Sunday, 25 May 2014

The Tudors: Season Four, Episode 6

"It was not a happy marriage, your Majesty."

"Do you believe that such a thing exists?"

"Yes! I believe that with all my heart and soul."

On to Henry's sixth and final marriage, then, in an episode themed around nuptials. Elizabeth declares that she will never marry, Charles Brandon's unhappy marriage collapses into it's own little entropic heat death, and Henry begins to pursue a soon-to-be-widow for his next and final wife. This relationship will not be defined by sex, though; the dirty old man is getting old.

It's 1542. Both Mary and Elizabeth have been restored to the succession in a sign that their generation's time is fast in coming. European politics continues it's merry dance between the French, the Habsburgs and the Ottomans. There is a sense of decline and nostalgia. The King admits he has missed Brandon, a rare friend from his youth. 

Catherine Parr, wife of a dying associate of Robert Aske who is tainted with the hint of treason, is carefully selected by Edward Seymour as a suitable bride for our 51 year old Henry with his greying beard, gammy leg and suspicious lack of visible obesity. 

The awkward and arrogant Earl of Surrey, meanwhile, is sent to campaign in Scotland, capturing three of their nobles as James V dies his untimely death, leaving his newborn daughter Mary to be Queen of Scots. The sense of decline, and of an uncertain transfer to a new generation, persists. It is suddenly unmistakeable that these are the final episodes. Little wonder that the king, remembering the glories of Spurs on his younger days, should do something as old-fashioned as declare war on France.

Bishop Gardiner assumes a greater prominence, and his accelerating purges of Lutherans and Evangelicals is a definite sign that all religious reform had ceased; for Catholics, there is seemingly hope. For the King's musicians, forced to suffer "examination", there is none. This is still the court of Henry VIII, and it is still a dangerous place.

Catherine Parr is mature, nice and liked by everyone, but she is afraid to marry Henry, and with good reason. She values her head. But the episode ends with a proposal of marriage. The poor woman must make the best of things and tread carefully...

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