Pillars of the Earth: Witchcraft

Everybody plots! Alfred plots to marry Aliena so she can keep funding her brother’s fighting and get the earldom back. Waleran plots to become Archbishop of Canterbury. Regan plots to get the earldom for William by marrying him to a preteen. In other news, Jack escapes the priory and sleeps with Aliena before heading to France, Aliena gives birth to Jack’s son and follows him, and Alfred’s plan to put a stone vault on the cathedral goes wrong in the worst way, resulting in Philip getting fired.

Previously on Pillars of the Earth: Jack and Alfred ogled Aliena before beating the crap out of each other, which led to Tom firing Jack for not being a blood relative. William takes obsessive assholishness to a new level by burning Kingsbridge’s Fleece fair, killing Tom, and sending Aliena’s entire year’s profit up in flames.

Kingsbridge’s cemetery has several new occupants, and it’s about to get another one: Tom Builder. His shrouded body is accompanied by all the monks, Ellen, Aliena, Alfred, a sobbing Martha, and a number of townspeople. Philip says prayers over the body before paying a moving tribute to Tom, his friend, and the reason the cathedral exists. As he finishes, Richard rides into the still smoldering ruins, looking bewildered.

After the service, Aliena’s catching her brother up on what’s gone down, including the fact that she’s basically penniless now that her wool’s been burned. Richard fills her in on some news of his own—Maud and Gloucester have hightailed it back to France, and Stephen is king again. Aliena immediately realizes the implications this will have for Kingsbridge’s market, which was licensed by Maud. She starts to panic and tells Richard that there’s not a cent left to her name, which freaks him out, because he needs money to pay for weapons and horses to fight for Stephen so he can get his earldom back. Well, here’s a thought, Richard: why don’t you get a job for a change? This is something that bugged the hell out of me in the book, and it bugs me here too. No money coming from your sister/piggybank? Get off your ass and do something about it! But no, he instead starts screaming at Aliena, who yells back hysterically before bursting into tears, which makes Richard remember to be a feeling human being for a moment, and he hugs and comforts her. Alfred overhears all this and seems to formulate a plan.

But first, he has a cathedral to lay claim to. Philip’s talking with several townspeople and workmen over at the site when Alfred approaches, carrying Tom’s box of tools, and says he wants to replace his father. He’s a master builder, after all. Philip tries to let him down gently, telling Alfred he doesn’t have enough experience, but Alfred counters that by reminding Philip that Tom didn’t really have the experience either, when he was hired. What Alfred does have is skill and vision. Philip tells him he needs to pray on this, as is his way, but Alfred has no time for that. He takes Philip inside the cathedral to reveal his big plan: he wants to vault the cathedral in stone, which was essentially unheard of in England at this time. Wood, as Philip reminds both Alfred and us, was the common roofing material. It has the benefit of being cheaper, but it also burns, a problem they ran into with the last cathedral, which was apparently made out of the world’s most flammable tinder. Sounding doubtful, Philip asks if the walls could take the weight, and Alfred says they’ll make the walls stronger, and that he knows more about stone than Tom ever did (…) Yes, this is going to go well. Alfred secures his place by first telling Philip that a cathedral with a stone vault will last forever, and that he’ll work cheaper than Tom. Philip finally gives in.

Later, as Philip’s working in his room, he’s visited by Jonathan the Mini Monk, who tells him Tom was going to tell him something, before he went away. Philip sets his work aside and starts talking to the kid about heaven, which is where Mini Monk thinks his mother lives. He asks Philip if Tom went to see her, and Philip affirms it, telling Jonathan that Tom loved Jonathan’s mother very much (it seems Martha spilled the beans on Jonathan’s parentage after Tom’s death), and that Tom went to heaven to build a beautiful house for her, where there’s a lovely room set aside for Jonathan to live in, on that far, far off day when he’ll go to heaven too. Jonathan seems appeased by this, and Philip sweetly sends him off to bed.

Aliena sits on a windowseat at her house, looking dejected, as Richard writes a letter to Stephen, apparently volunteering to accompany Stephen on a Crusade he’s planning. Aliena asks if he plans to go as a knight. “As a very poor one,” he douchily replies, rubbing salt in the wound as much as possible. It’s not as if she burned her wool herself or deliberately lost all her money, Richard. How about a little understanding and compassion here?

