The White Queen: Queens Militant

b036y80nPreviously on The White Queen: Warwick changed sides again, allying with Margaret of Anjou by marrying his daughter Anne to Margaret’s horrible son. Edward was sent running to Flanders for safety, while Elizabeth sought sanctuary in Westminster Abbey and gave birth to a prince.

At court, Jasper snakes through the crowd to Margaret and tells her there’s a rumour that Edward and his brother, Richard, are both dead in a shipwreck. She’s somewhat dubious, despite Jasper claiming this is good for their cause. She observes that, even if Edward is dead, he has a son and heir now, so if it’s God’s will that her son Henry should be king, why does he keep throwing up roadblocks? I think God might just be bored, Margaret.

Outside, Warwick finds Isabel and asks her where her husband’s disappeared to. He’s gone off to rejoin his brothers, apparently, because he’s returned to their side after all. Warwick scolds her for failing to keep George close, and she shouts that she’s not her father’s spy or George’s keeper. Warwick briefly gets a, ‘what’s the point of you, then?’ look on his face before heading back inside.

Into the great hall he goes, where he immediately offers to take King Henry somewhere safe until Edward and the other York boys have been defeated once and for all. He tells the other men that they should all go home and await Warwick’s call to arms, but Jasper steps forward and says they’ll await Margaret of Anjou’s call to arms, and furthermore, a man who’s always been a Lancastrian will ensure the king’s safety, not some turncoat. He calls forth the Duke of Somerset, who takes command of poor, addled Henry. Warwick has no choice but to step aside. Jasper goes to Margaret and tells her to go home, because London loves Edward and will fight for him. He, meanwhile, plans to go to Wales with young Henry and await Margaret of Anjou’s army.

Margaret of Anjou and her party are preparing to sail, despite the horrible weather. Anne’s anxious about setting out in such gales and begs to stay with her mother, but the Countess tells her she has to stay with the queen and the rest of them will be just behind. Anne frets that this whole endeavor is cursed but her mother just tells her to think of how proud her daddy will be. She also advises Anne to do as Margaret says and not to cross the queen. That queen, meanwhile, is slow-mo pacing pack and forth while the camera lingers on her feet and hems, for some reason. That’s the second time they’ve done that with her. Is this supposed to convey some sort of menace? Mostly it just seems odd.

Before leaving court, Margaret catches the Duke of Somerset, who happens to be her cousin, and asks him to try talking her husband into raising an army to defend their cause. She thinks Stafford will only listen if it comes from a man, since her attempts have been in vain. Somerset agrees to try. Off he rides with King Henry.

In the Abbey, Elizabeth is wakened late at night by the sound of someone approaching. She snatches up a weapon as the man comes in, and she shouts for him to stay back. He finally, after an interminable time, reveals himself to be Edward. You couldn’t have called out to her instead of giving her a heart attack, Edward? What a dick. He quickly fills her in on George’s betrayal of Warwick and says they’re heading into battle soon, but first he wanted to meet his son. He cuddles the baby and promises to come home soon and keep him safe and give him a better England to inherit. It’s actually really sweet.

Later, Elizabeth and Edward are in bed together and he’s taking some time to get angry at Warwick for all the trouble he’s caused. Elizabeth tells him to go ahead and channel that into some battle rage. She reminds him how well he knows Warwick, which should come in handy on the battlefield. He reminds her that he loved Warwick, and now he has to kill the man. Really, you should have killed him ages ago, Edward.

Warwick’s getting suited up for battle. Isabel comes in to fill her designated role of Exposition Fairy for anyone just tuning in or not paying any attention at all. She reminds us all who’s on what side and asks what’ll happen to her after this battle. Warwick points out that she’s in a pretty plum position: if he wins, she’s fine. If he loses, she’s still George’s wife, so she’s fine. Win-win for her! She refuses to be comforted, of course. He advises her not to commit to anyone until there’s a clear winner, and once that happens, profess undying loyalty.

Margaret wanders her home, wondering why there are so many dirty tenants about. A boy tells her they’re getting their battle commissions, because Stafford’s raising his army. She’s overjoyed and rushes to tell her husband how happy she is, but he quickly sets her straight: he’s fighting for York, not Lancaster. And he’s doing it because he think the Yorks will put an end to all this warring. Plus, the Lancastrians are the worst: the king’s mad, the wife’s a tyrant and their son is odious. As an aside, he tells Margaret not to have people do her begging for her, because it demeans her. Margaret falls back on the divine right of kings she believes so strongly in and whines at him for forcing her to choose between son and husband. He informs her that this is not about her, but about the safety and future of their entire country. Margaret can’t seem to understand that and tells him she’ll never forgive him for this. She won’t pray for his return and he’ll be dead to her. Damn, Margaret, that’s harsh. His response, of course, is to kneel before her and kiss her hand, blessing her before he leaves. This man really is too good for her.

