I should probably mention right up front that I’m writing this immediately following my bachelorette party, so if this at any point seems hazy or odd, sorry about that, it’s the Pinot talking. Or the fact that I’m starting this a good two hours later than usual. Sorry!
Previously on Pillars of the Earth: Maud raised an army to fight King Stephen for the throne, and Stephen whined about God not being on his side quite enough. The Kingsbridge Cathedral started to rise, despite some setbacks at the quarry, and Stephen came unhinged after an unusually clear and prophetic dream.
In Lincoln, Maud remains in control four years after taking the city and castle. Stephen and his men approach the castle on horseback, ready to join the fight that’s raging in Lincoln’s streets. Longbowmen shoot at soldiers climbing ladders set against the castle walls as Maud watches.
Castle Creepy is still shrouded in its Mist of Misery and Inappropriate Relationships, despite the fact that William’s not even home. It’s just Regan and Percy, who’s in bed and not looking too good. As Regan enters their bedroom, he tells her he’s feeling much better, and she unconvincingly says that’s just lovely to hear. He asks about William, and she shares the news with him and with us: the king’s army is besieging Maud at Lincoln, and Gloucester is away in France (um, why?) so he’s no help to her. (Just curious—where’s Maud’s husband? Shouldn’t he be lending a hand, or drumming up support in France? He was Count of Anjou, after all.) Oh, and by the way, there’s a new knight fighting for Stephen who learned to fight in France, but apparently that’s all anyone knows about him. Very mysterious fellow, but extraordinary. As she shares all this info, Regan removes a large ring from her finger and begins to toy with it. Once she gets bored, she reaches for a shallow silver dish and an instrument we’ll remember from back in the days when old Prior James was being bled by Remigius. Percy asks what’s up, and she tells him he needs to be bled, but the doctor’s too busy to do it himself, so she sweetly stepped up instead. He foolishly thanks her.
To the surprise of nobody with a functional brain, Regan digs deep with the tool and starts to drain her husband while musing that William is being held back by his lack of title. Time for him to inherit one, don’t you think? Percy thinks she’s joking, but then he looks down and realizes the silver dish is filled with enough blood to satiate the Volturi, and he freaks and tells her she’s cut too deep. Regan drops the dish and pins him down to the bed. He’s too weak to do much other than let his blood flow down his arm and drip onto the stone floor. RIP Percy. We all knew it was just a matter of time.
In Lincoln, William scales a castle wall as Maud watches the slaughter from inside the keep. Things get strange and slow-mo as she paces back and forth and finally settles down in a huge throne-like chair. Philip’s brother Francis and a servant enter and the servant sets a bowl of oatmeal down in front of her. Maud growls about the siege, which has been going on for weeks, and how can she be expected to eat when others are starving? Francis takes the bowl off the table and tries to persuade her to take a bite, but she lashes out and bats it out of his hands, sending it spattering on the floor, so I guess she wasn’t that concerned about the others not being able to eat. Way to waste extremely precious food, Maud. Pathetically, the servant springs right on that and begins shoveling the oatmeal into his mouth, straight off the floor.
Maud doesn’t seem to notice as she returns to the window, fretting about where her brother Gloucester is and why isn’t he there to help? Francis tries to soothe her, but it’s no good.
In Winchester, William’s making a report to the king, who’s sitting on his throne with a bored looking blonde boy leaning up against him. His son, Eustace, it seems. Stephen’s forces now have Lincoln surrounded and expect to take it any day now. Stephen’s pleased and congratulates William and tells the kid the crown will be his after all. The kid couldn’t care less. Stephen also gives William condolences on the loss of his father, which William accepts and mentions that being granted the Earldom of Shiring will do quite a lot to cushion that particular blow. Ah, yes, but there are some problems regarding that particular earldom, says Stephen. Seems there’s another contender: that mysterious knight, who reveals himself to the court, and also reveals that he’s missing part of one ear (I don’t believe I mentioned that he had part of his ear sliced off by Walter when Walter and William attacked Aliena at Shiring Castle). He’s not so mysterious after all, apparently, because the king immediately greets him as Richard of Kingsbridge. He’s proven his loyalty to Stephen on the battlefield, so Stephen’s going to weigh his claim to the earldom quite carefully. Richard’s self-assured now and has clearly come a long way from that frightened boy we’ve seen these past two weeks. He’s battle hardened and ready to go toe-to-toe with William, who’s looking a bit sulky about all this.
