The White Princess Recap: Your Moves Are Far Too Obvious

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Okay, round two, here we go. The episode opens with Lizzie being pretty creepy, smiling insipidly every time Henry speaks and generally trying to prove to him that she’s a loyal and loving wife. And I guess it works? But she starts to look borderline crazy and I think there’s a lesson in here for all the men that like to tell women to smile. Don’t. It doesn’t look right.

Anyway, Elizabeth and Lizzie are preparing for the summer progresses of 1486 and are looking to reach York loyalists. They land on Francis Lovell. Lizzie convinces Henry that he should have the progress route go through York – if he doesn’t he’ll look weak. Two minutes later he bumps into his mother and Jasper and tells them he’s going to York. When they protest, he yells, “I will not have them thinking I’m afraid!” Henry is apparently very easy to manipulate.

Lizzie writes a letter to Lovell, while Elizabeth pens a fake letter to William Stafford, another loyalist. She gives the fake letter to Ruth, a servant girl, who promptly hands it to Margaret Beaufort, as Elizabeth guessed she would. The letter complains that Lizzie is already loyal to the Tudor cause and her only issue with Henry is that he’s bad in bed, possibly impotent. Lolzzz, Elizabeth.

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This doesn’t please Margaret. She bumps into Cecily in the gardens and asks if she wants new gowns and how her mother is doing. I’m sure one doesn’t have anything to do with the other. “It must be hard for her now, in my shadow,” Margaret says. “Hard for her to lose.” Her concern is touching.

“Oh, my mother doesn’t lose,” Cecily blithely responds. “She always finds a way.”

Which leads us to the progress. Margaret tells Lizzie that she should stay behind because sickness has begun to spread. Elizabeth jumps at the chance to take her place, offering to symbolize the York half of the merging of the houses. “Remember, Lizzie, humble and penitent,” she says, her daughter’s face agog.

Not so fast. Margaret traps her and her three youngest daughters in a tower where they’ll be visited by Bishop Morton daily for prayer. Did this happen? No, so I can’t even really with this storyline. She writes a note in her own blood and hands it to her loyal stable boy, Ned, who gets it to Francis Lovell, calling him to action. Naturally she uses witchcraft to get this done. I’m just going to go ahead and ignore the magic subplot in this show unless it becomes critical, okay? Cool.

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Meanwhile, Henry reaches York and is shot with an arrow by Lovell. When Jasper rides after them with men they reach a line of Yorkist loyalists and call it quits. Henry, wounded, is angrier with his mother about her not having told him that sweating sickness has broken out than about the blood pouring out from his arm. He’s also in a snit that no one likes him. Someone should tell him about his personality. Or, in reality, that a year after he’s come to the throne no one knows who the eff he is. Either way.

He writes to Lizzie, accusing her of orchestrating the assassination attempt and, in doing so, let’s her know that the sickness has spread to London and Elizabeth has been being held in a tower.

Lizzie’s main takeaway is that someone has to do something to help “the people,” and these incompetent, borderline peasant Tudors aren’t going to be able to handle it. She breaks into “the treasure room” (ha) by threatening Bishop Morton that she’ll harm the child if he doesn’t let her in.

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Once Elizabeth is freed we find out that Lizzie is an idiot. She’s livid that Elizabeth sent a second note to Lovell and put her name to it. She’s offended by the idea that her mother would assassinate her husband, telling her she thought they would mount some vague war or convince Henry to go back to Brittany. How Elizabeth Woodville produced such a simpleton is anyone’s guess, but she wearily informs her daughter that that’s not going to happen and if she wants to be a Yorkist queen who can win she better toughen up.

Lizzie chooses a subtler route. She writes to Henry to defend herself and, once he’s returned to London, calmly explains she is prepared for whatever punishment he has for her for breaking into the treasure room; she had to do what was right. Instead, he thanks her, telling her the only cheering he received on progress was on her behalf. We could be a good team, he tells her, if only you didn’t hate me so much. Well, isn’t that always the way?

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A few other odds and ends:

  • Henry catches sight of intimacy between Jasper and Margaret and is super grossed out. When he declares there will be a peace envoy to Burgundy (read: next episode) he sends Jasper over his mother’s suggestion of her husband. Jasper has no one to miss him, he tells her. Though, pretty harsh thing to say right in front of your uncle, Henry.
  • Teddy is taken to the Tower, which has now become Maggie’s chief concern. Lizzie promises to help convince Henry to free him, but people were calling for him on progress and, as Henry correctly points out, as a York boy, even a child, he does represent a very real threat to the crown.
  • Cecily is a stone cold B and I haven’t decided yet whether I like it or not.

I’ll post a recap for the third episode at some point this week and, in the meantime, you can catch up on the first here.

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