Previously on the Tudors: Henry flirted with and then fantasized about Anne, the Emperor came to visit and meet his future wife, Princess Mary, Henry made Brandon a duke so he could escort Henry’s sister Margaret to Portugal to marry their aged king, and Wolsey sent the king’s secretary to the Tower for supposedly spying for the French.
Margaret, Brandon, and other courtiers are waiting in an antechamber when Henry’s announced. She curtsies a bit stiffly, obviously not happy. Henry tells her to be a good little wife, now, and she hugs him tightly and tells him to remember his promise (to let her marry whomever she chooses the next time around). She moves aside, and Henry tells Brandon to take care of her. Brandon promises he’ll look after her as he would his own sister, and Margaret sniffs. Henry sends everyone off with a blessing and a prayer.
More has returned from his trip to Rome and reports that Henry’s Luther-condemning pamphlet received rave reviews from the Vatican. In fact, the Pope was so taken with it that he’s going to grant Henry the title Defender of the Faith, not realizing how ironic that’s going to become in a few years. More goes on to tell Henry that Luther himself has responded to Henry’s pamphlet, although More’s a bit reluctant to actually tell Henry what Luther had to say. When Henry insists, More tells him Luther claimed Henry was raving like “a strumpet in a tantrum.” Considering Henry’s utter lack of respect for Luther, I kind of expected him to laugh that off, but of course he doesn’t, instead exploding, yelling, and throwing Luther’s reply in the fire like, well, a strumpet in a tantrum. He tells More Luther should be burned and stomps off. Very mature.
On a large vessel moored off the coast, Brandon’s showing bitchy Margaret her quarters. She, of course, is blasé about it, until he mentions that if there’s any “action” the furniture will be removed. No, not the kind of action you’re thinking of—Brandon’s thinking of an actual attack on the ship. Margaret thinks she and her ladies are more at risk from the men on board than the men at sea, but Brandon refuses to take the bait and just bows and leaves.
Henry meets Katherine and her ladies to attend mass. As he escorts his wife to her seat, he subtly checks out Anne Boleyn, who’s wearing an insane veil that’s beaded like a disco ball. Very appropriate for church Anne. Henry checks her out again as the mass begins, but she refuses to meet his eye.
Later, Henry’s hanging out in one of his rooms when a servant enters and announces “Lady Anne…Clifford.” Ha! Henry gets all excited for a second, but then drops back into his seat when he hears the last name. A lady-in-waiting enters with a velvet pouch and a sealed letter, both of which she lays on the table in front of Henry before withdrawing. Henry opens the pouch and reveals the four brooches be bought for Anne in the last episode. The letter politely thanks him for the gifts but goes on to say that she doesn’t deserve them, since she’s “nothing”. She reads the letter aloud in voiceover, as we watch her sitting slumped impossibly in a carriage (trust me, corsets from that period don’t allow slumping) wearing a short-sleeved dress that didn’t at all exist back then, and looking like a petulant teenager on a boring road trip. Anyway, she tells him to give the brooches to a lady more deserving, and that she’s heading up to Hever for a while. Henry marvels over the letter, crumples it up and buries his face in it like it’s her panties or something.
At the Tower of London, the warden enters Pace’s cell and tells him he’s about to be released. And I’m guessing the reason for that is that clearly Pace has gone way ‘round the bend. The warden’s words don’t seem to compute at all; he keeps repeating that he doesn’t know anything, that he told his wife he doesn’t know anything. His dead wife. Who he thinks is now asleep on the empty bed in front of him. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again. Poor, Poor Pace. Even the warden seems to pity him a little, and you’ve got to figure he’s a pretty hardened guy, considering all he’s seen.
James Frain! Woo hoo! Cromwell has arrived! In his first appearance, he’s boredly organizing papers when Wolsey walks in and tells him he’s been doing rather well, and that Wolsey’s impressed. Cromwell accepts the praise modestly. Wolsey mentions that both of them came from the bottom and worked their way up, which apparently makes him feel something of a kinship with young Cromwell. Wolsey sweeps into an adjoining room, where Henry is waiting for him, and reminds Henry that, under the terms of the treaty with the emperor, they need to provide military support for the emperor’s little hobby war with the French. But if England’s going to hold up their end of the bargain, they’re going to have to raise taxes, a proposition which will be put to Parliament at the next session.