Regan wonders aloud to Waleran just how Richard could manage to become a knight—the armor and paraphernalia cost a fortune. She gets her answer when Aliena comes floating in, expensively dressed. She joins her brother and curtsies to the king.
Later, William’s pitching a fit to mommy and Waleran, who calmly tells him that all Stephen cares about is getting soldiers, so it doesn’t matter who’s actually the rightful earl here. He suggests William raise his own army and the king will bend to his will. Well enough, says Regan, but where’s the money going to come from? The market at Kingsbridge (guess they got that in the interim between episodes) is sucking Shiring dry. So close the market, Waleran suggests, always prepared to go for the easiest answer. Impossible, since the king licensed it, Regan points out. But, as we all know, Stephen’s easier to manipulate than Play-Dough, so Waleran starts making his deals. If he closes the market for the Hamleighs, will they close the quarry for him? William’s game, but asks Waleran how he plans to close the market. Haven’t figured that out, any ideas? Says Waleran. Well, yes, actually. William suggests a fire—it’s worked for Waleran before. Regan tries to shut him up, but Waleran actually likes the idea. Just a little fire, this time.
Things are looking up at Kingsbridge—literally. The cathedral’s starting to soar, thanks to the hard work of the hundreds of workers swarming around. Masons chisel and measure, enormous stones are raised, and walls rise. Philip’s giving Aliena and Richard a tour, and Richard, who hasn’t been home in a while, is impressed by the progress. Aliena exposits that the whole town’s doing much better—it’s grown enormously, and the wool trade is booming. Partially because people want to see Aliena, the only female wool merchant in the area. I’m sure the fact she’s hot has nothing to do with it. “Grown men quake at the sight of me,” she grins. Definitely quaking at the sight of her is Alfred, who watches as she passes.
Lest we were wondering what happened with the baby, we get a glimpse of Johnny Eightpence entertaining Martha, who’s grown a bit beyond her gangly phase, and baby Jonathan, who’s managed to age about seven years in four. Guess priory life agrees with him.
Philip leads his tiny tour to one end of the cathedral as he explains they’ll be closing off this end to protect the altar and give them a spot to have services until the rest of the cathedral can be finished. Both Tom and Jack are working here, and they stop as Philip approaches. Aliena observes that Tom looks both tired and happy, and he admits she’s right on both counts. She invites him to dinner to celebrate Richard’s return, and when she notices Jack peeking shyly at her, she calls up that he’s invited too. Jack returns to his work, grinning happily, like any schoolboy with a crush.
At the dinner, little Jonathan asks Richard if he’d ever killed a giant, and Richard is really adorable and charming as he entertains him. Cuthbert watches and comments to Tom that the kid really is cute, isn’t he? And much better off in the priory than with his real parents, who must have been thieves and whores, because under no circumstances ever would anyone else abandon a baby in the middle of the woods in the middle of winter. And, you know, I guess they’ve sort of waved this in the miniseries by having Johnny bring the baby to the priory, but in the book it was Philip’s brother Francis who found the baby and brought it in, and everyone was bewildered as to where it came from. Did he seriously not notice that the baby was lying on top of what was clearly a grave? Honestly, even here, I don’t entirely buy that the monks wouldn’t have asked Johnny where the baby’s parents were, and for him to have said something about the mother being dead. It’s not a major plot hole, but it’s one that’s always bugged me, and since they keep bringing Jonathan’s parentage up, it keeps bugging me.
Sorry, back to the story. Just when you think Cuthbert’s about to become really unsympathetic, he gives us some sad backstory: he raised his sister from a baby, and then left her to join the priory, which left her no avenue to earn her keep other than to take to the streets. He sadly says he’ll never forgive himself and, yeah, I would think not. It’s not as if she could go to secretarial school back then—just what did she think she was going to do? He really made no provision for her? I get that a calling to the church was a big and powerful thing (still is, for many) but seriously, dick move.
At the other end of the table, Aliena is reading Alfred’s palm, to both his and Martha’s amusement. Aliena tells him it looks like he’s got many female admirers, and Martha snorts. Alfred teasingly asks if she doesn’t admire him? Nope, Martha answers, typical little sister. Aliena steps in to say that she does; his cathedral work is lovely. She clearly means this in a friendly way, but he takes it for a bit more than it is and tries to hold her hand a little longer. She pulls away and Martha runs to fetch Jack for his turn. Aliena observes that his hand’s healed nicely, and that his love line is split in two: he has two loves—mistress work and mother church. Everyone giggles.
