The Royals is nothing if over-the-top, salacious, and sexy fun. The show is at its best when we see Helena purse her lips while scheming with Cyrus, Eleanor pushes aside the pipe to stand up for herself and quite frankly, when everyone goes behind one another’s backs in the ultimate game of monarchical chess. A lot of fans agreed that last week’s episode was the best to date—Helena slapping Cyrus was a seriously good moment—and though “In My Heart There Was a Kind of Fighting” had a lot to live up to, there were plenty of twists and turns when it came to the matter of who would wear the crown as regent.
The episode began with Liam drowning his sorrows in a few pints at the pub. He’s watching a press conference that confirms the ugly truth: He and Eleanor aren’t King Simon’s children. He’s totally upset by the news—I mean, that quivering upper lip thing was really excellent acting from William Moseley—and empties another pint before making the decision to dunk his cell phone in a beer. Despite having double-digit calls and texts from Ophelia (See? She really, really cares people!), he’s just not in the mood. Bartender, another!
Eleanor’s taking a slightly less passive approach to the news that she’s a royal bastard. She marches over to Helena’s office (if you call the room where you scheme and plot a mere office), and demands an explanation. “Explain what?” Helena asks incredulously. “That you and Cyrus fixed this whole thing!” retorts Eleanor, who adds injury to insult by shredding pillow after pillow with her bare hands. (No, really.) Helena puts on her best poker face while Eleanor throws out a killer accusation. “I’ve been up all night thinking about it,” she says. “I walked the streets my father walked and somewhere in the middle of the night, it all made perfect sense. The paternity test. The king’s attack. Robert’s death. Did you kill Robert mum?”
This is a pretty solid theory, for which Eleanor deserves some credit. Though it’s been clear from the first episode that Robert was Helena’s favorite child, it’s just as obvious that Helena would do anything—anything—to protect the monarchy. Could she have had predicted Simon’s plans for a referendum, and then had Robert killed off as a way to kick-start a takeover? Maybe she thought she wouldn’t be able to control him as she would Liam; maybe all the sick events that have transpired since—including declaring her twins illegitimate—have been part of a larger plan.
But Helena denies it. “No one killed Robert. Because Robert killed himself. He committed suicide. Now, you tell me. Does that make you feel better me say it out loud?” With that, Helena decides to shred a pillow. (Total pillow kill count: 3)
Oh heavens. While Liam continues to drink at the pub—during which he indulges in drunk-singing “I Can’t Wait To Be King” and has suds-soaked hallucinations that his father is with him at the pub, poor guy—Cyrus is being sworn in as sovereign. And oh, he also informs Pryce that he wants to do away with Liam and Eleanor’s security detail. “They are not successors to the throne and as such, do not merit or deserve protestation. Not to mention the cost. Is it any wonder I’m running low on cognac?”
NEXT: Could our Ice Queen be experiencing a thaw?[pagebreak]
With a wave of his hand, he signals that Pryce should leave and soon enough, we find Cyrus and Helena having a meeting of the minds. “Cyrus, do you think we’ve gone too far this time?” Helena asks. It turns out that our ice queen is thawing a bit knowing that her daughter really, truly hates her. “I’ll never recover from this and there’s no going back.” Cyrus however, sheds light on her place in his monarchical takeover. “On the other hand, you’re the Queen of England and you’ll remain the Queen of England until I marry again.” She snorts.
Pryce walks in with some updates. Simon’s health hasn’t improved but he does have a new suspect. This doesn’t really register much of a response from Helena and Cyrus, but the queen does have a new demand of Pryce: She wants the king brought to the palace as soon as he shows signs of recuperating. “The closer he is, the better we can monitor him,” she tells Cyrus as Pryce leaves the room.
While all this is going on, Ophelia is running around the palace trying to find Liam. Forget the fact that she has a plane to catch to America and Ballantine’s company to join; she’s worried about her man. Or is he still hers? If you ask Gemma—whom she bumps into while the latter is en route to an audience with the queen—that ship has sailed. Furthermore, Gemma won’t let Liam know of Ophelia’s concern. (Do you blame her?) “You had your chance and you had your turn,” she tells Ophelia as two have a standoff of sorts in the palace. “And when you did, how relevant were my feelings to you? And now you know.”
