Previously on The Tudors: Henry failed to get his divorce and blamed it on Wolsey, who found himself kicked out of office and arrested. More took his old job, reluctantly. Anne started to convert Henry.
Well, we might as well just get right to it. We open on Henry masturbating, while leaning on a servant and fantasizing about Anne sewing. That is so utterly not something I needed to see. And also, I hope the guy playing that poor servant fired his agent, because that is the worst few seconds of screentime ever.
Calmer now (and fully dressed), Henry enters his council chamber to meet with the council. He rails about Wolsey’s doings, without actually naming him, and names Norfolk President of the Council, along with Brandon, who smirks a little at the announcement. Norfolk takes that with surprising grace. Henry tells everyone they’ll reconvene soon to discuss the divorce.
As Brandon goes to leave, Norfolk falls into step beside him and asks if Wolsey’s continuing existence doesn’t bother him at all? Brandon doesn’t seem all that upset by it, but Norfolk tells him that Wolsey wasn’t arrested for treason, which means he’s not going to get executed anytime soon, and that as long as he remains alive, he’ll be a threat to the country and to Brandon and Norfolk (and probably to Boleyn, the third leg on this little tripod). Brandon reminds Norfolk that Wolsey’s in York, far away, and in disgrace, so he’s not much of a danger. Norfolk warns him that Henry could always change his mind and forgive Wolsey and put him back in power. Charles still doesn’t seem all that worried.
In York, Wosley’s taken up residence in a leaky, drafty, dark castle with his mistress, who complains about the leaky roof, saying it needs to be fixed. Wolsey barks that there’s no money and no servants, which means no mended roof. She doesn’t think Henry wanted Wolsey to live so horribly, considering he’s still Archbishop of York. Wolsey generously muses that it probably isn’t the king’s fault, it’s Anne’s, which is why he’s writing her a suck-uppy letter. He’s trying to persuade her that he’s her friend, although I think it’s a little too late for that.
More has taken over Wolsey’s old office at court, and Cromwell observes that he hasn’t done much decorating. More prefers a more somber chamber, of course, since he considers it vain to display the trappings of his office. He fully intends to use that office’s great power, though. Cromwell sits and carefully asks just how he intends to wield said power. More happily says that he’s been hearing about sermons given by one Hugh Latimer in which he says that scripture should be written in English so anyone can read it, and he rails against pilgrimages and superstition. Perhaps most offensively (for More, that is), he says that all men are priests and there’s no real need for actual priests or popes on earth. Cromwell listens to all this, stonefaced. More goes on for a little bit about how the government’s been too lenient about these radicals in the past, and Cromwell asks him if he condemns all reformers as heretics. It seems he does.
Henry’s reading the book Anne gave him aloud to the lady herself. Specifically, he’s reading a section about how the king is essentially God on earth and his subjects should obey him as such. Oh, yeah, that’s a belief he’ll be only too happy to buy into, I’m sure. He goes on to read that popes and priests should never overrule a king. He snaps the book shut and says that this is a book for him and all kings. It does seem almost tailor-written for him and his ilk, doesn’t it? Anne tells him there are lots more books like this circulating around the kingdom, and Wolsey kept them hidden from Henry. Henry says he wants to see them, so he can resolve his annulment quickly. He promises Anne that now everything will be different.
Henry strides into his presence chamber with his usual trumpet fanfare. Chapuys is there, and Henry greets him politely before starting to quiz him on his knowledge of the religious movements afoot. Chapuys acknowledges that he’s heard of some heresies cropping up here and there. Henry tells Chapuys he wishes the pope and upper churchmen would set aside all their pomp and start living simply, as the gospels and early fathers taught. The look on Chapuys’s face shows pretty strongly that he realizes just which way Henry’s swinging these days, and that he also knows he’d better be careful here. Chapuys delicately says he knows Henry’s not exactly BFFs with the pope these days, and Henry says this isn’t about him, it’s about reform. He thinks Luther is right, in principle, to attack the excesses and corruption of the church. Luther took it a little too far by attacking the sacraments themselves, but Henry’s definitely sympathetic to the Lutheran cause. Henry tells Chapuys that he and the emperor have a duty to try to bring about reform in the church.
