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S03.E00: Comfort And Joy

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Episode Synopsis:

It is Christmas 1846 and Victoria is uncharacteristically sad as she prepares to face her first Christmas without her beloved Baroness Lehzen, while Albert transforms the palace into a magical festive wonderland as he is gripped by an obsession with staging the perfect family Christmas. But tensions between the couple mount when the prince invites house guests to join the celebrations. Meanwhile, Skerrett inherits a large estate from an estranged uncle.

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Binged on this series. Oh the Christmas decoration porn!

Spoiler

So TV Paget is bisexual? They aged down the historical characters with him and Drummond and there's no historical evidence they had anything to do with each other. I know they aged up Diana Rigg's character and down with Lord M.

So Skerrett and Francatelli are engaged. If they marry in secret, what will they do about birth control? I know there were primitive condoms. 

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I'm sure that if I had watched this on Christmas day, I would have liked it more, but Christmas was two months ago, it was in the 60s today and I just wasn't in the mood.

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I almost wish that PBS had saved this for the holiday season.  Not necessarily on Christmas Day but at least not this time of the year.  As with mmecorday, I probably would have enjoyed it more during that season.

Kudos to Mrs. Skerrett for giving up that kind of money.  One wonders how realistic that was.  That was a lot of money to turn her back on.  Was it because of Sarah?

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What exactly does anyone think would happen to the slaves Mrs. Skerrett said should go free.  There wasn't anyone over in the USA to ensure they were in fact set free.  And even so how would they live?

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Not a stand alone episode, the story line from Season 2 is carried forward in this episode.

Ernst so gallant....Harriet so wanton...steamy....

Happy for Wilhelmina...Alfred, she is the epitome of unconditional love...

Albert, now you and your children will have happy memories for Christmas...

Chef and Dresser will be found out and Victoria/Albert will allow them to marry because we need a Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes couple...

Satisfying season...

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Kudos to Mrs. Skerrett for giving up that kind of money.  One wonders how realistic that was.  That was a lot of money to turn her back on.  Was it because of Sarah?

I think Mrs. Skerrett is a kind person who realizes people should not be owned and could not go through with claiming her inheritance in good conscience. It really is shocking when you see how human beings were treated as property, often listed among the household inventory.

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Back when the movie “The Legend of Bagger Vance” came out years ago, a film critic came up with the term “Magical Negro”, a minority character who exists not as a fully formed person but rather only to teach a white character a lesson or comfort them through a crisis. I was getting hints of that when little Sarah came in to comfort the crying Victoria. But that was countered somewhat by Mrs Forbes, who truly loved the little girl. The actors(Mrs Forbes and Sarah) did a great job conveying a real warmth. 

I also laughed a little because in movies and in TV (and often in life) there’s someone who goes overboard and loses their damn minds about Christmas. It is usually conveyed as a woman so I enjoyed that it was Albert.

So I guess Lord Alfred is bisexual? I hope so! I would hate for that coupling to be just a facade.

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1 minute ago, rlc said:

Geez, was Albert this much of a prig in real life? Insufferable.

 I read an entertaining book by Gillian Gill called We Two, a sort of joint biography of Victoria and Albert.   He brought the ‘Victorian’ stuffiness and rigidity to the English court, and as a father he would have been too strict for my liking.  But he was conscientious and pretty much worked himself to death.

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We saw the happy, fun time Albert in the last 3 episodes...he was much more priggish last season....

Lord Alfred is a believer of love the one you're with...especially since Wilhelmina accepted his love for Drummond.

He won't have to explain to her when he gets that faraway look when he is reminiscing about Drummond...an authentic understanding between Miss Cooke and Lord Alfred.

Edited by humbleopinion
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My dad, who converted to Christianity, was also a great embracer of the Christmas season, and I inherited it.  Such a gorgeous celebration for Albert's family!  I could never find it in my heart to condemn him for trying to get it right -- no matter how false the foundation.  Holidays can be a time for a great papering-over.  

Another lovely sequence of scenes with the Saxe-Coburg Bros!  Truly, those two together are some of my favorite moments.

