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The Tudors: Simply Henry

“Henry’s going to win.”
“Whatever happens, he’s not going to win.”

This week, Henry heads to France for a peace summit, foils a treasonous plot, and fathers a child. He’s a very busy man, isn’t he?

The Summit

Emmanuel Leconte guest stars as King Francis I of France and does a very good job. I loved the glares flying between Francis and Henry at the summit and the ill-disguised contempt in his voice whenever he spoke. Maybe that was just the accent. In any case, contempt came through loud and clear. Henry heard it too and most wisely (eye roll) challenged the King of France to a wrestling match. Ugh. Boys. After that went about as well as one could expect, Henry threw a temper tantrum. What a brat.

Make New Friends...

We meet the Boleyn girls properly, this time. Mary is the Francis’ “English mare,” and Anne is the one whose eyes are “dark hooks for the soul,” despite being light blue. I remember in my first watching of the series thinking that there wasn’t enough Anne in this episode. Don’t worry, she’s about to steal the show, the season, the series, everything. Yes, I’m a fan of Anne’s (and Natalie Dormer’s), can’t you tell?

Thomas Boleyn acts like a pimp, loaning his daughters out to royals. It’s not historically accurate, but thankfully the writers of The Tudors aren’t the sort of people who let silly things like historical facts interrupt good narrative. Women were property back then, it makes perfect sense that the men who legally controlled them would be willing to do so for monetary or political gain. Boleyn’s first gamble is sending Mary in to gain their family favor. As Henry tires of her, he decides it’s Anne’s turn.

...Execute the Old

Although the intrigue with Buckingham actually took place years before Anne Boleyn first bumped into Henry, I think it was a good choice to include it. In his dealings with Buckingham, we get a clearer view of Henry’s character and set up patterns for his behavior that will be followed for seasons to come.

Henry is two-faced. We see it three times in the span of a single episode. He double deals France without a second thought and after that he does the same thing with Buckingham. He smiles to his face at Christmas, and then has him arrested. Later, he tells Wolsey he’ll back off Buckingham. But he doesn’t. This pattern exists in the historical record, and not just the show’s scripts. The last time Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Anne of Cleves, or Catherine Howard saw him, things were fine. Then they weren’t.

Henry is vindictive. Wolsey brings to Henry a perfectly reasonable plan to neutralize but not kill Buckingham. The plan would ensure that Buckingham was never again a threat to Henry’s throne, while also not angering any of Buckingham’s powerful friends. Henry votes no. He wants to see Buckingham dead. Well, not ‘see’ exactly:

Once he has sentenced people to death, Henry forgets about them and distracts himself with shiny objects. There is an exception to this pattern, but I’ll talk about when it comes up. During all the other executions, Henry’s scenes of simple amusement are intercut with people walking to their deaths. Once he’s sentenced someone to die, he doesn’t think about them anymore. That’s all over, and there’s no reason to dwell on it. Who cares if Buckingham’s daughter is watching him die? Look, there’s a baby!

Random Historical Fact:

The historical Henry VIII did have an affair with Mary Boleyn, although she was already Mary Carey, wife of William Carey, by the time he got to her. Due to their relationship, Henry had to seek special dispensation to marry Anne.

Costumes of the Episode:

Elizabeth Blount
Anne Boleyn

Princess Mary
Queen Claude


We got a saga sell. It was decent (and short), but is it really necessary?

There was a member of the Swiss Guard at the summit. I’m guessing they ran out of costumes for extras.

Is it wrong that when I see the Palace of Illusions, all I can think of is Fluffytown? Fluffytown was way better. I seriously doubt the Palace of Illusions had a Civil Rights Museum or a Turkish district.

Can we skip over the weirdness that is engaging children to each other and focus on how adorable their little confrontation on the table was?

Is that where the blackbirds baked into a pie thing came from? Does anyone know?

Catherine is such a class act. Not many women would show up to their husband’s ‘Hurrah I have a bastard son’ party.

Our first beheading of the series. Trust me, there will be many more. Out of all of them, Buckingham was definitely the one who deserved it the most, and the only one to be a complete wuss about it. I’ve decided I don’t have to be sensitive about his death. It was like 500 years ago.

Most Illustrious Quotations:

Anthony: “What if the French don’t show?”
William: “Oh, they’ll show. They’ll just be fashionably late.”

Henry: “How do you like my beard?”
Francis: “You almost look French now.”

Henry: “During this summit, I am simply Henry, King of England.”
Francis: “And I am just Fran├žois, King of France. And Burgundy.”
Love how he slips that little extra in there.

Anthony: “What bet will you lay?”
William: “Two kings, two queens, and a fool.”
Anthony: “Who’s the fool?”
William: “I don’t know yet, but it’s a full house.”
Rim shot!

Henry: “I’m not going to sign the treaty. I’m not going to sign it. Go and tell them.”
More: “Alright! If you want the world to know the King of England is easily changeable, shallow, intemperate, incapable of keeping his word, then of course I will go and tell them. After all, I am merely Your Majesty’s humble servant.”
Should we tell poor Thomas More all of that is true?

Wolsey: “Perhaps you think too highly of me, Thomas. Perhaps you think too highly of the whole human race.”

Henry: “Your Eminence has built the most beautiful palace...Probably the finest house in England. I have nothing to compare with it, nothing to show more fair.”
Wolsey: “Your Majesty, it is yours.”
Henry: “With the furnishings?”
I think the phrase you were looking for was ‘Thank you,’ you royal ass.

solid episode, nothing extraordinary
two out of four awesome tent palaces


  1. Fantastic review, sunbunny; better than the episode itself.

    While I was watching this, I was thinking about how well written this is. Our "hero," as you so rightly point out, is an ass; and, we all know how the story is going to turn out. Yet, somehow, we keep watching his machinations and those of the people around him. No wonder More avoided court!

  2. Great review Sunbunny, you put a smile on my face!

    ChrisB is right, it's a testament to how well written, cast, acted etc. this show is that we turned in week after week to watch a story with disagreable characters, whose endings we knew, unfold! Probably didn't hurt that Henry had Jonathan's figure and fabulous eyes! ;o)

    One thing I enjoyed about this episode was the use of the French language! Although they probably would have been speaking in French the whole time (not English), the fact that they interspersed a lot of (well spoken) French added a note of accuracy to me. Also glad they hired French actors! We'll see if they do as good a job with the Spanish later on... ;o)

    And yes, that confrontation between Mary and young Henri (future father-in-law of Mary Queen of Scots by the way!) was adorable! :o)

    And good introduction to the Boleyn sisters...

  3. I've decided I don't have to be sensitive about his death. It was like 500 years ago. LOL.

  4. I adore Steve Waddington so I was quite disappointed to see Buckingham go in the second episode. But oh well.

    And Emmanuel Leconte is just beautiful and I love Henry and Francis' weirdly antagonistic bromance. As a twenty-two year old girl, my friends and I did not mind that wrestling match one bit.

    As someone who does not speak French (Chinese and Indonesian) I really don't have any qualms about how good the French is in this show.

    Perdita Weeks needs a lot more love in the Tudors fandom.

  5. Morgan India - Haha, as a MUCH older and wiser 23 year old, I found it childish and stupid. Although I think I would feel rather different if Henry Cavill had gotten in on the action. Swoon. I adore Perdita Weeks too. Have you seen Lost in Austen? It's completely adorable.


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