Brandon’s back at his country place, with Knivert in tow, and they’re apparently just coming back from a hunt. Knivert’s amazed Charles has so much time to just loaf around, since he’s got a country to run and all. Brandon says he leaves most of that to Norfolk, who has more practice (and is delighted to be left alone to run things himself, I’m sure). As they stroll towards the house, they’re met by a lovely young woman in a velvet dress, who greets Charles politely. He introduces her to Knivert as his ward, Katherine Brooke, and then sends her on her way. Knivert checks her out as she goes, and Brandon asks if he thinks she’s pretty. Knivert does, but hands off! Brandon’s planning on marrying her himself. One might wonder why any parent in their right mind would make Charles Brandon the guardian to their young, attractive daughter—well, here’s the real history. Katherine (whose last name, in real life, was Willoughby) lost her father at the age of seven and inherited his barony and considerable fortune. Her guardianship fell to the king, who sold it to Charles Brandon. Charles engaged her to his son and heir, but after Brandon’s wife, Princess Mary (Margaret to us) died, he quickly married Katherine so he could hold onto her inheritance. Which worked out, because the son she was engaged to died the following year. So, that’s that great romance. And yes, she was young enough to be his daughter. She was about 14 when they married, and he was nearly 40.
At a country house somewhere, More’s meeting with Mr. Fish, asking him why he recently returned from exile. Fish foolishly says that, with Wolsey gone, he thought that things might have changed for the better and become more tolerant. Why would he think that? Although, I guess he figured that, since More was a humanist, he wouldn’t be too prone to violence and might even be willing to hear opposing ideas. Man, was he ever wrong.
More asks if Fish has friends in the country, or at court. Fish suddenly clams up, no doubt starting to get wind of More’s leanings. More sits at his desk and asks if Fish is the author of the pamphlet he picks up. Fish admits that he is, and explains that it’s just an appeal to Henry to address the abuses of the church. More says that the pamphlet suggests that the church is trying to steal all the power and obedience from the king, and that the church itself is a source of rebellion against the crown. Fish clams up again, looking scared. More continues to read the pamphlets greatest hits for a little while, and then accuses him of heresy. Fish looks like he might need a new pair of shorts.
Anne’s really starting to move into the queenly role: she comes striding into one of the chambers at Whitehall where the courtiers gather, trailed by a couple of attendants and wearing an awesome dark purple dress. Everyone goes silent and stares, and Chapuys asks another courtier what the big deal is. The courtier explains that Anne’s wearing purple, the color of royalty. As the ambassador to an emperor, Chapuys really should have known that. Purple is, in fact, a color more commonly associated with imperial rulers. Anne’s also wearing coordinating purple jewels, including a crown. I think our girl’s getting a bit ahead of herself.
Anne stops beside a gaggle of ladies in waiting and, out of nowhere, suddenly tells one of them that she wishes all Spaniards were at the bottom of the sea. I guess she didn’t like the paella she had for dinner or something. One of the ladies tells Anne she shouldn’t be so nasty about the queen, and Anne shoots back that she cares nothing for Katherine (that much is clear, thanks) and she’d rather see her hanged than acknowledge her as her mistress. She sweeps out as the room starts to buzz, scandalized.
Henry’s signing papers, with Cromwell hovering nearby, and finally gets to the last one. Cromwell takes the papers and turns to leave, but stops just long enough for Henry to ask him to spill. Cromwell tells him that he visited a pretty smart friend of his recently, and talk turned to Henry’s divorce. The two of them came to the conclusion that approaching the matter through the courts wasn’t the best way to do it. Kings, you see, are above the law, so the matter has never been a legal one, it’s a theological one. Henry asks, if that’s the case, who should pass verdict on it?
Cromwell suggests Henry poll theologians at colleges around Europe and see what they have to say. Any verdict they pass could be implemented easily enough, and the king’s conscience would be eased.
