Previously on the Tudors: Fisher and More paid the ultimate price for their convictions; Anne loses her all-important baby and starts to really panic, knowing full well that Henry could easily send her the way of Katherine.
Roma. Fully dressed in pope hat and richly embroidered robes, the Pope emerges onto a balcony overlooking a very crowded St. Peter’s Square. After a brief prayer, he offers the Catholics of England his support and sympathy over the outrageous martyrdoms of More and Fisher. For those who missed the last episode, we get to rewatch some of More’s execution, followed by shots of angry crowds gathering at the palace’s gates while mobs storm and trash Catholic churches.
In the relative peace of the palace, Henry’s in his study with Cromwell, moodily toying with a large globe-like thing. He finally mentions that Anne’s brother, George, is set to marry the daughter of Lord Morley, but his lordship can’t meet Boleyn the elder’s dowry demand of £300. Hmm, interesting. Did George pick this girl specifically because he didn’t think her father could pay the dowry, which would sink the whole marriage but still provide him with cover for his extracurricular activities with Mark Smeaton? Or does he really care about her? Time will tell.
Anyway, Henry told Morley that he’d make up the difference. That business dispensed with, he asks Cromwell how the dissolution of the religious houses is going. Cromwell reports that it’s going well, but there have been “enormities” found in several of them. That gets Henry’s attention. He asks Cromwell what he means and learns that many of the houses were corrupt, selling fake cures and displaying fake relics to pilgrims. Henry asks Cromwell what they should do abut this, and Cromwell suggests promoting Henry’s new type of monarchy to the people through plays, which would show the wickedness of Catholicism and the comparative holiness of the new order. Henry, always a fan of pageantry, is on board with the idea, so Cromwell heads out to make it so. Once he leaves, Henry sags a little against a chair and pulls the silver cross More dropped on the scaffold out of his pocket.
Cromwell, George Boleyn, and Cranmer are meeting in the corridors underneath the palace so Cranmer can tell George that Dr. Simon Hayes has been named Dean of Canterbury Cathedral. Hayes, apparently, is a pretty hard-line protestant, the type that doesn’t believe in any images in churches at all. Cromwell tells George that it’s important for them to place reformers in high-ranking positions within the church, to deal with the backlash from More’s and Fisher’s deaths. Cromwell’s also telling people to start informing on their neighbors, because witch hunts are always fun. Cranmer tries to soften things by saying that they need to promote the good aspects of the new religion as well. Cromwell agrees, and leads the men into a large and surprisingly well-lit room to show them a new tool they’ll use to spread the good word: the printing press. George asks what the thing is, which is completely stupid, because Gutenberg invented the first printing press almost a century earlier, and they were in pretty widespread use throughout Western Europe by the early 16th century. The press had made its way to England by 1480, and surely a member of the educated gentry like George Boleyn would have at least heard of such a thing.
A workman pulls a sheet off the press (looks like a propaganda poster) and hands it to Cromwell, who grins happily and informs his companions that this printing press will change the world. Already has, Cromwell.
Anne and Henry are having dinner, but Henry looks like his mind’s far away. Anne gently calls him back, and starts touching on a delicate subject: the fact that plenty of people throughout Europe still consider their daughter Elizabeth to be illegitimate. Anne suggests a solution: get Elizabeth engaged to one of King Francis’s sons. Betrothing her to a royal house would end any speculation about her legitimacy and station. Henry’s cool with it, since daughters are fairly disposable anyway. He promises to speak to the French ambassador, but when Anne pushes her luck by asking him if he’ll sleep with her that night, he devastatingly just shakes his head, seeming almost to enjoy her disappointment and distress.
Alone in his bed that night, Henry dreams his way through his history with Thomas More. He startles himself awake, gets out of bed, and warily makes his way to a nearby window. He murmurs Thomas’s name twice and looks conflicted.
A wedding! That should cheer Henry up! Maybe not—a young blonde woman is being half dragged down the aisle by her father, as George Boleyn waits at the altar. The girl stops suddenly and tells her father she’s changed her mind and doesn’t want to go through with it. Tough, honey. They chopped people’s heads off for less, during this period. The father tries to reassure her, but when she still digs in her heels, he orders her to marry George or else. She kneels at the altar and tries not to cry. George, apparently being about five years old, turns to Smeaton and makes a silly face, so Boleyn gets up, tears George’s hat off his head, and tells him to behave already. Undeterred, Cranmer prays right through all this, rather amusingly.
Meanwhile, Henry’s in his throne room, zoned out again, when Sir Henry Norris is announced. Sir Henry bows to the king and, when asked what’s up, informs Henry that he recently became a widower and is looking to marry one of Anne’s ladies-in-waiting, none other than good old Madge. Henry gives Sir Henry his blessing to take Madge on, proving my point from earlier that Madge really wasn’t Henry’s type.
