Though E! advertised its first scripted series as a frothy, over-the-top portrayal of a fictional royal family, the show—which featured glitzy getaways, sleeping with servants, slurping shots at polo matches, and smuggling drugs on the royal jet—felt restrained at times, and in others, unintentionally comical in its repetition of well-worn television tropes. (I’ve said it before and I’ll say again: The Royals was the British version of Gossip Girl, complete with designer drugs and flawless designer fashion.) But I’m happy to say that The Royals ended the season on an exceptionally strong note, with a focus on peeling back the glamorous mask of the show’s more mischievous characters. And in “Our Wills and Fates Do So Contrary Run,” we learned a just little bit more about the monarchy in a way that may have left us all craving more royal intrigue.
“By the time you read these words, it will be done,” we hear in a voice-over, as Helena pens a letter at her desk. “I only hope you can understand and accept why I did it and that someday you’ll forgive me.”
Who is she addressing? It’s not entirely clear, and the scene shifts quickly to Eleanor standing next to a car and then to Liam, who’s seen waking up at the sound of a phone buzzing. (Don’t you just hate that?) He’s still sporting a few bruises from his bar fight and looks hungover, defeated, and totally disoriented. Was he kidnapped? Ophelia walks over, which means he wasn’t kidnapped. This girl is full of surprises, and says she rescued him from the tunnels. “Sorry for going dark,” Liam says as way of an apology for going MIA. “It wasn’t about you.” In any case, he’s had enough of London—how about a trip? “Somewhere else in the world. Me and you. Today.” Without much hesitation, Ophelia pipes up that she’s always dreamt of Rio. Brazil it is!
As Liam blissfully daydreams of avoiding his daddy issues with a tropical vacation, Dr. Cohen—the doctor who revealed the secret of the twin’s paternity in that infamous press conference—is being shipped out on a three-year stint to Gibraltar by Cyrus’ command. “I did what you asked me to do,” says Dr. Cohen, who’s in shock that he’s been ordered to leave town. “I don’t even know the results. We didn’t test the blood.” What???
Meanwhile, the king—whom we’ve learned will no longer receive 24/7 care—is breathing with the help of a ventilator as Liam quietly approaches his bedside. But before Liam can say a word, Lucius strolls in. “I’m afraid I must ask you to leave, by order of the Prince Regent. Family only.” Liam shows a bit of backbone and kicks him out. Score +10 points for the prince!
Meanwhile, off on what one must presume is a seedier part of town, Eleanor—in head-to-toe black—is waiting for Jasper as he gets out of prison. No, she doesn’t miss the sex, but she has rescinded the charges against him. “Ironically, I now turn to you, the one person I could never trust, who suddenly may be the only person who can keep me from waking up dead.” She “needs” him by her side to protect her as she heads to meeting Robert’s assailant. Seriously, there was no one else for her to call?
Now no episode would be complete without a scene featuring Cyrus and Helena scheming and sure enough, the former strolls in to see Helena, who is poring over a piece of mysterious correspondence. He’s there to reconcile and to put their little tiff behind them. “We both have a monarchy to gain.” Then, he moves on to the subject of Alistair. “I’m taking care of it,” responds Helena quickly. Maybe a bit too quickly—what the heck is she hiding?
Elsewhere in the palace, Ophelia lies to her dad about where she’s headed, telling him that she’s proceeding with her plans to audition for that prestigious dance company. (Think ballet leotards instead of Brazilian bikinis.) They share a sweet hug goodbye, and it’s worth noting that Ophelia looks a tiny bit ashamed. I mean, as she should—she’s lying!
Meanwhile, Eleanor has returned to her room—which still bears evidence of her sorrow-fueled spray paint art—and under Jasper’s instructions, grabs a gun from under the vanity. The fact that Jasper kept firearms in her room is a complete surprise, and when she finds a second one tucked above her armoire, it goes without saying that she’s slightly shocked. “You are so American,” she tells Jasper via cell phone. She’s looking like a cat burglar with a hefty black bag to boot when Liam walks in. She’s noticeably relieved to see him but is less so when she finds out he’s skipping town with Ophelia and wants her to join. “I want you to come with us,” Liam says. “And when dad is well, we’ll come back home.”
Throughout the season, we’ve learned that Eleanor and Liam are close, though their relationship is hardly the stuff we’ve grown accustomed of seeing of twins on TV. I mean, they are twins—aren’t they supposed to finish each other’s sentences and stuff? But here, as Liam is pleading with Eleanor to leave with him and Ophelia, we see that though they lack both a father and mother at the moment, these two will always have each other. “You know I’d never thought you’d get out,” Eleanor says. “But it makes me so happy you will.” And with that, she’s gone.
