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October 10, 2015

The Tudors: Episode 2-8

by Kristin Sample, posted May 18th 2008 10:08PM
Anne Boleyn
(S02E08) Much to Anne's chagrin and Henry's delight, Jane Seymour joined the queen as the new lady-in-waiting. Henry, not as athletic and spry as he once was, was injured in a jousting match. Everyone scrambled to figure out who will succeed him if he does die. Pope Paul III decided to execute the Bull of Excommunication against the king. Jane Parker started planting her seeds of revenge against her husband. And Thomas Cromwell continued to do what he's done since the end of season one, play puppet master. (Okay, puppet master is harsh.)

What an episode! My review is after the jump.

There's two main things I want to discuss : the impending excommunication and Jane Seymour. It was a great episode and we are fast moving to the season finale.

The Bull of Excommunication:

The imminent threat of excommunication has been lurking in the shadows this season. I myself have been preoccupied with Anne's situation and Peter O'Toole's performance to really worry about it. But, there it was tonight. Now, it's not the excommunication that fascinates me, it's how the other Catholic countries (namely Spain and France) will react to and negotiate this decision by Pope Paul III.

Probably the most interesting scene in the episode was that at the Vatican with Pope Paul III and King Francis who had come there on a pilgrimage. King Francis kisses the feet of the pope and professes that he would die for the Catholic faith and his Holy Father. I don't think he was expecting Pope Paul to say this, "You are a great Catholic prince. You have armies. You have ships. You have guns. So I ask you, in all humility, as your Holy Father, will you invade England?" That last part, despite the question mark, was not a request.Yep, I'd say Francis is backed into a corner.

And of course, if this show has taught us anything about 16th century politics, it's that if France goes right, Spain goes completely to the left and vice versa. Tonight, the Spanish Ambassador made a deal with Thomas Cromwell: the emperor will try to persuade Pope Paul not to excommunicate Henry if Lady Mary is made Henry's legitimate heir to the throne. I'm interested to see how Spain reacts when the Pope carries out the Bull.

Jane Seymour:

What's not to like about Jane Seymour? She's pretty, silent, virginal, and have I mentioned silent? Lady Jane is the perfect foil to Queen Anne: uneducated, virtuous, and kind. The is the exact opposite of Anne who is well-read, manipulative, sexy, and power-hungry. They even look completely different. Furthermore, Jane's father seems like he possesses more character in his pinky finger than Thomas Boleyn has in his whole body. (I can't speak for Jane's brother Edward yet. I think we should keep an eye on him.)

While I was not surprised at how quickly Henry fell in love with Jane, I was surprised at how quickly he has forsaken Anne. I know this is a long time coming, but I felt like they could have waited just one more episode to have Henry declare that Anne has "bewitched" him. What do you think? Did this feel quick to you?

Jonathan Rhys Meyers Other Comments, Questions, Historical Tidbits:

  • Does anyone know the significance of Henry's asking Thomas Cromwell about his son? I know Henry wants a son himself but is that the only reason he'd be asking after Cromwell's children?
  • One of the things I love about this show is the little moments of great significance. For example, just before Anne and her ladies go out to give alms to the poor, one of her ladies ties an apron around her waist. There is a quick shot of Anne's hands adjusting the waistband to above her pregnant belly. It was quick but it emphasized how invested she is in the pregnancy and how desirous she is for everyone else to know that she carries Henry's heir.
  • The scenes that followed the king's injury were all pretty predictable. A weeping Henry Norris knelt at the king's side with Charles Brandon. Pious Jane Seymour prayed outside the king's tent. The Boleyn men were already hoping for Henry's death and securing their place close to the crown. However, I thought Anne's reactions were the best. She went from pleading "say it isn't so" and clutching Mark Smeaton to praying in the chapel (like what a good queen "should" do). But from Natalie Dormer's expression I think you could see that while Anne hoped her husband was alright, she knew very well that if the king died things would be easier and more secure for her.
  • Didn't you love the way the men carried Henry into the tent? No one thought to brace his head or neck. Got to love the EMTs of the 16th century!
  • Jane Seymour was asked to court as a lady-in-waiting to Catherine, during the last year of her reign in 1530. She stayed on as a lady to Anne.
Do you like Jane Seymour?
Yes, she's much more tolerable than Anne.71 (33.8%)
I could take or leave her.39 (18.6%)
No, I like Anne better.100 (47.6%)

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Henry may have asked Cromwell about his son, Gregory, because Gregory was eventually married to Jane Seymour's younger sister, Elizabeth, as a sign of royal-political favour. One of the portraits traditionally said to be of Catherine Howard, Henry's 5th wife, has in fact been suggested as a likeness of Elizabeth Seymour-Cromwell by historians Sir Roy Strong and Lady Antonia Fraser. http://www.tudorplace.com.ar/images/Howard,Catherine02.jpg

May 22 2008 at 12:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I always enjoy reading your blog, so I thought I might leave you a small comment. The only thing I can think about Thomas Cromwell's son, is that, in history of course, Gregory was married to Jane Seymour's sister, Elizabeth, before Jane was involved with King Henry.

Keep up the excellent work!

May 20 2008 at 10:47 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mj green

Sorry. But a historical drama should be just that. Accurate. Some drifting away, sure. But this is just wrong. I majored in English History, and I do enjoy the Tudor period. But this? meh.

May 19 2008 at 12:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Rex from Ars

"I was surprised at how quickly he has forsaken Anne."

Well that shouldn't surprise you, given how the series plays with time so much. "The Tudors" compresses several years of "real time" into 2-3 episodes, then jumps ahead 3-4 years and compresses 2-3 years worth of "new stuff" into a couple of episodes again.

Take Anne's pregnancy. She had just gotten pregnant at the end of the last episode, but had a large baby bump in this episode. That's at least... 3-4 months, right?

And seriously... DO NOT think of this show as historically accurate. At all. Think of it as "Melrose Place meets Renaissance Fair" as opposed to "thoroughly researched historical fiction".

Hell, I used to keep track of the inaccuracies in this show, but I gave up somewhere around 940 "offenses"... not just the major stuff, like the MargaretMary storyline or Cardinal Wolsey's demise, but even the little things, like playing music that doesn't exist yet at partiesfeasts, and courtiers decked out in clothing whose colors either didn't exist yet or were exceedingly rare (many dyes came from India or the New World and were unknown in Henry's time; others wouldn't be invented until research into coal tar in the 1700s).

May 19 2008 at 12:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mj green

Sigh. Again, do you ever read history? You do know this is not totally accurate, right? Jane was pushed by her brothers to be available for Henry. She wasn't stupid, either. Anne was so distraught by Henry's accident that she lost her son, and her last chance with him. Anne has been called a lot of things, but she wasn't a whore, and didn't have lovers. Think about it. She wanted to be queen, do you really think she would have been THAT stupid? And, by the way, Henry was not crying when he received notice of Kathryn's death. He was hoping for it! He kept having her moved to worse and worse quarters, removed her staff, had her getting moldy food, and even her firewood was green and wet.

May 19 2008 at 6:59 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to mj green's comment
Kristin Sample

I know this show is very loosely based on history. And no, I don't know everything about the real history. But, I'm reviewing *the show*, not the history. I'm talking about the narratives the writers have developed, the way characterization of Henry (rather than his real-life self), the way the scenes are filmed--that stuff.

May 19 2008 at 11:56 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I do believe she's reviewing the televison show, not a history text book. Settle down buddy...sigh.

May 19 2008 at 8:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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