The Tudors: Below the Belt

Previously on The Tudors: In a real hot mess of an episode, Henry married a teenage bimbo who was pretty much only charming to him, a toddler, and an exceptionally creepy groom.

Wow, a party straight off the bat. This might be a new record on the Start to Party meter. Kate, of course, is out dancing merrily, along with Seymour and his wife, who takes a second to eye Surrey, who’s watching the dancers.

From the balcony, Culpeper and Lady Rochford are also watching. Culpeper comments that Kate seems like a happy person, always dancing and partying. Lady R says she has every reason to be happy, since Henry spoils the hell out of her. Culpeper says that Henry’s pretty peppy these days too—up early, hunting, etc. Culpeper, gazing down at Kate, says she’s very appealing, but Lady R is under no illusions about her new employer and tells him Kate’s a fool. Nice to know somebody besides Mary noticed. Culpeper turns his attention to Lady R, commenting that it’s been a while since her husband died, and yet she hasn’t remarried. Down below, the dance ends and everyone applauds.

Henry’s at work in his study, signing documents and the like. Charles comes in and Henry excitedly shows him a medal he’s had struck to celebrate his new marriage. Around the outer edge, it says “My rose without a thorn” in Latin. Henry asks how Anne of Cleves is doing and Charles reports that she’s doing quite well and is happy. She’s also kept up her relationships with Mary and Elizabeth and has them over to dine often. Henry kind of grunts and tells his secretary, Risley, to write to Anne and thank her for being such a good little ex-wife. Henry asks after Duchess Kate, and Charles tells him she seems to love him a little better, but only for the sake of appearances. Henry sighs and asks Charles if there’s anything he can do to help. Charles suggests he strike a medal to commemorate the day she agrees to have sex with Charles again. Henry chuckles.

Back at the party, Surrey’s now dancing with Anne Seymour and asking her why she never called or anything after they slept together. Maybe she’s just not that into you? She smiles and asks him what he wants. He says he wants her to oblige him and accommodate his desire. She turns him down flat, so he tries the “don’t you know who I am?” gambit. She does, but she doesn’t care, since her husband’s pretty powerful too. Surrey insults Seymour’s allegedly low birth (and, by association, insults her) and then ditches her in the middle of the dance floor. She stalks off to pout, instead of being glad she’s gotten rid of such a selfish and childish oaf.

Culpeper, meanwhile, is dancing with Kate while Lady R glares daggers at the pair of them. Way to be subtle, Lady R. I swear, this court is more and more like high school all the time.

Seymour heads in to Henry’s study, where Henry immediately mourns his inability to dance anymore. His seemingly good humor dissipates in an instant as she tosses a sheaf of papers at Seymour and growls that he’s got too much to do, now that he’s gone and executed the man who used to take care of everything while Henry partied. Proving once again that he’s possibly slightly bipolar, he swings right from that to asking about Prince Edward. Seymour reports that Eddie’s doing well and hopefully will soon be followed by other princes. Henry snorts, and then names Seymour Lieutenant General of the North, responsible for dealing with the Scots who have been agitating along the border. Seymour accepts the commission (what else can he do?).

Later, Henry’s having some very energetic sex with his wife while Joan and Lady R listen in. Joan giggles but Lady R’s still in a snit and asks Joan to spill more secrets about Kate’s past. Joan refuses to say anything for about a second, then tells her all about two guys, Francis Dereham and Edward Walgrave, who used to come to her and Kate’s room at night and have sex with him—Joan with Walgrave and Kate with Dereham. Lady R is somewhat scandalized but Joan tries to explain away Kate’s behavior by saying she and Dereham had promised to marry each other. Joan begs Lady R not to tell anyone what she just said, and Lady R promises.

Out in the city, Surrey and a couple of his guys walk down the narrow, crowded streets, shoving random people for absolutely no reason at all and making a ruckus. Sometimes, this show gets a little too close to being a Monty Python sketch, and this is one of those moments. Surrey ignores some prostitutes who ply him for business, slapping one of them across the face as one of his buddies throws something through a window. The hell? Are they trying to incite a riot or something? What’s their problem? Eventually, the prostitutes and other people on the street gather and get Surrey and his guys cornered while they yell incoherently at them. The three men look confused, like they have no idea why they’re being treated like this.

