Friday, 2 May 2014

The Tudors: Season Three, Episode 1

"With God's help we'll all be happy now.

A new season, then, and a largely new cast to join Henry, Brandon and Cromwell; even Jane Seymour has been recast. The nationality of the new actors reminds us once again that this is an Irish/Canadian co-production, giving us a good look at some actors from those two countries. And Max Von Sydow.

It's still 1536, that interminable year, and Anne Boleyn's ghost still lingers, but the show must go on. The King has since wedded Jane in a genuinely happy occasion, and there is the feeling of a new start. We are introduced to new characters at court, such as Lady Ursula Missenden, the new lady in waiting, and eyepatch sporting old spy and seafog Sir Francis Bryan. But all is not well; discontent festers in Yorkshire, captioned "Yorkshire, Northern England" in an egregious bit of dumbing down. It seems most ordinary people like monasteries, the proto-welfare state they provided, and the colour and spectacle of the old faith. Cromwell, to put it mildly, is not popular. Yes indeed; first there was Wolsey, then Anne Boleyn: this season it is for Cronwell to get his comeuppance.

The King is pleased; not only is he happily married, but his income has doubled following his raid on the monasteries. And he is in with Charles V again. Sir Edward Seymour is also pleased with his new titles and influence. Less pleased is Mary, exiled from court unless she disowns her mother, but she has not only Chapuys but also Jane on her side. But Sir Francis, chillingly, explains to her that, unless she disowns both her mother and her faith, "Mr Cromwell cannot guarantee your safety."

Jane continues to be kind and gracious, appointing Lady Rochford, former beard to Sir George Boleyn, as her principal lady in waiting. In the run up to her coronation she tries to plead Mary's case to the King, but Henry warns her flatly not to worry her pretty little head about such things. 

Chapuys urges Mary to sign to preserve her life, with Papal dispensation. In this new world, Catholicism and dissembling must go hand in hand. But the Pope is up to other things; Cardinal Van Waldenburg, who looks uncannily like Ming the Merciless, is speaking at Castle Gandolfo with one Reginald Pole, a devout Catholic who is of considerably bluer blood than any Tudor.

Jane, now queen, is kind to both Mary and Elizabeth, looking after the sisterhood through genuine kindness. Meanwhile Cromwell, he if humble birth, is now a peer of the realm, and the most unpopular man in England, not least Yorkshire.the rebellion grows, and Henry is reminded of the rebellion of the Cornish against his skinflint father back in 1497; the awful power of the mob is a true fear of his. Brandon is sent to dip his hands in blood, brutally suppressing the rebellion. Cromwell, meanwhile, finds his star waning a little with the sign that his policies are not exactly popular. He has risen high, and has far to fall...

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