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THE TUDORS: EPISODE TEN-SEASON ONE

I have been awaiting Episode Ten, the last episode, but I was disappointed.  I guess my disappointment is supposed to encourage me to see Season Two of The Tudors.  Showtime has succeeded.  I am so interested in The Tudors that I must see Season Two somehow. 

Episode Ten opens dramatically with King Henry masturbating while a servant catches his DNA in a cloth.  I wondered out loud, “What is going on?”  It was quite disturbing. Then I remembered a part of the book of Genesis where God forbids a man from allowing his semen to touch the ground, thus wasting it.  Also in Leviticus 15:16 and 17, God denounces a man as unclean if his semen touches his flesh and his garments unclean if semen touches them.  A combination of the three scriptures is my best explanation as to why the King was masturbating in front of a servant who had to stand there and catch his semen in mid-flight.  Yuck!  Anyway, it is obvious that the King’s patience for Anne and her “chasteness”, which is really a weapon to hold the King’s attention while her family conspires to gain more power , is wearing thin.   At the end of the episode, King Henry and Anne Boleyn finally have sex but it doesn’t end with  the bells and whistles that they expected.  It was a moment of weakness that caused them to have sex before he is rid of his wife and married to Anne.  They both walk away disappointed, Anne being the most disappointed because now it appears that the King’s attention will no longer be wrapped around her.

In this last episode, the King has a new group of advisors as Wolsey and 15 of those working for him are arrested for high treason.  Although the King has turned against Wolsey, he makes it very clear that Chancellor Wolsey, as one man, was more successful at managing his affairs than his group of advisors.  Wolsey ends up slitting his own throat in prison before his trial-a happening that the King wants to keep secret.  I believe that he wanted to keep this secret because according to Catholic belief, a suicide is unforgiveable in God’s eyes and the person’s soul would have to wonder eternally in purgatory.  The King dismisses all of his servants as he mourns for Wolsey.  Even I felt some sadness for this character’s passing.  Although he was a snake in the grass, he possessed qualities that we as humans, all possessed at one time or another.

My rating: 4 out of 5 gold pounds

March 29, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

THE TUDORS: EPISODE NINE – SEASON ONE

In Episode Nine, Cardinal Wolsey, seeing his future hanging in the balance, takes it upon himself to beg the Queen on his knees in public to bend to the King’s demands.  Of course he is only thinking of himself.  His desperation causes him to grovel like a dog.  I felt sorry for him a bit because for the last three episodes, I’ve seen him drop steadily out of power and favor with the King.  He has physically manhandled other cardinals to do his bidding ahead of what they deem as God’s work.  He accused an innocent man of doing what he was doing (spying for France on King Henry’s affairs) thus driving him crazy in prison.  He has threatened to imprison the Queen and her young child if the King is ever assassinated.  His haughtiness preceded him and yet, he finds himself on his knees before the Queen who he has helped to make her life a living hell.  My how the tables have turned.  Queen Katherine denounced him and told him to get up.  She stood firm and continued to refuse to grant the King an unlawful divorce while everyone looked upon Wolsey peculiarly-A Cardinal who professes all reverence to only God bowing before Queen Katherine instead of some revered religious statue? 

Anyway, Katherine exposed the Cardinal in public for all his deceit, telling him that he intends to string her along like he does with everyone else, but this time, it won’t work.  She and her servants leave him in the dust on his knees-Priceless.  I do believe there was some symbolism here.  Earlier in the season, Queen Katherine is likened to the Virgin Mary in her dress, her reverence to the Virgin Mary and her chastity and loyalty.  For the Queen/Mary to physically turn her back on Wolsey, spoke volumes.  I believe the writers were trying to suggest God’s disfavor and rejection of Wolsey.   

During the continuation of the Case – Queen Katherine vs. King Henry VIII, Bishop Fisher is the only one who would speak in behalf of the Queen and in direct defiance to the King.  He uses the example of King Herod in the Bible who wanted to take his brother’s wife, Jezebel, unlawfully.  John the Baptist was the only one who spoke out against this act and thus, he got his head cut off.  Similarly, the Bishop likened “The Tyrant” as he said, King Herod to King Henry and the fearless and loyal John the Baptist to himself.  I thought that was effective reasoning, using Bible scripture against the same people who profess to live by it.  But of course, the fearful ‘men of the cloth’ criticize Bishop Fisher for using that reference. 

The whole scenario shows how fear easily rules most men, prodding them to go against all that they believe or profess to believe.  I do have a respect for people who do not back down from their beliefs, even if they are attacked from all sides. 

At the end of this episode, King Henry banishes Cardinal Wolsey for not getting him what he wants and places Sir Thomas More in his place.  He does not want the position and who can blame him observing what happened to Wolsey.  The King orders him to be his new Chancellor against his will and charges him to do the will of God even if he himself is not in agreeance.  We’ll see how long this lasts.  According to history, this doesn’t last for too long.  Less than three years later in 1532, More resigned from the position citing ill health but the real reason was his disagreement with King Henry’s decision to split from the Church.

My rating: 5 out of 5 gold pounds

March 29, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

THE TUDORS: EPISODE EIGHT – SEASON ONE

Episode VIII begins with King Henry and Queen Katherine sitting for a painstaking portrait which probably took hours of standing in the same pose to achieve.  What a contradiction.  The King is aggressively seeking a divorce from his Queen so that he could marry Anne Boleyn and yet they pose for a family portrait.  Similarly to many families today, they save face for the public while their lives are unraveling behind the scenes. 

