In the year 1473, peace has come to England and as such, Edward has taken the opportunity to enjoy the pleasures that he was denied during times of war – namely, a plethora of beautiful women not named Elizabeth. Both Richard and George come down on their brother for his whoring, with George mentioning that it’s time that Edward solidifies his legacy and invade France; the intention of such an action is to get the lands that Henry lost back and restore honor to both their family name and the country itself, in addition to naming George regent. He’s been feeling like his brothers have more than their fair share, particularly Richard and his 10 titles/control of northern England, and jealous over Richard living in Warwick Castle, though Edward only agrees to think about the notion.
While Edward is off screwing anything in a skirt, Elizabeth is going into labor with what they think is another son. She’s afraid of having to go through her first birth without Jacquetta and sends Lady Margaret out for some lavender, where Stanley urges his wife to get in closer with the queen and Margaret tells him that Elizabeth only loves her own vanity – no one else. She goes to the chapel and prays to God for a sign that she’s where she belongs, only for someone to alert her to the baby being stuck and a chair being required. Once Elizabeth gets on her knees in front of the chair and leans over, the baby comes; however, he’s not crying and Elizabeth thinks that another one of her children has passed away. Margaret takes the baby in her hands and he comes to life, crying after being with her for a few seconds. Joyful, Elizabeth claims that she’s in Margaret’s debt and Lady Margaret seems a little shook up herself.
Richard comes home to Anne and their son at Warwick Castle and she expresses gratitude at being away from court. However, that lasts for only a short moment when Richard brings in Countess Warwick, who previously disowned and cursed her daughter. The reason? George had expressed a desire to snatch her from sanctuary and secure the family fortune, so Richard took her before he could and will make sure that Isabel and Anne will get to split the Neville fortune themselves. Anne isn’t happy whatsoever, as her mother left her on the battlefield, while the Countess isn’t looking forward to being under Richard’s rule, especially since he’ll be going to Edward to pass an act declaring her dead. That will release the fortune to both Isabel and Anne and Richard reminds her that it was either this, the tower, or the grave. Countess tries to go to Anne and get her daughter to stand with her, but Anne’s trust is completely within her husband.
Over at George’s, Isabel overhears him talking to their daughter Margaret and gets wind of how deep his hatred of Elizabeth runs, as he thinks that she favors George and has been in Edward’s ear to deprive him of what is rightfully his. In his mind, Richard and Edward consider themselves untouchable due to having three sons between them, but once he gets named regent, he’ll show Edward what he’s made for and possibly earn himself more power and responsibility. With his brothers by his side, Edward announces plans to invade France to those in his court, though Elizabeth isn’t happy about yet another war and the possibility of George being granted power by his brother, which she warns could lead to their downfall. While Edward argues that fighting for a common cause will draw them closer together, Lady Margaret and Lord Stanley discuss the chances of a York victory and what that would mean for their son, who they think would be led to slaughter by Edward.
Also not happy with having to deal with another war is Antony, to the point where he’s decided to head to Rome until the conflict is over. Elizabeth needs him now more than ever to watch over Edward and keep George from getting too close, but Antony doesn’t want to risk his life over something that he doesn’t truly believe in. Richard isn’t that thrilled with the conflict, either, though his concern mainly lies with power-hungry George being granted control over France. Meanwhile, Lady Margaret writes to Jasper and Henry, afraid of what a York victory would mean for them while also praying for her husband’s safe return from battle. To her, Elizabeth has been behaving like a king at court, ruling by her lonesome and with a much tighter fist than her husband, something that Margaret fears. She’s also bemused by how her life ended up like this, since she’s acting as Elizabeth’s youngest son’s nursemaid and can’t bare to tend to him, since he reminds her of Jasper and Henry.
Anne goes to Isabel about the reemergence of their mother and Isabel confesses that George is so angry recently due to being pushed further from the throne. In her mind, he needs something for himself before he will be happy and alas, herself and Margaret seem to have disappointed him so. Once she has their son, she thinks he’ll finally love her. Elizabeth summons Isabel and asks about what she heard from George, hoping for news from the battlefield and the progress of the conflict with France. Unfortunately, George has only mentioned his desire for a son, though Elizabeth gets wind from newly minted spy Lady Margaret that George has eyes on the throne. She makes a passing comment to Isabel and Anne about she hopes that they have the same luck as their mothers in terms of having children, with Jacquetta having born 14 children during her life. Countess Warwick, on the other hand? Four – two boys, two girls. Isabel takes this as a curse, only for Anne to try and talk her down, claiming that the only reason her sister sees Elizabeth as a witch is their father. However, Isabel is convinced that if she fails to have a son, it will be Elizabeth’s fault.
