Operation Supplant Wolsey, Step 1
True Love Is…reading out your love letters to concerned third parties and no skipping the dirty bits, apparently.
It looks humiliating, and I’m sure it is, but at least Anne is back in possession of her own letters, now. It appears she’s still got to share their contents, at least with the heads of the two allied houses, but once she’s done reading she folds it up firmly and it’s hers again.
The Duke of Norfolk mansplains to England’s champion seductress how being in love can make a man vulnerable.
And her developing feelings for the King are seen as a bug, not a feature. She is to avoid them. Anne gets her marching orders. Norfolk appeals to duty and her father tells her why they’re asking. Wolsey is the obstacle to their advancement, she now has the power to hurt Wolsey, and she is expected to act.
This is just the first step of making an elaborate move against Wolsey the only way they can; by giving Henry the recipe, making sure they’ve left all the ingredients scattered on his path, and hoping His Majesty decides of his own free will to make cake.
Operation Get Annulment, Plan C – Let’s try the French
We then go to… Whitehall without the river in view?
Inside, Wolsey explains the new plan. Because as surface confident and smiling as Wolsey is today, he and Henry are both currently sat in the ashes of Wolsey’s first two plans. Plan A was “Secret Ecclesiastical Court in England” and Wolsey couldn’t pull that off, largely down to the long and loud opposition of Bishop Fisher. Plan B was “Ask the Pope to do it”, right before the Emperor’s troops flat out invaded Rome and effectively captured the Pope (Charles HRE may not have planned it that way, but he Queen Cersei’d the hell out of that little conundrum).
Wolsey is now off to France to ratify the treaty they just made, and as the Pope has been captured, to call the Cardinals to an emergency conclave. And while Wolsey is no longer looking quite the smooth operator he did in the early episodes, there’s good reason to think he could pull this off. Wolsey’s influence runs deep with the French, so he might well get the French Cardinals there. With the Emperor’s troops laying waste to Rome, Cardinals from other countries could come, looking for stability, too. Why not Wolsey? He’s nearly daring to ask, with a big shrug.
And with that power, he would totally be able to give an accepted ruling on the annulment, like, instantly. It would be no problem at all. Wolsey agrees to take Thomas Wyatt with him to France, as Henry would like the young poet to be somewhere other than his court for a while.
Henry drops heavy hints about impatience, and Wolsey has leave to go. On the way out he runs into Anne Boleyn, who he kind of goes out of his way to insult.
The Tudors chose to skip Actual Historical Anne Boleyn’s early engagement to Harry Percy, heir to the Earldom of Northumberland (A particularly rich and powerful Earldom, and one of the great families of the North), which Wolsey personally prevented from turning into marriage. This gives The Tudors’ Anne very little reason to dislike Wolsey, as compared to most other adaptations, or Actual History.
However The Tudors’ Anne doesn’t really need to. Because unlike other adaptations (or Actual History), she’s not shown as one of the great driving forces behind the destruction of Wolsey. Her family wants him gone, and she’s helping her family, but for The Tudors‘ Anne Boleyn, the war with Wolsey never really gets personal.
What this slightly awkward and contrived moment here gives Anne is momentary motivation only, but that’s all she needs to go in that room and start…
Operation Supplant Wolsey, Step 2
Anne walks in, curtseys before kissing Henry passionately, and says:
And she’s not expressing doubt in Wolsey here, just asking for reassurance. Like, a lot. And then she significant pauses and says “Is it not strange?”. Henry bites, and asks “What is strange?”
Henry kisses her till she shuts up, and says these things should not be concerning her. She is contrite, and gently apologises. He says:
“I give you leave that we may always speak freely to each other. Honestly, openly and with a true heart. For me that is the true definition of love.”
Yeah, in this conversation alone, he didn’t want to hear what anyone else thinks about Wolsey, and when you even grazed controversy he kissed you until you shut up. I’d take that mission statement with a pile of salt, Anne, a heaping pile of salt.
Intriguing with The Queen
Catherine has asked to see Ambassador Mendoza.
