The White Queen: Brother Against Brother

34498Previously on The White Queen: Elizabeth cursed George, who subsequently lost his firstborn son. Richard married Anne Neville, Margaret married a Yorkist and became one of Elizabeth’s ladies-in-waiting, and Elizabeth lost both a son and her mother.

Elizabeth’s preggo again, no surprise there. And while she cradles her swelling belly, Edward entertains himself with an orgy, creepily watched by both his brothers. I can’t help but find it kind of hilarious that George is sitting there stroking a whippet like he’s Dr Evil or something. Stanley is on  hand to smilingly offer Edward wine and to join in the toast Edward offers to Elizabeth, who’s apparently in labour as we speak. And if you think that mentioning one’s pregnant wife would be a buzzkill to the ladies, well, you haven’t experienced a York orgy.

Elizabeth has reached the angry part of labour and is barking at Margaret that she doesn’t want her around. Margaret, barely managing not to roll her eyes, obligingly makes herself scarce. In the hallway, she runs into her husband, who asks her what’s up. She pleasantly tells him she’s being  sent on a fool’s errand to fetch lavender. He reminds her that they need to make these Yorks love them, and she singsongs that she’s tried, but Elizabeth holds a helluva grudge. And maybe I just haven’t been absorbing much of this, but I can’t really recall why Elizabeth hates Margaret so much. Is it just because of the Tudor connection? Because that makes little sense when you recall that Elizabeth’s family was firmly Lancastrian back in the day, just like the Tudors. Because Margaret sent her brother off to fight Edward? And then said brother warned Edward of the plot against him? Whatever, hardly anything Elizabeth does makes much sense to anyone except a moody teenage girl.

In Edward’s room, his brothers are lecturing him for whoring around all the time, which is not really good PR for the new royal family. George suggests they establish a great legacy by reconquering France. He even offers to be Edward’s regent once they win. How nice of him! And confident! Edward seems to rather like this idea and grabs Stanley and the girls to go think about it elsewhere. Once alone, his younger brothers start in on a pissing contest over the title Earl of Warwick—for the record, the title apparently rightfully belongs to George, but for some reason Richard’s the one living at Warwick Castle. George complains that Richard has more than his fair share, so maybe it’s time for him to start helping himself to what he’s owed.

Margaret’s in the chapel, praying and asking God for a sign that she should stay, like she does, when Elizabeth’s sister comes in and tells her that the baby’s stuck and she needs Margaret to toss Elizabeth around or something and get the kid moving. Margaret returns to the birthing chamber, where Elizabeth finally delivers her son, but he refuses to cry. The midwife hands him off to Margaret, for some reason, who stands there helplessly while Elizabeth begs her to save her son. What the hell does she think Margaret’s going to do? She stands there and stands there, and then the infant just starts wailing. What, was he just asleep or something? This makes no sense. Elizabeth ridiculously tells Margaret that she saved her son and she’s forever in her debt. Seriously, Elizabeth? This would have been vastly improved if Margaret had actually done something, like turned the kid over and smacked him on the back to remove whatever must have been blocking his airway. But all she did was stand there in shock, and now Elizabeth’s all grateful. Well, I guess Margaret wanted a sign that she should stay at court, and she got one.

Richard returns to Warwick Castle, where Anne’s cradling their son. Awww. He cuddles the kid and kisses his wife, who tells him how happy she is away from the court. In a tone that suggests he knows there’s about to be a fight, he tells her he’s brought someone back with him. ‘Oh, Richard, please, not your mother,’ she groans. HA! Nope, it’s Anne’s mother, now sprung from the convent where she’s been laying low. She sweeps in, and the kid takes one look at her and begins howling. HAHAHAHAHA! This scene is great. ‘They told me you’d had a child,’ the countess sniffs. ‘You didn’t bring him for my blessing.’ Well, no, lady, you cursed your daughter’s marriage, so why the hell would she bring her kid to be blessed by you?

Anne puts a flea in Richard’s ear about bringing her awful mother to the castle. He tells her that George had designs on the countess’s fortune, so he and Edward took steps to preserve it for Anne and Isabel. He reassures her that she won’t have to see her mother if she doesn’t want to. The woman is basically their prisoner, and she can keep her distance.

