Previously on the Tudors: Henry freaked out about not having an heir. His sister Margaret banged Charles Brandon, married the King of Portugal, and then murdered her husband. Wolsey’s job description now includes procuring royal divorces.
Unsurprisingly, we open at Whitehall, where Cromwell is reading a proclamation making Thomas Boleyn Lord Rochford. Boleyn accepts his new scepter of state and bows to the king, stepping away as Henry’s illegitimate son, Henry Fitzroy, is ushered in. He’s a fairly adorable blonde kid who looks to be about 4 years old. He’s wearing a miniature robe of state and kneels at his father’s feet as he’s proclaimed Duke of Richmond and Somerset, as well as Earl of Nottingham. Bessie looks on proudly while Katherine listens in, hidden behind a tapestry.
Henry cutely bends down to give the little boy his own tiny scepter and coronet, as well as a kiss on the cheek. He lifts the little boy in the air and sets him down on a throne beside him, which I’m guessing would normally be reserved for Katherine. Ouch.
Speaking of the good queen, she’s sitting alone in her room, staring sadly at nothing in particular, when Wolsey is announced. She spits that she knows about Henry Fitzroy being made a duke, and asks Wolsey if the king intends to set him ahead of Katherine’s daughter Mary in the line of succession. Wolesy answers that this is, in fact, the case—by being made a duke, little Henry’s been set above all others in the line of succession, except for a legitimate son, which is complete and utter bullshit. If that were the case, Charles Brandon would have been closer to the throne than Mary. Plus, unless Henry had some pretty serious laws passed that would allow little Henry to take the throne, Henry Fitzroy would have never been king ahead of a legitimate heir, even if that heir was a girl. Learn some freaking history, writers!
Katherine shakes her head and tells Wolsey Henry loves his daughter and would never set his son above her. She approaches Wolsey menacingly and tells him she doesn’t believe Henry’s responsible for any of this, as if Wolsey would have any reason to want Henry Fitzroy on the throne instead of Mary. If we know anything about Wolsey, it’s that he doesn’t do anything that can’t benefit him personally in some way.
Katherine also points out that Mary’s pretty important, being the Emperor’s fiancé and all, and Wolsey rather gleefully tells her that the Emperor broke the engagement and married Princess Isabella of Portugal, not wanting to wait for his child bride to grow up. I find it rather hard to believe that Katherine wouldn’t have heard this already, since the Emperor’s her nephew and all, but let’s pretend that Wolsey’s spies are just that good.
Being a bit of a dick, Wolsey twists the knife and tells Katherine that the Emperor might have been swayed by Isabella’s enormous dowry.
In his study, Henry opens a letter from Anne Boleyn that’s the usual self-deprecating lovey-dovey slop these two are so fond of exchanging. But this one comes with a present—a locket with a portrait of Anne in it which Henry will no doubt be putting under his pillow and carrying around with him like a blankie.
Bessie Blount—nice to see you again, Bessie, it’s been a while!—is waiting for her son, who’s ushered in. She curtsies to him before hugging him tightly and breaking the news that little Henry’s going to be leaving her and going to his own house now. She tearfully tells him to be a good boy, and that she’ll try to come and see him as often as she can. This kid’s way too cute for this to not end badly.
It’s a good thing it apparently takes months to get from Portugal to England—gives Margaret plenty of time to get dirty with Brandon. They’re on their way home, although I’m surprised the Portuguese didn’t insist on keeping her around for a few months, just in case she might be pregnant. But no, I guess they don’t really care, because here she is, snuggled up with Brandon, asking if he thinks “they” were suspicious. Of course they were, he tells her, and I have to agree with him. It does seem a bit fishy that the king should have suddenly just kicked off the very day Margaret’s English attendants were due to leave, doesn’t it?
Not that it matters—the old king’s son was delighted to finally have the throne, so it’s not like we’re going to have an episode of CSI: The Tudors anytime soon.
Comforted by this thought, Margaret makes out with her hot, hot man for a little while before wondering what they’re going to do. Charles suggests that the status quo would be just fine by him, but Margaret’s not playing that game. So, he does the only other thing he can do: he proposes.
