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The White Princess - English Blood on English Soil-Two Kings- Reviews - "It's All about Power"

As we prepare for tonight's finale of White Princess, the recurring theme of the latest episodes seems to be power. While it appears, on the surface, that it is Henry (Jacob Collins-Levy)'s desperate battle for his throne against the boy who calls himself Richard of York that is at the forefront, in reality, it's the battles of the women of White Princess that are the most intriguing.


In English Blood on English Soil (1x06), we see three women and the power they hold. One with power, one gaining power and one losing power.
The man calling himself Richard (Patrick Gibson) and backed by the Duchess of Burgundy, has married a Scottish princess and has amassed the support of most of the crowned heads of Europe in his bid to return the crown to the Yorks. He begins a march across England, heading toward London and a final confrontation with Henry. Henry is encouraged when he leads his men into battle only to discover his enemy has withdrawn. At first, he believes it is because the pretender has given up his quest for England's throne but later learns Richard only retreated from battle to be by his wife's side at the birth of their son. The pretender to Henry's throne now has an heir.

It has been three months since Lady Margaret Beaufort (Michelle Fairley), the King's mother, murdered her true love Jasper, to keep him from telling Henry about her role in the murder of young boys she believed were Richard. She is consumed with guilt and begs forgiveness from the Bishop, who proceeds to tell her she must go on a pilgrimage not only to help her son but to help her find her way with God. She takes young Prince Henry with her only to find themselves in danger when Richard's forces have advanced close to them. They go to a nearby monastery for safety, and Lady Margaret is convinced that God has abandoned her and her noble cause. Michelle Fairley has been exceptional in this role and series and this episode is no exception.

After learning from Maggie (Rebecca Benson) that all the heads of state were at Richard's wedding except Spain, Lizzie (Jodie Comer) urges Henry they must travel to Spain to secure the betrothal of their son, Arthur, to the young Spanish princess Catherine of Aragon. Then she believes they will have a strong ally. Unfortunately, when they arrive in Spain, they soon learn that Queen Isabella (Rossy de Palma) holds all the cards, and seems to delight in showing Henry's weakness when he cannot converse or negotiate with her in Spanish. When all seems lost, Lizzie gets her first true glimpse of the power she holds, when after hearing the Queen disparage her husband, steps up and begins negotiating in Spanish. She learns Isabella won't agree to a betrothal until Henry has rid himself of the pretender. Lizzie agrees but lies to Henry saying it is because the Queen wants a Papal dispensation of the match.

On their return to London, Henry prepares to do battle once again with Richard and his amassed army of the royals of Europe, while he is faced with going into battle with an army of the few nobles who back him and mercenaries he has hired. Lizzie has been called to her mother's deathbed, where the Dowager Queen begs her daughter to help her brother. Lizzie seeks Henry out as he prepares for yet another battle with Richard and is horrified to see that the nobles have abandoned Henry. Enraged she goes after them and in her most Queenly moment yet and Jodie Comer's finest performance of the series, lambasts them for abandoning Henry, informs them of her mother's death, renounces the usurper Richard and tells them they must come back and fight for their king, and if they won't fight for their King, they must fight for their Queen! Then in perhaps the most stunning and powerful visual of the entire series, a dejected Henry sees his wife, his Queen leading his army back so they may go into battle with him.

A fierce bloody battle ensues, and just when Henry thinks he's about to go one on one with his pretender, he finds that Richard has once again fled, this time seeking sanctuary in a monastery. That's when Lady Margaret finds her faith restored in God because he's hiding in the very monastery that protected her on her pilgrimage. Her son, Henry may not be able to go into the monastery and get Richard, but she can, as it is her mission from God.


In this episode, we see more of the women of White Princess come into their own power.

The power struggles in the House of Tudor continue. Thanks to his mother, Henry has captured the man who claims to be Richard of York and true king. Instead of killing him and making him a martyr, Henry decides to humiliate and debase the man by making him a servant in the castle when he refuses to denounce his claim. Henry makes him his knave of wardrobe and has him sleep among the royal robes he covets.

And when a tour, parading the usurper before the people essentially backfires, we see the first signs that Lizzie may indeed, suspect that this man is indeed her brother, despite her having denounced him in court. But it is Maggie, that comes into her own power in this episode, and the first time comes when she refuses to take part in the tour to humiliate Richard. Rebecca Benson shows Maggie's growth and strength this episode in a nice performance.

That's when the second strong woman of this episode arrives. Richard's wife, Cathy (Amy Manson) arrives with their infant son demanding to see her husband. Lady Margaret delights in telling her the church has annulled her marriage and takes her son from her saying he is a bastard, but tells her as the daughter of a royal she is welcome to stay at court. To taunt Richard, Henry appears to be wooing Cathy. However, the only effect his efforts have is to make Lizzie extremely jealous to the point she becomes cruel. She taunts Cathy mercilessly until Maggie calls her out. Her actions would also appear to have Maggie taking a stand. Maggie secretly meets with the Duchess of Burgundy (Joanne Whaley) who has slipped into London in an effort to rescue Richard, and ultimately she decides to help.

Richard's stubborn resolve and the apparent unwillingness of the people to put their faith in him are pushing Henry closer and closer to madness. He accuses Richard of poisoning his clothing and has him brutally beaten. Lizzie is finally forced to choose a side and in a desperate move enlists Maggie's help, reunites Richard and Cathy. She sets fire to Henry's wardrobe to help them escape. She tells them she'll get their child back to them and they can disappear after everyone assumes Richard dies in the fire. She finally admits she believes he is her brother. All her efforts are for naught when Richard refuses to go along with her plan and emerges from the smoldering ashes of Henry's wardrobe. He defiantly declares he is Richard of York, the true King.

The battle of the thrown will come to a head in tonight's episode. Who will win? Or can there be a true victor for the crown? What do you think will happen in the finale of The White Princess? Discuss in comments below.

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