The Tudors Season 1 Episode 8 recap: The Beginning of the End

Previously on The Tudors: The Sweating Sickness kicked England’s ass. Wolsey and Anne survived; Compton and others weren’t quite so lucky.

An artist is looking through a magnifying glass at Henry and Katherine, who appear to be sitting for a miniature. Henry, what did I say about the mixed messages?

Meanwhile, Wolsey’s in his study when a servant enters and announces Cardinal Campeggio, the pope’s representative in the divorce case. Campeggio enters slowly, using a cane and leaning on an assistant. Wolsey greets him with a hug and calls him Lorenzo, so clearly they’ve been friends for a while. Campeggio apologizes for his immobility—he has gout, apparently. The two cardinals sit down near the fire and Wolsey tells Campeggio that Henry wants the court to be set up to try the case as soon as possible. Campeggio understands, but he reminds Wolsey that his decision will be final, there’ll be no appeals here. He reveals that the pope wants to keep Henry happy, but it’ll be best to persuade Henry to give up this case. Wolsey rather impatiently tells Campeggio that if Henry doesn’t get his way, the church will lose England altogether.

Freed from his sitting, Henry’s taking a stroll in the gardens with Anne, who asks if there’s any risk of the pope deciding Henry and Katherine’s marriage is valid after all. Henry tells her he’s heard the pope has already decided in his favor, he just doesn’t want to piss off the emperor just now. Anne playfully says that means she can start planning the wedding, and Henry says she can. However, before anything can happen, Henry’s going to have to occasionally share Katherine’s table and bed, for the sake of appearances. Who are you keeping those appearances up for, Henry? Everyone knows you’re trying to jettison this woman!

Anne, unsurprisingly, is pissed off to hear about that that, despite Henry’s reassurances that nothing will happen between himself and his wife. He’s only acting on his lawyers’ advice, you see, because if he doesn’t do this, Katherine could countersue and claim she’s being denied her conjugal rights. Anne’s not hearing that, though, and stalks off. Henry accuses her of not trusting him, and she tries to backpedal and says that she does trust him, but Henry leaves, and she walks off in the opposite direction in a huff.

Henry sits down with Campeggio, and lays out his feelings on the case, which I think we all understand now, so we can move on. Campeggio hears him out and expresses his sympathy for Henry’s situation, and then proposes another solution to the issue: Katherine could join a nunnery, as other queens have done before her, thus abdicating her marriage and leaving Henry free to take another wife. Henry asks Wolsey what he thinks, and Wolsey thinks it’s a pretty good idea all around—it lets Katherine retire with dignity, so the emperor won’t be upset, and saves them the hassle of a trial. Henry asks Campeggio to make the proposal to Katherine.

Katherine strolls through the corridors, trailed by ladies and accompanied by Campeggio, who’s begging her to consider the idea. Katherine tells him she’ll give him an answer later, after she’s spoken with her husband. They enter an antechamber, and Campeggio leaves her, just in time for Wolsey to intercept Katherine and kneel at her feet. He begs her to give Henry what he wants and join the nunnery, but Katherine blows him off and tells him it’s unseemly for him to be seen begging in public.

Later, servants bring Henry and Katherine dinner. Henry conversationally mentions that he heard she spoke with Campeggio. She says it’s true, and she told him she couldn’t give him an answer until she’d spoken with Henry. Henry sharply asks her what answer she’ll give him, and she merely replies that she’ll tell Campeggio the truth. What truth? Wasn’t she supposed to just tell Campeggio yea or nay to the nunnery idea? Henry starts to get mad, guessing her response will be a resounding nay, and tells her the whole world now thinks their marriage was unjust. If she won’t agree to take the veil, he’ll have to force her. Katherine tightly asks him if she has permission to speak to Campeggio. Henry just pushes his plate away and sighs in frustration.

Anne sews by the light of an open window when a maid ushers in Cromwell. Anne eagerly asks him if he has a message from the king, so I guess she’s at Hever, although the last episode showed that they send messages and letters to each other even when they’re in the same place, so who knows? Cromwell doesn’t, but he does have a gift for her from a mutual acquaintance, one Mr. Fish, who’s living in exile in Holland. It’s a book called the Obedience of the Christian Man by William Tynedale, which details the church’s abuses. Cromwell warns her to be careful of whom she shows the book to, since it can be considered heresy even to own it. Anne tells him she will be, and then she gives him a small gift to give the king. Cromwell bows and withdraws, and Anne sits right down to start reading.