News of the Portuguese king’s death has finally reached London, and Henry laments for his “poor sister” like he doesn’t know she probably danced a jig on her dead husband’s grave. He tells Wolsey she’s to be treated to every comfort and kindness while she mourns. Bizarrely, Henry seems sincere about all this, which makes me wonder if he checked out completely whenever Margaret talked about how much she hated the very idea of her marriage. Maybe he has no way of forming memories? Who knows?
Wolsey switches topics to another marriage: Henry and Katherine’s. He thinks it would be best to proceed with the annulment in secret, if Henry agrees. Henry couldn’t care less, as long as it gets done.
In other news, the Emperor has released King Francis, which, of course, pisses Henry off. He demands to know why he wasn’t consulted, since he and the Emperor are supposed to be allies and all, although this seems a pretty one-sided alliance to me. As far as I can tell, the most Henry’s contributed is promises of money and soldiers, but not anything more tangible than that. If the Emperor did the catching, he gets to do the releasing himself, in my book. Upset, Henry tells Wolsey to fetch the Emperor’s ambassador.
Then, because there’s apparently nothing more important to do, Henry jumps on his horse and rides to Hever to meet Anne. They kiss passionately, and then he gets down to business: if she agrees to become his mistress, he promises she’ll be the only one. Um, thanks? I promise not to cheat on you with anyone else, although just being with you is actually cheating. Seriously, what kind of crappy deal is that? By the way, JRM sucks at French—he totally butchers the pronunciation of Maitresse en Titre here. Anne does a better job of it, but she thinks this deal is lousy too and asks Henry just why he thinks it’s ok to treat her like a whore. Well, you have been meeting with and making out with him in random corridors, knowing full well that he’s married, and exchanging love notes with him, Anne, so it’s not shocking to think he might believe you’d be fine with going all the way.
Henry turns away from her, annoyed, but she’s persistent, telling him she’s holding out for a husband. And anyway, she knows how Henry is with women, having witnessed his treatment of her own sister. Henry apologizes for offending her before taking off, blowing right by Thomas Boleyn, who looks up at his daughter questioningly.
Mary and Katherine are playing in the garden, and Mary’s now played by an older actress. The timeline of this show is really confusing—when did the emperor visit? Three or four years ago? Whatever. Katherine spots Wolsey waiting for her and sends Mary off with her ladies. Wolsey has news for her: Henry’s decided it’s time for Mary to have her own establishment, just like the little Duke of Richmond has. He wants to send her to Ludlow Castle in Wales, under the care of Lady Salisbury. Now, this actually happened in real life, but I should point out that this seems to prove that either Henry VIII was a sick bastard, or he had a terrible memory, because Ludlow Castle was where Katherine spent her brief marriage with Prince Arthur, Henry’s older brother. It’s also where Arthur fell ill and died, so I’m sure she was really enthusiastic about sending her only daughter there. Henry inherited something like 12 castles and built several more over the course of his reign; he couldn’t have found somewhere else to send Mary?
Katherine looks sad, but takes the news fairly calmly, although she does accuse Wolsey of taking her daughter away from her. Wolsey reassures her he doesn’t have some crazy vendetta against her, as she seems to think. This is about the time she stops being calm and melodramatically accuses Wolsey of tearing her child from her as if she was tearing her from her womb. Calm down, lady, this was not an uncommon practice! I’m sure Katherine herself had her own establishment at a fairly young age, it’s just the way things were done. It’s not as if Katherine and Mary would have been hanging out together all that much at court anyway, since Mary had lessons and Katherine was busy, you know, being queen. Plus, the court was crowded and unsanitary, so it would have been unhealthy for the kid to spend a lot of time there. It was a breeding ground for disease.
Wolsey tells her this was Henry’s idea, not his, and Katherine tells him he’s now her enemy before ordering him out of her sight. Wolsey bows and leaves, no doubt wondering just why everyone in this family seems to be so unbalanced.
