The Royals Season 1, Episode 10 recap
Spoilers but let’s be honest, who really gives a sh*t?
It’s the final episode of The Royals season one—amazingly, this garbage show got renewed for a second season—and somehow, defying all the odds, Ted is still not fired. “I can’t wait to fire you,” Cyrus sneers to Ted. “WHY HAVEN’T YOU?” I shriek at my TV. I will never understand the rules governing this alternate reality in which no one, not even the ruling monarch of a sovereign nation, can fire one grossly incompetent man from his vitally important job. I hope all of season two is dedicated to The Quest To Fire Ted And Replace Him With Marcus, The Only Likeable Person On This Show.
Except it won’t be, it will be about the conspiracy that ultimately resulted in King Simon’s death. Yes, that’s right, after clinging to life, Simon is like, “This show is garbage, I’m out,” and he dies, officially leaving Cyrus in charge as the new King of United Great England, which is what I am calling this country that ignores Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and the Commonwealth. There is actually one really good scene in this episode, when Cyrus confronts his mother, who has dementia and thinks that Simon is her dying husband. This leads her to say some awful things to Cyrus, because she thinks he’s Simon, and Cyrus responds by revealing the vulnerable layer underneath all his scheming. Suddenly you can see how he’s been living down to everyone’s expectations of him as a jealous younger brother all his life. If the show had more moments like this, it wouldn’t have been such a waste of time.
In fact, a lot of stuff in this episode could have salvaged much of this season if it had just been better teased out. Take, for instance, Marcus’s insta-crush on Ophelia. As Ophelia and Liam depart the palace to start a new, non-royal life in Rio, Gemma arrives and taunts Marcus with the knowledge that the girl he loves is running off with Liam, whom they both know will eventually tire of Ophelia and abandon her. But wait—Marcus loves Ophelia?! Nothing about the previous nine episodes sets this up. This is the kind of thing that should be hinted at from the get with lingering looks and a judicious use of camera angles, revealing Marcus’s interest to viewers without including characters in the show. Instead this information is just dumped on us like a ton of bricks in the finale.
Also dumped on us is the introduction of “Domino”, a mysterious organization that may or may not be in league with whatever Helena’s endgame is. Again, the presence of an underground conspiracy should have been hinted at all along, not shoe-horned in right at the end. Like Marcus’s crush, we have no reason to care about it because it’s completely unearned. It’s like the ever-changing circumstances of Robert’s death—we never knew Robert as a person, so what difference does it make to us how he died? So he was murdered after all, that doesn’t change anything. The momentum of the narrative is not altered, no character trajectory changes. It would have been much more effective if Eleanor uncovered the murder plot much earlier and used it as motivation to get clean and start trying to solve this mystery. Instead she’s ALREADY clean and in mystery-solving mode when she finds out the truth.
And then there’s the two limp noodles, Liam and Ophelia. Ophelia started out this series having a backbone and showing some spunk, but she ends it as the limpest of all noodles. Liam essentially dumps her, sending her to dance in New York while he tries to avenge his father’s death back in London, which is basically playing right into Gemma’s hands. No one cares, though, because they’re so completely uninteresting together, and season two would be vastly improved if it’s just Liam and Eleanor trying to solve a mystery and nothing else. I’m sure it won’t be, though, because the storytelling on this show has been f*cked from day one.