Previously on The White Queen: Elizabeth remained trapped in sanctuary with her increasingly bitchy daughter. The two princes disappeared from the Tower after a botched rescue attempt, and nobody seems to know quite what happened to them, though almost everyone, including Anne, thinks Richard or one of his retainers was behind the deaths. Elizabeth and Lizzy responded in the only way they know how: by cursing the person responsible.
Elizabeth has apparently left sanctuary and arrives at a pretty home in the country, along with her two smallest moppets. She seems relieved.
Margaret’s still under house arrest, and still writing letters, watched by her husband. She tells him she’s writing to Henry to urge him to come and take his rightful throne. Uh, what makes you think Stanley’s going to let you send that? Why waste your time? Stanley asks if she thinks God might have turned against her (what, with her saints’ knees? Never!). She snaps that it’s Stanley and that witch Elizabeth who caused Margaret’s plans to fail. Her only consolation is that Elizabeth is still a prisoner as well, but Stanley breaks the news that Elizabeth’s left sanctuary, and that all seems well with her, so apparently God’s keen on the Yorks and Riverses after all.
At court, Anne catches her son playing with his two young cousins, Margaret and Teddy (Isabel’s kids, remember? I’d almost forgotten about them). Anne starts panicking because Eddie’s warm and she thinks he has a fever, but Richard appears and points out that the kid was just running around, so of course he’s warm. She lets Edward go so Richard can tell her that Henry Tudor has announced that he’s the rightful king and that he’s to marry Princess Elizabeth. Anne overlooks the first bit completely in order to waspishly tell her husband that Lizzy is no princess, and if she has to suffer her presence at court, she should at least be able to refer to her as ‘the bastard girl, Elizabeth.’ I think that’s going to start to become an inconvenient mouthful, Anne. Richard worries that Henry may invade, now the princes are out of the way. He moves off, and Anne’s soon distracted by the sight of her son now vomiting in a corner. Guess she was right about that fever.
Eddie’s put to bed and weakly calls for his father. Anne tends to him and worries.
Later, Richard creepily spies while Lizzy and Cecily are presented to Anne. Anne tells them that she’s an easy queen to serve, unlike others before her. Snap!
That evening, Lizzy performs a song on what appears to be a small, early cello for Richard and the court. Anne’s back with her son, but she rouses herself when she hears the music and makes her way to the great hall just in time to see Richard end the concert and ask Lizzy to dance. Poor Anne looks crushed and struggles not to cry while Stanley looks on and gossips with his son.
The following morning, Stanley’s still chuckling over the odd pairing over breakfast with Margaret, who wearily asks him what’s up. She asks if this is about Henry’s campaign, and Stanley tells her that Henry’s lost his Rivers bride to Richard, by the look of things. Margaret can’t believe it, because a) Richard’s her uncle, and b) he’s already married. Stanley points out that Anne has only one weak son and no others, but if Elizabeth’s track record is anything to go by, Lizzy should be plenty fertile. Well, he’s not wrong about that, as it turned out. Lizzy reeled out kids by the half dozen. Margaret doesn’t think Richard means to marry her, she thinks he might be trying to ruin Lizzy’s reputation in order to humiliate Henry. Stanley thinks this is genuine, and Margaret smiles and shakes her head and tells him he’s as foolish as the girl is wicked. Stanley swears that Lizzy loves Richard and Margaret calls her a whore and stomps off.
Anne seems to agree with Margaret, because when Cecily and Lizzy go to help her undress, she snaps at them to get the hell out of her room. As she leaves, Lizzy gives Richard the eye, and they’re barely out of the room before Anne demands they be made to leave. She starts to panic, thinking her son’s dying because they’ve been cursed for killing the princes, but Richard says they had nothing to do with that, so there’s no curse at work here. Anne still thinks her loose lips might have ended the kids, and Richard snaps at her to get a grip and then tells her that he has no interest in sleeping with Lizzy, but if it looks like he is, then all the men who would fight on her behalf in her father’s memory would come to his side. Uh, Richard? I don’t think so. The men who loved her father would hate you for appearing to despoil his daughter. People took that sort of thing seriously back then. But Richard’s not thinking about that, he’s willing to make his wife look a fool in order to hold his crown.
Another day, Anne, trailed by Lizzy and Cecily, finds Richard just before dinner. Richard completely overlooks Anne and offers his arm to Lizzy. Damn, Richard. That was just cruel. Anne looks like she’s just been punched, and considering she’s dealing with this on top of the strain and sleep deprivation brought on by her son’s illness, I’m amazed she’s still upright just now. Brackenbury quickly steps into the breach and offers Anne his arm, but before they can go in, little Margaret comes running to fetch Anne to Eddie’s room. Anne screams for Richard and they rush to Eddie’s room. It’s too late, though. The boy is dead, and neither his mother’s tears nor his father’s kingly order can bring him back. Anne begins wailing heartbreakingly and Richard weeps.