Inside, Henry’s stewing in his own rage as Mendoza is ushered into his presence. Henry runs down all the reasons he’s pissed off at the Emperor, and the ambassador tries to talk him down, reassuring Henry that the Emperor loves him and looks on him as a respected uncle. This makes Henry really fly off the handle, and he screams about how he’s not all that much older than the Emperor, although that doesn’t change the fact that he actually is the Emperor’s uncle, so calm yourself down, Henry. Mendoza takes a HUGE misstep now and pokes the lion right in the eye by telling Henry that he hasn’t really kept up his half of the bargain either. Henry promised a certain amount of money, and only delivered half. Henry gets, if possible, even madder, grabbing the ambassador by the lapels and shaking him and saying he’ll answer for his own conduct, but Mendoza, admirably, is not cowed. Henry pants with the exertion of yelling and orders Mendoza to leave.
Outside the presence chamber, Mendoza meets up with Boleyn and passes along the Emperor’s congratulations on Boleyn’s elevation to the title Lord Rochford. Boleyn asks why the Emperor even cares, and Mendoza tells him the Emperor cares about having friends at the English court, and that he’ll pay to have them. That’s one way to ensure you’ll always have a full house at your birthday party, I guess. Boleyn asks if the Emperor has a lot of friends there already and is told there are several, as Norfolk skulks in the background. Boleyn asks what friendship pays: 1000 crowns a year is apparently the going rate. Boleyn says he’ll think about it and goes to join Norfolk, who asks him what he thinks of Mendoza. Boleyn’s cautious, but takes note that Norfolk says he finds Mendoza to be a man of great principle.
Tallis is in the chapel, playing the organ when Compton comes strolling in to listen. Tallis is composing as well, and he pauses to mark some notes down when Compton makes his presence known. Tallis bows hurriedly and Compton gets all into his personal space as he compliments Tallis’s talent. Compton checks him out before striding away and going to chat with some ladies. He notices that Tallis follows him just far enough to see what he’s doing.
Anne’s reading another letter from Henry when her brother George comes in and grabs the letter from her. He reads the drivel aloud as she begs him to give it back, and he gleefully points out that Henry’s drawn a little heart between the letters H and R (Henry Rex) in the signature. He makes the most amazingly hilarious “isn’t that just too cuuuuute!” face and noise when he notices that. Hee! I think I love George Boleyn just for pointing out that Henry’s a thirteen-year-old girl.
Anne doesn’t seem to find this nearly as entertaining as I do and tells him to give her the letter back, which he does, asking her if she’s in love with Henry. Anne doesn’t respond.
Wolsey’s pulled in some help in the form of Thomas More, who’s astonished to learn that Henry wants a divorce. Not a divorce, Wolsey says, an annulment. Oh, well, then, that changes everything! More points out that the pope gave Henry a dispensation to marry his brother’s widow, but Wolsey says that Henry seems to feel more beholden to God than the pope, and that his conscience is genuinely stricken. From the way he’s delivering these lines, I’m guessing he realizes just how much a load of crap this excuse really is, but uber-devout More’s too busy being increasingly horrified to notice. More reminds the cardinal that the pope pretty much is God, on earth, and Wolsey impatiently tells him that kings get annulments all the time, popes find an excuse, and who’s to stop anyone, anyway?
More offers a different argument, since theology isn’t doing it: Katherine’s pretty damn popular throughout England, not to mention she’s related to quite a few very powerful people. Setting her aside would look very bad and wouldn’t go over well both at home and abroad. He asks Wolsey if Katherine knows what’s up yet, and it’s clear from Wolsey’s non-response that she doesn’t.
The lady in question is currently attending mass at Lambeth Church, as penitents crawl forward to touch a fragment of the True Cross. The presiding bishop escorts Katherine out of the church after mass and announces she’s going to be distributing alms. The people gratefully accept them. One man begs her to help him, and she tells him not to be afraid, since he’s God’s child. Real helpful. She never even bothered to find out what the guy needed help with. In the crowd, Cromwell watches all this go down.
Compton strides through the pouring rain and the seedy back alleys of London and steps into a tavern, where he’s immediately propositioned by a prostitute, whom he quickly gets rid of. You know, just in case we weren’t sure that this guy is very, very gay.
