Laugh, lie, flatter, confront
Episode 7 of Becoming Elizabeth begins in the Whitehall Palace, with John Dudley now standing alongside Edward. The thing is, Dudley has some pretty extreme ideas, including public burning of dissidents, which leads Elizabeth to think about the real evil here.
John Dudley’s idea is to “make England great again” and this stems from these extreme ideas. Interestingly, Somerset receives an unexpected letter confirming his release. This is what Dudley is doing, of course, but he has the alternative plan of having him support the new Lord Protector on the council, under the pretext of having been “good friends” before.
Meanwhile, Spain (and, by extension, Guzman) is not very happy with the current plan of a Protestant marriage for Mary. The only thing is for Mary to leave and go to Spain. This presents a conflict of interest between the two sides, something that threatens to explode and escalate if not dealt with quickly and handled with elegance.
Edward continues to make big plans, eventually arranging a wedding for Elizabeth. Prince Frederick of the Danish court is the ultimate suitor for her, but he’s not exactly happy when he finds out. Edward argues that England is vulnerable and believes an alliance with Denmark would be perfect. But Elizabeth complains of a marriage to an illiterate 16-year-old boy. Her heart is clearly elsewhere.
At Framlingham Castle, even Mary is unwilling to accept her idea of an arranged marriage. Dudley shows up and throws his weight around, burning his belongings in front of the Spanish ambassador and his men, not to mention pushing the bishop down the stairs.
Meanwhile, Lade Jane returns to Elizabeth. The latter isn’t exactly warm towards the woman, especially when he asks her what wedding nights actually are like. “You’ll bleed and hurt,” Elizabeth says practically. Eventually Jane closes with an icy “whore” retort.
Elizabeth meets her sister and they both discuss their arranged marriages. Mary shrugs and states that this is God’s will and they have been tested by divinity. Elizabeth actually agrees with the Spanish idea of leaving England and fleeing to Spain. Mary is not happy and poisonously spits at her sister than her, telling her that there is a much more stealthy killer at work (which is Elizabeth, given the contempt she is showing). However, that doesn’t stop Mary from seriously ruminating about leaving.
After this meeting, Elizabeth returns with a changed attitude. Realizing that she has no choice but to get married, she decides to try and make the most of this situation. At the Danish ambassador’s residence, Robert plays his game with his father, suggesting that he might marry Elizabeth. And his answer? A quick slap in the face. This is a no, then!
So as Mary forges her own way and leaves, Elizabeth walks through the fire and feels she has no choice but to marry the Dane. However, Robert tries to convince her not to go through with it, convinced that she loves him.
When Elizabeth shows up, she is greeted by the entire English council instead. It turns out that Denmark has decided to insult England for the insult of offering Anna Bolena’s daughter. Of course, this is in relation to Elizabeth and in court she whispers that she is a whore.
Elizabeth gives a passionate speech on Thomas Seymour’s horrors. Now significantly in the middle of this Edward is coughing. And those coughs transform from an innocent clearing of the throat to coughing up blood and passing out on the bed later.
As this happens, Mary decides not to leave, retorting that “If England has to burn to stop this evil … then I’ll see it done.”
The episode review
Becoming Elizabeth’s penultimate episode may have been delayed for a week, but it’s definitely worth it. There are fiery ambitions igniting in court as Dudley begins to give his weight, while the revelation at the end about Edward’s court is likely to catch many people unaware of the story by this time.
The entire Becoming Elizabeth production has been pretty thorough up to this point and there has been a lot of care in that side of things, along with the costumes and set design. Compared to offerings like Anna Bolena, which seemed suffocated and poorly written, Starz’s costume drama offers some delightfully twisted drama and a pretty accurate depiction of this time period, which is nice to see.
With Mary deciding not to leave after all, and Elizabeth caught in the middle of it all, her passionate speech about grinded women, courtesy of these terrible men, is powerful and certainly touching. It’s even more indicative that her first response is to tell her she’s crying, forcing Elizabeth to conjure up a stiff upper lip to keep her face. It is a small but very significant moment.
Everything here rests precariously on a tightrope and next week’s finale looks like it’s going to be a pretty dramatic affair. Take it!
|Expect a full season report when this season ends!|