The tiny coffin is carried into the chapel for the funeral by Richard and his most loyal men. Anne follows with her niece and nephew and immediately begins to lose it. Richard reaches for her hand but she doesn’t even notice, so Lizzy, who really doesn’t know how to restrain herself just yet, slips her hand into his instead. And Anne seems to notice that. Stanley and his son exchange a look.
That night, Richard helps Anne get into bed while she runs down all the people she’s loved and lost. In her mind, Elizabeth’s killed them all. Richard gently helps her into bed and says they’ll just have to try again for another son. Anne angrily reminds him that they’ve been trying for ten years, so there’s really no point. She weeps that he doesn’t love her and spits that, even at their son’s funeral, he turned to Lizzy. He protests that he only did so because he couldn’t get any support from Anne, so she wheels and accuses him again of killing the princes and lying to her about it. He helplessly says yet again that he did nothing, but she’s past listening now.
Elizabeth writes to Lizzy, telling her how sorry she was to hear about Eddie’s death and wondering if it’s the working of their curse. Way to put that down on paper, you moron. She reminds Lizzy that, if Richard murdered their boys, than they can’t be on his side. Oh, but if the Tudors were behind it, then you can’t side with them either, can you? How can you possibly know whom to go with? And how stupid of you two to cast a curse that was almost guaranteed to turn against you personally, since the most likely people to have killed the boys are also the ones most likely to end up marrying Lizzy.
Lizzy and Richard stand in front of a window and Lizzy admits that she’s in love with Richard. He grabs her and they kiss, but then he turns and rushes away.
Lizzy and Cecily return home to visit Elizabeth, who wastes little time sitting down with Lizzy for a private word. She asks what’s happened between her daughter and Richard and Lizzy immediately starts talking about how wonderful he is and how he’s not a tyrant at all. She promises that Richard had nothing to do with the boys’ deaths. She says he plans to put Anne aside and marry Lizzy, which makes Lizzy happy because it means she’ll be queen and she’ll get sparkly things all the time!
Margaret writes to Henry and Jasper of Eddie’s death. She tells them they need to gather their army and be ready to sail so they can get rid of Richard before he has another son. Henry and Jasper do what they can, gathering soldiers from the local prisons.
Lizzy returns to court and is immediately greeted by Richard, who comes out to help her down from her horse. Anne watches and begins coughing.
A little later, Richard comes in and reports that the French have sided with Tudor. He then notes the dress she’s wearing and tells her the silk would suit Lizzy. Jesus, Richard! Anne angrily asks if he means to compare the two women in matching gowns now. Apparently he does, because he has no sense anymore. He swears that he still loves her but she throws the rumour that he’ll put her aside right in his face. He turns the conversation back to Henry, whom he thinks will invade in the spring. He needs to separate Henry from the Rivers affinity. Anne warns him to have a care for his Neville affinity, reminding him that he only has the loyalty of the north because he’s married to her. He snaps that he’s well aware.
Lizzy gets her new dress, and it is exactly like Anne’s, which is just strange and creepy. Anne coughs up blood as she watches the fitting.
Stanley writes to Margaret, telling her that Henry is being made a laughingstock by this affair between Richard and Lizzy. It’s an unnecessarily mean letter.
Back at court, Richard takes a seat on the throne beside Anne and tells her the York affinity is all on his side, so Tudor’s isolated. Anne tells him he’s ruined Lizzy and she’s basically known as used goods now. He coolly says she knows there’s a price for being so near the throne. Actually, I don’t think she does. The women in that family are not strategic thinkers at all. Anne whispers that she wishes she could go back and never be queen. She’s taken in another coughing fit and is put to bed, where she has nightmares that the two princes are standing over her, blood dripping from their mouths. She wakes, screaming.
Anne gets up long enough to get a visit from Brackenbury. She tells him she’s dying and needs to know what to confess, and then she asks him point blank if he killed the boys. He says he didn’t, and he doesn’t know who did, because it didn’t happen on his watch. So, that means she’s off the hook. The boys weren’t killed on her orders. Anne can now die in peace.
Out in the country, Elizabeth’s daughters note there’s something strange happening with the sun. Lizzy sees it too, and so does Margaret, who thinks it’s a sign from God that the York reign is ending. It’s a solar eclipse, but people didn’t really understand these things at the time. Everything strange was a sign.
Richard rushes into Anne’s room, where she’s been put to bed, and asks her if she saw the sun. She’s too busy seeing visions of Isabel and Eddie, and then she dies. Aww, I’m gonna miss Anne. She was actually unexpectedly awesome.
