The White Queen: Flip-Flopper

James Frain as the Earl of Warwick in episode 4 of The White QueenPreviously on The White Queen: Edward forgave Warwick, brought him back into the inner circle, and rewarded him many times over, so naturally, Warwick decided to rebel again. Except this time it went so poorly he had to drag his pregnant daughter to France, costing him a grandson. Also pregnant: Elizabeth, and this time she’s sure it’s a boy.

Elizabeth washes her face and is startled by a vision of a bundled up dead baby sinking in water, presumably after having been buried at sea. She jumps, knocks the basin onto the floor, and goes to clean up the mess as her mother comes in. She snaps at Jacquetta, who stands back with an, oh, are we having an attitude now? kind of face on. Elizabeth apologises and admits she feels kinda bad for magicking up that storm that tossed the Warwick party hither and yon. Jacquetta excuses it by saying Elizabeth couldn’t have known that Warwick would have his daughter on board, not that that really makes it all right, because Elizabeth did conjure up a storm that would have still nearly or possibly did kill people. Anyway, Jacquetta says this is all Warwick’s fault. Elizabeth points out that Warwick now has nothing, which will make him desperate and more dangerous than ever. Yeah, you guys should have maybe thought of that before, but advance planning is not the strong suit of…anyone here, really.

In Valognes, France, Anne watches her father wander around the marketplace from a window while Isabel unpacks their things and whines that everything’s ruined. Anne tries to look on the bright side, but Isabel’s miserable and tells her they’re exiles now and will never get to go home. Anne refuses to be down, but Isabel’s still reasonably depressed about her dead baby and flops onto the bed to cry. Anne reassures her sister that she’ll always remain by her side and look out for her.

Margaret ‘our-lady-of-perpetual-craziness’ Beaufort-Tudor-Stafford delightedly watches her son practice swordfighting with some guy. She whoops and applauds, praising young Henry’s prowess and Henry stiffly says that Jasper taught him well. He goes for another bout, but the other man accidentally gives him a tiny scrape on his cheek and Margaret panics. Henry tries to brush it off, but she’s a super-protective mum and says that’s enough for one day.

Warwick calls his family, including George, together for an announcement: Anne’s going to be married to Prince Edward of Lancaster, the son of the deposed King Henry and Margaret ‘the Bad Queen’ of Anjou. And if you’re getting whiplash from Warwick’s switching alliances, you’re not alone, because even his own family can’t keep up with this anymore. Consider this: Warwick led a rebellion against the Lancasters to depose Henry and put Edward on the throne. And his big beef with Edward was the fact that he married a woman from a Lancastrian family, who wasn’t quite noble enough for his tastes. And now, he’s hopping right into the Lancastrian camp in the biggest way he knows how. Now, this is all based on actual history, but the show hasn’t done a very good job of making this make even the tiniest bit of sense. I could understand why Warwick turned against Edward after his marriage to Elizabeth and constant elevation of the Rivers family. It was petty, yes, but the Riverses were pretty petty themselves, so fair’s fair. But then Edward forgave Warwick and welcomed him back and gave him everything he wanted. And what does he do? Start another rebellion. For…what, exactly? What would he stand to gain by having George on the throne that he didn’t have with Edward? And now he’s passing over George completely to put the Lancastrians back on the throne he kicked them off of. Is it really that important for him to be the future king’s grandpa? Why?

As you can imagine, nobody’s happy about this plan, especially George, who thinks he was supposed to be king, but Warwick says that George is a lost cause, now he’s lost his heir. He says that men will no longer rally behind him, and the only way they can raise an army powerful enough to defeat Edward is to join Margaret of A. George reminds Warwick that King Henry beheaded his father, and that enrages him enough to threaten to kill Warwick right then and there, but Warwick plays it supremely cool and tells George that, if he kills Warwick, he’ll have nobody left on his side. George backs off, especially when Warwick promises him riches and titles beyond his wildest dreams. George stomps off to sulk and the Countess takes a moment to swallow her annoyance at not being consulted about all this and satisfies herself with the idea that Anne will be queen. Warwick sends her and the girls off to get Anne a new gown for her first meeting with her future mother-in-law.

