Tuesday, May 3, 2011

"Priest of Death"

Hello everyone, the Historian here. This week, we had a full house of myself, Ketina, Ronelyn, Schmallturm, Spoo, MiniSpoo, MisterMother, Photobug and Cz. (Talk about a crowded room!) As I've mentioned before, this story hinges on conversation and intrigue, which makes it very hard to convey the atmosphere and full meanings in a summary...but I'll give it a try. So, let's get to the summary!

Episode summary: First aired 19 February 1966. In Preslin's shop, Steven is awakened by a noise that turns out to be Anne hunting around for something to eat. She tells him that it is dawn and the curfew has been lifted. "And the 'Sea Beggar' dies today," says Steven. Will they leave Paris? asks Anne. Steven gently tells her that no, he must go to the Abbot's house. Despite Anne's fearful pleas, Steven is firm; he believes that the Doctor is masquerading as the Abbot of Amboise and that the Doctor will know who "the Sea Beggar" is. Anne warns him that someone will recognize him, and Steven agrees, looking around and finding a cloak in the shop. Anne finds a hat, and Steven decides he won't be recognized with this disguise.

In the Louvre, a council meeting is in session. In attendance is Admiral de Coligny, Marshal Tavannes, and another councilor named Teligny. They are in attendance to King Charles IX and the Queen Mother, Catherine de Medici. The Admiral is arguing in favor of France intervening in the Dutch attempt to break away from the Spanish empire--on the side of the Protestant Dutch. His current argument is a war will unite the population, regardless of their religious divisions. Tavannes counters that he thought the marriage of the Protestant Henri of Navarre and the king's sister was meant to accomplish this. "For how long?" says the Admiral. "As I have pointed out, frequently, in this chamber, it would take but one small incident and the whole of Paris could be in uproar." Charles seems to be swayed by the Admiral's argument, but the Marshal claims that France cannot afford a war now. "So we are told frequently by our mother," says the king, looking at the silent Queen Mother. The Marshal continues, saying the religious wars in France have left the country without money. But, says Teligny (who has not spoken up until now), does not the treaty of Loire say that England would come to France's assistance in this case? Jokingly, the king says he is glad to hear a different voice than the Marshal or the Admiral. So, he continues, Elizabeth has agreed to help? "Does anyone here trust her?" asks Tavannes. "She breaks more promises than she keeps." She has no love for Spain, counters the Admiral. "She has yet to come out into the open and say so," says the Marshal. "However, if Your Majesty is so eager to fight this war, perhaps we could raise the money by leasing the Alpine hunting grounds to Italy?" The king accuses the Marshal of mocking him and declares he will sell no French land. "There is enough money in France to finance the war," says the de Coligny. "Enough of this war. I am bored with Spain," says Charles, who gets upset when the Admiral tries to press him on the subject. "If the King refuses to make war, may it please God that another war will not be forced on him, which it would not be easy to renounce," says the Admiral.

In Preslin's shop, Steven is about to leave. Anne is refusing to stay alone and is still trying to convince him not to go to the Abbot's house. Steven says if she won't stay there, she must go with him. "Now look, I'm almost certain that my friend is pretending to be the Abbot. Now he'll make sure that no harm comes to you," he says. Finally, she agrees. Thinking a moment, Steven says that if they have to run and get split up, they should meet back at Preslin's shop. Anne agrees and they leave the shop.