Royal ships pitch in the stormy waves and Anne loses her lunch. Margaret irritably tells her to go up on deck and get some air. Anne stands her ground and admits she’s not sure she’d make it topside. Margaret tells her that if you want something badly enough you can get it eventually. I’m not sure that philosophy really works when you’re dealing with forces of nature. She adds that Anne’s weaker than she thought. She expected more from the Kingmaker’s daughter. Anne steels her spine and coolly tells the woman she’s not weak. Margaret studies her and says she can’t really get a read on her and wonders what kind of queen she’ll be. Anne hasn’t thought about it. Margaret tells her to start thinking about it.

Jacquetta reports to Elizabeth that Edward’s to meet the Lancastrians in battle at Barnet. He’s vastly outnumbered by Warwick, though, and Margaret of Anjou is on her way with even more troops. The only thing to do is to magic up the Thames mist to hide Edward’s troops. Jacquetta, Elizabeth, and little Elizabeth stand in front of open windows and start breathing.

The mist rises in very dry-ice fashion, concealing Edward and his troops, all of whom appear to be on foot. Warwick, with his own troops, watches the mist swirl past for a while, then dismounts and reassures the men he won’t ride off and leave them but will stay and fight to the end. The men cheer, because nothing gets troops’ blood up like mutually assured destruction. And with that, Edward and his men attack, catching the Lancastrians off guard. Warwick and the three York brothers all fight fiercely, especially Richard, and it’s rather nice to see that we’re acknowledging that Richard was actually a formidable warrior. Must have been especially difficult with that scoliosis he apparently really had. Finally, Warwick is left facing Edward and Richard. He lowers his sword, knowing he’s beaten, and another soldier comes out of nowhere and slices Warwick across the stomach, then stabs him in the back as he falls, killing him as Edward watches, his face twisted in pain.

Margaret, Anne, and the others land, and of course Anne’s dreadful husband leaves her to wade to shore on her own. Once inside, Margaret gets an update, first in letter form and then from a messenger who’s come to tell her that King Henry’s back in the Tower, imprisoned. She asks about the losses at Barnet and the man regretfully tells her they were high. He darts an uncomfortable glance at Anne, who fails to read him at all and brightly asks if her father’s coming as well. Her husband tells her Warwick is obviously dead. What a cold fish this creature is. Obviously attempting some damage control, the messenger reassures her that Warwick died a very noble death. Anne can’t believe this is happening and begins to weep. Margaret’s prepared to retreat, but Prince Edward wants to fight King Edward as soon as possible. Margaret asks Anne what she would do and Anne pulls herself together and advises them to go west, where they have more chance of drumming up support. Margaret agrees that this is a good plan, so westward ho!

One of Stafford’s servants returns home and tells Margaret he’s been badly injured in battle. Margaret prepares to go to her husband immediately, and the man’s aghast at the idea of her riding right into a battlefield. But this is Margaret we’re talking about, so she puts her foot down hard and off she goes.

Margaret of Anjou prepares to head to Wales via Tewkesbury. Anne asks for a guard to take her to her mother so she can break the news of Warwick’s death. Margaret coldly tells her that she already knows and she took sanctuary in Beaulieu Abbey. What’s Margaret’s problem? She’s such a cartoon villain, flat and cold, no depth at all. Why is she so unnecessarily nasty to this poor girl, who’s just suffered a terrible loss? Margaret tells her that, if she leaves, she’ll be arrested and the courts won’t show her mercy. But she can go, if she wants, because they don’t really need her anymore. And at this, finally, Anne gets kind of awesome. She straightens up and tells Margaret that, actually, they do need her. Prince Edward needs an heir, or their line dies out. She could very well be pregnant this very minute, in fact. They totally need her. She agrees to go to Tewkesbury with them, because there is still some slight hope of victory and that would fulfill her father’s wish.

Margaret Stafford (this would be so much easier if people had been more creative with names back then) arrives at the battlefield and is horrified by the sight of the dead and dying men all over the place. She covers her face against the stench and picks her way past dogs gnawing on the bodies.

