Pillars of the Earth Episode 4 Recap: Legacy

Previously on Pillars of the Earth: Stephen was defeated and taken prisoner, as was Maud’s half-brother Gloucester. Waleran engineered the loss of Kingsbridge’s market license, and then joined with the Hamleighs to side with Maude before torturing Philip into admitting he betrayed Bartholomew and ordering him hanged. He was a busy man that episode.

Philip’s on the scaffold, a noose being tightened around his throat, as a priest makes his way down the line of condemned men, offering them absolution. He makes it to Philip and is halfway through his prayer before he recognizes him. The priest is Philip’s brother, Francis. He’s horrified when he recognizes Philip.

Church is currently Waleran’s preferred place to plot with Regan Hamleigh. The two kneel together and he tells her that if she wants Maude to make William the earl, Waleran will have to somehow manage to orchestrate a prisoner exchange: Stephen for Gloucester. Regan offers to pay any necessary ransom, but that’s not the issue here. Waleran’s worried about what Stephen will do once he’s freed—will he continue the war? Yeah, probably, says Regan. If that’s the case, Waleran points out, Maude might not hold onto power for long, which would put them in a sticky situation. Regan tells him, as if he doesn’t already know, that they need to play both sides. Waleran’s already thought of that—as negotiator, he pretty much already is, but it’s not going to be quite so simple for her. Right now, it looks like she’s in pretty tight with Maude. Regan tells Waleran he’ll have to intercede on her family’s behalf and he gives her a “bitch, please” look before telling her that she’s assuming their equals, when, in fact, they’re not: she’s there to serve him, not command him. She misreads that and starts to reach towards his crotch, which offends him—he’s not Al Sweringin anymore, lady. She asks him what he wants, then, and he tells her he wants to be Archbishop of Canterbury once Stephen’s back on the throne. The current one will have to be removed, of course.

Francis has moved Philip to an infirmary and is playing nursemaid. Philip’s confused as to how he got there, so Francis explains that he namedropped Maud to the executioner and told him he’d answer for Philip’s innocence. Philip’s still confused—he thought his brother supported Stephen, but Francis has gotten wise to the ways of the world, and to Stephen’s relative uselessness. Stephen’s not done much for the church, so Francis has turned politician and now serves whomever best serves him.

Francis moves on to a happier subject—Philip’s cathedral, which Philip says he doesn’t have yet, he needs a few miracles first. Well, luckily it’s Miracle Day in Lincoln: Maude’s in power, Francis found Philip, and the dead have risen. Well, one dead, anyway. The camera pans to show Jack in a nearby bed. He was found crawling from a mass grave. Philip stares at him in wonder.

A little later, Philip’s washing the nasty looking garrote wound on Jack’s neck and happily tells him he’s a new man, now. Jack reminds Philip that he very nearly died as well, so he must be reborn too. Philip’s in a jovial mood, and says it looks like God has further plans for both of them. Jack smiles and wonders what those plans could be. Philip asks Jack what he remembers of the last few days—did he pray? Not exactly. Jack remembers dreaming, and I think we get to see exactly what he dreamed of as we hurry over to Kingsbridge, where in the predawn light Aliena is stripping naked and going for a swim in a lake in the woods as Alfred watches.

Aliena’s peaceful swim is rudely interrupted when Alfred joins her, and she turns and angrily heads back to shore, but he pulls the oldest gambit in the book and pretends to be drowning. She comes back to help him, and he kisses her. Aliena is not amused and ducks him, holding him under for a while. She drags him up onto the shore, tells him never to come near her again, gathers up her clothes, and stalks off as Alfred pathetically calls after her that he loves her. She couldn’t possibly care less.

Outside Lincoln, Waleran and Francis are meeting Richard and the rest of Stephen’s faction to hash out terms by torchlight. Waleran sets out Maud’s terms: Stephen is to give up the throne and leave the country immediately, and also pay £1,000 in gold, which was a psychotically staggering sum in those days. And she gets Gloucester back, of course. Richard smirks at the absurd terms and suggests they cancel the ransom and go from there. Francis asks Waleran for a word and proves just how much a politician he’s become by reminding Waleran that they need the ransom to bankrupt the other side. Otherwise, there’s no guarantee that Stephen won’t just start the war back up as soon as he’s freed. They need some kind of guarantee.

