Previously on The Tudors: Henry declared war on France, kicked Scotland’s ass, and proposed to wife number 6, Katherine Parr.
Henry tells his council they’re moving forward with the invasion of France. He names Charles commander of the armies, which seems to piss off Seymour a bit. He also informs everyone that one of the Emperor’s most trusted generals will be paying Henry’s court an unofficial visit soon.
Wedding! Henry weds Katherine, who recites her vows in a slightly shaky voice. She can barely even bring herself to look at him and seems to be on the verge of tears the whole time. Nonetheless, she gets through the vows and the ring exchange and officially becomes Henry’s sixth wife. Henry escorts her down the aisle, past Mary and Elizabeth, who are there with the rest of the court.
At dinner, Henry and Katherine are served by a new lady-in-waiting, Lady Herbert, whom Katherine warmly refers to as “sister”. Katherine delicately brings up the subject of Henry’s kids, saying she means to be a good stepmom to all three children, and asks Henry’s permission to bring them all to court so they can be a family. Henry readily agrees to that, and he agrees to consider giving Elizabeth permanent rooms at court. Henry then tells her he has gifts for her. Do they include the same dog he gave his last two wives? Katherine thanks him politely. We don’t get to see the gifts, but I’m guessing it’s more giant jewelry.
Charles, who for some reason now appears to be sporting a Chonmage that does him no favors, is looking over the weapons being stockpiled for the invasion. Naturally, those weapons include a rifle that I’m fairly certain didn’t exist yet. Tom Seymour (who’s been recalled from Brussels) and Surrey show up to be told they’re being given important commissions on the field. Charles draws Tom aside and asks if it’s true his older brother isn’t too excited about the war. Tom admits that’s the case, and it’s because Seymour worries about Henry dying in France and leaving the kingdom to chaos. Reasonable fear. Surrey asks how Henry’s doing, because he’s heard rumors Henry’s been unwell, but Charles says he’s just dandy.
Later, Surrey strides into the throne room and presents the Emperor’s general, a duke. Henry welcomes the man and says he hopes he’s having a good time. He has, apparently, having already taken in tours of the Tower and the palace gardens, as well as a couple of shows that involved animal abuse. Chapuys steps in and tells Henry the Duke just wants to be told one more time that Henry will uphold his promise to invade France. Henry irritably says he’s already given his word on that matter, and what more can he do? They’re forced to be content with that.
That evening, the Duke is presented to Katherine and Mary at a banquet attended by the whole court. Katherine welcomes him graciously and introduces Mary, who speaks to him in Spanish, truly her mother’s daughter.
The courtiers begin to dance; the Duke is paired with Katherine. The French ambassador sidles up to Chapuys and tells him there’s talk of war, and then suddenly the Duke shows up at court. Uh, ambassador? There’s more than talk. They declared war on you formally in the last episode. Did I miss something?
Chapuys insists the Duke’s visit is private and unofficial, and the Duke’s just there to visit the Tower. The ambassador’s not stupid, though.
On the sidelines, Elizabeth begs the lady sitting near her to let her dance. The lady says fine, so Elizabeth busts into the dance, presumably stealing someone else’s partner, because I didn’t see any other gentlemen jump in with her. This episode is just full of random and pointless moments, it seems.
Gardiner, who’s lurking in a dark corner as befits creepy types, asks Risley what he knows about Katherine’s religious beliefs. Risley assumes they’re the same as Henry’s but Gardiner doubts it, and he intends to prove that she’s a secret Protestant, because he’s kind of a dick that way.
Lady Herbert hurries over to Katherine and whispers something in her ear. Katherine immediately leaves and heads into Henry’s room, where the doctor tells her the leg’s in a bad way again. Katherine goes into his bedroom and unwraps the leg, which is really gross. Katherine, who so recently nursed her last husband, doesn’t even blanch as she orders up a poultice, which she applies as gently as possible. Henry still groans in pain. She tells servants to bring her bed to Henry’s room, so she can look after him properly.
In a field somewhere, Charles observes the soldiers’ training and waxes nostalgic about the last French war. He’s less excited about this war, partly because he already knows how devastating the new firearms are going to be. One of the soldiers fires an excellent shot, and then another, earning congratulations from Charles. The soldier’s name is Richard Leland—I’m assuming that’ll be important at some point.
Leland steps aside to give someone else a turn and an eager beaver young man immediately introduces himself as Harry. Harry, like, I’m sure, plenty of other soldiers, isn’t a soldier at all but a farm laborer. He’s so dead, right?
At the palace, Lady Herbert announces Edward to her sister, who’s alone in her room, reading. The little boy is brought in and bows to her before formally thanking her for some gifts she and Henry sent. Katherine greets him warmly and tells him that Henry’s feeling much better. Edward takes a moment, then says he guesses Henry must love him, because if he didn’t, he wouldn’t give him such nice things. Even this little kid realizes Henry equates expensive gifts with love. Katherine gets down on Edward’s level and reassures him Henry loves him lots and wishes he could see Edward more often. Edward thanks her, bows, and leaves.