Back at the priory, Remigius enters Philip’s rather austere rooms and, once he determines nobody’s there, he rummages around in a cupboard until he finds a scroll. He hands it off to a messenger outside, who then gallops off.
Back at the dinner, Richard’s now charming the whole room by singing, so I guess they switched that talent from Jack, who was the musical one in the book (it’s how he first charmed Aliena). Speaking of, Aliena doesn’t even notice that Alfred’s lightly fingering her hair. She absently puts a hand down on the table just a few millimeters away from Jack’s.
The messenger arrives at the bishop’s palace, where he hands off the scroll to a monk, who delivers it to Waleran, who tosses it in the fire. The fire becomes shots of flaming wreckage and people drowning in the sea, and then flames reflected on Regan’s face.
“My little fire has done its work,” says Waleran to William and Regan. That’s all it takes, burning the charter? Ok. His end’s done, so when’s the quarry going to be closed? There’s a bit of a problem with that—it’ll require bloodshed. Taking innocent lives was a one-way ticket to hell, and we know how William feels about that. Waleran gets this great look on his face for a second, like he can’t believe the people he has to work with here, and then tells William to kneel. He asks William if he’s sorry for the lives he’s taken in the past and will take in the future. William says yes, and seems relatively sincere, so Waleran absolves him. Well, that was an easy fix. Waleran gives William and then Regan his ring to kiss, and Regan struggles a bit before lowering herself to do so.
Waleran heads right to Kingsbridge Priory, where he’s greeted politely by not too enthusiastically by Philip. Waleran hands him orders from the sheriff to shut down Kingsbridge market—they need a license from the king to operate it. Philip replies that they have a license, so of course Waleran asks to see it.
We cut to Philip pulling every last scroll from the cupboard and telling Waleran that the license has been stolen. He really should get a lock on that cupboard. Just don’t use the same company that put the locks on the doors at Shiring Castle, because we all know how well that turned out. Waleran tells Philip the sheriff has no record of a license, and Philip calmly retorts that the sheriff is a liar, then. Waleran accuses Philip of being a liar and informs him that starting the following month, the market will move to Shiring.
Flabbergasted, Philip asks why this should concern Waleran, and I really thought Philip was a little quicker on the draw than this. He knew Waleran was out to get him, so he shouldn’t be at all surprised by this attack. Waleran bizarrely accuses Philip of being Satan, because he’s standing in the way of the church, and Philip points out that, actually, he’s part of the church, but that he obeys God before he obeys Waleran. Waleran tries to pull rank and orders Philip to kneel before him, but Philip’s got nothing to lose at this point and won’t do it. He tells Waleran he’ll appeal to the king, but Waleran says that’ll do little good, since the king’s a bit busy at the moment.
At the moment, William’s a bit busy over at the quarry, slaughtering the workers. We see poor Otto Blackface go down hard. Ahh, Otto, we hardly knew ye.
William returns to the castle, smeared with blood, and his mother greets him with a hug and does that gross mom thing where she licks her finger to wipe a smudge off his cheek. And then she does a very non-mom thing and tongue kisses him. I swear, it’s getting to the point where every time these two share a scene, I instinctively look away and curl into a fetal position.
At Kingsbridge, Waleran checks out the cathedral. It’s really beautiful inside—all white stone, soaring walls and arches, with light pouring in. Even Waleran is overcome and closes his eyes for a moment in reverie.
He’s interrupted by the bell-like ringing of a chisel and stone, and he heads to a nearby nave, where Jack’s hard at work on a sculpture. He gets the greeting all wrong by observing that Jack’s the witch’s son, and Jack resists the urge to drive the chisel right through Waleran’s skull and just tells him she’s not a witch. Waleran shrugs—“Words,” he says. Yeah, words that can get someone burned at the stake, so it’s a bit more than a shrugging matter, I think.