Nice near-booty call; I was thinking: Here's *my* Christmas.  Oh well.  At least Leopold did what Ernst should have done, and told Harriet the truth.  I knew she'd be okay with it; better to find out that he "was just that into her".  I'll live to hope for better in Season Three.

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50 minutes ago, milner said:

What exactly does anyone think would happen to the slaves Mrs. Skerrett said should go free.  There wasn't anyone over in the USA to ensure they were in fact set free.  And even so how would they live?

It would have been nice for the writers to address this.  What I choose to believe is that the solicitor was honest, that the slaves were placed with an abolitionist organization and relocated north, where they were provided with jobs and an education.  It could happen. 

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1 hour ago, rlc said:

Geez, was Albert this much of a prig in real life? Insufferable.

No kidding! I think he came across as racist (along with Mommy Dearest) towards Sarah.

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After I suspended all belief in any historical accuracy, and just decided to accept that this was a story "based on historical figures", I quite enjoyed this episode.

Alfred trying to recreate a happy family that never existed but actually having a happy family of his own.  Little Sarah winding up with the Forbes and Mr. Parrot.  Mrs. Skerritt giving up a fortune and still getting the dishy Mr. Francatelli.  I hope the slaves she freed had some where to go and to care for them.  Lord Alfred and the "almost a spinster" Miss Coke, who accepts him even though she wasn't his first love, becoming engaged.  And I so wanted to hug Ernst, give him a shot of penicillin and a box of Trojans (for good measure) and wish him well.

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That poor African Grey parrot would have keeled over in an unheated carriage or drafty rooms.

This episode was a bit too pat for me. Not too realistic.

Edited by pasdetrois
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1 hour ago, souliersnoirs said:

 I read an entertaining book by Gillian Gill called We Two, a sort of joint biography of Victoria and Albert.   He brought the ‘Victorian’ stuffiness and rigidity to the English court,

This is why I can’t believe he had a so called “Prince Albert piercing.” ? 

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1 hour ago, LittleIggy said:

No kidding! I think he came across as racist (along with Mommy Dearest) towards Sarah.

I was wondering why he was so against Sarah being there, but when he finally shouted, that Sarah had a family with the Forbes, and that Victoria was blind to her unhappiness, I realized he was looking out for her.  I was glad they showed Sarah writing that letter to Mrs. Forbes, though, because I hadn't realized at first that she had become so attached to the Forbeses.  How long was she with them?  

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I am so sad that we have to wait another year for season three after waiting so damn long for season two. Nine episodes is not enough!

The Albert and Ernst scenes continue to be some of my favorites. It definitely got dusty once Ernst broke down, and then the tears kept coming during the proposal and Sarah going back to live with Mrs Forbes. She was so adorable! Alfred and Miss Cook are also a good match.

Ernst and Harriett were hot. I second the notion to give him some penicillin and condoms so he can have his happy ending. We will definitely be seeing more angst in season three, with the star crossed lovebirds and Charles and Nancy trying to hide their engagement.

I like that Albert’s concern about Sarah was more about taking her away from her new family than her interfering in their family. It was obvious to everyone except for Victoria that she wasn’t comfortable at the palace. 

Edited by twoods
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For once I was glad that Uncle Leopold blabbed again, this time to Harriet. So much is embellished and changed chronologically on this show I too found myself saying, "who cares that antibiotics hadn't been discovered yet - just give Ernst some treatment that works!"

I thought it was pretty clear from the beginning that the adorable Sarah had formed an attachment to Mrs .Forbes and vice versa and I was just waiting for Victoria to catch on.

I will just have to hope that Nancy's noble deed led to a good life for the slaves she freed.

I liked Mr. Pence this episode and I had started to warm to him during his good bye to Lehzen in the last episode.

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After seeing the preview for Little Women, I had a strong wish that David Oakes had been cast as the Professor.  He's got the accent, after all; plus no one with sense would ever object to Jo marrying...him.

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9 hours ago, mmecorday said:

It really is shocking when you see how human beings were treated as property, often listed among the household inventory.