While out at the battlefield, Edward, George, and Richard have disagreements about how to approach the conflict with France. Edward wants to do without bloodshed and thinks that they should at least get King Louis’ terms and discuss them. He also reminds George that the talk of becoming a regent was only that – talk. He was never promised anything. Richard writes to Anne and tells her that the entire campaign was a farce, that Edward ended up taking the deal offered by King Louis, which included a marriage between the French son and one of the English daughters and a whole lot of gold. Though he’s been on his brother’s side for much of his reign, Richard believes that he can’t forgive Edward for his actions in France, as he’s been made to feel like a merchant rather than a soldier or a royal. As a result of what happened, George has become increasingly angrier and blames Elizabeth for his misfortunes.
Back from the war, Elizabeth heartily welcomes Edward, claiming to be sick of being around women, while Richard is noticeably distant from the king and George refuses to celebrate, opting to go home to be with Isabel. George rants to his wife about how treacherous Edward is and how he will get what’s coming to him, since he made a deal with King Louis that hinges upon Isabel having a son – if she does, the French get land and George gets the army he needs to overthrow Edward and take the throne. Isabel tells her husband about the curse she believes Elizabeth has put on her that killed their first born. His big plan to get the queen back? Hire a sorcerer.
Meanwhile, Richard is offended at Edward sending a package of hold to buy his affections/loyalty, claiming that his brother doesn’t know him at all. He existentially ponders whether he can trust anyone anymore and whether he’s truly alone, ignoring Anne’s attempt at showing him affection in the process. Anne then goes to talk to her mother, who again attempts to convince her to join forces; this time, she argues that since Anne’s marriage had no dispensation from the Pope, Richard could very easily divorce her and take her entire half of the Neville fortune, which is in the bill that declares the Countess dead. Anne doesn’t take anything her mother says seriously, though, and calls her mad before leaving.
Elizabeth’s oldest boy Thomas gets married to a commoner from England and at the reception, Cecily’s gossiping gets shut down quickly by an irritated Anne. The real fireworks come when George refuses to stand and toast his brother and Elizabeth, instead knocking his cup over and exiting the room. As Edward won’t do anything about it, telling Elizabeth that he’ll have Cecily talk to him about it, the queen goes after her brother-in-law, who accuses her of being a murderer. While he leaves after she tells him that he won’t ruin everything they’ve built up at court, George ends up killing the family dog and bringing its body to Isabel, claiming that he found it in one of their rooms and that the animal was poisoned. Later, he goes to a sorcerer to work on killing Edward, while Isabel writes Anne to tell her sister that she had a baby boy named Teddy, that the sorcerer was hired to ward off spells, and that she had been bed ridden recently.
It turns out that Isabel died from her illness before Anne could reach her and George doesn’t want to tell anyone about it, as he doesn’t know who they can trust and Edward would only try to marry him off to someone out of the country. Anne ends up telling her mother about Isabel’s death and the Countess apologizes for leaving her on the battlefield. Elsewhere, George comes to Edward and asks about the possibility of marrying Mary of Burgundy, which he declines. Elizabeth then calls Anne to court in an attempt to scorch the rumors that she’s a witch, something George publicly accuses her of. Elizabeth berates the young girl for thinking that Edward would want George to remarry someone from Flanders, who would have the access to overthrow him from the throne, and plants a seed of distrust in her mind about George’s involvement in Isabel’s death.
Anne goes to Richard about this and he doesn’t know that what happened was even murder, though Anne still isn’t satisfied and demands to go fetch Isabel’s children to live at Warwick Castle with them. Back at the palace, court is dividing over the accusations against Elizabeth; however, Lady Margaret isn’t as satisfied as she thought she would be and assumes that Isabel’s death was the result of George’s sorcerer’s power backfiring. As Edward learns of George’s plan with King Louis, he sends men after his brother in Tewkesbury looking for an arrest, only for George to escape. Antony arrives back from Rome and comforts Elizabeth, who is forced to go to a celebration of Edward’s 15 years on the throne when half of her court thinks she’s a murderous witch. With several armed men to protect against a rumored assassination attempt, everyone at the celebration dons animal masks; George makes his presence known to Anne first and then runs around the tight corridors of the party, loudly rants about how both Edward and Elizabeth are murderers before being drug off to Margaret’s bemusement and Elizabeth’s horror.