Jack sets his tools down and asks Waleran how he recognized him—they’ve never met. You haven’t? Ok, but you put on quite a show the day the king visited, a few years ago, and you’re probably fairly well known around town, seeing as how you’re the head builder’s stepson and a highly talented artisan, so it’s not really surprising that Waleran would have heard of you at some point, right? And Ellen’s pretty notorious, so I’m sure Jack’s fairly well known as the red-headed son of That Witch who Peed on the Bishop.
Apparently, Waleran recognized the hair, which Jack points out was his father’s, not Ellen’s. From this, Jack extrapolates that Waleran must have known his father, which is quite the logical leap, for all the reasons listed above. Waleran tries to wriggle out, saying he was familiar with Jack’s father’s story, but Jack won’t let this one go. He insists that Waleran must have seen him. Waleran insists he just heard of the whole Jack Sr. story, but that the evidence against the guy was pretty damning: stealing a chalice, impregnating a nun, and dying without repenting. At least William will have some company in hell.
Waleran turns to admire the wall of gargoyles Jack has carved, and then turns his attention to the latest work, which is a man with flowing hair, his mouth wide open. As he takes it in, he flashes back to the scene of Jack’s father singing as he burned, and that alone is enough to unnerve the bishop, who clears out in a hurry.
Word of the attack on the quarry has reached Kingsbridge, and Philip is livid. Cuthbert tells Philip he has to go to the king and press his case. Philip asks Tom if he can borrow Jack for the trip, since Jack can best explain their construction needs. What’s to explain? You’re in the middle of building a frigging cathedral, clearly you need stone to do that. I don’t think it needs to be more detailed than that. This just seems contrived, which bugs me.
Looks like Aliena’s got quite the operation going. She weaves her way through a clutch of huts, where workers are sorting, spinning, and dying wool. Jack approaches as she examines some of the goods, and she greets him happily. Jack tells her he’s been sent to ask if he and Philip can accompany Richard when he heads back to Lincoln. She tells him she’s sure Richard would be fine with that, but he’s not around just now, he’s trying to beg a kiss from the blacksmith’s daughter. Her delivery of this is kind of cute, very indulgent big sister talking about an errant little brother. She invites Jack to wait for him, and to check out her new weaving room.
Jack follows her into one of the huts, which is crowded with large looms. “My new palace,” Aliena says. He asks if she misses the old one, and she says no, not really. She misses parts of it, like the people, but not her naiveté or obligations. She’s happy, she says, and he kindly tells her she’s earned it. She turns the conversation to him and asks if he’s happy. Jack considers this for a moment before telling her that yes, he’s pretty sure he is, especially when he’s at work. When he works, he tells her, he hears voices. The voices of angels? She teasingly asks him. Hardly—he hears voices when he’s carving. The stone tells him where to carve, tells him what it wants to be. How very Michelangelesque. He adorably tries to explain all this to her in a way she can understand and not think he’s crazy, and it’s pretty lovely. She’s spellbound, and he takes the opportunity to leap forward and kiss her. Aliena definitely doesn’t pull away. Almost as soon as they part, however, Alfred appears and tells Jack Tom wants him, because they’re mortaring the arches. Nice throwback to the first episode. Alfred gives Aliena a sad look and leaves, and she looks amazed at what just happened, and then smiles happily.
In the miserable-looking city of Lincoln, Richard moves easily through the crowds of soldiers and whores, followed by Philip and Jack, who are far less at ease in this situation. Richard leads them to a large room where the king is holding court, checking out a crude model of the castle and explaining to some of his followers that all Maud’s holding now are the inner walls, so she’s pretty much boned. He looks up and sees Richard and greets him enthusiastically. Richard asks how the siege is going, and Stephen happily answers that it’s only been a month and the people in the city are starving and tossing their dead over the wall by the hour. Nice. Way to give a crap about the people you’re supposed to be leading, Stephen.
Stephen notices Philip and Richard introduces him. Philip tells Stephen that God’s work needs a hand, and Stephen shoots back petulantly that if it’s God’s work he should do it himself. Richard asks Stephen to hear Philip out as a favor to him, so he’s clearly got a lot of pull here. Stephen approaches Philip and tells him to take off his robe. Philip is rightfully taken aback. Jack, who’s been wearing a hood and standing silently off to the side this whole time, is looking completely weirded out by this whole situation.