At court, Risley’s telling Henry that Surrey’s been jailed for public disorder. Nice to hear that they got some police out on the street in the wake of that stabbing incident last season. Henry, who appears to be overseeing some building project at Whitehall, has heard all about it—Surrey apparently called himself the scourge of God and called London a shameless whore. Uh, ok. Is Surrey going crazy now? What brought that on? Plus, it’s pretty rich for him to be calling anything a shameless whore, isn’t it? Surrey, it seems, is also accused of eating meat during Lent, having obtained it on the black market through some Protestant connections. Henry’s surprised to hear Surrey has Protestant leanings, since “his father was closer to a papist.” Closer to a papist? The Dukes of Norfolk have always been (and remain) very Roman Catholic. Risley suggests he and Rich “examine” Surrey on these matters. Henry realizes quickly that examine = torture and tells them to release him instead. Risley and Rich head off, disappointed. As they go, Henry calls after them to invite Mary and Anne of Cleves to court for the Christmas and New Year celebrations.

In her rooms, Kate and the Tri-Delts watch snow fall with amazed expressions on their faces, like they’ve never seen such a thing before. Lady R comes in to tell her that her Christmas presents from Henry have arrived. Two grooms enter, carrying a stretcher with cloth and jewels on it. Kate and the Tri-Delts run over to admire the bounty, and I swear, one of them actually says: “It’s so shiny!” Wow, these women are wastes of space, aren’t they? One of the gifts is a fur stole that Joan hyperventilates over. Lady R sing-songs that Henry spoils Kate, and she says she knows, but isn’t she worth it? Not really, no.

Henry takes Kate out to the gardens, which have been very poorly dressed to make it seem like it’s winter, telling her there are more presents to be had. Kate giggles excitedly as he leads her to that big fountain these characters used to walk around a lot in seasons past. Waiting for them are some lovely horses that were sent by Anne of Cleves. Kate’s surprised to hear that Anne sent presents, and is also poutily surprised that Anne’s going to be coming for Christmas. Her good mood now spoiled a bit, she walks away as Henry admires the horses, and grouses that she hopes Mary will be more gracious. I wouldn’t count on it, dearie.

At Christmastime proper, the court is gathered in the great hall for Mary’s arrival. She enters and curtsies gracefully to Henry, who greets her and prompts her to say hi to Kate, who’s standing at his side. She does so, frostily, of course, and then turns her attention back to Henry to thank him for his gifts. Kate’s face falls, whether at the cool greeting or because Henry gave someone besides her something is unclear. Henry calls Charles over and hands Mary off to him, then returns to his throne. Kate rolls her eyes like a teenager, then flops down and slouches in her throne like a child. God, can someone just slap this girl already? I hate her so much. I think it would have been so much more interesting if she’d been played less like an obnoxious, childish brat and more like a young girl hopelessly out of her depth who’s trying, but ends up making some foolish choices, as we all did, at that age.

Charles delivers Mary to some friends, and then wanders into some alcove, where he finds Anne of Cleves, looking in at the festivities, unnoticed. She’s wearing a dress that looks really familiar—I think it might have been recycled from Anne Boleyn’s wardrobe. Makes sense, since she’s living in Anne’s house and all now. Charles greets her politely, and she brings up the time he taught her to play cards. She thanks him for doing so, since she’s now won a fortune, thanks to his tuition. Charles laughs, then takes her hand to escort her in to the party. Everyone bows as she passes, and Kate glances at Henry with some trepidation. Henry welcomes Anne with a kiss on each cheek and introduces her to Katherine. Anne greets Kate with all the deference Kate no doubt thinks she deserves, thus winning Kate over immediately. Anne’s a smart one; she knows how to play her cards in more than one way.