Lizzy finds Richard keeping vigil over the body. He thinks Anne died of a broken heart and tells Lizzy he can’t talk to her. There are now rumours about that he killed Anne so he could marry Lizzy, which has put the lords back in Henry’s camp, right when Henry’s heading over with an army. Richard tells Lizzy she needs to leave, and when she protests, he reminds her that he’s king and she’s to do as he tells her. She gape-mouths at him for a while, then finally leaves…
…and goes, of all places, to Margaret. Stanley recognizes this for a canny political move (made by Richard, who sent her there): if Margaret, of all people, takes Lizzy in, it’ll give Lizzy the appearance of propriety, what with Margaret’s known piety and the fact that she’s Henry’s mother. Margaret’s not happy about this, but since it looks like Lizzy could very well be queen no matter who wins this upcoming battle, she goes along with it for the sake of her family.
Elizabeth notes that the wind has changed and Henry must be sailing. Cecily joins her and reminds her that, if Lizzy married Henry Tudor, her sons will die, thanks to that incredibly ill-conceived curse. That was so unbelievably stupid, but then, I’ve given up on the idea that Elizabeth will ever do something passably intelligent.
The Tudor fleet sails, and Margaret and Lizzy pray. Lizzy gets bored, and Margaret tells her that she’s going to pray five times a day that her son will forgive her for flirting with her own uncle.
Henry lands and prays for God to favour him in this cause. But things aren’t starting out well, because Wales hasn’t turned out for him.
Stanley finds Margaret writing a letter, mustering her troops. She asks if Stanley’s picked a side yet. He hasn’t, but he’d better, because his army could very well decide the outcome of this battle. He crumples her letter and tosses it back on her desk. Dick.
Brackenbury reports to Richard, at his field camp, that Henry’s army is a motley band and Wales isn’t supporting him. Richard worries about Stanley not being there yet and tells someone to fetch Lizzy and pass on a message commanding Stanley to bring his army immediately.
The royal guards show up at Stanley’s, and Lizzy rushes to Margaret to ask if they brought a message from Richard. Margaret tells her she’s a vain little fool who’s deluded herself into thinking Richard loves her. Lizzy insists that he does, and when Margaret calls her a whore, she accuses Margaret of murdering Lizzy’s little brother. Margaret says she did no such thing. Lizzy plays her last card, telling Margaret that her son will marry her, if he wins, because that’s the only way he’ll get England’s support for his reign. Or Richard will marry her. Either way, she’ll be queen, and this is the last time Margaret will ever sit in her presence. Oh, I wouldn’t count on that, Lizzy.
Stanley’s son is brought to Richard, who’s received a letter from Stanley claiming to be ill. So, he takes the son hostage and tells him to write to his father, telling him he’d better bring his armies immediately or the son dies.
On the road, Henry worries about their poor numbers, but Jasper’s sure Stanley will join their side. Henry writes to Margaret, begging her to persuade Stanley to declare for them.
Margaret immediately rides to Stanley’s camp, where he’s just cooling his heels, because I guess his son failed to tell him how very urgent this was. Margaret begs Stanley to join her son’s side, but he tells her he can’t join Henry until after the battle begins. Wait, Richard didn’t make it part of the deal that Stanley had to join him before the battle? Was that a serious oversight or what? Stanley refuses to choose a side just now, because he can’t very well put Margaret’s son ahead of his own. Margaret staggers out, knowing this could well mean her son’s death, and Stanley looks a bit conflicted.
Outside his tent, she unexpectedly runs into Jasper, who’s come to try and get Stanley to join their side. Margaret tells him not to waste his time and tells him how sorry she is for having let Henry and Jasper down. She hysterically begs him to grab Henry and just run away, but he gently tells her they’ve both been running for years and they’re tired of it. Time to make a stand, one way or another. Margaret pulls herself together and asks Jasper to let her see Henry one more time. They head off together as Stanley comes out of his tent and watches.
Margaret arrives at the Tudor camp, and Henry is amazed and rather sweetly overjoyed to see her. They embrace tightly and he seems to be trying very hard not to cry. He asks her if God is with him, because if God is, then he knows he’ll win. Margaret musters up a brave smile and says God is, indeed, with him.
Battle time. Jasper starts distributing troops, then goes to Henry and tells him to face the day like a Tudor. Henry looks nervous but promises to do so.
In Richard’s camp, Stanley’s son looks nervous, while Richard gets suited up. Brackenbury reports that Stanley claims to be on his way, but he’s not worried because the Tudors are so lame he’s sure Richard won’t even need him. Richard mounts his horse and slaps on a helmet with a crown, so Tudor will know who to look for. May as well face the devil yourself, I guess.