Stephen finally dials down the creepy just a little by explaining that he wants Philip’s habit so he can go and check out the city’s defenses. The soldiers at the castle won’t shoot a monk, you see. Stephen tells William to find Philip a tunic, and William doesn’t look pleased to be playing haberdasher to a simple monk. Philip reluctantly begins to remove his habit, and the soldiers and hangers-on chuckle as he does so. Richard has the grace to look embarrassed by his own king and Jack just looks like he can’t wait to carve each of these guys’ faces into a donkey’s rear end once he gets back to Kingsbridge.
A monk is blessing a dead body on the castle walls as Stephen strides out, now dressed in Philip’s habit. Poor Philip is dressed as a civilian and is made to trail just behind Stephen, who kindly tells Philip that the soldiers won’t shoot at him because he’s dressed like a monk, but they’ll probably shoot at Philip. Great. Does this guy have any redeeming qualities left? I thought he was supposed to be a big fan of the church?
Philip’s more charitable, and says it might be God’s will that he should die in order to save the king. Stephen admits he’s never understood God’s will. As a body is tossed off the castle ramparts to join the pile of others rotting in a ditch, he asks Philip if he thinks God wills that. Philip says he doesn’t know. Stephen whines that he only really wants one life—Maude’s—and he doesn’t even need her dead, just captured. Presumably so he can have the pleasure of making her dead. But no, the citizens of Lincoln are content to let their children starve and their grandparents waste away, just so they can protect Maud. As if the people watching their kids starve are the ones who can even make that decision. I’m sure at this point they’d be happy to hand her over stripped naked to Stephen, just to end this thing so they can get back to their normal lives.
A soldier on the walls notices the monk and civilian wandering around outside and takes aim with an arrow. Stephen asks Philip if he’s frightened, and just for good measure adds that the archers are very good. These guys are so close to that wall, I don’t think it would matter how good the archers are. The worst archer there could probably hit them. Helen Keller could hit them.
Philip’s unnerved and admits that he is frightened, but he’s also all business, and he quickly asks Stephen to relicense Kingsbridge market if Philip’s killed. Stephen seems to recall granting a license already. Lost, says Philip. Will Philip pay for a new one? Yes, if the king won’t grant it freely to a church. Philip also presses Stephen for the right to take stone from the quarry. Stephen of the selective memory seems to recall having already granted that as well, but then Philip reminds him that he did, but then turned around and took that right away. Oh, yeah, right, says Stephen. Because he was warned about Philip. By who, Waleran? Philip asks. Doesn’t matter now, says Stephen, turning to go just as a few more soldiers take aim with their arrows. Jack, who’s been lurking off to the side, can take no more, and he launches himself at Philip, pushing him out of the way just before a soldier lets an arrow fly. Philip lands harmlessly, but the hood is pushed back from Jack’s head, revealing his flaming hair. Stephen remembers the dream he had four years ago:
Who’s hair aflame? An artist boy’s
One king he crowns, another destroys.
As usual, Stephen freaks and rejoins his soldiers, telling one of them to have Jack killed by morning. Richard comes running over to inform Stephen that Gloucester’s army is on its way to help Maud. Better late than never, I guess. Stephen tells Richard to prepare for battle. Philip, who just laid his life on the line for this douchebag, calls after Stephen to get a response on the market license and the quarry, and Stephen barks that both are denied.
On the field of battle, Gloucester’s army lines up opposite Stephen’s, and they draw their swords and glare at each other in slow motion, which seems to be this episode’s hallmark. William flashily waves his sword around, waiting, with the others, to commence that great battle tactic known as ‘running towards the other guy with your sword out and hoping you stab him before he stabs you.’ I wonder who ever came up with that plan? Since he’s proven himself to be about the intellectual equal of Percy Hamleigh, I’m going to go with Stephen.
Back at the castle, men, women, children, Philip, and Jack wait anxiously for this endless hell to be over. Philip tells Jack their only hope now is for Stephen to be defeated. He babbles a bit about praying, and then realizes he dropped his rosary beads when he took off his robe. He sends Jack to go find them, which is yet another contrived moment, because no way in hell would Philip have let go of those beads, they were pretty damn important.
Back on the battlefield, Stephen gets things started by yelling and spurring his horse forward. The two armies crash, weapons fly, and the battle is on.