Waleran suggests Stephen hand over his son, Eustace, to be held by Maud until Stephen’s cleared England’s shores and peace has been kept for five years. Richard scoffs that Stephen will never agree to that, but Waleran reminds him that this isn’t up to Stephen. He tells Richard to think about it overnight and gives Richard his hand to kiss. As Richard bends over it, Waleran whispers that nobody at Maud’s court knows what Eustace looks like, do they? They don’t? That’s convenient. If only they had Gawker or Hello! Magazine back then, how different history would be.

Maud’s taken over the court at Winchester, but she’s taking her sweet time appearing for her audience, so William decides to amuse himself by flirting with the little girl behind him. And when I say little girl, I mean it. She’s tiny, blonde, and giggly. He asks her name—Elizabeth, and her age—12. Twelve! Eek! He bends down, like you do when you’re talking to a small child, and tells her she’s a very pretty girl, with very pretty lips. She eats it up, like any 12-year-old would, and Regan observes the action. They’re all soon distracted by the unexpected arrival of Philip, accompanied by Jack and Francis. Philip pauses to coolly greet Waleran, who looks like he’s seen a ghost but recovers quickly.

Finally, Maud gets her ass into the throne, her young son Henry standing beside her. She asks him if he knows why all these people have showed up to ask for favors from her, and he answers that she’s the queen. “I’m the empress,” she snaps. “I rechristened myself this morning.” Um, no. She was known as Empress Maud because she was married to the Holy Roman Emperor. She was never crowned Empress, though, and was later married to the Count of Anjou (the father of the child with her now, as well as her others), and her claim to the title was always pretty tenuous.

Maud tells Francis to speak up, and asks him who his handsome partner is. Francis introduces Philip as his brother, and Philip manages to charm her with his humor and humility. She’s been well prepped and knows that Philip wants a license for a market. Waleran breaks in and says that Kingsbridge’s market was closed by Stephen because it was butting in on Shiring’s business, but Philip points out that the rule is markets have to be at least 14 miles apart. Shiring is 20 miles from Kingsbridge. Waleran makes a misstep by starting his next sentence with “Stephen nevertheless decided…” That, of course, sets Maud off, and she tells them that what Stephen decided is of no interest to them.

Maud also knows that Kingsbridge wants to take stone from the quarry, which William says he closed in retaliation for Kingsbridge’s illegal market. Maud asks who owns the quarry, and Regan says that they do, but Stephen told Kingsbridge they could help themselves to stone. Waleran points out that this was actually a really stupid setup to begin with, and Maud agrees. She gives the quarry to the Hamleighs on the condition they successfully negotiate the release of Gloucester. But Kingsbridge does get its market.

Everyone seems relieved and satisfied, but the new empress isn’t quite done. Her son whispers something to her and she informs her audience that Henry wants a present from everyone, and she wants one too—£100 each, another fairly huge sum to have to come up with on short notice.

Philip’s stressing about the money, which he can’t borrow, because he’d never be able to pay it back with interest, so Francis asks if there’s a merchant who benefits from the market who might be willing to fork over the cash for a while. That sets Philip’s mind humming, and of course he finally remembers Aliena, who does kind of owe him one.

Back in Kingsbridge, Aliena enters her house to find Martha, who leaps into her arms and joyfully announces that Jack’s alive! Aliena hugs Martha back, her face inscrutable.

Philip and Jack ride into the priory’s courtyard as the monks and workmen come running to greet them after their ordeal. Martha is there and greets Jack enthusiastically while Philip fondly kisses little Jonathan on the head and is welcomed by the monks. Off to the side, Remigius takes in the scene and slithers away.

Apparently, almost being killed and living to tell the tale gets you a party at the priory. That night, music is playing, people are dancing around a bonfire, and the ale, one imagines, is flowing freely. Jack dances with Martha for a while, until her dad comes along to spoil her fun by taking her away from her crush to dance with her himself. Inside the church, Philip’s strolling with Aliena and asking her for the £100 he needs to appease Maud. She tells him she’d happily lend him the cash, but she needs it to buy the following year’s wool. He won’t be able to pay her back in time.

