Previously on The Tudors: Henry got all hot for Jane Seymour, which put her social-climbing older brother, Edward, into a sort of Machiavellian overdrive. Henry almost died after falling off his horse during a joust, sending Anne into a panic and allowing her father and brother to dream of being kings in all but name during little Elizabeth’s minority. Henry recovered, Anne miscarried, and Henry decided he’s done with wife #2.
Ok, things start off super creepy—three physicians are presenting Henry with the remains of his and Anne’s miscarried baby. It’s covered up, in a bowl on the table in front of Henry, and the lead physician is telling the king that the fetus appeared to be male, but it was deformed, so the miscarriage was something of a blessing in disguise. Henry lifts the corner of the cloth covering the body and grimaces, then waves the doctors and attendants away. One of his footmen thoughtfully takes the baby in a bowl with him. Ick.
While wandering through the corridors in another part of the palace, the French ambassador comes across Anne, who pounces on him like a Labrador on a chew toy. She urges him to persuade King Francis to allow the betrothal of his son to Elizabeth, surely seeing this acceptance as her only security now. She’s completely freaking out, as she should be. The French ambassador just looks confused, which makes me think he must be new, otherwise he’d understand just how much danger she’s in right now.
In Cromwell’s spacious and well-lit office, Edward Seymour is announced and warmly greeted by Cromwell, who expresses his hope that they’ll soon get to know each other better. Cromwell informs Edward that he’s been appointed a Gentleman of the Privy Chamber, which was fairly high up there as far as court positions went. Edward replies that he’s very honored. Now that he’s been properly buttered up, Cromwell can discuss the reason Edward’s really there: Henry wants to start dating Jane, but he doesn’t want there to be any scandal about it (would that he’d cared so much about scandal when he was chasing after his current wife…). In order to ensure privacy, Cromwell’s offering his own rooms to the Seymours, since they’re conveniently connected to Henry’s by a private gallery, so moving secretly between the rooms won’t be difficult at all. Edward thanks Cromwell for his generosity and promises to repay it someday.
In a rare bit of probable historical accuracy, Henry’s being groomed by a manservant. And when I say groomed, I mean the guy is actually picking bugs out of Henry’s hair. Man, employment opportunities in Tudor England must have sucked. Henry mentions the room swap to Cromwell, who’s standing nearby, and then moves onto other business: handing over a bishopric to Thomas Boleyn. Henry also plans to give Boleyn two abbeys, because if Henry likes anything, it’s messing with people and sending mixed messages right before pulling the rug out from under them. He hands the paperwork over to Cromwell and tells him to inform Boleyn of his good fortune. I’m sure that good fortune will totally soften the blow of having two out of his three children executed, Henry. Cromwell smiles and agrees to share the news, and Henry tells him that no one must know of their plans.
Seymour, a father who’s not about to be horribly jerked around, admires his daughter, who’s being all prettied up, presumably for a date with the king. He calls her beautiful and sweetly kisses her on the forehead, then he and Edward escort her to Henry’s adjoining room and wait discreetly in the doorway, acting as chaperones.
Henry presents Jane with a locket that contains a portrait of himself. She, of course, thanks him happily and promises to treasure it for her whole life. Henry’s charmed.
On a fine spring day, Anne’s chilling in her rooms while her ladies bustle about. Norris, who’s come to see Madge, finishes his visit, bows to Anne, and withdraws. Madge goes to find something to do, and Anne waves over another lady, wondering why, after all this time, Norris hasn’t married Madge. Presumably because he’s found out she’s a childlike gibbering idiot with no attractive qualities that we’ve seen thus far. Or, as the lady suggests, it could be because Norris has the hots for Anne. In a major shift of subject, the lady then whispers the news of Cromwell’s room swap to Anne, who’s pissed when she hears it. She gets up and strides angrily over to Jane, who’s doing something over by the fire. Anne notes Jane’s new locket, and Jane reluctantly shows it to her, acting a little defiant, which I wouldn’t have expected from her. Anne looks at the portrait inside, then rips the locket right off Jane’s neck and glares her out of the room. She throws the locket onto the floor; the force of tearing it off of Jane has cut her hand. Her ladies stare and whisper amongst themselves and Anne hurries out of the room. Once she’s gone, someone (we don’t see who), scoops the locket off the floor.
