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The Tudors: His Majesty, the King

“Who was that, Your Majesty?”
“Just a girl.”

The show really gets going this week. Couples come together, murders are committed, jousting accidents occur, and Henry falls face first into a puddle.

Real Men Hit Each Other with Sticks

Let’s talk jousting. Doesn’t that look fun? Wail on your friends with sticks (I know, “It’s called a lance, hello?”). I can hardly stand to watch jousting scenes in movies and TV shows; I couldn’t imagine watching a real joust back then. Although I do have fun imagining people with buckets of leeches standing on the sidelines à la EMTs. That was the reasoning back then, right? If something hurts, stick a leech on it?

Enough about me, on to blood dripping out of helmets. Henry forgot to put his visor down, silly boy. As a result, his friend Anthony almost lost an eye. No, that’s not a typo, it’s just our dear pal Henry’s competitive side come out to play. He has to one up everyone. He has to be the center of attention. It’s really not a shocking personality flaw for a spoiled king, but it is frightening. As he was preparing for the second run, Anthony looked like he was headed to his death. And, you know, if Henry had hit him just a little bit harder, he might have gotten there.

Henry vs. the Puddle

After being hit squarely in his unprotected face with a piece of splintery wood, Henry’s first reaction was to assure Anthony that it wasn’t his fault. Anthony didn’t hurt him. Anthony couldn’t hurt him. Couldn’t? Add to our ever-growing list of character flaws God complex. Henry thinks he’s special, above everyone (he is king, after all). He also seems to be under the mistaken impression that he is immortal. Not in a completely delusional way, of course, just in a fourteen year old boy doing skateboarding tricks in a parking lot way. Henry isn’t a fourteen year old boy, he’s a king, and it’s about time he faceplants and realizes that he can get hurt. Enter mud puddle.

Mortality hits Henry like a sledgehammer. He yells at Wolsey, bangs his head against his headboard (how does that help?), and writhes dramatically in bed. Thankfully, shirtless. Hello Jonathan Rhys Meyers. This episode marks the point where Henry’s obsession with his progeny (or lack thereof) truly takes flight. He’s now in the midst of an official midlife crisis and, unfortunately for him, sports cars haven’t been invented yet. Guess he’ll have to go with midlife crisis stereotype number two: get himself a (new) mistress.

When Courting a Woman, Always Grab her by the Neck

Anne and Henry get their first one-on-one encounter in this ep. Henry celebrates by aggressively wrapping his hand around Anne’s neck. Foreshadowing, anyone? Never mind, I’m sure it’s meaningless. I love that Henry isn’t the typical romantic lead. In The Other Boleyn Girl (both book and movie) Henry was cast as the hero. Sure, he was a deeply flawed hero, but he was still supposed to be the dreamy sort of guy typically seen in historical romances. The Tudors’ Henry is real. Like I’ve said before, he’s not a monster, but he still isn’t the stuff daydreams are made of. At least not healthy daydreams.

This helps to put his relationships in perspective. It’s obviously not his personality that draws people to him. It’s power. With relatively few exceptions, everyone in Henry’s life is there in order to get some of that power. Henry, too vain to notice, believes their lies about loving him in order to stroke his ego.

"His Majesty, The King" also gives us our first extended look at Anne Boleyn’s character and her various feminine wiles. Clearly, she is a master at playing hard to get. She returns Henry’s gifts and leaves court, which naturally only makes him want her more. I loved the way he leaped to his feet when it was announced “Anne” was here to see him. I’m sure Anne Boleyn purposefully sent someone who shared her name to return those brooches just to make Henry squirm.

I’m On a Boat

Charles Brandon and Princess Margaret set off on an ocean voyage to deliver her to her new home in Portugal. On their way, they do some squirming of their own. Yes, while Henry is screwing the sister of his rival, Francis I, Charles is screwing the sister of his best friend. As anyone but Henry might have predicted, you put a pretty woman out to sea with a notorious womanizer and sexy fun boat times are sure to occur.

