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The Further Adventures of the Musketeers - Mordaunt's part in the plot

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Jan. 1st, 1970 | 03:48 pm

Michael Gothard’s first appearance as the son of Milady, Mordaunt John Francis de Winter, occurs in episode 3, “Conspiracy”. As Athos tells his comrades that he feels guilt over Milady’s death, and that her son is never far from his thoughts, we see Mordaunt in a meadow, thanking God for leading him to the spot where his mother was foully slain. He swears to identify, and revenge himself upon, her murderers.

In episode 4, “Conflict”, Mordaunt is seen in church, asking the Mother of God to help him find the killers, vowing to pray to the Devil instead, if she won’t help him. While he appears to be a Roman Catholic, his faith takes second place to his mission. Later, he is even seen working with Cromwell, a Puritan, as a way of achieving his own ends.

Then, in episode 5, “Peril”, an old man, “The Butcher of Lille”, is mortally wounded. D’Artagnan asks a man in a monk’s habit - Mordaunt, in disguise - to take dying man’s confession. At first, he refuses, but when he realises that it is the man who actually carried out the execution of his mother, he hurries to the bedside.

The old man confesses that he gave up his post as executioner, because he felt that when, on the orders of four men, and an Englishman, he killed Milady, he was serving private vengeance rather than the law.

The Englishman was Mordaunt’s uncle, Lord de Winter, but the old man doesn’t know the names of the other four. He then says that Milady was a monster, and that is when Mordaunt reveals his identity. He tells the old man that, as he is about to die without confessing to a genuine holy man, he is damned. Saying, “Here’s my absolution!” Mordaunt stabs him, escapes out of the window, and flees the scene on horseback.

Before he dies, the old man warns D’Artagnan that Mordaunt is on his trail. D’Artagnan fires a shot out of the window, but misses Mordaunt, who heads for Paris.

In episode 6, “Abduction”, Athos again expresses feelings of guilt about killing Milady, who used to be his wife. Now, he tells the other Musketeers that Mordaunt “comes in the name of God.”

The question that remains unasked and unanswered throughout the series concerns the relationship between Athos and Mordaunt. Why does Athos, in comparison to the other Musketeers, show such reluctance to move against Mordaunt – refusing to fight him, and even, in the end, trying to save him from drowning? Is this because Mordaunt is all that is left of the woman he once loved? Or does he suspect that Mordaunt is his son?

When the Musketeers warn Lord de Winter that Mordaunt is after them, De Winter reveals that Mordaunt has risen high in Cromwell’s service; he believes his nephew is now in Paris.

In his capacity as Cromwell’s envoy, Mordaunt has a meeting with Cardinal Mazarin, and demands that King Charles I of England should be refused sanctuary in France, should he request it. Mordaunt suggests that if Mazarin refuses to remain neutral, Cromwell would make war on France, and France has troubles enough of her own already.

Mordaunt wants to remain in Paris until Mazarin has an answer for him. He intends to spend time making further enquiries about his mother’s killers. But Mazarin, reluctant to be seen negotiating with an envoy of Cromwell, tells him to go to Boulogne to await his reply.

Meanwhile, Athos, Aramis and Lord de Winter decide to set off for Boulogne, take passage to England, and fight on King Charles’ side. As de Winter is leaving, he bumps into Mordaunt. They have a brief swordfight, but Mordaunt backs off, saying he won’t kill de Winter now, because he means to use him to find the other four conspirators.

In episode 7, “The Boy King”, Mordaunt is briefly seen at Boulogne, where he happens to hear Athos and Aramis talking about Lord de Winter, and so learns that they are working together. This must be where he begins to suspect them of being involved in the death of Milady.

Then, in episode 9, “Escape”, he receives D’Artagnan and Porthos, who present him with a letter from Mazarin, introducing them as Mazarin’s envoys on a mission to Cromwell. Mordaunt tells them that Cromwell is facing Charles Stuart at Newcastle, and his ship is ready to cast off. He is disconcerted when D’Artagnan addresses him by name.

D’Artagnan has received a letter from Athos (who is now in England), recommending that Porthos should strangle Mordaunt as soon as he sees him, but D’Artagnan says that while acting as Mazarin’s envoys, they should refrain from doing so. He says they should only try to kill him should he return to France.

In Newcastle, Charles Stuart, is deserted by all his troops. Only Athos, Aramis, and Lord de Winter are left supporting him. Lord de Winter exchanges cloaks with the king, fooling Cromwell’s Captain Groslow, but then Mordaunt arrives, (accompanied by D’Artagnan and Porthos) and correctly identifies the King. He asks de Winter, his “Dear Uncle”, whether he remembers Milady, then puffs some poison into his face. Lord de Winter falls dead. A fight breaks out, and D’Artagnan and Porthos ‘capture’ Athos and Aramis.

Episode 10, “The Oath”, picks up from this point, with Mordaunt training a gun on Athos and Aramis, and fully intending to kill them. D’Artagnan stops him, saying that because he and Porthos actually captured them, they belong to him. While Mordaunt is briefly called away, D’Artagnan warns the others not to kill Mordaunt while they are surrounded by Cromwell’s men.

