The Stars, Nikita, & Horrible Histories, she enjoys watching as many Hallmark films as possible, knitting, baking, and sharing all her fan-girl thoughts on her blog.