In the year 1469, Queen Elizabeth and the remains of her family have barricaded themselves in The Tower of London, as there is a price on her head now that Edward is prisoner and Warwick is preparing to shove George onto the throne. However, Edward isn’t backing down or willing to abdicate to his brother, not when Warwick is using Elizabeth as leverage to get him to do so; he says the only thing that people are holding against King Edward is his association with the Rivers family, but Edward retorts that Warwick’s interest in George is being able to rule through him and refuses to leave Warwick’s home. Unnerved at seeing the king’s fighting spirit show its face, Warwick wants to rush and bring George to Parliament to see if the throne can’t be transferred to his son-in-law, who got Isabel pregnant on their wedding night with what could be the heir they were looking for.
Margaret Beaufort is excited that Parliament is sitting at York, as this means the Lord’s will can be carried out and Edward can be bumped off the throne in favor of a more righteous king. Her husband, though, has grown weary of her zealotry and obvious affection for Jasper Tudor, questioning whether he shares her blood lust. While Edward and George exchange trash talk as the latter rides out to meet with Parliament, the soon-to-be king claiming that his brother hadn’t been the same since he met Elizabeth, Isabel is busy trying on the coronation furs that were shipped over from the castle and still smell like Elizabeth. Anne may be elated at the idea of her sister becoming queen, but Izzy is still reeling from finding out the marriage wasn’t based on love; she would technically be the third queen, with Margaret of Anjou in exile and Elizabeth cowering in the tower, and she worries that not only would she be seen as expendable to her father, she would never measure up to the life that Elizabeth had before the death of her family.
The Parliament session doesn’t go well for Warwick and since they couldn’t get Edward to abdicate and they won’t kill him themselves, George is not named king. Having been restored to the throne, Edward gets reunited with Elizabeth, who still wants revenge for what happened to her father and brother. However, Edward says that he wants to embrace Warwick, seeing as how the uprising came from how he had been shutting his mentor out; Edward goes on to mention that since the country couldn’t possibly handle another war right now, not one that splits the two factions into even smaller alliances, he’s going to give Jacquetta’s first husband’s title to Warwick’s nephew as a peace offering. Additionally, their daughter Elizabeth will be betrothed to the boy, causing Elizabeth to recoil in anger and Edward to inform her that as king, he doesn’t have to listen to anyone.
The impact of Edward staying on the throne has also reached Margaret Beaufort and her husband, the latter having lost his position as the king’s sheriff after the letters she and Jasper wrote proclaiming loyalty to King George were discovered. While he’s telling her how the loss is her fault, he says that she will only ever be the Lady Stafford and that if she continues to contact Jasper, he’ll strip her of her freedom.
Christmas comes and Edward has invited Warwick, George, and all the like to the castle, displeasing Elizabeth in the process. She plans, though, to make Isabel and Anne her ladies in waiting; on the way to the castle, Isabel continues to fret that the queen will hate her due to Warwick trying to seize the throne. Edward is doing his best to welcome his family back to the castle, embracing them all as soon as they set foot on the grounds, but Elizabeth can barely contain her fury toward Warwick, unleashing a tirade on Countess Warwick after she apologized for the Rivers family loss. Elizabeth says that the deaths of her father and brother were not a result of war, like the Countess claims, but treason and just then, the candles in the room are blown out without anyone moving. She then storms out of the room and into the dining area, where a colorful, lively celebration is going on in honor of the holiday season – performers, music, all the rest. They go silent when she comes into the room and only continue when she signals that they have her approval.
Warwick approaches Elizabeth once she sits down, but before he can get into what he wants to say, she tells him that she knows he was plotting against Edward and while he may forgive the trespass, she will not. She does get some unsettling news when Duchess Cecily reveals that George will soon have an heir, as Isabel is pregnant. She goes to speak to Edward, busy writing out land deals and general favors to the nobles that should buy him their allegiance for the time being, only for Warwick to follow behind her. He receives a paper from the king, as well as congratulations on Izzy’s pregnancy, which he hopes will turn out the son that all fathers hope for. Resolved to give her husband a son, Elizabeth approaches Jacquetta about having her fortune read using the fishing line method from the first episode. At the end of the line she selected is a silver baby spoon with the name Edward engraved on it, a sign that she will have the son that has eluded her since marrying Edward.
The two quickly go to bed in order to make said baby, catching Anne in their room and making her unlace Elizabeth’s dress before throwing their bedclothes at her as she left. She runs to her father, who assures her that the hardship their family is currently facing will soon come to an end and what awaits them will be worth the trouble. Meanwhile, there’s been another uprising against Edward, though no leader has been named as of yet; Edward thinks it could be the work of Margaret of Anjou, but regardless of who started it, he feels as if its his duty to finish it and defend the crown they’re trying to snatch off his head. Elizabeth thinks that by telling him of her pregnancy he’ll refrain from going into battle, but it simply makes him want to fight harder knowing that there’ll be a son to give control of the country to. Edward claims that both George and Warwick have pledged their loyalty to him and that while the former will ride along with him into battle, the latter is busy raising an army in the north. But how long will this last? The king pledges to be home by May Day, bringing along peaches and salted cod to his queen.
