Finally, we get the battle between the House of York and Henry Tudor that we’ve been waiting for for the entire series.
Let’s bitch it out…
We open up right where we left off. Elizabeth (Rebecca Ferguson), exiled from London, is back in her Rivers family home (with a great look of peace on her face when she returns). Margaret (Amanda Hale) is up to her scheming shenanigans against Richard (Aneurin Barnard), even while under house arrest. And Lizzie (Freya Mavor) is at court giving Anne a run for her money.
When do you figure out you’re an epic fail as a mother? Probably when your daughter decides she wants to have an extramarital affair with her UNCLE and is convinced he will leave his wife and make her queen. Ugh. Unfortunately, it turns out I wasn’t reading too much into Richard’s affection towards Lizzie last episode. He begins to court her blatantly in front of Faye Marsay’s Anne (dancing with her in public while Anne is taking care of their ill son – classy!). He insists to his wife that it’s for show, to ruin Lizzie’s reputation so she cannot be Henry Tudor’s (Michael Marcus) queen, but I’m not buying that…and neither is Anne. Best adultery excuse ever: “I’m doing it for England!”
Meanwhile, Anne spends her last few years riddled with guilt over the possibility she killed the two princes. She’s also fearful since there is a curse put on their murderer. She started out as one of the strongest, more likable characters in this series, which makes me wonder what would have happened if George and Isabel hadn’t convinced her that Elizabeth’s curses ruined her family? What would her life – and marriage – have been like if she wasn’t obsessed with revenge, guilt, and fear? In the end, her son dies as a young boy and Anne follows soon after. Before she goes, she asks Sir Robert (Sean Dooley) if he killed the princes at her request. He says he didn’t (was he telling the truth?), which allows her to die in peace.
Richard grieves over Anne’s death, but not for long because there’s a battle to be fought! Henry’s ramping up and the Northern lords, who were loyal to Anne’s family, have joined him in believing that Richard poisoned Anne in order to marry Lizzie. Richard, to quell the rumors that he killed Anne, sends Lizzie off to live with Margaret before the battle. This has awkward written all over it: Lizzie must now stay with her future mother-in-law while she’s been the King’s mistress. It gives us hands down the best cat fight of the series as Margaret calls Lizzie a whore, Lizzie accuses Margaret of killing her brothers, and Lizzie haughtily tells Margaret whatever happens in battle, whether Richard or Henry wins, she will be queen and “this is the last time you will ever sit in my presence” (which is true, and quite the cushy position to be in)!
As always, the allegiance of Lord Stanley’s (Rupert Graves) armies are unknown. And they are a requirement to win. Richard kidnaps Stanley’s son to force him to fight on Richard’s side. Margaret tells Stanley to sacrifice his own son for the will of God (but mostly for power) and fight for Henry. Stanley will wait to pick a side until after the battle (pragmatic, and just like him). When things begin, it’s not looking too good for Henry, whose entire army is on foot. Then Stanley and his men show up. Stanley, definitely a man who likes to make an entrance, waits until the last possible second (like seriously, they’re at the battlefield) to announce which side he’s on…and it’s Henry’s! Holy crap, he is planning to sacrifice his own son!! Wow Stanley. Just, wow.
This quickly turns the tide. Richard is brought down (he never did get that horse – ha!) and beaten to death in a really undignified street fight manner with kicks to the stomach. I mean, I think he deserved a proper dramatic beheading, but no such luck. And there on the battlefield Henry Tudor, after 20+ years of Margaret’s planning, finally becomes King.
In the last scene, Elizabeth tells Lizzie she will now become Queen of England, as her mother once was. And so it begins all over again (Well, not for us, because the series was not picked up for a second season). If you are interested in what happens next, Elizabeth of York’s story continues in Philippa Gregory’s book The White Princess.
- I feel the need to take a moment here to discuss Richard’s character and the ambiguity surrounding him. I would argue The White Queen made him the most interesting character throughout this series. You can’t tell if he’s a good guy or a sociopath. And that’s kind of great. There’s a chance everything went Shakespeare’s way and he actually did kill the princes and poisoned Anne. He always made an emotional plea about how his intention wasn’t to do anything amoral, but things always ended up going the way he wanted (becoming King, the princes disappearing, Anne’s death). That is, of course, until he gets murdered.
- Seriously, why does anyone let Margaret write letters to her son? She’s under house arrest because she tried to overthrow the king. I don’t understand why she’s even allowed to communicate with the outside world.
- Poor Cecily (Elinor Crawley), the ignored sister. I love her undercutting comments when she and Lizzie visit their mom about how Richard has “found some comfort, hasn’t he Lizzie?” It’s also great when she reminds her mother that she and Lizzie screwed the family over with their cursing. If Margaret killed the princes, and Lizzie marries Henry Tudor, then by cursing the children of the murderer, she’s condemned her own sons to die. This is why it’s really important to think ahead before doing things like that! (Side Note: since her family continued to reign, does that mean Margaret didn’t kill the princes?)
- You have to appreciate Richard’s ballsy approach to wearing his crown into battle. He says he is making sure that if Henry Tudor wants to find him, he knows where to look. But mostly it’s so we can get the visual of Henry picking up the crown and putting it on his own head.
- Stanley (to Margaret when finding out Lizzie is to stay with them): “This battle will decide all our fates, so do not bully her Margaret.” Margaret (looking innocent): “I do not bully, I will merely help her to move closer to our Lord.”
- Elizabeth: “Vengeance brings only more vengeance.” I think this should have been the tagline for the show
What did you think of the series? Were you also ready to bid adieu and make room in your TV schedule for the fall lineup? Or were you hoping to see Henry’s reign? Comment away below
The White Queen has now ended its series run on STARZ