Henry limps into the council room and accuses the council of not moving preparations for war along fast enough. He wants to go recapture his youth, dammit! Rich tells Henry that everything’s ready except for the ships that have to be built by hand, which will be in port within the month. Not good enough for Henry. Henry asks Charles about maps of the area they’ll be invading and learns there are no maps to be had, so they’ll have to rely on a single French spy. That seems like a really bad idea, even to me. Henry, naturally, throws a little tantrum and tells the council they won’t wait for the ships, they’ll just go to France (and….how do you plan to do that without the ships?) and start killing. Surrey and Tom Seymour awesomely look at Henry like he’s totally crazy. Henry goes on to say that Katherine will act as regent while he’s in France, an announcement that definitely gets Gardiner’s attention. Henry reminds everyone that they’re going to France to retake his rightful inheritance, not just on a joyride.
After the meeting, everyone except Rich and Gardiner leave, and Rich immediately starts moaning about Henry leaving Katherine in charge, despite the fact that she has no knowledge of matters of state. How do you know that, Rich? Have you asked her? It wasn’t an uncommon thing for a queen to be left in charge when her husband went off to war—Katherine of Aragon did it several times.
Henry meets with Katherine in her rooms to say goodbye and to tell her that she’s in charge now. He also announces that Mary and Elizabeth, who are there as well, have been formally reinstated in the line of succession. Mary gets teary with joy and worry for her father. Henry comforts her and kisses her gently on the forehead, then moves on to Elizabeth and asks her to write to him while he’s away. He goes back to Katherine, takes her hands, and tenderly bids her farewell. As soon as he’s gone, Katherine goes to her stepdaughters and takes their hands.
Henry and his boys arrive in France, and Henry’s mounted on a horse draped in what looks like gold lamé. Seriously. I know it’s probably supposed to be gold chain mail or something, but the horse looks like it just stepped out of a Vegas show. Talk about pimping your ride. He and Surrey ride to the top of a ridge overlooking the English encampment and the castle they’re going to try and take. They’re soon joined by Charles, who tells him the port is blockaded and they’ve already taken some of the town. Henry can’t wait to start fighting and playing with his new, noisy artillery toys.
He, Surrey, and Charles parade through the camp as the soldiers cheer loudly. The camera switches from Henry to Richard and Harry, the two soldiers put here to humanize the real peoples’ experience of this battle. Harry’s freaking out like a tween who’s just seen Justin Bieber. Richard’s a bit more blasé about the king riding by. Henry starts delivering a speech to whip everyone up, and we’re treated to a re-use of the same shot from the top of the ridge we saw about 20 seconds earlier. I can’t fault the show for recycling—just don’t tell Rush Limbaugh. The speech does the trick and everyone cheers, while Surrey sits there on his horse looking pissed, for some reason.
The English wheel cannons into place as Charles reels off orders in his usual commanding voice. Can someone remind me again why Henry Cavill isn’t playing Henry VIII? Cannoneers load the guns as musketmen take their positions and aim. Henry and Surrey climb into an observation tower evidently constructed just for the purpose of giving them a good view of the goings-on. There’s a long pause, during which only the frantically ringing churchbells from within the city walls can be heard, and then Henry nods to Charles and Charles gives the order to fire. Cannonballs smash into the stone walls, startling the French soldiers inside. Musketeers start to fire as the French fight back with bows and arrows, which must seem pretty lame to them at this moment, particularly as one good cannon shot takes an entire tower down inside the walls. The English cheer and start reloading.
In London, Katherine’s hard at work, reading papers, signing documents, and dispatching them efficiently. Lady Herbert interrupts to present Mr. Latimer, a former bishop stripped of his bishopric by Gardiner, whom Katherine wants to appoint chaplain to her household. Ohhh, that seems like a bad idea, Katherine. Latimer asks if she’s sure about that, and she is, because they believe the same things. Katherine’s excited to discover how much of the same mind they are, and Latimer’s excited to discover she’s actually a thoughtful, intelligent woman, so they’re set. Katherine only asks that he be careful of what he says around Mary, because she’s Catholic to the core, and Katherine’s fine with that. Latimer promises to be discreet around all the kids, as well as the courtiers. He departs and Lady Herbert comes in to ask her sister if this is a wise move. Katherine’s not willing to play the coward and wants to use what power she now—reluctantly—has to further her cause and beliefs.
In France, the weather’s rainy and miserable, which means there’ll be no fighting today. Harry and Richard watch the rain fall, Richard whistling and remaining optimistic while Harry mopes.
A man, meanwhile, is led into Henry’s palatial tent and introduced as Signor Treviso. Apparently, he’s an engineer who’s come to show Henry where he plans to dig some mines to destroy the town walls and the castle inside. He estimates it’ll take three weeks. Henry gives him two. Naturally.