Anne does not. She goes to her mother’s room, where the countess is looking slightly chastened, but she still accuses Anne of having brought her there to steal her fortune. Anne, in turn, accuses the countess of having abandoned her daughter on a battlefield. Yeah, I think the countess’s selfishness outweighs anything Anne may have done.  The countess drops the bomb that she’s now expected to pretend to be dead, and Richard, who’s been listening in, steps in to explain: Edward will pass an act of Parliament declaring the countess dead (could you really just do that at that time?), which means her fortune will be split between her daughters. Or, rather, her daughters’ husbands. The countess, naturally, is not happy about this, but Richard tells her to be grateful, because it was either this, the Tower, or death for real. He spins on his heel and marches out, and barely has he cleared the room before the countess is begging her daughter not to let this happen. Anne refuses to help her mother out, telling her that Richard was her saviour and she loves and trusts him.

Isabel finds her husband chatting idly with their baby (wow, talk about babies ever after—they’re everywhere!), Margaret. Isabel asks her husband how she can help him and he immediately starts in on Elizabeth, calling her a witch who’s to blame for all their troubles. He adds that Edward does whatever Elizabeth says. I don’t know that that’s true. Edward seems to pretty much do what anyone says. Look how willing he was to consider invading France the minute George brought it up. He lifts up the baby and starts talking about how great it’ll be when he’s regent of France.

Edward has, in fact, decided to go to war with France, and as soon as he announces it, Anthony gets a, ‘seriously? This shit again?’ look on his face and leaves. Elizabeth, too, is displeased, as I can imagine is anyone who was really enjoying a couple of years of peace in between years and years of conflict. Elizabeth asks her husband what he’s doing and he explains that he wants to mark his reign with glory. When she hears that George would be regent, she warns Edward that he can’t give George so much power without regretting it. Margaret, standing nearby with Elizabeth’s new baby, listens in.

Elizabeth stomps out and Margaret goes over to her husband, guessing that the news of this war is good news. He doesn’t think so, and I don’t really understand why she would either. He tells her that, if Edward wins, he’ll be so powerful that the Tudor allies won’t be able to stand against him, so they’ll undoubtedly hand over young Henry for Edward to get rid of.
Outside, Elizabeth finds her brother, who wastes no time telling her that he has no intention staying around for yet another war. He’s packing up and going to Rome for a pilgrimage. What’s Anthony still doing at court? Wasn’t he supposed to go off to Wales with Elizabeth’s oldest son? Elizabeth insists that Anthony go look after Edward, because she doesn’t trust anyone else, and I’m sorry, Elizabeth, but you need a few more allies than just your poor, beleaguered brother here, because the man has to live his own life at some point. Didn’t she have about half a dozen brothers? One died, yes, and there’s Anthony, and I think another became a bishop, but where are the rest of them? Why can’t one of them go to France?

Anthony reminds Elizabeth that she made her peace with Margaret, so now she needs to do the same with George. Elizabeth nonsensically tells him that Margaret saved her son’s life and earned her place as his nursemaid (that must be a galling position for Margaret to find herself in), but George has done nothing but betray her and Edward, so no dice.

Anne and Richard snuggle in bed and she tells him she’s worried about him going off to war. Richard confesses he’s concerned about George’s sudden zeal for war, because he thinks George is unlikely to stop at just the regency of France. But, maybe George will relax a bit now that Isabel’s pregnant again. There’s a little talk about the fact that Anne’s not in a similarly delicate condition, and she reassures him that she should be pregnant again soon, but he says he doesn’t care if they have a dozen kids or just the one, he’s happy with just her. Awww.

The French king and his army stand on the shore and watch the British fleet arrive.

Back in England, Margaret writes her son a letter, telling him about all the goings on. She says that Elizabeth’s in charge with Edward away, and she acts like a king herself. While she VOs, the Neville sisters are reunited at court, ladies dance, and Elizabeth smiles at her son, in Margaret’s arms.

Later, Margaret subtly listens in while the Neville sisters catch up. Isabel stresses over George’s misery at being pushed even further from the throne with the birth of Edward’s new boy. She thinks George will be happier if he has something for himself, like France. And a son. The poor girl thinks that George will really love her, if she gives him a boy.