He’s there to meet Brandon, who calls to him from a nearby table. They embrace warmly, and Compton welcomes him back, so I guess all his totally douchy behavior from before Charles left is forgiven and forgotten. I think Charles has bigger fish to fry. He starts by asking Compton cautiously how Henry’s doing, and Compton pointedly tells him Henry’s anxious to see his sister, to share her grief. So, Charles drops a bomb: he and Margaret are married. Compton takes a moment to digest this, and then laughs in amazement. Charles doesn’t seem to find this so funny, probably because he’s starting to realize Henry’s an emotionally unstable sociopath who will probably chop off his head the next time he sees him. Charles asks—orders, rather—Compton to break the news to Henry, because “it’ll be better coming from” Compton. How do you figure? Compton reasonably asks Brandon what the hell he was thinking, and Charles tells him he really wasn’t thinking, as it turns out. I’ll say. Or, as Compton puts it, he was thinking all right, just not with his head. Not the head on his shoulders, anyway.
Katherine’s praying before bed when Henry knocks and enters the room. She starts to greet him happily, but he abruptly tells her he has…something to tell her. He brutally informs her that their marriage is at an end, or no, actually, it’s not ending, it never existed at all. Katherine’s thrown by that one as Henry goes on to explain that there was a misapplication of canon law and that his conscience is very troubled. He tells her to choose a place to live and get the hell out of his castle. Damn. Harsh, man. He swirls out as she collapses, sobbing.
Wolsey’s collected a bunch of fellow churchmen together to start an inquiry into Henry’s marriage. He tells them that if they decide amongst themselves that the marriage is bogus, then Wolsey, as papal legate, has the power to dissolve it. Yeah, no chance of corruption with that decision. Wosley asks for opinions on the matter from some of the attendants, and gets a fairly firm “no” from Bishop Fisher, who doesn’t see any merit in Henry’s case at all.
Katherine is in her rooms, deep in thought, when Lady Salisbury is shown in, wearing an utterly insane dress and headdress that look like they were rejects from the Rome costume room. I don’t think anyone ever wore something like that prior to or after 1972. She’s brought Mary to say goodbye, like Katherine hasn’t been having a rough enough week as it is. Lady Salisbury prattles on about how Katherine will get regular updates, and for the second time this episode, we get a tearful parent/child parting, but this one’s in subtitled Spanish as Katherine reminds Mary of who she is and who she will be someday. Mary and Lady Salisbury curtsey and leave as Katherine struggles not to cry.
Henry’s sitting on his throne, looking sad, but before we can think too long that this might be because he actually mourns the separation from his daughter too, we realize Compton’s in the room, and that he’s broken the news of Margaret’s and Charles’s marriage. Henry asks if Charles is sorry and if he begs Henry’s forgiveness. Um, no, apparently not. Not a great move, Charles. Henry menacingly tells Compton to send in Margaret.
Margaret enters, unwisely dressed in bright red, which is pretty unseemly, and she really should have known better. She’s really just asking for trouble. Henry points this out and tells her she should be in mourning, since her husband’s dead. She tells him her husband is, in fact, alive and well, but he tells her he never gave her permission to marry Brandon. She reminds him that he promised her she was free to choose her next husband, although to be honest, I don’t remember him actually agreeing to that. Unless an eye roll constitutes a binding agreement in this family. Henry says as much, and then screams at her for looking at him (??) saying that he’s her lord and master, not her brother. He then banishes her and Charles from court. Margaret withdraws, grateful to still have a head. Apparently there’s no such guarantee for Charles, though.
Tallis wanders some eerily lit corridors and is met by Compton, who mysteriously tells him to say yes, and then moves away. Dear Compton—you might get laid more if you bothered to make sense. Tallis reminds Compton that he’s married, but Compton doesn’t care. So, Tallis tries the “I don’t love you” tactic, which doesn’t work either. Nor does the “I’m much lower on the social scale than you” plan. Compton calls him a genius, which I guess is all Tallis needs to start playing for his own team, because he give sup protesting and lets Compton kiss him. Granted, I’m not a gay man, but I find nothing sexy or interesting about this totally made-up affair at all.