The girls trail their mother, Anne wailing about having to marry their enemy’s son, but the Countess reminds her that women in this world are basically powerless, unless they have supernatural abilities, so she just has to suck it up.

A group of armed men arrive at Pembroke Castle, where Margaret, Stafford, and young Henry are living. The main man, Sir William Herbert, tells Stafford he’s to hand over Jasper Tudor, whom they think is hiding in the castle. Stafford tells him he’s misinformed, and Herbert believes him, and then relatively gently breaks the news that Pembroke has been given to him. Margaret can’t believe that, because she still doesn’t seem to know how things work in this world, and that property and title ownership are rather fleeting things, though you’d think she would have learned that lesson by now. Herbert hands over the paperwork confirming the change in ownership and Stafford sends him on his way. Margaret yells at him for doing nothing, snapping that Jasper would, though what she thinks Jasper would do against 20 armed men I have no idea.

The Warwicks await the arrival of Margaret of Anjou in a grand cathedral. She comes sweeping in in very dramatic slow-mo, accompanied by her son, and I know it’s mean, but I’ll just say this is not a family blessed with looks. Margaret looks like a man in bad drag. I don’t think the wig is helping. She sneers at Warwick, who’s kneeling to meet her, and he briefly attempts to defend himself, to no avail. We get a look at her son, who looks to be in his late teens and is sallow, sulky and also not helped by his bad wig. Margaret makes Warwick swear his allegiance on a shard of the true cross, and since those relics were basically all fakes, he has no problem doing that. She accepts that instantly and calls Anne forward. Anne squeezes her sister’s hand and steps forward for examination. Margaret looks the girl over, checks her teeth, and decides they don’t have much to work with. Her son hollowly says she’ll just have to do, and Warwick promises she’s obedient. Margaret’s cool with that. Warwick turns the subject to kicking Edward off the throne, but Margaret quickly disabuses him of the notion that he’ll be getting an army out of her anytime soon. She says that until the marriage takes place, she owes him nothing, and the marriage won’t take place until they get a papal dispensation, which could take ages. In the meantime, she wants Warwick to go to England, rally his followers, and restore Henry to his throne. Warwick blanches but she coolly says that this is his chance to prove his loyalty. Once he’s secured London, she’ll follow and secure the rest of the country. Even Warwick, whose brain doesn’t seem to be working so well these days, seems to realise this is a crappy deal, but he has no choice. Before she leaves, Margaret tells Warwick to make sure he gets rid of Queen Elizabeth, who will be especially dangerous if she births a son.

Elizabeth and Jacquetta burst into Edward’s study, where he’s meeting with Anthony and Richard, who tell her that Warwick’s formed an alliance with Margaret of Anjou. Elizabeth hands over a letter from Jacquetta’s cousin in Burgundy, informing them that Anne is to marry Edward of Lancaster, which seems to disappoint Richard. Aww. Edward’s pissed off to hear that and they all try and figure out why George is going along with this, seeing as how he has nothing to gain, but nobody has any answers for that. Edward rants about Warwick’s changing loyalties and the ladies depart and whisper together that Warwick and Margaret together make a deadly alliance, so they need to do something to weaken it.

Off they go to Duchess Cecily, who seems unaware that George has joined forces with Margaret of Anjou. She dismisses her ladies, save Lady Sutcliffe, so they can chat, and accuses Elizabeth of spreading terrible rumours. She can’t believe George would ally with a woman who had his own father killed and asks if the Rivers ladies can understand that. They’re like, ‘uh, yes? Remember how Warwick killed my husband/father and son/brother?’ Elizabeth says they only want to prevent further suffering from taking place and says that George is basically in a lose-lose situation. He’ll never be king if Warwick wins, and if Warwick loses, he’ll have a traitor’s death. But, they’re pretty sure Edward would welcome George back, if he turned his back on Warwick. I’m sure he would. But what a shame that they have no way to get that information to George, right?

