Previously on The White Queen: Isabel followed George down a deep, deep well of paranoia before dying of childbed fever (or an Elizabeth-wrought curse, depending on whom you ask). George kept falling, until he was helped head-first into a barrel of wine.
Family dinnertime! A few years have evidently passed, and the kids are all teens or actual children. Elizabeth notes that Edward seems to be running a fever, but he reassures her he’s fine.
At the Stanley home, Margaret announces that her son’s coming home, along with Jasper. Stanley warns her not to get too excited, because Henry’s not coming back as a contender to the throne, just as another nobleman Edward’s brought to heel. She still believes God will put her son on the throne, and Stanley asks her what she’s doing to help God with that little project. Not a damn thing, it seems. Not yet, anyway.
Edward is most definitely not fine. He’s puking his guts out, staggering about the room, and coughing up blood, which alarms Elizabeth, as you can imagine. She screams for help. He’s put to bed and she bathes his forehead, telling him he’s fine, it’s just a fever. He knows better, though, and tells her to send for Richard. The door opens and her Grey son, Thomas, comes in and asks what’s going on. Elizabeth doesn’t know, but she tells him to send for Richard and to find his uncle Anthony.
At Warwick Castle, Richard prepares to rush to Westminster, telling Anne that Edward is very ill. Anne quickly realizes that Edward’s son is still just a boy and that Elizabeth will try to reign through him if Edward dies. This girl works fast.
The Stanleys return to court and peek into Edward’s room, which is crowded with people now. Even Margaret seems a bit startled by the turn things have taken. Stanley whispers that they’ll have to send word to Brittany, where Henry is presumably hiding out, but also keep their heads down and see who winds up Lord Protector and how things pan out.
Richard arrives at court, Margaret observing that he and his heavily armed men look ready for a fight. Anne is with him, and they meet Elizabeth in the hall. She tells them they’ve arrived just in time and goes back to her husband’s room. Cecily steps forward and warns them that Elizabeth is like a wounded beast defending her lair against the threat Richard and Anne present. She tells them both to be wary.
Everyone stands around Edward’s bed, watching him expire. He gaspingly asks them all to look after Prince Edward, and Elizabeth promises to work with all of them to put young Edward on the throne. Anthony shows up, strangely without young Edward, who I believe is in his care, correct? Edward the dying says that Richard shall be his son’s guardian, which startles Elizabeth, who thought her brother would get the job. She accepts this, reluctantly, and tells everyone to get out so she can say goodbye to her husband. Richard backs her, telling everyone to look their last (Cecily immediately begins shedding crazy crocodile tears), and off they go. Richard pauses by his brother’s bed and promises to honour his wishes before leaving himself. Once they’re alone, Elizabeth once again makes a play for Anthony to be Lord Protector, though I think that ship has sailed. Edward tells her that the Rivers family is liked by the people, but not the court, so they have to be kind of prudent here. She lets it go and lies next to him on the bed. He tells her she’s the love of his life and she says he’s hers as well. He thanks her for waiting under that oak tree all those years ago, and she thanks him for giving her a whole new life and beautiful children and much happiness. And then Edward dies. Sadness all around.
Out in the hallway, everyone can hear Elizabeth wailing. Richard comforts his niece, Princess Elizabeth, and Thomas hugs two of the littler ones. Elizabeth emerges and everyone bows to her, except Cecily. Elizabeth calls her out on it and Cecily bitchily says they’re equal now, both mothers to a king. Wrong, Cecily. You’re just a duchess, and Elizabeth’s a crowned queen. Bow, bitch. Elizabeth leaves and Margaret joins Stanley, who observes that the tension is unbearable. ‘We shall have to sustain it,’ she says. Heh.
From the doorway of her own room, Elizabeth observes the milling courtiers and tells Anthony to send word to her son Richard Grey and tell him to bring Prince Edward from Wales. She knows the others are starting to take sides and she’s worried about the outcome. Anthony tries to reassure her that Richard is a decent man who supported Edward, but she doesn’t trust anyone and now needs her son, the king, to protect her. Wow, Elizabeth. Your son’s a child. Way to make this all about you, as usual.
In Edward’s room, Cecily advises Richard to get to the boy first. Anne agrees, telling Richard they need to keep the child away from Elizabeth. Anne believes Elizabeth had Isabel poisoned and George executed and says there’s no knowing what she’d do. Richard sharply tells her that Isabel died from childbirth and she needs to back off.
Out in the hallway, Richard spots Jane Shore and kicks her out of court. Anne appears beside him and calls on one of their retainers to get rid of her. Jane begs them to reconsider, claiming she has nowhere to go, but they remain unmoved. Wow, that was pretty cold, you guys.
