Previously on The Tudors: Jane got pregnant, and to balance out that good news, the northernors rebelled again. Most of the rebels were executed, but Henry’s got a soft spot for Aske, so he’s just biding his time in the Tower for now.
Henry’s in his study, examining a model for a giant, magnificent barge, presumably for Jane’s coronation, and asking Cromwell if Brandon’s been sent north with his orders to start killing people at the earliest possible opportunity. Cromwell reassures him that he’s got his orders, and by the way, the Emperor’s going to be sending an envoy with a list of possible husbands for Mary. Henry kind of grunts at that and then calls Cromwell’s attention to the model, which is indeed for the barge Jane will ride to her coronation, which will take place after the birth. Henry, ever the optimist, is certain the baby will be a boy, although you’d think after all the years of disappointment he’d be a little more cautious by now. Cromwell risks Henry’s wrath by bringing up an unpleasant topic: A pamphlet being distributed by Pole and his buddies that condemns Henry as a heretic and an adulterer. Henry doesn’t seem too bothered, until he learns Pole’s in France, trying to get King Francis to help rekindle the recently suppressed rebellions in the north. Shockingly, though, Henry keeps his cool and goes back to play with the model.
Aske is brought before Rich, who accuses him of treason and inciting rebellion and finds him guilty of all charges. As punishment, Aske will be returned to York and hung in chains. He takes this news stoically enough, surprisingly.
At Brandon’s home in the country, Duchess Kate brings Charles’s son to say goodbye to his father. After the kid leaves, Brandon faces his unhappy wife, who begs him to show mercy to the innocents up north. Brandon kisses both her hands, really sweetly, and then leaves quickly, as though he can’t bear to stay another moment, for fear he may fall to pieces.
Back at the Tower, Ralph (you remember, the guy who visited court with John a couple of episodes back?) is now in front of Rich, and it seems he totally sold out his buddies, claiming he only joined the rebellion out of fear of retribution against his family and friends. Rich tells him to sign an oath apologizing for rebelling and promising to be a good, faithful subject for the rest of his life. Sobbing, he signs.
Brandon and his knights ride north in slow motion, for some reason, and set about a-slaughtering. We catch up with them in the immediate aftermath, as Charles makes his way through a field strewn with bodies. He and the men catch up with a gaggle of peasants out farming, and he accuses them of following Aske and the others during the rebellion. His voice catches when he notices one young boy about the same age as his son in the crowd being rounded up by the soldiers, but he presses on and tells everyone that it’s his job now to make an example of them. These people, who look completely confused, protest that they had nothing to do with anything, but it doesn’t matter, now, does it?
At court, Henry wanders into Jane’s room as she’s bent over a basin washing her long,blonde hair. He seems charmed by the sight of her, and she looks up and notices him, and smiles warmly. Henry smiles back and excuses himself.
Back in the Killing Fields, Brandon listens to the distant screams of the people being rounded up and solemnly begins to pray the Our Father, standing underneath a tree with a random rope hanging from it.
Prison at York Castle. A priest arrives to hear Aske’s confession. Aske, who’s wrapped up in chains like he’s Jacob Marley, begs the priest not to betray his trust. The priest shows him the same badge Aske’s followers carried and promises not to betray him. He helps Aske sit down, and Aske tells him that, the following day, he’ll have to beg forgiveness of the king, as well as Cromwell and the other councilors, which he’s not excited about, as you can imagine. He’s worried, too, that his family will see him suffering and left to rot like other traitors. The priest gently asks if there’s anything he can bring Aske for comfort, but Aske seems resigned to his ultimate fate. The priest blesses him, but before he leaves, Aske gives him the huge diamond Mary gave him at Christmastime and asks the priest to give it to Mrs. Aske.
North. Charles, mounted, walks his horse over to the mass gallows that have been set up, where hundreds of random men, women, and children are hanging. Anguished, he looks at the boy he noticed earlier.
Jane, trailed by her ladies, walks into the great hall, her very pregnant belly on show in a loose-fitting gown. The courtiers applaud her and she smiles beatifically, gently stroking her belly.