“Good,” says Henry, who, of course, doesn’t have to pay these taxes. Wolsey’s fairly confident the measure will pass, and Henry, seeming distracted, says he’s sure Wolsey will be able to ensure the passage. Wolsey muses aloud that at least the alliance with the emperor is popular, although he’s not entirely sure why. Because the emperor’s not French, Henry points out.
Switching to a new subject, Wolsey tells Henry that the new warship he wanted so very, very badly is being built, but of course at this point, Henry doesn’t really want the toy, so Wolsey dangles a new one in front of him in the form of a new visitor at court: Princess Marguerite of Navarre. I’m going to hope it was just laziness that made the writers give this woman the French version of his sister Margaret’s name and not something weirder or creepier.
Henry’s over this meeting—he’s not even all that into the suggestion that Princess Marguerite is an easy lay. He heads out, and Wolsey calls after him that he intends to appoint a new secretary for Henry, to replace the unfortunate Mr. Pace. Whatever, says Henry, already out the door.
It’s a dark and stormy night at sea, and Margaret and her ladies are having trouble sleeping with the men in the room next door talking loudly and rather bawdily. Margaret peeks through a hole in the wall and spies on them playing cards, especially Brandon, and really, who can blame her? Henry Cavill’s got a great smile, on top of everything else.
In London, a banquet is in full swing, and Wolsey is presenting Princess Marguerite to Henry. She suggestively and rather obviously tells him her husband, regrettably, had to stay behind in Navarre. Henry flirts just as subtly, telling him she really should enjoy some pleasures while she’s there. Do I even need to mention that she’s a pretty well endowed woman and the top couple of buttons on her dress are undone?
As she moves away, Thomas Boleyn joins Norfolk at a table to share some news: the Bishop of Winchester, who was enormously rich, has died and Wolsey is to appoint his successor. Rather than go through the dull and onerous prospect of posting the job on ChristList or whatever and then interviewing candidates, Wolsey went ahead and just appointed himself, thus absorbing the bishophric’s wealth. But apparently all that money isn’t enough—Wolsey’s been embezzling from the royal fund to endow his new college at Oxford and his new foundation. Norfolk’s all worked up and wants to tell the king right away, but Boleyn’s a bit smarter than that and points out that Wolsey’s so tight with Henry at this point that any evidence they bring against him Henry won’t believe. They have to wait until Wolsey’s position gets more precarious.
More enters the room and is happily greeted by Henry, who begs him to stay. Apparently, he hasn’t been around for a while. Henry even offers More one of the Douchebag Cronies’ rooms. Heh. It’s not the rooms, though, it’s the lack of his family that bugs More. Henry says he knows and then goes to talk to someone else. The Douchebag Cronies—Knivert and Compton—take the opportunity to have a chat with More. Knivert reminds More that Henry holds him in very high regard. More knows, but he also knows that Henry’s a bit of a sociopath: if More’s head would win Henry a castle in Spain, More has no doubt Henry would chop it off in a second. Knivert looks a little disturbed by that.
Henry moves on to Wyatt, poet and former lover of Anne Boleyn, who scrambles to his feet to bow to the king. Henry compliments him on his poetry, and then gets in really close to whisper in Wyatt’s ear. He asks him how well he knows Anne, and Wyatt falls all over himself trying to deny he knows her at all, despite the fact that Wolsey told Henry they were once engaged. I’m not sure what Jonathan Rhys Myers was thinking here, but his acting is coming across less fierce and menacing, which I think would have been appropriate, and more homoerotic, to be honest. It’s like he wants Wyatt more than he wants Anne. He asks Wyatt if he loved Anne, and Wyatt finally gets his feet under him and feeds Henry a lot of BS about how Anne’s so lovely every man should love her, and so Wyatt did, from a distance. And besides, he has a wife! Henry seems somewhat satisfied with this and sexily hisses for Wyatt to enjoy the feast.
