We open in 1483, ten years after last week’s episode, when the kingdom is at peace and everyone is, frankly, old.
Let’s bitch it out…
Prince Edward (Sonny Ashbourne Serkis) is off growing up with his uncle, and Lady Margaret’s (Amanda Hale) son Henry remains exiled with Jasper. Lady Margaret’s thrilled that King Edward (Max Irons) is allowing Henry to return to England as he’s no longer a threat to the crown.
Meanwhile, King Edward is eating dinner with his family and he looks horrible. After all the battles and treachery in his life, it seems he is being bested by a fever. On his death bed, he asks Elizabeth (Rebecca Ferguson) to get Richard (Aneurin Barnard), so that he can tell him that he has chosen Richard to be Prince Edward’s Lord Protector until such time as he’s old enough to rule on his own. Elizabeth is all, “come again? You meant to say Anthony (Ben Lamb) right?” And this, my friends, is why you have these discussions a) before you’re on your death bed, and b) in a room that doesn’t have 100 people in it.
So all hell breaks loose as both Richard and Elizabeth struggle to maintain their power and everyone else figures out who to align themselves with. First stop, getting to Prince Edward first so he’s in their care. Richard ultimately wins the battle and throws Edward into the London Tower “for his own protection.” Riiight…
Elizabeth escapes to sanctuary (sidebar: I hope the show got a good lease on that set because they use it every week!). Anthony (now old – we can tell because he has a glued-on beard, which is apparently The White Queen’s “go to” way age up characters), is intent to broker a truce between Elizabeth and Richard. He warns both to trust the other and not act too rashly.
Just when it seems like it’s working, Lady Margaret and her husband start planting the seeds of deception. Ugh, Margaret go home! You ruin everything, NO ONE wants you here! Phew, sorry, anyhow…she tells Elizabeth the soldiers are whispering that her sons are illegitimate, intimating that Richard started the rumor. Meanwhile Lady Margaret’s husband tells Richard that Elizabeth is rallying the troops and gaining loyal followers for a takeover.
Through an intermediary, Richard orders Elizabeth to bring Prince Richard (because there are apparently only 4 names in all of England) to London to be at his brother’s coronation. Red flag man, don’t give him both your future kings! Elizabeth agrees and does the old switcheroo, shipping her son off to safety while finding a poor boy to take his place. Didn’t Richard live in the castle? No one knows what he looks like, including his uncle? Either way, Prince Edward plays it like a champ, not even missing a beat when his “brother” is delivered to him. I like this kid, someone should make him king.
Meanwhile, Richard is receiving manipulative advice from his mother Cecily (Caroline Goodall) and his wife Anne (Faye Marsay), who still blames Elizabeth for her sister’s death and is definitely her father’s daughter. Richard starts arresting and killing everyone, including Anthony and another Richard (don’t worry about it, too long to explain and he’s dead anyhow). He also tries to arrest Thomas Grey (who, might I say, grew up quite well!), but Thomas escapes. Richard also orders the world’s worst home searches on members of the privy council to see who is loyal to him as the Lord Protector. I mean, you’re just searching the desk? Seriously?
Eventually, Richard determines that the best way to save the kingdom is to take the crown himself (convenient). He gets parliament to declare Edward and Elizabeth’s marriage illegitimate, making their sons no longer rightful heirs to the throne. God Edward, if only you hadn’t used that secret marriage ploy in the past, none of this would have happened!
We end with Richard’s coronation. While Richard seems in shock, Anne has a small “cat caught the canary” smile on her face.
- I think the most interesting part of this episode is Richard’s actions. Did he have the right intentions and was he just easily swayed by others to make all the wrong moves? Or was this his desire all along: to become king and essentially kidnap his nephews?
- Turns out Princess Elizabeth (Freya Mavor) is also a seer, yelling at her mother that her ambition will be the death of the boys, and when they’re gone she’ll put Elizabeth on the throne. Meanwhile, Elizabeth curses Richard – damning his sword arm, his frail wife, and his sickly heir. We’ve seen the first pangs in the arm, hopefully we’ll get more down the road.
- I groaned when Jane Shore appears on-screen. We’re almost done with this miniseries that has like 103 main characters, I don’t want to have to learn about new ones. Luckily (sorry Jane), she dies in this episode so I don’t have to worry about her moving forward. Make that 102 main characters…
- Elizabeth: “Only fools wait to see if their enemies are their friends”
- Elizabeth (after Edward dies): “Do you not even bow to me?” Cecily: “We’re equal now, both mothers to a king.”
What did you think? Is Anne just power-hungry or is it all about beating Elizabeth? What will happen to Elizabeth and her daughters? Will Henry come back from exile? Sound off below!
The White Queen airs Saturdays at 9pm EST on STARZ