Lizzy arrives at her mother’s.
Richard and his men advance through the woods, as do the Tudors. It may be worth noting that the Tudors are all afoot while Richard and many of his men are on horseback. Back at camp, Margaret waits, tensely. Off on the sidelines, Stanley and all his men wait as well.
The charge begins, and soon men are hacking away at each other.
Young Prince Richard arrives at his mother’s house as well, which seems rather dangerous. He asks Elizabeth if it’s true that his brother Edward is dead and she says it is. He promises to avenge him someday but Elizabeth tells him it’s not worth it. Oh, sure, now she learns her lesson.
Swords clash, men fight and stab and slash each other. Stanley Jr. just stands around at camp and tells one of the guards that his father will decide this battle. Both Richard and Brackenbury are seriously badass. Someone grabs Richard’s horse and the animal falls, unhorsing the king. He swiftly gets to his feet and rejoins the fighting, calling for guards to rally to him. Brackenbury quickly joins him and picks up the rallying cry, but it’s really no good. He calls for a horse for Richard, but none appears. Stanley still just stands around, but finally calls the charge. Margaret hears the call and freaks, wondering which side he’ll throw his lot behind. His son looks sick. Lizzy stares blankly into the middle distance.
Stanley and his fresh troops pour into the battle and Stanley finally remembers to tell them who they’re fighting for: it’s Henry, of course. Margaret can hardly believe it. Brackenbury, realising that the day is lost, again calls for a horse for Richard, but it’s too late. Richard and Brackenbury are both surrounded and killed. Richard’s actually beaten to death, which is pretty sad. Oddly, though, he looks more alive as a dead body than he did when he was actually alive. Seriously, the man looked like a vampire he was so ashy most of the time.
Later, Jasper removes the royal ring from Richard’s finger as Stanley pulls the crown off Richard’s helmet. They both go to Henry and Stanley presents the crown on his knees with an appropriate ‘God save the king.’ Everyone else picks up the cry as they go down on their knees, and wow, what a heavy moment for a young man who’s spent his entire life running away or in exile, to finally find himself in this position. Margaret arrives in time to see Henry put the crown on his head. Her own ambition finally realized, she tells Henry she always knew this day would come. She then turns to Stanley and tells him he can stay on his knees, because she’s the king’s mother, and he’ll treat her the same way he would a queen. That’ll teach you to drink all her wine, Stanley. She breathes that she’s now Margaret Regina, as she looks up at the sky. Oooookaaaaay.
Elizabeth finds Lizzy looking into a mirror and Lizzy admits she’s afraid. Elizabeth tells her to remain strong. She’ll marry Henry Tudor and be queen of England, just as Elizabeth once was. Plus, Elizabeth can give good advice on dealing with difficult mothers-in-law.
And on that rather abrupt note, the series ends. Average, I’d say. Perfectly enjoyable for Sunday evening turn-off-your-brain entertainment, though Elizabeth’s pettiness, childishness, and utter stupidity was frustrating a lot of the time. I didn’t really care for Elizabeth at all, nor for the actress who played her, who was only a bit less flat than Max Irons (man, the apple fell far from the talent tree on that one, didn’t it?) And that’s unfortunate since she was, essentially, the main character. I ended up finding Anne and Margaret far more compelling, and I think it helped that they were played by stronger actresses. Amanda Hale in particular managed to play a religious fanatic who wasn’t merely a nutter. That character could have been hugely dull, just some bizarre woman who kept talking to God and whining about putting her son on the throne, but she was able to bring some unexpected humour, political cunning, and obvious steel to the character, and I appreciate that. And Anne—who would have thought she’d have turned out as kickass as she did? Shame that at the end they pushed her into the same type of hysterical paranoia that made Isabel and George so tiresome at the end. Oh well, she was fun for a while there. The ending seemed oddly abrupt as well, like they just ran out of time and didn’t actually bother with a real finish. We have no idea what happened to the returned Prince Richard (in the book, it’s implied that he basically became Perkin Warbeck, who was executed after trying to take the throne a couple of times. Guess Lizzy’s sisterly love got trumped by her love for her own children, eventually.) There was a slightly creepy note at the end there too, with Elizabeth implying that Lizzy becoming queen would just further Elizabeth’s own ambitions—she did still want a Rivers on the throne after all. And I guess that does kind of bookend with Margaret, who clearly felt the same way about her own son’s accession, but still, kind of disturbing, and yet more evidence of a childish selfishness Elizabeth annoyingly displayed throughout the entire series.
Well, what did you all think? Worth the 10 hours we just spent on it? I’d love to hear your thoughts!