Previously on The Tudors: Katherine died and Anne got pregnant again, which I’m sure will end quite happily for her, right? Right? Also, Henry met the lovely blonde Jane Seymour and invited her to court and Cromwell started busting up monasteries in a big way.
Jane’s made it to court and is being escorted through that great hall where everyone hangs out by a young man, presumably her brother, Edward. He leads her to the door of Anne’s rooms and she goes in. One of the other ladies looks her up and down and snottily informs her that Anne’s on her way and Jane’s not to say a word until she’s given leave. What a friendly workplace!
Anne sweeps in, already dressed in Tudor-era maternity wear. Once she’s there, a secretary invites Jane to place her hand on the bible and swear to serve Anne well and faithfully and, basically, to not be a slut. She swears as Anne looks on, silently appraising the newcomer. Once the swearing’s done, Anne approaches Jane and looks her fully in the face as Jane modestly casts her eyes down. Anne merely says Jane’s name, then sweeps out of the room.
Back out in the great hall, Henry walks through as Brereton looks on from the minstrel’s gallery above. He catches Chapuys’s eye, and the ambassador soon joins him and tells Brereton that he’s gotten his hands on a copy of Katherine’s autopsy report. While most of the organs were normal, Katherine’s heart had a rather nasty growth on it, which people back then thought meant poison, and people now tend to think means cancer. Chapuys is on the poison train and worries about Mary becoming the next victim. Chapuys notes that Cromwell’s watching them and parts company with Brereton.
Back downstairs, Chapuys is intercepted by Henry, who seems to have had one too many espressos this morning. He’s got that weird wild-eyed hyperactive thing going on again. He sends his congratulations to the Emperor for wresting Tunis from the hands of the Turks. He tells Chapuys to convey his love to the Emperor and then, dropping his voice to a bedroomy whisper, asks him to tell the Emperor that, of all the princes in the world, Henry admires him the most. This is not the first time I’ve been a little wierded out by JRM’s slightly sexualized line reading, and I’m pretty sure it won’t be the last.
Wow, I didn’t expect to be proven right so soon. Henry and Cromwell head into Henry’s study, where he presses Cromwell against a wall, gets into his personal space, and whispers that now the Emperor’s not distracted by the Turks, he’s free to turn on England. Even Cromwell looks a little creeped out. Henry finally backs off and says he hopes to renew his friendship with the emperor, and he wants Cromwell to talk to Chapuys and get a price on that friendship. Who says you can’t buy love?
Henry asks after the reforms, and Cromwell informs him that the bill to dissolve the larger religious houses will be put before Parliament at the next session. Henry’s glad to hear it, probably because he needs the money to start buying expensive crap for Jane.
As Cromwell turns to go, Henry suddenly brings up his family, asking after Cromwell’s wife and son. Cromwell mentions he had two daughters as well, but they both died. Henry invites him to bring the wife and kid to court so he can meet them.
Henry and Anne are walking into the chapel, dressed in black. As they walk past her assorted ladies-in-waiting, Henry really obviously checks out Jane, which, of course, isn’t lost on Anne. Cranmer materializes and asks Anne to follow him. She does, glancing back at Henry and Jane. The ladies fall into formation behind her, with Jane bringing up the rear. She glances back over her shoulder a few times, to make sure Henry’s still looking, and smiles, pleased, when she sees he is.
Cranmer unlocks a gate and moves into a crowd of the Great Unwashed. It’s Maundy Thursday, a day when, traditionally, the queen gives alms and washes the feet of poor people. Um, ok. Madge ties an apron around Anne’s waist (which Anne raises higher to accentuate her growing belly) and Anne starts handing coins out to the grasping crowd. One of the women in the crowd comments that what they’re getting is twice as much as Katherine gave, so, yeah, looks like buying love and loyalty is the theme for this hour, right? The ladies join in on the alms giving, Jane smiling beatifically as she does so. Because she’s just so good when she’s not making bedroom eyes at another woman’s husband. Anne kneels to start washing some presumably nasty feet.
Also having a humble day—King Francis of France. He walks into the Pope’s audience chamber barefoot and dressed in raggedy clothing. The Pope greets him (he’s coming as a pilgrim and penitent, which explains the garb) and welcomes him to Rome. Francis kneels and kisses the Pope’s feet as Pope O’Toole praises him for remaining loyal. The Pope tells Francis he plans to excommunicate Henry, which was a big friggin deal, and he’s relying on Francis to back the excommunication, up to and including attacking England and overthrowing Henry. Francis doesn’t seem too keen on the idea, but he did just promise to do anything the Pope asked, so he can’t really refuse, although he clearly wants to.