Anne goes right to Cromwell, who’s so absorbed in his work he doesn’t even notice she’s come in until one of his secretaries brings it to his attention. Cromwell happily tells her that the bill for the dissolution of the largest monasteries has just passed Parliament, which means the Reformation is moving right along. She couldn’t possibly care less right now, although she takes the opportunity to scold Cromwell for the Reformation essentially becoming a massive money grab by the king and the aristocracy, something she blames Cromwell for. She moves right along to the matter of the rooms. Cromwell’s reluctant to fess up, but when pressed, he admits it’s true. Anne warns him that he’s put himself in a dangerous spot and insists she still has the power to crush him. Keep telling yourself that, if it makes you feel better, Anne.
As she walks down a corridor, Jane’s intercepted by Madge, who hands back her locket. So much for family loyalty. Jane tearfully thanks her and kisses the locket.
Ok, this is a weird moment. Cromwell’s at home, having dinner with his wife, when a servant in another room greets an arriving guest as “your Excellency”. Cromwell’s wife and a servant hovering near the table quickly gather up the food, as if they were expecting this, and make themselves scarce as Cromwell quickly swallows his food. His wife gives him a cute encouraging look as she goes. Strange, right? Are guests not allowed to know that Cromwell eats?
Anyway, Chapuys is shown in and Cromwell thanks him for coming so far for the meeting (all the way to Shoreditch, apparently). Chapuys says it was no big deal—he wants to indulge in a little gossip. He’s heard that Cromwell’s had a falling out with Anne. Cromwell, not concerned in the least, says it’s true, and he thinks she wants to have him executed. Chapuys is surprised that Cromwell’s not nervous about that, but Cromwell knows that Henry’s too clueless at this point to run the country without him. He doesn’t quite say that, but we know it’s true. Still, Chapuys wishes Cromwell had a nicer mistress who was more aware of the service Cromwell had done to the king. Cromwell brings up the possibility of Henry remarrying (posing it as a hypothetical situation) and Chapuys is all for it, since Henry’s still lacking in sons and the present marriage is still viewed as unlawful in most of the world. Cromwell seems pleased to hear all this and tells Chapuys that Henry wants to see him, probably to confirm the new alliance with the Emperor.
Anne’s having a little casual get-together in her rooms, drinking wine and strolling amongst the sycophants, trailed by Madge, when in comes her brother’s wife, Lady Rochford. Anne asks what she wants, and Lady R. asks her to speak to her brother and make him be nicer to her. Sigh. I know I’m supposed to feel bad for this girl, and in a sense I do, because she really is in a tight spot, but she’s such an unpleasant, sniveling, passive aggressive character with a permanent bitchface that I really can’t seem to drum up much sympathy. I can’t entirely blame George for wanting to spend time with someone else, and I normally have MAJOR problems with adulterous characters.
Anne sticks up for her brother, but Lady R insists, glancing at Mark Smeaton, that there are “others that [George] has preferred” to her. Anne hushes her like a child but Lady R’s on a tear and whines that George doesn’t treat her like a proper wife, as Henry treats Anne. Anne goes way off the deep end on that one and loudly insists that Henry can’t satisfy a woman, since he has neither the skill nor the virility. Woah, there. Party’s over.
Later, or the next day, or something, Anne’s sitting in her room, distractedly chewing her thumbnail while her father natters on about giving up the French alliance and getting on board with the new alliance with the Emperor. He notices that Anne’s head isn’t really in this discussion, but when asked she tells him she’s listening, even though now she’s moved on to chewing on the bandages wrapping the fingers she cut when she ripped the necklace off of Jane Seymour. Ew. Boleyn grabs her hand, forces her to look at him, and orders her to make a big fuss over Chapuys when he arrives and crap all over the French whenever she gets the chance. Boleyn takes a page out of Henry’s book and presses her against the wall, getting right in her face and maniacally telling her that the family’s come so far, and he won’t see all their good work destroyed. He looks like he’s about to have a stroke. This guy needs some yoga or aromatherapy candles. Or kickboxing—whatever.
