In the year 1470, Countess Warwick and Anne brave the winds to prepare the latter to sail to England with Margaret of Anjou. Countess will be following in the fleet that will sail behind the royal barge and before she goes to her boat, she reassures her daughter that she’s not far away, all the while Margaret is lurking in the shadows. Anne suggests that her mother tell her father that she’s trying to fulfill her end of the deal and help him achieve his dream, though Warwick is busy dealing with a defiant Isabel, hostilely informing him of her encounter with Lady Sutcliffe and informing him that she is neither his spy or her husband’s keeper.
Back at the palace, Warwick gets Henry to pray and calls upon Jasper to go to Wales and raise an army that can join with Margaret of Anjou’s in order to defeat Edward. Though she fully supports the cause, she’s made wary when she’s told that he will be taking Henry, as the boy is now second in line to the throne and too vulnerable an asset to leave unprotected. After the two ride away, Margaret goes up to Edmund Tudor and attempts to convince him that while her husband may be a peaceful man, he might be willing to raise an army if a man were to help him see the light. Edmund quickly agrees and rides away to join the rest of the soldiers.
Elizabeth and her family are still holed up in Westminster Abbey and she’s very much on the defensive in the wake of being separated from Edward. When she hears something outside, she runs to the front door and sees a cloaked figure headed toward her, along with another figure wielding a torch. She rushes to grab a weapon and plant herself between the door and her children, only to find out that the figure in the hood is her husband, anxious to see both her and his son before battle. Having slipped into the Abbey since all of Warwick’s men have been called to arms, he tells her that George has been good to his word and that the Sons of York have reunited before picking up his son and promising to return home safely. Later, he and Elizabeth make love and afterwards, she convinces him that he has a right to be vengeful toward Warwick, whose moves he knows well, and that nobody blames him for being captured and held. He replies that he was never afraid when he was in captivity and that the thought of his son filled him with hope.
While Isabel confronts her father on the confusing state of her allegiance now that she’s by her lonesome, to which he responds that she’ll be okay regardless of the battle’s outcome, Margaret Beaufort discovers a swarm of tenants in her home, signifying that Henry is ready to head into battle. Gleeful, she goes to thank him/bless him until she finds out that though he’s going into battle, he’ll be fighting for York. He reasons that the only peace the country has known has been under York rule and that he’s trying to make sure the country doesn’t collapse in on itself under a rule of a mad king, a tyrant queen, and a vile prince. He mentions that there’s no God in those people and when Margaret threatens to cut him out of her life should he fight against her own house, he gets down on one knee, kisses her hand, and says “God bless you, Margaret, even if you won’t say it to me” before leaving.
On the ship, Anne gets sea sick and has to deal with Margaret of Anjou’s questioning about what kind of queen she would be and insults regarding how weak she is, similar to her sister. Meanwhile, Jacquetta arrives at the Abbey and informs her daughter that Warwick has 3x the troops that Edward does and with Margaret on her way, that number will go up in number. As the armies are currently near Barnet, a city north of London, the two devise a spell that will raise the fog, giving Warwick’s men zero peripheral vision and allowing Edward’s men to sneak up. The Yorks get very close to the Lancastrian army before attacking and for a while, it seems as if Edward, Richard, George, and Warwick will all make it out of the battle unscathed and with high body counts to their name. However, Richard gets nicked and Warwick is punched, the latter righting himself and coming face to face with Edward. Before either of them can make a move, though, Warwick gets sliced on the midsection by a random York soldier, who then stabs the Kingmaker in the back, killing him.
All but one of Margaret of Anjou’s ships have come to shore, but they arrive to news that Warwick has been killed on the battlefield, having murdered his horse in a gesture to his men that he wouldn’t be riding away from them. Though Anne is devastated by the loss of her father and her mother running to seek sanctuary at a nearby abbey, she still manages to give Margaret advice about what to do next, telling her to head west towards Wales, an area with no affiliation, as the south is notably pro-York. They decide to go through unaffiliated Tewkesbury and Margaret tells Anne that if she tries to go see her mother, her name will mean nothing and she will be at the mercy of the York courts, known to not look kindly on traitors. When she goes on to say that they don’t need her anymore, Anne reminds her that they, in fact, do, as Edward needs an heir and she might be carrying the future King of England at this very moment. In honor of her father and to help fulfill his wish, she will ride with them.
