The Tudors Recap- Season 1 Episode 3: Wolsey, Wolsey, Wolsey! (Part 2)

Part the Second

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Medicinal Thumping

And we go straight to panting, groaning, and slapping flesh. In a bedroom. My Goodness. It’s Wolsey! Good Heavens! It’s a topless woman! Gasp! Oh. It’s…not at all what we just presumed.

I mean, none of the above is actively incorrect, but the woman is pummeling Wolsey’s back in leaden thumps, and is generally treating it like a pile of sand she’s trying to flatten. Those grunts he’s making are not about pleasure. This looks like it’s something they’ve been told to do by a doctor to provide stress relief, and it’s clearly a chore all around.

I mean, I’ve censored her boobage, but it feels like she just took her top off because she was too warm, you know?

It may have nothing to do with sex, but it is charmingly intimate. They’re worried about his health. The lady is Joan, Wolsey’s long term mistress (Actual Historical Wolsey had a mistress and two children) and while younger than him, she doesn’t look age-inappropriate for Wolsey. It helps that Wolsey is being played by Sam Neill, who has been aging in geological time since Jurassic Park.

She is really worried about his workload. So is he. We get a taste of his desperation when she says the work will kill him and he says he knows that, but what is he supposed to do?

Because he’s right. A fall from power will most likely kill him. Buckingham might have expected to be caught when he fell, with all his powerful allies in the nobility, but Wolsey is from the commons. Without the nobility’s deep family connections, then if he falls, as long as everyone in court is careful on their feet, then no-one has to fall with him. He is the prime target for conspiracies and probably has been for over a decade, no wonder he’s exhausted.

So let’s hope that the medicinal back thumping (I’m just not going to call it a massage) does the trick, then.


In Whitehall Henry is putting ‘Defence of the Seven Sacraments’ through its final edit with Thomas More, and is displaying a surprisingly enlightened attitude to writing feedback for an autocrat.

I think I get it. More’s a resource, he’s the closest thing Henry has to the ‘Preview’ page and he wants just one more look before he publishes, okay? And one more.

More finds a couple of the takes to be a little hot. Like when Henry calls Martin Luther –

It is a sick burn Your Majesty, but you never know where the next treaty is coming from.

Henry decides to go with the original wording (I feel his pain. It’s like the ‘corpse-fucker’ punchline in the Episode 2 Part 1 recap. Sometimes the gold must be allowed to shine).

More is being sent to Rome with the book, to present it for dedication. Henry is also giving Sir Thomas More a knighthood and I just need to take a moment for a personal ‘raise the roof’ here, because I’ve backspaced those three letters more times than I can count in the last 5 weeks. Sir Thomas More, Finally. Woop Woop.

From France

“From France” Is a guy with two lines, one stage direction, and a really great actor on a good day. “From France”, I can tell you, is that guy in the office that everyone puts up with being quite the asshole because he knows everything. There are liveried servants that bring you potato soup and there are liveried servants that run your Pan-European spy rings, and “From France” is most certainly the latter. fromfrance.gifFrom France also gives you shit. He assumes it’s more important than whatever it is the second most powerful man in England is currently doing. And he survives because he is virtually always sodding right. vlcsnap-2018-03-13-09h41m26s171.png

There is no question of him leaving the room while the letter is read, and you know he asks the most inconvenient questions, right off the bat.

Apparently King Francis has heard about the Ally-Swap and is furious and threatening retribution.  vlcsnap-2018-03-12-23h27m47s690.png

Oh indeed, From France, indeed. 


We are at St Paul’s Cross, in London, and it is on fire.

It’s fine.

Well, books are on fire in the middle of the courtyard. Sir Thomas is burning Martin Luther’s books as ordered by Henry, and they’ve got a fully frocked priest to do the Latin prayer, so everything should be nice and pure by the time they’re done.

It won’t do much, but it is the Catholic church’s first flicker of fear shown in England.

