The Tudors: Humpty Dumpty Had a Great Fall

Previously on the Tudors: The long, hard fall of Cardinal Wolsey began in earnest.

We open at Blackfriars Church, where Wolsey is continuing the trial without Katherine, trying to determine whether or not she and Prince Arthur ever consummated the marriage. He calls up his first witness, Sir Anthony Willoughby, who was part of the prince’s entourage on his wedding night. Apparently, the morning after, Arthur asked Willoughby to bring him some ale and mentioned that the night before, he was in the midst of Spain. The audience finds this hilarious; Henry, less so. Willoughby also mentions that Arthur told his friends that it was a good pastime to have a wife. Wolsey says he’s pretty sure they have the bloodstained sheets to corroborate Willoughby’s story. Excuse me? First of all, who would keep those? For decades? Second, if they did exist, wouldn’t they have caused some problems with the original dispensation, since they’d indicate the marriage had been consummated? And finally, who could prove they weren’t just a random set of sheets with blood on them? It’s not like they had DNA testing back then.

Katherine’s spending her time at prayer, of course, as Wolsey waits impatiently for her to finish up, accompanied by Cromwell. Once Katherine approaches them, Wolsey asks her why she hasn’t been to the court. He invites her to speak somewhere privately, but she says she has nothing to hide. He falls into step beside her and tells her the king has commanded her to surrender the matter into his hands entirely, or the court will find against her. She’s pretty unfazed by that but spits that Wolsey has caused all this, which makes her glad that she’s managed to make Henry hate Wolsey by holding up the proceedings.

In a fairly dirty tavern, a rollicking good time is being had by all—customers, prostitutes, everyone. A man in a ragged jacket stumbles in and orders a drink, saying everyone else would be thirsty too, if they’d been in Spain as much as he had last night. Um, ok. An old man stands up and says the first time he got laid he was practically a kid, and then someone else stands up and proposes a toast to Katherine, who doesn’t give a fig. Everyone toasts and drinks. What an utterly pointless scene.

In a more genteel room at court, Henry comes sweeping in with Anne, and they go to greet her father, brother, and Uncle Norfolk before just leaving. Why did they do that? Does Henry like just walking through rooms so he can hear that trumpet fanfare he gets every time? Whatever. Norfolk and Boleyn start to chat, and Norfolk says that he’s heard that the emperor thinks Wolsey is to blame for instigating the divorce. The emperor thinks the people of England will soon rise up and put Wolsey on the scaffold. Boleyn emotionlessly observes that Wolsey’s end is clearly approaching, and his downfall will put Norfolk on top at court. Norfolk promises to promote the Boleyn family’s interest if that happens, although I think Anne will be taking care of that.

Speak of the devil—Anne’s having a cozy dinner with Henry, who’s all a-twitter over how everyone was looking at her, and how he wants everyone to be jealous. That makes Anne pretty happy, and she asks how things went at court that day. She mentions that Katherine’s refusing to attend, and Henry says it doesn’t matter, and Wolsey says he’ll have his divorce by summer. Anne sighs that promises are easy, and what happens if he doesn’t have his divorce by then? Henry doesn’t seem to have an answer for that.

Late at night, Brandon wakes and finds himself alone in bed, which must be unusual for him. He turns over and spots his wife standing by the window, looking out. She says she couldn’t sleep, and when he asks if she’ll accompany him back to court the next day. She won’t, because she hates Anne and all the other Boleyns. Brandon asks her what she’ll do if Henry commands her to come back to court, and instead of answering, she sits on the edge of the bed and starts tenderly stroking his face. He’s understandably confused by this, but she just tells him to go to sleep. I don’t know if it’s the lighting or the makeup, but Margaret’s not looking so good. She’s pretty haggard in this scene. She kisses her husband on the forehead and walks out of the room, starting to cough violently as she does so. Of course, she starts coughing up quite a lot of blood into a handkerchief, like we didn’t see that coming as soon as she started hacking away.