She needs his help. She wants to get messages to the Emperor, but thinks Wolsey is opening all her letters (she’s right about that.). She believes he has turned some of her ladies in waiting into spies and when Medoza asks how Wolsey has managed that she says-
Uh-Huh. So if you’re Mendoza your choice here is to either grab a whiteboard and start explaining to the National Treasure that look, Money? Fine. That would work, but the direction of exchange is entirely the wrong way round in your ‘For Sex’ scenario and even if it weren’t there’s a lot of Palace Studwork (including your husband, ma’am) that happily makes itself available for free to young women before you get to Cardinal Wolsey in exchange for spying favours…
Or you can give it a moment, take a deep goddamn breath, remember you’re a professional, ignore this profitless rabbit hole, and just express surprise and ask the National Treasure how you can help, while deciding to forget you ever heard her say that thing.
Well done, Senor Mendoza, and the Imperial diplomatic mission to England proves itself once again to be professional to its core.
Catherine wants word to get to the Emperor that Henry isn’t just thinking or talking about divorce any more, he’s committed and has started up the state machine to get it done. Mendoza says Henry’s going to find that’s impossible without the Pope’s permission. And for all their ostentatiously displayed piety that the Imperials never shut up about, their side just attacked and sacked Rome and captured the Pope. If another power had done that they’d be pointing at them and making the ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’ noise as fast as you could say ‘kindling’.
And while it was his troops in mutiny, rather than the Emperor that did this, Charles HRE is actively going to reap the benefits of Pope Clement being terrified of offending him for the rest of his life, and a distinct chilling effect on the papacy after Clement.
Catherine sends her ‘Message in a Mendoza’. We will have to wait to see what the results are.
Al Fresco Music, Relationship Studies and Social Realism.
Beneath a tree at Compton’s home, despite having a common law wife indoors and a lover outdoors, Compton is still not feeling attended to enough. He tries the “Watcha doin?” thing with Tallis who says that he is working on new music in his head. But
Compton actually says : “I love you.”, and Tallis points out that with Compton’s taste for multiple partners that’s got to be an interesting definition, rather than saying he loves him back. Oof.
Tallis also mentions that he is going away for a while. Wow, Compton is shit out of luck, today. It’s not voluntary, though, Tallis has been ‘invited’ on the French diplomatic trip. Compton fails a privilege check and does not see the air-quotes around the word invited. It’s just an invitation, right? Tallis could say No. Oh, Compton…
At least Tallis says he will miss him. Compton says Tallis will soon find distraction, and Tallis is already distracted, half listening to the music in his head.
The co-founders of early Tudor government are having a meeting and Sir Thomas More is trying to draw Wolsey out on his intentions. He asks a lot of questions about the upcoming conclave while offering no comments, and he’s got enough anger in him tonight that he can’t quite keep it covered up.
Wolsey answers pretty truthfully, and at some point sees how much his answers are being mentally noted down. More keeps prodding towards more radical positions, and Wolsey ends by shutting that shit right down.
And while their relationship has always been scratchy and a little fraught, this is the first time it’s felt like there was any danger to it.
This One is No Fool
At Hever, George Boleyn goes to find Anne, and seems to be worried she’s a bit depressed. She’s sat alone in her room. He asks what’s wrong and she says it’s a shame he’s changed so much, because she used to be able to tell him all her secrets, and she can’t do that anymore. George is a bit incredulous and wants to know why:
He has the decency not to deny it. And then you start wondering if he was sent to check on her. As her relationship with Henry translates into personal power for her, so her relationship with her brother translates into power for him. Yeah, life’s increasingly political for Anne, no wonder she’s a little down.
…very keen on Wolsey. I mean, all that’s missing from his entrance is a hype man with a bullhorn.
There’s real warmth in Francis’ greeting, too. They do the formal intros, but Francis grabs Wolsey and hugs him. No praise is too high, no gesture too small. In England, Wolsey has resentment, plots, and barely veiled contempt for his low born origins. In France he gets love and respect, and parades.
The 10 year old Duke of Orleans declares himself very happy to be engaged to Princess Mary (Yeah, give it a month, son). Thomas Wyatt is networking the room like he’s a graduate Millennial, getting Tallis to agree to set one of his poems to music, and making sure to get along with the office manager that’s a Brexiter.
Catherine and Anne clash again. It’s Catherine that initiates, saying she knows what Anne is up to-
because the King cannot give her his true heart, for Catherine has that…
So, there’s a lot happening here. It’s the mid, and turning point of a series of three domestic scenes for Catherine and Anne.
The costuming really helps. Catherine has none of the usual trappings of royalty and her very simple dress, head covering and noticeable rosary have her looking like a plain nun. That’s not a great place to try to project regal authority from.
