Prince Escalus continues to struggle with the duties of being king, while Rosaline and Benvolio still resist the arranged marriage bestowed upon them.
On Still Star-Crossed Season 1 Episode 3 “All the World’s a Stage”, fair Verona descends deeper into chaos. Lord Capulet goes to extreme measures to maintain appearances. Livia makes a connection with Paris after saving his life. Prince Escalus is pulled between personal values and royal duties. Rosaline chooses her love for Livia over her distaste for Benvolio.
Previously on Still Star-Crossed
As far as Shondaland dramas go, Still Star-Crossed is easily considered the tamest of the bunch, and this is a show where the inciting incident is a double suicide. Despite its shaky ratings, Still-Star Crossed expands on the classic Romeo and Juliet story and adds depths to characters audiences didn’t know they could love. Now, Rosaline is the Capulet family’s servant, Prince Escalus’s forbidden lover, and Benvolio Montague’s future wife. Benvolio is no longer Romeo’s beta, but a romantic hero in his own right, with a handsome beard and a couple of witty quips, too. Even Lord Capulet gets in on the fun, though his character depth comes from his deep debt rather than any interesting relationship entanglements.
The pilot was mostly spent rehashing the Romeo and Juliet narrative, with a few tidbits sprinkled in to introduce the plot. In a way, Season 1 Episode 2 was the show’s real pilot. We saw the depths of Prince Escalus’s struggle to reconcile love with duty, while we were treated with a feast (literally) full of Capulet versus Montague drama. The Montague family tries to sabotage the Capulets, while the Capulets struggle to keep their finances afloat.
Rosaline and Benvolio
Though they were engaged to be married, in the two previous episodes, Rosaline and Benvolio were nothing more than enemies. Now, even with love interests that are not each other, the pair seem to find common ground.
First, during a fake-date that is meant to show Verona that they are in love, Benvolio comes up with a plan to help Rosaline escape the arranged marriage. He proposes to help her escape to a nunnery, where she will give herself to God instead of to him. While she initially goes along with this plan, she makes a deal with Lord Capulet. If she goes through with the marriage, then her sister, Livia, will be released from servitude.
When the subsequent betrothal-ceremony gets attacked, Benvolio and Rosaline work together to escape. After they unmask the attacker, they even decide to work together to find the common enemy of their two families. Their logic: if the two families have something to work together against, then there’s no need for a unifying marriage. During their conversation, Benvolio and Rosaline are all smiles and banter. For once, they’re on the same page.
It’s the most beautiful love story most people will never see. Their hate-to-love relationship has my cold, dead heart beating again. It’s no “die for each other” melodrama yet, but it’s fun, and entertaining, and balanced. The two characters provide great foils for each other, and it’s that that keeps me watching.
Lord Capulet’s Financial and Spiritual Issues
Lord Capulet really has it hard. First, his daughter died and his wife is consumed with grief. Next, his finances have gone under and he can no longer finish construction of his cathedral. Then, Lord Montague gets wind of the financial issues, and suggests that they hold the Benvolio-Rosaline wedding in the Capulet cathedral, just for the spite. As a result, Lord Montague is forced to kill his architect in order to have a valid, non-embarassing excuse for why the church cannot be completed for the wedding.
But, somehow, it’s not the ghost of the architect that haunts Lord Montague. No, Lord Montague is plagued by strange feelings. At the end of the episode, he evens gets a vision of his dead daughter Juliet, warning him of the danger ahead. It’s a weird scene, in an already slightly campy show. For what it is, Still Star-Crossed stood up to be a pretty believable show. While the Juliet cameo was refreshing, it was a bit weird, and it added a strange light for an already dramatic episode.
Livia and Count Paris
Nobody who has ever looked at the original Romeo and Juliet expected to come into Still Star-Crossed and love Count Paris, but it happened anyway. Paris provides the good guy to Benvolio’s bad boy, and he is amazing at it. After Livia healed Paris’s stab wounds and saved his life, the two have more than a few bonding moments. Paris and Livia’s scenes provided a lightness that the narrative desperately needed in the wake of all the death and drama. The hints of romance are unexpected, cute, and sweet. It’s definitely one of the things the show does best.
Prince Escalus and Princess Isabella
After declaring his love for Rosaline in the previous episode and insisting that he won’t make her go through with the marriage, Prince Escalus is swayed by his duty and forces the Rosaline-Benvolio betrothal to continue. We are only three episodes in, and we have already seen Prince Escalus struggle with this same decision so many times. We get it, writers, he’s struggling.
It’s a necessary and important story arc, but it’s also one that takes more screen time than necessary from the more interesting parts of the plot. Give us more romance! Give us more political intrigue between the families! Give us more Isabella!
If Prince Escalus is hesitant in his role, his sister Princess Isabella is a steadfast leader. She is always there, reminding her brother of what he has to do as king. She’s beautiful, she’s smart, she’s strong, and she’s not held back by anything. She’s the queen we need, but she’s the queen that this world refuses to give us.
What did you think of Still Star-Crossed Season 1 Episode 3? How long do you think it will take before Rosaline and Benvolio finally fall in love?