Word of the uprising spreads to Margaret Beaufort thanks to Jasper Tudor. Margaret’s husband, however, doesn’t share their jubilation at the thought of displacing King Edward, even with half of Wales being under Tudor order and an additional 10,000 men ready to bring the king down. He’s weary from having lost his brother and father in the seemingly never-ending push-pull between the Yorks and Lancasters, a vicious cycle that will continue for as long as the two will still fight, and even claims that King Edward is better than the former King Henry. He also calls Margaret on her devotion to the idea that the king is chosen by God; if Edward is the king and chosen by God, and George is the rightful king and chosen by God, is God confused? Does He not know what He wants? She calls him a blasphemer and rushes out to see Jasper, who she gives a necklace to while her husband watches from a nearby window.
It turns out that the uprising was spearheaded by Warwick and George and will need people like Jasper Tudor and Margaret Beaufort in order to be successful. Jasper explains that the goal of the uprising announcement was to get Edward on the battlefield, where George and Warwick would then turn on him and make the former King of England shortly after. As George would only ever be a short term king as best, it would then be the Lancasters turn – namely, Margaret’s son Henry’s turn. She decides to go to her brother Richard in Wales to see about raising an army and that night, asks her husband to take her to see her mother before making love to him. They arrive and Margaret whisks Richard away to go to the altar the family built inside their home, where she informs him of the plan and how God spoke to her of him, that he was the one to lead the Holy Crusade against Edward and win back the throne for the Yorks. If he brings the army to the battle, God would look so kindly upon their family that he would install Henry as the next King of England, so even though Richard had never been in battle before, he agrees to what his sister is asking.
Isabel, Anne, and the Countess aren’t taking news of the impending battle all that well, with Isabel reiterating that she doesn’t want to be queen and her mother insisting that the three support Warwick, because who knows what would happen if he doesn’t succeed this time. While in camp, Richard becomes aware of the plot against the king and sprints from the tent toward Edward’s camp in hopes of letting him know about what’s to happen. Though Richard does get everything out, Edward still calls him a traitor before stabbing him in the stomach. The news devastates Lady Beachum and Margaret for different reasons – the former is beside herself with grief at the loss of her son and the latter is upset that the plan failed and that her brother turned his back on his house during a pivotal moment, drawing the ire of her husband. Margaret does get a message from Jasper that says he’s fled to France and to immediately ride to Pembrooke and retrieve Henry, which she talks her husband into doing and allowing her to ride along.
For his part, Warwick isn’t worried about the setback and calls for them to raise an army. Unfortunately, Isabel is far enough along in her pregnancy that sailing might not be healthy for her or the baby, but Warwick doesn’t care and rushes them onto the boat. Still thirsty for revenge, Elizabeth pours water into a bowl and circles her necklace around the edge of the bowl while whistling. Jacquetta and her granddaughter join in the practice and soon enough, storms come to England, nearly sidelining Margaret and causing the boat trip to be rocky and painful for Isabel, who has to deal with water rushing onto the boat. She also finds herself bleeding from her vagina and thinks that this means the child is coming, so Anne informs her mother and father of the impending birth and struggles to put together the necessary materials for a birth to happen. Even with Jacquetta telling her to pull back before things get too crazy, Elizabeth continues to let the storm fester and as a result, Isabel loses the baby. It was stuck inside her birth canal and with no midwife on board and the city they were looking to port in firing at them, there was no one to save it.
Margaret arrives to see her son and yet, he doesn’t recognize her and won’t leave without Jasper. It turns out that Jasper didn’t leave for France just yet, as he wanted to make sure that Henry was taken care of before departing, and he pledges to leave and raise an army to overthrow Edward. Jasper bids Margaret and Henry goodbye, leaving the boy to refuse his mother’s offer to pray, while Isabel blames George for the death of the baby.
Additional thoughts and observations:
-Although I’m still not a big fan of the pacing, I do appreciate them fitting in ways to tell the passage of time: the episode opening text, the weather differences, the ages of Elizabeth’s children. As long as I know how much time has passed in an episode and where we are historically, I can handle the jump-y writing.
-Seeing Edward being as passionate and forceful as he was with Warwick at the beginning of the episode was awesome both from a character and acting standpoint. Pity that he turned into a dunderhead pretty much the rest of the time. How in the world he believed that Warwick trying to make a move was the result of not spending enough time with him, I’ll never know.
-I like seeing Isabel and Anne changing roles, in a sense, since the first episode – Izzy’s went from a cold and loyal supporter of her father to someone who simply wants out of the political cage that she’s held in against her will, while Anne has become an eternally optimistic, almost child-like force stripped of most of her awkward and muted qualities.
-Jacquetta scurrying away when Warwick came to talk to Elizabeth at the celebration made me laugh more than it should. As did Elizabeth and Edward basically making love in front of Anne and throwing their clothes at her. As did Elizabeth’s daughter joining in the whistling when they were casting the spell. As did seeing how furious Elizabeth was with Edward regarding his plans for Warwick and Countess Warwick regarding what she said about the deaths of Richard and John. But the latter was a more appreciative, good-for-you-I-didn’t-know-you-had-it-in-you kind of way. I love a fiery Elizabeth.
-Even though I completely sympathize with Margaret’s husband and think that she’s a mentally ill zealot who would be locked in an institution if she lived today, I can’t help but like her. I don’t know why – maybe it’s the performance from Amanda Hale, maybe it’s the depth and breadth of her beliefs, but she’s a frustrating person and a captivating character.
-Next week on The White Queen: New alliances are formed as Warwick grows more desperate for power.