Sometimes guest stars don’t appear in every episode so at these times the credits get shuffled a bit, and extra images are put in. This episode’s drop ins are an autumnal crown in leaves and the future ghost of Anne Boleyn’s reproductive angst (Peter O’Toole will be away this week).
Of course it has exposed brickwork
And we open with the news that r/cozytudorlairs has at least one subscriber.
I mean, we don’t know who /u/NanBullenisaWitch34 is officially. Not yet. The mystery I must have originally felt when first seeing the hooded assassin is now replaced by curiosity over…when was it The Tudors first revealed who he was?
Right now he’s doing the 16th Century equivalent of sending a death threat via social media. The ornate shuffling of the cards and ominously precise knife movements all give it the air of a magical spell being cast. This is old, old, unofficially kind of fine with magically cursing your enemies really old time religion. And also new.
The Whitehall has been a lie
Is it too late in the game to say that The Tudors has been lying to you this whole time? Because The Tudors has been lying to you this whole time. It’s been claiming things have been happening at the Palace of Whitehall since Season 1 Episode 1, but the Palace of Whitehall is just getting built about now in the Actual Historical timeline. All of that action actually happened at the Palace of Westminster. Westminster is by far the older of the two, with a royal palace on the site since around 1050.
Henry confiscated the next door York Place from Wolsey when he fell, and built Whitehall out of it. This whole new palace and administrative centre was a solution to the ‘living arrangements’ problem he had during the Great Divorce, with a wife who was acknowledged by the whole of Europe and too powerful to just send away for most of the time he was trying to become single.
The location should be a forgivable lie, though. Whitehall and Westminster are incredibly close to each other.
Portraying the move would mean a lot of effort in the script and a lot of sets to find and build just to move the action 300 metres downriver to a similarly large palace. So The Tudors solved its living arrangements problem by sending Henry and Anne on an extended holiday, but in Actual History Henry had to build a second palace. It’s a good reminder that while in The Tudors it might feel like a maximum of 3 or 4 years has passed since Henry first decided he wanted Anne, in Actual History it was 8 years between that moment and marriage for them. Whole historically significant palaces got built.
In Parliament at Westminster Bishop Fisher is back on his feet and swinging after last weeks attempted assassination.
He wants secular politics out of religion, he wants the King out of the Pope’s job, he wants the poisons out of his dinners, and he has at least half of his audience with him. Everyone in a pointy hat is pro. Thomas Boleyn recaps the current political situation to George – King and Church are still in conflict and a crucial vote is coming. Fisher continues to fear nothing in defence of his truth.
A Christmas at Court
Oh it’s been a while since we’ve seen a Christmas at court. It’s Mark Smeaton’s first and he’s not impressed and he can’t quite figure out why. Both his inability to notice that the Queen’s ladies are not around the court this year, and his inability to notice why that would dampen the mood gives his alert friend Wyatt a moment.
We move into the presence chamber for the gift giving and apart from the biggest change, Anne sat right next to the King on the dais, it seems that since the last Christmas we had at court (1.2.2) at least some people are branching out a bit from just bringing ‘Plate’ – that ‘Display only precious metal crockery’ thing the Actual Historical Tudors had going on. Henry gets Anne some impressive embroidered fabrics and some heavy innuendo about the huuuuuge bed he’s getting made for her.
Of course he may be being influenced by her bodice, which contains a lot of drama this scene.
If you can tear your eyes away from that costume choice (I also love the headwear – part wreath, part jewelled, all pretty) then have I got some words about service employment conditions in The Tudors. Anne gets Henry some boar spears, Anne is pleased to have got the ‘very best’ having ordered the Biscayan™ model. Which Henry decides to fake out test on the servant that brought them as a hilarious jape. And the servant is expected not to defend himself and trust his employer to not actually jab him with the massive sharp spear just inches away from caving in his face.
He does very well, and the whole thing is hilarious, apparently. It looks a lot like it could be laundry guy, from last week, who did his job so well. So that’s his life this week.
The next present comes in, it’s back to Plate again, a plate cup. Henry seems suspicious of it and asks who it’s from. It’s from Queen Katherine. Wait. Wait a minute.
I think she sent it with the guy Henry beat the living shit out of last week. Here’s Katherine’s messenger’s face and voice from last week.
And here is the messenger from Katherine this week.
It’s the same guy, right? She sent his ass right back to Henry to deliver a Christmas cup. I mean the bruises have had time to heal and someone put a hat on him but come on, that’s Olympic level thoughtlessness. Henry refuses the gift from Katherine, surely giving the messenger flashbacks, but Anne calms him by saying to him:
“Don’t let her spoil everything.” Anne is in the Henry temper management business now, and she’s pretty good, so let’s leave Katherine’s Messenger and Laundry Guy to stagger to a pub and raise an ironic glass to their dangerously oblivious employers and wait for some basic human rights (that count even while you’re being paid) to get invented.