Ok—I’m a little confused here. I thought this always was a theological matter, which is why the church was involved and passing sentence. Cardinals, not lawyers, were presiding over the trial. In fact, it didn’t seem like any lawyers were involved at all, just churchmen. I don’t really see how this is changing anything, or why theologians would think any differently from the rest of the church (unless, of course, they ask different theologians—like, say, Protestant ones who could be influenced. Which, I guess, is the real plan being hatched here).
Henry asks Cromwell to write a paper setting out his argument and to start canvassing the universities of Europe to see what their theological faculties have to say. Cromwell bows and gets right to it. As he turns to go, Henry thanks him.
More’s definitely starting to use that power of his—and not for good. We pan past a row of praying priests to More, standing by as an executioner lights a torch and prepares to set fire to a pyre that Fish is being tied to. More gives him a chance to recant his heresy, but Fish is resolute and instead begins to pray. More nods to the executioner, who lights the pyre. More watches as the man burns. At one point, he turns away, but he forces himself to look again. So much for Utopia.
Kind of horribly, we cut back to Whitehall, where merry music is playing and it looks like the gardens are alight with torches. At least, I hope those are just torches. With More running loose, you never can tell. It’s another party, of course. At the head table, Henry’s seated with Anne, Boleyn, and Norfolk. Henry turns to Boleyn and tells him he’s going to be named Earl of Wiltshire and Lord Privy Seal. Boleyn’s son, George, will take his father’s former title Lord Rochford and will become a member of the council. Boleyn’s delighted, of course, and oh my God, Henry’s wearing the most absurd outfit. I almost can’t describe it—the front is like some sort of out of control cravat studded with jewels. It does him absolutely no favors and is almost mesmerizing in its ugliness.
Talk turns to Cromwell, whom Boleyn acknowledges is a friend of the family. Henry asks if Boleyn’s read Cromwell’s paper about the divorce, which he has, and Henry asks him to visit the pope and the emperor to put his case to them. Boleyn gets a look on his face like “yeah, that’s so not going to go well” but it’s not like he can refuse.
Chapuys is apparently ditching the party to meet with Katherine. He says he hopes she’s not losing hope. She expresses some surprise that Henry’s stuck with this for so long. She thought he’d run with it for a little while and then lose interest, like he usually does, but that doesn’t seem to be the case here. Chapuys urges her to stay strong, and she says she will.
Back at the party, Anne thanks Henry for everything he’s done for her family. He tells her he’s made some changes to Wolsey’s old palace at York Place, which she said she liked in the past. He’s giving it to her. Anne looks overcome, and Henry asks if he’s made her unhappy. She replies that the only thing that would make her unhappy would be for him to stop loving her. He reassures her that London would drop into the Thames first. Oh, the many, many things she should have gotten in writing…
More watches the proceedings from the corner of the room, where he’s soon joined by Chapuys, who remarks that this looks an awful lot like a wedding feast. And indeed, Henry and Anne, dressed in white and making out at the head table, do look pretty nuptial. More sneers that he hopes such a day never comes, and then changes subjects to tell Chapuys that his new job means he’ll be spending most of his time advocating for the interests of Christendom. Chapuys wonders if Henry’s not starting to lean towards reform, but More doesn’t think so. He thinks Henry will threaten to break with Rome, but he doesn’t really have the balls to do it. Chapuys hopes More’s right, since the consequences would be pretty dire.
Norfolk and Brandon are having one of their tête-à-têtes, and Norfolk has bad news: Henry’s sent Wolsey a portrait. Brandon once again doesn’t think it’s a big deal, but Norfolk thinks it presages a reconciliation. Brandon tries to reassure him and reminds him that, when Satan fell from heaven, he wasn’t invited back. He claps Norfolk on the shoulder and takes off, leaving Norfolk to have the last word: “You were.” Ha!
