Part of the appeal of being a princess is the fantasy of living in a fairy tale ending with a happily ever after. (Complete with a closet full of Cinderella-style sparkly stilettos.) And in this week’s episode of The Royals, two ordinary girls had their taste of the fairy tale—with very surprising results.
But first, Queen Helena’s annual costume ball. Every good fairy tale includes a big bash and this episode was no different. Eleanor enlisted Ophelia’s help in choosing an outfit from a rack full of overpriced couture (“The perks of being a princess”) and while the two thumbed through dozens of dresses, they discussed Ophelia’s failed attempt to get Liam’s attention. Ophelia pretends she’s sorta over it, but as Eleanor puts it, “the bitch doth protest.”
Though Ophelia doesn’t know it, Liam’s equally lovesick. These poor kids—it seems like Instagram has totally ruined their lives. Liam plans to get over his heartache with an upcoming getaway to Monaco. Ashok has planned the whole thing at the “sickest nine bedroom villa at the Cote d’Azur.” (Sounds fun—can I come?) In any case, with the prospect of a vacation, Liam’s in a bit of a lighter mood, and even more so after some hits from Eleanor’s bong. “We need this to survive mother tonight, especially since dad’s away,” she says.
And off to the ball they go, where Ophelia’s waiting for Nick. She’s wearing a Swan Lake-style gown with a full ruffled skirt—how pretty, pretty princess of her!—when Nick arrives. He says he’s speechless over how “beautiful” she looks, but manages to spit out something about he knows the games that got him invited to the ball (Instagram! Jealousy!) but hopes he has a chance with Ophelia anyway.
Meanwhile, this is the Queen’s ball—enough with the early 20s angst, already—and Helena makes a royal entrance on a Cleopatra-style recliner hoisted by four shirtless hotties. She’s looking particularly gorgeous, probably because just minutes earlier in the episode, she had pulled off some secret sexy time with Captain Lacey at a spa with the help of her trusty bodyguard Lucius and a look-a-like body double to throw off the rest of her retinue. Sometimes a girl needs more than a facial to get that special glow, ya know?
In any case, Helena disappears moments after her grand entrance. As she predicted, no one misses her. Gemma is requesting shots—Ashok proposes they try a round of “flaming Lamborghinis”—and no sooner than Nick and Ophelia have danced than she’s brought him over to meet Liam. Awkward. Or at least, it would be but Nick and Liam actually seem to like each other. Ahem. And Gemma, oh, Gemma. As much as we may not want to like her, girlfriend is smart. She asks to waltz with Nick so that Liam can have a moment alone with Ophelia. “The sooner you realize she’s really nothing special, the sooner you can come back to me,” Gemma tells him.
NEXT: Ophelia gives Liam a piece of her mind[pagebreak]
But when Liam and Ophelia do have their moment, it’s not exactly cheek-to-cheek. It’s more of an angry interlude of one-liners and it ends with Ophelia running off, angry, upset, and seriously disappointed. Which is unfortunate, because Nick can tell right away that something is wrong—this is confirmed when Ophelia launches into a tirade about how “fairy tales are such bullshit” and how it’s “crazy to think her prince” might come through for her. Poor Nick. “I hope the fairy tale works out for you,” he tells her. “I really do.”
While that’s going down, Eleanor and Jasper are getting further tangled in their domination-as-a-result-of-date-rape drama. He’s accompanied her to the ball strictly as her bodyguard but Eleanor gets turned on by his tuxedo and the two end up making out. Things are escalating (“Pull my hair!” says Eleanor. “You know how I like it”) when Jasper stops and says: “That’s not what this is. You don’t control this—I do.” Eleanor doesn’t like hearing that one bit, so when he dares her to tell the entire room that she’s being blackmailed, it seems like she might actually do it. In fact, she goes on stage, grabs the mic, and looks at the crowd solemnly and says… “Those shoes, with that dress, really? Bitch?” to no one in particular.