In return, when Sir Thomas More (still) Lord Chancellor of England gets announced and Anne goes to withdraw her hand out of embarrassment, Henry keeps hold of it in a gesture that is part order, part compliment. Sir Thomas More and all that judgement he carries around are just going to deal with it.
Sir Thomas More, who just about manages to be polite to Anne (Better then she does to him, at least.) , has brought a present.
Hey, a gift and a judgement on Henry’s drift from The One True Faith™ all in one.
Henry takes the implied insult and returns one.
Having traded barbs and stances More retreats and the gift giving has been a nice, concise look at where a lot of our characters stand.
We get into the main body of the court and we pass by Mark Smeaton, at work with the band. Henry comes out, clearly relived to be out of the presence chamber, leave the politics behind for two minutes and greet his best friend Brandon who has arrived for the holidays.
And Brandon is pleased to see him but he’s got something very political on his mind. He’s been hearing gossip about Anne and Thomas Wyatt, which from Episode 1 we know to be true, at least in all the ways Henry will care about, and Brandon’s sympathies have been drifting recently.
Henry is determined in this direction and he came out looking for a rest from politics, rather than to put up the hardest defence of Anne he’s had to all day. Of course in a few years exactly the same kind of accusations with a lot less evidence will weigh heavily with Henry. For now, it’s a swing and a solid miss and it looks like Brandon might be up for some consequences.
Cranmer, member of the Catholic European Research Group is about to get elevated from his current situation in life and he deals with it like an Englishman. It’s interesting to see Cromwell come to grips with using power, from the “Would you care to review that thing you just said that was a teensy bit treasonous?” look he gives to his friend above to the tricky business of getting the right people in the right jobs. He is about the work of his life right now, and Cranmer might be shy and not personally brave but he is relentlessly intelligent, already a churchman, a decent problem solver and absolutely on side. And of all of these, the last is probably the most critical.
It’s also nice to see Cromwell’s and Cranmer’s excitement at the possibility of Cranmer going to Nurnburg, as the first free Protestant city. It represents the new world they are striving towards, and Cromwell is keen for a report.
Some stay warm, some feel the cold
While walking outside on what The Tudors has convinced me is a really cold day, Henry mentions to Anne that Brandon has decided to repeat “the gossip” about Anne and Thomas Wyatt. So Anne has told Henry there is a gossip issue, but has she told him all? She asks if he believes any of it to be true.
His attitude holds close to Actual Historical Henry who was pretty fanatical about virginity, particularly in his wives, and shows why Anne is absolutely ready to stomp on that shit whenever it comes back up. In this case she asks:
“I suppose you’ve banished the Duke from court?” In what you can bet is supposed to be taken as a rhetorical question and they continue their walk. Anne’s outfit is amazing (right down to the earrings and little ‘snowballs’ on her hat) but that bare triangle of flesh there is a commitment to displaying cleavage I just cannot endorse below +10 degrees Celsius. But the effects of new power are warming, apparently, because Anne doesn’t look to feel a thing as they continue their walk.
Meanwhile in Anne’s chambers, Nan Saville, Anne’s chief lady in waiting is clearing up. We see her go to another room and then /u/NanBullenisaWitch34 sneaks in.
We return to Anne and Henry on their walk and they are discussing the political situation with France. Anne is very careful to keep back from trying to influence Henry’s interests in international diplomacy, asking why he is discussing such high politics with her.
The score agrees with Anne’s assessment, and this is Henry pulling out all the stops. He’s going to get another major European power to acknowledge her status as the future Queen of England.
And, while they still have a very long road ahead together, these first three episodes of Season 2 really show the apex of Henry and Anne as a man and woman in love, completely in sync and still utterly obsessed with each other.
The other love story this episode
It’s the same with Cromwell and power, really. They are at a far earlier stage in their relationship but it’s getting intense at a rapid pace. He drops in on Archbishop Warham for a light threaten, and it turns out that Cromwell is absolutely the kind of asshole that will interrupt you while you are listening to choral music, ask you if it’s alright if you talk now and then sit down and start talking without actually waiting to get an answer to that one.
A professional asshole, then. He and Warham get to reiterate their positions to each other.We’re here for a few reasons, to see Cromwell’s increasing dominance, to visit with the archbishop (whose death is going to be a huge opportunity for Cromwell and Henry), and to re focus the audience on the upcoming vote again – which The Tudors has chosen to make its climax point for the Break with Rome struggle. Inevitably in actual history the Break with Rome was more of a process than a single dramatic moment, so every historical adaptation picks a focal point, this upcoming vote is The Tudors’ version.
