Wednesday, 30 April 2014

The Tudors: Season Two, Episode 9

"But I'm the only one who's guilty!"

This is where the excrement, as they don't exactly say, hits the rotary device. Lots of people die. It is in fact, structurally speaking, more or less the actual season finake. Anne's hubris hits it's heights ("The King cannot satisfy a woman. He has neither the skill nor the virility.") and ultimately there is nemesis for... well, a bunch of people who committed the crime of standing too close to the Sun. For Anne's own fate we shall have to wait.

We begin with an autopsy of Anne's miscarried son, who is deformed: a pretty obvious metaphor and a pretty obvious augury. She is living on borrowed time and, I think, she knows it, so she can scream at Cromwell about the corruption surrounding the dissolution of the monasteries to her heart's content. She knows what's coming: the signs are obvious. 

One big sign if how the world has turned upside down is that Chapuys is actually in favour: he actually a supports a new, "legal" marriage with Jane Seymour. In favour, that is, until he makes the mistake of mentioning Henry's lack of a son. Thomas Boleyn is somewhat nervous, and George even more so; his wife is sick and tired both of his abuse and of being his beard. Meanwhile, Thomas Wyatt and Mark Sneaton find that their levity sit not well with the times. All of Anne's friends at court are looking over their shoulders. 

It is Charles Brandon who lights the match, telling the King that there are rumours floating around, rumours of the Queen's flirting, of men in her room. Richard Rich and Thomas Cromwell are ordered to preside over the kangaroo court, and they preside with much cruelty. Even the sparing of Wyatt, the only one guilty of sex with the Queen, is an act of sadism; Cromwell has deliberately executed the innocent, some of whom are a threat to him, and left the guilty party to love with that for the rest of his life. Still, some great poetry came of it, so that's ok.

It is Smeaton who suffers the most, being put to the rack, but Sir Henry Norris and George Boleyn are not spared, George being denounced by his own wife. George, of course is not tortured, of course; he is a peer of the realm. To torture him would be barbaric.

Thomas Boleyn shows himself a wretched coward, saving his own skin by not lifting a finger to defend his "beloved" daughter. She was never more than a pawn to him, and this makes a general feminist point about aristocracy and it's treatment of women. The aristocratic rich, defined as they are by the inheritance if property through the male line, are the very essence of patriarchy.

Anne looks on as George is beheaded, to the jeers of the crowd. She cries. Thomas Boleyn looks away. We end on a medley of bloody executions to the melancholy verse of Thomas Wyatt...

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