George stands trial for treason with nobody acting in his defense and Edward acting as prosecutor. A guilty verdict quickly comes, despite the pleas of Duchess Cecily, who can’t control her grief around Richard and goes to Edward to ask for a reversal in the ruling. However, Richard simply asks her if she would have rather it been himself or Edward instead of her precious George and Edward apologizes for her loss before mentioning that George will get to pick the way he dies. After commanding him to reverse the decision, she throws herself on the floor and begs Edward to change his mind, latching on to his leg as he walks by and allowing him to drag her across the floor.
The method George ends up choosing is drowning in malmsey wine, which Elizabeth takes as a personal affront since its known that malmsey wine is her favorite and Edward brought some home from France specifically for her. While Cecily and Anne mourn George, and Edward argues with Richard over the sentencing, George is led to the tub by two guards and gets drowned before anyone can see him or he can have any last words. Elizabeth takes his name from her locket and burns it in the fireplace; Richard and Anne embrace while at the church altar; and Margaret’s son has his title restored, though there are five people in front of him in line for the throne. Margaret prays, lights five candles, and blows one out.
Additional thoughts and observations:
-So, Edward’s belly at the beginning of the episode was awesomely pillow-like, with zero indication elsewhere that he was aging or gaining weight. He looked a bit more realistic later in the episode, particularly when he sits by the fire and tells Elizabeth about George’s plan with Louis, but the shots of him with the women and talking to George and Richard were nearly comical.
-Richard’s speaking voice reminds me so much of Iwan Rheon from Misfits, for some reason. Also, the increased Richard in this episode was much appreciated, because he’s only been in the series in fits and spurts, and then only as a romantic interest for Anne. Here, he was more fully formed and quite a bit more compelling as a result. Do you think that he’s been honest with Anne and isn’t going to divorce her to take her fortune away?
-Props to The White Queen for doing somewhat realistic birth scenes, even though the shot of one of Elizabeth’s ladies scooping something out of her following the birth wasn’t exactly my favorite thing in the world.
-I’d like next season of Call the Midwife to star Amanda Hale as Margaret Beaufort. The shot of her reaction to the baby living was really excellent.
-Favorite lines: Richard telling Countess Warwick about her options being a faked death, the tower, or the grave; Edward’s wilting “I’m sorry for your loss”; Anne’s “You can’t hear witchcraft in everything she says”; Elizabeth’s “I’m tired of women.”
-When they showed George talking to Margaret and only showed his face, I thought for a second that maybe his anger had consumed him so much that he went mad and was talking to himself. Nice fake out, show, by having him with the baby.
-Isabel telling Anne that George will finally love her once she has a son, combined with George telling Anne that he had grown to love his wife – saddest moment of the episode? Poor Isabel.
-Conversely, George telling Isabel that he was going to hire a sorcerer was deliciously funny, likely for unintentional reasons. That was such a strange line to say so seriously on a show where the supernatural was really limited to Jacquetta and Elizabeth and felt much soapier than anything we’ve had thus far.
-Edward’s stupidity could be so irritating, but I like seeing just how deep it runs and how his only positive moves seem to come from Elizabeth pulling the strings. Thinking that George will be faithful to him because they’re brothers? Overriding his brothers by accepting Louis’ terms and expecting them to be perfectly okay with it? Wonderful.
-I might have gasped aloud when Elizabeth got out of her chair and went into the hallway to confront George, though it would have been nice had the scene went longer. They needed one good tussle before George met his end and that felt like the moment to pull the trigger, with emotions and tension as heightened as they were.
-That celebration gave me serious Eyes Wide Shut vibes, in a good way. Visually, the show has never let me down and this was no exception, with the tight corridors, masks, dancers, drummers, and woodsy décor.
-Don’t look now, everybody, but Lady Margaret is coming for blood. And I cannot wait.
-Next week on The White Queen: Dark days could be ahead for Edward.