Elizabeth interrupts to ask if Isabel’s received any news from France. Isabel says that George only wrote to say he hopes their child will be a boy. Elizabeth unnecessarily reminds them that her own mother had 14 babies, which really is a testament to the strength of that woman’s constitution, because that would have killed most people. Elizabeth adds that they should all hope to be as fertile as their mothers. That was a bitchy thing for her to say, considering the Neville girls didn’t come from a terribly prolific line themselves. After Elizabeth sweeps off, Isabel starts to lose it and insists that she just cursed them. Anne tells her to relax, but Isabel thinks Elizabeth basically just wished the Neville girls to only have two girls each. Since Anne already has a son, I’d say that’s not a great assumption, but Isabel’s starting to get seriously paranoid, so she’s not really thinking clearly. Margaret goes over to Elizabeth and tells her that Isabel thinks she’s just been cursed.

In Isabel’s room, Anne tries to talk her sister down, but George has been working hard on his wife, who’s only too eager to join him in blaming Elizabeth for everything unfortunate that’s ever happened to them.

In France, the brothers York are already fighting amongst themselves. King Louis has sent peace terms, which Edward’s willing to listen to, while his brothers are most definitely against it. George whines that Louis won’t make him regent, which is what he really wants, and Richard wants some more battlefield glory, though you’d think he would have amassed plenty of that during the earlier civil wars. Edward yells at George for acting so entitled—has he met George? The guy has been entitled since day one.

Richard writes a complaining letter to Anne, telling her that Edward has signed a peace treaty with Louis that’ll see his daughter marry Louis’s son. Louis has also paid the English off with lots and lots of money. Richard sees this as a betrayal, and he’s now steadily turning against his brother, who’s now enjoying orgies in France, because that’s all Edward does anymore. George and Richard are uninterested in dallying with French girls and George tells Richard this is all Elizabeth’s fault, because she didn’t want Edward to fight. Richard seems to agree.

One of Elizabeth’s daughters, presumably Elizabeth, the eldest, reports that Edward has returned from the war. Elizabeth rushes out to meet him, and he presents her with some chests of gold and several barrels of Malmsey wine, which is apparently her favourite. Anne also greets her husband, sweetly but a bit less hornily than Elizabeth, while Elizabeth notes that George is missing. Apparently he’s already gone home in a snit. Edward’s sure he can bring Richard back around to his side eventually and chooses to offer both brothers gold in the hope of appeasing them.

At home, George rants and raves about how treacherous his brother is and declares Edward will get what’s coming to him. He tells Isabel that he’s made a secret deal with Louis, offering him Calais in exchange for an army to help George take the English throne. Oh, George, do you never learn? All he needs is a son and heir and Louis will back him. Isabel begins to panic and tells George that Elizabeth cursed her and the baby will probably die. George’s voice gets very dangerous at the mention of Elizabeth and promises his wife he’ll hire a sorcerer to help protect them.

Anne finds Richard looking disgustedly at a large chest of gold that Edward’s sent over. He can’t believe that Edward would so confuse him with George as to try to buy him off like that. Anne tells him to just send it back, but apparently Richard isn’t quite that different from George after all, because he seems willing to keep the payoff. He’s also acting a little frosty towards his wife.

The dowager Countess of Warwick sends for Anne and informs her that the act which declares her dead also makes it possible for Richard to divorce Anne and keep her whole fortune. This, she notes, is a rather strange inclusion. Anne doesn’t believe there are any grounds for a divorce, but the countess guesses they didn’t get a proper dispensation from the Pope, which they should have since they were related. The countess urges her daughter to leave Richard before he leaves Anne and, together, they can fight to get the Neville fortune back. Anne refuses to go along with it and says Richard is right to shut her mother away.