In the great hall, a large crowd has gathered to see Chapuys arrive. He enters the room only a second before Henry and Anne, who sweep in trailed by ladies and gentlemen and led by Cranmer, so I guess they’re heading to mass. Anne nods politely at Chapuys as she passes him and then asks Henry if Chapuys will dine with them after mass. Anne turns around to look at Chapuys again, but he’s disappeared into the crowd. Anne seems surprised by this, but Henry just says that his disappearance is “for good reason.” I don’t really get why Anne’s so distressed by this—did she expect Chapuys to just stand around, hoping for a dinner invitation? The man’s the Emperor’s ambassador, he’s got things to do, Anne! I think this was just a poorly handled moment. Anyway, Wyatt, who’s been watching the scene with Mark Smeaton, murmurs that he thinks something’s going on, but be doesn’t know what it is. Really? You don’t? Henry’s already ditched one wife for being unable to produce a son. Do these people not have the ability to form memories?
Party time! Mark’s fiddling away, playing a song I think I’ve heard in every Tudor/Elizabethan-era movie/show/miniseries made since Elizabeth came out. He grins up at Wyatt, who’s in the minstrel’s gallery of the great hall, and Wyatt laughs and lifts his goblet to Mark. So, I suppose he’s not all that worried about the weird vibes he got earlier. Wyatt scans the room and notes Anne, sitting on a throne and chatting with Madge, and Henry, standing clear on the other side of the room as her, talking to someone (this scene’s pretty dimly lit, so I couldn’t make out who it was), then Jane Seymour, talking to some friends, and finally George and Boleyn, who are looking a bit less merry than the others and making their way through the crowd.
They paste on the smiles as they approach Chapuys, who doesn’t look delighted to see them. Boleyn commences sucking up, apologizing for past slights and “regrettable words”. Boleyn says he wants to help Chapuys form an alliance between Henry and the Emperor, and George proposes a toast to new beginnings. Chapuys joins in, but his heart’s clearly not in it.
Anne’s entertaining the ambassador from Milan, and once she confirms that Milan’s currently being occupied by the French, she starts the French-bashing her father suggested, calling them deceitful and hypocritical. Everyone looks super uncomfortable because the French ambassador is standing right next to the Milanese ambassador. He leaves in a snit. Even Madge seems to think this was tacky. Wyatt, still up in the minstrel’s gallery, looks grave, even though he’s too far away to have heard any of what was just said.
Cromwell comes strolling in, all genuine smiles, and joins the Seymours, father, son, and daughter. Edward asks what’s up and Cromwell tells them the king’s going to be having an audience with Chapuys soon. Very soon—a servant is just now seeking out Chapuys and rescuing him from the Boleyns so he can meet with Henry. Boleyn and George try to follow, but Henry waves them off at the door to his study without even really looking at them. Cromwell’s welcome, though, as the architect of the treaty. Chapuys lays out the terms: Henry will make up with Rome (to some extent), restore Mary to the succession, and support the Emperor in his current military endeavors. Chapuys then makes a total misstep by suggesting that maybe God is planning for a female succession in England, which is why Henry has no sons. What the hell is he thinking?
Henry, of course, flies off the handle and does that thing where he just starts randomly yelling in people’s faces and generally acting like a toddler who can’t get the toy he wants. He’s so loud he interrupts the party—the music stops and everyone goes silent. Chapuys just bows and tries to leave, but then Henry catches up with him and demands to have the Emperor’s offer in writing. Chapuys argues that that’s not possible (why?), and Henry gets mad again. He demands that the Emperor publicly apologize for hurting wittle Henwy’s feelings in the past, and that he also accept Anne as queen (Boleyn and George share a smile at this). Henry’s grabbed Chapuys’s lapels by this time, and he shoves him away, growls that he has nothing more to say to the Emperor, and leaves. Chapuys gives him an awesome parting look, as if to say: “Aren’t there medications for this yet?” Wyatt, once again, takes all this in. What’s Wyatt’s deal? Is he going to be revealed as a spy or something? Since when did he become the audience stand-in? I feel like the writers didn’t really know what to do with that character, so they just keep shoving him into all these strange situations. Not that I mind—I kind of like the actor, but I wish they’d use him better.
