Happy Holidays…AGAIN! This time around you get to celebrate the holidays in a bright, cheery, festive palace with the royal family. Sound like fun, right? Here’s a heads up: you’re definitely going to want to stock up on tissues before watching this episode. Sorry in advance, this recap is going to be on the longer side. This episode was my favorite episode of the show to date.
The episode starts with a very jolly Eleanor signing a letter to Jasper with the word love and meaning it. Then, the special holiday message we saw after the episode right before Christmas is played in the episode. (I’ll be sure to post it in the bits and bobs section if you want to watch it.) So of course tensions have to rise somehow, which leads to a run-in with Jasper and Robert in the family gym, or at least Robert calls it the family gym. Robert kindly lets Jasper know that he is looking into Jasper’s past. They then use a banter about the whole Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays debate to talk about tradition and rules and whether they should be followed. Obviously Robert is quite the stickler for rules and traditions.
Somewhere else in the palace, Helena awakes without her usual staff brigade, so she automatically assumes that there has been a “goddamn zombie apocalypse,” and begins to wander the palace with great caution. After finding Liam, he tells his mother that he was the one who let the staff go because Simon used to do the same thing. He wants to start new family traditions while also preserving the old ones, and I admire that. Liam then pulls on my heart strings by saying, “I just wanted it to feel like dad is with us.” Remember, in the show’s timeline this is their first Christmas without Simon. The moment quickly turns from somber to comedic when Cyrus, Eleanor, and Robert’s heads peek around the corner identical to Helena wondering what was going on. Helena explains everything and everyone but Liam is upset that they will have to actually fend for themselves.
Pretty early on in the episode we learn that Jasper isn’t going to be spending Christmas with Eleanor like he originally promised. He thinks that this is a time where her family should be together, so Eleanor sees this as a great time to ask about his family and whether he will be calling them, spending the holiday with them, or something else along those lines. Jasper shoots that idea down very quickly, ensuring that he isn’t going anyway near his family. We actually get to learn a little bit about his childhood and the way, specifically, his father treated him. Jasper shares a story of how one Christmas his dad made him dress up as an elf and steal Salvation Army money. Eleanor makes me super emotional by bringing up how much she would love to be able to hear Simon’s voice today in a way to convince her boyfriend to call his father, but it also feels completely genuine. It feels like a daughter is missing her father. After he turns the idea down again, she says, “He’s still your father.”
Jasper isn’t feeling like his original present for Eleanor is as great as he had planned after seeing all of the jewels and things that posh dignitaries had given her, so he enlists the wonderful Sara Alice to help him come up with the most perfect present. She does. Her and Jasper create a story, pictures included thanks to the incredible artistry of Sara Alice, about Frosty the Caterpillar (Jasper) and a princess (Eleanor). Sara Alice tells Jasper that even though Frosty is a caterpillar, the princess loves him anyway. I’ve really been enjoying the team of Jasper and Sara Alice and hope to see more of it as the show progresses. It brings out a different side of him that I don’t think we get to see often. Anyway, after the story has been finalized, Jasper gets a text on his phone from an anonymous number. We’ll come back to that in a little bit.
The King has to make a Midnight Christmas Address, but Cyrus isn’t in the best state to deliver such an important speech by the end of the episode. In the beginning, he continues making hateful comments about how Liam is in the shadows and will never rise above his brother. By the middle of the episode, he has consumed too much alcohol and is wandering around the palace in a very Santa-inspired outfit. He takes on the role of Scrooge and pulls the tree so it falls down – on top of him. This is all ironic because one of the first things Cyrus says to Liam is that he ruined Christmas, but Cyrus is the one pushing everyone’s buttons and making them more agitated than they already were.
Spencer Hoenigsberg makes a reappearance in this episode. He is seemingly the only staff member still lingering around the palace. He’s just there to make sure that everything is in order for the King’s Midnight Christmas Address. He ends helping Helena, like he always does because of his job, find some figgy pudding. Their search ends up with the two of them having sex, the figgy pudding falling on Helena, and leaving her with a huge black eye. The two of them share a very nice moment on the balcony later on in the episode. Spencer is surprised to see that it’s snowing, but Helena ruins all of the fun by saying she had a snow machine installed. Helena explains that Christmas used to be an excuse for her to go away and be with the man she loved, Alistair. She goes on to say that she appreciates how Spencer has always been there for her in anyway she needs him, however intimate. Spencer is very kind and understanding. That scene made me like him even more.
