At the beginning of Victoria, we are given information regarding the current circumstances. It is 1837 and the monarchy is in crisis. William IV has been forced to retreat to Windsor and his heir to the throne is his young niece Alexandrina (Jenna Coleman). Word is passed along that William has died. The Steward of the Household quickly delivers the information to Sir John Conroy (Paul Rhys), who admits there is a lot of work to do. We see Alexandrina resting in her bed alongside her dog, Dash. She receives word about the death. The one girl examines her dolls, before heading into the hallway. She brushes her assistant Lehzen (Daniela Holtz) aside and insists she can walk alone.
Alexandrina speaks with the elders, learns about the situation, and runs along with her doggy. In the morning, we see a groggy Lord Melbourne (Rufus Sewell) awake for his slumber. During this time, Alexandria or Drina speaks with her mother and others about her new status. John Conroy enters and tells Drina it is time to choose a style for herself. They immediately rundown a list of potential names. Lady Flora Hastings (Alice Orr-Ewing) enters and agrees that Elizabeth would be a good fit. Drina admits she has already spoke with the archbishop alone. Conroy doesn’t like it one bit and lays into the new Queen. He insists she cannot meet with anyone unless he or her mother is around.
Drina quickly retreats to a private room and is visibly distraught. Lord Melbourne heads towards the Queen’s house. He is stopped by Emma along the way. Although he admits he wants to retire, he agrees to put in a good word for the woman. Back at the castle, Drina is urged to study by Baroness Lehzen. Drina insists there is no time for that now and admits she will learn along the way. Penge (Adrian Schiller) is informed that the Baroness has been put in charge. He and Jenkins (Eve Myles) are told to collect the books, so Lehzen can scour through them. They agree begrudgingly. She insists she will have no patience for extravagance. Once the Baroness departs, the pair admits they don’t like answering to a German Baroness.
Lord Melbourne arrives at the castle and speaks Conroy. Conroy attempts to send the Prime Minister away and admits he wants to become the Queen’s private secretary. Melbourne enters, while Drina sends the Baroness away, so she can speak with Melbourne in private. After a formal introduction, Melbourne and Drina speak about the man she was supposed to marry. A joke is made about the size of his head, before Melbourne admires the Queen’s dolls. She admits the doll doesn’t have a name and is only referred to as number 123. Drina admits she got the dollar on her 11th birthday and added the crown once she learned she would one day be queen.
Melbourne tells the Queen about Conroy’s desire to be her secretary. Drina quickly refuses and insists she wants him nowhere near. She tells Melbourne she will ask for his assistance, when she needs it. Next, Drina meets with the council members. She needs the help of Lord Melbourne to remember all of the names of the lords. Afterwards, she prepares to head outside and address her people. Before she steps outside, she tells Melbourne that she doesn’t want to be referred to as Alexandrina Victoria in the proclamation. she wants the Alexandrina part of the name dropped. She expresses her wishes to be called Queen Victoria and so it is. Melbourne watches from a distance, as the Queen waves to her people.
Next, we see Skerrett (Nell Hudson) approach the castle. She is escorted inside and Mrs Jenkins is informed that Skerrett will be working for her as a dresser. Jenkins doesn’t like the idea, since she would prefer to choose her own workers. Nonetheless, she is forced to suck it up and deal with it. Jenkins quickly harasses the girl, who admits she is good at needlework. The Queen receives a visit from Conroy, who ridicules her for playing with dolls. The Queen tells John and her mother that she doesn’t need assistance. She sends Conroy away. She insists she is her father’s daughter and will be able to handle whatever comes her way. Once John departs, Duchess of Kent (Catherine H. Flemming) questions Victoria’s decision. Victoria remains adamant that John was never her friend. She admits he bullied her relentlessly and her mother allowed it.
Meanwhile, Skerrett begins settling into her new position. During this time, Victoria speaks with the Baroness and makes plans to move out. She admits the move will allow her to escape the grasp of Conroy. Skerrett speaks with Brodie (Tommy Knight) and learns he has been selling old items from the castle for Jenkins. Skerrett learns the Jenkins does well selling the items to the pickers. Victoria prepares to move to her new castle. On the way, Melbourne tells the Queen about the building’s history and how it nearly bankrupted her uncle George. They tour the building and the Queen instantly admits it will do. The other workers are transported over, while the Queen checks out the throne. He feet do not reach the ground, so Melbourne agrees to find her one that suits her better.
Brodie, Skerrett and the others take in their new headquarters. The Queen tells Melbourne she is glad she will be able to escape her mother and Conroy. They discuss the Queen’s inefficiencies, but Melbourne remains confident she will prove to be worthy. The Queen asks Melbourne to become her private secretary and he agrees. Meanwhile, John attempts to encourage Duchess of Kent to remain by her daughter’s side and guide her in the right direction. The Queen arrives and is told it is time to choose a set of ladies to stand by her side. With a little encouragement, she takes the list drawn up by Flora. On the way out however, she crumbles it up and throws it to the ground. Meanwhile, Penge and Brodie prepare to make money from the new castle’s candles.
