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See - The Queen's Speech - Review

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See has been building to an all-out war for quite some time now, so it’s no surprise that in The Queen’s Speech, all the middle-act scheming came to a head as a season’s worth of material happened in on episode, a domino effect of power plays moving across the board to put them where they need to be.

First up, Edo Voss and his army are marching with an unstoppable force towards Queen Kane’s territory – now knowing that Wren can see, and rather than cast her aside has chosen to use that to his advantage. Their looming presence of them marching to war resembles that of the Urak-Hai and the imposing doom of The Two Towers, and Baba Voss and his family defending a small terrain designed to lure those who cannot see into a trap are Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli and the defenders of Helms Deep. Trapped in a situation that there is no going back from – facing impossible odds, with no hope.

But first, after being such a threat for much of the second season, Queen Kane’s manipulation into scheming for a war has brought the Witchfinders into a bid to defy her, and even the army side against her in favour of Maghra – after the treatement of Tamacti Jun, who’s now firmly in the camp of team Baba Voss. I am a bit confused as to why in the harsh world of See Kane was not killed anyway, child or no – but this plot device has been engineered to keep her alive, and it begs the question – has Kane planned for this? Did she know that Maghra would try something? She certainly seemed keen to get Kofun under her thumb, and now Kofun regrets the time that they had together – but is unwilling to kill Kane knowing that he’s now a father of an incest baby when he gets the chance. It’s certainly going to have awkward ramifications for him further down the line – he’s been played by Kane, and he knows it – and is shamed by it.

Before the battle lines are drawn Maghra is caught up in the chaos when two assassins try to take advantage of her empty castle and take her out of the game – but Harlan intervenes to buy her time, and is wounded heavily. No more Harlan would be easier for Baba Voss – and eliminate one character from the equation – but with so much at stake there’s plenty more time for Maghra to be put in danger, especially as she’s so isolated, and especially as Toad has headed out with Paris on a mission that where we last see them, has them ambushed by unknown forces after being caught in a compromising position. I’m absolutely here for the Toad/Paris ship, though – both performances by Alfre Woodard and Hoon Lee have been one of the unsung gems of this season, next to Tom Mison’s Lord Harlan, who finally gets Maghra to ask him to stay with her.

Once again, the smaller scale combat sequences between Maghra, Harlan and their attackers was a throwback to the earlier episodes of the season – brutally intense and expertly choreographed with not as many cuts as I was expecting. It helps having a Anders Engstrom, behind the camera – to really bring this vision to life, a Steven Knight regular who has worked on Taboo in the past as well as much of this second season. He’s able to get that Maghra speech before the battle to have the utmost impact possible, making the most out of the brilliance of Hera Hilmar, and I too would at this point been ready to march into war against all odds for her.

This is probably my favourite episode so far – the looming dread and sense of danger of Baba Voss’ army is something that shared a common thread with Foundation this week – both episodes were about a small band of forces preparing desperately to defend themselves against a larger, better armed faction with minimal aid – but the cinematography here really gave See an extra edge. Haniwa and Wren’s love story has been one of the shining high points of Season Two – and seeing them unite on the battlefield and Haniwa desperately try to plead that the war could be averted was heartbreaking - especially as the Queen who wanted to start it has now been disposed. I hope, for both their sakes – they make it out alive.

Baba Voss has a reckoning with his brother Edo. He’s been reluctant to kill him up to this point, as they’re family – but given the impending danger that his family faces, he may have no choice. We’re about to get that Jason Momoa and Dave Bautista fight that we’ve been waiting for ever since Dave Bautista was introduced – and the levels of hype for Friday’s episode are among the highest that they’ve been since the show began – where was *this* See in the middle act of the season? It started strong before fading away, but now seems to be doing its absolute most to go out on the highest note possible.

Full props to the writer Jamie Chan for pulling this off – See demonstrates a sense of maturity that it brings to the table and goes full on post-apocalyptic fantasy here, reminding us of the sheer scale of threat headed our way at every turn, whilst keeping the characters front and centre. It’s an incredible achievement that may well be the best episode of not just season two, but the entire series.

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