My screeners for The Tudors season 4 sat on my coffee table for a couple days, but when I started them, I had a marathon and couldn’t stop watching the engaging end to this fantastic television series created by Michael Hirst. Read if you can’t remember much from your middle school Social Studies classes but want to be smarter than a Snapple bottle.
There are only three episodes left of The Tudors. I am here to talk and give some thoughts on two of those episodes. If you have questions about the finale, make sure to ask them here because I will also have a very special Tudors finale review post.
In the episode that will air this Sunday, June 6th, Henry is still at war against the French. I’m not much a fan for the war scenes, but I found them to be executed creatively enough (with voice overs and the like) that I didn’t find the show to be boring or stalled, though the English army certainly felt stalled in 1544 (look at that, watching TV has made me sound all smart).
Henry has now remarried for the final time of his life. His hair is graying, and while he pursues war against France, England is going through lots of religious persecution as they are a nation divided. The new Queen is secretly not a Catholic, and wants religious reformation. I did enjoy hearing a letter written from the Queen to the King, but their relationship did not seem grounded in romance on either side. Catherine Parr seemed more motherly towards Henry than anything else.
Henry does not care to charm her or do anything but deal with France after their marriage occurs. He says he wants more than to conquer France but to simply get his “just rights and inheritances”. Someone else notes that the king actually wants his honor and youth back. Don’t we all?
It is interesting to see that young Mary pledges she will always seek to kill the heretics of England who are not Catholic. For those who know anything about history, you know she went on to become Bloody Mary. I always enjoy seeing how they incorporate the way Mary and Elizabeth’s personalities were formed as younger children. We also learn in this episode that Mary knows that Queen Catherine is a heretic. Guess it was hard to keep secrets in those days without online journals you could lock from other’s view!
But, then…the war is over, huzzah! England captures Boulogne. The King returns, buoyant with jubilation although he is sicker and sicker. And the Emperor is out to screw him again. That damn Emperor!
Queen Catherine insures that Elizabeth can be raised Lutheran as her mother was, which played a great part in history when she became Queen of England. Religion was so divisive back then. Although I’ve learned that fact before, it’s different to be invested in the story more intimately like this, and to re-examine that with the reality of my life as an American citizen. People here are free to worship giant cats wearing goggles if that’s what they want. Back then, if you worshiped the same God but had a different method of dong so, they would do such terrible things to you.
I very much enjoy watching and comparing modern life with the past. More than just comparing something like the way fashion and ornamentation has always been significant for men and woman, as you watch you might make mental notes on the nature to rebel, the ways society moves in trends, the art of manipulation, and the duty of war as it was treated back then and today in your own country.
In the episode that will air on Sunday June 13, 2010 we see that Henry is even more frail and sick. He became much worse for the wear after the war. His voice is gravely and there is a clear indication that he has matured physically and mentally over the years of the show. That’s a true credit to the actor Jonathan Rhys Meyers and the team of makeup artists who helped achieve this different, aged look. Producer Morgan O’Sullivan has said, “It’s hard to make Jonathan Rhys Meyers look bad but in the costumes we are putting a little weight on him – by degrees – graying him a little and doing some prosthetic work so that by the end of the season viewers will notice a marked difference in his appearance, because Henry is at the point where he has gone out of control. Jonathan lives this part to such a degree and knows the character of this man so well that it’s extraordinary to watch him now after four seasons – how instinctively he plays the role.”
Joan Bergin is the costume designer for The Tudors and also had something interesting to say, “”…we built up this system of padding from 1 to 5 and then we added a lot of furs and lots of gold so that the opulence masked the disillusionment. We grew him into a look that demonstrated that he really wanted to show the power of his kingdom until he became seriously ill which is historically true.” I fond that the king was still stubborn, but he did seem wiser and more respected than in season one.
In this episode you will see a storyline that deals with a female Lutheran preacher named Anne Askew and it was difficult to watch without looking away. As for the Queen, she is no longer safe. I felt very bad for her and Joely Richardson played Catherine Parr to be very sympathetic. She was strong, pushed her beliefs, but was also very kind – not just to the King, but to all three of his children and in trying to get them to bond. She seemed kind of Saintly.
As you can see, I approach my viewing of The Tudors with more of an emotionally-based standpoint, rather than nitpick about the historical elements on their own. For me, the show was about learning and feeling, as much as anything. I believe The Tudors accomplished both, and we are all the better for it.
Click to watch a promo of The Tudors Season 4 Ep. 8 — Henry’s physician tries to inform him about the spread of dysentery amongst his soldiers.
Click to watch another promo of The Tudors Season 4 Ep. 8 — Queen Catherine connects with Henry’s children.