His letter writing is interrupted by a knock on the door, and Aliena opens it to reveal Alfred, whom she invites in. Alfred tells her he’s going to replace Tom and she congratulates him sincerely. He goes on to tell her that this means he’ll have a steady income, and she gets a look on her face like she knows what’s coming. Alfred keeps going, bluntly and eagerly asking her for her hand in marriage. She starts to sputter a no, although Richard seems interested in this development, but Alfred talks over her, telling her he can help support her business and she’ll be able to keep her house, and what’s more, he’ll support Richard in his quest to become earl. Congratulations, Alfred, you said the magic words. He tells her to think it over and withdraws. Aliena sits down and Richard turns to look at her, reminding her, as if she needed reminding, that she promised their father.

Later that night, Aliena prays, or, at least, looks like she’s praying. What she’s actually doing is thinking about making out with Jack, crying, and remembering making that stupid vow to her father. Still crying, she seems to come to a decision.

On a rainy, miserable day, Waleran is welcoming the Archbishop of Canterbury to his crappy palace, which leaks like the Lusitania, it seems. The Archbishop kindly refers to it as “a ruin with a roof”. Waleran reminds him that he had an awesome place planned, but Kingsbridge got all the stone from the quarry. The Archbishop unhelpfully tells Waleran he’ll need a better house if he’s going to be Archbishop himself one day, and Waleran disingenuously reassures his boss that taking his job isn’t on his mind at all.

After the Archbishop leaves, Waleran indulges in some praying and self-flagellation, like you do. He begs God to show him some favor and then commences a pretty brutal beating. Afterwards, he sits down to write a letter to Regan, a juxtaposition I found kind of hilarious, actually. He reminds her that Stephen is back in power (which I’m pretty sure she knows) and also reminds her that he told her in the last episode that he wants to be Archbishop of Canterbury, and he wants her to bump off the current one. She writes back that the easiest way to get Canterbury off on his own to be murdered would be to bring him to Shiring on some pretext—say, a wedding.

Letter writing and plotting done, Regan goes to offer her particular brand of, ahem, comfort to William, who’s wallowing in bed and, as usual, whining about how he’s going to hell for killing Tom. Except Waleran already absolved him, as Regan points out. Plus, why should this one murder bother him so much? Didn’t he kill Bartholomew’s steward, Matthew? And take part in the sack of Shiring Castle, which seemed to be mostly occupied with defenseless men, women, and children? Seems a little contrived that he’s so bent out of shape over killing Tom.

Anyway, Regan brushes the death aside, saying they’re at war, and William whines that the war is useless, and all it’s done is suck up all their money. That gives her an excellent opening to start talking William into the marriage she has planned for him. And who’s the lucky girl? Remember Elizabeth, the 12-year-old he was talking to at Maud’s court in the last episode? Yeah, that’s right, William’s now moving on to pedophilia, essentially, as if we needed another reason to hate him. As it happens, her family was allied with Maud, so they’re familia non grata with Stephen and are looking to ally themselves with one of Stephen’s buddies. And apparently they’re willing to pay quite handsomely for the privilege.

William, of course, doesn’t remember this little girl at all, but he seems pretty sold on the idea. He asks mom if the girl’s pretty, and most importantly, if she’s a virgin. Since she’s only 13, that’s a pretty good bet. William sits up and crawls over to Regan as she reclines at the foot of the bed. “Tell me,” she purrs, “whom do you hate most?”

“Aliena,” he answers, like he’s in some kind of a trance. And what does he want to do with her? Rape her to death, of course. Regan smiles and tells him he will. She next asks whom he loves most, and of course he answers “mommy dearest” and then she asks him what he’ll do to her. He gets a totally creepy look on his face but thankfully we cut to the next scene before we go any further into the adventures at Castle Creepy and I end up vomiting up yet another dinner all over my keyboard.