It certainly is now but back then it was the norm for Americans in the south.  As heinous as it was, I can still see where someone with no resources and a lifetime of servitude ahead might think twice.  It's not that she'd ever see their faces.  Maybe that was the whole point of having Sarah there, to pound the point home.  For their sake, I hope that the English solicitor was able to ensure they were set free but, back then, I can't imagine what would happen to them.  That was such a horrible, shameful part of our history.

6 hours ago, izabella said:

How long was she with them?  

Long enough to learn to read and write English, how to dress, English manners, etc. so I'd think quite a while.  I am so glad that she ended up with them, Princess or not.  It's not like she'd end up back in her own country.

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It makes one wonder why Leopold's wife and kids weren't mentioned, as they were alive or kicking at the time...or Victoria mentioning she was an only child, which she wasn't. It would have been nice to see her half-brother and half-sister there in the old Duchess of Kent's entourage at least....it might have added to the drama.

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Can someone please tell me what was written in the locket that was given to Lord Alfred?  I didn't have my glasses on and couldn't make out what it said.

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7 minutes ago, Brn2bwild said:

 

I thought the skating scene was strange.  Albert falls under the ice, Victoria rescues him, it's so dramatic, and then... it doesn't get mentioned again.  Albert doesn't even show signs of a cold.  The whole sequence seemed like a dream.

I had to look that one up because it seemed like a ridiculous story line but it turns out to actually be true. It happened, however, when they were first married and before they had children. 

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3 hours ago, my3sons said:

Can someone please tell me what was written in the locket that was given to Lord Alfred?  I didn't have my glasses on and couldn't make out what it said.

It was part of the Bible verse that Miss Coke had read to Alfred earlier: "Surpassing the love of women", which was a reference that King David made re: the relationship with a friend who'd died.

Edited by voiceover
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9 hours ago, magdalene said:

I liked Mr. Pence this episode and I had started to warm to him during his good bye to Lehzen in the last episode.

I felt the same way.  Though you had a little Freudian slip there calling him "Pence".  ;)

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11 hours ago, humbleopinion said:

an authentic understanding between Miss Cooke and Lord Alfred.

I really liked that. They also have a genuine affection for each other, which in those days wasn't necessarily the case. 

10 hours ago, LittleIggy said:

The King of Hanover is such a jerk he makes Leopold look like everyone’s favorite uncle by comparison.

Peter Firth is so good. I love the way he swans into a room and expects everyone to pay attention. Poor Victoria, though. It really must have been awkward to have any interaction with him. King of England >>>>>>>>>>>>>> King of Hanover, and everyone knows it.

Albert introduced the Christmas tree and all of that to the British court. It cracked me up how childlike he was about it. It was very sweet he wanted to give his children that kind of holiday, and I loved the scene outside the room where the children had to wait for the bell to ring. I well remember being driven nearly mad with excited anticipation.

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8 minutes ago, anniebird said:

I had to look that one up because it seemed like a ridiculous story line but it turns out to actually be true. 

Ha.  One of those moments that *seems* made-up, but isn't.

I liked it.  It served as the weekly reminder that those two, however much they disagreed, were crazy about each other.

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I am trying to pretend I am watching a fictional story and not a historical drama because otherwise things just get very frustrating and I would constantly be going - but....but....but.

For example I wasn't expecting to have Ernst of all people grow on me so much over these two seasons.  I certainly couldn't have expected it being familiar with the real persons bio.

I have enjoyed this Christmas special but it would have been nicer to have it air during the Christmas holiday.  I wish PBS would air the show closer to when it broadcasts in the UK.

I am surprised the Albert falling through the ice thing happened in real life - I thought at first Victoria was having a nightmare.

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There's a great book called "The Heir Apparent" by Jane Ridley, about Victoria's oldest son, who became Edward VII. It's long but good and is a good account of what it was like to grow up in that household. It also gives some background about Victoria and Albert.

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10 hours ago, izabella said:

I was wondering why he was so against Sarah being there, but when he finally shouted, that Sarah had a family with the Forbes, and that Victoria was blind to her unhappiness, I realized he was looking out for her.  

But they made it seem as if he telepathically knew this. They never showed him talking to Mr. Forbes or Sarah. Then there was Albert saying something to the effect that Sarah wasn’t “like us.” 