Young Henry’s not so young anymore. In Brittany, he’s in bed with a comely young lass, until he’s interrupted by Jasper, who sends the woman away and tells Henry that word’s come from Margaret. The king is dead, and for the time being, they need to sit tight, but be ready to raise an army if need be. Henry can’t seem to believe it.
Richard’s men intercept Richard Grey, Prince Edward, and their guards on the road from Wales. The man in charge, Brackenbury, says they’re going to take the prince now, but Richard Grey isn’t about to just hand him over. Swords are drawn, and Grey’s men, who are outnumbered, are killed. Richard appears and tells Brackenbury to secure the prince’s safety. Edward, protesting, is dragged away, and Richard Grey is taken prisoner. This has been a terrible week for Elizabeth.
Back in London, Jane hammers on a door that’s opened by…Anthony? Why would she go running to him for help? Considering how much his sister hated and was hurt by this woman, he seems like the last person who’d want to help her. But, I guess she is pretty and blonde, so there’s that. She tearfully tells him she’s been banished from court and her family’s kicked her out, so she has nowhere to go. He ushers her inside.
Inside, she admits she didn’t think her fall from grace would be so swift. Well, that was naïve of you, Jane. What did you think would happen when Edward died? See, royal mistresses with sense started socking away portable property from day one, in preparation for just such an eventuality. No king lives forever, and the new king often didn’t much like the royal mistress. Anthony pours her a glass of wine and hands it over, letting their fingers linger together for just a few moments before telling her that the handover to a new king can be a bit rough, but he’s sure things will settle down soon. She realizes he has no idea that Richard’s essentially taken Prince Edward prisoner and has him stashed in the Tower even as they speak.
At the Tower, Richard tells Edward he’s sorry about killing his guards and all, but he had to keep the kid safe. Anne chimes in that Edward is safe in the Tower, and that until he’s crowned he’s vulnerable. Edward tells them he wants to see his mother and console her, but Anne says that Elizabeth’s suffering just now and it’s best for him to see her when she’s more herself. Richard promises to come back in the morning, and then he and Anne lock the boy in.
Anthony brings word of Edward’s virtual incarceration to Elizabeth, who’s livid. Anthony, ever the naïve one, believes that Ricahrd’s just keeping the boy safe. Oh, Anthony. Have you no guile at all? Haven’t you been living at court as long as Elizabeth has? He says he’s petitioned the privy council to demand Edward’s release. Thomas insists that Richard’s behavior is an act of war and they need to raise an army, but Anthony points out that doing so would risk Edward’s safety. Elizabeth decides she’s not willing to wait around and hope the wind starts to blow her way. She tells the men to gather the kids and anything worth taking with them so they can retreat to sanctuary in Westminster yet again. Princess Elizabeth begs her mother to just talk to Richard, but Elizabeth says only an idiot waits around to see if an enemy turns out to be a friend. Her main concern is protecting her younger son, Richard, now. She tells Thomas to send word to one of her other brothers to ready the fleet. He hurries off to do so. Anthony tries again to persuade Elizabeth to trust Richard, but she trusts no one. She tells Anthony to play his politics to get her son on the throne and tells him she’ll hold him personally responsible if anything happens to Edward.
Stanley reports to Margaret that Elizabeth’s fled with the entire treasury. Wow, how’d she manage that? Was it incredibly small after all those wars? He thinks this whole situation is a gift, because if Elizabeth and Richard start squabbling over the throne, they’ll likely destroy each other, which leaves the throne empty for Henry.
Thomas’s letter has been intercepted and handed to Richard, who orders the arrest of the Lord Admiral and Thomas Grey for treason. He also has his army readied. His flunkies leave and Richard wonders why Elizabeth would do this. Cecily says it’s because she’s devious and won’t have Richard anywhere near her kid. Anne adds that Elizabeth could buy an army with the treasury she stole. Richard further wonders what she can achieve from sanctuary and Anne reminds him of the magical mist she called up at Barnet, which she did from the Abbey the last time she stashed herself there. How could they possible attribute that to Elizabeth? I mean, yes, we know she did it, but to anyone else, it would have just been a mist, right? Anne urges her husband to protect himself and the king’s legacy. Richard decides to send a message indicating that he won’t be intimidated.
The message is a whole lot of soldiers stationed all over Westminster. Princess Elizabeth (Lizzy) asks her mother if she really thinks they can fight Richard from this awful little dungeon. Elizabeth reminds the kids that they all come from fierce warrior stock and they need to buck up already.