We jump back over to Winchester, where Stephen’s son is being taught to fight and is proving to be just as much of a useless pussy as his father. The kid gets a cramp or something and whines and moans and Stephen bemoans the fact that his son’s with his mother too much, and if there were women in charge, there would be no wars. What a terrible world that would be! Stephen admits he feels much better when he’s conquering an enemy, and I would love to know how he even knows how that feels. Sure, he’s had some victories against Maud, but I feel like those are mostly due to very talented knights, like Richard, and not the superior generalship of Stephen.

Speaking of Stephen, it seems he’s gone a bit around the bend. He admits to Waleran that God now speaks to him directly, and that the big man in the sky came to him in prison and told him that the sinking of the White Ship was a deliberate act. Waleran, who knows way more about that whole thing than he wants anyone to be aware of, tells him the sinking was just a tragic accident. I don’t know why Stephen wants to open this can of worms anyway, since it’s only that sinking that made him king, something Waleran points out. Stephen concedes the point, so Waleran presses his luck by asking if Stephen would be cool with William marrying little Elizabeth (a generous fee would be paid to the crown, of course). Stephen promises to talk to God about it, but he’s pretty sure God likes a wedding. Waleran has one more favor to ask—he tells Stephen that the Archbishop of Canterbury is failing, and that Stephen will have to name a successor soon. Yes, but not before the Archbishop is dead, right? I mean, talk about something that looks fishy… Waleran finally gives Stephen the ring from Regan and lets him think about it. We get another shot of the kid play-fighting…

…and jump right over to France, where Maude is gigglingly watching her own son, Henry, battle Gloucester. I might point out, he’s much better with the wooden sword than Stephen’s son is. Maud urges him on, telling him to protect his mama from the evil Stephen. The kid begs Gloucester to let him win, but Gloucester won’t, since soon young Henry will be joining the fight for the crown. And that’s all we’ll see of any of them this episode. I guess they just wanted to remind us that Maud’s alive.

Over in Kingsbridge, it’s Sunday, and the town is gathered in the cathedral for mass, where Philip announces the engagement of Alfred and Aliena. Aliena manages a small smile, but Alfred’s got a total shit-eating grin on his face as he grabs her hand. Jack’s horrified, and he dashes forward from his place amongst the monks, screaming his protests, and it’s all very melodramatic and everything, but no sane person acts this way, no matter how in love with someone they are. He hisses to Alfred that Aliena’s his, and that Alfred can’t take her, raising the insanity quotient just a little, as some of the other monks drag Jack away and toss him into a dank cell somewhere belowground. Jack struggles but Philip, who has accompanied them, tells him he’d better calm down, or he’ll be chained. Philip tells Jack he’ll be released after Alfred and Aliena are safely married, and that he should use the time to decide if he really wants to be a monk. Wow, Philip, you’re just catching on now that he was never all that invested in this? After you strong armed him into taking holy orders so he could stay involved in the cathedral? You’re quick on the uptake this week, aren’t you?

Philip tells Jack that if he wants to leave, that’s fine, but if he does, he’ll be banished from Kingsbridge forever. Excuse me? I get that Philip could keep Jack off of priory lands if he wanted (thus keeping him away from the cathedral), but I doubt he could have Jack banished from an entire town. Seems a bit much for me. Also seems like a dick move. If the kid doesn’t want to be a monk, that’s just the way it is, why punish him for it? With that, Philip leaves, and Remigius locks the prison door.

Presumably shortly thereafter, Remigius sits down to write a letter to Waleran, telling him all about Jack’s crush on Aliena and how it got him locked up. Waleran responds by telling Remigius that Jack’s the son of a witch, which makes him the offspring of the devil, and he has to go. He tells Remigius to poison him with some powder that Waleran has thoughtfully included in the letter, and to send the food to Jack via a monk he knows and trusts. Who does Remigius get to take the tainted food? Johnny Eightpence, of course. Poor Johnny. He sets the bowl of food down next to Jack, who’s mired in misery at this point, and tries to cheer him up by telling him he’ll be free in less than a day, which doesn’t work on Emo Jack, who points out that Aliena will be married in less than a day, and that he’ll never be happy again. I swear to God, while watching this the first time, I actually chimed in with those exact words as he was saying them. They weren’t hard to see coming.

Alfred’s celebrating his last night as a bachelor by getting drunk with his buddies and making lewd comments about his wedding night while Aliena tosses and turns in bed and Ellen skulks in the street below.