Cromwell kindly helps Anne pass the hours by lending her his dog-eared copy of Twilight

In a nice house somewhere, Slut Sister 2 (the one who doesn’t have a name, apparently) is chasing a chicken around the kitchen while dressed in a barely laced corset and slip. Ok. The chicken’s not eager to become dinner and leads her on a merry chase, but she finally nabs it, just as Thomas Tallis comes in. We immediately cut to the two of them sitting across from each other at the kitchen table. Tallis plays with a cup and says she never even told him her name. That’s because you never asked, Thomas! Remember how you dickishly blew her off in the church to give all your attention to her now-dead sister?

She tells him her name’s Jane, so finally, we have an actual name for this poor girl. Also, run, Jane! The guy’s a walking deathtrap! Tallis asks why she left the court after her sister died. Jane looks confused and tells him her sister’s still there, she hasn’t left at all. Then she looks behind him and smiles. Tallis turns and sees a hideous spectacle—dead Joan, standing there, smiling, but definitely looking dead. He looks a bit freaked out by this, but Jane just happily asks if he can see her too. Tallis turns back to her and the specter has disappeared. Does she have some sort of infectious version of crazy? What just happened there?

Tallis sighs and tells her he wants her to come back to court. Jane sassily reminds him that he liked her sister more than her, she could tell (well, it’s not like he made any secret of it). Tallis grabs her hand and says he wants to marry her. Sorry, what? He didn’t even know this girl’s name five minutes ago! Were there a bunch of scenes between the two of them that were cut? Because this makes no sense at all, not that anything involving Thomas Tallis does. This guy’s a plot black hole, he sucks in every way possible, and there’s never anything going on there. Anyway, Jane’s an idiot or something, because she actually goes along with this.

At court, Catherine’s meeting with Campeggio in a confessional. He asks her what she wants to confess, and she informs him she wants to reveal the truth about her marriage to Prince Arthur. Katherine swears that she and Arthur never had sex, and then she pointlessly repeats this in Spanish, I believe, which Campeggio then has to translate for the audience. I almost feel like the writers were just trying to fill a few seconds of time there. Anyway, the point is, Katherine was a virgin when she married Henry, which makes her his true wife, so she can’t bring herself to retire to a nunnery. She gives Campeggio permission to break the seal of the confessional and tell everyone what she just told him. I don’t think he can do that, even with permission, but I’m not an expert.

Oh, goody, another charming domestic scene with the Brandons. These are always fun. I think there was a continuity snafu here, actually, because the establishing shot of the house shows it in full daytime sunlight, but the interior shot is dark and lit by fire and candles, like it’s nighttime. Or maybe Margaret’s just taken to pulling the curtains and living in perpetual emo gloom. Seems like something she’d do. Like a petulant teenager, she’s picking at the table with a knife as Brandon tells her Henry wants her back at court. She wonders how she can bring herself to go back there when Henry’s running around with “his slut.” Since when did that bother her? Is she especially close to Katherine? Because we’ve seen no evidence of that whatsoever. I don’t think they’ve ever even spoken during the run of the series, even when they’ve been in scenes together. She doesn’t want to be seen to be approving of Henry’s nonsense. Charles tiredly tells her to let it go and let Henry marry whomever he wishes, and she decides to start picking a fight, asking Charles why he still keeps company with “that devil Boleyn.” Charles points out that she was fond enough of Boleyn back when he helped them get back to court, but she tells him she didn’t see his whole game back then. Now she does and she hates him. Charles snaps that he hates Boleyn too, but he hates Wolsey more (why?), so his pairing with Boleyn is a marriage of expediency. Rather like theirs is, says Margaret. Charles tries to comfort her, but does a rather poor job by saying that he “loved” her—past tense. She starts to get teary, telling him he doesn’t know the meaning of the word, but he can really convince a woman he loves her for as long as it takes for him to get what he wants, and then he moves right along to someone else. She breaks down, gets up, and takes off.

Wolsey enters Campeggio’s rooms and is blocked by the cardinal’s son, who tells him Campeggio’s not feeling well, and anyway, there’s nothing more Campeggio can do at the moment. He’s sent reports to Rome, and now they just have to wait for news to get back. Wolsey tries to muscle his way past the much younger man, which is even more undignified than kneeling at Katherine’s feet. He’s unsuccessful and finally leaves in a snit.

