The Tudor vs. York rivalry comes to a head when The Boy arrives in London. Even as a captive he asserts his claim to the throne and Henry and Lizzie start to feel the pressure of the Court’s doubt. Our full recap of this week’s The White Princess, “Two Kings”.
“Two Kings” begins shortly after last week’s episode ends, with Lady Margaret and guards escorting the captured “pretender” Richard of York to Westminster in London. Lizzie and Henry look out from the window, as The Boy is unmasked in the square. Henry is convinced that he looks nothing like a York, but we don’t know if Lizzie shares that perspective.
Both Henry and Lizzie are very deliberate in wearing their royal finery and proceeding into Court, where other members of the aristocracy have been assembled. As they sit on the throne, The Boy is led into the assembly. Lady Margaret presents The Boy as “the cause of all England’s troubles” and is thrown to the ground. Henry seems to be unimpressed with The Boy and laments the money and lives lost in the attempt to capture him. As for “Richard”, he and Lizzie cannot take their eyes off of each other. Does she recognize him?
The Boy asserts that he is Richard and demands that his crown be returned to him:
“You should kill me if you wish to stay upon my throne.”
Henry applauds the “performance”, and decides to ask Lizzie directly whether The Boy is her brother. She denies him, saying that both of her brothers are dead (though, to the audience, she seems to struggle with the proclamation).
While Henry thinks about what to do with The Boy permanently, he decides to make this pretender a servant, knave of the King’s wardrobe. The Boy will be in charge of caring for the robes that he’s been coveting.
Lady Margaret is unhappy with this decision, because she wants the threat eliminated immediately. The Boy should be killed quickly and publicly. Henry disagrees. He won’t kill The Boy and make him a martyr. Rather, The Boy will be paraded and brought so low that his supporters (in England and abroad) will turn against him and back to Henry.
Instead, Lady Margaret focusses on figuring out how Cathy Gordon and her son can be captured. She’s still seeking sanctuary at the abbey where “Richard” was caught. Lady Margaret asks Bishop Morton to convince the monks to tell Cathy that her husband needs her in London. This way, she’ll come to the city of her own volition and with little fuss.
Maggie watches everything and grows increasingly horrified. When she attempts to speak with Arthur and Harry about The Boy (curious about whether he’s actually their uncle), Lizzie intervenes. The distance between Lizzie and Maggie is even more pronounced: Maggie believes The Boy to be Richard and Lizzie maintains that they’re not. Lizzie reassures Arthur that The Boy is a look-alike pretender who only wants to take what’s theres.
Henry, Lizzie, and their boys lead a parade through London, presenting The Boy as an enemy and the cause of increased taxes and war. They throw rotten food and spit at him. However, The Boy speaks boldly. He tells his story of being hid away years ago. He speaks to Lizzie, saying he misses her, but forgives her and the people on the streets. The townspeople stop throwing food at him and listen… Henry and Lady Margaret quickly realize they must stop the parade and return to the palace.
When Lizzie returns home, she locks herself away in her room and cries… could this be her brother? The Boy is locked away in the King’s wardrobe to begin his duties as a servant.
Elsewhere, the Duchess of Burgundy has arrived in London and begins her plans to free Richard.
Cathy soon arrives in Westminster with her son and is taken to Lady Margaret, who takes pleasure in making Cathy watch The Boy made to clean dung in the street. Lady Margaret tells Cathy that her marriage has been annulled since it was made under false pretenses and her son will be called a bastard. Cathy will stay at Court as a “guest” and separated from her son.
Eventually, Cathy and “Richard” are allowed to see one another. She seems convinced that, as a Scottish royal, she’ll be safe at Court, but he is less sure. In fact The Boy is very worried. These are the same people who murdered his brother and a boy they thought was Richard. Maybe he should give up his claim? Yet, Cathy encourages her husband to be steadfast and maintain the support from Europe. Henry and Lady Margaret listen in secret. Henry is confused about why The Boy would claim that the Tudors killed the York Princes in the Tower, but Lady Margaret asserts that it was King Richard (Lizzie’s Uncle) who did it.
That night, Lizzie and Henry are in bed and she asks about the purpose of bringing Cathy Gordon and baby Edward to Court. Lizzie doesn’t think it will be so easy to smother Cathy’s love and loyalty to The Boy. Henry asks Lizzie to take Cathy as one of her ladies in waiting; this will help appease any concerns from Scotland. Then Henry asks Lizzie to tell him about the real Richard and their last day together.
Later, the Court goes on a royal hunt. Henry (wearing his crown, strange because this is not a formal, State occasion) and Lizzie join the festivities, along with Cathy. The Boy is personally charged with carrying the King’s bows and arrows. Once Henry chooses a space for their sport, he asks The Boy to uses a stick to beat the bushes to reveal any prey. While doing so, both Henry and Lady Margaret take aim, almost hitting “Richard” in the process.