Hey, Tallis has tamed the bird’s nest! A little. He’s off in a corner composing something when a pair of ladies in matching dresses decide to go all groupie on him and start telling him how much they looooove his music. Tallis thanks them, a little nervously, like he doesn’t really know what to do with girls yet, so one of them takes control and asks if he wants to go bang them. She’s really not any more subtle than I was just now. Classy. And it doesn’t get results—Tallis tells them he needs to finish the song. The two ladies move off, and Compton comes by just long enough to give Tallis a lingering look before rejoining Henry and Knivert up at the head table. Henry asks him what he thought of Princess Marguerite, and I’m starting to suspect Henry’s asking the wrong guy, here. However, Compton plays along, checks her out, raises a glass to her, and tells Henry she’s well built, though a bit “heavy in the top deck” for my taste. Yeah, I’ll bet. Henry reminds them all she’s Francis’s sister. So, why is she here, then? Isn’t France pretty mad at England these days?
The idea of nailing Francis’s sister apparently appeals to Henry, because we next cut to two extremely bored servants sitting outside Henry’s room as he has sex with her. To pass the time, the two men begin to imitate the royal lovers, and it’s actually pretty funny. “Ohh, Henri,” one croons as we hear Marguerite, inside, yell “Oui! Oui! Oui!” “C’est fini,” one of them says as soon as both Henry and Marguerite climax. Hee hee!
On the neverending journey, Princess Margaret is spying on Brandon again, as he strips off his shirt and goes to bed. She jerks away from the crack in the wall she’s been spying through, and they use the exact same footage of her doing that that was used when she spied on him the last time. Sloppy and lazy, people.
A messenger from the Emperor arrives at court to tell Henry that the emperor’s won a great victory against the French. Bizarrely, Henry asks: “What are you saying?” Um, I think he’s saying the emperor’s kicking some ass, Henry. Did you somehow miss that? It was not ambiguous. The messenger tells Henry the emperor’s army totally overran the French and vanquished them. Still not making a lick of sense, Henry asks him if this is true. No, Henry, he’s just randomly making it up as he goes along. What’s your deal? Are you drugged? Are you so distracted by thoughts of Anne Boleyn you can’t even engaged properly in the real world with actual people anymore? I feel like these two characters are engaging in entirely different conversations.
Oh, but there’s more. King Francis himself was taken prisoner. Henry’s delighted to hear that, tells the messenger he’s totally welcome at court now, and orders a big party, as he always does.
He also, presumably, orders a tournament, because that’s where we head next, to watch Knivert defeat his opponent and receive congratulations from Compton. Henry takes the field next, wearing absurdly light armor, presumably because JRM couldn’t handle the weight of an actual full suit. As Henry collects his favor from Katherine, Wolsey remarks to More that she’s very popular with the people. More reminds him that she is the daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella, although why the regular people of England should care about that, I don’t know. I think that was just a clumsy way of reminding the audience who she was. The reason why people liked Katherine was because she was demure, devout, and heavy on the charitable giving, as queens were supposed to be at the time.
Compton is going to ride against the king, which seems like a poor idea—we know enough about Henry now to know he’s probably going to be a fairly sore loser. As the men line up, More observes that Wosley seems to be in a crappy mood, and Wolsey acknowledges it but tells him not to worry about it. More waxes philosophical and says that pain is good—it’s the only way to get to heaven, after all. I’m not sure how he got onto this subject, and judging from Wolsey’s eye roll and withering look, he’s not sure either.
Henry and Compton charge, meet, and Henry strikes, winning a point. On the sidelines, Katherine addresses the emperor’s messenger, telling him not to look at her as she speaks, but to deliver a letter from herself to the emperor, without breathing a word to anyone. The messenger nods once and takes the letter. Henry and Compton charge again, and Henry scores again.
At Hever, Anne’s reading a letter from Henry out loud to her brother, George. Henry’s upset she wouldn’t accept the brooches, and writes how much he lurves her and wants to find a place in her heart. At this last bit, George jumps up and asks to see the letter. Anne holds it out of his reach for just a moment before forking it over. George seems impressed by what he sees in the letter and reads Henry’s claim of sending another gift. He asks where said gift is, and Anne pushes back her hair to reveal quite a lovely necklace. George is even more impressed by this.