Mary glances away from the ladies she’s chatting with and notices Chapuys limping in with the aid of a cane. She asks him what’s wrong and he tells her he’s got a bit of gout. She immediately urges him to sit and settles down beside him. She tells him he’s always been her most faithful friend, and she couldn’t bear it if he were to ever leave England. Mary glances at the dais at the front of the room, where Anne’s now seated beside Henry, and tells Chapuys that she doesn’t think Henry should have ever divorced Anne, because Mary thinks she’s pretty great, now that she knows Anne better. Chapuys probably agrees, but diplomatically tells Mary she’s going to have to reconcile herself to Henry’s new marriage. Mary refuses to do so, and Chapuys observes that she doesn’t seem to need his advice anymore.

Tom Seymour catches up with his sister-in-law and asks her how his brother’s doing. She tells him he’s fine, but cold and wet, because it apparently always rains up north. Anne says Seymour plans to punish the Scots for being so annoying, and then wishes Tom would be more like him. Tom asks her what she means by that, and she tells him that Seymour always takes what he wants. She gives him a flirty smile before disappearing into the crowd.

Henry rises and excuses himself, pleading exhaustion, but tells Anne and Kate to stay and enjoy the dancing and some camaraderie. Henry leaves, trailed by Culpeper, pausing a moment to bid good night to Mary. Anne and Kate retake their seats and Kate calls for more wine. There’s some awkwardness between the two, because Kate clearly has no idea what to say to this woman, so Kate asks about Elizabeth, which gets Anne talking. Kate also calls for yet more wine, taking the whole pitcher from the groom, because I guess her goblet’s not getting filled fast enough. Anne tells Kate that she has no plans to remarry, which means she won’t have kids, so she views Elizabeth as a sort of daughter. Kate smiles and they clink goblets and get back to drinking.

In his room, Henry removes the bandage from his gross leg sore, bellowing in pain as he does so. Culpeper starts to rebandage it, which just causes more pain for a while, but as he massages the leg, the pain seems to ease a bit. Culpeper, stepping way out of his bounds, asks Henry why he invited Anne to court. Henry tells Culpeper that he actually likes Anne, because she keeps her promises. Then he ruffles Culpeper’s hair like a child.

Back at the party, Anne watches the dancers while Kate stares kind of vacantly. Maybe she’s a little drunk. Anne takes her hand and invites her out onto the dance floor. They dance together, which for some reason seems to piss off Mary, who gets up and stalks out of the room.

Henry’s in bed, wide awake, listening to the distant sounds of the music from the great hall.

Later, most of the guests are gone and the servants are cleaning up. Lady R watches them from the balcony, quite tipsy. She’s joined by Culpeper, who pours her more wine and asks her what Joan told her. Lady R spills all. Culpeper gets a look on his face, like he’s totally playing out the whole scenario in his head like porn, and then he pulls Lady R towards him and starts to make out with her.

Anne Seymour’s getting ready for bed when Tom comes in and tells her he’s there to take what he wants, like his brother does. She tells him she might call her servants, but he knows she won’t, because she hates her husband, just as Tom hates him. He does? Why? Since when? We’ve seen no evidence of this. She goes to slap him, but he catches her hand, and she just looks sad for a while as he starts to kiss her face, and then commences making out with her. It’s a big night for that at the palace. She invites him to come into her bed and “enjoy what [his] brother enjoys.” She then creepily says it’ll be interesting to compare the two, and for some reason, that does not turn him off.

The next day, Mary’s saying her rosary in her room. One of her ladies reluctantly interrupts her to say that Kate’s there. Mary manages not to roll her eyes, just rises and goes to greet her stepmother, who’s brought the Tri-Delts and is trying out various poses in an attempt to look firm or intimidating or something. Mary puts her rosary aside and curtsies to Kate. Kate, with no grace at all, demands to know why Mary won’t show her the respect due a Queen of England. I think she has it wrong there. Mary is showing her the respect due to a Queen, she’s just not showing anything more, like warmth or a desire to get to know her, and I don’t blame her one bit. I don’t want to know this dingbat either.  Kate bitches about Mary showing respect to Anne of Cleves, despite the fact that Anne is just a private person and worth nothing.

