Previously on The Tudors: Henry married Katherine Parr and left her in charge while he went off to fight a war in France. There, Charles acquired a comely French prisoner, and Henry’s army was soon decimated by disease.
In France, the bodies of the dysentery dead are piling up so fast they’re now being tossed in a mass grave and covered with lime. So, it’s going to be one of those fun episodes, is it? Oh, and apparently there’s no food to be had for miles around, either. Still, the assaults on the city continue, as does the tunnel digging. Harry and the others continue to swing their pickaxes, almost causing a collapse at one point. Fortunately, the supports hold. Harry tells one of his coworkers the castle is still a good 300 feet away. It’s going to be a long week.
The surgeon general tells Henry that 2000 men have died of dysentery already, and a further 3000 are sick with it. He suggests Henry send the sick men back home so they don’t infect the well, but Henry’s not willing to take ships away from his blockade. The surgeon seriously tells him that if the siege continues, a good portion of the army will be dead.
Henry, as is his way, starts screaming and throwing a tantrum, accusing the men of being sick from cowardice, not the flux. Come again, Henry? He orders the surgeon to get the sick men out of their beds and back into their trench, or he’ll hang them all. Wow, he’s really going off the rails, isn’t he? Putting a cherry on the sundae of insanity, Henry yells after the departing surgeon to tell him the truth in future. Ohhhkaaaay. Charles, standing nearby going over some maps, looks up at Henry like he’s gone completely lunatic, which he has.
In London, Gardiner sweeps into Katherine’s room for an audience. He asks if there’s news of Henry and she tells him Henry’s doing well. He goes on to inform her they’ve rooted out some more heretics in the royal household. He’s drafted an indictment; all he requires is her signature. Katherine smartly sidesteps the matter by telling Gardiner she can’t contemplate arresting people so close to the king without consulting him first. Furthermore, she plans to invite little Edward to stay with her, as there’s an outbreak of plague near Windsor. Gardiner, a little pissed at having been outplayed, bows and leaves.
Brigitte, Charles’s pretty prisoner, is brought to his tent, where she finds her father, back up on his feet. She embraces him happily and he reassures her he’s doing well. Charles interrupts to tell her that, in return for her cooperation, he’s decided to allow her father to escape. Her cooperation doesn’t mean quite what you’d think at first—he just wants her to promise not to try and escape herself. Brigitte’s father doesn’t want to leave without her (understandable), but she insists. A little regretfully, Charles tells the man he has to leave right away. He and Brigitte embrace again, tearfully, and he asks Charles to treat her well. Charles promises and orders a soldier to lead the man to the edge of the camp.
The next day, Harry emerges from his tunnel as Richard passes by. Richard hands him some food, saying Harry needs it more than Richard does. Harry eagerly eats the pathetic morsel like it’s the best thing he’s ever had.
From that sad spectacle we head over to Henry’s tent, where the camera lingers on plates piled high with fruits. Dick. Henry’s having a lunch party to welcome Seymour, who’s come over to see how things are going. Seymour tells Henry Katherine’s doing well as regent and that Edward’s strong and healthy. There is one problem, though: the Emperor’s succeeded in both his sieges, while Henry sits on this one city. Henry blames Treviso for taking too long and complains that siege warfare makes the troops soft. His cure for that is to explode one of the charges under the castle early, presumably killing the men in the tunnel, to see how the troops react in a sudden crisis. Jesus, Henry! Charles’s WTF face is priceless here. Treviso begs him not to do that, because, you know, these are actual human beings we’re dealing with. He asks for two days to finish his work.
Brigitte’s back in her supply tent, tucking into some bread and cheese as Charles paces, deep in thought. She realizes she’s eating his food (didn’t he just eat at that lunch?) and he asks again what the people in the town are eating. This time she’s honest: they’re eating their pets. Yummy. I’d never eat my dogs. I’m pretty sure they’d be stringy.
Brigitte asks him why he let her father go and Charles says the man had no useful information. She points out that she doesn’t either, and yet he keeps her prisoner. Fair point. He has no response for that.