Back at the Louvre, the argument has moved on to the grievances of the Huguenots. "The treaty drawn up by the Queen Mother to conclude the religious difficulties of the country was generous in the extreme to the 'free thinkers,'" says Tavannes, but the Admiral is not convinced. "Words were spoken," he says. "Signatures were exchanged. But they did not prevent many acts against the Huguenots." The Marshal, aghast, asks if de Coligny doubts the promises of the Queen Mother. "It is easy to promise," says the Admiral. "You speak treason!" yells the Marshal. The king has had enough, leaping out of his chair and yelling, "Enough! Why is it not possible for our councilors to talk without quarreling?" The Admiral asks to be heard, but the king responds, "Admiral, grant me but a few days more in which to amuse myself and then I promise you, as King, that I shall make you happy and all those of your religion." The Admiral says, coldly, "Kings are recognised only by the power they wield. The Queen Mother seems to claim this power. Take care, Your Majesty, that it does not prove detrimental to yourself, and to France." The Marshal is again shocked, and the Queen Mother strides silently from the room. The king declares, "This meeting is over. Since my noble mother has seen fit to depart, let us do likewise. We need to get on with the Feast of St. Bartholomew, so until the day after tomorrow, let us enjoy ourselves." He and Tavannes leave. Teligny turns to the Admiral, asking whether insulting the Queen Mother was wise, and the Admiral replies that it is time her power was challenged. "The King still fears his mother," says Teligny. "Surely this may damage all for which you've worked so hard?" "Let us hope not," says the Admiral. Sure enough, the king reappears to invite the Admiral to play tennis with him. Although the Admiral tries to demur, pleading work, the king will not take no for an answer. " Oh, my dear Admiral, we are pleased with you!" he says. "Since now our mother will not speak to us for the rest of today, you will come with us. I have a new racquet I want you to see. Come!"

Steven and Anne have arrived at the Abbot's house, where a priest is trying to get them to go. "Erm... I, I have a message for the Abbot, concerning a man who is to die today," Steven says, and the priest tells him there is no need to trouble the Abbot for that; the priest can give the sacraments. Steven says there is more, but he can only tell the Abbot. Just then, the inner door opens and the Abbot (or is it the Doctor??) enters. Steven certainly thinks he knows who it is, and calls out "Doctor!" delightedly. He is taken aback when the Abbot replies, "Silence! Who is this man? And why does he disturb my peace?" Steven isn't sure what to think, but decides he has to play along with whatever "the Doctor" is doing while there are witnesses. Trying to come up with an excuse for being there, he says, "Um, I, I... I've brought back the servant who ran away." Anne is shocked at Steven's betrayal! But it seems to work, as the Abbot tells his priest to leave them. Unfortunately, before anything more can be said, Marshal Tavannes enters and asks to speak to the Abbot. "The young man has returned the girl to us, Marshal," says the Abbot. He clarifies this: "The one who lodged with the 'Sea Beggar'." The Marshal says she is of no importance and again demands to see the Abbot alone. Steven and Anne leave the room...but Steven waits outside the door, listening. "Is Bondot prepared?" asks the Marshal. "Of course, I never fail," says the Abbot. Neither will my servants." Outside the door, Steven turns to Anne. "Quick, we've got to tell Nicholas," he says, and they both leave. Back inside the room, the Abbot says, "Is the 'Sea Beggar' on his way home?" "I don't know," says the Marshal. "The King delayed him after the council. He had seen fit to insult the Queen Mother and His Majesty was naturally pleased with him." "De Coligny will allow no one to take him away from his work," replies the Abbot. "I think we can take it he is on his way by now." Suddenly, Roger Colbert bursts in. He starts to tell them about the girl, but the Abbot yells, "How dare you interrupt us!" "But she is with the Englishman from the Admiral's house," says Roger. "I've just seen them!" The Marshal says, shocked, "What?!" "The Englishman with the girl," explains Roger. "He's the one who was with the Huguenots." The Marshal turns to the Abbot, asking who the man said he was. "I never asked him." Tavannes tells Roger to fetch them back, and Roger says he has sent guards after them. Tavannes turns back to the Abbot. "My Lord Abbot, what mistake have you perpetrated now?" he asks. "He could not hear what was being said," says the Abbot. "I sent him out of the room. In any case, it is too late for him to warn the Admiral." "For your sake it had better be," snaps the Marshal.