Charles, Holy Roman Emperor, King of Aragon, Valencia, Naples and Sicily, Duke of the Burgundian Territories, Archduke of Austria has arrived.

And the Tudor fireworks industry receives another welcome boost.

And presumably, he is also some petty shit below Archduke not even worth mentioning. We will call him Charles HRE, and he is the key player in Europe. He has the most territory, money and soldiers. Currently the only functional European settlements in the Americas are his and they are making him even wealthier.

Ranking the Western European powers of the time it goes the Holy Roman Empire, (large gap), France,(decent sized gap), England (smaller gap), Portugal. The others aren’t there yet.

Italy and Germany would be, but they refuse to get it together, remaining as multiple individual city states and territories throughout this period and for a long time after. Holland and Belgium are busy limbering up, getting nice and loose for a longer than a century, knock down, drag out fight for independence with them fighting against every major power in Europe at some point.

Poland’s doing fine, but practically is far more concerned with Eastern Europe than Western right now, and the Scandinavian nations remain a strange group of peoples that keep acting like it’s a typically human thing to create and retain functional civilisations somewhere that’s fully frozen half the time, and mainly grows trees for rest of the time, at a point in history when heating technology consists of ‘Light this shit on fire in your house’ and little else. But when they explain it, it always seems reasonable, you know?scandinaliens

Charles HRE as a person may be young but he is also a perceptive, thoughtful pragmatist that will make a remarkable monarch. It’s going to become clear that he came here with a plan for handling Henry, and he is going to exert self-discipline and execute that plan instead of leaping into a pissing contest like Francis did. So I can only assume that this total travesty of an outfit:

This eye-crossing orange and green affair with red rubies and lime green/yellow feathers in the sodding hat.

Is either a subtle part of that plan or part of an abandoned side plot about how no one has quite found a way to tell the Emperor about his colour blindness yet. You can see Chapuys is ready for anyone that starts shit.

Henry has made a surprise visit to welcome the Emperor (I think they might be in Dover, right now), instead of waiting for him to arrive in London, and the diplomatically pre-screened expressions of surprised delight are recited well.

The ‘Mr Pace Situation’

Mr Pace (Henry’s personal secretary) is suddenly made very unwelcome by Wolsey. Down in one of the castle rooms not being used for the party tonight, we find him sat waiting, not arrested, but not being allowed to leave yet, either. vlcsnap-2018-03-15-09h58m40s899.png

Wolsey arrives and appears to be trying to answer From France’s question – Who told King Francis? He recites a lot of facts about Mr Pace that sound incriminating, knowledge of the visit, knowledge of the envoy’s pre-visit, being bilingual, until Mr Pace points out that they are also in his job description.

Unperturbed, Wolsey accuses Mr Pace of spying for the French, and Mr Pace is pulled down the back stairs by a couple of Beefeaters. Which is neither a euphemism nor an event associated with much of a future in Tudor England. Mr Pace screams ‘You know it wasn’t me.’ as they drag him away. Hmmm.

Next morning he’s taken to the Tower of London. vlcsnap-2018-03-15-11h36m19s652.png

Yeah, Bullshit, The Tudors. I’m not having this. Because Traitor’s Gate is pretty recognisable and even if it weren’t, and we take into account that London was a lot more rural in the 1520s,  that is a leat somewhere in Ireland with a jetty in it, that is not Traitor’s Gate.steps-from-traitors-gateThis is Traitor’s Gate. You know what it has in common with the other image? Well, There’s Water.

Yeah, Pace still claims to be innocent, by the way. Won’t shut up about it.

Look at My Massive Navy and Get Betrothed to my Daughter

Henry wants Charles HRE to look at his massive CGI Navy.

It’s fine

And Charles HRE declares in an admiring voice that he has nothing like it. He lets Henry bring up Charles’ massive advantage in men, instead of mentioning it himself. He tickles Henry’s ambition and vanity by saying there is nothing they couldn’t conquer if they stand side by side, and he tops it off with self-deprecating  wit.

