The Tudors: Paris, Je T’Aime

Previously on The Tudors: Henry was named Head of the Church of England and kicked Katherine out of the palace. The pope essentially put out a hit on Anne which looks like it might actually be going forward. More and Bishop Fisher were nearly poisoned to death, at Boleyn’s order.

The camera pushes in on a man playing cards. We don’t see his face. He sets out a queen marked with an A and slashes it in half. Subtle, faceless guy.

In parliament, Fisher is urging his fellow clergymen not to give in and answer to any earthly power, because their power has been ordained by God. He adds that the clergy should be free from the threat of assassination as they uphold the sanctity of the church. Boleyn, George, and Cromwell all look uncomfortable, in their places out in the audience. Boleyn mutters to his son that Henry can’t continue to allow this sort of seditious talk.

Whitehall Palace is all decked out for Christmas, with swags over the doorways and holly spread out over the tables inside. Mark Smeaton wanders around with a lute (much more period appropriate than last episode’s violin) and, when he runs into Wyatt, he asks why everyone seems so glum. Wyatt informs him that things are pretty quiet because the queen’s not there, and neither are her ladies, although Katherine and her ladies never really seemed like the partying types to me.

In the throne room, Anne and Henry are seated side-by-side on the dais as servants bring in their Christmas presents and a musician plays “Greensleeves” in the background. Nice to see Henry’s getting a lot of use out of that little tune. Henry’s giving Anne some expensive sheets and blankets (and a bed to go with them, apparently), and she gives him some wicked looking boar spears. Henry’s happy with his new toys. A servant comes in with yet another gift for Henry. It’s a lovely chalice. Henry admires it, and asks who sent it. The poor servant, who either picked the short straw or doesn’t know what happened to the last guy who brought Henry something from Katherine, tells him it’s from the queen. Henry refuses to accept it and the guy bows and withdraws. Anne squeezes Henry’s hand and comforts him.

"Do you feel a draft, Henry?"

More comes in next to give Henry the gift of a giant silver cross. Not a subtle man, this one. Henry thanks him politely and tells him they’ll have to get together to discuss some churchly reforms. As More turns to go, Henry stops him to wish him a happy Christmas.

Once the gift giving’s over, Henry emerges into the larger antechamber, where he seeks out and warmly greets Charles with an embrace, asking him if he’d like to have a game of tennis soon. Charles agrees and falls into step beside Henry, asking to speak to him plainly. Henry gives him leave to do so, and Charles asks if Henry really plans to marry Anne, despite her past. Henry demands to know what Brandon means by that, and Charles spills that he has it on good authority she and Wyatt were lovers. Henry says he’s heard the rumors, and Anne denies it. Brandon points out that she, of course, would, neatly pushing one of Henry’s many, many berserk buttons. Henry grabs Brandon by the throat, gets the crazy eyes, and repeats that she denies it. He releases him and heads for the door, cheerfully wishing everyone a happy Christmas. I’m telling you, I think the creators of this show think Henry was bipolar or something. Maybe he was.

Cromwell and Cranmer are sitting down to have a nice quiet drink together. Cromwell asks his friend how he finds the king, and Cranmer dutifully replies that Henry’s the nicest guy ever.  Cromwell observes that Henry seems inclined to run with just about anything Cranmer says or suggests, which Cranmer modestly accepts. Cromwell tells Cranmer that Henry has appointed him special envoy to the court of the emperor, which certainly surprises Cranmer. Henry trusts Cranmer implicitly, it seems, and Cranmer clearly knows Henry’s divorce case inside and out, so he’s the ideal candidate to represent Henry’s interests abroad. Cromwell notes that, while he’s at the emperor’s court, Cranmer will probably have the opportunity to meet with some notable Protestants who live not so far away. Both men seem delighted with the possibility.

Henry and Anne take the air in the frozen gardens, and Henry breaks the news that Brandon’s spreading the gossip about Anne and Wyatt, which isn’t really true, from what we’ve seen. Anne asks Henry if he believes any of it to be true, confident enough in the answer. Henry, of course, doesn’t. Anne asks then if he’s banished the duke from court, but Henry makes no reply, which I find a little suspicious.