Nicholas is sitting in his office in the Admiral's house. Suddenly, he hears a commotion in the hallway. It is Steven, struggling with a servant, trying to get to Nicholas' room. When he sees his friend, Steven calls, "Nicholas! Quickly, it's the Admiral!" He manages to gasp out that the Catholics plan to kill de Coligny! "Today! Now!" Nicholas asks how, but Steven says he doesn't know. "You've got to warn him." Nicholas says the Admiral is in a council meeting, but Steven says, "No, it's over. They're going to kill him on the way back." Where? Steven tries his best: "The Rue... St... St. Germaine?" "The Rue des Fosse St. Germaine?" asks Nicholas. Steven says yes and Nicholas runs out of the room!

In the attic of a house in the Rue des Fosse St. Germaine, a man aims a gun at the street below. He is Bondot, and he is waiting for his target. Sure enough, Admiral de Coligny, Teligny and several clerks walk down the road. Suddenly, Bondot fires! The Admiral's papers are blown out of his hand as he falls, wounded! Nicholas rushes down the street, calling for the Admiral. "See how honest men are treated in France?" gasps the Admiral. "The shot came from that window." "Search the house!" orders Teligny. "We must get him to a surgeon."

In the Abbot's house, Tavannes is pacing nervously. "We should have heard by now," he says, but the Abbot is calm. "The King may have delayed him further," the Abbot says. "Due to your stupidity, the Englishman has had a chance to warn him," says the Marshal angrily. "I said he did not hear anything!" protests the Abbot. Then why did he run? asks the Marshal...to which the Abbot has no answer. "If this should go wrong, you are to blame, and you will be the one to answer for it," warns the Marshal. Trying to sound reasonable, the Abbot says, "If de Coligny is delayed by the King, then the news of his death will be delayed also. Bondot is an excellent marksman. You know that. There is only one thing for us to do, that is to wait. Meantime, I will retire to my room." The Marshal stops him. "You will not," he says. "You will wait here, with me." At that moment, Roger rushes in. "The attempt has failed," he says. Was Bondot caught? asks the Abbot. "He rode away," answers Roger. "The Admiral was only wounded, not killed." "So, the 'Sea Beggar' lives," says Tavannes. You have failed!" He turns to Roger and tells him to call the guards. After Roger leaves, the Marshal turns back to the Abbot. "It is strange, Father Abbot, that since you came everything which had been so carefully planned has gone wrong," he says. Just then, Roger comes back with two guards. "This man is a traitor to the Queen," Tavannes tells them. "Kill him!" When they hesitate, he adds, "You heard my order, kill him!" The guards advance on the Abbot...

A short time later, in the Louvre, Teligny is waiting for the king. The Queen Mother glares at him, asking him what he wants, but he tells her his news must be given first to her son. Charles walks into the room. "Well, what's the matter?" he asks, peevishly. "Why must I always be interrupted? And I was winning." "Admiral de Coligny has been severely wounded," Teligny tells him. "Someone tried to shoot him." The king screams, "Will I never have any peace?!" Then he asks what has happened. "The assassins were waiting in the Rue des Fosse St. Germaine," says Teligny. "As we came down the street they fired at him." Charles asks if the assassins were caught. "No, sire," Teligny says. "We searched the house and found the weapon, the men had gone." "Well they must be found," the king says, growing more and more agitated. "An inquiry. Call the council! The Admiral's assassins must be caught and punished!" The Queen and Teligny leave to carry out his bidding. "Oh, my Admiral!" says the king. "My little father! I will see you avenged."