Bryan joins Henry in his study, where he’s relaxing. Henry fills Bryan in on Pole’s doings in France and tells him to go meet with King Francis and lodge a complaint about his apparently support of Pole. Bryan’s to ask Francis to deliver Pole to Henry or risk the English king’s wrath. Bryan asks what he should do if Francis refuses, and Henry reminds him that he used to be a spy and codebreaker, so maybe he should revisit those skills and track Pole down?
Back at the banquet, Jane watches courtiers dance, observing Cromwell speaking with some nobleman and surreptitiously accepting a bag of cash. She asks her brother, who’s sitting beside her, what Cromwell’s up to and Seymour tells her the nobles are buying up the leases on some of the suppressed abbeys, and greasing Cromwell’s palm to make sure it goes through all right. Jane’s horrified, but Seymour tells her that, by allowing new men to buy a stake in the kingdom this way, he’s ensuring their loyalty to Henry and to himself.
Seymour’s wife, meanwhile, is hanging off Bryan’s arm, being led through the crowded room to an antechamber. Hang on a second—wasn’t she all worried about her husband finding out about them just last episode? And here she is draped all over this guy in the great hall during a banquet? She’s not even trying to be subtle. This seems stupid and inconsistent. Anyway, Bryan drops a few coins in a guard’s hand to ensure they’re not disturbed and draws her into the anteroom, which is only separated from the great hall by a curtain, mind you. She protests as he pulls up her skirt, saying her husband might see (too late, honey) or she might get knocked up, like that bothered her the last time she was riding this guy like a warhorse. She doesn’t really have any conviction behind her arguments, though, and they start doing it, and guess what? Seymour spots them, because these two are too stupid or lazy to find a private place to go commit adultery in an entire frigging palace! God! I hate stupid people!
Aske’s wife has thoughtfully brought her children to see their chain-wrapped father, and of course the kids start to lose it when they see their father in this condition, so she sends them away immediately. She begins to get upset herself, but tries to pull herself together. She loses her mind a little when Aske says that he deserves this. As a guard drags her away, she yells that he doesn’t deserve this, because he’s a good man.
Poor Aske is led to the execution site, accompanied by the priest from earlier and observed by Charles. Aske begs the king’s and God’s forgiveness for what’s been done, and he grants forgiveness of his own to Brandon, who can hardly bear to look at him. Finally at peace, Aske steps to the edge of the scaffold and is pushed over by one of the guards. He falls until the rope around his neck tightens, snaps him back, and ends his life.
At court, Cromwell’s gleefully writing a letter to someone, telling them how well all the traitor killings are going, like he’s actually personally responsible for them (although, I guess in a sense he is). He rereads his letter, smiling and nodding in satisfaction.
Bryan has arrived in Normandy, accompanied by Seymour’s younger brother Thomas, whom I’m guessing we’ll be seeing more of. They meet with Francis’s envoy, the Comte Talleyrand. Bryan confirms that everyone knows why he’s there and officially asks that Pole be handed over. Talleyrand says that Francis already granted Pole safe passage through France, but then kicked him out a good ten days ago. Bryan, a little exasperated, asks where Pole is now, but Talleyrand knows nothing. Bryan hints that Francis might soon be an enemy of Henry’s due to his handling of this situation and Talleyrand actually looks slightly nervous. He rallies, though, and leaves so a buxom young Frenchwoman can bring Bryan and Thomas their lunch. They both check her out like they’re not there to do an important job, then settle down for their meal. Somehow, Bryan knows that Pole’s in Italy, and he promises Thomas that, if they find him, he’ll kill Pole with his bare hands. Why? Henry specifically said he wanted him brought back to England, and it’s not like the guy’s done anything to offend you personally, Bryan. I really wish this character had been used better. They have one of these every season, someone with lots of promise who ends up being wasted. Thomas Tallis, Wyatt, and now this guy. Sigh.
In England, Henry’s playtime with Jane is interrupted by Chapuys, who’s come for an audience. Chapuys sends the Emperor’s love and says he’s there to help negotiate a marriage between Mary and the heir to the throne of Portugal, who happens to be the Emperor’s brother-in-law. Henry asks what kind of man he is and, of course, Chapuys sings the prince’s praises. There’s a little back and forth during which it becomes clear that Henry’s just messing with him. He eventually puts an end to it and releases Chapuys, then goes back to cuddling Jane.