Jack wakes with a start in his cell to find his mother sitting there, staring at him. He asks how she got in there, and she tells him that there’s a water channel that runs right under the prison, which seems like quite the security breach. Worst prison ever. She happened to know about that because it’s how she used to visit Jack’s father for some Jack-conceiving nookie back in the day. TMI, Ellen.

Ellen wastes a bit of time by taking a trip through history, remembering the day Jack’s father was brought to the prison, even though she wasn’t there. She ditched her convent and traveled up to Kingsbridge to see him, feeling guilty for getting him caught. She couldn’t free him, because he was chained, but she could have some hot, hot sex with him on the straw the monks weren’t nice enough to give Jack to lie on. We get a nice flashback of that too, which then creepily cuts back to Jack, making it look like he was actually the one imagining his own parents having sex. I like to think that someone in editing just dropped the ball on that one, and that really wasn’t what they were trying to convey, although given all the Regan/William weirdness they’ve thrown into this miniseries for no reason, I wouldn’t really put it past them.

Jack wonders why Prior James would accuse his father of a crime he didn’t commit, and Ellen lets James off the hook by saying he was probably acting under someone’s orders. She knows her man knew something, but that whatever he knew must have died with him, unless, of course, it was somehow connected to his ring. You remember the ring, right? The one Jack used to wear that disappeared and he thought Alfred stole it, but it was really Martha? Yeah, that one. As far as I can tell, it depicts some kind of crest, though I can’t really make out the details. It looks like it might be a phoenix under a crown, but I’m not sure.

Ellen finally decides to talk about something other than herself, and asks Jack if he loves Aliena. Yes, he says, although she doesn’t seem to love him. Ellen urges him to go to her and ask her why, and then to run off together and life happily ever after. I get that she’s a devoted mom who thinks the sun rises and sets on her son, but it seems a little odd that she wouldn’t stop to think there might actually be a good reason why Aliena’s not interested in Jack. Maybe she’s just not that into him, Ellen. But no, of course, her baby boy’s too perfect for that. She urges him to eat, and Jack finally digs into his tainted food.

A short time later, he’s throwing rocks at Aliena’s bedroom window, and when she sees who it is and opens the front door, he kisses her passionately. Before we know it, she’s leading him to her bed, so I guess she’s totally over the rape trauma? That was handed pretty poorly. She went from telling him not to touch her to seducing him in less than an hour’s worth of television, with absolutely no explanation.

Anyway, they start to strip each other, and man, Hayley Atwell’s got some HUGE breasts. I’m not a lesbian or a guy and even I’m slightly mesmerized. She and Jack make love while Ellen steals Tom’s box of tools from Alfred with a self-satisfied smile.

Back at Aliena’s, the two lovers are cuddled up together and Jack goofily tells her he wants to marry her. She tells him that’s a no go, even though he’s talented and can get work on any cathedral in the world. Not enough, says Aliena, though she does say it gently. She shares the whole story of her stupid vow and geez, Aliena, give it up already! Your father’s dead and Stephen doesn’t give a shit about anyone but himself. Why should your whole life be wasted on this pointless enterprise? And what would you gain, anyway? A bankrupt earldom? Yay? God, just make Richard get a real job for a change, and let yourself be frigging happy already!

K, sorry, I’m done. Jack sensibly points out that the earldom may never be Richard’s, so she should come away with him. Aliena tells him she has to marry Alfred, that it’s her duty, and Jack tells her her duty is to him. Why she’s not calling him on this bullshit remains a mystery to me. Since when do you own her, Jack? Between this and the outburst at the cathedral, it’s like he considers her some favorite toy that Alfred’s laid claim to, which cheapens their relationship, because it makes it seem more like she’s just the prize in some ongoing competition with his stepbrother. In the book, that’s essentially what she is to Alfred (he only marries her so Jack can’t have her), but that was never the case with Jack.

Before things can go further, he gets a sharp pain in his stomach. Aliena tries to help him, but he pushes her aside and tells her he’ll go away and she’ll never see him again, if that’s what she wants. She makes no reply to that, so he grabs his clothes and leaves.

Jack goes right to his mother, who gives him something to make him vomit up the poison. She guesses it was Alfred who poisoned him, by bribing one of the monks, and she’s really, really pissed.