The gears start working in Philip’s head and he suggests he sell her next year’s wool ahead of time. He doesn’t have it now, but he will in the spring. She’ll pay him for it now by handing over the £100 and in the spring he’ll give her the priory’s wool. Her business savvy kicks in and she tells him she’ll have to offer him a lower price for it, since the price only goes up in the spring, but Philip doesn’t care because having the money now would mean they could have the market, keep everyone employed through the winter, and keep building the cathedral. Everyone wins!

Aliena suggests they take things one step further—in addition to their market, Shiring also has an annual fleece fair, which is where Aliena makes most of her money. Why not hold one at Kingsbridge to compete? She could tempt some of the big buyers there, Kingsbridge would make way more money than they already do with the regular market, and it would break the Hamleighs’ back. Man, is this girl kicking the hornet’s nest or what? Also, isn’t she worried that once she gets the earldom back for Richard it’ll be kind of worthless? Or, at least, worth far less than it used to be? They still have the quarry, but if the town of Shiring shrivels up, that’s got to be a big chunk taken out of the purse, right? Just wondering.

Philip’s excited about the idea of having a fleece fair and pissing off William. “He’ll be mad as a bull!” he says happily. Yes, and there’s not a damn thing William can do about it, Aliena says rather naively.

Business concluded, Aliena heads out to the party and welcomes Jack home. He thanks her for the welcome, and then grabs her and they start dancing. She’s smiling and happy, but at one point, he lifts her, and she looks down at him in a way I’m guessing was supposed to be ‘astonished and love-struck’ but which came across more as ‘I’m about to vomit on you’. Strange. Alfred looks on jealously from a nearby table.

Jack wanders to the periphery of the party, where Ellen hops out of a hiding place and hugs him tightly. “I knew you weren’t dead!” she says tenderly. Wow, he couldn’t even spare the time to go visit his mother and tell her he’s all right? Kinda douchy, if you ask me. Anyway, he grins and hugs her, while Tom watches from a little distance away.

Jack returns to stonecarving duty, grinning as he either fantasizes about or remembers some playful moments with Aliena. Philip observes him carving yet another gargoyle.

The time has come for the prisoner exchange. In a dark dungeon somewhere, Stephen’s captors lead him forward and are met halfway by Richard, a bunch of nameless soldiers, and a small blonde child. Stephen’s handed over to Richard, and the kid’s given to Walter, William’s right-hand thug. You’d think the complete lack of emotion Stephen showed when the kid that was supposedly his was handed over would have tipped off someone on Maud’s side, but I guess not. As Richard cuts the ropes binding Stephen’s hands, Stephen asks him who the kid was, and Richard says it was Stephen’s son. Or, at least, that’s what the enemy is supposed to think.

Maud greets Gloucester with relief as the courtiers applaud. Off to the side, Waleran remarks that war will start up again, and chaos will come with it. Regan doesn’t see how that would benefit them, and Waleran points out that when everything’s chaotic in a big way, you can get away with quite a lot.

As Waleran predicted, the war starts right back up again. We head back to the battlefield, where men hack and stab each other mercilessly. Back in Winchester, Maude stomps and screams about being betrayed and rages at Francis about Stephen starting the fighting up again, and does he honestly think they’ll hesitate to kill his kid? Francis is the one who has to break the news that the kid they have isn’t Stephen’s. He is, in fact, a farmer’s son who now misses his pigs. You know, they could have avoided this very easily during the prisoner exchange if one of Maud’s people had asked the boy a question in Norman French. That was a language known almost exclusively by the nobility in England at that time; there’s no way a farmer’s child would have known it. The real Eustace would have, though. Coulda, woulda, shoulda.

Waleran chimes in that the boy resembled the real Eustace so much he even fooled Waleran, but Maud’s beyond caring at this point. The woman who claims to love her own son so much orders Walter to kill the boy anyway, to show Stephen that they keep their promises. Excuse me? Your promises to slaughter innocent farmer children? Yeah, that’ll make you popular. What a coldhearted bitch. Francis looks horrified, and even Waleran looks grossed out. We next catch up with him sitting at a desk and taking out a small box filled with nails. As Walter approaches the boy’s room, where the child is fast asleep, Waleran removes his shoes, places the nails in them, and replaces them on his feet. Walter takes his time, looking down at the boy as he unsheathes a dagger. Waleran winces as he hobbles towards the altar in his room, and Walter finally does the deed, stabbing the kid and closing the curtains around the bed with a sharp jerk.