Mordaunt returns, with an escort to take Charles Stuart to London for trial. He wants to take Athos and Aramis as well, but again, D’Artagnan says they are worth a ransom of 1500 pistoles each, and that as Mazarin’s envoy, he has a right to them.

Clearly Mordaunt is close to Cromwell, because though he interrupts his prayers, he is allowed to remain. But their relationship is somewhat strained; Cromwell thinks Mordaunt is too lacking in human feeling. Mordaunt informs Cromwell that the King, deserted by all but three men – one of whom is now dead – was taken prisoner, and sent to London under heavy guard. Cromwell wishes that Charles had died fighting; Mordaunt says he will surely be executed.

Cromwell asks which of Charles’ supporters was killed. Mordaunt says it was Charles’ equerry, whom Cromwell remembers was Mordaunt’s uncle. Mordaunt says that traitors don’t belong in his family. Cromwell says he wonders whether Mordaunt is human.

Mordaunt tells Cromwell that Mazarin’s envoys fought well on his side; Cromwell tells him to bring them to him. Mordaunt asks Cromwell whether he has given good service; he wants the two prisoners as a reward. Cromwell suggests he wants to collect a bounty for them, but Mordaunt insists he doesn’t care about money. Cromwell asks whether they are friends of his.

Pretending to show a weakness, Mordaunt says they have ties with his family that are sealed with blood, and that he’d give his life for theirs. Thinking – as Mordaunt wanted him to - that these ties are of affection, Cromwell agrees that he can have them. Mordaunt says this gift is more precious than gold.

Mordaunt returns to D’Artagnan, and tells him he now has orders from General Cromwell, giving him the right to take the prisoners. When D’Artagnan says he can’t afford to lose the ransom money, Mordaunt offers to pay for them, but D’Artagnan won’t surrender them without a written order from Cromwell. Mordaunt tells him to go and get it himself – Cromwell has sent for them. But D’Artagnan calls his bluff, so Mordaunt returns to Cromwell, who signs the order.

Meanwhile, D’Artagnan sends Porthos to get the horses, and barricades the door while Athos and Aramis escape out of the window. Mordaunt returns with troops, demands entrance, then tries to break the door down. D’Artagnan opens the door, Mordaunt bursts in, but can’t get a clear line of fire, and shoots his own man, who is grappling with D’Artagnan. D’Artagnan then throws the dead trooper at Mordaunt, and makes his escape.

Mordaunt now realises that the ‘envoys’ are the two men involved in the killing of his mother whom he had not previously identified, and that they were in league with their ‘prisoners’ all along. He throws his musket at the wall in frustration.

Towards the end of episode 11, “The Trial”, the Musketeers, masquerading as Roundheads, go to London and attend the trial of Charles Stuart. Mordaunt is also in attendance. Despite the presence of his enemy, Athos, angered by the treatment of the King, stands up, shouting in protest. Mordaunt recognises him and calls on the guards to catch or kill him and his friends, but they escape. Mordaunt angrily says he’d kill fifty to get those four.

In the second half of episode 12, “The Scaffold”, the Musketeers, hoping to delay the execution for long enough to rescue Charles Stuart, detain the Public Executioner. They intend to spirit Charles away through a tunnel beneath the scaffold, where Athos conceals himself. To their dismay, an Executioner – of whom little can be seen, apart from his bearded chin – comes for the King, and takes him to the scaffold.

Charles asks whether his hair will impede the Executioner, who replies that he should move it out of the way. Charles then asks whether the Executioner will be able to sever his head with one blow; the Executioner says that he hopes so. Charles tells him to wait until he gives the word, before striking. He then whispers something to Athos, says a prayer, then lets the Executioner know he is ready. After his head is severed, the Executioner holds Charles’ head up, for the crowd to see.

Thinking that D’Artagnan must have released the Public Executioner, Athos quarrels with him, but D’Artagnan denies this. He had the man who executed Charles Stuart followed to his home, and left a man on guard. When they go to the house, and spy through the windows, they see the Executioner remove his hooded robe, then his mask, then his false beard, and reveal himself as none other than Mordaunt.

At the start of episode 13, “Treachery”, Mordaunt, without noticing the Musketeers outside on the balcony, closes the blinds. Cromwell comes in, and is surprised to see Mordaunt. Mordaunt says he came through a secret passage; this is rather puzzling, given that D’Artagnan claimed to have had him followed.

Cromwell had heard about the plot to save Charles Stuart; he thought Mazarin was behind it, and that the plotters were four Frenchmen, including Mazarin’s two envoys. Mordaunt says they are all guilty of crimes against England, and asks for the power of life and death over them, which Cromwell grants.

Mordaunt questions Cromwell’s non-attendance at Charles’ execution; Cromwell says he didn’t want to be there. Mordaunt says he was standing where he could see and hear all. Cromwell mentions the “impromptu executioner” – Mordaunt tells him that Charles died from a single blow.