At this point, both the twins are MIA—Liam at the pub, and Eleanor is back at the king’s bedside, where she too imagines her dad is alive and well—but Helena is as busy as ever with conspiracies and plots and schemes. She’s summoned Marcus and asks him to personally investigate the hoodie-wearing suspect whom we saw lurking outside the palace gates last week. Marcus is a pro though, and right off the bat, he makes a few key judgments about the mystery man. He’s ex-military, armed, and “there to provoke a response.”
Within moments, Helena has sent Marcus off to begin digging around and calls Rachel to her side. She wants to schedule a meeting with the anti-monarchist group leader. And by the way, “Rachel, where do you go when you’re not here? What do you do?” Rachel looks at her square in the face. “I’m a dominatrix, Your Majesty.” It’s a funny and downright odd exchange, but it seems to be Rachel’s way of saying she’ll keep any secrets the queen may choose to share. Or is it?
Meanwhile, Pryce is questioning Cyrus for the second time about his whereabouts during the attack on the king. “You don’t like me, Pryce,” notes Cyrus. Well, duh Captain Obvious. Then he launches into his alibi about having spent the night with Holloway. “He’s a married man; I was trying to be honorable. Well as honorable as one can be while sneaking around and having sex with a married man,” he tells Pryce. “These things are always a little sticky. Should I spell fellatio for you?”
NEXT: The queen calls checkmate[pagebreak]
As Cyrus is being interrogated, Helena is meeting with Nigel Moorefield, the head of the anti-monarchist movement. Theirs isn’t an exchange of mere pleasantries: Helena has a plan. “Have you considered what follows the reign of King Cyrus?” she asks Moorefield. She brings in Thing One and Thing Two—Cyrus’ dingy spawn—and Moorefield is appropriate shocked and disgusted. Then, Helena offers her bait. “What if I were to tell you could have the very thing you seek? The dismantling of the monarchy with your name attached to it for the rest of time. Should the king not recover and something befall Cyrus, I need to ask parliament to put the queen in power. I shall need your support, and if I’m successful, I shall give you support in return.”
Checkmate. Helena’s made her move and Eleanor is simultaneously making hers as she engages in some verbal sparring with her creepy uncle Cyrus. He had the nerve to ban her from the king’s bedside, and she is not having it. “Your day of reckoning is coming,” she spits at Cyrus in one of the palace hallways. “You can suck my dramatic dick you desperate, reprehensible failure. You better watch your back.”
Ohh girl. But she’s not the only one who’s engaging in a face-off. Liam is getting his ass kicked by the bartender of the pub where he’s spent the last few hours. It wasn’t enough that he called the barkeep a rude epithet, but he didn’t even have cash to cover his bill. A few punches, slaps, and kicks later, and Liam is looking a little worse for the wear. Adding a little drama to the scene is the fact that lurking in a corner at the pub is our mysterious hooded stranger, whom we’ve learned is 24-year-old Brandon Boone—who just so happens to have gone AWOL from the same company that Robert belonged to. But back to Liam: Despite having his ass royally kicked, he proves his resiliency by getting up afterward. “See that dad?” Liam asks of no one. It’s sad—though Liam and Eleanor didn’t exert much effort in living up to their father’s expectations earlier in their lives, the events that have since ensued—his accident, their change in status—has made them both reflective of the people they could have been.
Liam is in this quasi-philosophical, super drunk state of mind when Marcus finds him. ‘”You need to return to the palace. There are some things happening regarding the King’s attack, not to mention that Ophelia’s worried about you.” Liam says he can’t go back, but he trusts Marcus to find justice. As for Ophelia, “Tell her I’m okay.” Marcus leaves a new phone—“Tell her yourself,” he tells Liam—and leaves a few pounds for his tab. (The bills of course, are stamped with King Simon’s face. There’s seriously no escaping that man!)