Does anyone know who posted this?
Back at the palace Anne comes in from her walk. She’s full of the exiting news that they’re going to France, and then notices something on her desk.
The answer is no one has been noticed coming in or out. Anne calls the cards a ‘book of prophecy’.
A bit of anger, a bit of shade and it’s a lifetime of feuding ahead.
Meanwhile Cromwell and power might have moved in together. He’s been given Brandon’s banishment to deal with (If it’s awkward for Henry, Cromwell’s doing it). And Brandon, while not starting out the sharpest tool in the box is actually learning to think as he hits his thirties.
Yes, the appearance of someone at court that suddenly has their hands on many of the levers of power is alarming. Brandon is also a bit of a backslider on the divorce case and has been spreading (apparently true) gossip about Anne Boleyn. He’s being moved out of the power group.
Interestingly, the previously ornately polite Cromwell keeps his arse firmly in his seat while talking to the Duke stood at his desk the entire time right up until he hands the banishment order over. Brandon is more aggressive, Cromwell chilly and secure. Still, Cromwell looks pensive when Brandon leaves, as well he should, by the end of the next recap Henry will have made a successful play to reinstate Brandon at court. Henry’s best friend is not someone to take on lightly and this feud will last the rest of his life.
The Buckling Point
There’s going to be some theatrics in Parliament later, but this is the moment when enough pressure is put on the church to finally buckle. And it takes Henry to deliver that pressure. He’s got a pretty good cross section of his bishops in front of him in the audience chamber, and launches in. He’s going to bring things to a point today.
He goes on to point out that he is not sure if they are his beloved subjects, or subjects at all. There is a doubt in Henry’s mind, and it is up to the members of the church to remove it. Because…
Are you his subject or the Popes? Because he’s going to make you choose.
Sir Thomas More, still technically Lord Chancellor, but now a complete outsider in government, is trying to rally the Catholic nobility. He is getting a bit desperate and both the language and force of his arguments get a little spicy.
Actually historically More was known for being quite sweary and bawdy, which The Tudors and Wolf Hall get in, although both completely miss out his noted brilliant sense of humour in their adaptation.
And while the promises of heavenly rewards can sound very hollow to our ears, this Thomas More would have believed in that absolutely.
In London we meet a friar called William Peto who Actually Historically did preach this text to Henry on Easter Sunday 1532 (Anne wasn’t there and the ‘whore Jezebel’ was more heavily implied than actually stated, but he definitely said dogs would lick Henry’s blood).
There is a long, long look from Henry at More after Peto is dragged away. Cromwell threatens Peto with being sewn in a sack and thrown in the Thames if he doesn’t shut up (Nice to know they’ve got a punishment picked out already). Peto is personally courageous and says that Cromwell can save his threats for his fellow courtiers, as for friars they do not care…
The Break with Rome – Second Inning
The Catholic church in England bends without reservations or conditions today. Henry sits down in Parliament and asks the question of the clergy again: Are you his subjects, or do you still deny his authority? Archbishop Warham makes a slow procession towards the King with the written submission of the church. They have reached the limit of their resistance to the King. Thomas Boleyn is delighted, it is a huge victory. Bishop Fisher and Sir Thomas More commiserate with each other, Fisher dropping the titular line.
The End of iTudor 2.0
It’s quiet in the court. Henry sits in his presence chamber and Cromwell announces Sir Thomas, and it’s clear that the normally busy outer chamber is completely empty. The diary has been cleared so Sir Thomas More can come in and tender his resignation. There’s a cushion in front of him. In case he forgets where to kneel. There are a lot of bells ringing, perhaps they chose a Sunday morning. More asks to resign, so that he may retire from public life and attend to his soul. He puts the action of resignation incredibly gracefully:
Henry’s acceptance is equally graceful, citing More’s goodness and graciousness and constancy in private and public life. More feels a connection with Henry and you can see his emotional response. He promises to never speak publicly about the great matter, but that response emboldens him to now, in private, to say that if the King reconciled with Queen Katherine then that would heal the divisions in the Kingdom…
More might have been hoping for an emotional connection back from Henry, but that can’t happen. More was just using emotions to try and manouvre the King, and a look at Henry’s face in the scene shows you how emotionally distant he is keeping himself.
More instead gets a clear warning: Henry VIII will remember that.
But after More has left the room, Henry leans forward and breathes heavily for a moment or two, and then sinks in his chair, in front of the cushion More occupied and mourns for a moment the last lost friend of his youth.
This one might get edited a bit over the next few days, nearly busted the deadline. Next recap before Monday February 25th.
Did take an edit 16/02/2019
Crashing the deadline – sorry gonna take another couple of days. By the 1st March.