Having sent away his best friend and lost another one in the servants’ quarters, Henry now has nobody to play with, so he’s stretched out in bed in the middle of the day, looking bored, when a servant comes in with a parcel. It’s from Anne, of course, and Henry happily opens it to find a brooch in the shape of a ship with a woman on board. Henry starts reading really far into the gift, wondering aloud what the ship could mean—a ship, he decides, means protection, like the ark that protected Noah. Or, Henry, a ship could be a means of escape, or a method of transporting you to an unknown world or fate, or a weapon of war…You know what? I think protection is the last thing I’d think of when I saw a ship. If she really wanted to convey that, she should have sent something in the shape of a castle—that says protection to me.
He moves on to the diamond drop coming off the ship’s bow, remembering a line from a book or a poem about a heart being like a diamond—steadfast. Um, ok. Or hard and difficult to get into. Or it could have just been a pretty thing to add to the pin.
From all of this, Henry sees himself as the ship and Anne as the diamond, which he takes to mean that she’s agreeing to be his mistress. Please, God, don’t let her ever send him a bouquet of mixed flowers or we’ll have him spend an entire episode ripping through them wailing “What does it all mean?!”
Francis’s time as the Emperor’s prisoner has made him, for some reason, want to be friends with Henry again, and he’s offering a true and lasting friendship—but this time, he means it! Since Henry feels the Emperor betrayed him too, he seems willing to consider this, but Wolsey points out that the Emperor still has friends at court. Friends like Katherine, who apparently wrote her own nephew a letter that Wolsey intercepted. He hands the offending missive to Henry, who starts to read it as Wolsey sums it up. To be honest, it sounds pretty innocuous. She berates the Emperor for not writing to her more often and promises to be his good and humble servant. Henry takes umbrage at the thought of his wife being the Emperor’s servant and not his, despite the fact that he’s been treating her pretty shabbily lately. Henry tells Wolsey to tell the French ambassador that he’s in the mood for a rapprochement with Francis. In the mood, Henry? This is a major diplomatic move that could seriously affect your people. This is not a mood thing, it’s time to get serious and act like a grownup here. What happens tomorrow, or ten minutes from now, when your mood changes?
Once again, Henry heads up to Hever. Is this place super close to Whitehall? Seems like he’s able to just jump a horse at anytime and ride up there. It seems that Henry’s obsessive reading of Anne’s jewelry was right. They’re making out pretty seriously in bed, and she promises to give him a boy once they’re married. Henry starts getting all hot and heavy again, but before they can go all the way, Henry stops himself and tells her he’ll respect her and not have sex with her until they’re married. He then splits, probably to find a cold bathtub to go soak in.
Ok, Margaret’s an idiot. At Brandon’s place in the country, she’s throwing vases and screaming at him for promising that things would be all right (why the hell would he promise that? He clearly didn’t know if that was true at all during his meeting with Compton.) Brandon tries to calm her down, but Margaret moves onto the “I hate you” portion of the argument, although nobody could possibly hate Henry Cavill, even if he did get them banished from court. At any rate, Margaret tells him that if it wasn’t for him, she’d still be Queen of Portugal, like that was so great. Also, maybe she should have considered that before committing regicide. Brandon has now officially become the adult in this relationship and points out that Margaret’s drunk and acting stupid. Henry will come around, he insists, he just has to get over his wounded pride. Then she smacks him around and he has sex with her on the dining room table. Ok, then.
At a far more decorous table, Henry’s having a quiet dinner with More, who’s looking uncomfortable. Henry notices too and tells him he knows he doesn’t approve of the whole annulment plan, and he doesn’t expect him to. But Henry wants a chance to explain his side of things. For what feels like the 1,000th time, he explains the whole marrying his brother’s wife thing and I think we get it, show. We’re not so stupid you need to explain it every other scene. It’s not that complicated, honestly.