Elsewhere, the war rages on, and Richard writes his sister a letter. Stephen hopes to beat back Maud by spring, he says, and although he’s hopeful, he’s not exactly optimistic.

What spring does bring is work at the cathedral once again, after the long winter’s sleep. Philip walks the building site, and it quickly becomes clear that he’s in a pretty snippy mood as he tells Tom they started work late that day. Tom reminds him that it’s a bit difficult to get work done at all with no stone. Philip accuses Tom of wasting stone by giving too much of it to Jack for his gargoyles. Tom reminds Philip that the market will start bringing in money soon, so they can afford to buy stone again soon. Philip refuses to have his mood lifted and tells Tom that Maud’s getting her ass kicked, and what happens to their market license once she’s tossed off the throne? Tom has no answer for that, so Philip stomps off.

Alfred calls his father over to see a model of a vault he’s built, and he insists this means he could build a stone vault, but now Tom’s in a pretty stroppy mood himself and tells him, apparently not for the first time, that a stone vault is too heavy, and why doesn’t Alfred just listen?! He too stomps off and Alfred throws down his tools in frustration.

Meanwhile, Jack’s in a sunny mood, testing his gargoyle drainspouts as Philip wanders by. Philip asks him how many he’s made, and Jack tells him 16—they’re a bit of fun in God’s house. “What a waste,” says Prior Killjoy darkly before moving away.

Apparently that wasn’t enough to bust Jack’s mood, because he’s still pretty smiley later as he brings three cups of beer to the table he’s sharing with Tom and Alfred. Tom waves off Philip’s crappy mood as normal for the guy who’s footing the bill, and then he starts waxing rhapsodic about how he won’t be around to see the cathedral completed, and neither will Jack or Alfred, but he can teach them to carry on the building, and they, in turn, can teach and learn from their people.

Tom pats his wooden box of tools and tells the boys that this is all he has to pass along to his successor. They’re both his sons, and he’d love to split the tools, but apparently that’s not possible. He implores them to be friends, and then totally destroys that possibility by saying that whoever inherits his tools will be the one who best embodies his vision. You know, I like Tom, but what a completely boneheaded move. How could he not see that he was setting up a competition between these two in the very sentence following the one asking them why they couldn’t just get along? What was it Jack said a few episodes back? Love’s not a competition? Apparently, it is.

Jack looks like he’s taking all this to heart and is touched to be referred to by Tom as his son, but Alfred, of course, is jealous, and in the next scene he enters the cathedral with a heavy mallet and smashes the hell out of Jack’s gargoyles, bellowing that Jack’s not his brother. He pants over the pile of rubble and stone dust.

And where’s Tom all this time? Off in the woods with Ellen, getting laid and asking her to marry him. She giggles and says no. Seems she’s not the marrying kind.

Aliena has, surprisingly, returned to her swimming spot, though this time she’s reading fully clothed, which probably disappoints Jack, who sneaks up on her, scaring her enough to drop her book and pull a knife. She smiles in relief when she recognizes him and he takes a seat near her, asking what she’s reading. She hands him the book upside down, and he gives her a knowing look before turning it right side up and recognizing it. He tells Aliena that his mother used to tell him this story when he was a child, and she learned it from his father, who was a jongleur, a kind of traveling storyteller/entertainer.

Aliena asks if Jack knows other stories, and he tells her he does, but the best ones were the ones he made up. He starts to tell a fairly classic form of story—man is mortally wounded, dreams of his lady love, and is miraculously restored to life. It’s so classic, Aliena’s able to join in the storytelling, and towards the end Jack grabs her face and kisses her passionately. This time, she definitely starts to kiss him back, but once his hands start to wander, she has a horrible flashback of her rape at William’s hands, and she pushes Jack away, slaps him, and tells him never to touch her “there”. She hurries off, and Jack watches her go, bewildered, but if he was going to follow, he’s prevented by Martha’s arrival with the news that Alfred’s trashed all of Jack’s statues.