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why is this episode labeled season 3 episode 0?

Because they do this weird thing in the UK where they have 6-8 episodes per season then do a special "Christmas Episode" that usually airs Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Whether it's considered part of the previous season or part of the next I don't know. Apparently the latter.

I don't know if this show has been renewed for a third season - I'm assuming it has - and I'll certainly watch if it comes back. But I don't think I'll be too broken hearted if it doesn't. There's a pattern to these shows I'm beginning to find rather redundant. Every episode, Victoria and Albert squabble about one thing or another, and then something brings them back to together again and all is forgiven. 

There were several things going on here that seemed a little too "TV." Like Skerritt inheriting a fortune from some uncle she didn't even know she had: only on TV. Or Ernest pretending not to like Harriet anymore and hurting her feelings to "save her:" only on TV. 

I also didn't get why Sarah lived with the Forbes for so long she had enough time to learn how to speak English, read, write and play the piano before she was given to the Queen. Wasn't she intended for the Queen all along? Were they keeping her a secret until the Queen found out about her?

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That poor African Grey parrot would have keeled over in an unheated carriage or drafty rooms.

And plucked out all its feathers from boredom of being trapped in a cage all day long.

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39 minutes ago, magdalene said:

I am trying to pretend I am watching a fictional story and not a historical drama because otherwise things just get very frustrating and I would constantly be going - but....but....but.

For example I wasn't expecting to have Ernst of all people grow on me so much over these two seasons.  I certainly couldn't have expected it being familiar with the real persons bio.

I have enjoyed this Christmas special but it would have been nicer to have it air during the Christmas holiday.  I wish PBS would air the show closer to when it broadcasts in the UK.

I am surprised the Albert falling through the ice thing happened in real life - I thought at first Victoria was having a nightmare.

One of the reviews I read from back in December when it was presented on Christmas Day (Evening) was that it was too long and too heavy to watch after people had been indulging after people had been eating a heavy Christmas meal! They were wishing it had been programmed for another time.

13 minutes ago, iMonrey said:

Because they do this weird thing in the UK where they have 6-8 episodes per season then do a special "Christmas Episode" that usually airs Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Whether it's considered part of the previous season or part of the next I don't know. Apparently the latter.

I don't know if this show has been renewed for a third season - I'm assuming it has - and I'll certainly watch if it comes back. But I don't think I'll be too broken hearted if it doesn't. There's a pattern to these shows I'm beginning to find rather redundant. Every episode, Victoria and Albert squabble about one thing or another, and then something brings them back to together again and all is forgiven. 

There were several things going on here that seemed a little too "TV." Like Skerritt inheriting a fortune from some uncle she didn't even know she had: only on TV. Or Ernest pretending not to like Harriet anymore and hurting her feelings to "save her:" only on TV. 

I also didn't get why Sarah lived with the Forbes for so long she had enough time to learn how to speak English, read, write and play the piano before she was given to the Queen. Wasn't she intended for the Queen all along? Were they keeping her a secret until the Queen found out about her?

And plucked out all its feathers from boredom of being trapped in a cage all day long.

I though Forbes said that his wife taught Sarah to read, write and speak in English on the journey back from Dahomey. 

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22 minutes ago, LittleIggy said:
11 hours ago, izabella said:

I was wondering why he was so against Sarah being there, but when he finally shouted, that Sarah had a family with the Forbes, and that Victoria was blind to her unhappiness, I realized he was looking out for her.  

But they made it seem as if he telepathically knew this. They never showed him talking to Mr. Forbes or Sarah. Then there was Albert saying something to the effect that Sarah wasn’t “like us.” 

I don't think it was a giant leap for Albert to realize Sarah wasn't happy in the palace. Mr. Forbes saved her from being murdered like the rest of her family, and Mrs. Forbes had become a mother figure. Victoria wrenches the girl out of this life because it suits her (Victoria). She had good intentions, but just because a girl is a princess in her own country doesn't mean living with other royalty will work out. Albert is still enough of an outsider to recognize another one.

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About Sarah...

The ship voyage was months long so Sarah had time to learn English with Captain Forbes teaching her plus she was intelligent, needed to be able to communicate so she clung to the one person put in charge of her well being...