Over at Castle Creepy, Regan’s running around, dressed in red velvet, throwing open shutters to wake William for his “special day”.

Aliena dresses for her wedding and takes a deep breath to steady her nerves.

William awaits his bride at the castle, while in Kingsbridge, Alfred awaits his. Both men stare a little menacingly at the women in their lives. We cut back and forth between the two wedding ceremonies. William’s seems to go smoothly, but as Philip pronounces Alfred and Aliena man and wife, Ellen appears and curses the marriage with impotence, hatred, regret, and bitterness. Then she holds up a rooster and slashes its throat, spraying blood all over Alfred before leaving. You just know PETA’s going to be all over that shit.

Wedding nights! It doesn’t take much imagination to guess how these go. William bursts into his bedroom, tossing his sword aside, and smiling lasciviously at his bride, who looks nervous and very, very young. At Aliena’s, Alfred seems to be having a bit of a problem. He tells her she’s like “making love to a corpse”. Thanks for that visual, Alfred. Aliena tries to play along and help him, but it’s no good. He rolls off of her and then, just for good measure, smacks her in the face. Aliena turns from him, crying. Over at Castle Creepy, William sleeps while his tiny bride weeps, wearing a tattered dress and beaten all to hell.

Now the other reason for William’s marriage: trapping the Archbishop. Regan meets him in a tower on the castle grounds and tells him she has a rather troubling confession to make, and she can’t make it to her regular confessor, Bishop Waleran. He invites her to unburden herself, and she tells him that Waleran has asked her to commit a murder. The Archbishop is scandalized, of course, and asks her who the intended victim is. She leans in real close and says “you” before throwing him over the railing. There are about 9,000 things wrong with this, to any out there who have read the book, but just based on what we’ve seen here, I find it a little hard to believe a woman Regan’s size could have gotten that guy up and over the railing like that. He’s not huge, but it still seems unlikely.

Jack’s all recovered and getting ready to hit the road. Ellen tearfully asks him where he plans to go, and he tells her he’s thinking France might be nice that time of year. He can look up some of his father’s family while he’s over there. He grabs the box of Tom’s tools just as Martha comes running up to them to beg Jack to take her with him. Ellen’s still under penalty of death, right? Is anyone actually looking for her? I’d think Waleran would, at least, considering his crazy vendetta against her. I only ask because, if Martha can find her that easily in the woods (and we already know Martha can’t keep a secret under close questioning, judging by how fast she told Philip about Tom being Jonathan’s father), then surely other people could find her out there too? Just a thought. Anyway, Ellen tells Martha Jack has to go alone, and she and the girl sadly watch him go.

At his palace, Waleran checks out the plans he had drawn up for the new bishop’s palace, then throws them on the fire, remarking that Canterbury’s a much nicer palace, and has the added benefit of already being built. You know what they say about counting chickens, Waleran…

In Kingsbridge, Martha hides Jack’s missing ring while Aliena wakes up on the floor next to the bed where Alfred is sleeping, her face bruised from where he hit her.

We fast forward eight months, and find out that not much has changed. Waleran’s still in his crappy palace, and Regan’s come to visit to complain that William still hasn’t been named Earl of Shiring, despite Waleran’s promises to get the job done. Waleran’s in a sour mood over not being named Archbishop yet, and tells her to just be patient, at which point she tells him she has been patient, and William draws his sword and levels it at Waleran’s throat. Waleran warns William he’d burn in hell for this, but Regan calmly reminds Waleran that he already forgave William for all his crimes. I think murdering a member of the clergy fell into a whole other category of sin back then, but ok, whatever helps you sleep at night, Regan. She tells William to go ahead and slit Waleran’s throat and Waleran quickly tells her he’ll talk to the king the following Sunday, when Stephen plans to visit Kingsbridge for the Cathedral’s dedication. Regan’s surprised to hear it’s finished, but apparently it isn’t, though it has been vaulted.