Not only did Alfred smash them, he also decided to take a nap amongst his handiwork. Jack arrives to find his statues in pieces and Alfred fast asleep. Jack grabs him and commences a beatdown, but Alfred recovers quickly, and the fight starts to get dirty. They upset a barrel of quicklime as they tussle, and then Alfred jumps up a ladder, throwing a bucket of water down on Jack. It reacts with the quicklime, which begins to sizzle dangerously close to Jack’s face. Jack hurries up the ladder after Alfred, and they start throwing each other around on the scaffolding, breaking important-looking supports and upsetting baskets filled with materials. The scaffolding starts to shake as other workers, monks, and Philip come running. The two boys roll off the scaffolding, landing safely on a tent below, but the scaffolding collapses, taking with it an entire arch on the cathedral. Yikes. The racket finally brings Tom out, but before he can intervene, Philip steps in and separates the two boys.

Tom’s being called to the carpet by Philip, who reminds him this is not the first time Jack and Alfred have caused problems on the site. Tom tries to make excuses, but Philip has no patience for this, and nor should he. They could have easily killed someone. Philip asks Tom how he’d handle this if they were just any workers, not his sons, and when Tom doesn’t answer, Philip tells him one of them has to go.

Back on the site, Alfred’s pacing back and forth, making the case that Jack’s only an apprentice, whereas Alfred’s a master stone mason, which makes him worth more. Plus, he’s Tom’s real son, while Jack’s just some random kid they picked up in the woods because Tom wanted to get laid. I’m paraphrasing a bit here.

Tom quietly tells Alfred he’ll have to pay a fine for the damage—a month’s wages. Alfred kicks and whines like a little bitch until Tom sends him away. Jack is looking so devastated and hurt by this that I just want to reach through my TV screen and give him a hug. I always forget how much I love Eddie Redmayne until I see him in something. Did you ever see him in The Good Shepherd? Talk about a character who needs a hug all the time. Tom tells him he’s sorry, not sounding very sincere at all, and Jack asks him why he picked Alfred over him. “He’s my son,” Tom says lamely. Oh, well then. Jack heartbreakingly reminds him that he was saying just the night before that Jack was his son too.

Tom softens a little, and then employs some slightly odd logic to the situation by saying that Philip will miss Jack more, because Jack is more talented than Alfred, so Philip will probably want him back at some point. Is Tom forgetting that Philip was saying just the day before that Jack’s carvings were a waste of stone?

Apparently Jack hasn’t, because he asks what Tom’s plan is if Philip doesn’t decide he wants him back after all? Tom, of course, has no answer for that, so Jack angrily pulls out the big guns and tells Tom he wouldn’t even have a job if it weren’t for Jack, because Jack was the one who burned down the old church. Tom’s face registers a few emotions over the next second or two, starting with ‘feeling guilty,’ and then apparently ending up on ‘asshole.’ “God forgive you, then,” says Tom. Fuck you, Tom! Was starving to death so great, cathedral dreamer? He gave you what you wanted and what you needed! This whole section of the book really enraged me too. Like I said, I like Tom, generally, but when it came to anything involving Alfred (who was even more of a thug in the book—if he were richer, he would have been William Hamleigh) what Tom needed was a good sharp kick in the pants.

Tom screams for Jack to get out, and Jack scurries away and I struggle not to punch my TV screen.

Tom’s hard at work on a piece of stone when he’s interrupted by little Jonathan, who asks if he can climb the cathedral. He wants to see Jack, who’s gone away and didn’t say goodbye. Ouch. Tom invites the kid to sit with him a while, and Jonathan does, giving a nice nod to his unknown parentage by playing with a little hammer and piece of stone throughout the whole scene. Tom explains that Jack went away because he hurt Alfred (What?! Tom, you dick!) Jonathan’s surprised to find out that Tom’s not Jack’s actual father, and Tom tells him he’s raising Jack (or was) the way Johnny Eightpence raises Jonathan. This gives Jonathan a chance to inform Tom that his mother’s dead, which Tom knows, of course, having been there and all. Jonathan looks sad for a second, then brightens up and asks Tom if he knows who his father is? Tom hesitates for a few moments, and then says no, who is it? God, of course, he’s everyone’s father, Jonathan answers. Tom manages to start breathing again and says yes, of course he is.