Chapuys heads over to Mary’s to tell her about the proposed match, which she seems keen on. Like any girl her age, she of course asks if he’s hot, and she clearly likes what she hears—tall, blue eyes, etc. Chapuys also tells Mary that he’s heard Jane managed to persuade Henry to restore Mary to the succession.
Mary turns to more sober matters and asks after Aske, whose body, she heard, is still hanging in chains from the gates of York. She says she shouldn’t be thinking of her own happiness at such a time, but Chapuys tells her she certainly should think of her own happiness at any time.
Henry’s gathered some of the church leaders (but still not Cranmer, which seems like a really bizarre ommission) to scold them for failing to agree on some basic church doctrines, like it’s an easy thing to establish an entirely new religion. He complains that some of them are still clinging to some Catholic doctrines and that they need more uniformity and agreement. He asks them to get together and hammer out some articles of faith.
Before he can get any further, a servant comes running in to fetch Henry, who looks freaked out and goes running to Jane’s room. He, of course, thinks something awful has happened, but she just wanted him to come and feel the baby kicking. She couldn’t have told the servant that and spared Henry the minor heart attack he just had? Henry has no hard feelings, because he’s marveling at how strong the baby feels. He lays his head on Jane’s belly and wills his son, Edward, to be strong. I can’t help but think that Jane Seymour must have been scared to death for most of this pregnancy. I mean, pregnancy and childbirth were dangerous enough during that time, but she also had to worry about accidentally delivering another girl, didn’t she? Imagine what would have happened if the baby had been another princess? Especially considering what happened to Anne.
Looks like Charles is all done up north and has returned home to do some fishing with his son. Their peaceful afternoon is interrupted when Charles sees one of the dead rebels standing in the middle of the stream they’re fishing in. He lowers his pole and the kid glances in the direction Charles is looking in, asking his dad what the problem is. Charles asks if the kid can’t see the man standing there, but of course the kid can’t. Charles gets weirdly intense, asking the kid over and over again if he can see the guy, and the kid is bizarrely undisturbed by the fact that his dad is hallucinating and clearly starting to lose his mind. The hell?
Henry’s taking a walk in the gardens we haven’t seen in a while, telling Seymour to start planning magnificent entertainments to celebrate the birth of his son. Seymour’s only too happy to oblige. Since Henry’s in a good mood, Seymour brings up a subject he probably won’t like too much: Cromwell and the arguments against him that so many people seem to have, particularly the rebels. Henry gets all antsy and annoyed at the idea that anyone should speak against Cromwell, even though just last episode he was telling Cromwell he was too low-born to meddle in the affairs of kings. I wish he would make up his damn mind and stick with it once in a while. He tells Seymour that the rebels demanded Cromwell’s head, and by doing so, they saved it.
In Jane’s room, she and her ladies are going through some cute baby clothes, getting things ready for the impending birth. Lady Rochford comes in and tells Jane that she’s heard from Lady Lisle, who’s asking Jane to find a place in her household for one of her daughters. Jane promises to choose one and sends Lady Rochford to write the necessary letters. As she leaves, Jane calls over Ursula and nicely asks her to relace her gown, which is feeling tight. As Ursula does so, Jane quietly asks her to attend to Henry, if anything should happen to her. Ursula looks up at her uncertainly, and there’s a nice moment where they seem to understand and agree with one another. This is very different from how Anne handled things, and definitely more peaceful.
Peaceful no more—Jane’s knees buckle and her face changes and becomes concerned as she tells her ladies that her labor has begun. Mary, who’s there hanging out for the afternoon, hurries to her side and Jane asks her to stay as she sends Ursula for the midwife. Mary helps Jane to bed and a servant runs to tell Henry that Jane’s time has come. Henry dispatches servants left and right to send heralds into the city to share the news, fetch his physician, and get Bishop Gardiner.
The labor’s not going easily. Jane, surrounded by her ladies and Mary, who’s praying fervently, screams in agony. During a brief respite, she sends Mary to fetch Katherine’s rosary from her jewelry box. She tells Mary it used to belong to Katherine and Mary tearfully says she believes Katherine’s there with them. Aww.
Henry repairs to the chapel, where he stands before the altar, praying out loud and looking slightly terrified.
