Did you think we were free of Thomas Seymour by some fortunate twist of fate? Well, think again because he is all over this episode. And we’re taking some extra historical liberties this time around, which, *gavel bang* I’ll allow it, but I am wary. Also: not enough Mary this week.
Look, I’ll say it: I like Mary on this show more than Elizabeth. It’s super weird and I never expected it, but it’s true. Elizabeth is an inchoate Elizabeth at this period of history, while Mary is portrayed as a well-intentioned, forceful, clever, pious woman fighting for her country and her religious freedom. We’ve never seen Mary this way! I cannot overemphasize how consistently she is pitied or scorned by history and period dramas! But now, every time Romola Garai shows up on my screen, I know it will be something excellent.
Okay, I don’t want to do it, but let’s talk about Thomas and his terrible plans. Plan No. 1 is to stand outside in the rain like he’s John Cusack, waiting for Elizabeth to invite him into his former house. He does this for three days, and she finally brings him in (boooo!), where he says his soul’s compass always comes back to her (BOOOOO). Elizabeth mentions that maybe since this is the house he shared with Catherine, that’s why it’s spinning him there. Bam!
Thomas is trying hard here, as Elizabeth is his last “in” to power (other than kidnapping the king, but we’re only on the first plan). When he tells her she’s in love with him, she refers to her previous actions as done by someone “very young and very foolish.” Which is great until she does a complete 180 on that. Goddamn, Elizabeth. But also, she is 15, and Thomas has been grooming her since she was 13, and he has sexually abused her. So her judgment is not going to be perfect.
Even though Elizabeth tells him no and that she is done, Thomas corrals her into a private area at court and proposes. Again. AND SHE SAYS YES. Okay, so this whole section, from here on, is where I am very “???” because historically, there is no evidence they were still involved after she was banished from Catherine Parr’s. Motive wise, I get why they’re doing it (it spurs Thomas to do the very stupid thing he does later), but I do not love it. Mainly because it means you have to have even more screen time of a man in his 40s telling a 15-year-old child how much she gets him.
Thomas wants to marry in secret and then ask for forgiveness, and Elizabeth is like, “Oh, like what you did with my stepmother,” and Thomas tells her they will never mention Catherine again. What!! This request is bananas. And he makes it multiple times. Elizabeth does not want to marry in secret because she has just fought her way back from potential disgrace. She basically asks Thomas to figure it out, and he says, “Okay.”
So Thomas’s Plan No. 2 is to marry a royal princess by walking up to his brother while Somerset is practicing archery and be like, “So, how about me marrying Princess Elizabeth?” THOMAS. You are bad at this. Somerset obviously laughs because first Thomas married the king’s widow, and now he’s trying to marry one of his daughters. Somerset asks, “What the fuck is wrong with you?” Something pretty underplayed in this series is that Somerset is extremely funny, only he’s also So Serious that it’s not easily noticed. I’m going to miss him.
Because he is always the victim, Thomas asks why Somerset can’t back him, just once, and his brother says that the odds are poor. Hahah, true, but hurtful. Thomas almost shoots him with an arrow about it.
Somerset’s got a real bee in his bonnet because he needs to end the war in Scotland since the people of England are mad. “Kill all gentlemen,” mad. According to this website, whose trustworthiness only you can judge, John Dudley and not Somerset offered the Treaty of Boulogne, but whatever. Here, Somerset secretly sells the hard-fought-for Boulogne to the French and catches a bunch of shit for it.
Because Pedro is still Somerset’s spy, he’s in the room where it happened (no? Too overdone?) and delivers a disillusioned speech to Somerset. I LOVE THIS SPEECH. If I have transcribed it correctly, it goes like this:
“I thought the world was run by giants; men who knew what they were doing, with larger plans than I could ever understand, wheels within wheels. But every time I come to court, it seems smaller, and I wonder if there are any wheels at all. And I don’t know if the change is the surroundings, or you, or me.”
Pedro immediately tells Mary all about the selling of Boulogne, and Mary is indignant about how badly Somerset is biffing the running of the country. She writes to Edward, and now wheels (different wheels) have been set in motion, leading to a real change of fortune for the Seymour boys. Also, I want you to know that my notes for the scene where Pedro comes to see Mary are, “Okay, wait, her hair is down and she looks so pretty and I hope they make out.” They do not, but one can always hope for another lingering hand touch.
If you’re interested in the origins of the “kill all gentlemen” rebellion, first of all, okay, nerd, but secondly, this is Kett’s Rebellion, and they really tried to recreate the image here, including the “Oak of Reformation.” Kett’s Rebellion occurred when landowners started fencing off common land, something also known as “stealing.” You can read all about enclosure here through Wikipedia or via Marx’s writing about it. Did Kett’s Rebellion win, resulting in the return of the common land to the people? Of course it didn’t! Thousands were killed, and an op-ed writer of the day wrote, “The hurt of sedicion howe greueous it is to a commune welth.” Okay, dude.
There’s no good moment for me to mention that Robert Dudley’s father, John, is perplexed by Robin trying a fancy sword move and refers to him as “Twirly.” Then when they talk about survival at court, Robin asks if men never speak what they think, and John says, “Smart men? No, they do not.” I lol’d. This show. The humor, she is unexpected.
Somerset is stressed because of the war and the secret deal with France, and now his brother is trying to marry a princess, and the king is a baby who is also trying to force everyone to be a Protestant. It’s a lot. So he tells Elizabeth, guess what, you’re going to get married to a Protestant nobleman. She is not on board and mentions this to Thomas, who gets very angry and forms Plan No. 3. He tries to get Henry Grey in on the latest plan, but even Henry is like, “This idea is bad.”
But first, Thomas goes to see Elizabeth, and they have sex. I cannot support this! Show, I love you, but you already indicated that they’d done this. We don’t need to see an adult man having sex with a fifteen-year-old. Furthermore, Elizabeth already had a pregnancy scare, and I know she thinks Thomas is probably going to figure out how to marry her, but I absolutely do not believe she would have sex with him again before marriage. I super hated this scene.
Thomas leaves and says he’ll be back in the morning. He is off to do Plan No. 3, which is to break into Edward’s room and kidnap him. Historically, we’re not even positive it was kidnapping. But probably? Only obviously it goes terribly wrong, Edward’s dog barks at Thomas, and Thomas shoots the dog. Yes, this actually happened. It is awful. Thomas is stopped from fleeing by Robin (yay!), who previously told the king that he was testing his security, and it was found wanting. So now Thomas is arrested.
We end with Sir Anthony (Kat’s brother-in-law!) running in to see Elizabeth, telling her to figure out what she will tell the authorities about her relationship with Thomas, who tried to kidnap the king, and then Anthony is interrupted by John Dudley striding in. He has an arrest warrant for Elizabeth and Kat Ashley! Tudor times are so dramatic!