Margaret Beaufort hears that Henry has been injured on the battlefield and forces Reginald to take her in a cart to see (and possibly retrieve) him. When she arrives, she sees piles of bodies being looted or chewed upon by animals, only for Henry to be weak and have his stomach wrapped in tight bandages in a protected location. He tries to get her to accept the loss, but he accidentally lets it slip that Lancaster still has a chance, should Margaret of Anjou hook up with Jasper’s army. She rushes to a nearby desk and writes her love a letter about the loss the Yorks suffered and how all hope might not be lost, reminding him to seize the moment and do what needed to be done. Back at the palace, Warwick’s funeral is attended by Edward’s closest family, who debate on how much they should be mourning; while Richard is aligned with Edward in thinking they should think about the hero he was vs. the traitor he became, George is vehemently opposed to remembering Warwick well and can’t stop thinking of him how he went out. As such, Jacquetta suggests that she and Elizabeth should forgive George and leave the rest up to God, though Elizabeth still has his name in her locket.
Edward gets ready for the final battle, where he will hope to stop Margaret of Anjou from linking up with Jasper Tudor, and is gifted with words of encouragement from his wife, who he orders to the tower. Antony will protect her during the duration of the battle; should he lose, though, he directs her to a man in Flanders who will aid her in keeping her son safe until he is old enough to seize the throne for himself and their family name. Elsewhere, Margaret of Anjou has reached the halfway point of her journey and gives a rousing speech to her army, only to find out that they can go no further that night. She opts to once again listen to Anne and has everyone pitch camp while heading to the abbey, where she gets Anne to pray for not only her father and her husband, but for her. Said prayer ends up not working well, as the Yorks end up losing the battle and Edward of York loses his life on the battlefield. Before Anne can gallop away on her horse, she gets surrounded by York soldiers who pull her off and look as if they were about to sexually assault her before Richard steps in to save the day. Margaret of Anjou refuses to go with Richard to London, as he has been ordered to bring her along by King Edward, and attempts to bribe him with the offer of becoming her heir and ascending to the throne. Richard doesn’t want to be king, though, and gets two guards to carry her away.
A weakened Lord Henry is home and being tended to by Reginald when Margaret comes to him with the idea of riding to see her son and Jasper one last time before they go into exile once again for an indeterminate amount of time. She basically steamrolls her way into getting him to agree and leaves the room as he reaches for her; when she returns, she finds her house full of people and the priest said to have been called for last rights. Henry, noticeably frailer than he was when she left, tells her to lie to her son about what happened to him; that he knows she never wanted to be with him; and that he’s sorry for disappointing her before advising her to be herself from now on and do whatever makes her happy, not what she thinks she should do to please God. Once he expresses regret at not having a child with her and urges her to make peace with the Yorks, he passes away.
At the palace, Elizabeth receives a bit of menacing eye contact from George during a celebration of Edward gaining the crown back, making her think that his allegiance might not be to his brother after all, and catches the three brothers sneaking into Henry’s room and smothering him with a pillow that night.
Additional thoughts and observations:
-The best shot of the episode was the cut to Margaret of Anjou looking like a predator about to devour her prey when Countess Warwick and Anne were in the boat. It was kind of horror movie-y and underlined the fact that, yes, she is the villain, but I thought it looked cool and added to The Bad Queen’s aura.
-So, apparently Edward could not be bothered to see his three daughters before the battle. Also, the sex scene? Was that in the same room as the kids or did they sneak off just to get some nookie?
-I like that, however much of a bastard you consider Warwick to be, he did take care of Izzy in case of his demise. His death, though, was super anticlimactic and felt like it happened too early in the series. I know that they’re trying to synthesize 1500 pages of material into a cogent, cohesive miniseries, but it felt like they were setting him up to last a lot longer and go out a lot bigger than the way it turned out. You could look at it as a commentary on how war stops for no man and even the biggest and baddest of leaders can be taken down by anyone; dramatically, though, it left something to be desired.
-This was a wonderful Henry Stafford episode. Between the stirring argument he has with Margaret where he stood by his belief in King Edward, him kissing her hand after she tells him she would consider him dead if he fought with the Yorks, and the absolutely gutting final conversation he had with his wife, which may or may not have made me cry, it was the richest his character has been in the series and gave new dimension to his dynamic with Margaret.
-Also having a good episode was Anne, who went toe-to-toe with Margaret of Anjou in a way that the Anne Neville of episode one could never have done. She leaves episode five with Richard at her side, The Bad Queen no longer a threat, and a promise to see her sister once court resumes, along with the added self-confidence of surviving without her father.
-Do you think George is working an angle in his support for Edward? I originally thought that there was at least something genuine about the change of allegiance, but it looks as if he abandoned a sinking ship in Warwick and wants to quickly regain Edward’s trust (which will be given, due to the King’s naivete) before striking with a plan to gain the throne for himself.
-Now that Elizabeth has seen her husband commit murder, how will her feelings about him change? Granted, he did it to tighten his grip on the throne after losing it several times, but will she be okay with death that occurs away from the battlefield?
-Next week on The White Queen: Anne furthers her political aspirations, while Elizabeth experiences heartbreak.