Wolf Hall on PBS, Episode 6: Master of Phantoms

"Those who have been made can be unmade." - Anne Boleyn
source: farfarawaysite.com
source: farfarawaysite.com

Henry never says good-bye…

Once he sees Wolsey is not able to fix a new wife for him… Henry never sees him again.

Once he realizes Katherine will not let him go, Henry leaves one morning without a good-bye, and never sees her again.

Once he takes back the chain of office from Thomas More as he resigns from his post as Lord Chancellor in a protest against Henry’s new bills… Henry never sees him again.

source: farfarawaysite.com
source: farfarawaysite.com

Finally… Once he leaves Anne at the jousting tournament at Greenwich, and rides back to Whitehall… Henry never sees her again.

Henry never says good-bye. When he’s done, he’s done. He just delegates the the “execution” of his decisions to others and moves on with his life… this time, on to Mistress Jane who has the “tiniest hands.”

We leave Henry begging Cromwell to free him from Anne at the end of Episode 5 Crows and now we find him looking nauseous in a room with Anne, baby Elizabeth and Cromwell at the beginning of Episode 6 Master of Phantoms — or the Episode of WHOAS, if I may 🙂

source: farfarawaysite.com
source: BBC

Henry looks worn out. He looks quite disgusted. He is SO OUT OF IT in the same room with Anne. I cannot think of a better description for Henry than what JaniaJania said about him last week: Henry is “gelded in spirit.” He does not say a single word, he just stands up and leaves. It’s obvious Henry is counting down the days until his freedom.

Anne, who is all smiles while Henry is in the room, changes into her “all business” self once Henry leaves. She knows Cromwell sent for “Bastard Mary” when he thought the King was dead after his accident and gives him a strong warning: “You have forgotten the most important thing, Cremuel… Those who have been made can be unmade.”

Cromwell may still have Wolsey’s voice in his ears at this very moment: “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 right now and so he just tells the truth: “Madam, nothing here is personal.”

source: BBC
source: BBC

So, Thomas is ON IT. And lucky him that Anne’s enemies are more than willing to spill the beans — Lady Rochford topping it all with the incest accusation: “They can’t call it a bastard if it looks like a Boleyn.” WHOA! And, she advises Cromwell to talk to Mark Smeaton, the lutenist in Anne’s chamber. It just takes one sleepover at Cromwell residence for Smeaton to sing like a bird about himself sleeping with Anne “1000 times.” WHOA! It should be a “whoa” moment for Cromwell, too, that they hit the guy in the head to make him correct himself: “3 or 4 times.” Smeaton also names Anne’s other lovers: “Harry Norris. Francis Weston. William Brereton.”

Couldn’t be a more perfect list for Cromwell — he has never forgotten those men, who staged an “entertainment” at court, in which they wore masks, then tossed and kicked  a scarlet figure passing as Wolsey and carried him to hell: Harry Norris. Francis Weston. William Brereton. George Boleyn. Cromwell is now ready to SMASH them all — he tells Norris: “I need guilty men, Harry. So, I found men, who are guilty though not necessarily as charged.” WHOA.

Henry, back in his good spirits, kills time writing a play! “I’ve written a play. A tragedy… My own story,” he tells Cromwell and Cranmer. “I want you to see her true nature. I believe she has committed adultery with 100 men.” WHOA. Henry is writing a best-seller here – working title: 100 Shades of Anne 🙂

source: BBC
source: BBC

And, when Cranmer asks if it could really be likely that she has sexual relations with her own brother, Henry’s response makes me think he has already written that chapter: “I doubt she resisted. Why spare? Why not drink the cup to its filthy dregs?” WHOA.

Norfolk proves, once again, there is no limit to his profanity as he presents Cromwell with the warrant for Anne’s arrest: “There is a pretty ballad for you. The King fingers his lute as his lutenist fingers his wife.” WHOA. He just wants to get rid of Anne so badly.

When the King’s men come to arrest her, Anne does neither cry nor scream. She is calm. She just looks extremely disappointed with herself. I wonder if she recalls her words to Cromwell from earlier: “Those who have been made can be unmade.” Anne now sees she is not exempt from THAT, either. For Henry, she’s as discardable as Katherine, Wolsey or More. This should hurt Anne quite a bit — not because she’s necessarily guilty but because she’s a failure.

source :BBC
source :BBC

In particular, when she reportedly says “It’s too good for me” for her room at the Tower — the same room she stayed before her coronation — she does not really refer to being guilty, but she refers to being a failure. The woman that stayed in that room before her coronation is a TRIUMPH. The woman that stays in the same room NOW is a FAILURE.

source: farfarawaysite.com
source: farfarawaysite.com

Anne’s trial is a farce and she’s charged with death. While Norfolk is more than ready to burn her then and there if he could, Cromwell seems to have convinced the “merciful” King so that Anne can get death by beheading rather than death by burning… Claire Foy is simply fantastic that one can read that quiet gratitude on Anne’s face. Then, in the execution scene, Anne saying her last words calmly — it turns out these are Anne Boleyn’s last words as recorded — and trying her best to keep her composure until the very last second is beyond impressive.