Back at the tournament, Compton decides to joust with a giant log, for some reason. The look on Cromwell’s face suggests he thinks this is totally stupid, but everyone else thinks it’s hilarious. On the sidelines, Norfolk asks Boleyn when he plans to bring Anne back to court. Soon, Boleyn answers, now the king’s appetite is whetted. Both men grin lasciviously in the creepiest way, happily imagining the king nailing their niece/daughter.
Compton finally manages to ride over to the king with his giant log. Henry asks what he’s doing, and Compton tells him it was just a trick, handing off the log to a nearby attendant. Henry laughs, and they take their places, but as they gallop towards each other, everyone except, apparently, Henry, realizes the king has neglected to lower his visor, leaving his face unprotected from splintering lances, which is really, really stupid. And unlikely—how could he have not noticed the visor was up? The spectators call for the two men to stop, but they don’t, presumably because Compton wants to kill Henry, and Henry takes one to the face. He’s pulled off his horse, screaming in pain, but he doesn’t appear to be hurt badly. Lucky him—a later French king died in a similar manner. Splinters of the lance went through his eye and he basically died of a brain infection days later. Ick. Henry’s all ready to go again, because he’s suicidal, maybe? Actually, I’m guessing it’s because he thinks he’s invulnerable. Katherine begs him not to, but Henry’s raring to go and mounts back up, ordering Knivert to face him. The spectators cheer for their stupid king, who gallops up and down the arena for a little while to prove he’s ok, then charges Knivert, landing a blow that knocks Knivert right off his horse.
It’s not looking good for Knivert—blood’s coming out of his helmet. Henry dismounts and rushes to his friend’s side.
Ok, seriously, I know travel was slow back then, but how long did it take to go from England to Portugal? They’re not that far apart, geographically. Anyway, Margaret’s still on her ship, now playing solitaire with a couple of ladies in attendance when Brandon’s shown in. She asks him when they expect to land—two days, he tells her. She invites him to stay and play cards with her, getting a bit flirty, which Brandon likes, of course. She’s much friendlier now she’s seen him shirtless, I notice. Not that I blame her.
Brandon picks the wrong conversational topic by saying that she must be looking forward to her wedding. Seriously, Charles? Are you just being a douche here, or are you that clueless? Margaret’s face freezes, but Charles plows on, telling her he heard the king was a good horseman “in his day,” and that he’s famous for his beautiful mistresses. Oh, he’s being a douche, then. Margaret snaps for him to stop teasing her, and he asks if she likes when an old man tries to make love to her. No, Charles, I’m sure she doesn’t, but she had no choice in the matter, so rubbing salt in the wound like this is just making you into kind of an asshole.
They banter back and forth a bit, and Margaret ends up dismissing her two attendants. Charles gets a look on his face like he knows what’s coming, because he’s just that hot—every woman wants to sleep with him. She tells him she wants him to leave, but not very convincingly, since she leans over him and practically thrusts her boobs into his face as she does so. Naturally, instead of leaving, he kisses her, and pretty soon he’s, well, invading Portugal, if you will. Enthusiastically. And, strangely, fully dressed.
Unaware of his sister’s seagoing adventures, Henry strolls the palace corridors with Wolsey and tells him to send a message to the emperor, congratulating him for whupping the French, and asking him what he plans to do with Francis and whether he thinks, as Henry does, that this would be a great time to invade France itself. Wolsey agrees, just as they reach a knot of courtiers whom Cromwell’s chatting with. Cromwell turns towards Wolsey and the king as Wolsey introduces him to Henry as Henry’s new secretary. Wosley gives Henry Cromwell’s whole resume, but Henry, predictably, is bored and not paying attention, because he’s too busy checking out Anne Boleyn, who’s hanging out with some ladies nearby. Henry barely acknowledges Cromwell before heading Anne’s way and whispering that he’s glad to see her back at court. He moves smoothly past her on his way to Katherine and little Mary, who greets him in French. He kisses her before handing her off to a nursemaid and taking Katherine’s hand to escort her into the throne room. As they walk, Katherine asks her husband why Wolsey opens her letters, pointing out that she’s queen, after all, and should get just a little privacy. Henry promises to put a stop to the snooping and they take their seats. As he watches Anne talk with her brother across the room, Henry tells Katherine that Wolsey can be a bit overzealous—unless his zeal is warranted by her keeping secrets. She looks at him sharply but makes no reply.