At the same time, Maggie speaks quietly with Cathy, encouraging her to leave Court if she can. However, Cathy refuses and says that Maggie should back “Richard’s” claim…this way Teddy can finally be freed from prison too. Lizzie sees this exchange and bids Maggie to come to her.
Henry asks to dine with Cathy privately that evening and offers to look after her since she is without a husband… Lizzie observes this and decides to take matters into her own hands by questioning The Boy while he works. The Boy rises to the occasion; he knows about the patron saint of hunters and the Uncle who taught the York children. “Richard” even gives tips to Henry as he’s shooting arrows, perhaps trying to hit him. Lizzie and Cathy scream for Henry to stop, but Henry is far gone by now. “Richard” keeps talking, asking again for Henry to step aside from the English throne. Henry rides forward, telling The Boy to shut up. In the process, the horse rears back, causing Henry’s crown to fall to the ground and “Richard” picks it up. It’s such a TENSE moment, as Henry and Lady Margaret demand that The Boy gives the crown back. “Richard” eventually hands it over.
As they’re getting ready to go back to the palace, Maggie is walking around and observing the wildlife. Someone grabs her and relays the message that the Duchess of Burgundy wants Maggie to meet her that night in Cheapside.
When returning to Westminster, Lizzie asks what Maggie discusses with Cathy and Maggie claims to have apologized for the difficult situation. Lizzie then asks Maggie to remain at Court as one of her ladies (and we all know how long and hard Maggie has been trying to leave Court and return home).
After dinner, Lizzie is solemn. She’s had to eat alone while Henry has a private dinner with Cathy. The Boy is circulating the room, refilling drinks and comes to Lizzie. He expresses that Lizzie has the same look as their mother when their father was meeting with his mistress. She tells his to stop and then leaves the room. Lizzie spends the rest of the evening watching Arthur and Harry sleep.
Maggie goes to her meeting with the Duchess of Burgundy, who wants help to free “Richard”, Cathy, and their son. Could Maggie help them escape on one of the barges carrying laundry down the River Thames? Maggie says she wants to help, but is concerned about how Teddy might be mistreated if anyone ever finds out. Like Cathy, the Duchess claims that Teddy will never be safe with a Tudor on the throne. The only hope of Maggie freeing her brother is to put “Richard” on the throne. (Incidentally, I seriously doubt this, because Teddy is still a Plantagenet, and would still be a rival to “Richard”. Teddy is never getting out of prison, no matter who is on the throne.)
The next day, Lizzie is getting ready and clearly agitated. Cathy is there helping to dress the queen. Lizzie remarks that Cathy looks dreadful and Cathy responds that she’s tired because of a late night with the King:
“Your husband, the King, wished for a prodigious night, and so we had.”
Lizzie is incensed, calls Cathy empty-headed and smacks her, all in front of the other ladies. Lizzie asks Cathy whether Henry touched her, and Cathy says no. Lizzie then kicks over her chamber pot and orders Cathy to clean it up. Maggie is completely aghast.
Later that morning, while returning from church, Henry makes sure to speak openly, loudly, and crudely to Cathy about their night together. (Of course, he doesn’t realize that in trying to embarrass the boy, he totally embarrasses Lizzie.) Lizzie pulls Henry aside and asks why he would dine with Cathy alone. Is his plan to cuckold The Boy, or is he attracted to her. Henry believes that if he can convince Cathy he desires her, she will no longer support The Boy. This will be a big blow to “Richard’s” confidence. Lizzie is clearly jealous and less convinced that Cathy would betray her husband. But what we see is that Henry is jealous too:
“He taunts me with his dazzle. Even you. I will snuff it out and thrust him into darkness.”
Henry continues at lunch, asking Cathy to dance for him. He even joins her. At first Lady Margaret isn’t sure of this plan, but when she perceives Lizzie’s jealousy, Margaret seems to change her mind. She tells Lizzie that Henry seems taken with the beautiful Cathy and Lizzie must not object to their relationship. Lizzie leaves the dining hall, but before she makes it too far, The Boy encourages her. He says that Lizzie shouldn’t be upset, that in doing this with Cathy, Henry shows his fear. This gives Maggie the opportunity to reveal to “Richard” that the Duchess of Burgundy is in London and a plan for his rescue in underway. However, “Richard” refuses to leave his son with the Tudors and flee.
That night, Lizzie can’t sleep, and when she goes to Henry’s rooms to see him, he isn’t there…
Lizzie is even more upset and demands to know whether Henry has slept with Cathy. Lizzie hates being disrespected and gossiped about in Court. Henry’s response:
“You did the same to Lady Anne with your Uncle, King Richard.” (UGH, seriously Henry?!)