Both actors do delicate work – Catherine is more brittle and sharp this time, she’s under less control than normal. She didn’t really speak last time she did this. Anne has got steadier and is resolutely unimpressed as she walks away. And yes, Catherine’s eyes drop first this time, it’s supposed to be a dismissal signal for Anne, but Catherine’s eyes drop first.
Operation Supplant Wolsey, Step 3
Do you recall, by any chance, that Henry has a thousand servants, all ready and willing to do his bidding? Because one of them is about to advance rapidly in Henry’s estimation this evening.Cromwell comes into Henry’s study with letters from Wolsey, and feels Henry should know that the Pope has escaped the castle he was holed up in. He’s made it to the town of Orvieto, still in territory controlled by the Emperor, but no longer imprisoned.
Henry wants to know if Cromwell got all this info from Wolsey, and when Cromwell says that No, he has his own sources, Henry ‘Hmmm’s like Cromwell just showed him some leg. He wants to know if he could get the Pope a message.
Cromwell settles on a Doctor Knight, he’s religious enough, he’s diplomatic enough, and damn it he’s English enough for this job.
Let’s call it a Flashback
Boleyn has his chequered accounting cloth out, and is about to discover…something he’s already discovered earlier in the story and he told Norfolk all about in Episode 4. That fact is how Wolsey is skimming off the top. He asset strips religious houses that have been shut down and keeps the proceeds.
Maybe it didn’t really land first time around, so they’re giving Boleyn a moment to discover it in, rather than just report it to someone else.
Elsewhere in Whitehall Henry is losing to Compton at cards. He expresses his boredom and frustration. Compton thinks he knows a way to recapture some of the spirit of their younger days.
And Compton, it appears, is finally starting to put in some good words for Brandon. He’s certainly not sticking his neck out, but he is staying with the positives whenever Brandon gets mentioned.
Henry brings Anne, so Compton gets the great pleasure of being third wheel all day.
Operation Supplant Wolsey, Step 4
Boleyn arrives at Brandon’s house unexpectedly, at least for Brandon. He seems genuinely curious as to what Boleyn could want. He asks ‘To what do I owe this pleasure?”
Boleyn wants to know if he can speak frankly, so Brandon dismisses his servant, and while he’s leaving Brandon pours Boleyn some wine.
Yeah. I’m pretty sure Norfolk has more ‘finally conceded that we need you’ rather than sent Boleyn with orders to bring back Brandon. I love the little ‘Game recognise Proto-Game’ moment Boleyn has when Brandon, with a self awareness that the other Duke in his life has never shown, points out how Norfolk hates him.
Brandon is going to be a great Duke some day, he’s nowhere near there yet, but he is just starting to have his moments. Boleyn points out that their primary enemy is Wolsey. Brandon points out that Wolsey’s not his enemy.
It’s a straight up exchange being proposed, Boleyn knows Brandon has no reason to hate Wolsey or to need him out of the way, particularly. But if Brandon sides with them, they will get him back into court.
Brandon, taking a leaf out of the Boleyn ‘attempted corruption etiquette’ pamphlet, thanks Boleyn for his offer, and says goodbye.
And then Margaret slinks out of where she’s been hiding. She asks him what he will do, and he says four very sexy words.
And you think that Margaret is going to go straight Lady Macbeth on this, but she points out that Brandon had told her that sometimes Wolsey had been kind to him.
“Did I? I had quite forgot.” He says.
But, what if it rains?
Back at Compton’s hunt there’s a really impractical lunch set up. And the most amusing thing here is Compton’s complete disinterest in the couple feeding each other food in a way that accelerates through eroticism and barely brakes when the action gets to ‘Porny’.
It’s has not been his episode. At least he’s got lunch.
In the cellars of a French castle, dormitories have been set up for the visitors, and in 16th Century economy class you share with about 20 other people. But it’s fine, because Thomas Wyatt’s been working on his new poem and thinks Tallis should review it at 2am.
They flee from me,
That sometime did me seek,
With naked foot,
Stalking in my chamber.
I have seen them gentle, tame and meek,
That are now wild, and do not remember
That sometime they put themselves in danger
To take bread at my hand.
And now they range,
Busily seeking with a continual change.
Wyatt confides that it’s about a woman. Tallis guesses it’s Wyatt’s Ex. Wyatt talks a little about her, and it’s clear he’s not over it. He calls her the ‘brunette’, and we know damn well who she is.