Mary informs Kate that Anne is most certainly due respect, since she carries herself with dignity and modesty. As she’s saying this, Kate fidgets and slouches childishly, dressed in a garish gown and headdress. Point taken, show. Mary adds that Anne seems to desire nothing more than to please the king. Kate asks her if she doesn’t think Kate wants the same thing? Mary hits the nail on the head and says that Kate clearly desires nothing more than selfish pleasure, and that some people might think that frivolous in the consort of a king. Listen up, Kate, the girl’s actually giving you some decent advice, here, and she’s not being nearly as bitchy about it as she could be. Kate sassily asks Mary why the king married her, if he thought her frivolous. There’s a hilariously funny pause there, and then Mary says that Kate is believed to be capable of bearing more sons. What a neat way to tell her she’s just a sex object. Mary’s next comment is a misstep, though. She tells Kate Henry will tire of her soon. That just pisses Kate off, so she goes for the lowest blow possible. She spits that Mary’s just jealous of her. Mary manages not to laugh right in her face, but she stiffens when Kate goes on to remind Mary that she’s older than Kate, and still unmarried. She glances back at the Tri-Delts for backup, and they obligingly giggle. Ouch. You little bitch.

Mary asks her how she dares to speak to her that way, and Kate brattily says she dares because she can. Mary’s ladies flinch at the scene, and Kate looks over at them and tells Mary she’ll be removing two of Mary’s ladies, as punishment for her lack of respect. Hate!

At dinner, Henry makes out with Kate, who’s sitting on his lap, while Culpeper watches and looks kind of grossed out. Proving that she’s seriously the most obliging ex-wife ever, Anne toasts the couple and wishes them well. Kate thanks her, and finally returns to her own seat, telling Anne she’s happier than she’s ever been. Henry tells his wife he has a gift for her. Culpeper hands over a box, which Henry hands to Kate. It contains a huge ring, which she loves, of course. It’s shiny! Another groom then comes in with a pair of Cavalier King Charles spaniels, which I guess are Henry’s fallback gift for wives now. Kate gets all excited, because they’re cute, and offers one of them to Anne, with Henry’s permission. Anne’s struck by her generosity and accepts one of the pups, cuddling it affectionately.

In Mary’s rooms, the atmosphere is less celebratory. She and her ladies are packing as Chapuys comes in and asks her what she’s doing. She informs him she’s going back to the country, two maids shorter. Chapuys tells her that if she could find some small way to appease Kate the maids would probably reappear. Just send her a mirror or something, Mary, it’ll keep her busy forever. Mary stands her ground, but then bursts into tears. Chapuys gently asks her what Kate said and Mary tells him the whole story. Even Chapuys thinks Kate was out of line, even if what she said was true. He sits down next to Mary and brings her in for a hug. Awww, I really like the relationship between these two. It’s one of the most genuine on this show ever. And thankfully they never cheapened it by making Mary have a creepy crush on him or anything.

Culpeper heads into Kate’s rooms with a “hey, there” message from Henry. She invites him to sit down with her and Culpeper tells her that the campaign against the Scots is going well. She couldn’t care less, and doesn’t even know anything about it. She plays with a magnifying glass for a bit and asks if there’s anything else he needs to tell her. Culpeper produces an enormous book and tells her the author wants to dedicate it to her. She grabs it and hesitantly reads out the title: The Birth of Mankind. Culpeper informs her it’s the first volume on midwifery to be written in English. Kate examines some of the illustrations and giggles at woodcut scenes of women giving birth. Culpeper chuckles, but he doesn’t seem to know exactly what’s supposed to be so funny.

Later, Culpeper’s in bed with Lady R, having sex in the way only people in movies and TV shows do—loudly and energetically for a bit, and then finishing fast and rolling right off. It’s totally unsexy. He immediately spoils the mood by talking about Kate and how much he wants to bang her, and Lady R turns away from him, hurt. After a moment, though, she turns back to him and offers to help hook him up with Kate, for some reason. Maybe she’s suicidal. As thanks, he starts having sex with her again.