As Sir Henry leaves, the French ambassador comes in. Henry asks after Francis, and learns he’s fine, other than being plagued with hatred for the Emperor. Henry proposes the matchup between Francis’s son and Elizabeth. The French ambassador bows and leaves.
Guess the wedding went off ok in the end, because now we’re joining the reception. The poor bride is sitting, neglected, with her parents while George parties with his pals and Smeaton. Smeaton asks who the girl is and George says her name’s Jane Parker, and her father’s a distant cousin of the king’s. A poor cousin, I’m guessing, if he couldn’t cough up £300 for his daughter’s dowry. Smeaton,, a little drunkenly, observes that she’s a girl, and then starts to crack up. George doesn’t seem to find that so funny at first, but then he gets into it. Little Jane, finally tired of being left all alone, gets up and approaches her groom as Anne and her father look on. Jane asks if George really loves her, and he says he does, and that he can’t wait for their wedding night. Jane looks disgusted, and George turns away and rejoins Mark as Jane returns to her parents. Anne, taking in the scene, seems concerned. When her father asks what’s bothering her, she says it’s nothing, and she’s soon distracted by the sound of horses out in the courtyard. She goes to the window and looks out and sees Henry mount up and take off. She momentarily imagines him visiting some bizarre harem and writhing around fully dressed with a group of women, before she returns to the party.
Later, Jane waits for her groom in a bedchamber. When George appears, he tells her she’s very pretty, and he kisses her. They both seem to be getting into it, but then he gets a little too insistent for her taste. She tells him to stop, but he doesn’t listen. Instead he bends her over a table and has his way with her. Then, he flops onto the bed and falls asleep. Uhh, ok.
Henry, Anne, and the court (including Brandon and his wife) have gathered to see the first of Cromwell’s plays. The pope is portrayed as being a buffoon, to the amusement of the crowd (but not to the amusement of Chapuys, of course). Boleyn compliments Cromwell on the fine piece of work before them and asks who wrote it. A former priest, apparently.
As the play continues, Henry tells Anne he’s spoken to the French ambassador. She thanks him. Henry moves on to other business, calling Brandon over and telling him he wants Brandon to entertain the Admiral of France when he comes over on an official visit. Anne rudely asks why Brandon should do it, since her father would be a better choice. Henry looks pissed that she would question his decision on anything. Henry nicely sends Brandon off, and then snaps at Anne that her comment was unnecessary.
Brandon rejoins his wife, seething, and when she asks what’s wrong, he growls that Anne is a whore and Henry treats him worse than Brandon treats his dogs. Duchess Kate points out that Brandon’s dogs bite back.
Chapuys can’t take the play anymore, so he distracts himself by joining the Brandons. Charles asks after Katherine, and hears that she isn’t doing so well. She’s sick, her household’s been reduced, and she’s been separated from her daughter these past four years. Duchess Kate shakes her head sadly at this and says that’s cruel. Chapuys reassures them that Katherine’s faith is unwavering. Brandon asks how Mary’s holding up and Chapuys says that as long as “the concubine” is in power, he fears for her life.
Speaking of the demoted princess: Mary’s spending some quality time with her rosary when her praying’s interrupted first by some ladies giggling in another room, and then by little Elizabeth wailing. Mary rises, hesitates for a moment, and then goes and lifts the baby out of her cradle, singing sweetly and rocking her. Elizabeth quiets down, but then Lady Bryan shows up to spoil the fun. She demands to know what Mary was doing with Elizabeth, and Mary says that Elizabeth was left alone, so Mary took care of her. Lady Bryan takes the baby (who starts to cry again) and sends Mary away. Mary pauses at the door just long enough to see Lady Bryan clock one of the maids for leaving the baby alone, and she gets this great look on her face like she can’t wait to get the hell out of the nuthouse.
In an alehouse in London, Chapuys is drinking to the memories of More and Fisher, along with Brereton the failed assassin. Brereton tells Chapuys that those witchcraft rumors about Anne might be more than rumors. He’s “befriended” one of Anne’s maidservants and is getting fed some pretty juicy info. Seems Anne has a weird extra fingernail or something on her left pinky, which people at the time considered to be a sort of devil’s mark. Chapuys is astonished, and he agrees with Brereton that Anne has to go.
Back to the palace, where Anne’s playing the virginals in her room when George comes in for a visit. As Madge and one of the other ladies watch from the adjoining bedroom, George tenderly strokes Anne’s fingers. She stops playing and confesses that she believes Henry’s having an affair. She then goes right off the paranoia deep end by telling George she’s convinced Henry’s got some crazy harem out in the middle of nowhere that he visits all the time. She tells George that there’s a prophecy out there that says a Queen of England will be burned. Either she’s confuses or she’s forgotten that earlier prophecy of her being beheaded. George tells her to calm down, and Anne cries that she can’t seem to give her husband a son. George sweetly hugs her and tells her he loves her and asks her not to cry. Madge takes this all in from a distance.
