Monday, 5 May 2014

The Tudors: Season Three, Episode 4

"I have a son?"

It`s fast-moving, this season. It`s quickly becoming apparent that the "one wife per season" limit is going to be breached, and things seem to be speeding up.

The rebellion plotline comes to an end in a predictably bloody manner; Sir Ralph Ellerker sells out his mates and gets to live. Aske, having integrity, is executed and dies bewildered. He begs Cromwell's pardon before he dies so his family will not be hurt- at this point the entire viewership is waiting for Cromwell to get his comeuppance. Aske's death is shown graphically and in slow motion.

Even worse than this, though, is the massacre of the legions of humbler rebels. Brandon observes the slaughter of women and children, slaughter that he himself has ordered on Henry's behalf, and is utterly shattered by it. It's hard not to sympathise; he has a wife and son. He had no choice but to obey the tyrant. Yet his pregnant wife is disgusted with him.

Still, they really are out to get Henry. Reginald Pole is trying to convince Francis I to go on a crusade against England, which is a crime in anyone's book. Sir Francis Bryan, returning to his old spying ways; tend to think of spying as more of an Elizabethan thing, with Walsingham and Marlowe and that, but it must of course be amongst the oldest of professions.

Henry may have no time for the Pope, and he may have swung towards Protestantism when it suited him, but kings are fickle creatures and he now wishes to stamp out "evangelical excesses". To this end he is demanding articles of faith. The very Protestant Cromwell is on thinner ice than ever before: Henry tells Edward Seymour that "It was the rebels who demanded Mr Cromwell's head. And, by doing so, they saved it."

We are therefore introduced to the decidedly non-Protestant Bishop Stephen Gardiner, hammer of the heretics, played by no less a figure than Simon Ward. The pendulum appears to be swinging back.

Jane Seymour, pregnant with (at last!) a son for the king, is realistic enough to urge Ursula Missenden to "be a comfort" to the king. She wants Mary, with whom she is close, to be with her during what will be a difficult birth. A caesarean is required, and in those days such interventions were invariably fatal for the mother. Jane's death, so early in the season, is as shocking for us as it as it is for Henry. Henry is devastated; he genuinely loved Jane, although a cynic would say he just hadn't had enough time to get bored of her.

Still, Henry has his son now...

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