In the palace gardens, Anne’s getting the 411 on the Seymour family from her father. She learns the following: they’re an old family, the father has fought in wars, and there are two sons, Edward and Thomas. Edward’s steady and cold, Thomas is rash, but both are ambitious and greedy (Thomas perhaps far more than Edward, which would bite him so hard in the ass in later years). The family’s all taken the oath, but nobody seems to know how completely they’ve renounced Catholicism. And actually, Jane’s loyalty was even more questionable because she used to be a lady-in-waiting to Katherine, to whom she was devoted, and left court for a while after Katherine was kicked out by Henry. At least, that’s how it was in real life, though not in the universe of this show. Anyway, Boleyn’s hoping to find out the Seymours are secret Catholics so he can use the information against them. Ok, I get why Anne’s concerned about Jane, but what makes the rest of the family really worth Boleyn’s time? The others aren’t even at court, are they? They’ve just been kicking around their country house. So, why is he concerned about them?
Cromwell’s shuffling papers around on his desk when Chapuys is announced and ushered in. Cromwell gets right down to business and tells Chapuys that Henry’s interested in making an alliance with the Emperor. Chapuys says he’s already been in touch with the Emperor, who likes the idea of an alliance and, as a show of good faith, is willing to try and persuade the Pope not to excommunicate Henry. Wow, that’s nice of him. Cromwell is pleased with this, but knows there’s got to be more to the deal. Chapuys goes on—now that Katherine’s dead, the Emperor is happy to show his support for Henry’s marriage to Anne, as long as Henry declares Princess Mary his legitimate heir. Yeah, Cromwell’s going to have trouble persuading Henry of that. He apparently agrees to me, because he gets up and pours himself a big ol’ goblet of wine before promising to put the proposal before Henry. He warns Chapuys, however, that this is going to be a hard sell. Chapuys seems ready for the fight.
In the great hall, Wyatt’s hard at work on a new poem while Mark Smeaton, seated beside him, watches Jane walk by and comments that she’s quite pretty. Please, Mark, I don’t think you’re fooling anyone at this point. Wyatt doesn’t care—he hands over the poem and Mark reads it aloud. It’s not exactly a love sonnet, and honestly Wyatt’s looking like a bit of a mess. The poem’s about Lady Elizabeth, whose stupid and unlikely suicide is still bugging him (did I mention before that, in real life, Lady Elizabeth became Wyatt’s longtime mistress and had a couple of kids with him? They remained together until he died.) He talks about how awful it is to see “the fruits of sensual bondage swinging from a rope.” Sigh. Ok, first of all—the fruits of sensual bondage? What the hell does that even mean? Wouldn’t the fruits of sensual bondage be a baby? Second, what’s this guy’s deal? Why does this show keep trying to sell us on some great love story between him and Elizabeth when, in reality, they had zero chemistry and no buildup? It seemed like just another roll in the hay for him, but now we’re supposed to believe he was madly in love with her? Why?
Oh, whatever. Wyatt gets back to his poem.
Jane’s made it to the other end of the great hall, where she’s pulled aside by a groom, who tells her that “a friend” wishes a word with her. She hesitates to follow him (making her one of the smartest women on this show) and asks which friend. He doesn’t respond, just asks her to come along, and she does (knocking her back down to foolish status). He leads her to a room, and once she steps inside, he bows his way out, closing the door behind him. I at first thought something sinister was going to happen—like Anne was going to try and trick her into being found in a compromising position, but it turns out the room is Henry’s. Once she sees him, Jane sinks to the floor in a deep curtsey, and Henry walks up to her and kneels in front of her. He takes her hand and asks to be allowed to serve and worship her, as Lancelot served and worshiped Guinevere. Uh, has he not read that story? It doesn’t turn out well. Plus, Lancelot served Guinevere by sleeping with her. Of course, I’m guessing Henry knows that part and is not-so-subtly saying he wants to bone Jane. And she’ll probably agree because, you know, foolish status.