At the palace, Anne takes a moment to give the queen’s throne in the great hall a try. She’s interrupted by the arrival of Margaret, who offers Anne her services as a lady-in-waiting.
The Tower. Young Edward languishes.
The palace. Anthony tries to talk Richard around, and Anne is fitted for a coronation gown, but sends the ladies away, saying she’s just not up to it right now. Richard promises Anthony that the boy will be crowned in three days.
Margaret seems to see all, including a hooded woman going into the Abbey.
The woman is none other than Jane, bringing Elizabeth news from Anthony. She says that Anthony has been working on her behalf and Richard has set the coronation date. Jane says that Elizabeth should go to the coronation, to show some solidarity. Elizabeth’s response is a definite ‘no way,’ but Lizzy points out that Anthony has brokered a truce here and Elizabeth shouldn’t undermine his efforts. Elizabeth grudgingly agrees to consider this, but in the meantime, she’d feel better if Richard removed all the guards from the Abbey.
The guards are duly removed, which makes the girls happy, but Elizabeth still doesn’t trust Richard.
Margaret tells her husband about the guards being removed, which puts him into a right royal rage. He tells her they need to bust this truce, because he can’t have Elizabeth and Richard making up. Margaret totally agrees
She goes to Elizabeth and tells her that she’s heard rumours that Richard will have young Edward declared illegitimate, thereby denying him the throne. She also tells Elizabeth that Anne’s refusing to be fitted for a gown for the coronation. Elizabeth thinks it’s because there’s not going to be a coronation at all.
Stanley, meanwhile, tells Richard that Jane Shore is passing messages to Elizabeth. Anne thinks they should have ‘the whore’ followed and find out who’s sheltering her now.
Jane’s cozied up in bed with Anthony, who’s writing a poem with her when soldiers burst in and arrest him. On what charge, exactly? We have no idea. Thomas Grey, who was also stashed in the house, manages to escape.
Richard can’t believe Anthony has betrayed him, but Anne reminds him that Anthony is Elizabeth’s brother, and says that he and his whore must be punished. She urges her husband to do what his heart tells him and to do something that will scare Elizabeth into submission. Man, Machiavelli would be proud of this girl.
Jane is made to walk through the streets of the city in her shift, praying. A number of people in the crowd seem to pity her, so that plan backfired.
Anthony writes Richard a letter, begging him to listen to reason and believe that Anthony is not his enemy.
The Duke of Buckingham, who is, remember, a Neville, appears at the Abbey. Elizabeth manages to stash her younger son before he comes in, bearing gifts of fresh food and a request that young Richard join his brother in the Tower to keep him company. Elizabeth claims the boy is ill and can’t be moved, and Buckingham smarmily says they wouldn’t dream of separating a sick boy from his mummy, though Richard won’t be pleased with this. He also whispers that Anthony has been arrested for conspiring with Thomas and Elizabeth against the Lord Protector. Seeming sincere, he tells her that it would help Anthony a great deal if she complied with Richard’s demands. So, her brother or her son? Talk about a rock and a hard place. He promises to return the next day and hopes there’s some change in the boy’s condition.
As soon as he’s gone, Elizabeth gets to work. She says that Richard and Thomas need to be smuggled out immediately, and they need to find another kid to stand in for Richard. Lizzy warns her against antagonizing Richard now, but Elizabeth’s determined to save her son. He and Thomas take off, by way of the river, that night, and I can’t believe Richard wasn’t having the watergate watched. That was a seriously dropped ball. Elizabeth writes a letter to Margaret, asking for help, and Lizzy brings in a boy to act as Richard’s stand-in. Elizabeth finishes her letter, then walks around, damning Richard and his sword arm.
At court, Cecily warns Anne that the privy council won’t like how Richard just dragged Anthony off the way he did, without consulting them. Richard strides into the room and immediately begins grimacing in pain, grabbing at his right arm. Anne freaks, guessing that Elizabeth’s cursing him. Richard snaps that it’s nothing and Buckingham tells him it’ll pass. Richard admits to his mother and wife that he can’t seem to trust the council, and that there are too many men having a say in security and Prince Edward’s future. He turns to Buckingham and darkly tells him to root out the traitors.
One of the people they start harassing is Stanley. Margaret has just enough time to hide Elizabeth’s letter in a bible before the men arrive and start ransacking their rooms. They find the bible and Margaret screeches that the bible is consecrated and the only other person who’s touched it is the pope himself. After a pause, Brackenbury hands it back to her with apologies. He and his men leave. Well, that wasn’t very thorough. Margaret practically vomits in relief.