Meanwhile, in Anne’s rooms, one of her ladies is cleaning up, unaware that a cloaked and hooded figure is lurking nearby, as cloaked and hooded figures tend to do. She leaves, and the figure enters, placing something on the desk before leaving himself.

Back out in the garden, Henry informs Anne that he’s asked for a meeting with the French ambassador to hash out a new treaty with France that will ally both countries against the emperor. Anne being a big fan of the French is happy to hear that. Henry says that he’s planning to take an official trip to France to present her to King Francis formally as his future wife. Anne stares at him almost disbelievingly, then drops to her knees and thanks him.

"Hey, while you're down there..."

The Archbishop of Canterbury is cooling his heels in church, listening to the boys’ choir, when Cromwell approaches and politely asks for a word. Cromwell seats himself beside the Archbishop and informs him that Henry intends to put a bill before Parliament when it reconvenes. The bill will both requisition the money going from English churches to the pope in Rome and will also lay indictments against certain high ranking members of the English clergy for their extravagant manners of living. The Archbishop asks what the deal is with this new attack, and Cromwell is only too happy to launch into a tirade about how the people of England can see that the monasteries are sitting on huge piles of gold that can be better used elsewhere, for the good of the commonwealth. The Archbishop’s no dummy, though, and says that this isn’t an attack on abuses in the church, it’s an attack on the faith itself. He coughs a bit in the middle, which tends to be TV shorthand for ‘someone’s going to die soon.’ Cromwell stands and angrily says that that simply isn’t the case. He leaves the Archbishop to his choral entertainments.

Anne returns from her walk in a good mood and tells her lady-in-waiting to draw her a bath, since the walk’s made her cold. Anne tells the girl they’re going to Paris as she removes her gloves, but her merry mood is quashed right quick when she sees what’s been left on her desk. She calls the lady-in-waiting (Nan) back into the room and asks who else has been in there. Nan replies that nobody has.  Anne shows her what’s been placed on her desk: it’s the playing cards we saw earlier. The king, marked with an H, obviously represents Henry, and the queen, marked with a K, is Katherine. In between the two of them is the queen marked with an A, which has been slashed in half, as we saw. Anne slowly lowers herself into a chair and looks at the headless queen image.

Cromwell’s at work in his office later when Brandon’s shown in. Cromwell calmly informs him that Henry has ordered Charles banished from court for displeasing him. Brandon, strangely, seems a little surprised by that. After a long pause, Brandon asks Cromwell who he is. Brandon feels he should know, but somehow he doesn’t. He’s either alluding to the fact that Cromwell rose very quickly from total obscurity, or that he plays things pretty close to the vest and nobody really knows where his loyalties and allegiances lie. Possibly both. Cromwell replies that he’s exactly as one finds him: he wants only to serve the King to the best of his abilities. Brandon says he heard Cromwell was once a mercenary, and Cromwell admits he saw some action in his youth, as did Brandon himself. Brandon points out that he was never a soldier of fortune (well, no, Charles, but then, you had an independent fortune of some kind to fall back on, right? Some guys really need to make their way in the world.) In a bit of a non sequetor, Brandon says that if he displeased the king, it was in a good cause, and Cromwell accepts that, although he says that some might argue otherwise. “Like you?” Brandon shoots back. Cromwell answers calmly that he would never have the temerity to argue with Charles. “Not to my face, anyway,” says Charles with a knowing smile. Cromwell makes a “believe what you want” gesture and hands over the order of banishment. Wow, it took an actual formal order? I figured the king would just tell someone to tell someone he was pissed at to get lost for a while and come back only when called, but then, I guess that could be abused pretty easily. Brandon takes the order and leaves. Cromwell retakes his seat, looking a little shaken, finally, from their confrontation.

