Our favorite (fictional) royal family is back! If the season premiere is any indication, the series aims to top last year’s sinfully good escapades, with plenty of sex, wisecracks, filthy one-liners, and ridiculously scandalous scenes. If you’re looking for subtle, poignant drama, The Royals isn’t for you — but if you’re into pretty people doing very bad things, E!’s scripted show definitely doesn’t disappoint. Let’s get started!
“It Is Not, nor It Cannot Come to Good” picks up two months after King Simon’s death, with a polo match scene where it appears that Liam — looking as cute as ever — and Eleanor have begun to resume some semblance of normal life. But that’s just on the outside looking in, because their father’s murder, their mother’s revelation about their bastard status, and their brother’s absence has left the royal siblings absolutely shattered.
In comparison, Cyrus took about two weeks to get over his brother’s death. He’s loving every single minute as king, though; he’s really working to earn the people’s love, by tossing pound notes (imprinted with his face, because having those made was clearly a top priority) to the public. Also putting in some serious work? Queen Helena, who trying her darndest to resuscitate the royal family’s image while simultaneously trying to control the twins. “The people find them sympathetic,” Helena shares during a tête-à-tête with Cyrus. His response is deliciously snarky: “Emphasis on pathetic.” (We’ve missed you, Cyrus!)
To “make it look like they work for us, and not against us,” Cyrus plans to reinstate their royal titles and security detail. Ah, the things a king will do in the name of saving face. “All I ask for is a modicum of respect and an apology,” he tells the twins. Liam basically says “hell nah,” but surprisingly, Eleanor apologizes. She even stoops to kiss Cyrus’ ring. Is she on drugs? Drunk? W-T-F.
She’s not. If there’s anything that fans learned last season, it’s that Eleanor isn’t to be underestimated. She’s feisty, smart, loyal and resourceful — a lethal combination for anyone, much less a royal. It turns out our princess has her own play in mind. “If we want answers, we need access,” she tells her brother. Her plan? “We get rid of them.”
In the next scene (which takes us back to the polo match at the episode’s open), Helena is seen cozying up to the press in a series of one-on-one interviews. “This is a period of transition and healing for us,” she tells a journalist. Girlfriend has her talking points down — which means she’s caught off guard when said journo asks about Liam going to Gibraltar.
Turns out that Liam didn’t head out for some R&R — he was undergoing blood tests with Dr. Cohen to see if his mother’s claims about his illegitimacy were true. But the queen’s reach is long, and thanks to her trusty minion Lucius, the entire thing is fixed.
Then, in a flashback (this episode was chock-full of them), to the polo match, we see Jasper, stealthily eyeing Eleanor from the sidelines. “You realize you’ve been stalking me?” she spits out, citing similar situations in Paris and Spain. “Stop following me!” His response isn’t exactly charming, as he calls her a sh—show, and basically demands forgiveness. Eleanor’s not having it, (I’m with you, girl!), and goes off to have vanilla sex with a Nacho Figueras look-alike.
In the next scene — during a post-polo luncheon — Jasper and Liam unexpectedly join forces to take down Mr. Holloway, who’s rumored to be nurturing some animosity toward our royal prince. So wait — are these two actually working together now? Can’t say I saw it coming, but these two, as much as they are opposites, complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses quite well, meaning that together, they might just have a chance at dismantling Cyrus’ regime and identifying King Simon’s murderer. (Especially when, under gunpoint, Holloway blows Cyrus’ alibi by admitting the two weren’t together at the time of the murder.)
Jasper and Liam’s newfound bro-ness gives way to another mind-blowing revelation: The studly bodyguard speaks in a British accent when he’s with Liam. WHO ARE YOU, JASPER? The two are effectively bro-ing out when Liam shares that he and Ophelia aren’t together anymore and don’t even keep in touch. Good, ‘cause that chick was just about as interesting as a pumpkin spice latte. Next!