It looks like Jasper has won this round. And then, they find themselves alone on a terrace just off the dance floor and as they slow dance, Jasper reveals what finally happened that night. “There is no video,” he says. Apparently Eleanor got blackout drunk and threatened to fire him, so he invented the video in order to blackmail her. “You like being controlled and you like me. So I’ll do whatever I want to you, whenever I want. And you’ll let me. Because you want it. You need it. So princess, video or not, I own you.” She responds with a few kisses, and for all intents and purposes, seems to go with his twisted reasoning that the whole unfortunate affair seems to have brought them together. “Go to your room, strip off that overpriced dress, get into bed and wait for me. Say yes.” She says “yes” and runs off—presumably as per his orders.
Meanwhile, the queen has arranged to have a secret rendezvous with her Hunky Hero during the party. (Thus her early escape.) That being the case, she and Alistair go on a walk—“whatever my girl wants,” he tells her—and we finally learn about how these two very attractive people know each other: Alistair worked for Eleanor’s farmer father (“God forbid he find his daughter was dating the help) and they dated as teenagers. But when her father lost everything in a big economic crash, her mother pressured her into marrying Simon. “You were my queen long before you were theirs,” says Alistair, ever so sweetly. Swoon.
The point between these two is, that their secret rendezvous are always an effort to relive the past, when he wasn’t a war hero plagued by his guilt over a guy named Henry’s death and when she was just a country girl who wore daisy wreaths in her hair. And though the pair have sworn to never talk politics, Alistair brings up an interesting point. “You should know if there’s a referendum to abolish the monarchy, I know which way I’ll vote. Tonight could be every night.” It’s a tempting thought—could the Queen’s fairy tale ending be found outside the palace walls?
NEXT: Cyrus—a study in paisley and elaborate plots[pagebreak]
Cyrus still can’t imagine a world without his place in the royal family and is plotting accordingly. He’s planned an off-color party for the voting members of the House (high-priced escorts for all!) and even manages to secure himself a spy, albeit unexpectedly. Remember that poor maid whom he seduced in the first episode? He was planning to exploit her servitude and in an attempt to save herself from rape, she added poison to a glass of wine meant for him. Unfortunately for her, Cyrus caught her actions on a security tape and knowing the king trusts her, he asks that she follow him on his walks. And then, of course, he has his way with her. “Don’t worry,” he tells her. “I’ll be slightly more gentle than they’ll be in prison.” What is with this show and the creepy sexual exploitation of women?
On a much more upbeat note, things look up for Ophelia when Liam comes to find her after Nick’s departure. “We’re going to Monaco for the weekend. I want you to come with me,” he says. “I’m not inviting Nick…. I know you think you don’t belong in my world but I don’t like my world without you in it.”
It’s dawn and the party’s over—or really just begun, depending on your perspective. Eleanor is seen in a car off to Monaco; with the help of a body double (seems like she and her mom have similar decoy methods!) she threw Jasper off her trail and is off for a weekend of fun and freedom. Liam is in another car, waiting… and waiting. Will Ophelia join him? She does, and with a clasp of his hand, looks happy with her Prince Charming. Young love!
But is love just for the young? And is it really just the stuff of fairy tales? You know that’s what Queen Helena is thinking as she sits alone on her recliner in the empty ballroom, her scepter and mask in hand. Could the very thing she’s worked to maintain—the monarchy—be what’s keeping her from happily ever after?
Liz’s best lines:
“You two, heel. This is a spa, not a minefield.”
“I don’t want to be their queen tonight, I just want to be yours.”
Real-life royal reference score: 1 (Liam calls Albert—as in Prince Albert of Monaco—to secure his accommodations abroad. I mean, aren’t all royals on a first name basis with one another?)
So, Royals fans—were you satisfied to see some juicy secrets revealed? Who do you think this mysterious Henry is? Will Helena choose to follow her head or her heart? And will Monaco prove a fun time—or a complete disaster?