Friday, October 22, 2010

Review: The Tudors "Natural Ally"

Non Spoiler Review:
The king's tour of the north continues, culminating in a meeting with James of Scotland, while rumours of war with France continue. Mary's influence and popularity continues to grow at the expense of Catherine, who's past begins to catch up to her. Accompanying the king, Charles is reminded of the death and carnage he inflicted at the king's behest last season to crush the rebellion.

Easily the best episode so far this season, many plotlines are kicked into high gear. Events begin to accelerate, particularly Catherine's indiscretions. Coupled with the ties to last season's rebellion, it made for a very interesting and enjoyable episode. Charles received some much-needed focus, and it's a treat to see so many plotlines from previous seasons taken up again.

Perhaps most important, Elizabeth and Edward Tudor both receive more focus, really making this feel like The Tudors for the first time during the series. 

Spoilers Now!
Henry continues his tour into Yorkshire, which brings dark memories for Charles, who brought the rebel leader Darcy to his death last season. Henry  forgives the former rebel peasants, and Mary's star continues to rise as the beloved daughter of their late catholic Queen Catherine.

Current Catherine, however, is pushed to the sidelines during the tour, continuing her affair with Culpepper. To add to her difficulties, Francis, another indiscretion from her past, arrives to blackmail her and forces her to hire him as her usher. Chatty Joan confides the truth of Francis to Lady Rockford.

Catherine continues to dote on Thomas, while Francis enjoys the wine and food of his position, outing the queen about her past in front of her ladies. Francis is finally confronted by the king's men, and a fight ensues. Such behaviour is not going to go unnoticed for long (like one episode at most!).

Charles has visions of Darcy's ghost, still racked with guilt for causing the deaths of the rebels. He hasn't been the same man since. Meanwhile, Surrey only shows disdain for the peasants. It's still unclear what his role in the series is going to be at this point as he just seems to simmer in the background scheming for position.

Back home, Elizabeth helps to tutor her charming and courteous little brother. But later, Edward develops a fever which threatens to be lethal. Edward Seymour must decide weather to alert the king in the north, and when the prince's condition continues to worsen, Seymour is faced with alerting Henry that his male heir's life is in jeopardy.

Henry, meanwhile, awaits to meet with King James, but is alerted at the very last moment that he is not coming at all, but also that the Scottish army has invaded the north. Henry orders retaliation in a rage, and shortly thereafter is alerted by an unfortunate messenger that Edward is ill. He returns to Windsor.

We're left with a vignette of the Tudors maintaining vigil over Edward while Catherine continues her affair. But Edward comes out of his fever, and Henry holds a special mass of thanks. At the mass someone leaves a mysterious letter for the king, who looks very much like it could be one of the king's groomsmen, judging by the cuffs and uniform.

So we have one of the more epic episodes, as the king's party continues to travel through the north. One major continuity faux pas is that James is Henry's nephew, but when producers decided to combine Henry's two sisters into one character (Charle's deceased wife) we're left with no maternity for James—something they likely will not elaborate on at all, but bears mention.

Culpepper's motivations continue to be left up to the audience and still aren't working well with me. Are they simply sociopaths who want to ruin the queen with no idea of the outcome? Perhaps Culpepper, but Lady Rockford's need to destroy Catherine seems to have no motivation at all.

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