Warwick finds his son-in-law in a pretty seedy looking tavern/whorehouse, where George is reclining, fully dressed, in bed with a naked woman. He has some strange sexual notions. Warwick pays the woman off and repeats that they’re out of options, which is why he can’t get George on the throne. He butters him up, calling him a better man than Edward, but George quickly realises that what Warwick really needs is a son of York to help unite the country. Warwick doesn’t deny it, but as he goes to leave, he tells George he might want to consider having some sex with his wife, so they can get moving on this new heir situation.

At Pembroke, Herbert and Stafford are discussing the change in ownership, and to his credit, Herbert’s being really nice about it and seems to regret the whole situation and understands that this will be a difficult transition for them. Margaret’s unconcerned, because she’s sure Pembroke will be hers again soon enough, as it’s God’s will. Stafford warns her to button it up, but Herbert steps in and tells her of some of the horrors he’s seen and wonders how those can be God’s will. She says God has set the men against each other because he’s bored, I guess, but the men will all destroy each other and Henry will get his castle back. Whatever. Herbert drops his last bombshell: young Henry has been placed under Herbert’s guardianship and will remain with him at Pembroke. That gets Margaret’s attention and she insists that her son will stay with her. In a moment of mindboggling idiocy, she guesses Elizabeth’s behind this, although Elizabeth has never, as far as we’ve seen, shown Margaret any ill will whatsoever. Margaret calls her a witch and Herbert warns her to watch her tongue, because she’s speaking treason. Henry steps in to say that this will be no hardship. Ouch. Herbert says this is because of the treason of her brother, Wells, which completely ignores the fact that Wells warned Edward of the plot against him, so punishing his family doesn’t make a whole hell of a lot of sense. Especially considering Edward’s predilection for rewarding those who rebel against him. Margaret realises that this is her punishment: her son’s being taken away as if she were a child and he a doll. Yes, we get it, it sucks to be a woman in this world. Margaret throws herself at Herbert in a rage, but Henry calls her off, and Stafford tells Herbert this seems a bit extreme. Herbert says this is just how it has to be: Margaret’s proven herself a traitor, so of course she won’t be allowed to raise her son. Well, that actually does make sense.

Lady Sutcliffe takes a trip over to France to deliver a message to George via Isabel: George can return to England and will be restored to favour by his brother. Isabel practically weeps at the thought of being able to return home. Lady S futher drives the point home by passing on Cecily’s condolences over the loss of Isabel’s baby and saying the duchess was appalled by Isabel’s ordeal and thinks she should be home, amongst her friends and loved ones. Anne speaks up, saying that Isabel can’t go home, but Isabel promises to pass the message along to George. Once she’s gone, Anne wonders if George would accept this. Isabel seems unsure, but she does know this: if he does, and Anne marries Lancaster, they’ll be enemies. Such is the tragedy of civil wars. Also: if Anne needed Isabel to tell her that, she’s exceptionally stupid. The sisters embrace.

Margaret paces back and forth and says she can’t bear to leave Henry. Henry, stiff as always, says he’ll be fine, and Herbert promises to take good care of him, adding that his own son is almost the same age. Margaret grabs her son’s face and tells him to remember that one day he’ll be King of England. She embraces him tightly, while he just stands there, staring blankly into the distance, not touching her. Margaret tries not to burst into sobs as Henry and Herbert head inside, and Stafford tries to comfort her as well as he can.

Isabel passes the message along to George as Anne watches from a distance.

Soon after, Warwick and George prepare to sail and George says he hopes Margaret isn’t playing him false. Warwick seems surprised that George doubts the sincerity of their former enemy, because again, his brain’s not really all that functional anymore. Jesus, Warwick. George doubting Margaret’s intentions might be the only intelligent thing he’s done this whole series! It was certainly smarter than throwing in his lot with you! Isabel bids her husband farewell and gets the barest nod in response. Warwick goes to Anne and tells her to hope her wedding happens soon. He kneels for his wife’s blessing, and then he’s off.