In the cave, Jack’s taking out his frustration on a stone wall, chiseling away as he tells his mother he’s planning to take off and go wherever someone’s building a cathedral. Ellen’s not delighted about the idea of her son traipsing the earth looking for stone to carve, so she hopefully suggests Philip will give in, like Tom says. But Jack knows Philip a bit better than everyone, it seems, and tells her Philip’s too stubborn—it’ll take witchcraft to change his mind. Well, how convenient his mother happens to be a suspect witch!

At the priory, Philip’s at prayer in his room when there’s a knock at the door. Thinking it’s Tom, he calls for him to come in, but it’s Ellen, of course, with Jack trailing behind her. Philip’s scandalized to see her there, but she’s a mom on a mission. Philip tries to draw her into a bit of a theological debate, saying he hates that she despises God, but she replies quite easily that she loves God, she just doesn’t worship her as Philip does. Philip frowns a bit at the unusual pronoun, and Jack gently reminds her she promised to be civil. Philip apparently decides to give that a go too, and invites them in and tells Jack to close the door.

Philip’s method of dealing with this issue is to take Jack on as an assistant, essentially putting him in charge of the cathedral project by making him Philip’s proxy on the site. Jack’s totally cool with that, but there’s a catch: he’ll have to become a monk. Ellen, naturally, is not a fan of this idea, but Jack sees that this is the only way he can stay on the project. He hesitates when Philip makes it clear there will be no more flirting with Aliena, but Philip can be persuasive, and the desire to stay is a strong one. Jack agrees, and we see him being bathed, putting on his robes, and joining the other monks at mass as Aliena and the other townspeople watch. Aliena turns and leaves, unable to see any more, and Alfred can barely hide his glee.

Word of the Kingsbridge fleece fair has reached Regan, and she’s gone right to Waleran’s palace to bitch about it. The fair will be in two weeks, which doesn’t give them much time to stop it. Instead of addressing her concerns, Waleran admires a ring Regan’s wearing, which apparently belonged to her father. She refuses to part with it, but Waleran reminds her that Maud is heading back to France, and Stephen’s back in charge, which is a bit inconvenient, because Stephen thinks the Hamleighs are with Maud now. But Stephen likes shiny things… Waleran holds out his hand expectantly and Regan hands over the ring, telling him to get Stephen to stop the fair. Waleran tells her the fair will start as planned, but it won’t end well, will it, William? William gets it, and grins in anticipation.

At Shiring Castle, William and Walter are preparing for battle in the creepiest way possible (Walter tells William he has a gift, for destruction, apparently, and then says “Let’s make your mother proud” as they prepare to leave. Ick.), while over in Kingsbridge the fair is in full swing, with firebreathers, fleeces galore, and crowds paying a modest entrance fee. A gaudily dressed and painted woman approaches Cuthbert and greets him as “brother dear.” He joyfully greets her as Kate, the sister he’s spoken of a couple of times. He asks if she’s come to be shriven, but no, she’s there to sell “her wares.” She pays her fee and skips off, leaving Cuthbert to sadly cross himself.

Tom and Philip are strolling through the fair and Philip casually asks if he didn’t see Ellen earlier? Tom answers that he did—she was in town to see Jack, but not Tom. She’s mad at Tom, for the whole situation with her son ending up a monk and all, and yeah, I can see why she’d be upset at Tom’s role in all that. Tom pleads with Philip on her behalf, telling him he can’t expect to convert everyone, but Philip’s happy enough to have Jack, who’s apparently doing a good job at the priory.

Ellen is off with Aliena, who’s folding some fleeces and happily talking about the profit she’ll be making from the fair. Talk turns to Jack, and Aliena remarks that he seems happy, which Ellen says is all a mother asks for, just as Jack approaches. Ellen goes full on concerned mommy on him, telling him he looks thinner, and tired, and then she turns into one of those horribly embarrassing mothers who starts to ask their sons about their sex lives right in front of the girl the kid has a crush on. Aliena can barely hold back her laughter when Ellen asks Jack if he at least gives himself a hand every once in a while. Jack’s mortified, of course, and even more so when Ellen tells him it’s unnatural if he doesn’t. Ellen’s awesome.

Kate approaches Philip and tells him she has a confession. When he turns to speak with her, she opens her shawl and reveals her bare breasts, to the mirth of the other prostitutes nearby. Philip is neither embarrassed nor amused, though, and he guesses she’s Kate, Cuthbert’s sister. What’s it to you? she asks him. He tells her Cuthbert loves her and prays for her daily. She’s a knife in his heart. Maybe he should have showed a bit more concern when he left her with no other way to feed herself when he joined the monastery. Just saying.