Well aware that Mordaunt was the executioner, Cromwell disingenuously claims to wonder who would want to have to perform such a function if it weren’t their job. Mordaunt suggests that it was someone who, like himself, wanted revenge for the confiscation of his lands by Charles. He asks whether Cromwell would condemn such a man, if he knew him. Cromwell passionately affirms, “I do not know him!” and Mordaunt looks wounded.

Cromwell wishes Charles had escaped onto the boat to France with the plotters, because his men had planted some barrels of gunpowder in their hold. Charles was to have been blown up on the way across the English Channel – and Cromwell would have appeared innocent of the King’s death.

He tells Mordaunt to go and fetch the gunpowder, but Mordaunt suggests that they leave it on the vessel, let the Frenchmen get on board, and use it to blow them up instead. Cromwell grudgingly agrees, and Mordaunt thanks god that he’ll be able to complete his vengeance. Cromwell leaves.

Mordaunt goes back to the window and opens it; the Musketeers lure him out, surround him, and then hustle him back inside. D’Artagnan says they have been running after each other for so long, they ought to have a talk, and say that it is appropriate that he is dressed as an assassin. Mordaunt says he is the one who will be assassinated.

D’Artagnan points out that he has a sword – Mordaunt doesn’t think his one sword is a match for their four. D’Artagnan thinks he should have kept the axe – the role of Executioner suited him.

Mordaunt scores a palpable hit by reminding D’Artagnan of how he had Milady killed. D’Artagnan’s bluster covers a rather weak response: that they could hardly have offered her a sword to defend herself.

Mordaunt asks whether it’s a duel D’Artagnan wants – he’d like to kill all of them. D’Artagnan agrees, he wants to fight Mordaunt. But Mordaunt claims the right to choose which of them he fights first, and Porthos agrees, he has that right. So Mordaunt challenges Athos - his mother’s former husband.

But Athos says that a duel between them is impossible, though he gives no reason for this. If Athos won’t fight him, Mordaunt doesn’t care who goes first, so the others draw lots, and D’Artagnan wins. Mordaunt asks for their word that the others won’t stab him in the back while he is fighting D’Artagnan, and insists they retire to a far corner.

A fierce duel ensues, but when D’Artagnan finally seems to be getting the upper hand, Mordaunt slips away through a secret door.

Athos is unaccountably relieved not to have killed Milady’s son, but D’Artagnan says that if they don’t strike first, Mordaunt will kill them, or send Cromwell’s Ironsides to do so. Unaware of the gunpowder aboard their vessel, they decide to return to France.

Mordaunt gets to the boat first, and finds Cromwell’s Captain Groslaw in command of the Musketeers’ ship. Groslaw shows him the dinghy tied behind the boat, ready for their escape when they have set the fuse to the gunpowder, which is hidden among some barrels of wine. Groslaw then hides Mordaunt in his cabin.

When the Musketeers arrive, Groslaw convinces them that he’s their Captain Rodgers’ mate, Mulligan. D’Artagnan is a bit suspicious, and demands to be taken on a tour of the boat, but when he checks Groslaw’s cabin, he fails to notice Mordaunt, in a hiding place above the door.

Athos’ servant Grimaud, is already in the servants’ quarters, peeling vegetables. D’Artagnan checks the cargo, and is satisfied; before they set sail, he’d been worried Mordaunt would blast them out of the water.

Left alone, Grimaud decides he would prefer some wine to the beer he is drinking, and goes to the cargo hold to get some, but finds a barrel of gunpowder instead. Hearing footsteps, he hides, and hears Mordaunt and Groslaw discussing how much time they will need to escape. Mordaunt lights the fuse, but as soon as they leave, Grimaud puts it out. He warns D’Artagnan, who sends him back to light it again.

Mordaunt, thinking he has five minutes before he needs to leave the boat, spends that time praying, while Groslaw waits patiently. Meanwhile, the Musketeers kill the man guarding the dinghy, get into it, and - when Grimaud joins them - cut the rope and row away from the boat.

When Mordaunt finishes praying, he and Groslaw go on deck, only to find that the dinghy has gone. Groslaw runs to snuff the fuse out, but Mordaunt pulls off his jacket and jumps into the water.

The Musketeers hear an explosion, and think it’s all over. Then they hear Mordaunt, calling, “Pity, in the name of Heaven!” Athos responds, “Mon Dieu!”

D’Artagnan tells Porthos to keep rowing, but Mordaunt swims alongside and grabs the oar. When they threaten to split his head, Mordaunt goes to Athos, and pleads, “You killed my mother. Must the feud go on?”

Athos decides that there’s been enough killing, and grabs hold of him, saying “Sir, you are safe – be calm”, but Mordaunt betrays his trust, and pulls him into the water.

They fight, trying to drown each other, then we see that Mordaunt has a knife. As the episode ends, only bubbles can be seen.

At the beginning of episode 14, “Hunted”, Porthos, D’Artagnan and Aramis see Mordaunt’s body, with a knife embedded in the chest, float away; they are relieved to see Athos still alive, and help him aboard.

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