And… It’s OVER.

Henry gives Cromwell the biggest hug ever. He’s ecstatic. He’s FREE. He’s happy as a clam and cannot wait to be a bridegroom again soon — which takes him one more step closer to the son he has been obsessed with for so many years.

Oh, I will never ever forget this smile — WHOA, Henry, you are ONE BIG BAD WOLF!

source: BBC

Wolf Hall ends with a zoom into Cromwell’s eyes through which we lived the entire series. What do you see in those eyes? I just see a man thinking to himself… “Those claws…” Henry is a man, whose — in Damian Lewis’ words — “ability to love and then to simply discard is sociopathic.”

source: BBC
source: BBC

Now… As much as Henry is one big bad wolf, I vow to take after him, and never say good-bye… well… to Wolf Hall  🙂 For one, I have just seen Wolf Hall Parts I and II on Broadway and would love to write about it… But more importantly, I know, for a fact that, with two Wolf Hall junkies in the house, we will binge-watch it again and again in the years to come and figure out something new every time in this rich, dark, intense, political drama — one of the best things, if not the BEST thing, that ever happened to TV.

MVP of the Week:


Claire Foy SHINES in every scene she appears in the final episode. We first see her putting Cromwell in his place: “Those who have been made can be unmade.” She’s still THE Anne we have known throughout the series — she believes she has created a new England, and neither England nor Henry can do without her. Her crazy eyes tell you more than that though: Behind that very confident facade, there is a young woman playing a risky game to survive and thrive in the world of men. Anne is a little bit too greedy for my taste but the feminist in me just cannot help feel for her.

We see Anne calm and disappointed when arrested. We see her trying to keep her head high and find some hope in Cromwell’s eyes simultaneously during the latter’s visit to the Tower and it just gets to you. Her quiet gratitude when her sentence turns into death by beheading is heart-wrenching. Finally, Anne saying her last words calmly — it turns out these are Anne Boleyn’s last words as recorded — and trying her best to keep her composure until her last second in this life is beyond impressive. Hats off!


Author: Damianista

Academic, Traveler, Blogger, Runner, Theatre Lover, Wine Snob, Part-time New Yorker, and Walking Damian Lewis Encyclopedia :D Procrastinated about a fan's diary on Damian Lewis for a while and the rest is history!

6 thoughts on “Wolf Hall on PBS, Episode 6: Master of Phantoms”

  1. Ditto! Cannot find another word. I’m certain I’d actually enjoy your review as much as I enjoyed this last episode. Mark’s eyes! Did we get to see his eyes?! I love the scene with Damien picking his teeth and his face says more than any words. Claire Foy, my goodness,…Stand Up! Standing ovation! The wind blowing, her emotions when the blindfold is finally placed…magnificent! Henry was a monster! If you were Jane Seymour, if you were her family, you would tell her to HIDE fast! Wow, I have 3 sons and 1 daughter. Anne could have surely consulted with some type of health guru back then to help her produce a male heir. I didn’t know it was so difficult. Wow.

    1. Thank you for your very kind words! 🙂 Oh yes we got to see his eyes, he sees how deep he is in and how hard it will be to keep up with this monster – what will happen if he is not happy with what Cromwell does… one day? Can’t wait for the third book to be finished and I really really hope Rylance and Lewis will find some time from their busy schedules and give us more of Cromwell & Henry! Re the male heir, it’s all about the Y chromosome, and it’s provided by Henry, so there is really nothing anyone could have done about that baby boy – I feel for Anne and yeah standing O for Claire Foy!!!!

      1. I didn’t mean to reply anonymously. I was in such a rush to comment, I forgot to put my name and email…lol, it’s me, Mark Rylance’s #1 fan, Angela Adams.

        1. Hi Angela, I actually thought it could be you but didn’t wanna say in case it wasn’t you and LOVe the way you introduce yourself: Mark Rylance’s #1 Fan Angela Adams!! What will we do now that Wolf Hall has ended? Binge-watching constantly or what? 😀 They really need to do Part II – and sooner than later, please!

      2. If you note how many children most people had at that time-1 a year for 20 years-even though some died, often many survived. Henry the Beast had something wrong with him, perish the thought. It wasn’t the women’s fault.

        1. Hope you didn’t think I was making a case for Henry because I wasn’t 🙂 First of all, the man provides the Y chromosome for a boy, so it was Henry that didn’t do that 🙂 And, I agree with you with all those dying children conceived with different women also tell me he had some other issue.

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