Oh God, a bear baiting. I can barely even watch this part, but here goes. A bear is in a cage in the middle of a large ring of shouting men placing bets. A few men are poking the poor animal, which roars in confusion, fear, pain, and misery while a nearby pack of dogs barks and strains to be let off their leashes to attack. I will never understand the type of sport that relies solely on one animal tearing another to pieces and essentially torturing it to death. Little Jonathan wanders around, taking in the scene curiously, but when he gets a little too close to the bear, someone reaches out and grabs the hood on the miniature monk’s robe he’s wearing and pulls him back to safety. It’s Tom, of course, and after he explains the whole horrible process to the kid, he steers him away, telling him he has a surprise for him.

I’m guessing that surprise is not the large crowd of knights and men at arms currently galloping towards the town.

Nope—it’s a chance to finally climb to the top of the cathedral. The little boy marvels that he can see everywhere—London! The ocean! Heaven! As it turns out, Tom has an ulterior motive for dragging a six-year-old up here. He wants to spill the beans about being Jonathan’s dad, which seems like kind of a poor idea, at this kid’s age. It would probably just confuse him, and really doesn’t do Jonathan any good, which means it’s primarily selfish. Tom’s self-serving confession, however, is interrupted when Jonathan points out the dangerous-looking mob of men in armor on horses approaching the fair at top speed.

Tom and Jonathan hurry back to earth, where Tom finds Ellen, hands Jonathan over to her, and tells her to get inside because William’s about to rain down hell. He yells for everyone to get inside the priory, and mayhem begins. He actually has to drag stupid Alfred away from the bear baiting (Alfred wanted to stay because he had already bet sixpence) just as the men on horses cross the bridge. They start slashing at people and tossing torches into piles of fleeces, which go up like tinder, as you can imagine. The fair attendants run in fear, except for Aliena, who tries to cling to her wool until she’s dragged away by Jack, who throws her into a nearby storage shed with a bunch of other fairgoers and tells everyone to stay there.

Others have made it to the priory, where they find the doors locked, and to the church, where they find the same problem. Philip comes running up to the door of the priory to find Remigius and a few other monks have barred it to keep the people out. Remigius tells Philip there’s some sort of riot going on and Philip demands they open the door, tossing the man aside when he doesn’t obey. The people flood in in a panic and Philip gets his first horrified look at the burning fair.

Tom has made it to the church, and he claws through the crowd to get to the door, which he unlocks through a side panel. A few workmen finally manage to take matters into their own hands, dragging one of the men-at-arms off his horse and stomping the shit out of him. Way to go, workers!

Back at the storage shed, Aliena spots William setting her wool on fire through a crack in the door, and she goes running out, although what does she think she’s going to do, drag hundreds of pounds of wool to safety? She apparently hasn’t thought that far and just looks on helplessly until William arrives to make her day a little worse. He knocks her over and circles her on her horse as she tries to escape, panicked. Finally, he drops his flaming torch onto her dress, saying “Burn, witch,” and rides away. Aliena screams as her skirt bursts into flame, but Alfred comes running over to put the fire out. This must have been the days before stop, drop, and roll.

The crowd has mostly dispersed, seeking safety in the priory or the church, and now it’s just Tom Builder facing down William at the church door. William’s on a horse, which gives him a major advantage, and he charges and gives Tom a good knock to the noggin with the hilt of his sword. Tom reels and falls, just as Jack arrives and charges William, trying to intervene. William takes him out with a hard stomach blow with the sword hilt and tells him not to meddle. He gives Jack a kick for good measure that seems to knock him out. Tom’s now lying in a pool of dark blood, looking a little confused. As William stands over him, Tom manages to focus on the rising walls of his cathedral, just as William stabs him with the sword, mounts up, and gallops off. Jack comes to, and inside the church, Ellen turns, her sixth sense going crazy again. She runs out to the church porch to see Jack bending over the prone body of the only father he ever knew.

Well done, show, better than last week, despite all the unpleasant moments with Tom. Can’t wait for part 6!



3 thoughts on “Pillars of the Earth Episode 4 Recap: Legacy

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