At Parliament, Henry presents a copy of the oath of loyalty to the pope the clergy all signed, which stands in contrast to the oath they swore to Henry. Henry takes a walk around the ring of clergy standing in front of the dais, saying that he thought the clergy were the king’s subjects, but he sees now they’re only half subjects, if even that. He demands that they choose either him or the pope and decide where their loyalties lie.

At Maison More, Sir George Throckmorton is being shown in to see Thomas, who greets him happily as “a good Catholic man who’s never been afraid to speak his conscience.” More tells Throckmorton that the next few days will determine the future of their faith. He freaks out about how Cromwell’s trying to force the clergy to submit to secular authority, which would seriously undermine the church, in his eyes. He’s asking Throckmorton and others like him to remain strong and true. Honestly, More’s coming across as a little unhinged in this scene, and the look on Throckmorton’s face suggests I’m not the only one who feels this way. More promises that if Throckmorton remains resolute, much worship will come his way, and someday even the king will thank him.

Henry, Anne, and the rest of the court are attending mass, where the priest is calling blessings on Henry and all his people. Henry seems pleased for a little while, but then the priest veers waaaaay off script, presumably, by beginning to rail against those who give Henry lousy advice and encourage him to turn his back on the church. Henry, amazingly, remains calm as the man urges him not to pursue the path he’s currently contemplating, or he’ll find himself a modern day Ahab, married to another Jezebel-like whore. Courtiers are now on their feet, shouting, and finally the priest is dragged down off the pulpit. Henry turns to look at More, who stares straight forward, his face betraying nothing.

The priest is dragged into a side aisle of the church, where he’s met by a livid Cromwell, who tells him he’ll be sewn into a sack and thrown into the Thames. Man, they really were creative with their punishments back then, weren’t they? Who came up with this stuff? The priest is unshaken and walks off.

Henry heads back to Parliament, wearing a hat he must have borrowed from Captain Jack Sparrow. He takes his seat and asks the clergymen if they’ve come to a decision vis-a-vis whom they serve, pope or king? The Archbishop of Canterbury makes his way into the room, carrying a giant scroll on a pillow. He lays it at Henry’s feet and says it’s the submission of the clergy. Watching the proceedings from a balcony above, Boleyn smiles and comments to George that it looks like the church is broken. Don’t be so sure, Boleyn.

Also up in the balcony (though in a different section), Fisher sits beside More, and mournfully says he never thought he’d see the day. More adds that now heretics will be free to swarm the streets of London without check. Looks like your bonfire days are over, Thomas. Fisher drama queens that if he could, he’d weep tears of blood.

Back at the palace, Henry is sitting in his throne room, deep in thought, when More is shown in. More kneels and offers his resignation so he can live a more private life. He offers up the great seal of his office, and Henry nods for Cromwell to take it. Cromwell does, gently, and Henry waves for More to stand. He discharges More willingly and thanks him sincerely for everything he’s done for Henry over the years. More promises never to speak publicly of Henry’s great matter, but since they’re in private, he begs Henry to be reconciled with Katherine, so he can heal the divisions within his kingdom. Henry hears him out in silence, and More finally goes to withdraw. As he leaves, Henry says he’ll hold him to his promise not to speak of the matter publicly. Once he’s gone, Henry sags sadly.

"I've got one word for you: plastics."

Wyatt, the sometime diplomat, has been sent to a house in the middle of nowhere called The More to deliver a message to Katherine. Her lady-in-waiting, Lady Elizabeth, informs him that Katherine’s at prayer and won’t be available for some time. Elizabeth asks what the message is, and Wyatt holds out a piece of paper sealed with a gigantic wax seal. He tells her it’s an official command for Katherine to return the royal jewels. Elizabeth looks away sadly, knowing the pain this will cause her mistress, and Wyatt gets way into her personal space and basically asks to sleep with her. Well, doesn’t ask, really. She asks him what he wants, and he aggressively tells her she knows what he wants. Charming. I can see why Anne fell for this guy. So much for poetry. Elizabeth steps away, offended, and informs him that she has no intention of becoming his mistress, or anyone else’s. She intends to be a virgin when she marries, if she marries at all, as she’d prefer to become a nun. Wyatt scoffs that this doesn’t seem likely. What’s the deal with this guy? This doesn’t seem consistent with his characterization at all. I get that he was disappointed over losing Anne (although, he had to have expected that would happen at some point, since he was married and all, and surely realized that someday their liaison would be broken off so she could marry.) but what happened to the sensitive poet from previous episodes? Who’s this arrogant douchebag expecting some poor girl to just fall into bed with him? What the hell, show?