She thrived under the care of Mrs. Forbes who taught her English manners, reading, writing, the arts since she would have to fit in at the palace and she was given such tender care and individualized tutoring by the couple.

The Captain and Mrs. Forbes fell in love with Sarah because they allude to  the joy of having a child in the household again...either theirs were away at boarding school, or passed away or grown...hard to tell what Daisy wanted the audience to surmise from that comment...

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I though Forbes said that his wife taught Sarah to read, write and speak in English on the journey back from Dahomey. 

Wow, then she really must be a fast learner! Although I guess it would take a long time to get back to England from wherever they were in Africa. 

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I thought the skating scene was strange.  Albert falls under the ice, Victoria rescues him, it's so dramatic, and then... it doesn't get mentioned again.  Albert doesn't even show signs of a cold.  The whole sequence seemed like a dream.

I thought the same. I was waiting for Victoria to snap out of it and actually see Sarah, in Albert's place, either in some dire situation or maybe just standing there doing something normal. It just seemed otherworldly. I guess Albert was damn lucky that the household told Victoria to check outside for Sarah. By the way, Albert does refer to the incident very briefly and in a wry manner when he's talking to his brother and mentions something about skating on thin ice.

As for Sarah, it seems Victoria was channeling her own feelings as a young princess and projecting them on to Sarah. Victoria related to her as a child, even though she hadn't lost her entire family but only felt abandoned by them. She kept talking about being shunted away during holidays and celebrations by her mother and only having her dolls for friends, so of course she gave Sarah a doll. What she didn't realize is that Sarah had also met her own "Lehzen" in Mrs. Forbes, who had become a second mother to her. I don't know that Albert knew this so much as he picked up on how unhappy she was. In fact, the household seemed to realize it since they kept talking about how Sarah would hide away. Anyway, I'm glad she went back to the Forbes since they appeared to have no children and could focus solely on her, while Sarah would only get lost amidst Victoria and Albert's brood in that big castle.

Anyway, back to the Christmas thing.... Was it ever explained where Albert got the idea of hanging a tree upside down from the ceiling? How bizarre. I'm glad we don't carry on that tradition today or those of us not lucky enough to live in a castle, would be knocking our heads against the thing constantly!

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1 hour ago, iMonrey said:

I also didn't get why Sarah lived with the Forbes for so long she had enough time to learn how to speak English, read, write and play the piano before she was given to the Queen. Wasn't she intended for the Queen all along? Were they keeping her a secret until the Queen found out about her?

Maybe they didn't want to present Sarah to the queen until she was "finished" -- especially important that she's able to communicate.  The rest was just polishing the apple.

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38 minutes ago, Nidratime said:

Anyway, back to the Christmas thing.... Was it ever explained where Albert got the idea of hanging a tree upside down from the ceiling? How bizarre. I'm glad we don't carry on that tradition today or those of us not lucky enough to live in a castle, would be knocking our heads against the thing constantly!

It wasn't explained.  What I didn't understand is why Albert chose this Christmas in particular to start creating childhood memories?  They already had 3+ children by the time he decided to start celebrating?  Was it so they could remember?  What did they do the other Christmases?

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Maybe they didn't want to present Sarah to the queen until she was "finished" -- especially important that she's able to communicate.  The rest was just polishing the apple.

I still don't think I understand the sequence of events here. Sarah was given as a "gift" for Queen Victoria, and the Forbes took her back to England but then never notified the Queen? And the Queen found out about her somehow and summoned them to the Palace? Forbes tells his wife he got a letter from the Queen and his wife is very upset. It almost seems like they never intended to tell the Queen about Sarah and just keep her for themselves until the Queen found out about her somehow.

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Was it ever explained where Albert got the idea of hanging a tree upside down from the ceiling?

I don't think they were upside down. I was wondering about that myself but when I looked it appeared that the widest parts of the trees were at the bottom so it looked like they were hanging right-side up.