Lizzie fights back, saying that was different because she was in love with Richard. Does Henry love Cathy? Henry asks Lizzie whether she loves The Boy and she responds that she doesn’t. The Boy, Cathy, their son are all a burden that’s driving Henry and Lizzie apart. There has to be a better way to deal with them.
Lizzie goes to see her potential nephew, baby Edward, who’s being tended to by nursemaids. Lady Margaret is there too, and tells Lizzie that the infant’s innocence shouldn’t be the focus. Instead, Lizzie should think about the threat that young Edward will become. Men are weak, and so women must do the difficult things. (In this moment, Lizzie probably realizes how/why Lady Margaret could kill her two brothers in the Tower.)
When the Court assembles, Lizzie asks The Boy to read a confession, saying that he is Perkin Warbeck and not Richard of York. If he confesses to being no one, Lizzie promises that he and his family will live. The Boy does the opposite, asserting that he is Prince Richard, her brother. Cathy supports her husband by saying he shouldn’t deny his birthright. Lady Margaret responds, announcing that their son has been given to another family. The Boy curses Henry for that decision, while Cathy begs to no avail.
Henry goes to see his mother and laments how everyone loves The Boy and are plotting to put “Richard” on the throne. He asks what has been done with Baby Edward, but Margaret says Henry shouldn’t be concerned. Henry resents being kept in the dark and wonders what Jasper would have said to him in his last moments. Henry says that sometimes, he can hear his Uncle’s whispers. Lady Margaret believes that Jasper would have told Henry that he loves him and to be steadfast as he attempts to keep the throne. Henry is doubtful… he knows that he can’t trust his mother, but isn’t 100% sure why.
Maggie finds Cathy laying on the Queen’s bed and tries to encourage her. Lizzie soon arrives and Maggie shames Lizzie for taking away Baby Edward. Lizzie responds by saying Maggie is changing and she doesn’t like who her cousin is becoming.
Maggie: “Your mother would be ashamed of you.”
(I don’t know if I believe this. Yes, Elizabeth Woodville would want Lizzie to support Richard, but if it was anyone else, Elizabeth would appreciate the strategy.)
The Boy is brought back to the assembly and reads the confession that he is Perkin Warbeck, all for the sake of his son.
Maggie leaves the assembly and her husband follows after her. Richard Pole warns Maggie that if she keeps challenging the Queen, they’ll never let Teddy out of prison. However, Maggie believes that Teddy will never be freed by the Tudors, no matter what.
Henry stands by himself and hears whispers, those who continue to plot against him. Lady Margaret tries to tell Henry to try and execute The Boy, but Henry grows more frustrated. Lizzie briefly leaves the room to confront Maggie and demand an apology. Maggie reminds Lizzie of the curse on the male line of the family who killed the York princes. If Lizzie becomes part of this plot, Arthur and Harry will be pay price. Lizzie rejects Maggie’s claim, saying that it was King Richard who killed her brothers… but it seems both Lizzie and Maggie know this is a deception.
Meanwhile, Henry continues to hear voices and becomes agitated. He screams that The Boy is poisoning his clothes to make him sick. Henry runs out of the room and attacks “The Boy”, striking him with his crown. The Boy is taken back to the King’s wardrobe and Henry orders the guards to kick and beat him. Lizzie intervenes and asks that The Boy be looked after.
Lizzie follows after Henry, who is completely distraught. Henry believes that he will be killed, along with their sons. Lizzie tries to comfort her husband, but has little success.
Lizzie goes to Maggie, who’s playing outside in the snow with her son. She tells Maggie that The Boy can see Cathy tonight. Lizzie gives her the key to the wardrobe and asks Maggie to help The Boy. That night Maggie helps “Richard” (still badly hurt) get to Cathy. Maggie admits that she believes The Boy is really Richard of York.
When The Boy has vacated the room, Lizzie returns and sets everything on fire. While Cathy is tending to “Richard”, Lizzie goes to them. If The Boy leaves now, Lizzie will tell everyone that he died in the fire. Cathy can stay and mourn and then eventually join her husband. They will have to give up their claims to the throne, but they will live. This has to mean that Lizzie knows he’s Richard, right? Ultimately, Cathy leaves the decision to “Richard”.
And just as Lizzie starts to claim that The Boy has died in the fire, he emerges from building, drops to the ground, and proclaims that, as England’s true king, God has allowed him to survive. (WOW!) Everyone looks in shock, while Lizzie begins to cry. There’s nothing she can do for “Richard” now.
Now that Lizzie’s plan has backfired spectacularly, the only option left for Henry is to kill Richard, right?
Next week is the season finale,”Old Curses”, and we’re not ready for the series to end! Read the preview for next week’s episode below and share your thoughts with us in comments!
A final confrontation with the pretender exposes King Henry’s weaknesses, while Lizzie confronts new demons and old curses.
The White Princess airs on Sundays at 8/7c on Starz! Be sure to live tweet with us.