Back at Blackfriars, Bishop Fisher steps forward to make a statement on Katherine’s behalf. He tells the crowd that it’s his belief that the marriage can’t be dissolved by anyone, either spiritual or temporal. Then, he basically commits suicide by invoking the story of the tyrant Herod, who ditched his wife so he could marry his brother’s wife before executing John the Baptist. Yikes, Henry’s not going to take this kindly. Fisher finishes by telling everyone he’s prepared to lay down his life to defend the sanctity of marriage and to condemn adultery. Wolsey’s yelling at the guy, pissed, but Henry just sits there, probably wishing speeddial had been invented so he could get his executioner there pronto.

An archbishop steps forward and accuses Fisher of arrogance, temerity, and disloyalty. He demands the court disregard everything Fisher’s said.

Much later, presumably, Wolsey’s pouring himself a bracing glass of wine when he’s joined by More, who coldly turns down Wolsey’s offer of a drink. Because he’s just that perfect, you know. Wolsey has a mission for More—the French and the Imperial forces have come to a détente and are going to have a summit at Cambria. He wants More to go, to prevent the parties from making peace with each other. Wolsey’s already been assured by King Francis that he’ll never make peace with the emperor. Representatives from the pope will also be at the summit, so More is to ensure that they don’t broker any kind of alliance with the emperor either, because that would really throw a wrench into the divorce proceedings.

As one last task, Wolsey tells More to try to find out if the emperor plans to use military force on Katherine’s behalf. He hands over More’s orders and More leaves.

Katherine’s dining with Henry, and as the servants leave she asks him if he doesn’t have anything nice to say to her? Why is he being so mean and neglecting her in public? You know, I feel for Katherine, I really do. I think that, historically, she got a really raw deal, but I think we’ve reached a point here where she just seems willfully clueless, which makes her seem kind of stupid. She knows what’s happening here, it’s no secret. Why does she act surprised that Henry’s not fawning all over her when she’s fully aware that Henry is trying to get rid of her in every way he knows how? Get some dignity, woman, and stop pouting like a kid who isn’t getting enough attention!

Henry informs her that the court will be deciding in his favor, and if it doesn’t, he’ll denounce the pope as a heretic and marry whomever he wants anyway. Katherine pouts, then rises and goes to him and swears yet again that she was a virgin when they got married. But you know what? Henry doesn’t give a shit. He never did, this was just an excuse, and I’m kind of surprised that she never cottoned on to that. Was she really that willfully blind to what’s going on here? He wants to marry a younger woman so he can have a son, Katherine, it’s happened many, many times over the centuries. Is it fair? No. Does it totally suck and make him an incredible asshole? Yes, but it was a man’s world, and he was king, and he could do as he pleased.

Henry screams at her and goes whining to Anne, who has no sympathy for him. She throws a book across the room as she scolds that she told him not to talk to Katherine, and now Katherine will somehow manage to get to him and persuade him to cast Anne off. She gets herself all worked up into a breast heaving state, and Henry tries to talk her down, but she throws off his hands. She’s pissed that she’s been waiting all this time for him, when she could have married and had sons. Henry tells her it’ll be ok, but she cries that it’s too late, Katherine will never let him go, and she should have known better. She leaves, telling Henry she’s going home, and ignoring him when he calls her back.

Campeggio’s being carried through the streets in a sedan chair in the pouring rain. He gets out at the palace and is handed an urgent message from the pope, which apparently freaks him out a little.

Inside the palace, Henry’s walking into a room with Knivert (man, where’s he been? For someone who’s in the opening credits, he’s been kind of a non-presence lately, hasn’t he?). Campeggio is entering through an opposite door and Henry whispers to Knivert that Campeggio’s “always leaning on someone”. Knivert suggests having someone lean on Campeggio for a change. Henry leaves him and greets Campeggio, saying he hopes they will have a verdict soon. The two men sit by the fire and Henry starts bringing up the religious reformation in Germany. He surmises that the Lutherans are pissed because they see that the corrupt are rewarded by the church, while the faithful are abandoned and badly treated. He reassures Campeggio that he’s a man of faith, but God forbid the pope should ever turn his back on him.

Later, Henry unwinds by composing a tune on his lute, and we start to hear the early strains of “Greensleeves”. In the next scene, the song’s being played and sung at a court party, as courtiers dance and Henry parades through the room with Brandon and Knivert. A lady checks Brandon out as she passes and Knivert asks if Brandon ever gets tired of it. My guess would be no, why would he? Knivert teases that he bets Brandon dreams of women too, but Brandon says he dreams of God, heaven and hell, and repentance. Bullshit. He totally dreams about hot women.