Katherine goes to visit Mary in her rooms, where Mary proudly shows her stepmother her translations of Erasmus’s Gospel of St. John. Mary’s dedicating it to Katherine, since she knows how much their faith matters to Katherine. Has Gardiner gotten to Mary? Katherine accepts the translation, thanking her sincerely, and the two ladies sit by the fire. Katherine tells her how happy she is to have all the children together, just as Edward and Elizabeth come dashing in, trailed by Lady Bryan. Katherine calls Edward over and tells him, sweetly, that he’s gotten big enough to leave Lady Bryan and be placed with his tutors and other well-born boys full-time. Edward accepts this and heads off to bed, accompanied by Mary, and Katherine hugs Elizabeth before sending her off to bed as well. As Elizabeth leaves, Katherine calls back Elizabeth’s governess, Kat Ashley. Katherine tells Kat that she knows Anne Boleyn was a Protestant, and she believes it’s her duty to bring Elizabeth up in her mother’s faith. Kat, a Protestant herself, is happy to hear it, so Katherine tells her she’ll be appointing Robert Ascham, another Protestant, Elizabeth’s tutor.
In France, the men are still suffering mightily from “cowardice.” Charles takes in the sight as he rides through the camp, past carts piled high with bodies. That night, he lies awake in his bed, deep in thought until he’s startled by Brigitte, who confesses she managed to escape, but she came back. She notices he has blood on his head and gently washes it off. After a brief but charged moment, Charles pulls her close and kisses her, and within seconds they’re having sex. Ok. A little disappointing, to be honest—I would have liked at least some kind of buildup to this. A few more scenes that actually showed them getting closer. This came out of nowhere.
The following day, Charles and Seymour join Henry on his observation tower, where they look out over the trashed town.
In the tunnels, Treviso thanks all the men who worked with him for everything they’ve done. He goes around and hugs each and every exhausted man, then sends them out so he can light the fuse and blow this town to kingdom come. Harry and another man remain behind to help light the fuse. They set the fuses and haul ass to the exit.
In the observation tower, Henry whines about the whole thing taking too long and accuses Treviso of lying to him. Surrey, who’s joined them, advises patience.
Treviso and the men don’t run fast enough, and I think he and Harry get caught in some collapsing rubble. A premature explosion collapses the supports at the entrance to the tunnel, and some of the other miners leap forward to clear the rubble away to get the men out.
The rest of the explosives, meanwhile, do their work, and it’s pretty impressive. First a tower, then an entire section of wall crumble like dust. Props to the SFX department for this part. Richard stands to cheer the downfall of the town and immediately takes an arrow to the throat. Oh. Well. Didn’t really see that coming.
Rescuers, meanwhile, pull Harry out of the rubble of the tunnel. He tearfully tells them there’s no one else alive in the tunnel.
The soldiers cheer and celebrate their victory and prepare to take the city.
Katherine reads word of Henry’s triumph with a smile on her face. She calls the children in to share the news.
Henry sits underneath a canopy of estate outside Boulogne as French officials approach to hand over the keys to the city. The governor, looking beaten and wrecked, holds the keys out to Charles and asks Henry to allow the unarmed soldiers and townspeople to leave unmolested. Henry allows it, but can’t resist being a jerk by telling the governor that he and his men withheld a town that was always rightfully his. The governor swallows hard, no doubt holding back about a thousand responses to that stupid statement, and tells Henry he’s captured one of the most beautiful towns in France. Well, it was before Henry got there.
Later, Henry and his boys are celebrating their victory with a party, and Surrey’s making fun of the defeated French and the hardships they endured. Henry goes to Seymour and asks him if it wasn’t awesome how they just took the town? Seymour lays it on thick, telling Henry his name will live on alongside Henry V’s, blah, blah, asskisscakes. Henry laps it up and wanders off to propose a toast to war and victory. Yeah, the first is much better with the second, isn’t it?
Henry calls Charles over and thanks him for distinguishing himself in the campaign. Charles asks if they’ll be marching on Paris next, but Henry says no, because he’s actually become sane and realizes it’s a poor idea to march on Paris with half an army filled with sick soldiers. They’re heading home, leaving Surrey in command of the town. Charles isn’t keen on leaving Surrey in charge, but he accepts it. What else is he going to do?
Young Harry, who defied my expectations and actually survived, somehow manages to find Richard’s unmarked grave so he can drive a cross into it and lay a wildflower on it. Awww. For some reason, he whispers an apology to Richard. What are you sorry for, Harry? You didn’t shoot the guy.
Brigitte, meanwhile, is packing up and finding out from Charles that she’s free to go and he didn’t even ask for a ransom for her. Fishing, she asks if he doesn’t think she’s worth anything. He responds with the horribly cheesy and predictable line, “you are worth everything.” Excuse me while I go vomit. Charles asks her to come to England with him and tells her, in French, that he loves her. Apparently that’s all it takes for her to agree to ditch the father she was supposed to love so much and go off and be Charles’s mistress, because she kisses him and agrees.