There’s another party happening at court, because it’s a day that ends in “y” and all. Anne walks through the room as everyone fawns over her and Campeggio and More watch from the upper balcony. More points Anne out, not at all impartially telling Campeggio that that’s the girl Henry’s willing to sacrifice his most gracious and loving queen for. Campeggio asks More if he thinks Anne and Henry are sleeping together, and More looks uncomfortable but says nothing. Campeggio goes on to say that he’s received a petition from Boleyn, Norfolk, and Brandon, telling him that the divorce has the overwhelming support of the English people. More tells Campeggio that that poll sample was probably pretty worthless, since the English people love their queen.

Down below, Henry approaches Wolsey, who tells him that Katherine has turned down the nunnery offer, but the pope’s willing to legitimize any kids Henry has with Anne. Always a silver lining, I guess. That’s not good enough for Henry, who growls that Wolsey’s going to have to do a lot better than that. Wolsey looks a little anxious.

Back up on the balcony, Campeggio asks Mendoza who the men talking to the king are, and Mendoza tells him they’re Norfolk, Brandon, and Boleyn, and that they all hate Wolsey. Campeggio guesses that Henry’s still quite fond of Wolsey, but Mendoza says his interest in the cardinal is waning. However, Wolsey should never be underestimated.

On the main floor, Margaret eyes Anne disgustedly. Campeggio asks how the emperor feels about all this, and Mendoza reveals that the emperor’s pretty pissed, and that he’s written to the pope, demanding that the matter be settled quickly, and in Rome. Campeggio asks if the emperor plans to intervene on Katherine’s behalf with military force, but apparently nobody’s thought to ask.

Back downstairs, Margaret bows to her brother, who greets her rather stiffly and tries to escape, but she grabs him and whispers that Anne’s not worth all the trouble. Henry tells her to look to her own marriage and ditches her to go sniff Anne’s hair. He asks how Anne’s doing, and she tells him she’s burning with impatience. Henry leads her to the dance floor (and yes, they are, of course, matching again. In fact, I think their outfits are made out of the same material).

Katherine’s sitting alone in her room, looking sad, when a lady-in-waiting announces Archbishop Wareham and Bishop Tunstall. The two men enter and bow to her. She greets them as her council for the legatine court. She invites them to discuss the case and says she has no problem with Henry, just with his terrible advisors, whom she’s decided are behind this whole matter. The two men look uncomfortable—they’re not here to discuss the case, they’re here to address some recent rumors of plots against the king’s life. They warn her that this looks pretty bad, since any plots to kill the king would put her daughter on the throne, and benefit both Mary and Katherine. Katherine can’t believe Henry would believe she could be behind such a thing.

Oh, but that’s not all. Tunstall tells her that she’s showing herself off too much, going amongst the people and enjoying their acclaim, and smiling and waving at them. Katherine laughs at the outright stupidity of that statement, but stops when she’s told everyone assumes now that she hates the king, because she continues to live in sin with him and won’t set him free. The archbishop starts to plead with her, and she reminds him that he once supported her case, so what changed his mind? Was it Wolsey? He has no response for that, and Tunstall tries to turn the conversation back to her by saying she hasn’t answered the charge, and she snaps that it’s absurd for her to be charged by her own lawyers (or representatives, as the case is here). She rises and proudly tells them that they’re fired.

Ahh, we’re back on familiar ground. Katherine’s getting into bed, and Henry comes in, dressed in a nightshirt (what, no princely boxers this time?) He climbs into bed with her, and once they’re alone, he asks her why she won’t just set him free already. He calls her heartless and says he doesn’t think she loves him anymore. She tells him she does love him, but he responds by threatening to keep her away from Mary, lest Katherine poison their daughter’s mind against him. I think you’re doing a fair job of that all by yourself, Henry. Katherine reacts pretty predictably, and Henry softens a little and just asks her to be reasonable. She childishly tells him she’s being perfectly reasonable, he’s the one who’s not being reasonable. Henry slumps down in bed, frustrated again. There will definitely be no sexing tonight.

Not for Henry, anyway. Elsewhere, Tallis is in bed with his new wife, Jane, who asks him what he wants out of life. Tallis doesn’t know—travel? Adventure? He thinks it’d be cool to hop a ship and go to the new world for a while, or China. She asks him where he’d go, and he’d apparently explore her, starting with her hairline…ok, this is really just a way for him to seduce her, and while it’s cute and all, it has no bearing on the plot whatsoever, so I’m going to move on. The only thing that might be in any way significant is that, as the two of them start to get it on, we pan over to the other side of the bed, where the creepy ghost of dead Joan is watching them. Ok, so she’s a pervy ghost. Good to know some things never change after death, I guess.