Next, the Queen is introduced to Skerrett from the Institute at Chiswick. Victoria allows Skerrett to prepare her hair. Meanwhile, the parliament meets and discusses the new Queen. Melbourne takes up for the Queen and insists she will be fine. Meanwhile, the Queen’s mother and Conroy become concerned about Melbourne’s relationship with the Queen. Flora speaks with the Queen after the parade. She tells her she cannot turn her back on the troops. Conroy watches the conversation from a distance, while the Queen insists she will learn with the help of her new tutor. Meanwhile, the Queen meets with the ladies. She speaks with Lady Portman and learns about the woman from Melbourne. The Queen inquires about a coronation ball and Melbourne gives her permission to throw one. Conroy watches and becomes enraged by Melbourne’s moves.
Afterwards, Conroy confronts Melbourne and tells him the Duchess is concerned about the appointment of the Queen’s ladies. During this time, the Queen speaks with her mother and is told to proceed with caution when selecting the women. Afterwards, the Queen tells Melbourne her mother thinks she shouldn’t always be guided by Melbourne. He agrees and expresses his own concerns about their relationship being misconstrued. Melbourne speaks about the death of his wife. The Queen also asks how he could forgive her, when she runaway with Lord Bryon. Melbourne simply states she might be too young to understand. The castle is prepared for the ball. The Baroness and Penge make arrangements for the ball. Lehzen tells Penge to use a different type of candles, which will cut down the costs.
Although Penge doesn’t like the idea, he obeys orders. The Queen is forced to prepare for the ball, while Melbourne stews at home. The Queen enters the ballroom and takes her place on the throne. The Queen dances with the Russian, while Melbourne watches from a distance. The dance ends, but the Russian insists on another. This time, he gets a little frisky, so Melbourne and the others are forced to step in and send him away. During this time, the tallow candles begin to drip to the floor and they start to emit a hideous odor. Jenkins and Penge share a good laugh. The Queen drinks, before dancing with Melbourne. She tells Melbourne she wishes she could dance with him every night. Melbourne manages to deflect her flirtations. During this time, Lehzen notices that Lady Flora has a swollen belly. She quickly concludes that Flora must be having an affair with Conroy.
Baroness expresses her concerns to the Queen, who quickly becomes angry. She accuses Conroy, but he denies the accusations. He attempts to convince her to go to bed, but she refuses. The Queen makes a fool of herself, before Melbourne ushers her away. In the morning, Penge and the Baroness agree to never use tallow again. Lehzen tells the man that the gas lighting needs to be installed as soon as possible. The Queen speaks with her mother about Conroy and Flora. She insists they might’ve had a criminal conversation. Her mother doesn’t believe it. The Queen wrecks a lamp, as her mother leaves. During this time, Lady Flora examines her stomach in the mirror.
The Queen speaks with Melbourne about the Florida situation and is told to do nothing. Melbourne insists there may be a more delicate way to make Conroy leave. The Queen orders for Flora to be given an exam. Lehzen speaks with the Queen in the morning. The Queen is officially crowned, while Flora is given her exam. The Queen returns home and bathes Dash. She receives a visit and congratulations from Melbourne. She is also visited from the doctor, who admits Flora wasn’t pregnant. Instead, she was suffering from a tumor and is gravely ill. Conroy and Duke Cumberland (Peter Firth) quickly spring into account and attempt to use the event against Victoria. Conroy visits the Queen and shows her a drawing reenactment of the event. Melbourne speaks with the Queen privately.
Melbourne tells the Queen that Flora has taken a turn for the worse. She quickly admits she should have listened to the lord’s advice. Melbourne tries to calm her nerves. Victoria visits Flora and apologizes. Her apology isn’t accepted. Next, Lehzen catches Jenkins and Penge selling the castle’s items. Skerrett steps in and takes the blame. She is taken the Victoria and her crimes are laid bare. Victoria seems inquired by the fact people would want to purchase her old gloves. She refuses to dismiss Skerrett. The Queen’s mother arrives and tells her she needs to apologize to John. She refuses. Skerrett returns to work and Jenkins thanks her for her actions.
The Queen speaks with Melbourne once more and admits she believes she has ruined everything. Melbourne tells Victoria why he was late for the coronation ball. He admits it was his son’s birthday and he was reminiscing. Victoria heads into the crowd, accepts her criticism, and gives the customary salute. Afterwards, she writes a letter to Melbourne and confirms she followed his advice. The queen receives a handful of boxes and she begins signing documents.
Overall, I enjoyed the opening episode of ITV’s Victoria. It did an excellent job of developing Victoria and setting up her reign. The show has a great deal happening at once, but everything flows fluidly. Skerrett and her comrades are up to no good. Their behavior is minor, but it was fun nonetheless.
However, Conroy and the Duke of Cumberland could prove to be a major obstacle for Melbourne and Victoria. Or does Melbourne have ulterior motives of his own? All in all, the episode was good. An 8 out of 10 is deserved.