He leaves in a bit of a snit and Henry takes his place at Knivert’s side. He asks what Knivert’s thinking, and Knivert says that listening to the song makes him think: Omnia Vincet Amor. It takes Henry a minute to translate that as “nobody can resist love.” No, Henry. It means “love conquers all,” which isn’t quite the same thing. How do I know that and you don’t?

Henry leaves Knivert and goes over to Boleyn, asking him to persuade Anne to come back to court. He promises to have his verdict the following morning. Boleyn smiles and bows as, in the background, the dancers appear to frolic to a completely different piece of music than the one that’s playing. It’s actually kind of funny.

Verdict time! Campeggio sweeps into court as Henry and Wolsey stand. Henry lends him a hand getting into his chair, and then everyone sits. Campeggio rises again to deliver his verdict: it’s been decided that the matter is too important to be tried in England. It’ll have to go to Rome, but unfortunately, the Vatican’s on summer vacation, so there’ll be no further movements on the case until October 1. Wolsey drops his head into his hands, and I get the feeling he’ll be doing that quite a lot, for as long as he has that head. Henry rises, places a hand briefly on Campeggio’s shoulder, and strides calmly out of the courtroom. I’m shocked by his restraint.

Wolsey stops Campeggio from leaving just long enough to call him a stupid…jerk, and is then, in turn, stopped by Brandon, who tries to insult him, but Wolsey’s not done yet, and informs Brandon that a) this is not his fault and b) Brandon should just shut the hell up, because if it wasn’t for Wolsey sticking up for him over the years, he’d be long headless. Brandon lets him go.

Mendoza finds Katherine hanging out in the gardens with her ladies and celebrates the happy day with her. He fills her in on the secret instructions Campeggio received from the pope, which dragged the trial back to Rome. Katherine recognizes the emperor’s hand in all this, and she’s pleased her nephew didn’t abandon her. She’s sad, though, to hear that Mendoza is leaving and will be replaced by Chapuys. Mendoza promises Chapuys will fight for her to the bitter end. Katherine gives him a brooch as a parting gift, and he seems genuinely touched.

Wolsey and Cromwell meet up in a courtyard, and Wolsey asks, rather nervously, how Henry’s doing. Cromwell reluctantly breaks the news that Henry’s going on a progress soon, with Anne. Wolsey asks Cromwell to tell Henry he’s handing over all the money he receives from the very wealthy See of Durham, and tell him that Wolsey won’t stop working for the divorce. Cromwell promises to pass the word along. Wolsey then, rather pathetically, asks Cromwell to promise to be on Wolsey’s side, and to advocate Wolsey’s interests to the king. Wow, talk about a change in places. Was it really only a few episodes ago that Wolsey got Cromwell his job, and now he’s begging him for favor? Sad. Anyway, Cromwell promises, remembering how much he owes Wolsey, which is a rare thing, at this court. We’ll see how long this lasts.

Henry and Anne are out on a ride together, unaccompanied by guards or servants. Henry stops his horse and huffs that he’s been summoned to Rome to answer for himself, and can she believe that? He answers to no authority but God! He damns Wolsey to hell. Anne asks for permission to speak plainly, and once she gets it, she tells Henry that there are some out there who don’t care for popes, but think that the king should be both emperor and pope in his own kingdom. Henry asks who says this, and she says she has a book to show him. This is a really ballsy move on her part, I have to say. But Henry tells her to show it to him before galloping off.

Margaret’s stumbling around her big, lonely house, dressed in a nightgown and looking like she’s in a hell of a lot of pain. She wearily sits down with a giant book that she can’t even seem to muster the energy to open.

We move from that nice scene to Grafton House in the Midlands, where Henry is staring at the book Anne’s given him, as thunder booms and lightening splits the skies not at all symbolically. He opens the book and starts to read while, elsewhere, Brandon’s being ridden hard by some woman and Margaret sleeps in her own bed, alone.