Anne proudly informs the king that she has a new motto, and when he asks what it is, she teases him that he’ll have to find it. It’s on a piece of ribbon, hidden somewhere. Henry gets playful for a minute, then starts to reach into her dress, and then goes under the dress head first. Anne pretty much has an orgasm right then and there and tells Henry she can’t wait much longer. I’m sure he’s delighted to hear that. He reassures her that she won’t have to, and she informs him that there are more delays, because nobody can get in to see Campeggio, and she thinks someone’s deliberately holding up the process. He emerges from under her dress and asks if it’s Campeggio, but she tells him it’s someone much, much closer to Henry. Then she takes his hand and guides it back up her skirt. Henry gasps that he’s touching it, like a teenage boy. Subtle, show. And then he retrieves a ribbon with Anne’s new motto on it. He reads it aloud, but it’s in French, I believe, and even though I speak French, I can’t understand it at all. Oddly, they don’t bother to translate it for us. So, they translate things we don’t need, but not the things we do? Ok, thanks, writers.

Henry takes Wolsey for a walk in the garden and asks him if he trusts Campeggio. Wolsey responds that Campeggio’s totally trustworthy and has no love for the emperor, so there’s not much chance of interference from that quarter. Henry asks why, then, is Campeggio holding up the show? Wolsey says there are some technical matters that need to be resolved, but Henry doesn’t need to worry his pretty little head about that. Henry whirls on Wolsey and accuses him of delaying things. Wolsey drops to his knees and says he wants nothing more than to help Henry get rid of his wife. He gets himself worked up enough that Henry actually softens and helps him to his feet. Henry tells Wolsey he trusts him, and they continue their walk. Unbeknownst to the king and Wolsey, More and Norfolk have been watching the whole show.

Cromwell enters the king’s audience chamber and Henry tells him to get his ass to Rome and tell the pope to get a move on already, or Henry will withdraw his allegiance to the Catholic Church. He tosses in a few superfluous F-bombs, so we know he’s serious. Cromwell bows and leaves, and Henry barks for Charles to come in. He’s being sent to Paris to ask Francis about Campeggio, his dealings, allegiances, ambitions, the works. Oh, and ask about Wolsey, too. Charles, probably eager to get away from Margaret for a while, says he’ll leave at once.

More goes to visit Katherine, who seems happy to see him. More’s brought Bishop Fisher with him, whom you may remember was the most vocal opponent to the divorce when Wolsey first brought it up a couple of episodes ago. This is definitely a man who doesn’t deal with any bullshit. More’s brought him to offer Katherine true and devoted council. She thanks him and More leaves the two of them alone. Katherine asks if he’s sure he wants to act on her behalf, since he might be putting himself in danger, and he says he definitely is. He’s studied the case and guesses Henry and Co. will try to make it seem like the dispensation that allowed Henry and Katherine to marry in the first place was faulty. But the remedy for that isn’t to dissolve the marriage, it’s to get another dispensation from the current pope. But none of that really matters anyway, because the passage of time has rendered the marriage honest anyway. Katherine seems very comforted by all this, but the bishop is cautious. They may win the argument, but there are pretty strong forces arrayed against them. Her face falls, and he encourages her by reminding her that they’re on the side of the angels.

Henry’s in a pissy mood, and not even playing cards with Anne seems to be helping. She asks what’s bothering him, and he says he’s heard from Cromwell. He doesn’t think the pope will act on Henry’s behalf beyond praying for him. Anne looks frustrated, even though she had a winning hand. Henry irritably hands over the money he bet and stalks out, ever the poor loser.

Charles has made it to France and is getting the story from Francis over dinner. Francis thinks that Campeggio says one thing but feels another. He secretly despises this divorce idea, so Francis advises Henry not to put to much trust in Campeggio. Charles asks if he feels the same way about Wolsey. Francis sits up straighter and says he has nothing against Wolsey, and Charles just asks if he thinks Wolsey’s on the side of the divorce. Francis shrugs that Wolsey doesn’t seem to be such a big fan of Katherine’s, so why shouldn’t he want the divorce to happen? However, Wolsey, the pope, and Campeggio are all fairly close, which means he might be prevailed up on to work against the divorce. Francis’s advice to Henry is to focus on himself, as if he really needed encouragement to do that.

The matter settled, Francis rises, whispers something to his wife, and leaves. Charles asks where Francis has gone and Claude rather bitterly says he’s probably off to see a mistress. Charles asks why Francis should do that, when he has such a beautiful wife. Um, Pot? Have you met Kettle yet? She tells him to ask Francis. Charles goes a step too far by inviting her to get back at her husband by schtupping Brandon. Claude seems to consider it, and then boredly says ok, but first, how’s his wife doing? Charles starts to answer with an excuse, but she bulldozes right over him and points out that having sex for revenge is sucky, and kind of soul killing. You know what? I kind of like Claude.