Oh, great, Tallis is at the party too. He joins Wyatt (remember the poet/former lover of Anne?) and says he heard through the grapevine that Wyatt’s become a patron of Cromwell. Wyatt asks Tallis if he thinks that was wrong, and Tallis says he thinks it was, because Wyatt should be his own man. That’s all well and good, but a guy needs to eat, Tallis. Hard to write poetry when you’re homeless and starving. Wyatt says as much, and tells Tallis that Cromwell’s a cunning man. Then, like a total and utter moron, Wyatt tells Tallis that, for what it’s worth, he slept with Anne. He is so, so dead. He gets up and leaves in a snit and Tallis giggles.
Wolsey’s having a restless night, and he finally wakes his mistress, who asks what’s bugging him. He tells her he got an answer to his letter to Anne, and she basically told him to piss off. He’s got no advocate there. Wolsey’s next plan is to write to “a lady who’s far greater” than Anne, and far more likely to be kind. Good God, does he mean Katherine? He must be desperate, and also delusional if he thinks she’ll lift a finger to help him. She HATES him, and he knows it. She’s also about as welcome at court right now as he is, so I’m not sure what she could do to help him, even if she wanted to.
Speaking of Katherine, she’s sitting by the fire in her robe, stitching away on a shirt, when one of her ladies informs her that Henry’s stopped by for a visit. The ladies make themselves scarce as she goes to greet him, and Henry invites Katherine to sit. He came because he’d heard she wasn’t feeling well, so he asks how she’s doing. She reassures him that she’s fine now. Henry also asks after Mary, who writes to her mother in perfect Latin, dances galliards every day, and plays the lute beautifully, according to Katherine. Henry smiles briefly, clearly pleased to hear it. A little harshly, Katherine says that Henry should be proud of his daughter, and he replies in a hard voice that he is. The slight eyebrow raise she uses to respond to that is sort of passive aggressively awesome, and also just the kind of look I’ve seen some long-married ladies employ to say that they don’t exactly believe or agree with what their spouse is saying, but they’re not actually going to say so out loud because it’s not worth the effort of an argument. Katherine tells Henry he should really invite Mary to court, so he can see her progress in person.
Katherine’s demeanor is really different here from what we’ve seen in the past. Before, she was pleasant and submissive to Henry, but there are no smiles and no bowing and scraping to him now. She stands tall, and she has a determined look to her. Good for her.
She informs Henry that she knows all about Cromwell and his agents going abroad to gather opinions about the divorce, and she warns him that for every scholar that comes down on his side, she’ll find 1,000 that’ll back her up. And with that, she leaves. Go Kate!
Looking weary, Henry meets with his council and tells them that he’s getting reports pretty much every day that say the people of England aren’t too happy. And neither is he—he has no money with which to run the government and they have to borrow money at pretty lousy rates (and whose fault is that, Henry? Your father left you an enormous fortune, which you then spent on jousts, jewelry, and a navy.) He demands to know what the councilors suggest, but when Brandon starts to speak up, Henry just yells at him. Brandon checks out, mentally, for the duration of Henry’s tantrum, and I don’t really blame him. Man, JRM is really not pretty when he’s mad. He gets all red and vein-y.
Henry starts bellowing that he used to think Wolsey was vain and useless, but he’s starting to appreciate the burden he carried uncomplainingly. Uh oh, that sounds a bit like sympathy to me. Norfolk, who looks a little checked out as well, rouses himself enough to remind Henry that Wolsey also stole from him (hence the empty coffers, Henry. See how that works?) and put the interests of the French ahead of those of England. Henry asks More if he agrees with that, and More, ever the lawyer, hedges his answer, and just says that Wolsey was vainglorious beyond measure, which did him a great deal of harm and made him abuse the gifts God (and Henry) gave him. Henry says that Wolsey was still better than all of them, because he managed the kingdom well. I’m the tiniest bit confused, here. Wasn’t there always a council? Wolsey wasn’t just running things on his own all this time, was he? I know that he was essentially in charge of things, but these guys all still would have been involved in the running of England, it wasn’t something Wolsey was doing single handedly. If Henry should be mad at anyone for not properly filling Wolsey’s shoes, it should be More, who got Wolsey’s old job. But I digress.
Henry gets up and stomps out and Norfolk asks Charles to talk some sense into him.
