‘Will’ Episode 1×03 Review: “The Two Gentlemen”

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Mondays have gotten a whole lot better since last week’s premiere of Will. This new TNT show follows a young Will Shakespeare as he makes his way up in London’s theatre scene – with plenty of romance and drama mixed in.

Last night’s third installment was no exception. Here’s the synopsis for the episode, entitled “The Two Gentlemen”:

Will (Laurie Davidson) has an epiphany, which could lead him to success but he needs Alice’s help (Olivia DeJonge). A charismatic fugitive from Will’s past burdens him with a dangerous obligation.

Let’s break it down.

Photo by: Aidan Monaghan

THINGS ARE GETTING DANGEROUS

Though our young Will Shakespeare had a rough welcome to London – what with Presto cutting his hand and nearly exposing him as a Catholic – after last week’s episode, he seemed to be in the clear. Baxter was taken by Topcliffe, and Will – though wracked with guilt – appeared to be safe.

It turns out that things are a little more precarious than that. Not only is Will not secure in his position with the theatre company – Burbage kicks him out when he doesn’t like his pitch for a new play – but he inadvertently leads Marlowe to the place where his cousin, Father Robert Southwell, is hiding out.




By now we all know what happens to Catholics in London at this time, and Southwell is Priority #1 for Topcliffe. We also know that Marlowe is working with Topcliffe – though he likes to twist situations for his own gain and amusement. Once again, that works out in favor of Will and his family in this episode. While Marlowe sells out Southwell’s location, he sells that information to two separate parties – and also warns the Catholics ahead of time, so they’re able to escape – thus getting paid twice for the same information with no blood on his hands.

It’s a happy ending as far as we’re concerned – at least for now. But between Will’s precarious position at the theater and Topcliffe & Co. closing in on Southwell and the other Catholics, danger seems to be closing in.

STORIES HAVE A SECRET

As mentioned above, Will may be a great talent, but he’s by no means perfect. He’s confident to the point of being cocky, especially after the smash success of his first play in the previous episodes. When his new pitch doesn’t go over so well with Burbage, Will is at first indignant, refusing to believe that it’s bad. He even tries to sell it to Burbage’s competitor, who also laughs him off.

Things aren’t looking good for Shakespeare – until Alice makes him see reason and realize that he has some work to do in the story department. Going back to the drawing board, Will realizes that the great plays all follow a pattern. The hero has a dream or quest and must remove some obstacle to get it. Though this seems like common knowledge to us now with so much information about “The Hero’s Journey” and plot structure, to Shakespeare it was an important revelation.

Determined to crack the code of plays, Will enlists Alice for help. She advises him to steal his plot from somewhere else – as pretty much all writers do. Steal like an artist is a thing, yo. The two head to the market and literally steal a book, newly translated from Spanish – a.k.a. brand new to the London audience. Will and Alice work overnight to turn this story into a play – The Two Gentlemen of Verona. It’s a fun nod to some of Shakespeare’s historical work, and we love how that’s being worked into the show now along with very interesting backstory.

WILL GETS A NEW MISSION

Will’s making great strides in the theater world, but he’s also tasked with a new mission in this episode. His cousin Southwell is working on a book addressed to the Queen lobbying for religious freedom. As you might have guessed, this book is the kind of thing that could easily get someone killed (or tortured and then killed) if they are found with it in their possession.

Towards the end of the episode, Southwell gives the book to Shakespeare and tasks him with finishing it. He feels the pressure of Topcliffe and other religious persecutors closing in and wants Will to be the one to bring his magic with words to this important cause. We’re sure that Will is up to the task, but also scared for the danger that holding this book puts him in.

Burbage also gives Will a mission of a different sort, tasking him to stay away from his daughter, Alice. It’s not an empty threat, either. Burbage has worked out that Will is probably a Catholic and warns that if Shakespeare doesn’t heed him, he’ll hand the playwright over to Topcliffe. Message received, good sir. That is… until Will and Alice fall into bed together at the end of the episode. Things are bound to get even more interesting now.

OTHER THOUGHTS

1. Marlowe is pro at parties and pep talks. The man knows how to appreciate the finer things in life (and looks pretty good without clothes on. Just saying.)

2. The soundtrack just keeps getting better and better. It manages to both maintain the Shakespearean London vibe while giving the show that rock and roll tone.

3. We don’t want to advocate home-wrecking, but we have to say we’re really rooting for Will and Alice. They are so well-matched, and their chemistry is off the charts.

Will airs Mondays at 9/8c on TNT.

Featured Image by: Aidan Monaghan

Chloe Palka

Senior Editor

Fangirl, avid reader, & Anglophile. Current obsessions include: Dylan O'Brien, Teen Wolf, Game of Thrones, brunch, SDCC, and gingerbread lattes. Not a queen, a Khaleesi. Contact: chloe@fangirlish.com.

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