Charles hurries through the corridors to Henry’s rooms, where Henry’s writhing on his bed, screaming in pain, surrounded by physicians. Charles stupidly asks how bad it is. The guy’s screaming in pain, Charles, you could hear it all the way down the hallway, how bad do you think it is? One of the doctors says it’s Henry’s leg again, and they have to drain it or he may die. We get a very brief shot of the leg, and it looks pretty bad. The doctor asks for forgiveness, picks up a scalpel, and digs into the leg as Henry recommences screaming.

Later, Henry’s resting more or less comfortably as the doctors quietly discuss the situation. The leg’s worse than it’s ever been, it seems.

Presumably a few days (possibly even weeks) after, Henry manages to limp into his study for a meeting with the mini council, which seems to consist of Bishop Gardiner, Charles, Rich, and the Seymours. Henry tells them he’s very disappointed in them, because even though he’s treated them all very well indeed, he’s pretty sure they’re all lying to him all the time and plotting against him. OK, looks like Paranoid Henry is back. I’m not sure that I mentioned this, but I’ve heard that some historians believe the knock he got on the head during that joust some years back (which did happen in actual history) may have actually caused some of his crazy behavior and paranoia in later years.

Anyway, Henry says he mourns the loss of Cromwell, which gets him surprised looks from the others. He tells them Cromwell was the most faithful servant he ever had (probably true), and the others persuaded Henry to have the guy put to death. As we all know, nothing is ever Henry’s fault. With that, he gets up and stumps out of the room.

Kate’s pacing back and forth while the Tri-Delts play cards in her room. Culpeper comes in and tells her Henry still can’t see her, but he sends his love and a bag of cash. Kate whines that it’s been days since she last saw Henry and did she offend him in some way? She asks Culpeper if Henry’s taken a mistress, but Culpeper’s lips stay zipped, so she angrily sends him away. Culpeper remains and tells her he would do anything in the world to make her happy. She looks up at him and they have a Meaningful Moment, then Culpeper bows and leaves.

Lady R rises and sends the Tri-Delts away, and follows them, after exchanging a look and a nod with Joan. Once it’s just Joan and Kate, Joan tells Kate that Culpeper’s in love with her. Kate seems surprised to hear it. Joan sells it hard, telling Kate that Culpeper dreams of her and is desperately in love. With a smile, she skips off, leaving Kate to her thoughts.

Surrey, who I really haven’t missed at all this episode, is sitting at a table in the great hall, penning something or other. Seymour and his wife come in, and when Seymour catches sight of Surrey, he tells his wife that Surrey’s written a poem about them. Nice nod to Surrey’s poetic passion. The poem’s not flattering, unsurprisingly, and accuses Anne of trying to trap him. Anne glances back at Surrey, looking wounded. Well, he’s not wrong, lady. You kind of did set out to trap him, and then dropped him once you were done. The truth hurts, huh?

Culpeper’s tending to Henry, who’s still in bed, now apparently suffering from a fever. Culpeper bathes his face, and then sits by the bed to keep vigil as Henry shivers violently.

In her own bed, Kate thrashes dramatically in the grips of a dream. She wakes and remembers some of Culpeper’s flirtier moments.

It’s a rainy day. Kate, bored, is playing cards with Lady R, who tells her that Culpeper wants to visit her privately. Kate tells her that wouldn’t be possible, but Lady R says it’s totally possible. After all, Dereham did. It would be a special secret, just between her and Kate and Culpeper. Kate smiles and seems to seriously consider it. After a minute, she asks Lady R if it could really happen.

Later, Joan leads Culpeper through the corridors to Kate’s rooms. Once there, he goes into the bedroom, where she’s waiting for him (fully dressed, just in case you’re curious). In his own room, Henry manages to get out of bed and goes to the window, where he looks out at the full moon.

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