Ok, now we get a slightly odd succession of images, as Margaret reads a poem in voiceover. First, we see a stone wall with a gate, then an empty coffin, then Brandon in bed with that woman again, and finally Margaret, bursting into the laundry room covered in blood. I guess she went to the right place, at least, although the poor laundry maid there looks horrified. You know, I’m willing to forgive this show kind of a lot, but this was just stupid. Talk about a research fail. Margaret has TB, basically, which does not make you start coughing up gallons of blood, folks. I don’t know why they thought it would be a good idea to make her look like she had a run in with Freddie Kreuger here, because we’re not stupid, we already know she’s coughing up blood and in a bad way. What should have been sad ended up being inadvertently hilarious, because it was just so absurd. It looks more like she spilled paint all over herself. Plus, if she had lost that much blood, she wouldn’t have been able to stumble anywhere, she’d have been too weak.

Back to Henry reading the book and looking amazed, then to Brandon, and then to…a pail of milk spilling as someone screams and Margaret collapses to the floor? Milk? Is this a dairy too? Whatever. Margaret collapses onto the milky liquid, coughs once, and dies.

Henry is meeting with some sycophants, who thank him for giving them a few moments of his precious time before shuffling off. Boleyn tells him that Chapuys has asked permission to present his credentials to the queen, which Henry grants. In addition, Campeggio is heading back to Rome and wants to take formal leave of Henry. Henry seethes for a minute but ultimately agrees, telling Cromwell to invite Campeggio up to Grafton House. Before any other business can be discussed, Brandon strides in, dressed somberly and looking serious, so I think we know what’s coming. He actually looks like he’s in some emotional pain as he breaks the news that Margaret has died of consumption. The news hits Henry pretty hard, but rather than showing any sympathy for the new widower, he spits that Brandon never even told him she was sick. He makes a point of ramming right into Brandon as he leaves the room and goes off to cry somewhere in private. What a dick. I guess we’re not supposed to really feel for Brandon, here, but he did seem genuinely upset, so the least Henry could do was think about someone other than himself for five minutes or so. Geez.

Margaret’s being given a grand funeral, befitting her status. Brandon falls into step behind the coffin as it’s carried up the aisle of the church, and he’s followed, bizarrely, by Boleyn. A bunch of commoners are in the church as well, and a little boy asks his father why the king isn’t there. The father answers that the king can’t go to funerals because no one is allowed to imagine the death of the king, because that would be treason. How the hell would they police that? It’d be like coveting your neighbor’s wife being against the law.

Brandon stands over Margret’s coffin, down in the crypt, looking down at her. He sniffles and takes her hand before kissing his fingers and pressing them to her lips. Aww, I feel so much worse for him right now than Henry. His face crumples believably as he tries to hold it together and fails. He tells her over and over that he’s sorry. I’m tearing up just a little. I need a minute.

More has returned, and meets with Wolsey in his office at Hampton Court. Wolsey, naturally, is eager to hear the news, but there’s not much to tell, because More was sent a week late. Wolsey’s flabbergasted. More was only able to enter into some minor negotiations, although he does have some good news—they can trade with the Low Countries again. Yay, tulips and clogs can come off the black market at last!

Wolsey asks if Francis refused to make peace with the emperor, and of course he didn’t, and he and the emperor then turned around and became friends with the pope again. So, Wolsey surmises, they were deliberately sidelined, and now there’s no chance of the pope giving the king his divorce.

Wolsey demands to know just what More achieved at Cambria that makes him look so smug, and More says it wasn’t really his job to achieve anything, although I think it kind of was. More’s pleased that the diplomacy was successful, and there’s peace in Europe and papal supremacy has been reinstated. So, More’s pretty pleased all around. Wolsey moans that Francis betrayed him, but More says Francis just saw how pointless endless warring was. Wolsey then accuses More of destroying him, although I’m not sure exactly what his reasoning is there. It’s not like More deliberately showed up a week late, Wolsey.