Chapuys pays Katherine another visit and hands over a letter from Wolsey. Katherine seems surprised by this turn of events and asks Chapuys if he knows what it says. He does: the cardinal is offering to broker peace between himself and Katherine by making peace between the emperor and Rome, which I kind of thought already happened during that meeting between the emperor, the French, and the pope’s agents we heard about last episode. Anyway, Wolsey will also persuade the pope to issue a papal edict ordering Henry to leave Anne and return to Katherine. Do they really think Henry will obey such an order at this point, after all he’s done so far? That’s pretty naïve of them. Katherine looks like she’s falling for it, though. Wolsey asks the emperor to offer moral and monetary support and to insist that Wolsey be reinstated as chancellor. Katherine eagerly asks Chapuys if he thinks this plan will work, and Chapuys offers that Wolsey is nothing if not ingenious.
Out in the gardens, Henry’s taking a walk with More and telling him to set up a new parliament, since important things need to be done, like raising money. More says he’ll do what Henry asks, but warns him that this parliament might not be as compliant as earlier ones. How so? Henry asks. More, like a complete hypocrite, says that he totally supports freedom of speech (unless, of course, that speech happens to differ from his own religious views), but worries that such freedom has been abused. He says there are plenty of dissenting voices in the kingdom, particularly those relating to religious matters.
Henry considers this for a moment, then suddenly asks More how many he’s burned. More looks started to realize Henry actually has a clue, but finally responds that he’s burned six. Well done, Tom, I’m sure that’s not feeding the flames (no pun intended) of resentment at all. More reassures Henry that all the burnings were lawful, necessary (yes, Fish was clearly a dangerous radical), and well done. Well done? Is that supposed to be funny? Well done in what sense? That the guys came out roasted and dead? Yeah, I guess in that case, they were well done. Henry seems just as uncertain about this as I do, but he says nothing, just sadly walks away.
Norfolk, Brandon, Anne, and, I think, George are gathered around a rather somber dinner table. Brandon asks Norfolk what Henry said, exactly, and Norfolk tells him that Henry indicated he wanted to pardon Wolsey and restore him to favor. Anne asks her uncle how he responded to that, and Nofolk says that he agreed with Henry that the cardinal has many talents. Anne can’t believe he’d say such a thing and reminds Norfolk that he himself said Wolsey would take some pretty serious revenge on them all if he ever had the power to do so. I bet she’s regretting the response to that letter now. Norfolk says he’s just sucking up to the king, to protect himself. That answer doesn’t please Anne.
Henry meets with Cromwell and Boleyn in his study, and learns that the University of Paris, apparently the greatest prize of all, has sided with Henry in the divorce case, and while Italy’s still divided, universities in Florence, Padua, and Venice are on his side as well. Henry’s pleased to hear that, but when he asks about Spain, he learns that Spain has declared against him. Henry’s not surprised, seeing as how that’s Katherine’s home country and all. He then asks Boleyn how his meeting with the emperor and the pope went. Judging from the look on Boleyn’s face, not well.
Not well indeed. The emperor refused to see him, and the pope gave him an edict to deliver to Henry. Henry asks Cromwell to read it, and it apparently orders Henry to kick Anne out of court and to refrain from remarrying while the papal curia is deciding his case. Henry seems both surprised and a bit pissed about this, although I don’t know why he didn’t see it coming. How did he think they were going to respond?
Cromwell leaves Henry and is almost immediately waylaid by Wyatt, who tells him there’s someone he needs to see, regarding Wolsey. Boleyn, meanwhile, is himself waylaid by Chapuys, who asks a favor: he wants Boleyn to use his influence to pull England away from heresy and bring it back towards the Catholic fold. He begs him, in the name of Christ and his apostles, and Boleyn reveals his true colors by spitting that he doesn’t think Christ ever had apostles, not even St. Peter. He thinks all those men were liars who pretended to speak in Christ’s name. As Boleyn leaves, Chapuys crosses himself, as though to purify his soul after having heard such heresy. Oh, Chapuys, we’re just getting started. That arm of yours is going to fall off before we’re done here.