Meanwhile, Gemma is having an audience with the queen, to whom she offers some surprising advice. She suggest that the queen “tell the truth” during a press conference; the truth being that at one point, Helena was in love with the King—that she’s not the woman the press have made her out to be since news has erupted of the twins’ illegitimacy. “They want their queen to be honest, raw, and vulnerable,” she tells the queen. “They want to see you as one of them.”
As the queen is hatching her plan to emerge from the scandal unscathed, Liam looks as though he’s going to end the episode worse for the wear as he leaves the pub and walks around drunk in the rain. (Sans umbrella, I should note. What Brit walks around without an umbrella???) He eventually finds a sidewalk on which to slurp from his beer bottle. “I thought I could do it. Be king. Be great. Turns out you’re not even my father,” he says to the ghost-like figure that’s appeared as his father. He goes on. “Why can’t life be fair? King Simon’s response—imaginary as it might be—is telling. “ Life doesn’t care about justice. The world kicks your ass sometimes, but you work through it. You ask for help and try again. And sometimes you have to fight back. Sometimes you have to fight your way in.” And with that, the King fades away.
NEXT: Eleanor meets someone who may prove her suspicions right[pagebreak]
Eleanor is also thinking of her father, craving his presence. She goes to the hospital, where she finds out the King has been moved back to the palace. She’s sad and confused as she sits by the empty bed. Just as Liam conjured up a vision of his father, she does too. “Knowing what you meant to Robert, knowing how much he loved you, do you think he would have really chosen to leave you?” the King asks Eleanor. “You already know the answer? You just have to believe it.” Does this mean Robert didn’t commit suicide?
As Eleanor is busy getting answers from a ghost, we see Helena at her desk, where she asks Rachel to arrange a television interview. “Something seemingly informal, but controlled,” Helena says. Rachel asks to speak candidly. “More candidly than revealing you’re a dominatrix? Please do.” Rachel launches into a curious speech, where she proffers advice similar to Gemma’s earlier in the episode.
“People pay me excessive amounts of money because their bodies and hearts need things.” (Oh snap—Rachel was serious about the dominatrix gig). “The two things most people have are secrets and desires. And quietly, behind all the noise and the sod of their daily lives, they’ll understand those things. And forgive them.”
Before Helena can really digest this, Cyrus barges into her chambers. The twins accidentally shared the news of Helena’s meeting with Moorefield, and Cyrus is ticked off.
Cyrus: “I simply thought we had a full disclosure relationship.”
Helena: “Full disclosure works both ways.”
Cyrus: “Meaning what, exactly?
Helena: “Meaning I know where you went that night.” With that, she gives him a knowing glance and walks away.
The scene cuts to Liam, who’s passed out cold on a deserted sidewalk. My heart goes out to him—a night without his royally plush down quilt!—when a van shows up and a mysterious individual scoops him up. Is he being kidnapped? Or rescued? Before we could learn more, we see Eleanor entering the elevator at the hospital, where the man who’s suspected of having attacked the king—Brandon Boone, grabs her from behind. He takes off his hood and covers her mouth. “I have information for you… You need to know you’re not safe.”
Safe from what? Or from whom? He doesn’t elaborate, but asks her to meet him under a bridge the next day. He has information about Robert. “He was murdered.” Wait, what? “How do you know this?” asks Eleanor, appropriately incredulous.
The elevator doors open and Boone steps out. “Cause I’m the one who killed him,” he says, before slipping out of the elevator. How’s that for a royally elaborate cliffhanger?
Liz’s best lines:
“Eleanor, that pillow was older than America!”
“No one named Nigel could ever or will ever fell a king. I assume that isn’t news to you.”
“The King is dying and all they want to talk about is who I slept with 20 years ago. I am the goddamn Queen of England.”
Real-life royal reference score: 0 (Somehow I don’t think the Queen of England would solicit advice from either a dominatrix or a diamond heiress. Also, the total lack of security for Eleanor and Liam just doesn’t make sense. C’mon—they’re still the Queen’s children. Doesn’t that mean anything?)
Will Eleanor be brave enough to meet with Boone—and will the mystery of Robert’s murder help unlock the barrage of secrets that Helena and Cyrus are keeping? And is Liam safe until then? Will King Simon wake up from his coma? With so much at stake for the season finale next week, what are you hoping will happen?