Over in Kingsbridge, Aliena’s wool business looks like it’s in full swing, and she’s sitting up in her bedroom, brushing her hair and wincing as the baby kicks. Yep, that’s right—Aliena’s got a giant pregnant belly on her. As she wraps an arm around it, Martha runs by and seems started at the sight of her pregnant sister-in-law, which seems a bit bizarre, since they’ve been living in the same house together all this time, but whatever. Aliena asks her not to tell Alfred, since he doesn’t know. Ellen’s impotence curse really did the trick, it seems.

Flags are waving all over the priory, and the entire town’s turned out for the cathedral’s dedication. The ceiling’s done, entirely in stone, as Alfred planned, although it looks like the front end of the cathedral’s still open to the elements. Aliena and other townsfolk take in the soaring ceiling and chat while Philip strolls through with Cuthbert, who says it’s a miracle this was all done on time. Philip uneasily tells him the work was rushed—the builders only took down the falsework that morning, but Cuthbert’s good humor won’t be quashed. As Philip goes to talk to someone, Cuthbert’s sister Kate finds and embraces him, asking if it’s too late to ask for forgiveness. She’s not looking too good at all. Her face is a mess. I thought at first that she’d been beaten up, since that seems to be a theme this hour, but then she mentions that it’s “eating her away” and we get that she’s finally paying the price for being a medieval prostitute. I’m guessing syphilis. Cuthbert holds her tightly as she tells him she wants to serve God, now, like Cuthbert.

Philip begins the mass, paying tribute to Stephen, Waleran (who’s now been named Archbishop of Canterbury), and Tom, which is sweet and also makes William really uneasy. Philip sits and Waleran takes over, announcing that William has been named Earl of Shiring. Regan leads the applause and others join in, and then everything slows down as we see little streams of mortar dust start to drift down from the ceiling, then see entire blocks of stone begin to jostle out of place far above the congregation. People start to notice as more dust falls, and then the ceiling breaks apart impressively, raining huge blocks of stone on the panicking people below. There were a couple of times the CGI here looked a little like a video game, but overall, it’s pretty well done. Philip grabs Stephen and Eustace and drags them up towards the altar, which seems safe, as Richard tries to lead Aliena to safety. People run, screaming, and are felled by stones. Richard goes down, and Aliena is suddenly buried under a falling beam and more stone. Philip, the monks, and Alfred watch the destruction from the altar in horror, Alfred bewildered as to how this could have gone so, so wrong. Man, Kingsbridge just can’t catch a break.

In the immediate aftermath of the disaster, the injured wail and are dragged, bloodied from the debris, along with the dead. Cuthbert cradles Kate’s head in his lap, stroking her lifeless face, telling God she came looking for mercy and this was his answer. Well, when you consider what a death from VD was like in those days, Cuthbert, a quick death from falling stone probably was mercy, actually. Alfred catches sight of Martha and asks her where Aliena is. She doesn’t know. Alfred starts to search for his wife as Philip and the other monks start to move the dead and Waleran melodramatically rips off his Archbishop’s cloak and leaves it puddled in the nave.

The confusion in the cathedral is momentarily stilled by the unmistakable sound of a baby wailing. Martha yells for help and Richard and Alfred join her, moving stones away to reveal Aliena lying on her back, cradling a red-headed newborn. Her family’s shocked, and Philip crosses himself. Alfred gets a closer look, sees the kid’s hair, spits “whore!” at her, and leaves. Aliena gives him look for look, refusing to be cowed.

The Kingsbridge monks have convened for a meeting with Walrean, who wearily asks how many have died. Seventy nine, Philip hollowly tells him. Now it’s time to play the blame game. Cuthbert blames Alfred for not doing the work properly, and Remigius blames Philip for making him rush the work. Everyone starts bickering and talking over one another until Waleran, completely over this, tells them to just shut up already. Waleran, of course, blames Philip, who tries to defend himself somewhat by saying there’ll be an investigation, and that Waleran’s successor can take action once the investigation is concluded. Except there will be no successor. Apparently Stephen took the collapse as a sign from God that Waleran was a crappy choice for Archbishop. Everyone looks at Philip like it’s his fault the king’s a flighty jerk. Philip apologizes sincerely, but Waleran doesn’t buy it. He orders Philip to resign as prior immediately. Philip tells him such a decision needs to be put to a vote.

