The One With All The Wine – The White Queen Episode 7
*As usual, here is my spoiler warning. It isn’t anything that history hasn’t told us but if you don’t want to know then read no further!*
I have no shame in admitting it, I love The White Queen. It is the highlight of my week. It is as camp as Christmas, the men are gorgeous, the women are beautiful, the dresses are lovely and there are so many castles. As an art history student, castles are my bag, man. In short, it is all you could ask for from Sunday night television.
Now I realise that this show is not without its faults but the opening of this week’s episode was so unintentionally hilarious that it became difficult to look past. Edward IV (played by Max Irons. What a great name.) nicknamed Edward the Phwoarth by the ladies who watch this show and who had previously been the second hottest English monarch, losing out only to Henry V (as played by Tom Hiddleston of course, not in real life with the ridiculous bowl cut) is up to his naughty whoring ways once again. However he appeared not as the svelte, often shirtless Edward of earlier episodes but as a man who is allegedly approaching his middle age. As a result, the costume department have put Irons in what must be the worst fat suit ever seen in televisual history. It was literally just a pillow shoved up his shirt. There is something very disconcerting about watching a man whose face is as sculpted as a Greek statue but with the gut of a darts player (and not a convincing one at that). He may be ‘fat’ now but dammit he is still very pretty. But once we get over the sheer silliness of the terrible fat suit, this week’s episode shaped up to be one of my favourites yet.
It was all about George, Duke of Clarence this week as he well and truly went out with a bang before meeting his sticky end. No really, it is literally sticky. This week, to demonstrate the fact that George Is Evil, he had grown a beard complete with twirly moustache, a sure sign that he sure as hell ain’t the good guy. From episode 2, George has been my favourite. He is just so deliciously wicked, what with his sarcasm, wonderful hair and general treacherous plotting.
It is an enormous credit to David Oakes that George, a character who should by all accounts be utterly loathsome, is one of my favourites. Oakes clearly relishes George’s dastardly nature but, especially in this episode, manages to reveal a tender side that is enormously affecting as we watch the development of his relationship with his wife Isabel (Elinor Tomlinson) a woman who he had previously been indifferent towards. Despite the fact that he blames his wife for the birth of a daughter and not a son, he is touchingly loving towards his baby girl, a stark contrast from the conniving traitor that would stab his own brothers in the back in order to get his way in the world. This more emotional side to George makes his demise towards the end all the more sad as we begin to think that perhaps George isn’t so awful after all. It also helps that David Oakes is handsome and handsome men with babies is always a plus point in any piece of programming. For other examples of the handsome man with baby phenomenon see also Max Irons with a baby in episode 2 and Aneurin Barnard as Richard (the youngest of the York boys) with a baby in this episode. All in all, the sons of York are all handsome and should carry babies for most of the time.
Depressingly, just when George and Isabel seemed to be getting along with each other (and by getting along I mean hysterically accusing Elizabeth the queen of being a witch. It all went a bit Crucible in the middle there. But hey, at least George was being nice to her whilst doing it) she was cruelly taken away from him and from me, bringing the death toll of my favourites up to 3, following the death of Elizabeth’s super kick ass awesome mother Jacquetta last week. In her death, the dichotomy of George’s character was fully revealed in a particularly affecting scene in which George comforts Isabel’s grieving sister Anne and admits to her that he had grown to love his wife and swore that he would not marry again. And we believed him until about two minutes later he was seen stomping out of the king’s chambers in a strop to end all strops because he wasn’t allowed to marry Margaret of Burgundy and get himself closer to the regency of France, the goal he had been working towards for most of the episode. Sneaky old George, you never know what to believe.
And now its DEATH SCENE TIME! Having been found guilty of treason George, as the king’s brother, got to pick his method of execution and the show decided to run with the death of legend, drowning him in a vat of Malmsey wine (see I told you it was sticky). Visually this show is stunning and George’s execution was no exception. We were treated to some gorgeous underwine shots of George’s final struggle, all shot in the most stunning deep red colour, like blood. Malmsey wine is actually a sort of brownish yellow colour but that would have looked rubbish in comparison to the drama of the red. Also *SYMBOLISM KLAXON* I have a theory that the red was supposed to represent the blood that linked Edward and George and the blood that had been spilled by each of them, leading ultimately to George’s death. Or it could have been because red looks more impressive than brown on camera but I like my idea better.
With George dispatched, a quick word about Richard, the littlest York (played by Aneurin Barnard) who I am sure I will come to say much more about next week. It is however important to bring him up I feel just to discuss him as a character. This Richard is nothing like the Richard that Shakespeare painted. For one thing he is decidedly less hunchbacked and a great deal dishier than we had previously thought with hair that bests everyone at court. Given Edward’s descent into fat suit land he is now 100% the hot brother. More interestingly though is the fact that Barnard has chosen to play him as a kind, sensitive and chivalrous man who appears to be deeply in love with his wife Anne Neville, who he secretly married last week. The fact that he isn’t the scheming, evil murderer that Shakespeare portrayed him to be makes for much better viewing as we are forced to reevaluate our preconceptions of him as a character and also the events that history dictates are coming in the near future. Barnard is doing a really excellent job at turning Richard around and he is sneaking up the ranks as my next favourite character.
A last mention to the stuff that I wanted to include but I’m aware that this is getting super long. (I’m just majorly in the George fan club) 1) Margaret Beaufort has become way less annoying and actually rather sweet. Well played Amanda Hale, I no longer want to slap her. 2) That bit with Duchess Cecily begging for George’s life was heart wrenching if not slightly on the melodramatic side. Especially the leg hugging. 3) Rupert Graves’ beard remains wonderful. I will end with a picture of it, just to cheer us up after all the death.