Inside the hospital, Stafford’s surprised to see her. She reassures him that she was perfectly safe and tells him she’s brought a wagon to take him home. He reassures her that his wound looks worse than it is (let’s hope so, because it doesn’t look good), and says that she didn’t have to go to all this trouble, but it’d be nice to see his home. She’s obviously still mad at him, keeping her distance, but at last she sits nearby and observes that this is all over. Stafford says he thought so, but he heard that Margaret of Anjou is marching to Wales to ally with Jasper. Margaret’s brain goes into overdrive and she figures that, if Margaret of A gets to Wales and reaches Jasper, they could bring down King Edward after all. Stafford begs her not to do anything stupid and urges her to accept King Edward. He adds that, if Jasper loses, he’ll have to go into exile with young Henry again. That brings her up short and he asks her to promise not to undermine his efforts. She promises, but then immediately goes and writes a letter to Jasper, telling him that Margaret of Anjou is on her way.

The York boys go to visit Warwick, who’s lying in state. George sneers that Warwick’s head should be struck off and put on display as a warning. George, have you not learned to keep your head down and your mouth shut yet? Also, maybe you shouldn’t be so free with the suggestions of how to punish traitors, mmmkay? Richard reminds George that he, too, was a traitor, and Edward intervenes, reminding his brothers that Warwick was a fierce warrior and deserves their respect. Richard chimes in that they should remember him for the hero he was, not the traitor he became. How nice that the men who were actually betrayed by Warwick are more generous to him than his own son-in-law.

Jacquetta and Elizabeth watch from the side, Elizabeth fingering her curse necklace. Jacquetta thinks they may have to go ahead and forgive George, but Elizabeth refuses. In her own room, she tears Warwick’s name off the curse sheet and burns it.

That night, Edward tells her that he has to leave to intercept Margaret of Anjou. Elizabeth tells him to do whatever he has to do to end this insanity. He tells her that Anthony will guard her in the Tower and says that there’s a man in Flanders she should go to with their son, if things go badly. She refuses to believe that Edward won’t come back and tells him he’ll die many years hence, in her bed.

Margaret and her men are on the move, Anne so exhausted she’s falling asleep in the saddle. Margaret tells her this is what is like to be queen militant: you have to fight for everything. She loves it; it’s what she lives for. Anne asks if she tires of being hated, but Margaret knows she was never liked, so she never let it bother her.

They come within sight of Tewkesbury, but first there’s a flooding river to cross. Prince Edward says they can’t stay there, because they’ll be trapped by Edward in the morning. Margaret calls out to Anne that this was all her idea, like Anne’s some sort of military and meteorological strategist who should have somehow known about the flood and will have a plan to compensate. Anne says they’ll have to camp and cross at first light. Margaret agrees, telling her son to get the men into battle lines, just in case. She and Anne, meanwhile, will go and stay in the abbey.

Elizabeth and the kids are in the Tower, which is under attack by warships coming up the Thames, hoping to rescue King Henry.

At Tewkesbury Abbey, Anne asks for directions to the chapel. Before she goes, Margaret advises her to pray for the living, because her fate lies with her husband, not her dead father. Anne promises to pray for both. ‘And for me?’ Margaret wonders. Why the hell would she pray for you, you cold bitch? Oh, apparently she wants Anne to pray extra hard for Prince Edward, since he’s Margaret’s only son and all.

At the Tower, the shelling has stopped for the time being, but Anthony guesses they’ll establish a camp and attack at dawn. Elizabeth tells him to find his balls already and attack ASAP, which apparently didn’t occur to him. Man, if the ladies weren’t around to do everyone’s thinking for them this episode where would they be? Anthony agrees and goes to prepare.

At dawn, as the men get ready to fight, Elizabeth has a vision of a battle.

Tewkesbury: the sound of battle makes it all the way to the abbey as a messenger arrives to tell Margaret that the battle is lost. Somerset’s been executed by King Edward, who I guess is taking a page out of Warwick’s book these days. Margaret asks after her son, but the man rushes off to fetch the ladies’ horses. Margaret’s looking a bit shell-shocked, but she tells Anne to get ready to run. Anne refuses, so Margaret lays it out for her: men coming in from battle are not gentle, and they won’t care who she is, or who her father or her husband are.