She does agree, after thinking about it for a moment or two, and then gives Henry permission to kiss her hand. Why the courtly love with this one, Henry? Every other woman he’s met he’s just tried to toss in the sack at the first chance he got, including Anne. Maybe he’s bored with that and wants to playact something different.
Henry rises and leaves the room. Jane remains on the floor, looking after him longingly, her hand still outstretched, a little pathetically.
Anne’s passing a quiet evening with her brother, George, and asking him about the Seymours. He admits to having met Edward a time or two and calls him a cold fish. He asks Anne if she’s afraid of them, and she tells him their father thinks they’re secret supporters of Mary. George says it’s too bad Mary’s not dead like Katherine, and Anne says she hears Mary’s ill, again, which you’d think would make her happy, because illnesses tended to be fairly deadly in those days. It turns out Anne’s pissed because Henry’s given permission for Mary to leave Elizabeth’s household to recover, which to Anne indicates Henry’s overly fond of his oldest daughter. George hopes Mary will soon be seeing the inside of a grave. What charming evenings together these two have!
In her room, Jane’s having a powwow with her dad and brother, Edward. Wow, we’re right back in early Boleyn land aren’t we? All we need is a creepy, meddling uncle to complete the picture. Seymour’s delighted that Henry’s offered to serve his daughter, but Edward, more practical, observes that Henry’s formed an affection that needs to be carefully nurtured. Jane looks a little bummed to hear there might be some work involved. Edward turns to her and urges her not to become just another notch on Henry’s bedpost. Jane cringes away from her brother, offended by the very idea, and Seymour steps in to tell his son that Jane doesn’t need a lecture on modesty or virtue, because, as I’ve said, she’s just that good. Edward’s got his eye on the ball and mentions that it would be fairly awesome for their family if this thing with Jane and Henry works out. Jane’s shocked to learn that the men in her family think she could actually become queen in Anne’s place. Jane, you noodlehead, what do you think they’ve been talking about all this time? You really think your family’s going to get far if you just let Henry kiss your hand every once in a while? How long has this girl been at court? Doesn’t she know how things work yet?
Edward, at least, is nice enough to ask Jane if she’d like to be queen, and she just snorts and sits back down on the bed, still looking bewildered and slightly overwhelmed.
Henry’s enjoying a nice game of chess with Sir Henry Norris, and he asks after Norris’s pursuit of Anne’s cousin, Madge. Norris seems a little less keen than he was earlier—he’s been enjoying the liberty that comes with singlehood. Henry laughs and says he understands. Henry then gets thoughtful for a little while, hinting to Norris that he’s pursuing his own young lady at the moment, but then he snaps out of it and tells Norris they should go jousting again, as they used to. He invites Norris to organize said joust and Norris accepts.
George Boleyn wanders into his bedroom, looking tired, and flops into his bed just in time for his wife to come out of a nearby room, tearing at her hair so violently with a comb I’m surprised she doesn’t rip it right out of her head. She demands to know where he’s been, and he tells her he had meetings. She doesn’t believe him, because she’s sure he’s having an affair. He doesn’t have the energy for this and just goes ahead and admits it’s true. She tearfully says that the worst part is that he’s not sleeping with another woman, but with a man. First off, I would think that would make the cheating less painful, because at least you know the problem’s not you (you know, not your looks or personality or anything). Second, how did she figure that out? If she could figure it out, how come nobody else has? I don’t think this girl’s the sharpest knife in the drawer, you know?
George’s sad face indicates her worst fears are true, and she starts babbling about how it’s a sin against God and nature, and I instantly tune out, as I always do when these sorts of arguments come up, no matter how period-correct they are. George gets rough, grabs her face, and tells her living with her is its own special sort of hell, and right now I kind of agree with him. He then tosses her onto the bed and leaves.
Guess Norris got right on that tournament—the whole court’s gathered for the show. Brandon gallops out, sadly wearing full armor, so we don’t get to admire his prettiness, and bows to his wife, who’s sitting next to Mrs. George. Mrs. George compliments Duchess Kate’s fine husband and then looks pissy, because her marriage sucks. Brandon wins the point, so now it’s Boleyn’s turn to look pissed, because any time something even slightly good happens to Brandon, it’s time for the Boleyns to get all hateful. Is it wrong that I’m actually starting to kind of root for the downfall of these miserable people?
Duchess Kate eyes the two empty thrones on the dais and asks where Anne is. Mrs. George says bitchily that Anne worried that the excitement of the tournament might harm her unborn son, or so she supposes it to be. Duchess Kate gives the woman a look like “the hell is your problem today?”