Before he leaves, Wyatt tells her to check her pocket, then he backs off, bows, and shows himself out. Lady Elizabeth reaches into the pocket of her dress and pulls out a sonnet. Ahh, ok, there’s the guy I used to like.

Court party! As Anne chats with friends and courtiers dance, Henry asks the French ambassador if the arrangements for his trip to France are all in order. He’s reassured that they are, and that Anne will be received with all due honor. After all, the French knew how to treat a royal mistress.  Henry, a little threateningly, tells the ambassador he wants this visit to be special, and he doesn’t want anything to spoil it. The ambassador says both he and King Francis understand completely.

The dance ends and Anne approaches with Mark Smeaton, whom she introduces to Henry. Henry asks Mark to play something for them, and Mark calls for someone to bring him his magical violin. He plays with a big smile, and soon the court musicians join in and the dancers start up again. Sensing that Anne’s in a good mood, Henry asks if she thinks they might be able to bring Charles back to court soon. Aww, is someone missing his buddy? Anne says that if they bring Charles back so quickly, some people might suspect that there was some truth to what he was saying. Henry counters that what they really need to do to quash the rumors is to show everyone that Henry trusts her. So, he’s going to invite Wyatt to go to France with them. Anne’s cool with that plan, and tells Henry that he’ll never have any reason to be suspicious of her.

Off in a corner, Cromwell’s chatting with Boleyn, and tells him that, while abroad, Cranmer learned that protestant clergy are allowed to get married, a nice new rule he apparently took full advantage of. Boleyn says it won’t do Cranmer a whole lot of good in England, where that’s still illegal, but Cromwell seems kind of cutely happy for his friend. He comments that it’s true that clergy in England can’t marry…not yet. Boleyn’s surprised to discover that Cromwell thinks the clergy should be allowed to marry. Cromwell lays things out for Boleyn—he’s not interested in reform so much as wholesale conversion of the entire country. Boleyn implicitly agrees that that’s the way he wants things to go too.

Back in the party, Henry tells Anne that there’s one last thing they need to do before they can sail for France. She asks what it is, and he smiles playfully, excited about his little secret.

What they need to do is ennoble her. Anne’s being led into the throne room, followed by two ladies carrying a red velvet cloak trimmed in ermine. She kneels before an enthroned Henry, who’s surrounded by other peers of the realm (including her father and Charles Brandon). Cromwell reads a proclamation that confers upon her (and, significantly, her children) the title of Marchioness of Pembroke, as well as lands worth £100,000 a year, which was an IMMENSE fortune in those days. This whole thing was a big damn deal—I believe it was the highest title ever conferred upon a woman to that point, and might actually be the highest title conferred upon a woman to this point. Henry descends from the dais, takes Anne’s hands, and raises her to her feet. A servant brings forward her coronet, which Henry places on her head, then he and the ladies wrap her robe of estate around her as Charles Brandon looks on stonily. Henry finally hands over her patent of nobility. George smiles proudly at his little sister, from his spot next to their father. Finally, Henry escorts Anne out of the throne room, as the courtiers bow to them both.

Well, the Archbishop has shuffled off the mortal coil (see what I meant about the fatal cough?). He’s lying in state, being prayed over by Fisher and More. More says it might be best for him to be in heaven, so he won’t be around to see the destruction of the church he so loved. Fisher asks if More’s resigned to the church’s ruin, and More says he doesn’t know what else can be done to save it. All he wants now is to live in peace, far from the public realm.