The court’s having a party to celebrate the betrothal of Elizabeth’s first-born son (remember those two kids by her first husband?). Under the table, George fingers an amulet or something, while across the table his mother bitchily and stupidly says the marriage wouldn’t even be real. How do you figure, crazy lady? Anne, who’s a bit touchy about such things these days, snaps that of course it’s real, because they were married before God. I really wish we could have seen a bit more of this mother-and-daughter-in-law relationship, because after seeing Anne go up against Margaret of Anjou I’ll bet her interactions with Cecily would have been priceless. Isabel whispers to her not to listen to their mother’s crazy, and to focus on worrying about ‘the witch’, not her husband. She’s heard a rumour that Elizabeth has two names written in blood stashed in her locket, and she’s worried that the names are Anne and Isabel. She’s not really thinking this through, is she? There are about a hundred people Elizabeth would probably want dead before Anne and Isabel. Isabel confides that George has commissioned special protector charms for them. Anne has just enough time to register a WTF face before Stanley rises and proposes a toast to the newly betrothed and to the king and queen. Everyone obligingly rises and raises a glass, except for George, who holds his seat until glared out of it by Edward. And then, instead of actually toasting, he knocks over his glass and stomps out like a child. Yes, I can’t imagine why Edward didn’t want to put this man in charge of France.

Elizabeth hisses to Edward to do something, because this is a profound insult, and I hate to agree with her, but she’s totally right. What a complete wuss Edward is. He offers to get his mummy to speak to George, but remember, George is her favourite, so Elizabeth rightly scoffs at that. Jesus, Edward, MAN UP! Elizabeth, fed up with her husband’s uselessness, gets up and goes to confront George herself. She reminds him that she’s the queen and he’s not to treat her this way. He immediately calls her a murderer, accusing her of having killed his first-born son. She claims not to have killed anyone and tells him that she won’t have him destroy the court and all they’ve worked for. He sneers and marches off.

In his rooms, he pets his whippet.

And then he’s walking into the room where Isabel’s cuddling Margaret and lays the suddenly very dead dog on the table in front of his wife and tells her that the dog was poisoned. Wow, he really has gone nuts, hasn’t he? He tells Isabel, seeming convinced himself, that Elizabeth is trying to poison them all.

The family gets ready to clear out, running into Anne on the way. Isabel tells her to go back to Warwick Castle before Elizabeth gets to her too. They leave, and Richard wonders how George could possibly know the dog was poisoned, since it was old and could have died from anything.

At his country home, George meets with his hired sorcerer and shows him some spell to bring about Edward’s death. Isabel spies from the doorway, but then gives herself away by coughing. George tells her to go rest. She goes to write a letter to her sister, reporting that she’s given birth to a living boy, ‘Teddy’, but she’s still paranoid about Elizabeth. Isabel’s also fallen ill and admits she’s frightened. She begs Anne to come visit her and advises her to burn the letter.

Anne arrives just a bit too late—George comes out of the house to tell her that Isabel is dead. To be fair, he does seem pretty broken up about it—he’s all hollow-eyed and everything. Anne rushes inside and weeps at her now-dead sister’s bedside while George tries not to cry. I’d feel bad, but let’s be honest, Isabel wasn’t a terribly interesting character in this drama, so I have some trouble getting really emotionally involved here.

Later, Anne and George are gathered over Isabel’s coffin. Anne wonders if they should tell people about the death, so they can come say goodbye, but George wonders who they can trust. Trust with what? News that your wife’s dead? What are they going to do, harm her further? Anne vows revenge on Elizabeth, if this was truly her doing, and George offers to go talk to Edward. He’s pretty sure Edward will just try to buy him off with a grand new marriage, but George plans to refuse it, because he’s realised he actually grew to love his wife. And he does sound sincere, so there’s that.

Anne returns home and confirms to her mother that Isabel is dead. The countess sheds not a tear, but she tells Anne she’s very sorry she abandoned her, admitting she was afraid. The two join hands.

As predicted, Edward has refused to listen to George’s accusations, which pisses George off something fierce. As he leaves Edward’s presence, he spots Elizabeth in the hallway and forms a cross in her direction with his two index fingers. Elizabeth immediately goes to her husband and freaks out that George has publicly accused her of witchcraft. Edward says that George is just angry because he can’t have the wife he wants: Mary of Burgundy. Edward can’t imagine what George would get up to if he were set loose with Flanders. Elizabeth keeps on about George accusing her of murder and tells Edward she’ll do something if he won’t. Edward hisses at her not to add fuel to this fire and to just rise above these accusations. See, this is where I feel we’ve gotten into a bit of a narrative tangle: I think this whole bit would have a lot more power if it weren’t actually true. Seeing George descend into this madness and paranoia, dragging his wife with him, would be a lot more tragic and interesting to me if it wasn’t for the fact that he’s actually right—Elizabeth is a witch, and she did magic up that storm that resulted in his first kid’s death. So Elizabeth’s bleating on and on about her innocence just makes her seem disingenuous and even less likeable, while George’s insistence that his sister-in-law is persecuting him supernaturally actually makes him seem a bit more with it than anyone else in the narrative, which I don’t think is actually the goal.

