Wolf Hall is getting darker by the minute in its penultimate episode. Henry is moody. He is capricious. He is obnoxious. He is EXPLOSIVE… And, then he turns into a little boy trying to make amends to his best friend. Damian Lewis owned Wolf Hall tonight, and gave some acting feast for us! The Independent, in its review of the episode, says “Damian Lewis is so good as the capricious king that you want to slap him.” I don’t want to make a case for Henry but I admit he has his reasons — it is all about his obsession with a male heir. And, add to this, his being very aware of his own mortality, and Henry makes a decision to move on… well, to the next wife.
Cromwell is THE first to notice that Henry is paying attention to Jane Seymour — the young woman whom Anne calls “milksop.” They are at Wolf Hall — the Seymour family residence. The King is flirting with Jane. He walks with her in the gardens and holds her hand. He asks if she would look kindly on him if he wrote a poem for her…
Katherine is dead. Anne is pregnant. Henry is in a good mood. He is showing off little princess Elizabeth — I LOVE it that Henry has no clue about holding one of the strongest rulers of England in his arms now — and saying “She is very much looking forward to seeing her younger brother, aren’t you, dumpling? And I share her impatience… It’s been a long enough wait…”
The relationship between Anne and Henry is so different now. The looks. The gestures. The language. Anne is getting more hysterical knowing that this pregnancy is her last chance with Henry… And, Henry is getting pretty relaxed in EYEING Jane in Anne’s presence. Cromwell notices… so does Anne…
Ha, ha, they did not show us Jane and Henry in one shot, so that is my BEST try with my iPhone’s panoramic camera 🙂
The unfortunate jousting accident is a turning point for them all. In fact, the accident CHANGES Henry, and eventually brings out, in Damian Lewis’ words “womanising, syphilitic, bloated, genocidal Elvis character.”
Henry is an EXPLOSIVE man now. He is in pain which makes him more capricious than ever. But, more importantly, he is NOW VERY AWARE of his own mortality that he is obsessed with a son more than ever, he really needs that male heir, and he needs it NOW… As Henry is agonizing over his own mortality, Anne’s miscarriage is the last draw for him.
Henry makes his case to Cromwell and Cranmer: “If a King can not have a son, if he cannot give stability to his realm, it does not matter what else he can do. Victories, or just laws, the famous courts, nothing.”
Now, it seems to him that he was somehow dishonestly led into this marriage. “It seems to me that I was seduced… perhaps with charms, with spells. Women do use such things. And that were so, the marriage would be null, would it not?”
Henry most probably had the same conversation with a different Archbishop — Wolsey — about a different queen — Katherine — before… Didn’t he? Damian Lewis is absolutely mind-blowing in this scene turning from a desperate man into a real sinister one in the blink of an eye.
The almighty King feels TRAPPED and tries a way out… As he feels trapped, and cannot find his way out, he gets into such an uncontrollable emotional state that he is almost losing it. He shouts at the Emperor’s Ambassador Chapuys on the top of his lungs, and then repeats it with Cromwell, too, and in front of a big crowd.
When he comes to his senses soon though — and he has a REAL incentive to come to his senses — Henry almost turns into a kid trying to make amends to his best friend.
“You are my right hand, sir.”
And then he spills the beans: “I cannot live as I have lived, Cromwell. You must free me from this. From Anne.” Henry knows Cromwell is the only one out there that could help him out of this.
The only person that feels his mortality deeply in this episode is not Henry. The jousting accident also makes Cromwell see his place in the court more clearly. What if Henry is dead? “How many men can say my only friend is the King of England?”, he says to Fitzwilliam, Master Treasurer. It is TRUE. Yes, Henry may be Cromwell’s demise, but Henry is certainly Cromwell’s survival.
Wolsey’s voice approves: “The trouble is… Thomas, the King wants a new wife… Fix him one. I didn’t. And, now, I am dead.”
Getting rid of Anne is Cromwell’s only way out at the moment.