Wyatt’s hanging out in the picturesque woods near The More, where he meets up with Lady Elizabeth, who’s come to give him his poem back. He says one can’t give a poem back any more than you can give a kiss back. Except you can, because a poem is on a piece of paper that can be handed right back, Wyatt. She says she’s sorry he’s unhappy, but she’s done nothing to cause it. Um, ok, this is going to come across as pretty unkind, but I can’t help but wonder just how old Lady Elizabeth’s supposed to be. Because in the harsh light of day, she looks pretty damn rough. It looks like she’s pushing 40, which makes Wyatt’s sudden infatuation with her a little bewildering, considering he spends most of his time at court, surrounded by nubile beauties. I’m certainly not saying that women over 25 can’t be beautiful—they can, and many are—but this one isn’t. Maybe it’s just bad lighting or something.

Anyway, Wyatt starts telling her how hot she is, and finally leans forward and kisses her. She lets him, and then says that she has to go to mass. He urges her to stay with him instead, and she complies pretty quickly, so he starts undoing the ties at the back of her dress that were so obviously put their for easy access. She’s not even wearing a corset or anything underneath, which is 100% unlikely. Quick rolls in the hay just didn’t happen amongst the Renaissance nobility—getting out of all those clothes was a huge pain in the ass.

Wyatt drops her dress, kissing her neck and feeling her up. She asks him what he’s doing (uh, what do you think?) and he says he’s giving her a chance to be penitent. Huh? Ok, have the writers ever had sex? Because they keep having these characters say things that nobody would ever say under these circumstances. Wyatt wants to bang this girl (for some reason that’s entirely unclear to me), so there’s no way he’d be bringing up religion, which in all likelihood would make her put a stop to all this.

Or, at least, it would if she had a modicum of sense and self-respect. Which she doesn’t, because the writers of this show also think that women are flighty, stupid creatures who’ll jump into bed with anyone, because that’s just what they do. Seriously, this girl was talking about being a nun about ten minutes ago, and Wyatt writes her one frigging sonnet and she’s on her back in the middle of the woods? What the hell? Why? The guy’s cute, but he’s no Charles Brandon, and his personality sucks because he’s all bitter and essentially charmless. Sigh.

In a more decorous wood somewhere, More’s taking a stroll with his daughter, Margaret. He gently tells her that someday, he might be made to account for his beliefs. In other words, if things proceed apace, he might find himself a head shorter. Margaret doesn’t really want to discuss the notion of her father martyring himself, but he makes her listen, telling her he’ll need his wife and children to support him in this. She nods, but collapses into his arms, weeping.

At court, Anne’s delightedly showing off some new dresses to Henry, telling him they’re all in the French fashion. Seems kind of silly to order them, since it means you don’t have an excuse to shop in Paris, right? And on an historical note, Anne’s perceived “Frenchness” actually ended up being a strike against her, for most people. Henry, like most men, looks a little bored by the fashion show. Once it’s over, however, he gestures for a servant to bring in a jewelry box, which he opens to reveal some pretty amazing jewelry. It’s the jewels of the Queens of England, which he’ll be having reset for her. Anne can hardly believe it, and she stares at them for a few moments before telling Henry she loves him and kissing him. She breaks the embrace and tells him he’s been so kind to her, it’s her turn to be kind to him. Her hand wanders south, to Henry’s nether regions. I’ll bet his unfortunate manservant’s happy she’s decided to take over this particular task.

Chapuys lurks in the crypts and is finally approached by the hooded and cloaked assassin, whose identity is still a mystery. He sounds like an Englishman, though, and his voice is a tiny bit familiar. Chapuys asks if the man’s going to be traveling to France with the king, and gets an affirmative in reply. He then asks if the assassin plans to carry out his plan whilst abroad, and that’s a yes as well. Chapuys then reassures the guy that if he succeeds in killing Anne, he’ll be the beloved of God, the pope, and the emperor. Not a bad lineup. The assassin asks what will happen if he dies in the attempt. Chapuys tells him the emperor will look after the man’s family, and the assassin will be welcomed into heaven by a fanfare of angels. So, it’s a win-win, then?