Henry exits a large tent near the jousting arena just as Jane comes wandering by. He greets her and asks to wear her favors during the joust. Jane, by the way, is wearing a GIANT jeweled cross around her neck. She barely hesitates before untying a ribbon from around her wrist and handing it to Henry. He kisses it and Boleyn somehow sees. He shoots a horrified look at the Seymours, who are seated way on the end of the same bench as Boleyn. Henry enters the arena to face off against Henry Norris. Brandon, having thankfully removed his helmet, takes a seat beside his wife, who sweetly congratulates him.
Henry and Norris charge, and Norris knocks Henry clean off his horse and into the barrier separating the two horsemen. Many of the spectators, including Brandon and Boleyn father and son, race to Henry’s side, George babbling “is he dead? Is he dead?” Brandon throws him aside and helps a doctor turn Henry over and remove his helmet. Henry’s out cold, with a nasty gash on his cheek. The doctor tells Brandon to take Henry into the pavilion, and he calls on Edward Seymour and George Boleyn to help him. Jane follows as part of the crowd, looking devastated.
Madge bursts into Anne’s rooms, bleating for her mistress, but when Anne asks what happened, Madge blanks out completely. It’s bizarre—it’s almost like an alien briefly took over her body, that’s how blank she looks. This girl is thicker than a horse’s hoof, I’ll tell ya. No wonder Norris reconsidered marrying her. Anne actually snaps her fingers in Madge’s face to break her out of it, and Madge breaks the news that Henry’s fallen from his horse and is likely to die. The news freaks out Anne, of course, and she clutches her belly for a minute before Mark steps in and holds her comfortingly. She clings to him, like he can do anything to help her.
In the pavilion, Henry’s been laid out on a table and is being attended by his physician, who can’t seem to do much for him. He tells Brandon and the others gathered that Henry’s in God’s hands. A priest starts to pray as Boleyn drags George away to head back to Whitehall to consolidate power in case Henry dies.
At Whitehall, Cromwell’s hard at work, his office buzzing with flunkies and attendees. A messenger comes in with no good news—Henry still shows no signs of life. Except, presumably, for breathing and having a heartbeat and pulse. It’s been almost an hour since the accident.
In the pavilion, attendants pray over Henry, while Anne kneels in the chapel royal, praying her heart out. She even lays herself out on the altar.
Boleyn, meanwhile, is seeing to business, asking Cromwell how things are being handled. Cromwell informs him that they’re making preparations for Elizabeth’s immediate coronation, in case of Henry’s death. That seems a bit premature. At the very least, they’d wait until after Anne gave birth, in case her child’s a boy. The plans put Anne and Boleyn in charge of things during Elizabeth’s minority. Everything else seems to be well in hand—they’ve closed the ports and put extra guards on Mary. Boleyn gets a little snotty, but Cromwell awesomely shuts him up, without even looking up from the papers he’s signing. I’m going to miss Cromwell.
Pavilion—Henry’s still unconscious. Brandon, Seymour, and the doctor are at his side, along with a very guilty looking Norris. Outside, Jane’s kneeling melodramatically on the ground, praying.
At Whitehall, George is wondering aloud if it would be such a bad thing if Henry died, since it would put his daddy in charge.
Anne cries as she prays in the chapel, but she turns when Cromwell comes in. He kneels behind her, and they both get to praying like crazy.
Henry wakes up. Seriously, just like that. His eyes fly open, catching even his careful watchers unawares. Charles laughs in relief when Henry whispers his name, and he starts hugging Seymour. Henry painfully reaches into his armor and pulls out Jane’s ribbon, which he crumples in his fist.
Back at Whitehall, Boleyn’s hollowly telling a pacing Anne that they must all be grateful that Henry’s not dead, but it’s made the production of a son that much more important. I’m pretty sure she’s aware, Boleyn. You’ve only been making a huge deal out of it since before she and Henry were even married. He urges her to be careful and avoid excitement and exertion. Anne’s agitated and starts bitching about Jane, so Boleyn snaps at her to chill out and stop worrying about such stupid things when there are bigger matters at stake. He reminds Anne that once she’s given Henry a son, she can do whatever she wants, including getting rid of the Seymours.