Jasper and Liam’s new partnership however, seems child’s play in comparison to a scheme the queen has concocted. She’s persuaded Mr. Moorefield (remember him? He’s the leader of the anti-monarchy movement) to seduce Cyrus’ daughters. Those poor, awkward, girls — the only man who’s paid attention to them is coerced into doing so.
That’s not the extent of Helena’s insane schemes, either. With the help of her assistant — who shadows as a dominatrix — she’s blackmailed the prime minister. With a flick of her panties, Helena’s played yet another hand in her plan to become the ruling monarch. The other HBIC’s on TV pale in comparison to this queen, whose ability to meticulously take down the petty minions is pretty awe-inspiring.
For every move the queen makes, a revealing layer is peeled back when it comes to the other characters. Case in point? There’s a mysterious blonde who’s popped up and she looks awfully close to Ted. Could it be — is it — Ophelia’s mom??? “I’m dead now, honey. I can do what I want,” she tells Ted. Say it ain’t so!
Speaking of surprises, Joan Collins pops up this episode, appearing as sassy and sexy as ever. She’s turned up to make good on a polo bet with Cyrus, and along the way, drops a bomb. “I do expect a king who demands accountability. It’s about time someone showed some balls around here.” Okay, then. Cyrus — your move!
Before Cyrus can make his move, Prudence appears with a hefty baby bump. He’s as surprised to see her as I was, but takes it all in stride when Prudence offers him the chance to “share a different narrative with the world” by marrying her and parenting their child. Cyrus doesn’t buy it. “I don’t care what the people think of me, and I don’t care if you go to the press …I’ve got 99 problems, but a bitch ain’t one.” Mic drop!
The subject of relationships is definitely front and center this episode, particularly when Jasper reveals to Liam that he has non-rapey feelings for Eleanor. Apparently those feelings — and not the urge to stalk her — are what prompted him to follow her around Europe all summer. From polo matches to rock concerts, Jasper is always there, protecting her from some mysterious killer. Though he’s totally aware of the fact that Eleanor would only laugh in his face if he says, “I love you,” he offers the next best thing: an apology. (In an American accent, mind you.). After hearing his “sorry” and the news that he’s been assigned to Liam, Eleanor snorts coke with bills imprinted with her dad’s face, cause you know, feelings. She’s about to lose herself in a mountain of snow when she suddenly changes her mind and decides to leave her room. But guess who’s at the door? It’s Beck, who says he’s left his wife “for good.”
While Eleanor is opening the door to a host of new possibilities, Cyrus is seen sneaking about in a knit scarf and gangster-style fedora hat. He’s off to commit some dastardly deed, it seems. As for Helena, the episode closes with her wistfully looking at an old family photo when she notices a fire outside burning in the shape of the anti-monarchists’ symbol. It’s a reminder that she can’t get too sentimental — there’s real business to be done. The duchess joins her on the palace balcony, and says as much. “War has always been a defining moment for history’s greatest queens,” she says, suggesting that the group is responsible for both King Simon and Prince Robert’s deaths. “What do you plan to do about it?” Good question. Queen, your move.
Liz’s best lines:
“I thought I smelled the press.”
“Don’t be afraid to hate.”
“We all have our desires, Prime Minister.”
Real-life royal reference score: 4 (Liz’s mourning is royally resplendent, all black Stella McCartney and tasteful, almost modest-sized diamonds. And of course, King Cyrus gets what he wants, right down to getting dollar bills imprinted with his face. And true story: swans were once property of the aristocracy — only royals could eat them. Weird, but this is totally accurate. Also, Eleanor finds solace in so much coke this episode; I imagine that only royals have that kind of disposable income.)
Royals, what did you think of the season premiere? Is Queen Helena poised for success in seizing the throne for herself? Is Prudence out of the picture for good? Do you approve of the “new” Jasper — and does he deserve a place in Eleanor’s heart (and in Liam’s security detail)? And are Liam and Eleanor on the right track to learning the truth about Domino and the king’s killer? Burning questions, people!