In Lincoln, Jack’s searching Stephen’s now silent and empty HQ for Philip’s beads when a solider jumps him from behind and strangles him. Ok, so you’re telling me that at the moment of perhaps the most decisive battle in the war thus far Stephen would have left one of his guys back in the city just to strangle one kid? I don’t buy it, show. But anyway, after a struggle, Jack goes down, seemingly dead.
Chaos reigns on the battlefield. Maude and the others in the castle wince as they listen to the screams. Men hack at each other brutishly with swords and maces. At the castle, a lookout reports that Gloucester’s retreating to the forest, with Stephen in pursuit.
In the forest, the battle rages on. Richard fights with a fierce and savage intensity. No wonder Stephen likes him. Richard comes face-to-face with Gloucester and finally manages to disarm him, taking him prisoner.
Stephen himself is on foot now, fighting for his life and throne, but he’s overwhelmed by some of Gloucester’s soldiers and taken prisoner. William watches all this happen and orders a retreat. This is not going to go over well with Stephen, William.
Francis brings news to Maud: Gloucester’s been taken prisoner, but so has Stephen, whose forces have scattered. Gloucester’s men are coming to free the city.
Or sack it, which is how it seems to be going. Soldiers flood into the city, hacking at people indiscriminately and attacking women. When Philip tries to intervene, he’s clubbed by a leftover extra from Braveheart wearing blue facepaint.
Regan and Waleran have arrived for a visit, presumably a day or two later, after the main chaos has passed and people have moved on to sawing off corpses’ fingers for their rings. Our two antagonists are shown into Maude’s room, where the nervous girl from earlier scenes has been replaced by a much stronger young woman. She demands to know what Regan and Waleran are doing there, since they so clearly sided with Stephen. Waleran tries to smooth things over, but starts off wrong by calling her “my lady”.
“We are not my lady, we are your majesty!” she snaps. No, actually. ‘Your majesty’ wasn’t used as a term for royalty in England until the reign of Henry VIII. He coined it because he didn’t think being referred to as ‘your grace’ was quite good enough, since that form of address was shared with dukes. Talk about an ego.
Waleran recovers and reminds Maud that Gloucester is a prisoner as well, and if she hangs Stephen, her brother hangs too. But she can save him, if she just works with Regan and Waleran, who were once close to Maud’s late brother, the prince who died on the White Ship. Waleran was his confessor, and Regan was a lady-in-waiting to his wife.
Indeed, says Maud, Regan was supposed to be on the ship that went down, wasn’t she? Regan explains that she was sent on ahead, along with her son, by the prince himself. Regan was to tell the king that the prince’s wife was pregnant, news that apparently never got shared. News of the shipwreck beat Regan to the king (although, I seem to recall her being in the room when news of the shipwreck was broken to the king back in part I, so I’m guessing this is all a lie from beginning to end). At any rate, Regan saw no need to burden the king with any more unpleasantness.
Maud’s starting to look suspicious, and asks what else Regan’s hiding from her. Nothing, says Regan. Then why did she side with Stephen against Maud? William steps in and tells Maud that his parents were told that William would be killed if they and he didn’t support Stephen. Regan plays on the shared experience of motherhood to gain Maud’s sympathy, and Maud buys it. She tells Waleran that he can go ahead and bargain for Gloucester’s life with Stephen’s. Francis will go along for the ride, and William will remain with Maud as a hostage.
“Any hint of treachery on your side, and I’ll have your balls on a platter,” Maud growls. “All six of them.” Heh. This girl clearly knows what’s going on.
In the dungeons of the castle, people are being tortured and Waleran’s being shown to the king’s cage. As he walks through the room, he notices Philip lying prone on the floor.
Stephen’s looking pretty down as he sits in his cage, listening to Waleran explain why he and the Hamleighs are pretending to side with Maud for just a little while. Stephen dully says he’ll see Maud dead, and Waleran says that could be possible, but first Stephen needs to swear allegiance to her and publicly acknowledge her as queen. Unsurprisingly, he’s not so keen on that. Waleran tries to reassure him that whatever is said today can be unsaid tomorrow, but Stephen still says he’d rather hang. Waleran minces no words and tells him he will, and he’ll be tortured, and it’ll all be horrible and undignified. Somehow, that gets through to Stephen, and he tells Waleran to do what he must. Before he goes, Waleran apologetically spits on the king, to complete the illusion that he’s with Maud now.
