‘The White Princess’ continues to bring the drama with a terrifying second episode that leaves the fate of the Yorks in even more uncertainty. Could Lizzie’s duty to Henry and their unborn heir override her desire to see the Tudors brought down?
In which we figure out how in the hell Princess Lizzie (Jodie Comer) can carry King Henry’s baby! Henry ( Jacob Collins-Levy) and our favorite, distraught princess are experiencing a loveless, but cordial relationship that now seems to be on the verge of becoming a real friendship after the horrifying events of episode 1. You know, like the “Something More” sequence from Beauty and the Beast. But every time Henry and Lizzie take a step forward in coming to some sort of nicety, his mother butts in. While Lizzie has married to the king, she’s a York, and that’s a threat that Lady Margaret (Michelle Fairley) cannot ignore.
Lizzie and Henry’s marriage was supposed to unify the Tudors and the Yorks, but there’s still too much animosity on both sides for that gimmick to work. That’s exemplified when Henry, fresh from his coronation, is set to embark on his first royal tour. Lizzie, while being humble and penitent as commanded, has not lost her resolve to tear down the monarchy from the inside out. She’s figured out how to subtly play on Henry’s weakness — not being adored by everyone he knows. Why not divert his route to visit some York holdouts to show his magnanimity to the people, and bring Lizzie as a show of good faith? She’s his “prize” after all. Seeing her united with Henry will help them realize all is well, she gently suggests.
Lady Margaret is still incredibly paranoid about having Yorks in the castle, as she should be, and immediately squashes the idea of Lizzie coming along for the trip. It’s for the baby’s sake, she says. Lizzie and the unborn heir need to stay safe and healthy. That means locking Lizzie away in the castle with nothing to do until Henry and his court return. Fun. Margaret also sees through Elizabeth (Essie Davis), Lizzie’s mother’s suggestion that she ride in her pregnant daughter’s place as another York. Not happening. Instead, Margaret has Elizabeth and her younger daughters locked away in another section of the castle without Lizzie (or Henry’s) knowledge.
Not to say that this is Elizabeth’s fault, but she could be subtler in her plot to take down Margaret. The king’s mother was Elizabeth’s lady-in-waiting when she was still queen; she knows all her old tricks! While trapped in the tower, she still attempts to get the attention of a stable boy to send for help. Even he’s not into helping her now. There’s bigger problems right now, more than anyone can imagine. It’s Europe in 1485: the bubonic plague is hitting.
Henry, who I thought was Hugh Dancy for the majority of this episode, has been kept blissfully unaware of the plight of his countrymen, including the rise of “sickness.” He’s made to look a fool when he visits the poor villages of the countryside, sees the masses begging for money and food — and a lot of them falling over and straight up dying in the streets. Margaret, of course, knew about this, but deigned to clue in Henry. Thanks, mom!
Oh, and to make matters worse, Elizabeth put a hit out on him. As he’s trying to greet the commoners, a skirmish breaks out, and Henry gets blasted by an arrow. His armor saves him from any real damage, but he gets the message: there needs to be change if he wants a unified kingdom. Reds and Whites be damned, he’s king now! Lizzie helps him out back at the castle by being a decent person. When the plague hits the castle, and it does, quickly, she demands that help be sent to the people. Though she has not been coronated as queen yet, Lizzie demands to get into the royal treasury. She orders money be given to anyone who needs it, so that they may get medicine and food.
It’s a dangerous move for her, but she knows that she won’t be touched so long as she’s carrying the unborn royal heir. She wielded that power in a badass, but terrifying way to force the bishop to let her see her mother. Margaret is incensed when she finds out that Lizzie broke into the treasury, demanding her imprisonment, but Henry shockingly thanks her. The bold move made the commoners he met on the way back to the castle literally fall on their knees and praise him for his generosity.
All Lizzie! She further curries his favor by letting him gently touch her belly to feel the baby kick. It’s a tender moment, one that shows real affection between the married couple, but it’s spoiled, of course, by Lady Margaret. She’s here to lock Lizzie in her quarters “for rest,” which Henry allows. Is this entire war just because Margaret wants to play dress-up as queen? It would do well for her to remember that unity rests on Lizzie and Henry, and not Margaret and her son.
HollywoodLifers, what did you think of The White Princess episode 2?