A group of horsemen, the lead one carrying the French royal standard, gallop up to a castle on the coast in English-occupied France (thanks, subtitles!). Inside, Francis approaches Henry and his court, accompanied by some very obviously pre-recorded trumpet and drum music. I see Francis has joined this season’s beard club, and is slightly more successful with it than Henry. The two kings greet each other fondly enough, with cheek kisses and everything before proceeding to the banquet, where they sit side-by-side. Anne is conspicuously absent, a fact that Francis remarks on. Henry promises Anne will be there. Francis takes the opening to apologize for his wife and sister changing their minds about meeting her. Henry is silent, so Francis breaks the tension by saying that women are variable creatures, and only madmen believe them. I’m willing to bet good money that was a mantra in the writers’ room, at least for this episode. It wouldn’t surprise me if it was written permanently on a wall in there.

Henry’s amused, and now that he’s sufficiently buttered up, Francis moves on to other matters—he wants to have a joint crusade with Henry. Sounds fun. Road trip! The idea seems to appeal to Henry, of course, which is consistent with his warmongering and lust for glory in season one.

Boleyn saunters up to Brandon, who’s seated with his wife, and says how glad he is that Charles is back in Henry’s good graces. He invites Charles and his wife to dine with Boleyn while they’re all in Calais. Charles turns him down flat, a little rudely. Ok, I know that Charles has never been a big fan of Boleyn’s, but they’ve been working pretty closely together since midway through season one, with no change shown in their relationship since the beginning of this season, so what’s the deal here? When did Brandon become so hostile to his former ally? And by the way, where the hell is Norfolk?

Boleyn takes a seat beside Brandon and says that there are rumors that Brandon secretly supports the queen (since when?) and is against the divorce. Boleyn wonders just what made the formerly flighty duke suddenly so interested in politics and worldly matters. Brandon tightly responds that he grew up. Ok, I guess I can kind of buy that, since such things do happen in real life, except that the way he’s been written it seems like a really sudden shift. In the season one finale (which, presumably, didn’t take place too long before the premiere of season two, timeline-wise) he was telling Knivert that he preferred to leave the running of the country up to Norfolk, since it all bored him, and showing no more than a passing interest in Katherine, if even that. Now, suddenly, he’s in Kate’s corner and apparently starting to move and shake at the court? Are we supposed to believe his wife is somehow responsible for this transformation? I like this character, I really do, and I like the actor playing him. I just wish the writers or the editors had given a little thought to making his actions make any sense at all.

Hey, Mary Boleyn! I was starting to think we were supposed to forget she ever existed! Anyway, she’s at the banquet too, dressed in white, oddly, with an emerald headband. Mark Smeaton joins her and says she must be happy to be back in France. She says she is, but she really shouldn’t show it, since she’s supposed to be in mourning for her poor husband. She’s very clearly not mourning in the least. Mark says that some people would have called the guy poor, others dull. Mary called him impotent, apparently, and says she can’t wait to ride some “young, French stallion” while she’s there. I guess some things never change. Mark gets his queen on and, with a wicked smile, says he can’t wait either. See, this guy I buy as gay, unlike Tallis and Whatshisface from season one.

“Exotic” music involving pipes and cymbals starts to play as six lovely masked ladies (one is clearly Anne) enter, wearing drapey Grecian robes. They start to dance pretty seductively, and gesture for Francis to join them. He partners Anne, who gyrates around him. Francis tells Henry that she’s ravishing, even though most of her face is covered by a mask, so maybe he’s suggesting she could be a Butterface? Henry smiles knowingly. The dance concludes and everyone applauds. Francis asks his partner, in French, who she is, and Henry unmasks her to reveal Anne, of course. It’s a good thing Francis’s wife and sister weren’t there, because they would have blown a gasket if they saw that display. Come on, queens were (and still are) supposed to be seemly and decorous. They did not dance the dance of the seven veils in public. Nobody would have thought this was cute, they would have been scandalized. Like she’s not enough of a scandal.

