"I'll say this for you. You stick by your man." -Henry VIII
Entirely Beloved… Wolf Hall! This is dark, witty political drama at its BEST with superb writing, directing, and acting. Damian Lewis and Mark Rylance absolutely STORM it together, and it’s just pure pleasure to watch, think, and write about Wolf Hall!
Entirely Beloved is a quite INTENSE and wonderfully scripted episode in which we closely witness the relationship between Cromwell and Henry evolving.
We now find Thomas Cromwell working hard to get under the King’s skin and gain his trust. His ultimate goal is to become an “entirely beloved” servant for Henry and persuade him to have Cardinal Wolsey reinstated as the Lord Chancellor. And, in the meantime, he tries to come up with some palliative solutions to have a more comfortable home for the Cardinal. He wants to move him to Yorkshire, but they need money.
Henry: “A thousand pounds… That’s the best I could do. Don’t tell anyone. Take it with my blessing. Ask him to pray for me.”
LESS is always MORE with Damian Lewis, and he says it all with his face first — without saying a word. Then: “Everyday, I miss the Cardinal of York.”
As Wolsey still loves Henry, Henry cares about him, too. This Henry is HUMAN. And, he is TORN. He notes Cromwell’s loyalty to the cardinal, and he may even be suffering from the fact that he is not as loyal to the one man that has always been there for him… But, he wants to have Anne, and more importantly, is desperate to have a son with her; and Anne, along with her uncle Norfolk, constantly pushes Henry to make Wolsey disappear from the scene.
Cromwell’s devotion to Wolsey impresses Henry. Even when he says “you have no other master?” he gives the credit where it is due: “I’ll say this for you. You stick by your man.” Loyalty is a virtue Henry values very highly and he sees an infinite amount of it in Cromwell for Wolsey. Cromwell tells Cavendish: “He likes me, George. I feel it.” He believes there could be a way to save Wolsey.
The tender Henry appears again when he has Cromwell shooting arrows. He offers to come to Cromwell’s house in disguise for shooting arrows on a Sunday afternoon. Henry cheerfully suggests: “The King should show himself sometimes, don’t you think? I can shoot for you.” This Henry hopelessly craves normality and probably cannot imagine a better person than Thomas Cromwell to experience it with — Cromwell, coming from a humble background, is a much more worldly man than any other in Henry’s close circle.
Yes, being the King comes with all that opulence and wealth, and most importantly, the POWER over anyone and anything. But it is certainly not stress-free. And, Henry is pretty stressed out right now. He’s almost in a depressed state as he confides in Cromwell about Anne threatening to leave him if he cannot have his marriage to Catherine annulled soon.
“Anne says she’ll leave me. Says there are other men. Says she is wasting her youth.”
Cromwell is gaining Henry’s trust, slowly but surely… Henry now sees what Wolsey has seen in Cromwell for a long time, and he even tells him to sit down with his lawyers and start with the monasteries to have their money go to Henry rather than to Rome. However, there is still a couple of people Cromwell has not been able to go far in making friends with… Stephen Gardiner is still condescending: “…whatever it is you call yourself these days?” Thomas More doesn’t remember it but he doesn’t even listen when Cromwell tells him about their first meeting when they were young boys. And, Anne Boleyn, “the key to winning back Henry” according to Wolsey, makes it clear that there is no free lunch: “This will happen. I mean to have him.”
After all, as Norfolk likes to call him, Cromwell is just a “person.”
Henry sends for Cromwell in the middle of the night. His household is worried, but Cromwell knows the King would not invite him to Greenwich if he intended to arrest him… He arrives at Greenwich to find Henry sitting on his bed… looking desperate… insecure… quite needy… It turns out he saw his dead brother Arthur in his dream. Cromwell asks after the dead brother: “How did he look like?”
Oh, I love it that Peter Straughan makes great use of Hilary Mantel’s wonderful sense of humor!
It’s Cromwell’s time to SHINE now — he gives his 150% not only to win over Henry but also win over Anne!
Henry: “Why does he come back now? I have been king for twenty years.”
Cromwell: “Because now is the vital time, now is the time to become the king you should be, and to be the sole and supreme head of your kingdom. Ask Lady Anne. She will say the same.”
Henry: “She does. She says we shouldn’t bow to Rome.”
Henry slowly smiles.
“I see. I understand it all now.”
“I knew who to send for. I always do.”
The self-assured Henry is BACK! He has a mischievous look on his face praising himself for “always knowing it.” 🙂 Henry is a man of a million moods! Haha no wonder Mark Rylance says “he has very complicated patterns in his mind, which Cromwell tries to guide and deal with. Sometimes you felt a bit like a psychiatrist, playing Cromwell” in a recent Telegraph article.
And, a good psychiatrist at that!!! The following day he is sent for again… but, this time not to nanny Henry after a bad dream, but to officially become “Entirely Beloved” Cromwell. Thomas More gives him his oath and our Thomas joins the King’s council. He is not just “a person” anymore 🙂
Cromwell now knows he has Henry’s —and maybe even Anne’s — trust. He believes he is now one step closer to saving Wolsey…
However, George Cavendish brings the bad news. The cardinal is dead. Henry finally gives in to Anne and Norfolk, and sends Harry Percy to arrest Wolsey for “high treason.” Wolsey gets sick and dies in a few days — most probably he poisons himself so that he will not live to see the Tower.
Cromwell recalls a performance at the court Wolsey is mocked about his low birth and chased by demons in Hell. He MARKS the men who play the demons as they take off their masks: Francis Weston. Harry Norris. William Brereton. George Boleyn.
And, when George Cavendish tells him in tears about the last days of the Cardinal and says “I pray to God to send vengeance to them all” he answers: “No need to trouble God, George. I’ll take it in hand.”
Henry is right. Cromwell sticks by his man. Forever.
MVP of the week:
I give it to Damian Lewis who has given us a Henry of a million moods with his magic touch. His Henry is HUMAN. He could be tender. He could be caring. Boyish. Cheerful. He could be depressed. Desperate. Insecure. Needy. And, he could go from needy to overconfident in the blink of an eye. Then he can throw a curve ball and become a MONSTER, too! I now understand why Damian Lewis has said “it’s been quite fun having that range” in playing Henry. THAT’s quite a range and Damian Lewis’ delivery is seamless.