Once the rain lets up, fighting resumes and Treviso and his guys start digging the tunnels. One of those guys is Harry, who should be grateful he’s doing this instead of getting himself shot. He doesn’t look all that grateful, though.
Apparently while the battle rages, Henry and his boys sit down to a nice lunch so Henry can find out how the Emperor’s doing. Rich reports that the Emperor’s forces are besieging Luxembourg and another French-sounding spot I didn’t catch. Henry hopes to end their siege first and head to Paris; Charles predicts the town won’t hold out much longer, considering how much damage they’ve already inflicted.
Out in the woods, a contingent of French soldiers emerge from a tree that evidently hides a secret passageway to the city.
At lunch, Surrey charmingly says there are a few Parisians he’d like to kill so he can sleep with their wives without feeling guilty. Please. Like he’s ever felt guilty for sleeping with someone else’s wife. The boys all chuckle, but then a soldier comes in to tell them that the French have broken out somewhere near the southern gate. Surrey heads off to investigate and Henry tells Charles to cover all the gates with a large force, in case this is a diversion.
Surrey, not even wearing armor, gallops into the woods with some soldiers. He spots someone running through the trees and tries to run the man down. The Frenchman’s pretty fleet of foot and manages to escape down an embankment, leading Surrey and his men right into a trap. French soldiers on higher ground start shooting crossbolts as Surrey and his men duck for cover. The English recover enough to pull out their pistols, so the French charge and are promptly picked off one by one by English bowmen led by Charles. Nice. They barely have time to celebrate before a whole hoard of French soldiers comes pouring over the ridge. The fighting’s fierce, but the English are ultimately victorious. Also, one of the French soldiers is a girl, the daughter of a man Charles wounds. She comes running over to the man, screaming “papa!” but the man’s already dead. Charles and Surrey look at each other like: “uh, what now?”
Charles takes her back to the encampment, where he keeps her under guard in what looks like a supply tent. They didn’t think to set up a more secure area for prisoners? Or maybe they did and Charles didn’t want to stick the hot chick in there with a bunch of imprisoned men. Which is nice of him, when you think about it. He brings her some food and tells her that her father’s still alive. My bad. The guy looked dead. She eagerly asks if she can see him and Charles promises to take her to him soon. He asks her name and she says it’s Brigitte. Screwing up her courage, she asks why they’re in France at all, since it’s not their country. Charles smiles tiredly and says it used to be. She shoots back that they all used to live in Eden too, but they’re not all trying to get back there. Au contraire, ma cherie. Wasn’t that a little bit of what the Crusades was about? Retaking the holy land?
Charles asks how things are in the town, and from the tone of his voice, I think he’s actually concerned about the people inside, not looking for some tactical advantage. She defiantly says they’re fine, and they have tons of food and can hold out forever. She also calls Henry a monster and tells Charles they call Henry the English Nero. Sounds about right. Charles seems surprised to learn the rest of the world thinks his BFF’s kind of a dick.
Gardiner finishes up his prayers in the chapel and is immediately met by Risley, who tells him Katherine’s appointed Latimer her private chaplain. “And I thought someone said she was an intelligent woman,” says Gardiner. I hate to say it, but I kind of agree with him—this was a dumb move on her part.
In France, it’s raining again. Richard asks Harry how the tunnel’s going and Harry says it’s moving along, but it’s hard work. Harry asks Richard how things are going on his end and Richard reveals his plans to pick off a French officer who wanders onto the ramparts every now and then and stands looking at the English soldiers. Harry drops his voice and says he heard there are a few women around the camp looking to drum up business. Richard good-naturedly warns his friend away from them, and Harry remembers he’s got a pregnant wife at home.
Katherine writes Henry an affectionate letter, which she reads in voiceover as we see Harry digging away in the dark, soldiers shelling the town, rain falling endlessly, Henry chilling in his awesome tent, and Richard finally getting his great shot that brings down the French officer. As he finishes his letter, Henry grabs his bad leg and his face contorts in pain. Out in the camp, Harry wanders around and spots one of the prostitutes, who comes over when he catches her eye. Before she can reach him, however, she suddenly just drops dead. Plague time!
Before long, things are bleak in camp. A black-hooded figure carrying a lantern makes his way toward Henry’s tent and is admitted. Treviso’s already there, begging Henry for a little more time to complete the tunnels. Henry notices the new arrival, the master surgeon, and calls him over. The surgeon informs him they’ve been hit with dysentery, and it’s already taken 10 men. Henry blanches, as well he might.
In another well-appointed tent, Surrey and Charles are having a drink together. Surrey asks what Charles thinks of Treviso, because Surrey happens to know Treviso’s something of an exaggerator when it comes to his capabilities. Charles rubs his forehead like he has a headache, which he probably does at this point. A permanent one.
Outside, Henry climbs his observation tower and stands looking at the smoking, wounded town with a determined look on his face.