Sunday, 11 May 2014

The Tudors: Season Three, Episode 7

"My country is not a brothel, and my sister is not a whore."

We are once again reminded of England`s, and Henry`s, low status on the European stage, as invasion is feared from both France and the Habsburg lands. Preparations are made for the kingdom`s defence; even Scotland seems set to join in. However, a bloke with a spyglass (many decades before Galileo...) reports that the armada in the channel seems to be heading for Spain. Phew.

The crisis is over. Chapuys is back at court. Francis still hates Charles V, to the point of allying with the Ottomans against him. England is a second rate power, a piggy in the middle. Its diplomatic ambitions, handled by an increasingly desperate Cromwell, are limited to finding a pretty wife for the king from mighty Cleves, a tiny little speck on a map of the Holy Roman Empire. Maps of the Holy Roman Empire are terrifying things. Cleves is not, and its Duke William is portrayed as a comedy character, indeed the only real comic relief in an ominous episode.

 Sir Francis Bryan is continuing his counter-espionage against Cardinal Pole, whie Charles Brandon and Edward Seymour (now Earl of Hertford) attempt a rapprochement; can their mutual loathing for Cromwell draw them together? Both are keen for the marriage to go wrong,

Anne of Cleves reaches Calais, and has a perceptive comment: "I do not know what to make of the King. He burns one Lutheran, and then marries another?" She is, for the moment, veiled, to maximise suspense. Brandon is teaching her how to play piquet as we once again get a look at those sixteenth century playing cards. The King, meanwhile, is feeling the sexual excitement of being about to possess utterly a complete stranger.

And then we see Anne`s face, and she`s Joss Stone. As with many singers turned actors she does a good job with the part, although it must have been insulting to be asked to play the ugly one. Especially as the King`s first words after her unveiling are "I like her not". He goes on to say that she looks like "a horse, a Flanders mare". For the record, I think Joss Stone is quite pretty.

Henry is disappointed, and soon rounds on Cromwell. It`s going to get worse, too; he isn`t getting any sex. The final scene is of Henry masturbatingn bed while his humiliated wife lies silently beside him.

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