The labor continues, going on and on with no apparent progress. Seymour goes to see Henry and tells him that the following day there’ll be a solemn procession through London to pray for the queen, if she’s still in labor. Henry’s horrified by the idea, knowing that a labor so prolonged would probably mean the death of both mother and child.
Dawn breaks, watched by Cromwell through the open windows of his office.
At Charles’s home, he, too, is praying, and soon he’s joined by his wife. Charles tells her that he’s reconciled with God, but the way he says it, he’s clearly looking for some validation from her. He’s so desperate and scared. She doesn’t give him what he so clearly needs, though. She merely tells him, in a hollow voice, that she’s pregnant and walks away.
Back at court, Jane’s labor continues, and the midwife informs the physician that things aren’t progressing. The physician starts unwrapping some scalpels, holding them up, all the better to freak Jane out and make the ladies-in-waiting consider a lifetime of celibacy. Mary begs Jane not to give up as she writhes in agony on the bed.
Seymour reports back to Henry and tells him that the physicians are recommending a c-section, which would “most likely” result in Jane’s death. Most likely? How about almost definitely? They didn’t know how to fix that back then. The first record of a woman surviving a caesarean was in 1580’s in Switzerland, more than 40 years after these events took place. Henry, sitting in a chair, looking wrecked and staring off into the distance, doesn’t respond. Really, how can you respond to that?
Seymour returns to Jane’s room, where he paces just beyond the curtained-off bedchamber until, finally, a thin wail is heard. Lady Rochford emerges and whispers something to him, and he immediately races from the room, tearing through the throng of courtiers crowded near the door for news, and bursts into Henry’s study, where the king is lying with his head on the desk, asleep, still wearing the robe and nightshirt he was in when he first received news that Jane was in labor. Seymour steps forward and happily tells Henry that Jane has delivered a healthy son. Henry stands, overcome, and repeats: “I have a son,” as his voice catches. He takes a moment to take in the news, and turns away from Seymour so he can’t see his face contract with tears of happiness.
The fireworks that were originally planned for the son Anne Boleyn didn’t have are set off over London as Jane, now washed, draped in an ermine robe, and looking much better, kisses her son, who’s brought in by Mary. She next hands the baby to Henry, who sits on the edge of the bed, and they make such a nice little family picture, these four. Henry names him Edward and kisses him on the forehead.
Later, Mary finishes up her evening prayers and climbs into bed with little Elizabeth, who I guess is bunking with her at court. Elizabeth says little Edward seems sweet, and she likes the idea of having a brother. As kids tend to do, Elizabeth wonders if Henry still loves them. Mary tells Elizabeth the hard truth: boys are more important than girls, in the end. Elizabeth cheekily says she doesn’t think so and Mary giggles. Of course, Elizabeth’s too young to really understand the implications of what’s happened the way Mary probably does: now that the king has a son born of an uncontested marriage to secure the throne with, there’ll be less fretting over keeping Mary and Elizabeth illegitimate and away from the other royal houses of Europe, which could, finally, mean marriages for them both. It didn’t really work out that way, but they had no way of knowing that then.
Edward is christened, with Mary standing as godmother and Elizabeth hovering nearby. Jane is absent, which is true to history (she, like most queens, was still abed when her son was christened).
Unfortunately, Henry’s happiness over Edward’s birth is short lived. Immediately following the christening scene, a doctor comes to inform him that Jane’s going downhill fast. Henry races to her room, where she lays on the bed, looking totally awful. Henry draws in a shuddering breath and recognizes the illness at once: childbed fever. His mother, Elizabeth of York, died of it, after giving birth to a stillborn child shortly after the death of Henry’s older brother, Arthur. Henry sends the attendants away, but as Mary passes, he takes her hand, clasps it, and kisses it, finally allowing his face to crumple in grief. She goes, leaving Henry alone with the queen who gave him the one thing he’d aways wanted and had been denied for so long. Henry goes to her, kisses her on the lips, and kneels beside her bed, begging Jane not to die as he starts to cry. Henry pleads with God not to take Jane away from him and from Edward, because they both need her so desperately.
Sadly, God’s not in the mood to grant favors, and Jane dies and is laid out in state in the chapel, attended by Mary, as chief mourner. Henry enters, dressed in black, and Mary tearfully curtsies to him and withdraws with the rest of the ladies. Henry stares at Jane’s body, looking empty, and completely destroyed.