White Queen 1×7 “Poison and Malmsey Wine”

FINALLY, this show has joined the ranks of a proper history soap opera! The costumes are looking up, they took a moment for simply a beautiful nature shot, they left room for some mystery…it has arrived. This is definitely my favorite episode so far.

SPOILERS:

-Margaret Beaufort, turns out you just needed things to Do other than mope around about your son and Lancaster in order to enliven the screen. The baby thing in itself and as your way in was dumb, but you went for it and by golly, anything that makes you stop bellyaching and start spying and speaking with dignity is excellent. However, it would have been that much better if you’d been seen subtly scaring off the other maid before she asked the queen to leave court, so it would be clear you’re still backstabbing and scheming away.

-David Oakes, your Juan pt. 2, the English One ends as outrageously as I had hoped. From the moment I saw you stroking your dog while watching brother-sex I was worried about the relationship. I was relieved to see it ended in a superstitious death. Also, I shall go ahead and give you credit for brainwashing Isabel for that year we didn’t see-getting her so afraid of Lizzie she could have died of voodoo-inspired fear was quite the accomplishment. Still a big fan of your hissyfits, but seeing one start with you in a bull mask was a special treat. Also, choosing a colorful way to go literally gains my approval.

-Edward…I love your lion outfit. Why do you keep whoring around and pretending to go to war so much when you’re obviously way too tired to make any kind of decent decisions ever and merely bend to wife, brothers, or the letter of the law without much foresight or zest? The year has not been kind to you, has it? Perhaps you’ve already got STDs and that accounts for it.

-Anne, why does everyone else get new clothes but you remain stuck in the one plain silhouette ALWAYS? I feel like this episode had you wanting to jump ship to Revenge, wanting to destroy someone for your fallen family member, clearly not knowing everything, needing Victoria’s advice about controlling powers that be instead of just having to choose a side…yeah, you’d fit RIGHT in. And they’d liven up your wardrobe, too.

-Elizabeth, I feel for you. One snarky comment about your womb being able to beat up everyone else’s womb and suddenly court is exploding in your face. What I’d like to know is how everyone somehow realized you were responsible for the storm that killed Izzy’s firstborn-don’t think that’s ever been comprehended before and it had no realization moment. However, storming after George in front of everyone served no useful purpose except to show off your sparkly gold dress. This is a schemey political show and you’ve got witchcraft-why bother to go after him yourself? It’s the least interesting choice. Your problem here seems, in fact, to be that you are too direct and honest. You let everyone know how you feel, you’re consistent, and you try to come at problems head-on. These are not the most useful problems from a TV perspective, but you’re doing them with flair.

-Richard, I am glad they let you speak up for George. On the other hand, your dealings with Anne are becoming too focused on dark looks. Your best moment really was when you got to blow up at your mom over her favoritism. Also, you at least have been paying attention to the foreshadowing. Please, let that not be played out as a self-fulfilling prophecy instead of actually your decision.

-Dear show, see how that works out for everyone when there’s not absolute clarity about a suspicious death? That’s what we’re looking for. That and more present complexities instead of filling in with repetitive foreshadowing. And more masquerades/intriguing scenery. Take note!

The White Queen 1×6 “Love and Death”

This is the episode where we find out how peace makes every woman’s life suck (as opposed to war).  Nevertheless, we persevere.

 

SPOILERS:

– Dear George, how marvelous you are in your blatant disregard of absolutely everything not you.

 

It really interested me to see how they drew parallels between Elizabeth and Anne as women who are both out  of the loop, even though one’s guardian is a bastard and the other’s does actually care for her.  Elizabeth’s problem seems simple to me-the difference with Jane the Mistress is that she flaunts it in front of everyone, including Elizabeth.  If she at least pretended that no one else knew she was the king’s mistress, Lizzie would get over it.  Alternatively, if she could’ve gotten a really good setup to put her in her place/insult her, things could have been fine.  Also, while yes, it is funny that Edward bursts out with this is what’s been bothering you? when talking about totally transparent adultery, compared to saying goodbye to her son, losing her mother, her newborn, and nearly her life, Jane should not perhaps be the highest priority.

 

Speaking of which, I shall miss Jacquetta.  And it was sweet to see her and the baby together, at least.  Although, even with their vague quick-shots at the birth, I have to say that I do not blame husbands back in the day for generally avoiding labor.

