"Everything you are, everything you have will come from me." -Henry VIII
“Anna Regina” is an episode in which happiness peaks for the main trio. Look at Henry’s expression in the pic above — a mix of cheer, pride and hope. And, it’s not just Henry, but Anne and Thomas also get what they have been longing for quite some time in “Anna Regina.” This episode is about HOPE. It’s about “Yes, we can!”
Well… let’s start with Henry. The King wants… well, Anne! He has desired her for years! “I’ve known passion, Cromwell,” he says as they look at “Anselma” together, which the King sends to Austin Friars as a gift later. “With Anne. I shake. Do you understand? I shake.”
It’s quite amazing that Henry — he’s not your regular Joe, he’s the King for God’s sake — has waited for this woman for seven years! Henry genuinely cares about Anne, and respects her wishes. And, one should give credit to where it is due; exactly like Damian Lewis, who says, for Anne, “she was good at withholding – that’s never changed between men and women, that little dance, so on a domestic level that was a very normal situation.” He also adds about Henry’s infatuation with Anne in a Radio Times interview: “He desired her and he wanted her. I think he also was struck by her undoubted intelligence and her strength of will. I hadn’t realised to what extent Anne Boleyn is something of a feminist icon – that’s something I have learned doing this.”
As much as Henry cannot wait to have Anne, he still has this tiny little problem called the Church. Well… Cromwell takes care of it. We now see Cromwell pushing a bill through the Parliament to take power from the bishops and make Henry the supreme head of the Church. He plays smart and divides the house: “Those for the bill, to my right; those against, to my left” so that the King can see who is with him and who is against him. One look at Henry’s face is probably enough to change your vote from “No” to “Aye.”
The “Ayes” have it, and bring along the resignation of Thomas More as Lord Chancellor. “His great protest,” Cromwell says to Anne about More. “England is just a stage to him.”
For Anne, this outcome is simply two birds with one stone. Anne wants… well, she may be in love with Henry in her own way, what she really wants is to wear THAT crown! And, she has overcome all hurdles on the way… to Henry and the crown… Well, almost… the last and unexpected hurdle is called Harry Percy.
Percy claims his marriage to his wife is not valid, because he is in a lawful marriage to Anne. The King is obviously furious, so are the Boleyns. They call Cromwell for help. Even Norfolk, who kept calling Cromwell “a person” earlier, is now desperately seeking his help. And, it is our Thomas’ pleasure to take care of it since it was Harry Percy who walked in to arrest his beloved Cardinal for high treason.
Well… May I declare Cromwell’s lines to Percy about how the world works as the BEST lines ever said on TV? I am copying a few lines here, but the entire Cromwell monologue is priceless and worth hearing again, again and again.
“The world is not run from where you think it is, from border fortresses, even from Whitehall. The world is run from Antwerp, from Florence, from Lisbon, from wherever the merchant ships set sail off into the West. Not from castle walls; from countinghouses, from the pens that scrape out your promissory notes.”
It’s not governments, stupid, it’s big business that runs the world… even in year 1531 🙂 Well…Times change, players change, but the game stays the same. Wolf Hall feels TIMELESS.
Being on Team Anne pays off handsomely for Cromwell. The King says: “I have a new post for you. I want you to be my new keeper of the Jewel House. Why should I not, tell me, why should I not, employ the son of an honest blacksmith?” Followed by probably the MOST famous line from the mini-series trailer: “Everything you are, everything you have, will come from me.”
Ha… Now, I wonder if Cromwell remembers – because I certainly do – Cardinal Wolsey saying to him as the King’s guys confiscated his inventory at York Place in “Three Card Trick”: “Everything I have, I have from the king.” So, yes, the King gives… He gives generously even to a butcher’s son, and to a blacksmith’s son.. But he can take it back, too, as he pleases.
On his way to Calais for a summit with the King of France, who has agreed to talk to Rome in favor of his new marriage, Henry wants to show himself in Canterbury. Alas, high drama waits for him there: The “holy maid” Eliza Barton comes up to the King to say he would not last a year if he married Anne… Even though Henry does his best to take it lightly in public — “Couldn’t you at least round it up?” — he is disturbed… And, it’s Cromwell’s time to SHINE again, exactly like he did when Henry saw his dead brother Arthur in his dream. Cromwell is on it now.
High drama continues after an evening’s feast in Calais. Henry is dancing with a local notable’s wife as Anne is openly flirting with Francois. Henry’s face tells it all: Pain. Jealousy. Anger. All bundled into one. Damian Lewis, as usual, does not need words; he says it all with whatever it is, you know what I am talking about, that he can do with his face!
Cromwell tells Norfolk to fetch away his niece. “She’s done enough diplomacy.” And… lo and behold it’s Henry’s lucky day — he ends up getting what he has desired for seven years… on the condition that he swears on the bible that they are married in God’s sight and he will later marry Anne in England and crown her the queen. Earlier in the episode, Mary tells Cromwell that Anne is “selling herself by the inch.” So, that night in Calais guarantees England will not go bankrupt! 🙂
It’s now time for Anne to have what she wants. During the small marriage ceremony, Mary makes an “inch” sign to Cromwell meaning “she is pregnant.” Then we see Henry watching a heavily pregnant Anne’s coronation from behind a screen. He looks tender, he looks proud: He is in love, and, he believes that his son is finally coming his way. An interesting trivia is, according to historian Dr. Joanne Paul’s tweet, that Anne Boleyn is the last of Henry’s wives to be crowned. None of the others got that far.
Claire Foy is a real powerhouse as Anne Boleyn and I put my signature on her observations about Anne in an interview with Radio Times: “For the amount that she achieved, and given the limited role of women in her time, Anne really had massive balls – bigger balls, I think, than anyone at Henry’s court. If she had been born in a man’s body, I think she would have made an extraordinary ruler.” I believe Anne did it somehow through her daughter, Elizabeth — spoiler alert 🙂 — who became one of the world’s most powerful leaders.
As much as she is all about business most of the time, Anne’s last words to Cromwell before leaving for her confinement, could be the most touching words on Wolf Hall: “I was always desired. Now I’m valued. You see? That’s different.” These words just hit me and hit me hard.
As the King sends Anne to her confinement with a kiss… Rafe nails it about what HOPE is all about: “All our fortunes depend on this lady now, and whether she can provide an heir.” And… the HOPE goes downhill from here on… starting with the burning of a man, James Bainham, a barrister, for reading the Gospel in English.
MVP of the week: I see brilliance wherever I look in this episode and would love to give this one to the DREAM cast that makes Wolf Hall the dark and witty political drama that it is! Mark Rylance. Damian Lewis. Claire Foy. Anton Lesser. Mark Gatiss. Jonathan Pryce (I know he’s not in Episode 3, but I need to give a nod, his Wolsey is amazing!). Bernard Hill. Jessica Raine. Charity Wakefield… Standing ovation all around! Yet, if I have to choose one actor — I would go with Mark Rylance: His Cromwell is such a poker face with no emotions showing. His understated acting makes it all the more compelling! I said it before, and I will say it again. It doesn’t feel like Rylance is playing Cromwell. It feels like he IS Cromwell. Plus, he has just delivered the BEST lines I have ever heard on TV! In this regard, huge thanks go to Peter Straughan, who has done a brilliant adaptation of the text for TV, that he has left most of the conversations in their original form and thereby kept the incredible wit and that timeless feel Hilary Mantel has brought together in Wolf Hall!