Now help pay for my goddamn war…I mean Hahahaha, my friend, hahaha.

Charles HRE is presented to his aunt, Queen Catherine.vlcsnap-2018-03-15-12h09m48s658.png

It’s a big, formal occasion that highlights just how important Queen Catherine is now that an alliance with the Empire is being pursued. Charles HRE is also introduced to Princess Mary, to whom he will now be betrothed and who still seems to be about 7.

Charles handles this about as well as anyone could, being kind without being condescending, pointing out that it will be a long engagement, and saying that the presents she got him were the best presents he ever had.

Well, this is the best engagement Mary’s had so far this year. And no one is even remotely concerned that at the eventual end of that engagement he will be marrying his first cousin. It’s like, a bonus. But then we’ve seen how this inbreeding ends, and they still have no idea.

Recreational Intriguing

We go to an outside party in Charles HRE’s honour. It looks to be quite a fun time. There’s a castle in the background.

It’s fine.

Humbleflow is here, and in charge of the band.

Ready to Rock Out with their Correct Decorum. Although the lower-chest fiddle player appears to be playing Bon Jovi’s ‘Blaze of Glory‘ for some reason.

And there is a whole lot of intrigue going on at this party. Let’s dig in.

Sir Thomas Boleyn, who knows that the points men give women for subtlety have a low and hard ceiling, tells Anne to put herself in Henry’s way. The resultant pause is as long and significant as an ambitious father could hope for.

Charles HRE talks first with Henry about the potential in the Americas, and then the  upcoming war with France. And once they talk about making Henry King of France, we get this wonderful reaction from Catherine. cathrel.gifShe knows that as long as the alliance holds, as long as her family can promise Henry’s most cherished ambition as a possibility they can make happen, then her and Mary’s positions are completely safe. It’s also a reminder that her position is about more than simply being the woman that Henry desires, that there are whole realms of politics and statecraft that come along with being Queen.

She checks in with Charles later in the day, and tells him that all is not well between her and Henry-

“Really? Because I completely missed him eye fuckin that woman earlier. I am shocked.”

And that she thinks he may even ask for a divorce, which Charles declares impossible.


Princess Margaret (Henry’s sister) is once again attempting to use dancing small talk to change foreign policy direction.I was all set up to mock it, but from the sheer level of question avoidance Henry is displaying here I really think that dancing is the only time she gets to speak to him directly.

During the discussion she takes his (possibly larger than necessary) nod at the music as confirmation that she will be free to marry who she wants once the King of Portugal is dead. He knows that’s what she’s done and doesn’t bother to correct it.  Their situation is as muddy as they both apparently need it to be.


Compton and Knivert have a bone to pick with Charles Brandon, brand new Duke of Suffolk. He’s neglecting one of his new duties – looking after his friends. Compton drops the c bomb to get Brandon’s attention (It’s fine, they all count as British), and points out that as he rises, so should they. They’re not looking for the world but they are looking for something; some land and a minor title, perhaps, as a totally random example.

The web of patronage is real, and part of the respect Brandon is due as a duke is down to what he can provide as a patron. And that could be protection as easily as it could be advantage or wealth. And if Charles isn’t going to provide this, then as much as they like their friend, they will need to move on to an ally that can provide this. This is the exact opposite of Margaret’s conversation with Henry, this one acknowledges that the relationships have changed, and everyone has a better idea of what is expected from them once it’s over.

Dream Sequence

The Tudors can’t afford that many sets (certainly through the first 2 seasons) but it doesn’t look cheap (Until it mistakes ‘Traitor’s Gate’ for a rural wooden jetty) because it works the lighting and set and sound design hard to give each set as many ‘looks’ as possible – Winter/Summer/Evening/Morning/Rural/Cityscape. The main hall and corridor set is currently going for a Dreamscape look.