Henry’s in bed, having an ugly wound on his leg tended to by a doctor. The doctor tells him the fall reopened an old wound, and an ulcer has formed. This is actually historically correct, and that leg wound was one of the reasons Henry go so disgustingly, enormously fat later on in life. He couldn’t move enough to work off all those giant dinners he kept eating. The physician goes on to start lecturing Henry about how, even though he’s still young (wrong—Henry was in his mid-40’s by this time, which was pretty up there for the 16th century) he can’t go running around and jousting like he used to. Henry’s not listening, though, because he’s too busy admiring Jane’s ribbon.
The lady herself has retreated to her family’s home in the country, where Brandon’s been dispatched to deliver a message from Henry. Brandon, smiling happily at her, hands over a letter and a purse full of money to Jane, who’s far less offended by the cash than I would be. She presses the letter to her lips, and then to her bosom.
Party time! The court’s celebrating Henry’s miraculous recovery, and he’s telling Anne he’s glad that, through his foolishness, she didn’t end up miscarrying. She jumps right on his mention of foolishness and he tells her it was a mistake to think he could behave as he used to. He kisses her hand and reassures her that those carefree days are gone, as Wyatt glances over from a nearby banquet table and Brereton looks on attentively, listening to everything that’s said.
Anne mentions that Elizabeth was brought by for a visit, and everyone admired her (um, of course they did, Anne.) Henry compliments Anne, so she uses that as an opportunity to once again press for Henry to open negotiations with King Francis to marry Elizabeth to his son. Henry gets exasperated and chides her for talking of Elizabeth when Mary isn’t yet engaged. Ohhhh, way to press that button, Henry. Before things can get ugly, Henry gets up to greet Brandon. They walk together, away from the head table and Anne, and Henry asks how Jane received the letter and gift. Brandon answers that she returned both and asks Henry to only make her a present of money when she’s made an honorable marriage. Good girl, I should have given her more credit. Henry seems pleased by her modest behavior, making me wonder if this was some kind of test.
Cromwell’s missing the party, because he’s the only person who ever works around here. Chapuys has also ducked out, it seems, in order to meet with Cromwell and ask if Henry’s received the Emperor’s proposal. Apparently not, because Cromwell knows it’ll be a losing battle to try and persuade Henry to legitimize Mary. Chapuys takes this in stride and wonders aloud what they can do. Cromwell suggests finding a way around their biggest obstacle (Anne).
Jane’s back at court, and being shown into Henry’s study. He tries to rise to greet her, but the pain in his leg is too much, so instead, he has her come in and sit on his lap. Well, way to find a way to make that injury work for you, Henry. He whispers that he won’t see her alone in future, he’ll make sure she has other family members present, but he wanted to see her alone this once, so he can tell her that thinking of her helped him pull through his injury and saved his life. She’s gullible enough to fall for it, and lets him kiss her, twice, at which point, of course, Anne walks in and promptly loses her shit. Jane hops off Henry’s lap, and then leaves so Henry can attempt to ease his wife’s totally legitimate fears. He manages to get her calmed down at last.
Later that night, Madge and another lady-in-waiting are playing cards when their evening is interrupted by Anne screaming from her bedroom. Madge bursts in and sees Anne kneeling on the bed, wailing and bleeding heavily. Madge dispatches a lady for help as Anne lays down, pathetically clenching her legs together, like that can somehow hold the baby in.
Henry, clearly pissed, bursts into Anne’s rooms the next day. A few ladies are washing some bloody linens, and Anne’s in bed, sobbing. Henry shakes his head and horribly tells her that she’s “lost [his] boy” and he can’t even speak of it, because the loss is too great. Man, he really is a class-A asshole, isn’t he? Oh, I’m sorry, Henry, this is hard on you? You poor thing. He bellows that he sees God won’t grant him any male children, and when Anne’s up, he’ll have a proper talk with her.
Anne’s not going to take that lying down, though, and when he turns to go, she calls after him that this wasn’t entirely her fault, it was actually his, because she was distressed after seeing him with Jane. Henry, his back to her, struggles not to cry, and once he gets control of himself, he coldly tells her he’ll speak with her when she’s well. He leaves, and Anne screams in agony.
Henry goes immediately to his study to stare broodingly out the window. Once Cromwell comes in, Henry tells him he believes his marriage is invalid, because he was seduced by witchcraft. Henry’s decided to take another wife, because that’s just what he does.
And so it begins again!