In the year 1465, a pregnant Elizabeth is bathed by her ladies and dressed in preparation for her coronation as Queen of England. The anxiety understandably builds within her, lessened only by the news of Duchess Cecily not attending, and increases once an irritated Lord Warwick comes to her room to escort her to the beginning of the route she’ll travel through town before being crowned. While George and Richard are complimentary when they see their sister-in-law, Edward is only allowed to watch the ceremony from a distance and behind a screen and Warwick’s daughter Isabel carried no positive feelings for her Queen. After bumping Warwick to the back of their caravan through town, Elizabeth’s father escorts her outside and to the vehicle she’ll be riding, which puts her on display to the adoring masses, who are busy waving flags and tossing white rose petals in her honor.
Escorted by two priests, she enters the cathedral to the silence of those in the pews, though Warwick, his daughters, Edward’s brothers, and her parents all watch her intently as she walks down the aisle toward the altar. Elizabeth then sits down on the throne and receives the anointing oil, scepter, and ring before being crowned the next Queen of England, causing the entire crowd to bow/curtsy in her presence. Afterward, she gets a minute alone with her boys before she has to begin getting ready for her first feast as Queen, which also finds Richard offering an awkward Anne Neville a seat at the table, George teasing the Rivers sisters for their similar appearance, and another presentation of Elizabeth, this time led by Lord Warwick. She marvels at the extravagance of the coronation and Edward assures her that since there was no royal wedding for the people, this is their way for the masses to involve themselves in an important time in their country.
Warwick, already stressed from having to deal with Elizabeth’s family from Burgundy, comes over and tries to get Edward to focus less on nearly making out with his wife at the dinner table and more on signing the peace treaty with France. Edward, though, brushes it off and assures him that he’ll sign it the following day, going back to focusing exclusively on Elizabeth. The two go back to their room, a place that Elizabeth thinks should be cleared of Margaret of Anjou’s belongings, and Elizabeth brings up the issue of their safety. Edward believes that there’ll always be alarm due to Henry being out in the ether and encourages his wife to look over the brusque Lord Warwick, who he knows will grow to love her; he also suggests asking Isabel and Anne to join her ladies and making them her favorites as a way of bonding the two together. However, when she brings up the idea to the Kingmaker, who just heard that Edward isn’t completely sold on the French peace treaty in favor of a possible Burgundy (e.g. the French enemy) alliance, he’s very cold and passes a reminder that this country doesn’t need any more scheming women.
It turns out that the reason Warwick was pushing so hard for the treaty to be signed was that he made a deal with the French king and would receive a territory were he to get Edward to sign. The original deal hinged upon Edward marrying Princess Bona, but the King threw a major wrench in that when he announced that he was married to Elizabeth. For his part, Edward doesn’t see anything wrong with Warwick going behind his back and claims that his only problem with it was not being told upfront; Elizabeth and Antony, though, see that Warwick is thirsty for power and the biggest danger to Edward’s rule, so he tells her that she’ll have to do the thinking for him. The following day, there’s an event with hawk races where Richard loses to one of Elizabeth’s brothers and George ends up winning the title of Earl of Richmond, once possessed by Margaret Beaufort’s son. However, Edward deigns that since her son was Henry’s nephew, he has to strip the boy of the title, something that destroys the religious woman once she finds out the news. She laments that brother-in-law Jasper Tudor, with whom her son is currently staying, would never have let this happened and that this title was the only thing her son has, meaning that she’ll do anything to get it back.
Elizabeth finds out that Warwick’s daughters have declined the invitation to join her ladies and goes to Jacquetta, busy planning how to marry her children off and sure up the royal family. She advises her daughter to do as her husband says and attempt to be friends with Warwick while focusing on making her family strong. When her father bursts in with news of Edward naming him treasurer and two of his sons to important posts (heading the fleet, bishop), Elizabeth’s water breaks and she ends up having her third child – and first girl. Though disappointed at first, Edward assures Elizabeth that they’ll love the girl very well and that he doesn’t know what he’d do without her. Warwick, of course, is giddy at there still not being an heir to the York throne and informs his wife that he’s taken a prize that not even Edward will be able to resist.
Margaret and her husband arrive at Jasper’s where they inquire about her son Henry. She sees him for the first time in quite a while and he merely bows at her due to not remembering that she is his mother. Henry Stafford, her husband, takes the boy to the stables to look at the horses and Jasper asks whether the man is treating Margaret well; she acknowledges that she gets an allowance and has been learning Latin. Just then, Henry bursts into the room with a letter from the king – Margaret’s son has been promised to Elizabeth’s youngest sister Catherine. Though Margaret is upset, she decides to attend the ceremony to see her mother.
The ceremony itself is quite tense, since Duchess Cecily attends, but the real news comes when the guests hear horns in the background and go running to the courtyard, where they find Warwick and a noticeably weak Henry, captured while the Kingmaker was away. Richard attempts to take a sword and kill his former leader, but Edward halts him and reminds his brother that if he were to kill Henry, he’d be no better than him. Instead, Edward announces that the former king will be held in the tower and shown the kind of mercy he himself didn’t show during his reign. Later, the Countess of Warwick takes Anne and Isabel aside to tell them that their father is meeting with the king to discuss marrying them off to his two brothers and making them duchesses, thereby outranking Cecily.