Interestingly, Margaret is the initiator of said sexy fun boat times. Later, Margaret tells Charles “I should hate you.” I never understood this. It would make sense if she was the seducee and not the seductress, but she was the one who invited him into her cabin, who found a truly pathetic excuse to send her ladies away, and who decided to ask him to leave in her sexiest, sultriest whisper. Was she just protecting her pride?

Princess Margaret with the Pillow in the Bedroom

Yeah so, that happened. It’s our fourth death of the series! Don’t worry, they’ll be plenty more. We’ve had an assassination, an execution, and a Pope dying of natural causes. It was about time for a good, old fashioned murder. From Margaret’s perspective, the nameless King of Portugal is everything he was made out to be. He’s hunchbacked, aged, gross, and seems to talk with the sole purpose of spitting at her as much as possible.

This hardly justifies her murdering him. Yes, the King is old and could use a solid month or two in a dentist’s chair, but he welcomed her to her new home with as much kindness and warmth as he could. Of course she would be uncomfortable in a foreign court surrounded by people wearing foreign dress and speaking a foreign language. But her plight was the same of many women back then. While selling one’s sister in marriage seems inhumane to us, it was de rigueur back then, and not many of those women smothered their husbands. I guess what I’m trying to say is this: virtual sexual slavery is wrong, but murder is also wrong.

Romantic that I am, I’d love to claim that Margaret killed her husband out of a desire to be with Charles, her one true love. In reality, I think she just wanted to go back home. Home: a place where nobody watches you on your wedding night. Ugh. Medieval wedding traditions were so pervy!

Costumes of the Episode:

Catherine of Aragon
Margaret Tudor


James Frain joins the main cast as Thomas Cromwell.

We get our first look at Anne’s brother George Boleyn and their adorable relationship.

Anne’s red dress is my favorite Tudors costume.

As should be obvious after watching the Charles and Margaret scene, all women in Tudor England shaved their legs. And self-tanned.

Most Illustrious Quotations:

More: “But Your Majesty should know that Martin Luther has also responded to your work.”
Henry: “What did he say?”
More: “Well, he accuses you of...”
Henry: “Yes?”
More: “He accuses you of...raving like a strumpet in a tantrum.”
Henry: “WHAT!?”
Martin Luther really knows our Henry, huh?

Margaret: “It seems to me, Your Grace, that we have more to fear from the pirates already on board.”
Meow, Princess Margaret. Is it possible someone has a teeny tiny crush on said pirate?

Pace: “Shhh. She’s sleeping. We talked together. I thought she had died when she gave birth to our son. I was sure I went to the funeral and wept. But now, I see she’s alive and as well as I. Do you not see her?”
Oh, the chilling insanity of Mr. Pace. Even the most minor parts on the show are impeccably written and acted.

Wolsey: “At least our alliance with the emperor is popular. Although sometimes I ask myself why that should be so.”
Henry: “Because he’s not French.”

More: “Why should we not have pains? Some people think we ought to go to Heaven on featherbeds. But that is not the way. For our Lord himself went there in pain and tribulation.”
Wolsey: [stares at him blankly]
More: “...Not that I’m suggesting that you’re like that, of course.”
That moment when you realize the person you’re complaining about is the same person you’re talking to. Oops.

Henry: “You almost lost an eye.”
Anthony: “Never use that one much anyway.”

the beginning of the best
four out of four mud puddles


  1. Yay for James Frain!

    sunbunny, have you seen the episode of the ill-fated Miami Medical where it had More operating on Cromwell?

    I love Padraic Delaney's turn as George Boleyn. He's not so much a wet blanket or overly vicious as in other productions.

    Watching JRM as Henry VIII just makes me want to re-watch Bend It Like Beckham and Match Point because surely it's not the same guy :)

    I can't stop staring at Gabrielle Anwar's lips. She seems to have permanent ducklips.

  2. Fantastic review! Like you, I never watch a joust now that I don't think of William, Geoffrey and the gang.

    A great episode. While occasionally I want to shout at the television about the timeline and their loose interpretation of history, I find that all is forgiven in the wonderful character beats. I especially like watching people whom we know will eventually lose their heads revel in being powerful and on top. Don't get too comfortable there...


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