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Dang, this was supposed to be the more light hearted, happy Christmas episode, we arent supposed to have to deal with the slave trade, orphan girls, and endless family angst! At least we had a happy ending, with Sara going back to live with the Fords, Albert and Victoria having a nice Christmas, and Lord Albert and Miss Cooke AND Mrs. Skerrett and Mr. Francatelli getting engaged. The Christmas stuff really was very sweet, and I enjoyed seeing Albert being so super excited about Christmas. My dad LOVES Christmas traditions, so it reminded me of him quite a bit.

Very happy for Miss. Cooke and Albert, I always thought they would make a nice couple, even if their marriage might be secretly unconventional. Albert might not love her the way he loved Drummund, but I think he loves her in other ways (like he said), and they will make each other very happy. She can really understand him, and he will be a great husband for her, and they already know and love each other, which is pretty solid for the Victorian era in that social class. 

Albert can certainly be rather brusc, but he usually has a point when he brings things up that cause fights between him and Victoria. Victoria saw herself in Sara, and refused to see that she was miserable, and would be happier with Mrs. Ford, and someone really needed to tell Victoria that. Thats why I like them as a couple. They really do try to be honest with each other, even when they screw up or end up fighting, and they still have each others back afterwards. I also melted when Alvert and Ernst hugged each other and Ernst started to cry into his shoulder. Their relationship really has become one of my favorite in the whole series. 

Funny that the ice sequence, which was so dramatic I thought it was a dream sequence, was based on true events. I guess its like the boy sneaking into the palace earlier this season, which also seemed like it was made up Hollywood drama, but was also based on something that really happened. Stranger than fiction indeed. 

I really enjoyed this season (it even got me to like the downstairs stuff!), and it sucks that I will have to wait so long for new episodes!

Edited by tennisgurl
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31 minutes ago, iMonrey said:

I still don't think I understand the sequence of events here. Sarah was given as a "gift" for Queen Victoria, and the Forbes took her back to England but then never notified the Queen? And the Queen found out about her somehow and summoned them to the Palace? Forbes tells his wife he got a letter from the Queen and his wife is very upset. It almost seems like they never intended to tell the Queen about Sarah and just keep her for themselves until the Queen found out about her somehow.

I don't think they were upside down. I was wondering about that myself but when I looked it appeared that the widest parts of the trees were at the bottom so it looked like they were hanging right-side up.

He wrote the Queen and told her he had a gift for her, we saw someone (Duchess Diana Rigg?) read her his letter.  And she responded to him to bring the gift to the palace.  Still doesn't explain why the Forbes' kept Sarah for so long before taking her to the Queen or at least making the Queen aware of her.

Upside down Christmas trees have become a thing lately.  I've read that it's better to do it that way because they allow the ornaments to hang better.  Not sure how it would work for a real tree though...!

upside-down-christmas-tree-wayfair-1217_

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6 minutes ago, Nidratime said:

That just looks wrong. Poor tree.

I gave serious thought to buying one. In a smaller room, there'd be less risk of knocking ornaments off whenever you passed by, and it'd be easier to plug in nightly. (But I got a conventional slimline instead.)

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15 hours ago, rlc said:

Geez, was Albert this much of a prig in real life? Insufferable.

Yes he was but he was absolutely faithful which was an unknown thing for the era.

2 hours ago, magdalene said:

I am surprised the Albert falling through the ice thing happened in real life - I thought at first Victoria was having a nightmare.

I had watched, on PBS, a show called The Queen's Garden and had just learned about the ice accident the day of this episode airing.  I believe they put 2 separate events together - falling through ice and Sara.  In The Queen's Garden we learn that he was walking on the ice and fell through and the lady in waiting freaked out but Victoria just reached out her hand and pulled him up.  Not quite as frantic as depicted.

2 hours ago, Mumbles said:

There's a great book called "The Heir Apparent" by Jane Ridley

There are many books about Queen Victoria and Albert.  Too many to list here.  I have read upteen of them and had missed Sara but did a Google search and got caught up.

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Woot, look at all the booze under the tree!

This episode had the look and feel of a Victorian-themed Hallmark movie and that's why I think I didn't care for it very much.

Also, Ernst, shame on you. He could have handled that situation with widowed lady love better. It's not her fault he's an STD playground.

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