Tuesday, 6 May 2014

The Tudors: Season Three, Episode 5

"I miss her, Will."

This episode features a game of chess involving Max Von Sydow. Metatextual or what?

It`s 1538. The King is depressed, distracted, and for much of the episode will only speak to someone later revealed to be his fool, Will Somers. It's hard not to see a King Lear reference here, which tells us something about how we're supposed to see Henry's state of mind.

Politics is turbulent, with factions and even assassinations, and the central figure is an increasingly disliked Cromwell. There is a veritable whodunit underway, and court becomes an increasingly violent place while the King remains indisposed. Cromwell, controversially, summons the King's Counsel, which could be (and is) seen as an usurpation of royal authority. If so, it is a failed attempt; all the members storm out, led by the Duke of Suffolk, leaving only Cromwell's creature Richard Rich. Power is slipping away.

The king, still distracted, casually agrees with Cromwell that he should seek a new wife. But he's in mourning, getting fat. 

This doesn't last, though, and when the King returns to action it's a harsh realisation for Cromwell as Henry demands that the church adopt six acts of faith, some of which are a bit Catholic; confession, no married priests, etc. It suddenly dawns on Cromwell that the King only supported reform so he could get his divorce and his heir; he never was a Protestant true believer. And now that the King has what he wanted from reform  there will be no more; Lutherans and "heretics" are to face a traitor's death. The articles are read out over the King, symbolically renewed, shagging Ursula Missenden. Cromwell is distraught.

In other news, Prince Edward is the most cosseted child in history; Sir Francis Bryan continues to pursue Pole; Brandon is still awkward with his pregnant wife after his part in the massacre; and Edward Seymour is plotting against Bryan. But all eyes are on Cromwell, whose fall we know is coming.

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