After leaving the king, Waleran points Philip out to a guard and tells him Philip was the one who sold Bartholomew out to Stephen, and if he can get Philip to admit to that, Maud will be very happy indeed. The guard obligingly goes to fetch Philip and straps him down to a table, which we all know can’t be good.
In Kingsbridge, Alfred finds Aliena at work. He tells her they’ve received word from Lincoln, and she immediately panics, thinking Richard’s been killed. Alfred hurriedly reassures her that that’s not the case, Richard’s just fine, but that Philip’s been captured, and Jack is dead. Aliena bursts into tears and Alfred hugs her tightly to comfort her.
Jack’s body is loaded onto a cart with the other dead as Philip is tortured with hot irons and urged by Waleran to admit he betrayed Bartholomew and ruined Maud’s chances of an early victory. Philip’s not talking, so they apply the irons again, and he lets his tongue wag. Philip admits he betrayed Bartholomew to Waleran, and Waleran was the one who betrayed him to the Hamleighs. Words, Philip. You knew what would happen. Waleran takes the confession, hands a bribe to the guard, and tells him to see that Philip’s hanged. Big no-no back then. Even laying a hand on a priest or monk was a damned-to-hell offense, so hanging one would have been really, really bad.
Remigius has taken control at Kingsbridge Priory and is telling the assembled brothers and workers that the priory has to conserve money in the hope of raising a ransom for Philip, so all work on the cathedral is going to stop for the time being. No wonder it took decades to build these churches.
Tom has brought the news of Jack’s demise to Ellen, who’s working her way rapidly through the “denial” stage of grief as she grinds some herbs or bark or something. She, too, starts to cry, and Tom comforts her.
Jack’s body is dumped, along with the others, into a pit surrounding the castle. I can’t even begin to imagine the level of PTSD that would result from waking up in those circumstances. Meanwhile, Philip is led to the noose and told to make his peace with God. As the noose is fitted, Jack’s eyes suddenly open. I can’t help but wonder—how long was he out for? This whole “coming back to life at the last moment” thing is a bit cliché for me.
That’s it for this week. I can’t say that I was particularly fond of this episode—it was heavy on clichés, obvious exposition, slow motion, and contrived circumstances. I hope next week’s better. Until then!
7 thoughts on “Pillars of the Earth Episode 3 Recap: Battlefield”
First, congrats on your impending wedding! I’m impressed you managed to write this recap and publish it quickly after your celebration. I wonder if your fiance shares your enthusiasm for Anglophile entertainment?
Personally, I didn’t like this episode. It seemed like lazy writing to me (many parts were contrived, as you put it so well), compared to the first three episodes which were taut. I find the Maud character insufferably whiny and boring. I could care less about her predicament. The William/Regan incest is beyond creepy now, I don’t understand why he continues to do this even though he’s 25 and an earl now. He should wield some power over his mother and tell her to back off.
I was very disappointed that we didn’t see much of Ellen/Tom and that the Bishop/Philip confrontation seemed to fall flat. I agree that Philip should have known that the Bishop was out to get him. The capture of King Stephen was also too tidy and neat (another contrived scene, I think the writers were exhausted).
It is infuriating that the episode ended with Prior Philip about be hanged and yet they show next week’s preview showing Philip perfectly alive and well! What is the point? They should not have bothered showing us next week’s preview, or at least cut Philip out of the preview. Not everybody has read the book so I don’t know what’s going to happen next, but the preview ruined it for me.
“I can’t say that I was particularly fond of this episode—it was heavy on clichés, obvious exposition, slow motion, and contrived circumstances. I hope next week’s better.”
I completely agree. I hope this will be the first and last bad episode in this wonderful series.
“I could care less about her predicament.”
Make that, I couldn’t care less about her predicament. 😉
Thanks for the congrats, Kat! And to answer your question–yes, my lovely fiance does share my love for Anglophile entertainmen, though he didn’t always.
Good to hear I’m not the only one who was left flat by this episode. I think the time jump was handled a bit poorly, and I missed spending time with the Kingsbridge folk. The miniseries’ insistance on spending so much time with the king and court (who are barely seen in the book–I think we meet Maud once, and Philip hates her) is really detracting from the story, as are all these odd added in things that are totally unnecessary, like Stephen’s wierd dream/prophecy (hope I’m not spoiling anything by mentioning that’s not in the book). I’ll still watch, of course, and I’m curious to see how this all pans out.