A trick The Tudors pulls seldom enough that it stays effective. It gives Anne that slight ‘witchy’ feel for later in the series, but it’s something that modern audiences can clearly say is Henry’s projection about her, not the woman herself.

Dream Anne is not going for Dream Henry’s very direct and insistent approach, and tells him to seduce her.

Have you ever tried effort in acquiring a woman? Because I could really go for that.

Another Episode, Another Treaty

Well, at least no one had to cross the channel this time.


Apart from Henry’s Hat, which is The Shit, the most surprising event here is the announcement that Princess Mary will get married at age 12. Now, like the young marriages in the nobility that cropped up last week, during this period royal marriage is seen as a game of two halves. The religious ceremony bit can be done any time, with consummation to follow later – if the politics stays favorable, if no one gets plague, and if the families still want it. It would probably still happen younger than we’re comfortable with, but it wouldn’t be at 12.

It has to be said that the horrifying alternative, while rare, was not unknown and an actual physical marriage did happen to Henry’s grandmother at age 12, (and that was her second marriage ceremony) but the monarchy at that time had been in crisis mode for a while when it wasn’t actively engaging in civil war. Contemporary morals may not have been outraged by this practice, but royal heiresses were just too damn valuable to risk in childbirth that young. Mary was the most valuable heiress in Europe. So for Mary this should definitely be the ceremonial part at 12 with the physical side of the marriage to follow some years later.

Catherine is clearly delighted, and Charles has a message for her.

Because that would be incredibly useful.

And with that it’s thank you and goodbye to Sebastian Armesto, our eminently capable Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor. He will speak on in the person of his ambassadors, but he won’t be here in person again.

Then we find out more about the ‘Mr Pace Situation.’ Wolsey says that he was in receipt of a pension from the French and implies the Mr Pace was the leaker.


Yeah, see Henry’s not used to having to swallow that much bullshit at once, so you’ll need to give him a moment. I think he was fond of Mr Pace because he is clearly not happy about this, but apparently he will let it go for Wolsey.

Norfolk and Boleyn are intriguing and Boleyn suggests bringing in Brandon. Norfolk is unconvinced.

Yeah, but he’s making that coat look good.

Boleyn points out, somehow without sighing, that Brandon is the King’s best friend, and could be very useful, it doesn’t have to be forever, and he also doesn’t like Wolsey much, apparently. Norfolk remains unconvinced (I think perhaps if Brandon hadn’t been made a duke recently Norfolk might find it a bit easier to let him in the group), and it’s clear to see that the intrigue dynamo in this relationship is Boleyn.


It’s a tournament day, but Henry is taking a break from jousting to look at some jewellery. We know where those pieces are headed, but while they’re here I may just need a little time alone with them.

Okay, that’s nice. Now do it again but unfold the velvet more slowly. Wow. They’re great.

Wolsey, Wolsey, Wolsey!

Mr Pace is getting lots of alone time. His cell is small and dirty and has a surprise rats nest (That I didn’t gif – you’re welcome).  He’s cradling his candle and screaming that it wasn’t him…


Oh, Now I get it. it was Wolsey all along.

…Kaiser Wolsey…

So I stare, horrified, at my white board, drop my coffee cup to shatter dramatically, and rush outside. And just like that….(‘poof’ hand gesture)…vlcsnap-2018-02-08-15h18m09s736

Yeah. He’s still here, and he’s absolutely fine. Medicinal Back Thumping for the win, then.

One comment

  1. Two things I love about this episode. I love Charles HRE – he’s funny and I love his relationship with Catherine. Also, this is the first time I picked up on the chin comment as a nod to the future Halsberg chin.

    Secondly, I like the dream sequence a lot. There’s something about the way Anne says Write me poems. I love poems. Her manner of speech is just beautiful.

    Finally- uggghhh. Anne’s dad is such a skeeze.

    Liked by 1 person

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