More’s trying to be sympathetic, but he really can’t, and he’s not on board with this whole thing. He asks Henry what happens if it’s determined that the pope’s dispensation was all aboveboard, and Henry lies through is teeth and tells More that he’d be delighted if that were the case and would happily live out the rest of his life with Katherine. More has a functioning brain and clearly doesn’t believe Henry, but what can he say?
Elsewhere, Katherine’s preparing for bed, attended by Anne, who turns to leave but is called back by the queen. Katherine just stares at her until Anne looks away. I guess Katherine’s developed some kind of spidey sense when it comes to Henry’s mistresses since that whole Bessie Blount thing.
The bishops and cardinals are meeting with Wolsey again, and Fisher’s asking why Henry waited so many years to bring this issue up, if it bothered him so much. Why indeed? Because his love for the queen made him reluctant, Wolsey answers. But Katherine’s failure to produce a living son proved that the marriage was no good. The others’ ears perk up at this, and another bishop asks if Henry’s planning on remarrying, then? Wolsey exasperatedly says yes, probably, if the marriage is annulled. Fisher points out that Henry’s got an heir, and Wolsey scoffs at the idea of Henry Fitzroy being king. The other bishop reminds him that there’s Mary, who’s a legitimate daughter, and Wolsey tells them that English history is littered with stories of how badly things went for kings who tried to pass on their crowns to a daughter. It is? I can only think of one instance where that was the case. Granted, things were pretty bad, but still, I think he’s exaggerating here.
Fisher catches on fast and guesses that Henry’s already got a new wife waiting in the wings. Wolsey admits that’s the case, and Fisher sniffs that this whole thing totally stinks, since it’s clear Henry just wants to get his old wife out of the way so he can nail a new one. Wolsey tries to be menacing, but Fisher’s not having it and informs Wolsey that he’s looked into things and, according to ecclesiastical law, Wolsey has no authority to judge this matter. Only the pope or his appointed representative can pass judgment. Wolsey tries throwing a bit of a wobbler, but Fisher won’t be cowed.
Compton’s fast asleep in bed with Tallis, who’s composing. Just in case we weren’t aware that Tallis is into music, I guess.
While Henry dresses, Wolsey tells him the French king is sending a delegation to create a new treaty between the two countries. Wolsey also suggests this might be a good time to resurrect Mary’s engagement to the dauphin, or to one of Francis’s other sons. Henry says nothing about that but instead asks Wolsey how things are going in his secret sessions and when can he expect his annulment? Wolsey hems and haws but admits they haven’t been able to come to a conclusion. He suggests appealing to the pope for a ruling, which is sure to be in Henry’s favor. Henry threatens Wolsey before going back to getting dressed.
It seems that Henry wasn’t all that serious about Katherine clearing out, because in the next scene she’s sitting at a banquet table, watching her husband dance with Anne Boleyn. Seems they’re having a party to celebrate the arrival of the French envoy, which Boleyn and Norfolk eye and insult from a balcony over the dance floor.
The party and dancing are interrupted by a messenger, who’s prevented from entering by guards, so he yells to Henry that Rome has been sacked. Ohhhh, not good. Henry orders the guards to let the man through, and he tells Henry that the Emperor’s mercenaries have sacked the city, killing priests and destroying the churches. The pope’s now a prisoner of the Emperor, which will probably be an issue when Henry tries to appeal to him to annul Henry’s marriage to the Emperor’s aunt. Henry turns to glare at Katherine, like this is all her fault, and then leaves the dance floor. Party’s over.
We follow a veiled figure through torchlit corridors and through a set of double doors. The camera spins to reveal it’s Bessie Blount, veiled in black. See? Told you this wouldn’t end well. Two physicians bow to her, and the one in charge regretfully informs her that her son caught the sweating sickness and was gone in less than a day. He steps aside so she can see the tiny figure on the bed. Bessie removes her veil and sits on the bed beside her son (who actually died at age 16, but whatever, he did die). She kisses him and begins to sob.
News has apparently reached Henry, who sits at a table with little Henry’s tiny scepter and coronet in front of him, sobbing. Everyone had lousy days this episode, it seems.