Cromwell’s hard at work, buried under a pile of written-in allegations of wrongdoing by the clergy of England. Apparently one priest accidentally offered up prayers for Katherine the Queen, instead of Anne, and three members of his congregation hurried to write to Cromwell about it. He doesn’t seem all that delighted, but let’s not forget, he’s the one who caused this. Wyatt joins him, gets the rundown on what all the paperwork’s about, and asks what Cromwell will do to the priest. Cromwell says nothing, the guy’s almost 80, so it was probably just an absentminded slip of the tongue. Some of the other offenses, however, are much more serious.
Cromwell puts the paperwork aside and hands Wyatt a pamphlet. The cover’s recognizable as the page that was pulled off the printing press earlier. Cromwell explains that this is a tract that describes the Reformation and why it’s necessary. Wyatt compliments him on the pamphlet, but wonders if Cromwell isn’t worried that Henry now has absolute power? He’s treading on dangerous ground just by saying that, and Cromwell gently warns him off the subject. Wyatt clearly takes what he says to heart.
Chez Brandon, Charles and his wife welcome the French Admiral and his party (which, of course, includes a hot blonde chick) to England. Oh, yeah, this’ll go well. Brandon informs the party that they’ll hang out at the Brandon home for a few days before going to court, where Anne’s preparing a banquet and a tennis match for their entertainment. The Admiral claims not to know Anne at all, even though he met her when she went to Calais, and says he doesn’t play tennis. Hmm. I hope Anne’s not holding her breath on that engagement now, because this is not promising.
Henry’s preparing to go out for another ride, but Anne’s had enough. She walks up to him, wearing a completely insane dress that looks like a reject from a bad high school production of My Fair Lady, and demands to know where he’s going. He shoves her aside and shortly tells her to go back inside. She won’t take no for an answer, though, and once again asks where he’s going. Henry grabs her by the arm and roughly drags her in the direction of the palace, telling her it’s none of her business where he goes, and to get her ass back inside pronto. Anne mockingly curtsies to him, calling him “majesty” and goes back in.
She strides angrily through the great hall, as courtiers bow low to her. Brereton, at the other side of the room, suddenly unsheathes a knife and brutally stabs her in the belly. Nobody moves or seems to notice as she clutches him, then falls to the floor and bleeds out. Brereton looks around at the still bowing courtiers, and then Anne rises and keeps walking. It was, of course, all a fantasy on his part, because Brereton is completely useless as an assassin. Brereton’s bowing with all the others as Anne walks through the great hall, unpunctured.
In the stables Chez Brandon, Hot Blonde French Chick has decided she wants some lovin’ Charles style. She wanders in as he’s tacking up his horse, and just stands there staring at him. He greets her, but seems dismissive until she grabs his face and they start to make out. Oh, Charles.
Henry and Chapuys are taking a nice walk in the woods, Chapuys no doubt thinking of the hundred or so other places he’d rather be at that moment. Henry says he likes Chapuys, but he doesn’t like the Emperor, and then he starts to whine about how many wrongs have been done to him. Boo hoo, Henry, karma’s a bitch. Henry correctly guesses that Chapuys doesn’t approve of the Reformation. Then, he reveals that it wasn’t a guess at all; Cromwell intercepted some of Chapuys’s letters, which seems like it should have been illegal, even then. Henry reminisces about being a humanist with More and Wolsey, and claims he hasn’t changed, he’s still a humanist. Just one who chops people’s heads off, I guess. Henry intensely tells Chapuys that he’ll create such a Reformation, he’ll be remembered forever. Chapuys, awesomely, looks Henry dead in the eye and says he has no doubt that Henry’s reign will always be remembered. Heh.
Anne’s in a pissy mood, venting to Mark Smeaton that the Admiral’s been in the country for two weeks already and hasn’t sent her a message of goodwill, as all the others have. Nor has he requested an audience with her. Mark wearily says she should rest, and he should leave. I guess she’s been ranting a while. She ignores this and goes on to complain that the Admiral’s apparently struck up a friendship with Chapuys (and…when did that happen, exactly?) Mark doesn’t know what to say, since he was just brought on to be Anne’s entertainment, not her therapist or political advisor. Poor Mark.