Wyatt has taken Cromwell to meet with a nervous looking man dressed in black (black’s a big color this episode, actually). The man’s named Augustini, and he’s a private physician to Cardinal Wolsey. He also has a really bad stutter, poor man. That must make it really hard to ask patients for symptoms and to discuss diagnoses. Cromwell asks Augustini what he knows, and the doctor spills that Wolsey’s been in touch with the emperor and the pope, asking them for help. Wolsey, according to Augustini, is trying to turn the pope against the king. Augustini also tells Cromwell that Wolsey’s been in touch with Katherine. I can’t help but wonder why the doctor would know all this. Would Wolsey really be discussing such things with or in front of his physician? He seems more careful than that. Anyway, Cromwell says that Henry needs to know about that and he takes off.
Apparently he tells him right away, because when we next see Henry, he’s sitting in his bedroom, staring into the distance, clearly trying to figure out what to do. In the background, Anne removes a deck of cards from a box on a bureau and tells Henry he needs to act now, because clearly these priests and prelates think they can control Henry’s kingdom. I wonder if Wolsey’s aware he handed Anne the perfect ammunition to use against him? She also points out that, by taking orders from the pope, Wolsey was essentially acting as an agent for a foreign country, which is treason. She rails against the presumption of the pope for daring to think he could tell Henry what to do. She leaves it at that, and Henry continues to stare into the distance.
In a nice bookend, we cut immediately to Katherine, also seated and staring contemplatively at nothing in particular.
Looks like Henry made up his mind quickly: we move suddenly to Wosley’s place, where the bedroom door is being busted down by guards who have come to rouse the sleeping cardinal and arrest him for treason. Wolsey is wrestled out of bed as Brandon strides in and tells him he’s under arrest. Wolsey’s mistress sobs and embraces him, but he urges her to be strong. He apologizes for not leaving her anything to remember him by, and she tearfully tells him they had a life together, which is plenty to remember him by. It’s actually quite touching. She kisses him on the forehead and Brandon, softening a little, gives them their moment before telling the guards to chain Wolsey and take him away. Wolsey opines that, if he’d served God as diligently as he did the king, he wouldn’t have given Wolsey up in his old age. I think that might have been an actual quote from the real Wolsey.
Chapuys is done—he informs Katherine that he can’t, in good conscience, continue to serve the emperor at Henry’s court, considering all the vitriol being spewed towards the church these days. Katherine looks incredibly sad as she realizes she’s about to lose her one ally and confidante. She sends him off with good wishes, though, and asks him to say hi to the emperor for her. He promises to tell the emperor everything about Henry’s treatment of her, and Katherine asks him to also ask the emperor not to attack England on her behalf, because she knows that it wouldn’t be good for her adoptive country. The sad look Chapuys gives her is so sweet, I kind of want to give him a hug. For some bizarre reason, he kind of reminds me of an Ewok, and who doesn’t want to hug an Ewok?
En route to London, Wolsey says his rosary in a cell, late at night. He finishes, sets the rosary aside, and goes over to a table, where a knife sits next to an apple and a hunk of cheese. He slices a piece off the apple and gets a thoughtful look on his face.
At court, the courtiers have gathered in that room where they’re always partying. Two actors come running in, dressed up as Punch and Judy. Punch chases Judy through the room, pretending to beat her with a giant stick he’s wielding. Charming. The courtiers, including Cromwell, think it’s hilarious. Three other actors dressed as mice climb onto a stage in the middle of the room and pretend to set upon a banquet table up there.
In his cell, Wolsey kneels and begins to pray.
At court, an actor dressed as a cardinal is felt up by two actresses playing scantily clad concubines, who lead him over to the banquet table and start showering him with jewels.
Wolsey, dressed in a rough shirt, looking old and defeated, continues to pray, looking like the complete opposite of the actor/cardinal. He speaks sincerely to a crucifix on the wall, saying he knows there can be no forgiveness for what he’s done and for what he’s about to do, and I think most people can guess what’s on his intentions are, even if they’re not familiar with the Catholic church’s stance on suicide (it’s murder, essentially, so you go right to hell for it, since obviously you can’t be absolved of the sin before you die).
