Wolf Hall – Episode 4 Review

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel (book cover)

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel (book cover)

This episode starts off with Henry being upset that Anne has given birth to a daughter. He does not ask how Anne is and just says to call her Elizabeth. It soon switches over to Cromwell seeing Anne. This wouldn’t have been allowed in reality as she wouldn’t have been churched yet. Anyway she just tells him that the Lady Mary should serve in Elizabeth’s household and know her place.

Spiteful Jane Boleyn is the next to approach Cromwell. Once again, she is portrayed as a gossip and spy, willing to sell anyone out. Recently, historians have disproved this portrayal but still it is being used.

Soon Cromwell proposes the act of succession, however Anne isn’t happy when she finds that it says about her death. She is worried about what will happen to Elizabeth if she dies and the next queen has a son, she doesn’t want anyone in her place. Luckily, Henry comforts her and says no one can replace her and Elizabeth will always be princess of England. After the meeting, to confirm it, Anne goes after Cromwell and says “I won’t die. I will give the King a son and I won’t die.”

Anne Boleyn telling Cromwell she won't die

Anne Boleyn telling Cromwell she won’t die

After Cromwell tries to save More’s life by removing his name from the bill, there is more good news. Anne has missed one of her courses and Henry is sure this time she will have a son. Of course, we know how this goes. Also, More will not sign the oath to Henry but will not speak against it either. Once again, it is not enough.

There is an annoying scene where Jane Boleyn is teasing Jane Seymour. She uses everything she says against her and seems aggravated just talking to her. This is quickly interrupted by them seeing blood on the floor. The music turns more dramatic and suspenseful as they carefully follow the trail of blood to Anne Boleyn. It isn’t said, but it is obvious that she lost the baby. I honestly don’t believe that Anne would have been alone when she lost the baby, queens always had women around them and someone would have sounded the alarm. She wouldn’t have just been left to find her blood on the floor. She wouldn’t have just been left to find her blood on the floor. It would probably have been more like the scene of Anne’s first miscarriage in The Tudors, Anne collapsing around her women and someone calling for the physician.

Henry blames the miscarriage on Katherine of Aragon. He says that Katherine ill wishes him and she “stands between me and the woman I love, with her cold heart”. He still seems to love Anne for now at least.

Henry VIII blaming Katherine of Aragon for Anne's miscarriage

Henry VIII blaming Katherine of Aragon for Anne’s miscarriage

More’s trial is also in this episode. They use his own words against him, yet he still defends himself well. More tells the court to disregard the words that he is alleged to have said. Obviously, he is still found guilty and sentenced to death. Before he is taken away, he tells them the church are on his side and his conscience too and that they should look to their own consciences. Unfortunately, due to More’s portrayal in this series, we feel happy to see him go. It is a shame as they have made More so evil compared to the saintly Cromwell. There is one saving grace, however, and that is Cromwell’s flashback to serving More as a child. The one good thing we see about More. More is then executed as the young More plays the recorder.

Thomas More at his execution

Thomas More at his execution

Young Thomas More playing the recorder

Young Thomas More playing the recorder

The episode ends with Cromwell being ill with a fever and talking about his wife and daughter. We soon see him imagining then both as he sinks in and out of consciousness. A weird ending but an altogether powerful one, despite knowing next to nothing about his family in real life. Then he decides to to add Wolf Hall to the royal progress  so that he can see Jane.

Rating: 3.5/5

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