Word of Warwick’s sailing has reached Edward, who’s now on his way to meet him and crush this rebellion. Apparently, this handy bit of info has come via George, who promises to turn on Warwick once the battle’s begun. Elizabeth asks if Edward really believes him, and Edward admits he’s not sure, but he wants to, because George is, after all, his brother. Not that that seems to mean much in this world. One more thing: Elizabeth’s two sons are going along with their stepfather, which does not make Elizabeth all that happy. They’re young men now, though, so they insist, and Edward promises to keep them safe. He tells Elizabeth to take the kids to the royal rooms at the Tower and wait for him there. Off he goes, and Elizabeth reports George’s new turn of loyalty to her mother, who’s happy to hear it and notes that men have their swords, but women have their own weapons. Scarce though they may be.

A message is delivered to Stafford, but it’s not from Henry. Margaret’s rather distraught to have no word from her son, though Stafford tries to reassure her that the kid’s a teen and he’s busy and adjusting and blah blah blah. Margaret flops into a chair and remembers how, when she was a girl, she wanted to enter a convent and become a saint someday. Given the time, that was actually a fairly reasonable career trajectory for a noble young woman. Stafford says his father wanted him to join the church, and he wasn’t keen, so he told him he was possessed. Even Margaret laughs at that. But then she sobers up and wonders if she’s being punished for her father’s grave sin of suicide. Stafford gently says that God’s not punishing her for her father’s sins, and she bursts into tears and says she wishes she could believe that. He embraces her and promises to take her to visit Henry. This man’s such a sweetheart I’m surprised he’s still alive.

Anne arrives at her sister’s room to find the countess packing and Isabel preparing to head back to England, to basically act as her father’s spy with George, which doesn’t make her happy. Anne stamps and pouts and whines that Isobel can’t be taken away just before her wedding but there’s nothing anyone can do. Her mother basically tells her to suck it up and do her duty, just like they all have. She adds that Anne will grow to like her husband someday, and at any rate, he’ll be king at some point, so she can keep that in mind.

Margaret and Stafford arrive at Pembroke just as Herbert and Henry are heading off to fight alongside Edward, which really upsets Margaret, but there’s nothing she can do about it. She panics, thinking that making Henry fight for York will make God angry. As she watches him go, she repeats that she’s being punished.

Elizabeth’s two sons, Thomas and Richard, arrive at the Tower with grave news: George lied (maybe) and Warwick took them by surprise, landing in the north instead of the south, as they were told. Edward and his men were forced to flee and nobody knows who’s king right now. Elizabeth realises this means they won’t be protected, so she’ll have to act fast, because they’re in grave danger. She mentions sending for her mother, but apparently Warwick’s placed Jacquetta under arrest for witchcraft.

At Ambois Castle in France, Anne has a visit with Margaret of Anjou, who reports that Warwick seems to be doing well. Also: the dispensation has arrived, so Anne and Prince Edward will be married immediately. Yay.

Elizabeth rushes around the Tower, gathering things while the kids wonder what’s happening. Meanwhile, Warwick’s at the gate. Elizabeth hands a strongbox to one son and picks up one of her daughters. The other son collects another moppet and they all flee, just ahead of Warwick, into the safety of Westminster Abbey, claiming sanctuary, which even Warwick’s not willing to mess with.

Because he apparently has nothing else to do, Warwick actually convenes a court to try Jacquetta. Apparently, she really was accused of witchcraft, but this timeline is all wrong, which makes it completely stupid. In reality the accusations took place just after Warwick took Edward hostage, and they were eventually dismissed. At that point, Warwick held all the cards. But to think that he would take time out of his latest rebellion to put a woman he knew to be old friends with his newest ally (whose troops, remember, have not yet arrived to give him any backup) on trial for witchcraft? That’s ludicrous!

Warwick is apparently doing this to prove that Edward and Elizabeth’s marriage was unlawful because it was brought about by witchcraft. Jacquetta looks a bit nervous, as well she might. The first witness claims to be a good friend of Anthony Rivers, though she says she’s never seen him in her life. She’s ignored and the man says that shortly after Elizabeth’s and Edward’s marriage, he found two lead dolls bound together with wire, buried in the dirt. Warwick produces said dolls and asks Jacquetta if she denies this. She does. She then asks to call a character witness: Margaret of Anjou, her former BFF. Warwick is shocked, because he’s completely brainless at this point. Come on, it’s not like her longtime friendship with Margaret was some kind of secret! Jacquetta adds that Margaret will not be happy if any harm comes to her. Warwick’s face goes, oh, right.