Apparently Knivert survived his wounds—he’s announced and enters the room to be knighted. I guess that’s what you get for almost losing an eye to the king. It’s no dukedom, but it’s a start, I guess. Poor Compton must be really pissed now. Oh, wait, maybe not. Compton’s announced next. Knivert gets his knickers in a twist over Compton getting the same reward that he did when he wasn’t injured at all, but Henry points out that Knivert didn’t carry a tree. Seriously, Henry? That’s what you reward with knighthoods, now, stupid, pointless stunts? No wonder he went bankrupt—what a moron.
Elsewhere—presumably somewhere far, far away from Thomas More—a group of black-clad Protestants are meeting, and one of them is preaching that, not only is the pope not a descendent of St. Peter, he’s in fact totally evil. As the speaker paces the room, we see that one of the men in attendance is Cromwell. The speaker goes deep into some purple prose to express his hope that England will someday be a Protestant stronghold. Those in attendance nod in agreement.
Henry’s now pacing the palace corridors alone, and he turns a corner and comes face-to-face with Anne. I’m guessing this was a prearranged meeting, because neither seems surprised to have met like this. He takes her hand and tells her how much he wants her before grabbing her by the throat and demanding to know who she was speaking with earlier in the throne room. The hell? Why has Henry suddenly turned into an abusive boyfriend with this woman? Does he think that gets results? Well, actually, I guess in this case it will, but only because he’s king. Still—ick. Anne, who seems bizarrely and horribly turned on by this, reassures him she was just talking to her brother, and he eases up his grip on her throat before kissing her. I’m sorry, baby, I didn’t mean it. They hear Compton and Knivert approaching and she bolts as the two men round the corner and ask who she was. I’m surprised Henry didn’t just rescind their knighthoods right here. Instead, he tells them it was just a girl.
The neverending journey has finally ended—Margaret’s anchored at the coast of Portugal. Margaret’s staring sullenly out the windows of her cabin when Charles enters and mentions the king must be looking forward to meeting her. Well, he starts to, but Margaret cuts him off. She doesn’t want to think about it. He puts a comforting hand on her shoulder as she wonders aloud what she’s going to do.
What she’s going to do is take herself to the Royal palace at Lisbon, where she arrives all dolled up and accompanied by Brandon and her other attendants. The elderly king, sitting on his dais, gives a nearby courtier an approving look before rising to greet her. Margaret is stunned by the sight of the old man with the cane, but she manages to curtsey properly as he makes his way towards her, complimenting her in Portuguese, which, of course, she doesn’t understand. What he’s actually saying is pretty nice—I want you to be happy, everything here is at your disposal—but the way he’s saying it is a bit harsh and sounds threatening, so it’s no wonder she looks cowed and confused and keeps glancing at Charles, who can’t help her at all, as the king slowly circles her. He gets right in her face when he mentions that he hopes they’ll have lots and lots of kids, and I think she understands him there, because she looks totally horrified and then faints. Brandon, of course, is the one who catches her.
We cut from that unpleasant scene to a much happier one of Anne and other courtiers dancing in London as Henry and Katherine watch. Anne, smart girl, is dancing with her brother, but she does bestow a smile or two, and quite a few smoldering looks, on Henry, who applauds her enthusiastically as his wife looks on.
Margaret’s recovered, and it’s now her wedding day. Brandon’s giving her away, and he pats her hand as they walk down the aisle towards the king. She asks Brandon what he’s doing, and he answers that he’s doing what the king commanded him to do. Bros before hos, hun. They reach the king, who lifts her veil and takes her hand, half dragging her to the altar. Margaret looks like she wants to die and Charles looks mildly put out. The king grins creepily, no doubt thinking past the ceremony to the wedding night ahead.
Contrasting with this loveless union is Henry’s passion for Anne, as he sits down to write a letter to her, insisting he can’t sleep or breathe for thinking of her, he’d sacrifice his kingdom for an hour with her…think Twilight, but replace Edward and Bella with Henry and Anne and you get the idea. Anyway, Anne reads this and looks pleased before handing off the letter to her father.