At this point, Remigius feels the need to step in. He acknowledges that the vault might have collapsed because it was improperly built, but there may also have been a divine reason as well. He points out that the statue of St. Adolphus and the skull it was carrying were crushed, and says that the vault fell on Philip’s deception. Remember how Philip grabbed a random skull from the catacombs after the original skull was destroyed in the fire? That’s just come back to bite him in the ass big time. Philip, of course, fesses up right away, and Cuthbert, who you’ll recall encouraged Philip to replace the skull in the first place, flinches.

Waleran starts to circle Philip, accusing him of replacing the skull, which brought in the money which built the cathedral that collapsed on the people and killed 79, including, as Waleran is kind enough to point out, Cuthbert’s sister the whore. His words, not mine. Cuthbert tells him she’d come to be shriven, but she didn’t make it in time. Since she hadn’t confessed and done penance, she’ll be buried in unconsecrated ground and will burn in hell for all eternity, and it’s all Philip’s fault! The other monks stare at Philip like they’re starting to actually believe this.

Alfred’s kicking Aliena out of the house, running around and stuffing her things into a satchel as the baby wails and tossing them all out into the street. Aliena lands in a kneeling position as the door slams, and then opens a second later so Alfred can scream at her about sleeping with Jack. She tries to appease him by saying, first, that it was before she and Alfred were married, and that sleeping with Jack was a terrible sin and she begs God and Alfred for forgiveness. Alfred gets right in her face and calls her a whore and a liar who’s made him a cuckold and a fool, and at that point, Aliena’s done. She gets to her feet, her tears drying, picks up her satchel, and tells Alfred that having sex with Jack was also the best thing ever, and with one glance at her child and one last look at him, she walks away.

She heads for Ellen’s, so I’m guessing that whole curse that led to eight months of misery is all forgiven now. Ellen herself meets Aliena about halfway, and of course she tells Aliena she’ll stay with her, and then asks to see the baby. “Well, there’s no doubt he’s Jack’s,” she says a little nonsensically, even though she can’t see the kid’s hair and he looks like every other newborn. Aliena tells Ellen the baby’s small but tough, and Ellen happily says he’s like his grandmother, then. She then gets serious and tells Aliena she has to go find Jack, because the baby needs a father. Aliena asks where he is, and finds out he’s in France, which is a bit vague when you’re looking for a single person. Ellen asks if Aliena loves him, and when Aliena answers in the affirmative, Ellen tells her that she’ll be able to find him. Ellen, love isn’t a compass. Just being in love with someone doesn’t lead you directly to them. Not helpful. Plus, what about your vow, Aliena? The speed with which this girl changes her mind on important issues is dizzying sometimes.

At the priory, the monks are having their vote. Remigius grins evilly (seriously, this guy’s like a Disney villain. Or like Rasputin from Anastasia) as even Cuthbert raises a hand to vote against Philip. Et tu, Cuthbert? Remigius takes his place at the lectern to start the service as, in Winchester, Stephen invests William with the title of Earl. Philip hands over his keys and rooms to Remigius who settles right in, and Alfred prays fervently amongst the fallen stones while Waleran removes a cilice from around his leg and picks up a knife. All we see are drops of blood dripping onto the floor, so God knows what he was doing with that. In the woods, Ellen bids Aliena and the baby goodbye. And on a road somewhere in France, Jack rides towards Saint Denis in a cart. He finally reaches the half-built cathedral and gazes up at the façade in wonder. They really were doing some incredible things with cathedrals in France at this time. The façade of Saint Denis is covered in carvings of all types—designs decorate every door and window, and statues sit in niches all over. It’s like Jack’s wet dream. He steps inside, where carvers are hard at work on more gargoyles and statuary, and he looks up at—wait for it—a stone vault. Which isn’t falling down but seems instead to float above the huge, airy, open space, beautifully lit by the enormous windows. Jack gets a look on his face that says at once that this is one of the most amazing things he’s ever seen, and that he can totally do this, too. I can’t wait until he gets back to Kingsbridge.

I need to go rest up—two hour finale next week!

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3 thoughts on “Pillars of the Earth: Witchcraft

  1. Wow, that is one impressive recap / review! Just discovered your blog now, it’s a veritable treasure-trove of recaps of all my favourite shows! Very well done and thank you! 🙂

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