Tell your friends, your family, your Mistress of the Robes, and your Lady of the Bedchamber: Victoria returns to MASTERPIECE on PBS with Season 3 on January 13 at 9/8c! If you need a recap of the Season 2 finale, “Comfort and Joy,” you’ve come to the right place—break out the eggnog and the holly, and find out where we left off.
Victoria Gets All the Presents
A partial list of Victoria’s Christmas presents: six crates of imperial sturgeon from the Tsar, a parrot from her mother, and, via Captain Forbes, the “gift” of a child from notorious slave trader King Gezo of Dahomey. Sarah’s parents, West African Yoruba royalty, were killed by Gezo’s army, and Captain Forbes negotiated her release by proposing to give her to Queen Victoria.
Victoria accepts Sarah not as a “gift” but as a child who has been through untold suffering. She sees something of herself in the girl, and while missing Lehzen and remembering her isolated and lonely childhood, she tries to bring Sarah into the family and give her comfort.
But tension over Sarah grows between Victoria and Albert, who suspects that this arrangement isn’t what’s best for Sarah and that Victoria isn’t being reasonable (an unpardonable sin, in Albert’s books!). Plus, Albert’s under a lot of pressure to pull off the most magical, enchanting Christmas ever…
Albert trims trees, sings carols, basically invents every Christmas tradition we know and love, and insists that in the name of Christmas, family members must be appeased no matter what the cost, in order to preserve the peace. Against her will, he urges Victoria to welcome her mother and relinquish a prized diamond necklace to her Uncle Cumberland (that’s right, the uncle she believes recently tried to have her murdered).
With the recent death of his father and Leopold’s claim as his true father, Albert’s need for the enchantment of Christmas is all-consuming. He clings to a cherished memory from before his family so painfully broke apart—the only one of his parents together—where they were united as a happy family in front of a Christmas tree. But it’s a false memory, and when Ernest disabuses him of it, he’s shattered.
It’s only after the horror of falling through a hole in the frozen lake, into the freezing water, that Albert is able to shake off his Christmas blues. Ernest confides that he can’t marry Harriet because of his syphilis, and Albert finally understands how bountiful his own life is.
Love, Actually: Francatelli & Skerrett
Francatelli proposes in the most Francatelli-ish way possible, asking, “Will you take a man with nothing except his pastry brush to have and to hold from this day forward?” And Skerrett, who has rejected her horrific surprise inheritance of twenty enslaved people, replies: “Only if you will take a woman who has given up a fortune.” And that is why we love them both.
A Christmas Miracle: Alfred & Wilhelmina
When Lord Alfred proposes (!) to Wilhelmina at the end of the Season 2 finale, he tells her, “There is more than one kind of love.” Indeed, after his brief, star-crossed love of Drummond, who was killed during an assassination attempt on the prime minister, Lord Alfred seemed forever doomed to his heartbreak and his secret mourning armband. Wilhelmina, too, seemed doomed to become a “spinster” (the Duchess of Buccleugh’s words, not mine!) because of her devotion to the otherwise-engaged reformed cad, Ernest. That Alfred and Wilhelmina can find companionship in each other and a future together fills everyone in the court (and viewers at home) with hopeful, merry Christmas cheer.
Naughty & Nice: Ernest & Harriet
But not so fast…after a season of deliciously charged, sadness-tinged will-they/won’t-they, Ernest and Harriet finally reach an understanding when she reveals that she knows about the mercury (his treatment for syphilis), and that it doesn’t matter to her. But being a truly reformed cad (see above) and truly in love, Ernest will protect Harriet from his disease, which means that they can never be together. And that is all. Sob!
All is Calm, All is Bright
All the best Christmas stories, from The Grinch to A Christmas Carol, involve transformation via the Christmas spirit. And so it goes with Victoria and Albert, who find forgiveness for the hurts and fears they experienced in their childhoods, and greater understanding of themselves and each other. Victoria has sent Sarah back to the Forbes’, where she will be happy; Albert shares a tentative moment of affection with Leopold; and Albert finally understands what it meant for Victoria to lose Lehzen, her sole companion in a lonely, isolated childhood. “We are no longer children,” Albert tells her. They’ve left their childhoods behind.
Now that Victoria and Albert are no longer children, what does that mean for their family? Their subjects? The empire, and the world? Get ready for Victoria Season 3: find out how and when to watch it, who’s new in the cast, and what to expect!