‘Franklin’ Episode 4 Recap: Were Vergennes And Franklin Able To Come To Terms?


In the third episode of Franklin, we saw that two major events took place: firstly, the Americans were able to defeat the British army at Saratoga, and secondly, we got to know that Bancroft was not the honest and trustworthy man that Franklin believed him to be. Franklin was walking on thin ice, and he knew that one wrong move and years of hard work would get spoiled. The American polymath was having some issues with Temple, who was finding his voice and having a little problem agreeing to whatever his grandfather told him to do. Temple was still young, and the entire secret mission was making him realize certain inclinations and things about his personality that he wasn’t privy to earlier. Franklin had already lost one son and this time; he wanted to make sure that Temple didn’t do anything that would bring dishonor to him or the family. So, let’s find out what happened in the fourth episode of Franklin and if the French finally agreed to help the Americans in their war against the British forces. 

Spoiler Alert

What happened with Franklin at Whitehall Palace? 

In a flashback sequence, we saw that four years ago, Franklin went to the Whitehall palace with a proposal, hoping that the English administration would at least hear his grievances and take some action on them. However, the opposite happened as the solicitor general ridiculed him in front of all the ministers and the who’s who of English society, and Franklin had to ultimately leave there feeling insulted. Franklin, as the representative of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, sought the removal of the royal governor from the territory. But he was called an insurrectionist, and the solicitor general told the judge that Franklin’s charter should be revoked as he was operating with an unwavering zeal towards the British crown. The entire crowd started booing, and that day something changed inside Franklin. Up until then, he was a royal subject of the crown, but that day, he decided to break the delusions of supremacy that the crown had. He told Bancroft, while leaving from there, that it was the beginning of the end of British rule in America. So we got to know that Franklin’s vendetta was not solely fueled by his love for his nation, but it was also a personal fight. In retrospect, if the English administration had accepted his demands on that day, he probably would have never come to France on his secret mission. 

Did the French King agree to help Franklin? 

The news of the Saratoga victory and Lafayette being branded as a war hero had already reached the corridors of the French palace. Vergennes once again went to the King and told him that it was the opportune moment to get the better of their arch-nemesis and use the situation to their utmost advantage. This time around, King Louis XVI did not agree or disagree with Vergennes. The signal was quite clear: he wanted Vergennes to give support to the American forces without bringing his name into the scheme of things. King Louis wanted to play it safe. He wanted to know that if anything went wrong, he could pin the entire blame on his monitor. Vergennes knew that there was a huge risk involved in enacting on his own accord, but he took the risk. He sent his associate, Gerard, to have a conversation with Franklin, and the latter clearly understood what tactics the French were resorting to. Franklin was told in very clear words by Madame Brillon that he should never take a French man for his word and that whatever the authorities were promising him, he should ask them to give it to him in writing. Franklin called Temple and asked him to jot down the minutes of the meeting. Franklin sent back Gerard, telling him that he was very clear about what he wanted and that unless and until the French King openly declared war against the British forces, he wouldn’t accept the terms of the treaty. The French wanted Franklin to assure them that their country would cut off all trade relations with the British regime, but in turn, they were not ready to make an open declaration of war. Gerard went back to Vergennes, and both of them understood that they would have to agree to Franklin’s terms, as otherwise there was no way out. 

Were Vergennes and Franklin able to come to terms?

Mr. Williams once again met Bancroft, and he got worried when he got to know that Franklin was on the verge of cracking a deal with the French regime. Both Bancroft and Williams hatched a devilish plan, and they knew that if they were able to execute it, then the American Congress would remove Franklin from the helm of affairs. Williams told Bancroft that if they could get a letter signed by Temple in which he swore allegiance to the British Empire, then their work would be done, and Franklin’s reputation would be tarnished. In episode 4, Bancroft was able to procure Temple’s signature by deceit and handed over the document to Williams. Franklin also agreed to meet Williams during that time, though his intentions were never to reach a consensus with him. Franklin merely did that to put pressure on Vergennes, and he wanted them to act in haste, fearing that he would make a deal with the English forces. That was why Franklin held the meeting outside his residence so that everybody could see that he was meeting the Englishman.

Franklin asked Vergennes to give him six million livres as a guarantee in case things didn’t turn out the way they had planned. Vergennes was hesitant at first, but he knew that he didn’t have much of an option. The King also finally explicitly said that he was ready to provide all the help that he could to the American forces. An alliance was reached between France and America, and Franklin celebrated the event with the entire French Cabinet. Monsieur Brillon proposed a matrimonial alliance between Temple and his daughter, and Franklin couldn’t be happier as he knew that his grandson was in love with her. However, a twist came in the end when an American diplomat named John Adams came to meet Franklin, and it was revealed that the document signed by Temple had reached the American Congress. It would be interesting to see how Franklin tackles this problem and if he was able to prove that he was a true patriot or not. 

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Sushrut Gopesh
Sushrut Gopesh
I came to Mumbai to bring characters to life. I like to dwell in the cinematic world and ponder over philosophical thoughts. I believe in the kind of cinema that not necessarily makes you laugh or cry but moves something inside you.

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