Now that Henry’s had his wobbler, the party can recommence. Henry’s sulking off in a corner, so Brandon takes the opportunity to head over and talk him down. Or feed the fire, as it turns out: he shares some “rumors” he’s heard about Anne’s behavior. She’s said to entertain men in her rooms at night, flirt, and behave intimately with them. Henry watches Anne dance smilingly around Mark Smeaton and broods.
Not long after, Henry convenes his council and tells them that certain members of the court have been engaged in treasonous activity. He orders Mr. Rich (solicitor general) to join forces with Cromwell and convene a court of Oyer and Terminer to investigate the allegations. Rich and Cromwell bow their acquiescence.
First up for questioning: Madge. This should go well. Cromwell’s taking command of the proceedings, with Rich there as well. They’re gathered in a pretty stark room; Madge is sitting in a chair that has leather straps on the arms, clearly for tying people down for torture. Charming!
Cromwell asks if Anne’s ever acted inappropriately with any men in her chambers. Madge, and the lady who comes after her, denies it. The lady after her is being questioned by Rich, who indicates that, if she doesn’t give them the answers they want, she’ll be hanged. Tudor justice at its best. She starts to cry.
Henry’s hanging out in his dimly lit emo chambers when in comes Jane. Henry tells her she has to leave Whitehall for a while and go home with her father (because that won’t raise any suspicions at all). He tells her that she represents all that’s innocent, good, and pure in the corrupt world of the court. Should we just go ahead and start calling her Madonna right now? Nah, Jane’s easier to type. He promises she won’t have to stay away for long, and soon enough they can be together.
Cromwell’s back with Madge, and he’s much less polite than he was when he first started questioning her. Madge is looking disheveled, so I guess the questioning’s been going on for a while. She’s also crying and finally admits that some men did come into Anne’s chambers and sometimes she flirted with them. Cromwell asks for names, and Madge offers up Norris, George, Brereton (ha! Bet the pope didn’t see that coming), and Mark Smeaton. Cromwell keeps yelling for more names, so she gets desperate and says she saw Anne hugging and kissing her brother. Cromwell, who I guess had no siblings he was close to, immediately suspects the worst when she says that and looks horrified. He and Rich exchange a look.
Ugh. Mrs. George is in questioning, and she’s much more willing to share information than Madge was. She’s gone to Cromwell and told him she believes George committed incest with Anne. Bitch! I get why she didn’t like George, but what’s her beef with Anne? Because she didn’t intervene when Mrs. George asked her to? What could she have done anyway? God, this woman’s hateful. And honestly, she was historically hateful too, which is why I never felt bad that she got a serious karmic comeuppance in the end.
Cromwell seems pleased at this news.
For some strange reason, Cromwell’s brought Mark Smeaton to his house for questioning, apparently under false pretenses, because Mark’s in a merry mood and doesn’t have a clue what’s about to go down here. He’s surprised when two burly attendants materialize out of the shadows and escort him to a seat in front of Cromwell. One of them holds his arms down and the other puts a piece of rope that has a knot in it over his head, positioning the knot over Smeaton’s eye. Why couldn’t Cromwell do this in the room where he was questioning the ladies? Seems like a bizarre move to hold the torture in his own dining room, where his wife or kid could just walk in. There are certain jobs that just don’t work as a work-from-home situation, you know?
Cromwell asks Smeaton point blank when he slept with Anne and how many times. Smeaton says he never did any such thing, so the attendant tightens the rope around Smeaton’s head. Smeaton desperately keeps repeating that he never slept with Anne, or even dreamt of it. Cromwell cites Smeaton’s recent purchase of expensive horses and liveries for servants and asks where he got the money from. Smeaton just says again that he never slept with Anne, so the rope gets tightened again, and horribly, blood begins to stream from his left eye and he screams bloody murder, understandably.
From there, we cut right to Anne happily leading her ladies in a dance class. There’s much giggling and merriment (and Madge is there, I notice, joining in as if she didn’t totally just sell Anne out.) Norris is sitting in the corner, enjoying the show.
