Some of history’s biggest international conflicts have stemmed from cross-cultural strife heightened by competition and a natural desire for claiming stake for one’s territory. Major wars meet this category and by definition, so does the catfight that takes place in the second episode of The Royals, which features a major face-off between Ophelia and Gemma, Liam’s ex. (Named after her family’s gem trade fortune. Modest, right?)
The royally divisive drama starts at the top of the episode, where Liam and Ophelia are exchanging compliments and sweet nothings—you know, like new couples usually do. It’s their third coffee date, but as Liam points out, “Coffee I endure—It’s the company I like.”
Their chemistry is great, but the queen’s obvious displeasure over the match colors the whole thing with just the right shade of illicit pleasure. In any case, things between the two of them are going well—that is, until the new couple heads over to Liam’s room, where the surprise appearance of his ex in skimpy lingerie doesn’t go over well. Though Gemma (Sophie Colquhoun) is no longer on the royal admittance list for palace access, she’s managed to get inside—though she’s struggling to justify her presence in the royal chambers to Marcus. No matter, Gemma smells fresh meat and makes sure to introduce herself to Ophelia.
Gemma: “I’m Liam’s girlfriend.”
Gemma: “Why do you have to say such hateful things?
Liam: “Because they’re true.”
Ashok—Liam’s BFF—strolls in and does his comedic best to break the ice, but there’s no denying it—this situation is totes awkward. And then, Gemma goes for the jugular.
“I actually will fight the bitch,” she politely informs Liam about waging war for her prince, despite having “disappeared” from his life 10 months ago. Man, this broad is classy.
She puts on khakis (Really? Who wears khakis anymore?) and continues: “I made mistakes with you, but I’m going to fix them. And you’re going to let me.”
At this point, Ashok’s done what any wingman would do—he’s taken the volatile matter out of missile range. Ophelia and Ashock head out to get—yup, you guessed it, coffee!—and Ashok tells her she’s totally Liam’s type. “Let me guess …Dance? Art history.” Yes and yes. “You’re also, stubborn, competitive, and a little bit awkward.” How does he know all this? It’s because Liam told him all about his new gal pal—a sign that no matter what Gemma may have meant to him, he really does like Ophelia. Truly, madly, deeply! Then, Liam shows up and extends Ophelia an unexpected invitation. “Want to go with me to the royal garden party?” Guess someone’s gotta go shopping for a fascinator!
Queen Helena’s garden party is to honor the military—and it’s her way of presenting a royally unified front to the public. There’s a lot at stake given that her husband will present his plan to end the monarchy in front of Parliament any day now, so she’s taking extra care to make sure every detail is just right, but she also has to do some damage control. Forget about death threats and violence warnings from Mr. Pryce—there’s another bomb she needs to diffuse. “I’d prefer it if your daughter wasn’t blowing my son,” the Queen tells Pryce. “But we can’t always get what we want, can we?”
What, giving up so easily? Not so fast—she has a secret weapon and it’s called Gemma, whom she’s invited to the party. Despite her dysfunctional family, it’s clear Helena prides herself on keeping the appearances intact. Dressed in a form-fitting emerald cocktail dress and fascinator to match, she leads the family outside to meet the masses. But within seconds, Eleanor—who is understandably still smarting over the fact that her bodyguard Jasper is using their sex tape as blackmail to control her—immediately starts smoking a gigantic hand-rolled cigarette (let’s be honest, it’s probably weed) and swigs champs from a massive bottle.
Helena sees this and literally has a mini heart attack, which prompts Liam to distract the crowd from the Princess Eleanor by crowd surfing, mosh pit style. He’s being clapped for and whistled at like a rock star while in a different area of the party, Ophelia is having a groupie moment, going shot for shot of what looks like Jim Beam with Gemma. It’s stuck up bitch vs. girl next door with Ophelia proclaiming, “I’ve never been on a yacht. I switch hands with my fork and I have a terrible habit of looking people in the eyes… so no, maybe I can’t hang in your world, but I have been in Kentucky. They make bourbon there. Welcome to my world.”
Meanwhile, Queen Helena extends a polite “How do you do” to Captain Lacey, who responds with a throaty “It’s my pleasure to serve the queen.” He gives off just the slightest of naughty vibes and while this is going on, Eleanor meets Andy, a sexy Olympic swimmer. Though Helena has made no secret of her distaste for Eleanor’s wild ways, this moment serves to show that this mother-daughter pair might have more in common than we previously thought.
NEXT: The queen’s secret proves she’s no saint