Of course there were some more really great Liam and Eleanor scenes this episode. After realizing that Liam and Eleanor aren’t sure how to set the table, Eleanor shares what she got Jasper for Christmas. She’s beyond proud of it. She got him one of the original love letters by Catherine of Valoios. Liam finally tells Eleanor about Kathryn. I think Eleanor handled it quite well by saying, she’s “giving it to both of her brothers,” after Liam gushes about how giving Kathryn is. It’s so wonderful to look back at Liam and Eleanor in season 1 and see how they’ve grown to where they are now, where they can confide in each other and push each other to be happy.
Robert, my new favorite person for reasons that I’m not really sure of yet, makes a visit to his Uncle Cyrus’ room to confront him about Cyrus bribing the candidates for the Privy Council by sending them wine with an engraved message on the back. Robert makes it very clear that he will not back down from this fight by saying, “I played chess with my father. You’d be wise to remember that.”
Okay, back to that mysterious text. Jasper meets with the creator of the text, a journalist named Harper. She has a story about Eleanor and her relationship with Jasper. She knows about his past, including that time he tried stealing the jewel from the palace. If Jasper doesn’t give her the information she needs, it doesn’t matter because she has a guy who will giver her the missing information. Jasper asserts that he wants Eleanor to be left out of all of this. Harper can take him down but not Eleanor. Harper twists the knife by saying, “Let’s make one thing clear: you’re the one bringing her down, not me.”
The Henstridge family has a board game called “Crowned” where all of them are pieces in the game. Eleanor insists that Cyrus’ piece looks like Margaret Thatcher. Liam’s piece is missing. How interesting. Like I previously said, Cyrus takes things too far and Robert escorts him out of the room. Then we get another Eleanor and Liam scene was Eleanor tells Liam that Robert knows about Jasper’s past, as in before he came to the palace. Liam played a really quick and hilarious guessing game as to what Robert knows about Jasper. Was it that Jasper slept with their mother? Was it about Jasper and Mandy? Was it about Jasper blackmailing Eleanor? It was a really tiny part that made me smile. When Robert returns, Liam rises to Jasper’s protection and confronts Robert. Liam obviously wanted to start an argument with his brother, so Robert just adds fuel to the fire by continuously calling Liam “Sparrow,” which is a touchy subject with Liam. That’s when Cyrus pulls the tree down. Around that same time, the family sees Helena’s black eye for the first time. She takes great pride in it and the sex that brought it about.
After all of that mayhem Eleanor is just looking forward to seeing her boyfriend and giving him his present. Jasper had promised to visit her at the end of the night and, boy, does he. Jasper says loads of things he clearly doesn’t mean, like how he is feeling suffocated and the letters are all lies. Eleanor, in her self-deprecating ways, instantly thinks that all of this is her fault because she signed the letter with the word love. Jasper says that he can’t be in a relationship with anyone, especially her. Eleanor reminds Jasper of all of the chances she’s given him. Jasper leaves the room after saying, Well, you shouldn’t have. I’m not worth it.” Jasper saying that proves that he is worth it. Our dear Eleanor doesn’t know that though, so she is left confused and heartbroken.
To add to the drama, the family has to sit around a table and eat a meal together. James Hill swooped in to save the day and prepared said meal. He is an angel, basically. Something small that I loved in this hectic scene was that Helena looked to Robert when Eleanor said she wasn’t okay. It made me think that Robert was the one to always pick Eleanor back up in the past. There’s an awkward toast from both Robert and Liam where they exchange hateful comments, and James Hill raises his glass to both not knowing what to do. Cyrus says he’s going to moon the entire United Kingdom on live television if they don’t let him make the address. Robert says he’ll make the address. Then Liam says he’ll make the address. Another really cute small moment was when Robert covered Sara Alice’s ears before saying a curse word. It’s the little things that are making me love Robert more than I should.