Wolsey’s lurking in the hall outside Campeggio’s room, looking for all the world like a kid who’s been sent to the principal’s office. The door opens and Campeggio emerges, accompanied by his son, who’s quickly told to get lost by Wolsey. Wolsey reminds Campeggio that the trial is coming, and Campeggio says he knows, before trying to move past Wolsey. He doesn’t get far before Wolsey grabs him by the ear and drags him back into his room. I have a feeling this is going to get him kicked right off Campeggio’s Christmas card list.

In the room, Wolsey wrestles Campeggio into a chair and reiterates the backlash the Catholic church will face if they fail to grant the divorce. Campeggio tells Wolsey that it’s not entirely in his hands, he answers to the pope. Wolsey repeats that Henry, and therefore England, will probably turn away from the church if he doesn’t get the verdict he wants, and Wolsey will be ruined too, in the bargain. Considering his recent treatment at your hands, I doubt Campeggio gives a crap about that, Wolsey. Campeggio says he understands and tells Wolsey to have faith.

Boleyn, Brandon, and Norfolk are having a little conspirators’ get together to discuss the Wolsey situation. It’s clear Wolsey’s in trouble, and no longer Henry’s favorite person. Brandon says they should encourage Henry’s newly formed dislike of Wolsey, and start the process of bringing the cardinal down. Boleyn produces a pamphlet that outlines all of Wolsey’s shortcomings as first minister and calls for his arrest. It’s ready to be distributed. All that remains is for Anne to convince Henry that his suspicions are all justified. The men all drink to Wolsey’s inevitable downfall.

A lady in waiting brings Katherine a crown and matching jewels, which she puts on as bishops, archbishops, Henry and his ministers, and courtiers gather at Blackfriars Church for the trial. Katherine sweeps into the courtyard, as the gathered crowds cheer her on.

Inside, Campeggio calls the court to order. Henry and Katherine are in thrones at the front, facing each other. Campeggio invites Henry to speak first, and he lays out his case, which we’re already pretty familiar with. Henry claims that all of his bishops agree with his belief that the marriage is invalid, and they’ve signed a petition attesting to the fact.

At that claim, Bishop Fisher rises and says that that’s not true—he never signed his name to any such document, and if it did appear, then Bishop Tunstall forged his signature. Wolsey shuts him up and Henry says the bishop is “but one man.” Katherine must be absolutely dying inside as she watches this nonsense.

If looks could kill, there would have been a few less cardinals in the room.

Henry finishes up, and Wolsey informs the court that Katherine, through her advisors, has questioned the competence of the court to try the case. There’s a murmur of disapproval in the court when everyone hears that. Katherine’s looking daggers at Wolsey right now, and I don’t blame her. Wolsey tells everyone that he and Campeggio are totally impartial and have the authority to try the case themselves. And with that, he invites Katherine to address the court.

Katherine rises, crosses to Henry’s throne, and kneels at his feet. Henry tries to raise her to her feet, but she remains on her knees and begs him to show him a little compassion, after everything they’ve been through together. She says she has no friends there, and little council, so she’s pretty defenseless. She swears up and down that she’s always been a true and loyal wife to Henry, that she’s loved all his friends, even when they were jerks to her (she looks pointedly at Brandon, Norfolk, Cromwell, and Boleyn as she says this), and that when they were married, she was a virgin. Then, with dignity, she rises, curtsies to Henry, and walks right out of the courtroom, even as she’s called back. The servant accompanying her tells her she might want to turn back, since she’s being called, but she says the court has no meaning for her. Henry watches her go and looks a little terrified.

Outside, the crowd cheers her, and she can’t help but smile a little at their loyalty and adulation.

Back inside, Wosley’s shouting to Campeggio that Katherine clearly holds the court in contempt and is spitting in the face of papal law. It’s now Henry’s turn to look murderous, even as Wolsey bows to him. Henry leaves the court and Wosley crosses himself, clearly aware that this is the beginning of the end for him.

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Next Episode: Humpty Dumpty Had a Great Fall

3 thoughts on “The Tudors Season 1 Episode 8 recap: The Beginning of the End

  1. So, I know its been a while, but, does anyone know the poem that Thomas Tallis is reciting to his new wife? I think is arabic, but I can’t find it.

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