NEXT: The real reason for Cyrus’ resentment…[pagebreak]
Meanwhile, Cyrus has been informed that his mother has arrived, and with a surprising spring in his step, he heads to Simon’s bedside to greet her. “They tell me he’s not doing so well,” the royal mum says. She’s wearing a triple strand of pearls and seems kind and sweet—and well, exactly like Simon. “That would put you on the throne …you can do it. I’ve always known this time would come and when it did, you would handle it with grace and humility,” she tells Cyrus, referencing his role as royal successor. “You’ve always been a good boy, and I’m proud of you.” Cyrus proceeds to flash the most sincere smile we’ve seen of him in the series to date, and it’s immediately obvious that this is the approval he’s desperately sought his entire life. It’s just too bad that his dear mama is delusional and has mistaken him for Simon and the body on the bed for his departed father. “Mum. I know Dad loved you, and I love you, too. And so does Cyrus.”
“Do you think so?” she asks.
“Of course he does,” he says through some real—not crocodile—tears. “Very much.”
While Cyrus struggles with the insecurities of his past, Liam proceeds with plans to create his future. But not before saying goodbye to Marcus, who has somehow gotten wind of his escape plane and is waiting by the car. “Six years. I can’t believe I’m finally getting rid of you,” he tells Marcus jokingly. He ducks into his expensive silver car and yes, that’s really it. Buh-bye butlers! He and Ophelia ride off into the sunset—okay fine, it’s broad daylight—and who but Gemma walks out of the palace. “Very noble of you Marcus, watching the girl of your dreams ride off into the unset and letting her go.” Really? Did you see this one coming? Before Gemma struts back into the palace, she hints that she’ll be able to continue keeping tabs on Ophelia because her family is a financial sponsor of the dance company who had offered Ophelia a chance to audition. Hmm…
Meanwhile, Ophelia and her man are safely up in the air. There’s some mention of money (Liam has some, and by some he means a lot) and then Liam asks whether Ophelia will regret having given up dance for a chance to head to Rio with a renegade prince. “It’s okay. We can dance together and that will be more than enough,” Ophelia replies. Before she can continue though, she notices that Liam is sporting a new charm—engraved with several vertical stripes—on the chain he wears around his neck. He doesn’t know how it got there and in discussing it with Ophelia, he realizes she didn’t rescue him from the alley where he had passed out drunk the night before. “I found you in the park,” Ophelia says. But before he can think too much about it, he’s summoned with news of a call. We never find out who was on the other line, but when Liam returns to his seat, we discover the plane is en route to New York, not Rio. “You have your own destiny and your own dreams.,” Liam tells Ophelia. “And I can’t ask you to give them up. Not yet, not ever.” Awww. But here’s the kicker: He doesn’t plan on staying with her in the Big Apple. “You will always be the someday that I want,” he tells her. “It’s easier this way.” Ophelia can dance and Liam will defend his father the best way he knows how—by fighting his battles. But is that what his father would have wanted?
At the very same time, Helena is granting a live television interview, where she spins a story about having been a young girl who fell for a boy who just happened to be a prince. It would have been a fairy tale, had it not been for her first love and an unexpected pregnancy, she says. “He died in battle, and I love him very much,” the queen explains, who’s given Henry as the name of her sweetheart. Is she protecting Alistair—or does she have another trick up her sleeve?
Where is Alistair, anyway? Like the rest of England, he’s been watching the queen’s interview and is slightly surprised when Lucius strolls in. “Are the kids mine or not?” Alistair asks of the twins. Lucius is holding the red-sealed envelope we saw Helena working on earlier in the episode, but quickly tosses it in the fireplace. “Her Majesty apologizes for tarnishing Henry’s legacy and she asks that you forgive her for the fabrication. She also asks that you do not contact her for a while. A year or so, until things improve. She promises that she loves you and she will see you then.”
Why did Lucius throw the letter into the flames? And who is Henry? We don’t have a chance to find out (darn it!), as Lucius walks out of the room. As he leaves, two of his henchmen stroll into the house and proceed to fire two bullets off-screen that presumably ensures that Helena’s secret, well, stays a secret. But is Alistair really dead? I mean, it didn’t happen on screen …
With nightfall, Eleanor and Jasper are waiting at the bridge for Brandon Boone. With the prospect of being shot in the face of a stranger—his words, not mine—Jasper seems to have grown a pair and decides to come clean about his motives for sleeping with Helena. “The queen knew who I was. She threatened to expose me. It would have taken me away from you, so I took a shot.” He says he simply wanted to stay with Eleanor, but is he being honest? I don’t buy it.