Sara Alice announces that presents from Santa Claus are the best way to ease the tension and bring everyone together, however, Helena shoots that down rather quickly by telling Sara Alice they don’t give out presents. Cyrus also lets it slip that Santa isn’t real and gets a stern, annoyed look from James. The way that Eleanor looks at Sara Alice in this scene makes my cold heart melt. Sara Alice tells everyone that there are presents, she’s seen them, and she leaves the table to get them with Eleanor right behind her. Sara Alice pulls this huge sack of presents out from one of the secret tunnels down the hall. Eleanor reads the card to find that they are from Simon.
Even though Simon is no longer with his family he is still able to bring them together. It was a beautiful moment that made me cry more than I would like to admit. He got Helena her favorite perfume. She had to give it up because Simon was allergic, so he got it for her so she wouldn’t have to go without. He got Cyrus this extravagant sword with a snake on the top. Robert got Lucius’ present because Robert was already gone/dead/missing when Simon bought the presents. Simon gave Liam his old boxing gloves. Simon gave Eleanor his old watch with a message engraved in the back:
I know, right? I was not okay. Eleanor then decides she wants to give the speech. And she does. She gives it in the library, but not before she checks the hollowed out book on the off chance that Jasper stuck a letter in there explaining why he was acting the way he was earlier. Eleanor’s Midnight Christmas Address plays out as a voice-over during the last five minutes or so of the episode.
Liam, feeling pretty defeated after a pretty terrible day with his family, pays Kathryn a visit. She is ready to walk away like they had previously decided but Liam isn’t He’s willing to fight until she tells him stop. She does by saying, “This is how things are supposed to be,” which is the last thing Liam needs to hear right now.
Then we get what I see as one of the best Jasper scenes we’ve seen so for. Tom Austen (Jasper) absolutely killed it. Jasper calls his father and gets his voicemail but that doesn’t stop Jasper from telling his dad how he feels. Turns out, his dad was the one who sent the journlist after him. Jasper tells his dad how he was always afraid that he was just like him but now he is absolutely sure he’s not. Jasper clues his dad in on how much the relationship he was just forced to give up means to him. I assume that this all means that the journalist isn’t going to run the story because Jasper ended things with Eleanor. Either way, this scene was heartbreaking and a true shining moment for Tom Austen. Jasper is feeling alone and heartbroken, so who comes in to save the day? None other than Stripey Pants the Elf herself (aka Sara Alice). She notices that Jasper hasn’t given Eleanor the story yet and also apologizes for not giving Jasper a present. He says that a hug would be the present in the world, so that’s exactly what Sara Alice gives him.
If you were wondering why Robert has a weird infatuation with that hourglass, well we still don’t have any answers, but we do see the hourglass again at the end of this episode. Robert is having some alone time with his hourglass when Liam barges in and telling him that he should have the boxing gloves but Robert insists that he keep them. He harshly says, “You finally have something that I don’t.” Liam and Robert just love to push each other’s buttons. Liam leaves the gloves with Robert saying that he will when them back in the fight. Oh, that’s right. Liam and Robert are going to compete in a one-on-one boxing match at the upcoming People’s Gala for charity. They both agree that neither of them are apologizing for anything. Robert isn’t apologizing for being alive and Liam isn’t apologizing for becoming the man he did while Robert was away. I think that #KingLiam is still in there somewhere.
Eleanor finishes the address by saying, “The time for you to be great is now. Because you are. I’m so proud of you. Merry Christmas.”
Some bits and bobs from this week’s episode of The Royals:
- Here is the holiday message from the beginning of the episode. Alexandra Park was stellar!
- Liam tries to look up a picture of their prepared table online.
- There are lots of really great sweaters and Christmas-themed outfits throughout this episode.
- Sara Alice is the cutest elf I have ever seen. I am sure that all of you agree.
- Where was James the entire time? What was he up to? He was only in this episode for like two minutes and that’s not okay. #MakeJamesHillASeriesRegular
A new episode of The Royals airs next Sunday at 10/9c on E!