For an episode that centered on an assassination attempt, this finale was so boring. Part of that issue is: We know the plot doesn’t succeed, so the show can’t revolve around the act itself; it needs to be more about what it means. The human drama; the fallout. Unfortunately, the episode succeeds at neither. The hour further encapsulated a lot of my problems with the series, actually — namely that the show is far too insular, with weak character development and a tendency to make odd decisions about when and where it cleaves to history. Case in point: They changed things a bit to create some dramatically useful animosity and pushback between Victoria and Albert, and then abruptly changed course in favor of being ruled by the timeline and hurtling them into love and marriage. The tepid Ernest/Duchess of Sutherland yearning feels more like the actors needed something to do in order to hit the running time. The only relationship and character who felt truly lived-in was Rufus Sewell’s Lord M, and his bond with Victoria, and that was also heavily fictionalized — so it’s not that the writers can’t do it; they just generally don’t.
We see Victoria reading her letters and papers, but other than being talked into the railroad by Albert, we don’t get a sense of her especial interest in nor connection to her territory. Was that true? If so, make hay of it, and if not, fix it. And someone makes brief mention of Chartists again here, but it’s brushed aside, and we’re left with no more sense of the British social climate. Victoria sounds, from history, like she was an enormously challenging character, but this depiction of her is overall so very flat and pocked with — I think — too many attempts to make her more heroine-like than I suspect she truly was. I want this show to rise up and meet the real woman’s complexities, but season one for me, like a bad souffle, collapsed in on itself.