One of the few not on top of the world after Henry’s capture is Margaret, who believes that the man is still the king in the eyes of God. Her mother, Lady Beachum, admonishes her daughter for being dramatic and tells her that as a woman, she’s not allowed to live the life that she wants – she’s merely to follow orders from her mother or her husband. Margaret wanted to marry Jasper Tudor, but Lady Beachum felt like Henry Stafford was the better match and doesn’t care whether or not her daughter is happy about the new arrangement. Amid the celebration, Elizabeth talks to Edward, who told Warwick he would think about marrying George and Richard to Isabel and Anne. This would give the Warwick access to the biggest fortune in the country and his family royal blood on both sides, in what could be the final move before he decides to bring down Edward. Elizabeth convinces her husband to reject the idea and offer his cousin something in return, but Warwick is infuriated at the rejection and blames Elizabeth, claiming that she will not win this battle.
That night, Isabel laments having another bad queen after having dealt with Margaret of Anjou. At the urging of Anne, she tells the story of the former queen, referred to as a she-wolf with a wild army of naked men. Her husband was kept in a glass coffin while she tore apart England, killed their grandfather, and nearly killed their father. Luckily for them, Edward and Warwick won the snowy battle and watched her blow away like a blizzard; she intimates that Edward is an “ice boy” and was cutting off heads by the time he was 7 years old, as well as the fact that he’s not a legitimate heir to the throne. While Elizabeth and Jacquetta watch Warwick prepare to escort Margaret to Burgundy to marry Charles, the latter mentions that it’s time for Elizabeth to begin having sons.
Three years later…
Elizabeth has three girls – Mary, Lizzy, and her youngest, who rarely leaves her hip. While on the way to meet with Edward, who has been traveling through his kingdom, they receive word of a well-funded rebellion rising against Edward, led by Lord Warwick. Meanwhile, Isabel and George get married, much to the chagrin of Anne, who just wanted to know what it was like to be a duchess. The marriage is done without Edward’s approval in hopes of installing George on the throne due to being the only legitimate heir, devastating Anne when she finds out the real reasoning behind the ceremony; if the two have a son, Edward will officially have been booted from the throne. However, this actually gives Edward some motivation to bring down Warwick and perspective on his former mentor, as he sends Elizabeth to Norwich until the conflict is over.
However, Edward gets captured when the rest of the army attempts to hold Warwick’s bunch off and sends Elizabeth a message warning that Warwick will come after her and advising her to raise London and arm the tower. Antony bursts into the room and reveals that their father and brother John have been killed in battle – they were beheaded with no charge and no trial by Warwick’s men, who were waiting for them on the road. Overjoyed is Margaret Beaufort, promising to write George for the restoration of Henry’s title and informing her son that she had a vision he would become the King of England, where Lady Beachum would be forced to kneel before her.
While mourning, Jacquetta brings out a letter than her husband sent her before he was supposed to come home. In it, he tells her to be happy and sends Elizabeth his love. However, she’s besides herself with grief and fury at the deaths and vows to kill George out of revenge, after having tried to do the honorable thing and be friends with Warwick. Jacquetta tells her to write the names of those she wishes death in blood while by the riverside under the waning moon, heat a charm, and store it in darkness, all of which she does. By her will, she says, they both shall die.
Additional thoughts and observations:
-Well, that was a lot of plot, huh? It was good plot and plot that I was interested in, but this was really overstuffed and breezed by what could have made for interesting developments. While I know that this was said to be a limited series, had they slowed down just a tad, the episode could have been all the better for it. It reminded me a lot of the first season of The Tudors, which, while very good, covered 12 years in 10 episodes and felt like somebody was pressing the fast forward button and stopping occasionally.
-The shot of Elizabeth walking down the aisle toward the altar at her coronation was gorgeous and filmed very well, in that you got to see all the key players reactions to her impending crowning. It was one of my favorite pars of the trailer and it didn’t disappoint.
-Oh, Edward. So handsome, so sweet, and yet so stupid. He may have the charisma to be king, but he apparently has zero sense of self-preservation and trusts those around him far too much, considering his position and the marriage that rippled throughout the country.
-I will say, though, that every scene with Warwick alone with Elizabeth was rife with tension. It felt like any second he could bring the hammer down on her or let some type of withering insult slip out; thus far, though, he’s held his tongue around her. Now that Edward is captive, we might see him get more cocky around her and taunt the queen’s recent losses and dwindling status.
-So, Amanda Hale killed it as Margaret Beaufort, playing her psychological instability and self-destructiveness as something almost noble and quite sympathetic. Not knowing anything about what’s to come, it seems as if she’ll be a major wildcard, in a good way.
-Isabel’s puppet show was bizarrely funny to me, for some reason. Also, I will be referring to myself as “ice boy” from here on out.
-The mid-episode time jump: did you like it? Or was it too much?
-I was surprised at how upset I was at Richard and John being killed, given that we’re on episode two. Darn you, White Queen.
-Do you think that Elizabeth will get too in over her head with the magic?
-Next week on The White Queen: Margaret joins the rebellion against Edward, while Warwick and George sail to France.