Wolsey and Campeggio arrive at Grafton House, and Campeggio is ushered inside while Wolsey is left standing out in the courtyard with his luggage. Campeggio is given a nice room with a cheery fire, while Wolsey is totally ignored. There’s no room prepared for him, and it doesn’t look like Campeggio’s about to share. A man at the end of the hall sees this and calls Wolsey over. Wolsey wearily greets him as Mr. Norris, and Norris invites him to use his room to change into proper attire to see the king. It’s pretty sweet, actually. Norris tells Wolsey that he’s to go to the presence chamber after he changes. Wolsey thanks him, and Norris says he’s aware he owes Wolsey a great deal. Wolsey steps into the small, meagerly furnished room and once again drops his head into his hands.

Campeggio and Wolsey are announced and ushered into the presence chamber, where Henry is pacing back and forth in the company of Anne and several other courtiers and hangers on. Henry glares down at Wolsey for a moment before taking his hand and helping him to his feet and asking after his health. Anne, her father, and Brandon watch this in horror. Henry and Wolsey go off to the side of the room for a more private chat, and Henry tells Wolsey that he’s surrounded by liars (Wolsey hilariously turns to look at Anne at this point) and doesn’t know whom he can trust. Henry tells Wolsey not to be afraid, and they’ll talk properly in the morning. Then he leaves Wolsey to go talk to someone else, as Wolsey gasps with relief.

That night, Henry watches through a window as Wolsey speaks to some people in the courtyard, gathered with them around a burning brazier. Henry’s face registers rage and suspicion. I’m starting to wonder if Henry might be bipolar, the way he swings back and forth with his moods and treatment of others.

The next morning, presumably, Henry, Brandon, Boleyn, Anne, and a few others mount up for a ride. When Wolsey tries to approach Henry, he’s prevented by a few guards, who refuse his orders to stand aside. Henry ignores him completely and Wolsey starts to really freak out, screaming for Henry and fighting the guards, who have no trouble overpowering him.

In a quieter spot, Katherine is warmly welcoming Chapuys, who’s come to present his credentials, as promised. A lady-in-waiting takes them and Katherine invites him to sit with her by the fire. She says she’s glad he’s come, but knows that things are likely get a bit sticky for him. He smoothly reassures her that there’s no problem, and asks if he should also present his credentials to Wolsey, Ohh, wrong person to ask, Chapuys. Katherine doesn’t think there’s any need for that, since Wolsey’s been kicked out of court. Chapuys should talk to Boleyn, Norfolk, or Brandon if he wants to get anything done. She warns him that they’re definitely not friends of hers, though.

From a room over the gate of Whitehall Palace, Wolsey watches as Brandon and Norfolk gallop into the courtyard. A little while later, as he sits with a book, they show themselves into his room, and Norfolk accuses Wolsey of using his power as papal legate to overpower the king’s authority. Wolsey’s being fired, and all his stuff taken away. He asks for the king’s written authority and Brandon hands it over, smirking. I like him less, now. Brandon, you got my sympathy, don’t screw it up. Wolsey is sent to the king’s house at Jericho, to await the verdict of the court. Wolsey goes to leave, but when he reaches the crowded audience chamber, he’s mocked by the courtiers who once bowed and scraped to him.

Wolsey desperately writes a letter to Cromwell, begging him for help. He asks Cromwell to come see him so he can tell him a few important things. Cromwell reads the letter, then tears it into pieces.

Henry’s back in London, walking through the gardens at Whitehall with More. He tells More that Wosley’s pleaded guilty to all the charges against him, which More acknowledges he’s heard. He’s also heard that Wolsey’s been sent to prison, but Henry’s apparently in one of his forgiving moods and has rescinded the sentence and is even letting Wosley keep the bishopric of York. Not a bad deal, really. Henry needs a new chancellor, though, and he thinks More would be perfect for the job, being trained as a lawyer, internationally respected, and friends with Erasmus. More doesn’t exactly jump for joy. In fact, he turns Henry down flat, which just makes Henry yell that More will do as he commands. Henry admits he knows that More has issues with the divorce, but he swears up and down that it’ll only be dealt with by those whose consciences agree with it. So, More can keep his pretty hands nice and clean. Henry tells him to look to God first in everything he does, and to Henry second. More agrees, shaking Henry’s hand, and making his deal with the devil.

Previous Episode: The Beginning of the End

Next Episode: Baby, Light My Fire



2 thoughts on “The Tudors: Humpty Dumpty Had a Great Fall

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.