The fun’s interrupted by the arrival of George, and the look on his face is enough to clue Anne in to the fact that something really bad’s going down. He tells her that a planned visit to France with Henry has been postponed for a week, and Mark Smeaton’s been arrested for reasons unknown.
As if poor Mark hasn’t been through enough—he’s now being led to a rack in some subterranean chamber. When he spots it, he fights tooth and nail to get away, but there’s no escape from the guards, who start strapping him down.
And once again, we cut to the ladies dancing while Anne drinks. She notes Norris’s presence and asks why he keeps coming by but never proposes. Norris blusters that marriage isn’t something one should hurry into. Anne’s apparently gone from drunk to suicidally stupid and claims that Norris is there because he “looks for dead men’s shoes.” Basically, that he’s hoping Henry will die so he can land Anne. Talking about the king’s death was, at that time, considered treason. Norris says that if he ever had such a thought, his head should be cut off, and Anne nastily tells him that such a thing can be arranged. Why the Norris hate, Anne? Jane’s gone so you need someone else to beat up on? What did this poor man ever do to you? Norris, to his credit, proudly bows and then hurries out of the room. Anne calls over one of her ladies and asks her to send for Elizabeth. The lady, Nan, goes to do so, but first, Anne makes her promise to care for little Lizzy if anything should happen to Anne.
Smeaton’s being racked while Cromwell demands the truth about his relationship with Anne. Smeaton, poor man, is still insisting that the accusations are false, because he hasn’t figured out that this is a witch hunt, and the truth doesn’t matter in the least. The racking continues, and the Foley guys get to have a little fun with some awful popping noises that lead him to start screaming in fresh agony.
Meanwhile, Henry’s out for a ride with George and Boleyn. Seems they’re making a pit stop or something like that, because they’re all dismounted and Henry’s just wandering around in the lush field like an early Romantic poet dreaming of leaves and pebbles and things. Out of earshot. Boleyn urgently tells George that Henry’s called an emergency meeting of the council, but neglected to tell either of the Boleyn men. Yeah, that’s a pretty bad sign. Boleyn tells George to keep Henry in his sight at all times.
Cromwell comes galloping up and barely reigns in his horse before leaning down to tell Henry that Smeaton’s finally been broken, in every which way. Henry remounts and calls for Norris to join him. The two men gallop off, along with Cromwell and all the guards, leaving the Boleyns alone with their two grooms.
As Henry and Co. slow to a trot, Henry casually mentions that Anne’s pregnant, did Norris know? Norris didn’t, and asks why he should, so Henry whirls on him and accuses him of being the kid’s father. Norris is shocked by this entirely stupid accusation, but Henry’s got the crazy eyes going and orders the guards to arrest Norris.
Brereton is naked, kneeling before a cross, praying in Latin with his arms raised, as one does. Wow, I don’t think we’ve had strange religiously motivated behavior like this since More died. I haven’t missed it. As he prays, guards come in and arrest him for treason.
Boleyn arrives back at Whitehall but soon finds himself surrounded by guards. He looks at them desperately, like a caged animal. Elsewhere in the palace, George cautiously navigates the strangely empty corridors, meeting only Wyatt along the way. Wyatt’s disheveled, as usual, standing draped against a wall, and asks where George is going. George says he has to see the king, but Wyatt tells him it’s too late. Just then, guards round the corners on both ends of the corridor and put both George and Wyatt under arrest for the treasonous activity of sleeping with Anne. It hasn’t been explained in the show yet, so I think I’ll clear it up now: the reason why it was treason for a queen to have adulterous affairs (but not a king) was because of the risk of polluting the royal bloodline with a child of her lover’s, not the king’s. Just in case you were wondering.
Henry’s out for a stroll in the gardens while all this is going down, but he’s interrupted by Anne, who’s come to find him with little Elizabeth in her arms. Henry turns and walks the other way as she begins to plead with him. He accuses him of lying to him, of not being a virgin when they married (uh, yeah, Henry, because you’d already slept with her in France. She was pregnant when you two married, and you knew it. Whatever, Henry’s a master at revisionist history.) She says she loved him, and loves him still, and begs him for one more chance. He brushes past her without a second glance.