In the Admiral's house, de Coligny lies, still bleeding, on a sofa in the main room. He wants to be helped up to his room, but Nicholas begs him to lie still and wait for the surgeon. Steven is off in another corner of the room and Nicholas goes to him. "Nicholas, I'm sorry. I tried to tell Gaston, he wouldn't listen to me," Steven says. Nicholas replies that Gaston told him that. "I knew that the 'Sea Beggar' was going to be killed," continues Steven. "Until this morning I didn't know who that was." "I could've told you," says Nicholas. "How did you find out?" Steven tells him that he went to the Abbot's house. "The Doctor wasn't there, but I overheard some men talking about the 'Sea Beggar,'" he says. Who were the men? "I don't know," answers Steven. "But, well one of them was the same man who came to see the Abbot this morning." "So the Abbot is behind this," says Nicholas. "No!" says Steven. "The Abbot is the Doctor. Now that I've seen him I'm certain of it. He's just pretending to be the Abbot, that's all." "Now, listen Steven..." starts Nicholas, but just then Teligny enters. After asking about how de Coligny is, Teligny tells them, "The King has called for an inquiry but it won't do any good." Why not? asks Nicholas. "As I left the Louvre I heard that some of our men have taken the law into their own hands," Teligny tells them. "The Abbot of Amboise was murdered just outside his own house." Steven is shocked, but Teligny confirms, "The Abbot is dead and they're blaming it on the Huguenots." "But he wasn't the Abbot!" yells Steven, who runs from the room. Teligny says, "The King has summoned the council. I must return to the Louvre." He looks at the Admiral. "Take care of him, Nicholas," he says.

In the Louvre, Charles' council is in session. "...And, Marshal," he says to Tavannes. "Since you claim to know nothing of this attempted assassination, I have a special charge for you. You will be responsible for the Admiral's safety. Empty the street of Catholics, station your men around his house, and mark me well, if anything further happens to him, you pay with your head." Teligny snaps, "We do not need the Marshal's protection, sire. To drive Catholics from their homes will only make them hate us even more." "Is that possible?" asks Tavannes. "I gave you an order! See it is done!" commands the king. He dismisses them and they leave. As they go, Catherine enters, furious that Charles has called a council without informing her. "The threat over your friend, the Admiral? You are the King," she snaps. Charles slams his fist down onto the table. "Yes, I am the King!" he says. "And to be obeyed! Now keep out of my sight unless you care to end your days in a convent." "I would wish you have the courage, my son," the Queen Mother says. "Summon your guards, have me arrested. But you had better have a good reason for the council...and for the people." "The attempted assassination of my Admiral, by you and Tavannes," snaps the king. "Do you deny it, Madame?" No, says his mother. "Have a care. I mean what I say. I shall send Tavannes to the block!" he says. For doing his duty? asks the Queen Mother. "He tried to rid you of a dangerous enemy," she explains. "De Coligny is my friend," the king says. "You, Madame, are my enemy." She laughs in frustration and takes out a list on a piece of paper, giving it to him. "Look at these before you decide who are your enemies," she says. "You think the Huguenots would stop at killing me? They want your blood too." "So you keep telling me every day of my life," Charles says. "Why? I protect them. They're all my subjects. What have they to gain?" Until now, nothing, she says. But now... "We have a Protestant prince in Paris - Henri of Navarre. You think they give a fig for your protection now that one of their own is within grasp of the throne?" Charles looks like he doesn't know what to think of this...

Outside the Abbot's house, a crowd has gathered. The Abbot's (or is it the Doctor's?) body lies on the ground in front of the house. Suddenly, a man shouts, "The Huguenots must have done it!" "The free thinkers!" yells a woman. The crowd grows angrier and angrier. "The Huguenots will stop at nothing!" yells the man. "They even kill our priest! Something will have to be done. The Huguenots must be banned from entering towns! They will kill these poor defenceless priests elsewhere! Now lock them up and kill them!" A little farther away, Roger is standing with the Guard Captain. "You're certain that no one saw the body brought here?" he asks. "Just look at them," says the Captain. "They all believe the Huguenots killed him." Suddenly, Steven arrives on the scene and falls to his hands and knees by the Abbot's body. "What happened? What have they done?" he calls, and is told by a woman in the crowd that the Huguenots did it. No! he yells. The man and woman insist that at least fifteen Huguenots did it, and they saw them! Suddenly, Roger sees Steven and calls out, "Hold that man! He's responsible!" Steven runs with guards close behind as the crowd becomes an angry mob....


