Monday, 12 May 2014

The Tudors: Season Three, Episode 8

"I think she looks fit for a king..."

Poor Cromwell. He`s a bastard, but nobody deservs that.

This is a dramatic episode, in which Cromwell suffers his gruesome death, Anne of Cleves gets both promoted to the opening credits and divorced, and the King meets the young Catherine Howard. It`s quite a finale.

We start with the King desperate to get out of his marriage; Cromwell is under a lot of pressure. We also have the bizarre prospect of a budding romance between the uber-Catholic Princess Mary and Anne`s equally Lutheran cousin, Philip of Bavaria. She begins to fall in love with him, and then the King sends him away; his association with his cousin makes him persona non grata. It`s begining to look as though poor Mary will die a frustrated spinster.

Sexual frustration is not something a king has to put up with, and so he duly gets Sir Francis Bryan to scour his mother`s aristocratic orphanage for a bit of posh totty. They come up with the pretty, rather dim and disturbingly young Catherine Howard who is "a little wild". Lucky girl. The King is, unmistakeably,  a dirty old man. Scenes of their "courtship" are juxtaposed with the rather more meaningful courtship between Mary and Philip. Inevitably, naked bodies intertwine. How, er, romantic.

 We first realise that Cromwell is doomed when the King gives him a vote of confidence. Shortly thereafter the King is told by Brandon (with whom he is close these days) that the French want him removed. At the following council meeting the friendless Cromwell is arrested for treason, and there follows nothing but horror. Even the slimy Richard Rich turns against him.

His lack of popularity comes back to bite him as Brandon and Edward Seymour conspire to get his executioner drunk the night before. His execution takes place before a braying crowd, in humiliating scenes which are juxtaposed with scenes of Anne of Cleves being told her marriage is annulled. We then see Cromwell`s botched and tortuous execution as the dissolute Henry emptily shags his teenage lover in a huge folly of a palace...

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