It’s George’s turn with Cromwell. He’s pretty much already broken, crying like a baby as Cromwell accuses him of committing incest with Anne and plotting the king’s death (wow, he just started making stuff up as he went along, didn’t he?) George snivels that none of this is true and his enemies have spread these lies. Cromwell claps him on the shoulder, his very own form of a Judas kiss.
And now he’s in with Brereton, who’s sitting in the same chair the ladies were interrogated in, looking much calmer and more resigned than George. He snorts when Cromwell asks if he ever slept with Anne, but then he suddenly reconsiders and admits that he did. Wow, that was actually kind of a clever gambit on his part. Guess the inept assassin wasn’t so inept after all.
Boleyn, meanwhile, and to the surprise of no one, is selling out his own kids faster than you can say: “reprieve.” He condemns Anne and all the men accused and calls for them all to suffer the worst punishment. Geez, this guy is a piece of work, isn’t he?
There’s no merry dancing in Anne’s rooms now. She’s sitting with her ladies drawn up in a circle, sewing and waiting for the inevitable. It’s not long coming. Rich and Charles Brandon enter, bow, and Brandon presents the warrant for her arrest. Both Madge and the other lady who was questioned drop their heads and begin to quietly cry. Rich tells Anne that they’re going to be taking her to the tower. Anne stays calm, rises, and starts to tell Madge to pack some things. Brandon interrupts and tells her there’s no time for her to change or pack anything. She proudly stares him down until he looks away in embarrassment. Sometimes being Henry’s best friend and chief advisor must really suck.
At the Tower, Anne begs Brandon and Rich to ask Henry to be good to her. They turn and leave her without a word. Mr. Kingston, the Warden of the Tower, escorts her inside. Anne protests her innocence as she goes, but Kingston doesn’t care, because determining her guilt isn’t at all his job. He opens a door and Anne nervously asks if she’s going to be shut up in a dungeon. He tells her no, there are rooms made up for her. Either this dialogue exchange actually happened or the writers stole it right out of Anne of the Thousand Days. Anne faints against him and starts to cry and beg Jesus for mercy. She pulls herself together enough to ask Kingston to arrange for the sacrament to be sent to her room.
Back at Whitehall, Cranmer sweeps into Cromwell’s office and says he just heard about Anne’s arrest, and he’s appalled. He can’t believe she’s guilty of such insane and horrible crimes. Almost in the same breath, however, he backpedals and says he also can’t believe that Henry would accuse her of such things if they weren’t true. Way to take a stand, Cranmer. Cromwell puts some considerable acting skills to the test and says it was terrible to torture crazy lies out of innocent people discover such horrible truths. Cranmer admits that he had a special fondness for Anne, probably because of her assistance in getting the Reformation off the ground (which led to his considerable elevation, let’s not forget). Cromwell tells him he’ll have to learn to live without Anne. Cranmer worries that the Reformation will fall apart without one of its biggest supporters, but Cromwell now views Anne as a liability to the Reformation. He tells Cranmer that it’s now Cranmer’s job to declare Henry’s marriage to Anne null and void. Cranmer looks a little sick when he hears that but accepts the written orders nonetheless.
Brandon’s closeted up with Henry, giving him a report: Norris, Smeaton, Brereton, and George Boleyn have all been found guilty and will be executed the following day. Henry says that, according to Cromwell, Anne had slept with over 100 men. Oh, come on, you’d have to be completely brainless to believe that. How would that even be possible, living under a microscope at court the way she was? Apparently Henry’s fully drunk the Kool-Ade, though, because he sniffles and sounds like he’s crying. He dumps Katherine’s death on Anne, saying she had Katherine poisoned and planned to poison Mary too. Charles looks like he’s trying to think of a way to reign in the crazy, but then it gets worse as Henry says that the baby Anne miscarried was deformed, so how could it have been Henry’s? Huh? This guy sucked at logic, didn’t he? What, kings only fathered perfect babies? Tell that to the Habsburgs. Henry sobs in despair, his head on Charles’s lap, and Charles uncertainly strokes his head, no doubt wondering how long it’ll be before he can get the hell out of there.