Francis takes Anne’s hand and…takes her for a walk around the room for some reason, I guess so they can have a chat, in French, without Henry around. Francis says he remembers when Anne and her sister were in France, as ladies-in-waiting to his wife, and Anne says she remembers too (well, it was just a couple of years ago, so I would hope you’d remember), and tells Francis that he may have heard some things about her during her time there that she’d appreciate he keep to himself. Francis promises to stay mum. Anne gets serious and asks Francis if he really supports her marriage to the king. He does, totally, because he hates the emperor and would do anything to make him miserable. In addition, he knows Anne’s a supporter of France, which is a useful thing to have in the king’s bed.

Now it’s Francis’s turn to get serious. He warns Anne that the role she’s about to take on is a tough one, especially for those not born to it. If he hadn’t been king, he wouldn’t have wished that fate upon himself. Anne listens, but it’s a bit late to be having second thoughts now. She curtsies to Francis and goes out to join the party, watched by a disconsolate Wyatt. Mark Smeaton, who’s got the Shakesperian Fool role this episode in that he’s the guy everyone wants to confide in, takes a seat beside Wyatt, who moans that he’s tried to run from his infatuation with Anne, but she’s always there. Maybe because you spend all your time at court, where she’s a pretty prominent fixture, Wyatt. Try traveling or hanging out in the country for a while and see how you do.

Anne joins her sister and asks if she could have ever imagined all this. Mary says no, but then, she’s not as clever as Anne. Anne confides in her sister that “the thing [she] has so longed for will be accomplished in France.” Sounds like Henry’s about to get laid.

"Check out the Situation."

Storm’s a-brewing. Rain lashes the windows of the castle and there’s thunder and lightening and everything as Anne sits at a writing desk, composing some letters. Her back, foolishly, is to the door, where her assassin lurks, leveling what appears to be a wrist-mounted crossbow at her. Just as he’s about to fire, however, Henry comes in to discuss the success of the evening. The assassin makes himself scarce, and Henry and Anne move to the bedroom, where Henry takes a moment to admire a painting that appears to depict the marriage of Cupid and Psyche before approaching the huge, ornately carved bed where Anne waits for him, naked. Henry takes off his robe, giving us a minute to admire his six pack, and then Anne invites him to impregnate her. She says it a little bit sexier than that, but that’s her basic message. Henry does, enthusiastically, in the flickering firelight, as the thunder crashes outside.

Previous Episode: Boiling Point

Next Epsiode: First Comes Love, Then Comes Marriage…

6 thoughts on “The Tudors: Paris, Je T’Aime

  1. “Women are variable creatures, and only madmen believe them. I’m willing to bet good money that was a mantra in the writers’ room, at least for this episode. It wouldn’t surprise me if it was written permanently on a wall in there.”

    Well, I can say for certain it wasn’t, at least as far as I know. As my research on the show has proved, there was never a “writers’ room” on set to begin with. In actuality, creator Michael Hirst wrote all episodes in his home, near Oxford. He didn’t have that phrase written down in there (though that part you wrote was totally funny and true, your comments/opinions on the characters and events make for an amusing and enjoyable read). But, interestingly, what he did have hanging around his study, in fact, was a lifesyce portrait of Henry VIII, the famous Holbain portrait, that he smuggled up from the set of Elizabeth: The virgin queen (the 1998 oscar-nominated movie about Henry’s famous daughter, who was apparently conceived on this very episode, that he also wrote). He sat next to that portrait, each morning, alone, writing. It must have been a little intimidating having the person you are writing about right next to you while you do it.

    I, for one, wonder why Michael decided to research and write everything by himself. That makes the job more demanding, because he also was on set all the time, talking to actors and directors, but I think it was easier for him that way, although sometimes he got carried away. In an interview, he stated: “I think it’s unusual in that most television series are written by a staff of writers, Here, it’s very much my baby. When season one started production [circa 2006], I still hadn’t finished episodes 9 and 10. I began episode 1 in 1518, but there was so much rich material that by the end of the 10th episode, the story had only reached 1530. Season one ends, of course, on the precipice, looking into the void of what becomes the Reformation and the end of Catholic faith in England. I am desperate to dramatize that.”

