Tuesday, 10 November 2015
Wolf Hall: Episode 6- Master of Phantoms
"Those who've been made can be unmade."
"I entirely agree..."
Here we are, then; the lead-up to the execution of Anne Boleyn and so many expendable pawns on the board. Unlike The Tudors, we don't see the gory bits, and not do we really focus on the pity or the pathos. Instead the spotlight is on Cromwell, and how this striver from humble origins, who has suffered so much and earned our sympathy, can nevertheless have people tortured and killed as a part of the deadly chess game that is perpetually played at the court of Henry VIII.
To be successful, here, is to incur the jealousy of other powerful individuals. The very real possibility of downfall and a traitor's death is a possibility for those who know how to play the game: what chance, then, for the likes of Mark Smeaton and Harry Norris?
The episode sees power slowly deep away from Anne Bomeyn as her world Close's in around her and yes, Cromwell survives at her expense. Yet the affair is not quite a victory for him either: the likely advancement of Jane Seymour as the next Queen is explicitly presented as advancing the Catholic faction at Court.
The true horror here is in the attitudes of the King, who is quite willing to believe anything that suits him, however absurd, even that Anne would commit incest with her brother. This may suit Cromwell now, and the series ends with the King embracing him as a friend, but one false move and he will be the next Anne Boleyn...