Wyatt’s in a dank cell, staring at his reflection in a bowl of water. In comes Cromwell with the happy news that Anne was tried the previous day and found guilty of treason, despite the fact that she kept protesting her innocence. She’ll be burned or decapitated at the king’s pleasure. Wyatt stares up at him dully, his eyes red from crying. Convincingly, too—did James King rub his eyes really hard before this scene or did he actually cry beforehand to get the right look?
Wyatt turns from Cromwell and begins to tear up, but after a moment regains his composure and asks what’ll become of Anne’s alleged accomplices. Everyone but Wyatt’s been condemned to death. Wyatt, on the other hand, is the luckiest bastard on this show. They didn’t trump up find any evidence against him, so he’s going to be released. Eventually. Wyatt stares after Cromwell in amazement, but then tears up again as Cromwell goes and calls after him that he’s the only one who’s actually guilty. Wyatt, you’ve been given a gift. Take it. You’re too pretty to behead anyway.
Execution day. The masses gather for the spectacle, some selling pies and souvenirs, while Anne piles some furniture up near a window so she can watch too. George is led to the scaffold first, and the crowd jeers him. He addresses them, not saying much, but they’re not listening anyway. Anne leans her head against the windowframe and sobs. George, white as his shirt, looks out at the jeering, hateful crowd. The executioner does his work, and the crowd cheers. Anne breaks into loud, wracking sobs that are overheard by her father, in his own cell nearby. He’s reading a book, and doesn’t seem all that bothered by the fact that his only son was just executed for treason and incest and will no doubt be shortly followed by his daughter. What a bizarre acting/directing choice. I mean, yeah, this guy’s been presented as kind of a monster, but I still find it very hard to believe he’d be so unfeeling about his children’s deaths. Especially since they could be forerunners to his own. He’s shown some affection towards both George and Anne in the past, so it seems more likely he’d look at least a little sad.
Back out on the scaffold, people dip their handkerchiefs in George’s blood for souvenirs as Norris is marched up to the block. He, too, is dispatched, and the special effects guys have some fun with the body spurting blood over the front row of spectators. In his own cell, Wyatt begins to compose a poem, in voiceover, as Brereton is executed (horribly—it’s implied it takes several strokes of the axe to kill him) and then Smeaton is dragged, broken, to the scaffold and loses his head as well.
For those interested, here’s the poem:
These bloody days have broken my heart.
My lust, my youth did them depart,
For your wit alone, many men would bemoan,
And since it is so, many still cry aloud:
It is a great loss that you are dead and gone.
The time you had above your poor degree,
The fall, wherof your friends may well bemoan,
A rotten twig upon so high a tree,
Has slipped your hold, and now you are dead and gone.
These bloody days have broken my heart.
My lust, my youth did them depart,
And blind desire of ambitious souls,
Who haste to climb, seeks to revert.
And about the throne, the thunder rolls.
That’s how it is in the series, anyway. This is how Wyatt actually wrote it:
Who list his wealth and ease retain,
Himself let him unknown contain.
Press not too fast in at that gate
Where the return stands by disdain,
For sure, circa Regna tonat [about the throne, the thunder rolls].
The high mountains are blasted oft
When the low valley is mild and soft.
Fortune with Health stands at debate.
The fall is grievous from aloft.
And sure, circa Regna tonat.
These bloody days have broken my heart.
My lust, my youth did them depart,
And blind desire of estate.
Who hastes to climb seeks to revert.
Of truth, circa Regna tonat.
The bell tower showed me such sight
That in my head sticks day and night.
There did I learn out of a grate,
For all favour, glory, or might,
That yet circa Regna tonat.
By proof, I say, there did I learn:
Wit helpeth not defence too yerne,
Of innocency to plead or prate.
Bear low, therefore, give God the stern,
For sure, circa Regna tonat.
The poem is seriously truncated on the show, which explains why the cadence and rhyme scheme both break down really quickly. Not sure why the writers found it necessary to change it, but in a sense, it’s one of their more minor infractions.