Dover. Henry and his troops are met by Katherine, her ladies, and the council. Henry bows to Katherine, who actually looks quite happy to see him. She kisses his hand and tearfully welcomes him home. Henry kisses her passionately, and then nods a greeting to the others, who include a glowering Gardiner. What a sourpuss that guy is.
Back in London, the whole court’s gathered for a celebration. The keys to Boulogne are carried in by a soldier, who’s followed by Henry, Katherine, Mary, and Elizabeth in procession. Gardiner watches the proceedings and remarks to Rich and Risley that the war, though successful, has bankrupted the country so badly Rich isn’t sure how they’re going to run it for more than three months. Damn. That’s pretty serious. In addition, they’re now at war in Scotland and the pope hates them. Risley growls that even the queen is a heretic, and Gardiner says it’ll be God’s work to destroy her. Forgive me if I’m wrong or forgetting something here, but isn’t Rich a Protestant? Wasn’t he all tight with Cromwell and worried about the very Catholic direction the new Church of England was going? Why is he suddenly in the “bring down heretic Katherine” camp?
Later, Henry’s enthroned in his throne room with Katherine beside him as Chapuys approaches. The poor man now needs two canes just to walk, but still Henry the dick makes him bow low, even though Katherine gives Henry a pointed “we can dispense with this under the circumstances, can’t we?” look. Chapuys manages his bow and informs Henry that he’s asked to be recalled to Spain, since he’s so ill and gouty now. He’s just waiting for the Emperor to approve the move. He turns to Katherine and thanks her for being a good queen and for fostering the friendship between England and Spain. She accepts graciously and intelligently, as always, and then Henry busts up the lovefest by limping down from the dais and asking Chapuys if it’s true the Emperor’s signed a separate treaty with the French. Chapuys admits it is, because the Emperor stretched himself too thin attacking Luxembourg. Henry complains that the Emperor still shouldn’t have done it behind Henry’s back, and in this case, he’s kind of right. Even Chapuys acknowledges that. Henry tells him he should be relieved not to have to lie on the Emperor’s behalf anymore, and I’m sure Chapuys really, really is. Henry gives him permission to leave court and insincerely wishes him a long and happy retirement. Chapuys turns and, with difficulty, makes his way out of the throne room.
Charles and Brigitte are getting comfortable in his rooms, where he’s given her his wife’s clothes to wear, which is more than a little creepy, considering Brigitte does look quite a bit like Duchess Kate. Brigitte asks how Charles would describe Duchess Kate and he rather dumbly responds that he’d describe her as his wife. Come on, Charles, she’s a bit more than that, and you know it! Equally dumbly, Brigitte asks when she’ll meet Duchess Kate. Yeah, that’ll happen. Turns out she doesn’t want to meet her anyway, though she does want to meet Charles’s son, who is now named Henry, even though his name has previously been established as Edward. Consistency, show! Charles gets quiet and then tells her that he used to be dead, but now he’s alive again. She responds to that like any good mistress: by stripping. To her credit, she does get kind of cutely bashful and insecure when she does it, which seems like a more human response than this show usually presents.
Mary’s tearfully begging Chapuys to stay, but he tells her he’s in a pretty bad way, and anyway, she’s got Katherine to look out for her interests now. Mary knows Katherine’s not a Catholic, though, and doesn’t fully trust her. Mary’s acting pretty childishly here, even though she was in her 20’s and should have known better by now. Chapuys is endlessly patient with her, and she finally gets around to promising to make England Catholic again, if she ever makes it to the throne. Chapuys goes to her and embraces her sweetly, in a fatherly way, and I am SO glad the show resisted any impulse to make their relationship anything other than paternal and filial. It works so much better this way. As a parting gift, he gives her a ring that once belonged to her mother.
In his study, Henry receives the news from Seymour that the Emperor’s marrying his daughter to the French king’s son, and that the dauphin of France is preparing to march on Boulogne and retake it from the English. Henry tells Seymour he wants lots of parties to celebrate their recent victory. Denial is, as always, Henry’s friend. Seymour bows and goes to do his boss’s bidding. Henry picks up the keys to the city for a moment, but then his face contorts in pain, and he collapses before he can make it to a chair.