Then Brandon walks up and Eleanor demands to know whether he truly killed her brother. He did, and adds “Cause where I come from, a little money is a lot of money.” In his defense—though I feel weird typing that—he didn’t know it was the prince he had killed when he took control of Robert’s aircraft via drone. Furthermore, he says that the major who contacted him about the job has gone missing and he expects to be next.
While Eleanor is making her discovery, the queen—whose interview seems to have gone over well with the public—is making one of her own, learning that Lucius carried out her message to Alistair as instructed. “Very good,” she says. “Thank you.” So did she give orders for her childhood sweetheart to be killed at gunpoint? No, that would be Cyrus’ doing. A ha! It seems as though Lucius serves two masters. “It’s in her best interest. It had to be done,” Cyrus tells the manservant once Helena is out of earshot.
NEXT: Liam takes matters into his own hands[pagebreak]
Over in ‘Merica, Ophelia is dancing on a dark stage for her audition—all synchronized twirls and dramatic leaps—while the director is texting. ‘Scuse you? How rude! It turns out he’s texting Gemma, who instructs him to “hire her and keep her there.” I knew she wouldn’t let Liam leave her clutches so easily!
Meanwhile, Eleanor has debriefed Liam about Robert’s assassination. Liam is convinced Cyrus ordered the hit—I mean, is there really any doubt?—and runs off to the library to find him. Once there, he bars the door and proceeds to beat Cyrus to a bloody pulp. “You killed my brother, you tried to kill my father, now it’s time to confess.” Ouch.
At the very same time that Liam is attacking his uncle—the pent up frustration of the last 24 hours seems to have fueled a series of pretty impressive punches—Lucius is looming over the king’s bedside. I have a feeling he would have wrapped his long, spindly fingers around the king’s throat if Pryce hadn’t walked in with summons from Her Highness. The sequence takes us back to Liam, who ruthlessly decks his uncle in the face in the same moment as his father’s heartbeat flat lines. Is this the end? It seems so, as Marcus finds his way and says “Please remove your hands from Great Britain’s king.” Cyrus may be a bloody mess, but that doesn’t stop him from smiling. Looks like he may have the last laugh, after all. The scene cuts away to Liam at his father’s bedside, where he vows to take revenge. But is that what Simon would have wanted for his second-born son?
A very different scene takes place in Helena’s bedroom, where she’s woken with the news that her husband has passed away. She reaches for her compact, and smooths away non-existent wrinkles before applying her lip gloss. This is her way of preparing for battle, as in donning an all-black outfit and matching fascinator (tres chic!) before going out to the palace gates to accept the people’s condolences. And here’s something worth nothing: As she shakes citizen’s hands, a flag—emblazoned with the phrase Domino and the same row of vertical lines as we saw both on Liam’s necklace and on an envelope Helena had been holding earlier in the episode—is rung up in the air. What does it mean? What does it stand for?
Next up: another revelation. Prudence—remember her, the servant whom Cyrus had coerced into spying for him?—is clutching her very pregnant belly while watching the evening news announcing Simon’s death. “Don’t worry, baby boy. Daddy just became king.” Wait, what? So Cyrus DID rape her? And is she planning to reveal her baby as a successor to the throne?
Just seconds after that chilling revelation, we see Cyrus settle into the throne and slip on Simon’s diamond-encrusted signet ring. Grab your Earl Grey and say it with me: “All Hail the King!”
Liz’s best lines:
“I’d like to have this desk destroyed, preferably burned beyond recognition, and I’d like to have the ashes sprinkled into something that will fit up Cyrus’ arse.”
Real-life royal reference score: 3 (The royal mum channeled Elizabeth II something fierce in those heirloom pearls and peach-pink jacket, while Simon’s signet ring was definitely tribute to Prince William’s fleur-de-lis crest. And oh, Eleanor can’t drive. That’s what chauffers are for, obvi.)
O-M-G. Royals fans, what’s your take on the season finale? What’s the meaning behind the Domino insignia? And is the queen somehow involved in the group’s efforts? Is there any chance they are affiliated with the anti-monarchist movement? Will Ophelia figure out that Gemma is behind her so-called opportunity of a lifetime? In any case, God save the Queen—and by Queen, I mean Liz Hurley. See you next season!