The final episode of “The Tudors” attempted to show how far the King has come from when we first met him as a young man to now when he is elderly and close to death. The King was visited by each of his past Queens who fathered his children.
Katherine of Aragon came to him first and chided Henry on his raising of their daughter Mary. She says Mary should be married with children by now and she reminds the King that she is still his rightful wife and his only wife in the eyes of God.
While the King is alone in his chamber he is next visited by Anne Boleyn. She tells Henry that she is “fiercely proud” of their daughter Elizabeth though she is unhappy with how Elizabeth was raised. The King knows Elizabeth is clever and says, “I wish that I could love her more but from time to time she reminds me of you and what you did to me.” Anne proclaims her innocence. She says of herself and Catherine Howard, “We were like two moths drawn to the flame and burned.”
The last wife to visit was Jane Seymour, Henry’s favorite wife. Jane is also displeased with their son Edward’s upbringing. She reveals to the King that Edward will die young and she is angry at Henry for locking Edward away from the world. “Don’t you understand? You have killed him,” she tells Henry. Henry loves Edward above his daughters and is distraught upon hearing these words from Jane.
Another important development during this episode was the King’s defense of his last wife, Catherine Parr. Bishop Gardener is set with an arrest warrant for the Queen due to her Protestant beliefs. The Queen is made aware of this arrest warrant and is horribly upset. The King hears her cries and goes to see what is the matter.
Through this and other ensuing conversations Catherine is made to believe that the King will not prosecute her, so long as she no longer pushes her Protestant agenda. She tells the King, “I am but a woman with all the imperfections natural to the weakness of my sex.” She says she will rely on his judgment as her lord from now on. He says, “Then we are perfect friends again. I promise that I will never doubt you again, sweet Cate.” To further prove his point he screams at a group of men who come to arrest the Queen the next day. He will not have his wife receive the same treatment as other Protestant members of Court. Later the King asks Bishop Gardener to leave the Court permanently.
The Bishop Gardener was also set to arrest and prosecute Lady Hartford for heresy. She visits Bishop Gardener to find out why he wanted to see her. He asks her if she was friends with Anne Askew, the woman executed for being a heretic in last week’s episode. The Bishop tells Lady Hartford that she is guilty by association. He shows her the warrant for her arrest and, as a defense, she says she knows his secret. She knows that he took all the contents from two monasteries that were supposed to be stripped and burned by the King’s order. He is rich because he embezzled from the King. To save himself, Bishop Gardener immediately steps back from his plan to persecute Lady Hartford.
Charles Brandon has become ill and is close to death. The King desires an audience with Charles. Once Charles arrives in the King’s chamber the King tells him, “They told me you were ill, so I had to see you.” They reminisce about old days and the King says he trusts him very much. He also forbids Charles from dying. The King puts his hands on Charles’ head and commands him to be healed but Brandon dies soon after this meeting. His French mistress grieves for him and his estranged wife and son also come to the funeral. The wife avoids the mistress.
When the King knows his life is ending he meets with his wife and daughters. He wants to send them away to Greenwich because he will not spend Christmas with them. He instructs Mary to act like a kind mother to her brother and she becomes upset and teary, realizing that her time with her father is drawing to a close. He tells Elizabeth that she can look after her brother too. Elizabeth is more stoic and promises to do so. He tells Queen Catherine, “The time has come for us to bid farewell. It is God’s will.” He says he will make sure she is well treated and financially cared for after he is gone. To further get his affairs in order before he dies, the King proclaims that Lord Hartford will act as protector while Prince Edward is still young. The King also commands that he is to be buried next to his true wife, Jane Seymour.
Later the King is asleep in a chair and he has a vision of his younger self outdoors in the fall watching the clouds race by as the sky darkens to night. A man with a sword on a white horse races up from behind Henry. This man is wearing a ghoulish skeleton mask. The feeling is that the King is to die at this moment but it doesn’t happen quite yet.
The last glimpse we have of King Henry is as he looks at a painted portrait of himself the next day. As this portrait is undraped he flashes through important moments from his past with many people who are now dead. The episode ends by giving brief bits of history about the later lives of Prince Edward, Princess Mary, and Princess Elizabeth and about what happened to the realm after the King died.
For he who possesses the heir to the throne will very soon possess the throne itself.Surrey
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Whenever has innocence been cause to save a man's life when the King deems him unfit to live in the commonwealth? The law is whatever his majesty says it is.Lord Hartford
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