She and Stanley go to Buckingham, who asks for their help. Stanley says they’ll do anything to help Richard, and Buckingham admits that he’s a bit nervous that Richard’s getting too big for his breeches. He’s worried about what Richard might do once he’s really confirmed as Lord Protector.
Stanley and Buckingham go to collect ‘Prince Richard’ and the fake kid, all bundled up with a scarf over his face, is handed over. Nice that Elizabeth has no qualms about forking over someone else’s child to some sort of ghastly fate. Once they’re gone, Lizzy wonders if people will really believe the kid’s Richard. Elizabeth hopes they’ll at least buy some time for Richard to get away. Lizzy realizes that Elizabeth must think Edward’s life is in danger and warns her that, once he sees his fake brother, he’ll know something’s up and will be frightened. Elizabeth doesn’t really seem to care about that, because I guess her focus has entirely shifted to Richard at this point. He’s the next great hope for a Rivers king. Lizzy looks like she’s getting sick of her mother’s selfish BS.
Fake Richard is delivered to young Edward, who plays along magnificently and gives older Richard some lip about treating him so poorly. Richard promises the boy will be crowned in the morning, and he and Anne leave.
At dinner, Anne asks Richard how he can crown a boy who will grow up to be his enemy. He asks her what the alternative is, taking the crown for himself? Anne’s side-eyes to her mother-in-law say, yes, exactly! And Cecily catches the snap and says that, as king, Edward will always be looking to Anthony. Anne adds that he’ll be looking to his mother as well, and since she hates Richard, Richard is as good as dead, and so is his family—her and their little boy. She urges him to name himself king, for safety’s sake. ‘Finally, someone who’s not afraid to say what we’re all thinking,’ Cecily signs in contentment. Buckingham warns Richard that this could look really bad and Richard agrees that he can’t be seen to be snatching the throne. Stanley says the people just want peace, and that a young king makes everyone nervous. Cecily adds that Edward and Elizabeth’s marriage was invalid, because Edward was married before. Richard admits he knows of one secret ceremony performed so he could sleep with some woman. Jesus, what a sleeze this guy was. Anne vociferously says that Richard must claim the crown now, because the boys in the Tower are no longer entitled to it. Richard says he isn’t either, and that it wouldn’t be right in the eyes of God. Anne says that God would know he was only doing it to stop a commoner from being crowned. It would be totally justified and sanctified. Wow, is this woman her father’s daughter or what? You can practically hear Warwick giving her a slow clap from beyond the grave. Richard thinks about it for a moment, then orders Parliament convened.
Anne wakes early the following morning and finds Richard sitting by the window, thinking. She joins him, rubbing his shoulders, and he turns and embraces her tightly.
Margaret and Stanley, meanwhile, are getting their allies in a row. Buckingham is with them, and probably a few others as well. Margaret’s next move is to solidify Henry’s claim with an advantageous match with Princess Elizabeth. She figures Elizabeth will go along with just about whatever these days.
Margaret sends her personal physician to the Abbey to deliver a message to Elizabeth. He tells her that Richard plans to make himself king and that Parliament has already declared Elizabeth’s marriage invalid and all her children illegitimate. But Margaret’s still on her side, and so is Stanley.
Richard goes to see Anthony in prison and tells him that they could have raised young Edward together, but now, he knows that Edward would only take Anthony’s council and he can’t trust him. As they talk, someone else is dragged past, begging for mercy. Richard Grey, I think? It’s hard to tell in that lighting. Richard tells Anthony that he’s going to be king, and that Anthony will never see him crowned. Anthony shouts after him to spare Richard Grey and to think about what he’s doing here.
At the Abbey, Lizzy seems to have her first seeing. Girl’s growing up fast. She goes in to her mother, weeping, and yells that her ambition will be the death of the boys and when they’re gone, she’ll put Lizzy on the throne. Elizabeth asks her what she saw, but Lizzy just apologises and falls into her mother’s arms.
While Anne and Richard and the two boys watch, Richard Grey and Anthony are executed.
Margaret delivers the queen’s coronation robes to Anne and drapes them around her. Remember when she and Isabel were playing with those? Anne couldn’t have possibly imagined how that would pan out, could she? Meanwhile, in sanctuary, Elizabeth swears not to stop until her children’s good names are restored.
Richard and Anne are crowned, probably just a stone’s throw from where Elizabeth’s stashed herself. Anne can’t help but look rather smugly pleased, and she steals a sly look her husband’s way. Everyone bows to the new royal couple, including Cecily, who’s looking a bit smug herself.