    That’s why season 2 is so interesting for me, because we see the slow transformation of Henry and, in turn, of the whole kingdom of England. It has been so enlightening for me to scheme through the historical events, the reformation parliament, submision of the clergy, to read Henry’s own words, letters and discover that, as Michael Hirst said, 85% of the Tudors is actually very accurate. From another interview, in answer to how Tudors compares to other shows and movies, Michael Hirst says:

    “What amuses me is that The Tudors was often accused of being historically inaccurate, whereas I tried my best to make it as accurate within obvious limitations as possible and I used as many real quotes and recorded conversations as possible.  But Wolf Hall, for example, is completely made up.  It’s complete fiction. But nobody says that. They all say “what a wonderful book, what insights it brings to the Tudors…” Isn’t that bizarre? Mantel is a great writer, but when it comes to Anne Boleyn, for example, it’s the same old schemer, not the real human being. It’s trying to redeem Cromwell at the expense of damning Anne yet again. “The other Boleyn girl” does practically the same with Mary Boleyn. For starters, Philippa Gregory has no historical sensibility at all. Her characters are all middle class people wandering into a historical situation and behaving in a very modern middle class way as a result. I’m specifically talking about the rivalry between Mary and Anne. She just invented that or she didn’t know. With good fiction, you actually do understand history and you understand two things.  One is that people are completely different from us and at the same time they are completely the same. In other words, they believe things that seem extraordinary to us. But you understand their existence and you can touch them.  You don’t have to make this huge phony effort to make Anne Boleyn seem like someone in the next dorm of your university, you know.  She was of her time. Her sensibility would not have been a contemporary sensibility. But behind that she is real, behind that she is human.”

    Also: lol at your comments on the Thomas Wyatt/Elizabeth Darrell sex scene on the forest. I’ve noticed that Hirst likes to use these poetic phrases on some of those sex scenes, he also does in his other works (Camelot, Vikings, Borgias), though I cannot for sure say why. I think he intents to give the scenes a more historical context. God, I would really love you to recap Vikings and Reign, the seemingly “most talked” historical shows on air right now. Vikings is heading into season 5 next year, and Reign is, apparently, ending after four seasons (the writers of that show are being more historically accurate as the ending approaches, so we’ll have a proper ending, it seems), although I know that Reign is not the show many of us wanted or expected. I remember Michael Hirst was working on a more accurate screenplay on the life of Mary, queen of scots, and he had Saorise Ronan in mind to play the titular role. It was going to be a more accurate depiction, portraying the treachery, backstabbing, hidden love affairs, political intrigue, bloodshed and of course religious conflicts that are barely touched upon on the CW production. I don’t know if Michael is still working on it though, it sounds more promissing and full of pottential than what we actually got with Reign. What do you think?

    P.S. I just wanted you to know that your recaps, apart from being funny and entertaining to read, are also very helpfull to other people. Blind people, for example. As you know, they can only hear what’s happening on a TV show or movie, but are unable to see the actions on screen. Your recaps and descriptions help them to get a grasp on what’s happening and understand. They use your recaps as a sort of guide into the different shows, and read them as they watch. I have a couple of blind folks and I hartily recommended your website to them. I think more writers/bloggers should do this kind of thing, the recaps, I mean. In a sense, it serves as kind of a service to these people. It’s really amazing. Thanks for reading!

    1. His statement that Wolf Hall is ‘completely made up’s isn’t actually true. Hillary Mantel did an INCREDIBLE amount of research to ensure that, as far as possible, the book was factually accurate. Of course, there were some things (private conversations, for instance, or characters’ private thoughts) which had to be invented for obvious reasons, but it’s not completely made up. The Tudors, however, took a LOT of liberties, even within the constraints of the show. But it was still entertaining, so everyone wins!

      Thanks so much for your kind words–I’m glad you’re enjoying the recaps!

Leave a Reply

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