The Royals decide that Rosaline and Benvolio will have a betrothal ceremony in the middle of town square when Lord Capulet reveals that his cathedral can’t be finished after the death of his architect in the last episode. Though the two want nothing more than to be allowed to live their own lives, they might be able to unite on one thing: someone is intent on keeping their families at odds in “All The World’s A Stage.”

A sonnet for Rosaline

After learning that her betrothal ceremony will occur sooner than she thought, Rosaline receives a sonnet from a messenger.

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It begins, “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate.” Shakespeare fans, and even those who hate the bard, will recognize it as his most famous sonnet.

The sonnet, purchased from an unknown writer by Lord Montague, not Benvolio, though delivered in his name, isn’t the only way the show acknowledges the bard who provides the source material.

Lord Capulet, in his guilt over the murder of his architect, and his grief at Juliet’s death, starts seeing his daughter’s ghost. Take your pick as to which tragedy that provides a nod to, though “Macbeth” is my personal favorite when it comes to ghosts and guilt. It’s nice to see that, despite the premise being rooted in Romeo and Juliet’s warring families, the writers aren’t stopping with just one Shakespearean trope.

What plays could we see nods to next? Or have we been missing them all along?

Princess Isabella wants Verona

Escalus better keep an eye on his throne, not just the woman who stole his heart.

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While Escalus is busy mooning over Rosaline (and still being ridiculous, trying to guilt her for something he’s making her do) and trying to assert himself with leaders of other territories, he lets his jealousies and insecurities show, often taking them out on Rosaline and his sister. As a result, Isabella’s jealousies and insecurities about her position in the political sphere also show.

Isabella is shrewd, calculating, and she wants a spot at the table - not just for gossip as her brother callously points out. She’s got the head for politics that Escalus doesn’t have, quick to point out his faults and give him advice when they’re alone, but acting demure when they’re in front of others.

This all comes to the forefront when Lord Montague notices her dissatisfaction and offers to allow her to oversee the building of Lord Capulet’s cathedral - which he will pay to finish and find a new architect for. Proving that she’s no wilting flower, Isabella sees exactly what he’s up to, but she gets what she wants out of it, a cathedral with a female saint in the art to help inspire the women in Verona.

A feminist who is ahead of her time, Isabella is certainly one to keep an eye on.

'Get thee to a nunnery…'

Benvolio and Rosaline have a frank talk that actually doesn’t involve them constantly sniping at one another for once as he offers to set her up with transportation to a convent since he knows she wants her own life. He seems to think that they can be free if he can get her away from him. Of course, things aren’t that simple as the resident of his favorite brothel points out - if he doesn’t go through with the union, his uncle will likely have him killed.

Rosaline, at first, agrees to his plan, but backs out at the last minute, instead deciding to bargain for her sister’s station with the Capulets. She wants Livia to be a Lady again instead of a servant. Lord Capulet agrees to her request as long as she can sell her engagement to Benvolio convincingly. All of Rosaline’s bargaining might be for moot though since Livia already has an interested party.

Livia is, seeing as how she’s the only person he’s interacting with now, growing closer to the man who was betrothed to Juliet, Paris. He’s a strikingly different character here than he was first presented, or even then he was on the play. Instead of the man who was thrilled with the idea of owning the beautiful Juliet, he’s genuinely interested in Livia and her life, though that could just be Stockholm Syndrome since he’s confined to a room and she’s his caretaker.

There’s a conspiracy afoot

As predicted the last two episodes, the Montagues and Capulets aren’t just at each other’s throats because they want to be, but because someone keeps pointing them toward one another.

Benvolio and Rosaline’s betrothal ceremony is interrupted by someone in disguise who not only burns effigies of them but sets off an explosion in the middle of town. In the midst of the chaos, the two pursue the man, only to discover that he’s a Montague, but he’s not acting out to spite the Capulets, but to continue the war.

Who wants these two at war? Why don’t they want Verona to prosper? Is it an official from a rival territory? Is it one of the other wealthy families? When will we find out more?

The verdict and what’s next

There’s something truly engaging about the soap opera twists to this Shakespearean story. It’s fun to watch the story unfold, even if you know that Benvolio and Rosaline won’t hate one another forever or that there’s always going to be another obstacle to peace. This episode, in particular, kept me on the edge of my seat. Benvolio and Rosaline really need to spend more time in scenes together since their chemistry is just great.

4 out of 5 stars

In next week’s “Pluck Out the Heart of My Mystery,” Rosaline and Benvolio team up to figure out who has been manipulating their families. Meanwhile, Lord Capulet has an unexpected visitor.