Ketina's You Know The Drill

H: Historian
K: Ketina
R: Ronelyn
Sc: Schmallturm
S: Spoo
MS: MiniSpoo
M: MisterMother
P: Photobug
C: Cz

P: Oh my god, that was a long episode.

H: I enjoyed it, and I didn't think it was long at all.

P: Because we took a week off, and I'm not familiar with the history behind it, this story wandered like a lost elephant. I'll go this way and I'll go that way. But I think that it's relative.

H: Fair enough.

M: I thought it was just fine. It built to the assassination attempt. And they threw in the ringer of the apparent Doctor being dead. It was perfect.

H: And they used that propaganda against the Huguenots.

M: It was odd that they had a musket and not a crossbow. I thought it was a crossbow historically, but maybe I'm wrong. [I looked it up and de Coligny was shot by a musket. To be fair, what we saw in the recon did not look like a musket! --H]

H: It might have just been safer. If they had to use a crossbow they would have actually had to shoot something.

P: Ah! Wow.

S: Was it okay to talk to the Queen Mum that way?

H: Not really.

S: There seemed to be very little court decorum going on. They could have been talking in a bar.

H: At this point they had been arguing for a very long time, and it was obvious that Catherine Di Medici (the Queen Mum) was behind a lot of the problems they were having. But that was very gutsy on the Admiral's part. It was clear that the king was more interested in running around playing than ruling, so she was very much the power behind the throne.

M: But she wasn't actually “the Queen”, per say, but only the mother of the king. It was also a time when France was ruled by coalitions of the powerful nobles, not specific monarchs.

H: Additionally, Admiral de Coligny had been one of the King's guardians. So there was a special relationship there between the king and the admiral.

K: I saw that as well, and I honestly wasn't even paying that much attention. And the queen had only like two lines before the final conversation with her son.

H: She had presence, which we couldn't see with the recon.

R: Silence and an armed assassin. Like I said, she's a Medici.

Sc: So, I think just observing, I've seen the movie of this and read the book. [Schmallturm is talking about Queen Margot by Alexandre Dumas. --H] If you know who these people are, and what's going on, it kind of interesting. But if you don't, it's pretty boring, especially as a re-con. It makes me wonder when they stop doing these historicals.

H: Yes, there are very few historicals left. The perception is that they weren't that popular, although the original ratings may not bear that out. But it may have been an excuse for the production team to change their stories.

S: The overwhelming thing for me is that the Doctor didn't need to be there. Other than the Doctor happening to have a character that looks exactly like him (at least that's what it appears to be) the Doctor is completed unnecessarily to this story.

P: So, your observation that the Doctor doesn't need to be here is based on the Doctor needing to be somewhere. It is as though he needs to have a direction to do something.

S: No, it's because the name of the show is “Doctor Who.” As the central character, he should be part of the plot.

M: But then it couldn't be all mysterious as to what it is that they are doing with the Abbot looking like the Doctor and what's really going on with him.

H: I think both of you have a point.

P: My point is, “why is the Doctor here?”, implies that in other stories he had a direct purpose in being there. Part of the purpose is that this is a children's show and teaching stuff. But if you compare this to current Doctor Who stories, he'd be here to save the Universe or something too.

H: So what Spoo is saying is, how does the show justify this story when the Doctor is making no impact on the plot? This is really Steven's story, though, not the Doctor's.

M: But if we assume that the Doctor is the Abbot, this would be a very different story. There would no one to hire the assassin and the events would be very different.

H: But if we assume the Doctor is the Abbot of Amboise, then the Doctor is dead.

S: Which is good, because he suddenly broke character and is assassinating people.

H: I will say that obviously there something about this story that's working, because we're getting quite a discussion out of it.

R: I like it.

M: I like it a lot. I like that the Doctor ISN'T always saving the bloody universe... and yes I understand that is a reference to future Doctor Who stories.

S: But he isn't saving the universe. Just saving the Catholics.

P: Ooo! I can't recall ever seeing the Doctor favor one particular Earth religion.

K: The Abbot's not the Doctor, guys.

Sc: He's not? You mean the Doctor is still alive!