The cardinal/actor kisses and embraces a gold, jewel-encrusted cross before being attacked by a man wearing armor and wings and then being beset by devils.
Not in the partying mood, More prays frantically in Latin.
Wolsey continues to speak, knowing he’ll never get to heaven, but saying that he’s seen eternity, although it turned out to be a fleeting dream. Wolsey finishes up by saying he knows very well what he is, and he throws himself on God’s forgiveness, knowing that he doesn’t deserve it. Meanwhile, the cardinal/actor is led screaming towards the fiery gates of hell as the courtiers laugh. This whole section was actually really well done, cutting back and forth between the merry scene at court to the much more somber, sad one with Wolsey. Between the perception of what he was and the reality.
Wolsey finishes his prayer, steels himself, and walks over to the table with the knife as, at court, the devil himself appears and welcomes the cardinal/actor to hell.
Out of the shot, Wolsey slits his own throat, and falls to the floor.
Henry’s getting in some archery practice in the company of Knivert when Cromwell arrives and quietly breaks the news of Wolsey’s death. Henry takes a moment to process that, and his face actually falls. It’s pretty believable that, despite everything Wolsey’s done and how he let Henry down, Henry would be affected by the man’s death. Wolsey was a pretty important player in Henry’s life, and he probably would have continued to be, had the divorce not come between them. He helped a young king out a great deal over the years.
Henry asks Cromwell how Wolsey died, and Cromwell very quietly tells him he took his own life. Henry’s face crumples a bit as he realizes he bears a lot of responsibility for that, and he whispers to Cromwell that nobody must ever know that. Cromwell’s looking pretty devastated himself. Henry pulls back, and covers his true feelings by saying loudly that he’ll finish his game, and then they’ll talk. Cromwell bows and withdraws, and Henry dismisses Knivert and the others. Once they’re gone, he walks heavily away from the archery grounds as his face convulses slightly ahead of some major tears.
Bishop Fisher is meeting (presumably secretly) with More to tell him he’s heard that, on Henry’s orders, several clergymen have been arrested. More tells Fisher that there’s a statute before parliament right now that states that, in all matters both spiritual and temporal, the king is above the law. I can’t see how a law like that could ever go wrong! Fisher looks pretty freaked out and asks what’s going on here. More remembers something Wolsey once told him: never tell the king what he can do, because if he knew his own strength, nobody could control him. I guess you really should have passed that gem along to Cromwell, More. More realizes that they’re hovering on the edge of an abyss.
Henry and Anne go out hunting, alone, and find themselves in an impossibly romantic wood. Henry turns his horse to look at her, and she looks back with her head cocked a little curiously. Henry dismounts, removing his fur-trimmed cloak, and Anne follows, tossing her hat aside, clearly game for what’s to come. She pulls her jacket open and Henry pins her to a tree, kissing her and removing her top entirely. He pauses just long enough to tell her he wants her. I think she’s aware.
Suddenly, they’re on the forest floor, and she’s riding him like, well, the horse she just climbed off of. He flips her over and they both get really, really into it, but then, rather unrealistically, he informs her that he’s about to climax. What guy does that? Anne tells him he can’t, not before they’re married, and Henry screams in frustration as he rolls off of her. He pants, and then continues to scream as he rises, gathers his clothes, and stalks off. Anne sobs and moans in frustration herself.
And that’s it for season one! Not a bad way to end it, but I do find myself wondering—what was up with that bizarre subplot with Thomas Tallis and the ghostly dead sister? Weird to begin with, and absolutely no resolution. It was just further proof that that character was incredibly superfluous. Oh well. Otherwise, good season. It definitely moved; in ten episodes, it covered a lot of ground. Just think of where we were when we started out—with Henry playing tennis with his buddies and screwing around with Bessie Blount and trying to make friends with the King of France. Oh, those lovely, innocent days.
Season two, coming right up!