Elizabeth decides to summon Anne Neville to an audience, so she can scotch these rumours once and for all.

Anne duly arrives, and Elizabeth flat-out asks her if she thinks Isabel was poisoned. Anne says she thinks the dog was poisoned and that Isabel didn’t feel safe at court. Elizabeth tells her that George was far more likely to want to poison his wife, since he’s after a powerful new alliance with Isabel barely cold. Anne claims that it’s Edward who wants this new marriage, but Elizabeth asks why Edward would want George in Flanders with a whole army to play with. She calls Anne a stupid girl and tells her to use her head for once, which is pretty rich coming from her. Also, I can’t imagine why people don’t really like you, Elizabeth! God, what a bitch. Elizabeth tells Anne she didn’t poison anyone.

Anne goes to her husband, who confirms that George wants to remarry. She asks if George killed her sister, and Richard says it sounds like Isabel died from childbed fever, which was all too common at the time (not that that stopped George from accusing his wife’s maidservant of poisoning her, which led to him imprisoning and killing the woman. Edward was not pleased). Anne muses that George and Isabel were fully married, so he couldn’t have gotten rid of her any other way, but now George has Isabel’s half of the fortune. Richard observes that George still isn’t happy, because let’s face it, this man will never be happy. Anne resolves to go fetch her niece and nephew and bring them to Warwick Castle, where they’ll be safe.

Stanley finds his wife and guesses she’s happy about all the uproar. She’s not, because she takes no delight in the death of a young woman. Stanley asks who she thinks killed Isabel and she impatiently says she doesn’t know, but it was probably the sorcerer George hired, whose spell must have backfired or something. Stanley’s ears prick up big time at the mention of the sorcerer and says that Edward should really know.

He goes and informs the king, who immediately dispatches him to Tewkesbury to arrest George. So, just so we’re all on the same page here: participating in treasonous armed rebellion against his brother twice gets George welcomed back to court with open arms and showered with wealth and titles. Allegedly hiring a sorcerer gets him arrested without question. Well, that all makes sense.

Anne arrives at Tewkesbury, presumably to collect the kids, and finds Stanley and his men sacking the place, having found George fled to parts unknown. They do manage to find the sorcerer, by the look of things, and they take him to a basement somewhere and hang him. Nice.

Meanwhile, Anthony comes back, and Elizabeth greets him joyfully and indignantly tells him that George employed a sorcerer against her. She fills him in on the rest of George’s doings and complains that now they have to hold this big party to celebrate Edward’s 15 years on the throne, but she doesn’t feel like partying.

The party itself is fairly bacchanalian, with the inside of the castle having been transformed into a forest peopled by be-masked courtiers. Anne notes that all the men are armed and Richard tells her that everyone’s worried Elizabeth will be assassinated. Edward tells Elizabeth that George has been foretelling his death, which was treasonous. Anne, now on her own, passes a man in a bull mask (I kind of want to take that as a nod to David Oakes’s role on The Borgias), who is, of course, George. Man, this man is suicidal. He gives himself away to her, observing that Elizabeth is acting like she’s the king. George, all the woman’s doing is walking. Chill. Anne tells him he shouldn’t be there and he really needs to dial it down. He’s full-on crazy, now, though, and keeps ranting, taking off his mask and wandering around talking about Elizabeth and Edward, while Edward, who can hear his voice, searches for him. He finds him just as George publicly outs Edward as the murderer of old King Henry and accuses Elizabeth of killing Isabel and his firstborn. Edward orders him seized and several men drag George away while Margaret hilariously tries not to burst out laughing at the spectacle. Bet she’s happy she left the countryside now.