 

As for Anne…what is with this show?  Why not show the whole rumored story of George forcing her to live like a servant to prevent her getting in touch with anyone before she could be sen to the abbey, eh?  This is a schemey TV show here, folks, we want to see these things.  I’m very glad George called out Richard on the money angle, but…I’ve gotta say, that’s not how he’s been playing it.  Speaking of Richard, whether it’s for love or money, he was not being proactive enough this episode.  The boy needs to get cracking pretty soon here.  As for Isabel, I really wish they’d given her some more time to grow into her conniving role, controlling Anne with kindness for a little longer before they actually come to blows and she freezes.  As it was, I feel the actress did the best job she could to play her two faces without losing all possible plausibility.

 

Margaret, Margaret, Margaret, this is the deathbed conversation I wish had happened between Jane Eyre and her aunt.  Jane Eyre was too nice, it made me like Margaret.  As did her cool moving-on reaction to romantic rejection.  I like to see a woman of means using them.  And as for New Husband, I like his strategic mindset.  And his lack of actually wanting her affection, which was the previous guy’s downfall, in my opinion.  Lancaster Business Partners, Kingmakers Inc. has arrived!  On top of which, it’s an excellent time.  Elizabeth is vulnerable and in need of a new confidante, and Margaret will hate George and whoever else at court Elizabeth hates with true venom.  All she needs to do is humiliate Jane the Mistress for being a whore, and voila-Margaret is in.

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The White Queen 1×4 “The Bad Queen”

Also known as “Everyone gets divided, and if there are reunions there’s something creepy involved so we can’t ever all just be happy.”

We have finally reached regular historical drama genre standards of this era of “Game of Thrones” and “Borgias’.  Sex is horrifying, no one trusts anyone else, and it is clear that absolutely everything will get fucked over.  So far, so good.  The show contains its tone by continuing to draw lots of parallels between anyone it possibly can and by doing so through quiet moments.  That’s the odd thing about this show-its hardest attempts at realization are always through quiet, odd moments rather than anything with flair or that causes that satisfying click that most show parallels manage.  Yet, it seems to be that way by choice, rather than misdirection.  It is interesting.  “The White Queen” is clearly going for the opposite of instant gratification.  I’m not sure what all that is yet, but I’d better find out by the end of the season.

 

SPOILERS:

First, let’s count the divisions that happened:

-Margaret from her son Henry

-Elizabeth from her oldest 2 sons

-Henry from his mother, then his other guardian

-Izzie from Ann

-Margaret of Anjou from Henry VI

-Elizabeth Woodville from Edward IV

-Warwick from his family

-Jasper from Henry and Margaret

-Elizabeth from Jaquetta

Reunions with something creepy/weird involved:

-Henry’s total fealty reunion with his mom

-Everyone’s reunion with Henry VI

-Jaquetta’s reunion with Elizabeth was too convenient and timely to be plausible

-Jasper’s reunion causes even Margaret’s long-suffering husband to get his creepy glare on

 

It’s just the thing.  Now, onto other notes:

 

1. Now Edward Lancaster looks like the creepy teenage hoodlum lurking creepily outside a drugstore.  WHY do the two princes involved with Ann Neville have modern-day teenager stereotype looks??

2. I really like the way Countess Warwick’s hair looks when she’s wearing her tiara and at official functions.  It’s my first costume ooh.

3. Margaret of Anjou was not as impressive as I wished her to be.  Perhaps if she had some time to be odious with just her son?  Maybe it’s just that I already know how her judgment of things works out.  Hmm.

4. Warwick beheading random lords who’ve just been upgraded to good lands with his own hands is odd.  Him going to behead a random kid and then immediately taking him at his word at the cry of “Tudor” stretches the mind.

5. Didn’t Jasper also tell the boy about him having a claim to the throne and being a total Tudor?  Cause it was pretty clear that he was all “Henry Tudor” and also much closer to the kid.  Why is the recognition of the Tudor name leading solely to Margaret here?  Shouldn’t the kid be all, hurrah-Jasper was right?  Or at least, hurrah!-Lancasters should totally always guide me?

6. I kept expecting Henry VI to yell out nonsense or somehow embarrass his supporters.  Next time, perhaps?

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The White Queen 1×3 “The Storm”

Otherwise known as: No matter what the scheme is, women always suffer the most.  *shrug*  It’s a common theme.

I think the real problem here is that not a lot of character development happens here.  This episode is more about entrenching who these people were before, although it does broaden horizons enough to admit that people from different sides have valid grievances.  On the other hand, the plot picked up more action and snarky scenes than before.  I love me some historical snark.  I do, however, have some notes on how things could have been improved:

 

SPOILERS

1. Let George TALK more, so we can all revel in the fact that he is a glorious bastard and take a personal stake in his defeats.  It works, he proved it as Juan Borgia.