M: You mean Steven isn't marooned in France because the Doctor is dead?

Sc: Anyway, we saw basically just a couple of pictures of the external sets and crowds. It seems like this one had a fairly big budget.

R: Yeah, all in one small hallway.

Sc: It was very detailed.

H: What what I understand, yes, they found pictures of all the major sets for the recon. All the sets we saw were standing ones. They didn't tear down the sets and rebuild them during the filming of the episode. So not just shot in a hallway, no.

Sc: The costumes they could have gotten from the BBC costume department. But I wonder if this set was used for something else and they decided to use it for Doctor Who as well?

S: So we'll see this set in something else as “the streets of Venice” or something.

H: Cz? Do you have anything to say this week?

C: Ughhhhh.

R: “Cz not like reading subtitles.”

C: It just kept going on and on, and NOTHING HAPPENED!

R: You haven't been watching much. A lot happened. Someone was shot.

M: There was a mob riot.

MS: I have nothing to say, either.

K: I thought it was boring too, and I'm over the age of 20.


C: You mean TLTB?

R: No, TLND, Too Long, No Daleks.

M: You're all philistines!

H: Final thoughts?

P: Long. Interesting at times.

M: Meaty.

Sc: I agree that this is Steven's story. It's about him doing stuff. And there are two female characters now.

H: Three if you count the old woman. She got another line this week.

R: “Where are them Yew-ga-knows?”

S: Fruity with notes of anise and oats and a slow finish.

P: Slow finish?

S: This deserves a wine-like review.

H: Well, it is French.

K: Well, I feel a little whiny.

R: I liked it, but then again I enjoyed the book “Red Storm Rising.” It was thick and complicated, but I didn't have trouble following it. I felt there was enough political drama to justify paying attention.

M: Amusing for a British show for the crack they took at Elizabeth the first.

H: I guess she hadn't come out openly against Spain yet, but she would in the near future.

K: Well, at least they were wearing Shakespearean outfits for this Shakespearean PLAY.

H: I didn't feel like it was Shakespearean at all.

K: Pretty much every scene with the king in it felt Shakespearean to me.

R: It was all the tennis.

P: Yeah, they made quite a racket. Oh, but good sound today. Good comments on the video. And even what little we saw there seemed to be a lot of movement in the scene.

H: We could hear them moving around.

P: It feels like a play author wrote it, instead of a radio guy who moved into TV.

K: See, see, someone else agrees with the play thing.

H: You said Shakespearean. This was written by the same person (John Lucaroti) who wrote "Marco Polo" and "The Aztecs."

M: Oh yeah, the Doctor and his companions have gotten over their kleptomania. Oh, wait, no Steven stole a cloak!

H: And a hat. And squatting in the Preslin's shop. But it did take three whole episodes, instead of the first one. I think Marco Polo is the only historical story where stealing hasn't happened.

K: You sure they didn't steal anything in Marco Polo?

H: I don't think so.

K: They stole the TARDIS.

H: Back. I don't think that counts. Anyway, my final thoughts, I'm still really enjoying it, but I have one criticism. We didn't see Gaston. He had this great character arc where he was all blasé and then getting paranoid. I'm hoping we'll see him next week. There wasn't any space in this episode, but I felt him missing. I think that this is a really strong story dramatically. The action hasn't been fast and furious, but after the Dalek epic I think it's good to have a smaller story. But this one certainly is just as dark.

K: Servant girl isn't dead yet. Not dark enough. :P

P: Talk about betrayal!

H: Luckily Steven and Anne had enough time to escape before the betrayal became an issue. And Steven thought that the Abbot was the Doctor. It was a gamble, because he thought he needed to get the Doctor alone, and bringing up the Anne was an excuse.

M: It was nicely done.


And there we have this week's very late post! I promise I'll have next week's done by the end of Sunday--well, I'll try, anyway! As always, check out Loose Cannon Productions for all of your recon needs, and see you next week for the conclusion to this very dark episode of French history! Until then, I remain



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