Anne gets married to Edward of Lancaster, after he gets a pep talk from his mommy. He doesn’t look at Anne at all.

Stafford returns home and is met outside by a joyful Margaret, who brings him inside to see Henry, who’s sitting rather shell-shocked by the fire. He tells Stafford and Margaret about Warwick’s ambush. Apparently, Warwick decided to go ahead and behead Herbert just like he did the Rivers men, and he seemed ready to do the same to Henry, but Henry shouted that he was Henry Tudor, and for some reason, that made them stop. Presumably because Warwick realised that killing King Henry’s great-nephew would be a pretty stupid move. Margaret softly says that his name saved him, and that makes Henry fully embrace his destiny to one day be King of England. He kneels at his mother’s feet and apologises for ever having doubted her. He promises to obey her always, from this day forward, and she smiles beatifically and kisses his head. Oh, great, that’s just what she needs: validation.

Anne waits in bed for her husband, but it’s Margaret of Anjou who comes in first, to lay down a towel, so they can have proof the marriage was consummated. Lovely. She then goes to help her son undress, and stares at his naked form just a little too long for it to be appropriate before she finally makes herself scarce. Once they’re alone, Anne whispers that she doesn’t know what to do. He harshly tells her she doesn’t do anything but lie there. Again, lovely. He approaches her, grabs her ankles, drags her down on the bed, forces her legs apart…and let’s all just go to our happy places for a bit, shall we? God, I don’t know what the deal is, but these kinds of scenes are becoming disturbingly regular, it seems. I know that, in an era of arranged marriages and such, these kinds of things did happen, but I think it was probably far more common that everyone tried to make it as easy as possible and just got on with their lives, because why would you want to start off brutalizing the person you had to spend the rest of your life with? But it feels like you almost can’t have a large-cast costume drama anymore without a marital rape scene. Or any kind of rape scene. Creepy.

Warwick and George are trying to explain to King Henry that he’s king again, but the man’s pretty insane and doesn’t really seem to understand. It’s actually really sad, the way he looks up at them in childlike confusion. Even sadder when you realise that this man is the only son of Henry V, one of England’s greatest warrior kings. Sometimes, the apple does fall far from the tree.

Margaret’s got another surprise visitor: Jasper! Guess he can crawl back out now that Henry’s back on the throne. She and Henry greet him joyfully as Stafford looks on from afar, completely left out, as always, and the lighting and music get just ominous enough that you wonder if he’s going to crack and do something rather stupid in the near future.

Elizabeth, still stuck in the Abbey, paces around until she’s joined by the boys. She’s upset but manages a smile for them.

Warwick escorts poor, confused King Henry to his throne, past bowing courtiers, trailed by George and Isabel. Henry sits, now looking terrified, and Warwick places the crown on his head as the old man winces. I’d guess that Warwick’s hoping to essentially rule England from behind the crazy king’s throne, except I’m pretty sure Margaret of Anjou would be the real power, so Warwick’s goals here still remain hopelessly muddled.

Elizabeth goes into labour and sends one of her sons for a midwife, while the other one tries to comfort one of his sisters, who’s wailing at the sight of her mother in pain. Elizabeth’s panicking a bit because the baby’s early.

George kneels before the new king and observes that Warwick must be pleased. He is, despite the fact that he’s only secured London, Edward still lurks outside, and Margaret of Anjou is in no hurry to set sail, it seems. Warwick seems untroubled by all that, to George’s face, at least, but once George leaves, his smile disappears.

Young Henry Tudor is also brought to meet King Henry, by Margaret and Stafford. King Henry calls the boy forward and washes his hands while Margaret looks on proudly.

Help arrives for Elizabeth in the shape of her mother, who Warwick apparently just released because he couldn’t be bothered. Oh, no, it’s because her threat about Margaret of Anjou’s wrath was enough to make him back down, which is totally stupid. Again, he knew she was old friends with Margaret, but he still went ahead with the trial, only to have to completely lose face like that at the end? So, so bizarre and pointless.

Jacquetta reassures Elizabeth and delivers the child, which is, as promised, a boy.

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