In prison, George screams that his brother will burn in hell for this. Edward, meanwhile, is really reluctant to have George tried for treason, because if he’s found guilty, the sentence is death, and despite all that George has done, Edward’s still not keen to have his own brother killed.

He has no choice, though, and George is brought to trial for treason, with Edward acting as prosecutor. For some reason, when he announces this, Anthony just gets up and leaves. What was that about?

Margaret and Elizabeth’s sister bring word that the trial has begun, but nobody really believes Isabel was murdered. Mostly the focus has shifted to George’s sorcerer, and what a shame it is that the man’s dead and can’t give any evidence one way or the other, right? Elizabeth’s sister, apparently fed up of all this nonsense, asks for and receives permission to leave court and go home to her husband.

Cecily goes to Richard and begs him to intervene on George’s behalf. She stupidly weeps and mourns that, of all her sons, it had to be George who got into trouble. That gets Richard’s attention, and if he was willing to help his mother out before, he sure as hell isn’t now.

At the trial, Stanley seems to be presiding. He really is a jack-of-all-trades, isn’t he? George is found guilty, and Elizabeth admits to Margaret that she’s not sure how she feels about that. She asks Margaret if she’s known loss. Are you kidding me, Elizabeth? How far up your own ass is your head, anyway? Margaret reminds her that she’s buried two husbands and her only son has been away for so many years they’re virtually strangers to one another, so yes, she does have a notion of loss. But she does have her faith, and the bible says to love your enemies and pray for them. Elizabeth asks Margaret to pray for her and they kneel together. Careful, Elizabeth, those are saints’ knees you’re up against there.

Elizabeth goes to Edward, who looks miserable, and suggests they make peace with George and just ask him to apologise and withdraw his accusations. Edward tells her that George has been conspiring with King Louis of France to murder Edward and take the throne, so forgiveness is now officially off the table. I guess this is a three-strikes-you’re-out situation.

Cecily, of course, argues for her son’s pardon, but Edward won’t hear it. She commands him to forgive George and Edward reminds her that he’s the king and she can’t command him. She starts weeping and tells him he can’t do this to her. Wow, way to make it all about you, lady. Then things get really undignified as she prostrates herself on the floor to beg him, and when Edward tries to walk past her, she grabs his leg and he winds up dragging her halfway across the great hall. I’ll bet she doesn’t have quite so much power over her daughters-in-law after that display.

Anthony reports to Elizabeth that George has elected to be drowned in a butt of Malmsey wine. Hey, if you have to be executed, you may as well go out drunk on good wine. Elizabeth sniffs that this is George’s way of punishing her. Speaking of making it all about yourself.

George is marched to his execution while Edward and Richard argue about…something or other and Anne and Cecily weep together. When he arrives in the appointed room, George starts to beg to be allowed to see his brother the king, but two men just tip him over and hold him under in the wine until he dies, while Edward secretly looks on. Back at the palace, Elizabeth takes George’s scrap of paper out of her curse necklace and tosses it on the fire.

Richard finds Anne in the chapel and kneels, looking wrecked. She suggests they go home to Warwick Castle, and then asks him if he really loves her. He tenderly kisses her hands and then holds her tightly. I think that’s a yes.

Elizabeth and Edward meet up on the parapet and Edward tells her that Stanley’s asked for Margaret’s son’s title to be returned to him, now George won’t be needing it anymore. Elizabeth has no problem with that, since at least that’s one less person to hate them. She reassures Edward this will be the last death, and they should focus on life, and their kids.

Stanley brings Margaret the good news that Henry will get back the earldom of Richmond. She can hardly believe it and asks if he can also come home soon. Stanley tells her that, now she’s besties with the queen, maybe she can get something moving on that. She asks if Henry’s still considered a rival, and the answer is definitely yes, but the Yorks are pretty secure, what with Edward, his two sons, Richard and his son all in place. Not to mention George’s son, Edward, who I guess isn’t being counted because his father’s treason would have put him out of the line of succession. With at least five warm bodies between Henry and the crown, it’s not looking too likely he’ll be in St Edward’s chair anytime soon. But Margaret’s face says ‘oh, he’ll manage.’ And she goes to the chapel to pray. Of course.



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