2. Stop spending so much time with this Jasper character.  Not that I’ve anything against him per se, but he seems like the token feel-sorry-for-this-woman! card, and in my head it is keeping Beaufort too victimized.  The woman has an iron fist, let her just do her job without all this pity-playing about menfolk around her.  Bonus, that’d leave more screentime for little Henry VII.

3. If Warwick is going the insanely stormy route, let him ham-it-up, already.

4.. Less witchcraft, more Jaquetta being awesomely practical about everything. Why was Edward IV the most practical person in this episode?

Other Comments:

1. Dude, EDWARD IV WAS THE MOST PRACTICAL PERSON IN THIS EPISODE!  I don’t even know what to make of that, except to say that this characterization has officially won me over for the fact that we somehow got here believably.

2. I feel like Warwick’s character is being sacrificed.  It makes me sad.

3. Isabel is really carrying the bulk of the empathy-play to a huge degree.  Not great for the show, but impressive for the actress.  I think she pulled it off.

4. Here’s the thing: I feel like Elizabeth played her feelings off as if reacting directly to everything and kept all emotional things really consistent, while everyone else played it as if spans of time were happening and therefore their feelings were shifting around.  It made Elizabeth more accessible, but also just oddly without depth in comparison to everyone else.  They should really all get together on this timespan-vs.-immediacy issue.

5. Anyone else just really feel it was totally Jasper’s fault for telling Wells the plan in the first place and maybe he should feel bad about it sometime?

6. It is really interesting to me that all of the tensiony sex scenes in this episode were actually about people plotting things about people who were not the one they were having sex with.

7. I do like Richard’s actual appearances this episode.  It makes me more uncertain about how they’re planning to portray him later.

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The White Queen 1×2 “The Price of Power”

This episode is all about drawing allegiance lines and telling the audience what side everyone’s on.  Also, about jumping right to the parts that have the simplest bad guy/good guy dynamics and, when that won’t quite fit in, have characters tell fairy tale versions of things where the “bad” people are devilspawn and werewolves.  It’s kindof relaxing, really.  They like to tell you things rather than expecting you to think, so you can just plunk yourself down and revel in all the foreshadowing.  Which is not to say things are bad, it just feels more like watching a romance drama than a political scheming intrigue one.  Usually, you feel compelled to side with schemers, etc.  With this one you’re really just letting them take care of their own fights and leaning into the ride.  Need to be in the right mood.

 

SAFE-TO-READ thoughts:

1. I am starting to really like Isabel Neville this episode.  The second the script let her grow more than one dimension she became engaging, particularly in her relationship with Anne.

2. Anne Neville herself has clearly been told to play her single dimension up as much as she can, and she complies.  It had better change soon.

3. I love Warwick’s furry-shoulders cape.

4. I appreciate how they make everything feel sudden.  Very helpful for keeping up interest, when you already know what’s going to happen.  It also feels more authentic.

5. It is really amusing to see what lengths they will go to to make sure everyone in the audience knows who everyone’s going to be as soon as humanly possible.

6. The magic sideline begins to swing in a dull direction rather than the fun one here, though.  Swing back-swing it back!

7. This portrayal of Richard remains sidelined, absurd, and somehow geek-vibed, though.  They had all better get on that.

 

SPOILERS:

1.The Duke of Buckingham and Catherine together-I luuuuuurve it.  Particularly when she’s swinging her feet.  Child-Marriage, FTW!

2. Okay, seriously, Edward rides off WITHOUT A SINGLE DAMN BODYGUARD when he retreats from Warwick’s army??  No.  Just no.  Take his fucking head when that happens.

3. So, they just let Edward send off letters giving Elizabeth advice?  And with a messenger that got there faster than Anthony?  >.>

4. I do appreciate how they’re keeping all the butchery things somehow one place removed-through dreams or flashbacks.  It lets the actual sadness of the moment and the drama of the living characters overshadow everything and connects the audience to them, rather than their own thoughts, feelings, or lack there of concerning the deaths.  I think that’s smart, especially considering how short a time we’ve known anyone in this show.

5. Is it just me or did the wording of all concerned when Warwick made his move just sound like Woodvilles=Always Right!, even Edward IV=wrong!?  Cause that’ll get annoying.

6. Margaret Beaufort, why don’t I care about this version of you?

7. I am saddened that Henry VI did not get to indulge his insanity on camera.  It’s his one opportunity to have fun, after all.