Anne mounts up and gets some last-minute pointers from the messenger on fleeing a battlefield before he’s felled by about four arrows. Men start pouring into the abbey, which I find a bit unlikely because that was sanctified ground and people tended to take that seriously back then. They drag Anne off her horse, even as she screams and kicks and tells them she’s the Kingmaker’s daughter, as if that’s going to endear her to this crowd. She does put up a good fight, though, I’ll give her that. Just when things start to look grim, someone throws the men off of her, and we see that her savior is Richard, who seems almost surprised to see her there. He helps her to her feet and quietly tells her that her husband’s dead. She almost seems relieved to hear it, not that I can blame her for that. She gathers herself and says she has to tell Margaret about Edward’s death. Before she gets a chance, Margaret’s bundled over by some of Richard’s soldiers, and he shortly tells her that Prince Edward is dead and his commanders have been captured. This battle is lost. Margaret is to be taken to London, despite the fact that she tries to stand on her dignity and say she must do nothing, because she’s the queen. Richard threatens to have her taken to London bound and gagged if she doesn’t cooperate, so she changes tactics and offers to make Richard her heir if he switches sides. She even offers him Anne, but Anne gets right in her face and says that Anne is not Margaret’s to give now.

Margaret is led off and finally takes a moment to wail over the loss of her son. I guess we’re supposed to feel bad for her, but like I said, she was such a cartoonish villain, I don’t really feel anything right now.

Stafford’s home, tucked up in bed and not looking so hot. Margaret comes in and informs him that Jasper has to take Henry into exile. Stafford regretfully says he had hoped it wouldn’t come to that. Margaret asks for permission to go see them off, because this could be the last time she sees Henry. Stafford’s reluctant to let her go, in such a dangerous situation, but he allows it and she sincerely thanks him, squeezing his hand and observing, as if she’s realizing it for the first time, that he’s a good man.

At the shore, Margaret reminds Jasper that her son’s the most precious thing in her life and he’s the only person she’d trust with him. Jasper talks about the battle and how awful it was, and when Margaret tries to invoke God, he tells her God most certainly wasn’t at Tewkesbury. Margaret goes the glass-half-full route, reminding him that Prince Edward’s death puts Henry one step closer to the throne. She turns to her son and tells him to look after his uncle. She embraces him and tells him never to give up his fight.

Richard and Anne watch as Margaret mounts up and is led off by guards. Richard figures she’ll end her days in the Tower and Anne asks if that’s her fate as well. Richard says he hopes not, guessing she only did what she was told to do. Anne admits she had a chance to go to her mother, but she chose to go with Margaret. He says she chose to fight on and observes that she is her father’s daughter. Out of nowhere, he asks if she loves him. She’s a bit thrown by that, so he clarifies, asking if she loves the York princes, king included. She says she does and he hopes that’s enough for Edward. I’m sure it will be. He promises to take her to Isabel when the court returns to London.

Edward and his family have a happy reunion at the Tower.

Margaret returns home and finds the house ominously quiet. She slowly makes her way to the kitchen, where one of the servants says he’s sent a messenger for the priest. Chin wobbling dangerously, she continues on to her husband’s bedroom. Stafford’s looking even worse, but he manages to tell her he’s glad she’s home. She pours him some wine, but he gently waves it off and asks if Henry’s safely away. She nods and he continues that she should apply for Henry’s return soon, as they won’t refuse once they hear about Stafford. He goes on to say that he knows he’s disappointed Margaret and that he wasn’t suited to the times. He suggests she stop fighting all the time and just do whatever makes her happy. She starts to cry, and he blesses her and her son, saying that Henry’s a fine young man and he’s proud of him. He repeats his entreaty for her to make peace with the Yorks and bring her son home safe. And, with that, he dies. Margaret cries. I cry, because damn if he wasn’t the most likeable character in this thing.

And from that scene, we get a really jarring and awkward cut to Elizabeth and her daughters and sisters, all giggling and golden and crowned up, meeting with Edward and his brothers, also smiling and becrowned, so they can all walk into the great hall and receive the bows of the courtiers. Elizabeth spares a glare for George as he passes.

That night, Edward gets up and sneaks out of his bedroom, waking Elizabeth as he leaves. She silently follows and spies on him as he meets up with his brothers in the hallway. The three men go into the room where King Henry’s being held and Elizabeth steals up to the peephole and looks through, getting a really good sight of her husband smothering the deposed king with a pillow while his brothers hold the old man down. Elizabeth is horrified, because she apparently doesn’t remember how she once wanted those opposed to her husband dead. Was this a horrible thing to do, killing a weak, unarmed old man? Yes, it’s dreadful, but the fact of the matter is, as long as Henry’s alive, he’ll be someone for York enemies to rally around. He had to go, to keep Edward on his throne and Elizabeth and her children safe. Harsh, but true, and I’m amazed Elizabeth hasn’t figured that much out yet. But then, she’s not the deepest thinker. She’ll get it eventually, I’m sure.



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