Party time! The Admiral’s finally made it to court and is ushered into Henry’s and Anne’s presence. The Admiral bows over Anne’s hand, and the banquet commences. Pies and huge roasts are brought in, all waved away by the Admiral, who’s only interested in the lobster, for what that’s worth. Henry offers the Admiral some wine, which is English, and there’s some thinly veiled insult of English wine that was funny when it was done on Chef more than a decade ago, but now just seems lame and tired. Even Anne rolls her eyes. The Admiral takes a swig and winces, then says the wine’s fruity and strong, like a gladiator’s sweat. Henry laughs along with the Admiral, then turns away and hilariously rolls his eyes and makes a face, like “goddamn French oenophile assholes.” It’s amazing. I cracked up.
Anne takes a good long swig of her wine, which is not lost on either Henry or the Admiral. Henry turns away and asks the Admiral who one of the gentlemen in his party is. The Admiral responds that it’s his secretary. Henry suggests introducing the man to Anne, and then rises to go greet the secretary and Hot French Blonde Chick. Anne watches him closely as he chats and laughs with Chick, and the Admiral starts prattling on about how very sorry he was that he couldn’t attend the banquet Anne had prepared for him (so, who prepared this one?), but Brandon and his wife just kept him sooo busy out in the country. Anne’s not listening at all, and suddenly starts laughing like a crazy woman, which offends the Admiral. She tells him she’s just amused by the fact that Henry went to fetch the secretary, but got waylaid by a pretty face.
Just when things start to get really awkward, Henry returns to the table and pulls the Admiral away to talk business. Once they leave, Anne turns to smile creepily at her father, who just glares back at her.
Out on the dance floor, Hot Blonde French Chick can’t keep her eyes off of Brandon, and since Duchess Kate’s not a moron, she pretty quickly twigs to the fact that her husband went for more than one kind of ride that day in the stables. Upset, she whirls and leaves.
Once Henry, the Admiral, and Cromwell are all in Henry’s study, the king gets right to it and asks what the status is of Elizabeth’s engagement. The Admiral breaks the news that the engagement isn’t going to happen, since Elizabeth’s legitimacy is in question. Francis is, however, willing to re-engage his eldest son to Mary. If Henry doesn’t agree to the match, the dauphin will marry the emperor’s daughter, leaving England isolated. Cromwell hustles the Admiral out of the room before Henry can explode.
Back out at the party, Charles has finally gotten around to tracking down his wife, who’s crying in some anteroom. He apologizes sincerely for having slipped up and promises never to stray again. He really does seem to mean it. She turns a tearstained face towards him and says he ended up making her cry after all.
Later, and presumably post-party, Anne joins Henry in his room, where he’s staring moodily into the fire. Not reading the mood well at all, she asks who Hot Blonde Chick was, and asks if she’s one of Henry’s mistresses. Henry remains silent, so not in the mood for her jealousy. So, Anne slips into interrogation mode and asks who the mistresses are, where they are, and how many they are. Henry tries to quiet her, but she keeps pushing, so Henry snarls at her to shut her eyes and endure, as her betters have done before her, which I’m pretty sure is an actual historical quote from the real Henry. He was a cold bastard. Anne yells that she loves Henry a thousand times more than Katherine ever did, and he snaps and screams that he can drag her down just as fast as he raised her up. He harshly breaks the news that the engagement’s a no-go because nobody in the world thinks that Anne is really Henry’s wife. He leaves and she collapses into a chair, gasping for breath.
Out in the gardens, Henry’s taking a stroll with Brandon, and asks how the duchess is doing. Brandon dully says she’s fine, and pregnant, in fact. Henry congratulates him and says he envies him for his happy marriage. If only he knew. Brandon’s face says as much. Henry’s acting kind of manically perky in this scene, totally contrasting to the last scene. It’s almost insane—are they trying to make him seem bipolar?
Henry goes off on a totally different conversational tangent and asks Brandon if he thinks the planets have any bearing on their lives. Brandon says he doesn’t know, and Henry says he and More used to discuss just that, standing on the roof of the palace at night. More knew a lot about the stars and planets and how they can influence a person. Henry holds up the little silver cross again and says he now regrets what happened to More. Brandon slings a comforting arm over his friend’s shoulders as Henry goes on to say that it wasn’t all his fault, what happened to Thomas. Every time he wavered and considered forgiving the man, a “certain person” would urge him on to destroy his old friend. Brandon, seeming a bit thick but let’s just give him the benefit of the doubt and say he’s distracted just now, asks who Henry’s talking about. Henry pauses near a pathway, where Anne’s hanging out with a few ladies and a little Cavalier King Charles spaniel that looks exactly like one of mine. Molly! Have you been moonlighting behind my back? We’ll ignore the fact that the breed didn’t exist back then. Henry glares in Anne’s direction and says darkly that Brandon knows who the person is. Anne smiles hesitantly at her husband, but her smile falters under his harsh look. Henry turns towards the lily pond he’s been walking around, kisses the silver cross, and tosses it into the water.