Margaret’s ladies prepare the poor bride for her wedding night. She climbs into bed, holding the covers up to her chin, as the members of the Portuguese court crowd in, staring at her. She’s pretty rightly grossed out by that, and that only gets worse when the king climbs into bed with her, with some difficulty. A clergyman waves incense over the bed, blessing them, and the curtains are pulled around them. The gathered courtiers listen to the sounds of Margaret gasping and the king straining. At last, a long groan indicates he’s done, and the curtains are pulled back. It looks like the king’s having a heart attack, but nobody cares as the clergyman asks if the king…Margaret nods and everyone applauds. She can’t believe this is her life now.
Accompanied by several guards, Compton, and Knivert, Henry’s out for a ride. They come to a small boggy area and Compton says they’ll have to go around, since they can’t jump it, although they’re on higher ground and it doesn’t look that big, so the horses should be able to handle it without a problem. Henry, of course, won’t hear of that—it’s the weak courtiers who can’t jump it, not Henry the Mighty! He asks one of his guards for a flagpole, which is handed over. Henry removes the flag, backs off a few paces, and tries to vault the ditch. The flagpole’s not built for actual weight, so it snaps and dumps Henry into the bog. The other men laugh, like anyone would, but it seems all is not well with Henry. He’s somehow managed to get stuck headfirst in the bog. One of the guards realizes that the king’s not just kicking his legs in the air for fun, and he jumps in after Henry and pulls him out. Henry gasps for air and I wonder why he couldn’t pull himself out of a freaking bog that looked to be about 3 feet deep. I guess he ends up with some kind of PTSD or something, because back at Whitehall, someone VO calls for a physician and we see Henry writhing in bed and knocking his head against the headboard. Is he going insane? That would explain a lot.
Margaret’s ensconced in her throne in Portugal alongside the king when Brandon approaches and asks the king for permission to dance with her. Permission granted, he leads her to the dance floor. As they dance, Margaret asks when he’s going to leave. Tomorrow. She tries to get him to stay, but he tells her he’s done his duty, so why should he stay? He also takes the opportunity to be mean to her again for no apparent reason, chatting about how some men who seem young and healthy tend to just keel over at a moment’s notice, whereas those who seem old and worn out can go on for years. Geez, dude, what’s your problem? I know she was kind of a bitch to you for a while, but this seems totally unnecessary and uncalled for.
She asks him what his deal is, and he doesn’t really have an answer, so she whispers it must be because he loves her. What is it with these women and thinking abuse and horrible treatment equals love?
Someone has apparently fetched several physicians, all of whom are gathered around Henry’s bed. The lead one tells the king they’d like to bleed him, to rid his body of all the evil humors making him so uncomfortable. Henry’s bathed in sweat and staring off into the distance at nothing, but he manages to give the doctors permission to bleed him. They do so, a little nervously, and I guess that’s understandable, because you let that go too long and you’ve just killed the king.
In Portugal, Margaret stares at Brandon’s ship from her bedroom window.
I guess the bleeding did Henry some good, because he’s up and about and telling Wolsey that he almost died. A bit of an over exaggeration, but ok. When Wolsey agrees in a calm, rational tone of voice like a grownup, Henry flies off the handle and starts screaming like a toddler again. Wolsey looks at him like he’s gone totally insane and Henry sits back down. It occurred to him during all this that he has no heir to follow him if he were to die. The Tudor dynasty would be over. He rises and paces the room, lamenting the fact that he lived too much in the present and never thought of the future, which is close, but not entirely true, since he was all upset over this very same thing way back in the first episode. He brings up the fact that Katherine was his brother’s wife and says that God is punishing him.
He turns to Wolsey and tells him that everything has changed. He wants a divorce, and Wolsey’s gonna get it for him. Wolsey looks horrified, as well he should.
Meanwhile, Margaret approaches her sleeping husband, who’s stretched out diagonally across the bed. She reaches across him and grabs a pillow, then slowly lowers it on his face, throwing her body weight on top of it as he struggles. He stops moving after about three seconds and Margaret gets a look on her face like, “wow, that was easy.”
As one final note of someone seriously dropping the ball on this production—poor Gabrielle Anwar, who plays Margaret, has her name misspelled in the credits as Gabriel. Yeah, that’s right, she was turned into a man. Well done, Tudors.
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