In this episode, a newfound respect and admiration for Queen Katherine grows in me.  She stands, perfectly lady-like but with a fighting spirit as she is attacked from all angles.  The King and the ‘men of the cloth’ who are scared out of their wits by the King, try everything in the book to get the Queen to leave the King ‘willfully’ since it looks as though the Pope will not grant the King his divorce.  I don’t know how I would have acted amidst the intense pressure.

The King asks the Queen to retire to a Nunnery with grace and leave him to the occupation of marrying Anne Boleyn.  She refuses stating that that is not God’s will for her.  It is God’s will for her to be Queen of England and she continues to stand behind her claim that her marriage to King Henry’s brother was never consummated; therefore it is not wrong for him to be married to her.  This is King Henry’s only argument for having his marriage voided. 

Cardinal Wolsey’s life hangs in the balance as he is well aware of as everyone else is, that the King must always have his own way or there would be dire consequences.  So he resorts to sending other lawyers who resemble ‘men of the cloth’  to threaten the Queen by stating that if the King is assassinated, she and her daughter would be prime suspects.  I even thought that was a new low for Wolsey.  It is obvious that he would do whatever it takes, even threatening a woman and her innocent child, to ensure that his career and riches stay in tact. 

Lastly, the King himself threatens to take the Queen’s daughter away from her permanently if she doesn’t grant him a divorce.  I loved and admired the way the Queen stood up to the menacing figure of King Henry and reprimanding him for thinking of taking their daughter from her.  She then refused to bend to his whim.  As my respect for her grew, I noticed my respect for her adversary, Anne Boleyn waning.  Although it was intriguing to watch Anne Boleyn’s cunning catch the eye and heart of the King, the reality is that she is nothing but a woman, employed by her father and uncle, to use the King to bring down Cardinal Wolsey.  Even though she has apparently fallen in love with the King, he is still a married man and this is wrong.  So her end could never be a favorable one. 

Anyway, a court trial commences with the Queen vs. the King.  The Queen uses her craftiness to portray herself as a humble woman (as she respectfully kneels before the King) who only loves and wants more than anything to be loved by her husband who is, as she emphasizes, was her first and only lover.  The King and the Cardinal are mortified because they know that this humble display can only work in her favor.  She then makes a dignified exit out of the courtroom, against the Cardinals orders, to a throng of subjects cheering for her.  She definitely had the hearts of the public and rightfully so.  I am in awe of this woman played brilliantly I might add, by Maria Doyle Kennedy.  I can’t wait to see the end of this case, even if I already know that the Pope will never grant the King his divorce.

My rating: 5 out of 5 gold pounds

March 29, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

THE TUDORS: EPISODE SEVEN – SEASON ONE

When I sit down in my living room to watch the Tudors, besides my notebook and pen, I must have three important things – My sofa pillows fluffed and propped up perfectly behind me, popcorn and total silence. Therefore I always end up watching it very late at night after putting my rambunctious daughters to bed. But today, I was able to watch it in day light (5:30pm) for the first time since I left work early to take my older daughter to the doctor. My little one, being the noisiest of the two, was having a great time running back and forth as I popped my popcorn in preparation for my show. I said to her for the fourth time, “’Ella (not her real name) you have to go in your room and watch your movie because mommy has to watch….” She finished my sentence, “Tudors! I know, I know.” A smile came over my face. I didn’t realize that my little one was aware that I watched The Tudors let alone the routine leading up to my viewing experience. That was interesting. Tudors has become a part of my life! Is that good or bad? I don’t know.

What I do know is that Episode VII of the Tudors turned out to be haunting and welcoming at the same time. It was literally plagued by the “Sweating Disease”- an almost always fatal disease which was marked by sweating in its victims. The sweating sickness, also known as the “English sweate” (Latin: sudor anglicus) today, was a mysterious disease that struck England, and later continental Europe, in a series of epidemics beginning in 1485. In 1528 the disease recurred for the fourth time and with great severity. It first showed itself in London at the end of May and speedily spread over the whole of England. In London the mortality was very great; the court was broken up, and Henry VIII left London, frequently changing his residence and this was illustrated well in The Tudors. The show went on to show the King’s insecurity and fears mounting to the point that his dreams and waking dreams were disturbed by the possibility of him being infected.

The worst did happen to him though. His beloved Anne Boleyn became stricken with the disease and this nearly destroyed him when he had to wait patiently for word on her health. She somehow miraculously survived the disease and is rejoined with the King. I don’t think this actually happened but it makes for a great drama. To see the character of King Henry VIII who is usually spitting became overjoyed at the sight of a now well Anne Boleyn really touched me. I felt so upset at myself for saying “Awwwww” out loud. It would have been only natural for my next step to be turning to the Soap Opera Channel. Never that!

Chancellor/Cardinal Wolsey whom I am not fond of also fell with the sweating disease. I was surprised to see how I felt sorry for him in his pain and suffering. His vulnerability caused me to see him as a human being who simply makes flaws as all human beings do. I forgot his hypocrisy and cruelty in this moment of desperation. After he recovered, I found it difficult to feel that same hatred towards this character. Maybe I’m a softy.

The sweating sickness eventually died down by the end of the episode but in reality, it died down in 1551 after which the disease apparently vanished. The onset of symptoms was dramatic and sudden, with death often occurring within hours. Its cause remains unknown to this day.  I must admit that this episode was not only entertaining but an educational tool because I wouldn’t normally Google “Henry VIII”, but I find myself doing that a lot these days.

My Rating: 3 out of 5 gold pounds (because this episode didn’t have as much depth as the previous ones. It actually just felt like a pathway to the next episode)

March 29, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments