Anne Neville approaches Edward and Elizabeth, currently on their thrones, with hopes of being pardoned for her association with Margaret of Anjou and marriage to Edward of York. She blames her father for getting her involved with them and claims to have no choice but to comply; Edward reminds her that Margaret of Anjou has been defeated and that her cause had no merit before announcing his forgiveness and the formal pardon. However, there’s no such forgiveness for her mother, who has chosen to live in sanctuary, which is where she’ll remain.
Appointed to the role of Isabel’s lady-in-waiting, Anne tells her sister that their mother had been writing her asking for help and that she doesn’t buy Edward’s argument that the Countess wants to stay in sanctuary. Isabel, though, doesn’t want them to draw any more of the king’s ire and have him question where their true loyalties lie, so even with George being appointed as her sister’s guardian, she orders Anne to not bring attention to herself. Later, Anne approaches her sister, worried about the future of her dowry if she doesn’t marry by the time that their mother dies, as that would mean that the Warwick family fortune would be in George’s hands, as he is her guardian. The two get into a physical altercation that ends with Anne biting her sister’s hand and pushing her to the floor, with Isabel forcing her back into her room until she shows gratitude for the situation that she’s in.
Following the death of her husband, Margaret is conflicted about her future with the Yorks and whether she should follow his decree to find peace with her enemies. Just as she asks God for a sign as to what to do next, Reginald comes in to inform her that Lady Beachum has fallen ill. Margaret immediately goes to her mother’s bedside, though she’s not sad about the sudden turn for the worse; in fact, she’s more disgusted by the smell of putrefying flesh. Beachum expresses regret that her son isn’t there to comfort her and asks Margaret to release whatever grudge she holds against her. Margaret, however, only hears a call for forgiveness without a confession of her sins, so she’s not exactly jumping to release her mother from the cage of anger she’s currently held in. As such, Lady Beachum simply says that it was God’s will that her daughter bear a Lancastrian heir and that Margaret has always had a hard time with reconciling her saintliness with the vanity of wanting to marry someone like Jasper Tudor, who would worship her. Before she leaves, Margaret says that when her mother dies, she will be reborn at last.
While Jacquetta has urged Elizabeth to seek the peace that the country needs right now, it seems as if her own household is in the most need of reparation, as the York brothers wants to send Prince Edward to Wales as a way to establish his future household and have the country learn to love him. Elizabeth doesn’t want him to go, though, and will only agree if she’s the one who gets to pick who acts as his guardian, an idea that is rejected due to Edward needing someone who could raise his son into a king. The Queen goes to her mother and laments how much distance there’s been between her and Edward since he arrived back from the latest battle, only for Jacquetta to sense that her daughter is pregnant and suggest that she tell Edward to close the emotional gap between them. Rejuvenated, Elizabeth does just that and walks into their bedroom, where she finds him having sex with Jane Shore. She gets told that whoring is simply a sport to Edward, something that’s been bred into his nature, but Jacquetta doesn’t like what happened one bit.
Anne approaches George and Isabel with the intention of seeing her mother, only to be rejected because there was “no horse” available that day. Additionally, her guardian officially bars her from going anywhere aside from chapel due to the potential for her to disgrace them in public, so Anne meets up with Richard to question him about bringing her back here. Since he claimed she would be safe, did he lie then? Or did he not know the extent of his brother’s plans until it was too late? He claims the latter and agrees to meet with Anne in the garden that evening after dinner. Meanwhile, an ailing Jacquetta informs Elizabeth that she wouldn’t be attending the Christmas celebration that evening due to suffering from an irregular heartbeat, which she claims will take her before too long. However, she won’t let Elizabeth call the physician; the festivities are all a blur to Elizabeth due to the news of her mother’s state and seeing Jane Shore making eye contact with Edward throughout.
Richard and Anne find themselves outside, where the former claims that he thought he was doing the right thing by bringing her back to her sister. For six months, she was being seen only by Isabel and Isabel’s ladies, with George coming up with excuses ranging from illness to grief with why Anne wasn’t out and about. Richard advises her to pretend to go along with George, perhaps by using flattery, in order to make it out of his custody; he will wait for the right time to go to the king and ask that his brother’s guardianship be lifted. Elizabeth goes to Jacquetta’s side, where her mother feels no pain except that which her daughter is going through. Jacquetta claims that Elizabeth would have another son and that he would turn into someone great, that she would be okay with passing due to leaving a potential line of kings and queens in her wake. Elizabeth, though, doesn’t feel ready to let go, not after her mother had done so much for her.
Margaret hears from Jasper, who informs her that Henry is doing well and that there would be no need for her to come to them as she had inquired about in her previous letter. She would be better off helping her son from England and redoubling her efforts to the crumbling Lancastrian cause. Margaret then decides to marry into the House of York and tasks Reginald with sending feelers around court to see about the interest level. Particularly, she wants to know about the king’s brother Richard. He does just that during an organized bird hunt, which finds Anne out of the house and Elizabeth witnessing Edward’s flirtation with Jane before the party sets off. While she asks Antony to take her son to Wales and raise him into a king, Reginald tries to convince Richard of Margaret’s virtues as Anne watches from a distance. Afterwards, she confronts him over the marriage proposal, calling Margaret ancient, ugly, and fanatical. He counters that she’s one of the richest women in England and Anne says that if she had the freedom, she could get any man she wants before storming off.
As she comes back inside, Anne requests to speak with George and asks him how she would go about getting married. He claims that the year of grieving isn’t over and that it would be untoward of her to get married again so quickly, threatening to send her to an abbey when she won’t let the issue drop. Anne pleads with Isabel, but her sister simply turns and follows her husband. Margaret finds out from Reginald that Richard declined the marriage proposal; however, he has another potential option in Lord Thomas Stanley. She laughs at the idea due to him being a turncoat, but Reginald mentions that he and his brother always end up on opposite side during battles so that their family will have at least one winner per conflict. That, combined with the news of Jacquetta’s worsening condition, seems to raise her spirits enough to where she agrees to meet with the man.
George and Richard argue over what their intentions are with Anne Neville before Elizabeth comes into the room upon hearing complaints of Antony being named Prince Edward’s guardian. She finds out from George that Edward is with Jane Shore at the moment, while Anne writes a note for Richard to meet her in the garden that night. Eventually, they both make it out and she informs him that George will be putting her in a nunnery and that she will be running away to avoid that fate. As she learned from Margaret of Anjou, sometimes you mustn’t hesitate and put yourself as your top priority, but that gets questioned when Richard proposes and claims that he loves her. Though he would indeed become a rich man from a marriage to her, Anne would gain a title equal to her sister and a true husband who would do his best to take care of her. She says yes and the two kiss as the snow falls around them.
Lord Stanley comes to Margaret’s home and the two agree on the arrangement, as Stanley already has sons and Margaret needs to garner favor with the king. However, she will have to leave Jasper Tudor behind and serve the House of York, working in the queen’s chamber to prove herself to Edward. Elsewhere, George is furious that Richard and Anne have ran away, as his brother didn’t ask permission for the union to occur. Edward laughs, calling George out on his hypocrisy since he never asked if he could marry Isabel, but before he can formally give Richard the go-ahead, word comes that Elizabeth has went into labor early and that she might not make it. Edward runs to be with her and helps her push through the bloody, painful endeavor to give birth to a baby boy, who ends up being too premature to survive. Before he passes away, Elizabeth takes him to Jacquetta and places the baby on her chest. She moves her hand slightly in recognition and draws her last breath, causing Elizabeth to breakdown at the bedside.
Richard and Anne, as well as Margaret and Thomas, get married, albeit in separate ceremonies, with the former having a passionate first night together and the latter sleeping in separate rooms, to Margaret’s chagrin. Isabel and Anne make up when the latter gets a curse sent to her by their mother; Anne will be living in Warwick Castle with Richard and the two promise to visit each other regularly. Meanwhile, Elizabeth and Edward are in bed mourning the loss of the baby and Jacquetta. Elizabeth makes it known that she’s uncomfortable with her husband’s connection with Jane Short and that she’s stood by him through too much for him to do that to her. Her issue is that he lays with Jane as if she could replace her on the throne and he says that she could never do that, not when Elizabeth is the one who keeps him going in battle. However, he does remind her that he never promised to be faithful and that they’re not the same two people they were when they met under the oak tree.
Margaret and Thomas arrive at the palace and she bows in acknowledgement of both Elizabeth and Edward.
Additional thoughts and observations:
-I appreciate that Edward doesn’t take George seriously. It undercuts the latter’s sense of self-importance to an entertaining degree and keeps him from being as big of a threat to Elizabeth as he could be.
-As with Lord Stafford’s death last week, Jacquetta’s death was terribly sad and well-executed. Her powers made knowledge of her demise that much more impactful, as well as the fact that she’s been the rock that Elizabeth has had to lean on during the stormier days of her time as queen. I honestly don’t know how she’ll handle a life with Edward straying from her and no Jacquetta there for support.
-Interesting that Margaret seemed disappointed in the lack of consummation of her marriage to Thomas. Is she lonelier than she lets herself acknowledge, especially since Jasper doesn’t want to be with her right now?
-Do you think the letters Anne and Isabel have been receiving are, in fact, from their mother? Or, in their pursuit of the Warwick family fortune, has someone been telling her what to write?
-I never understood the whole “send a royal baby to another country to grow up” thing. I get that it keeps them from being in harm’s way and that they’ll be protected until they’re a certain age, but making them the house of household and such seems a bit silly. How much power and decision-making ability should a 3-year-old have, y’know? And there’s no guarantee that those in charge of raising them will do a good job or shape their ideals in the best way possible.
-Next week on The White Queen: Paranoia runs rampant through the Neville family.