You can tell we’re approaching the end of The White Queen’s long and epic tale of throne-hopping, since this eighth episode takes the biggest time jump we’ve seen thus far. We even get a helpful summary that catches us up on where everyone is and who they’re supporting but, of course, none of this is the same by the episode’s end.
We lose a big player, for one, with Edward’s lifestyle finally catching up with him in more ways than one. It’s jarring to lose one of our main characters two and a half hours before the end of the series, but that’s history I suppose, and we’ve always known its Elizabeth we’re really supposed to be watching. As her husband lies dying and her now-adolescent children surround his deathbed, she’s in no position to argue with his appointment of Richard as their young son’s Lord Protector, even if her gut tells her that it’s a monumentally bad idea.
Elizabeth’s gut feelings usually steer her right, and this is no exception. As soon as Edward draws his last breath Richard and Anne are plotting in the shadows, figuring out a way to become the country’s leaders before they are required to crown young Edward Jr. and continue Elizabeth’s time in power. It’s shocking yet very satisfying to see what years of resentment and grief have done to sweet, innocent Anne, as her hatred of Elizabeth and belief in her as a witch have made her the most determined to take power for herself.
Margaret, meanwhile, can only align herself with the most notable player, and sticks around in court to assist Anne while also spreading rumors and gossip in earshot of Elizabeth. Her plan to fan the flames may work out for her yet, but we’ll see what happens when Jasper and Henry arrive with their army to take the crown. She’s no longer the master manipulator and has remained static in her role while Anne takes the underdog position from her. As Edward dies you could cut the tension with a knife, and Elizabeth and her children think it best to get out of dodge before someone takes that literally.
Once she’s out of the way, her brother arrested and then executed, her children declared bastards and her name sullied once again, Richard kidnaps the first in line for the throne and goes after the second just to make sure. But Elizabeth is too cautious for him, and sends her second eldest son away before replacing him with an imposter. Edward and a stranger pretending to be his brother are now in Richard and Anne’s care, with the Kingmaker’s daughter finally finishing what her father set in motion with Isobel all of those years ago.
With the show getting stupidly entertaining as all of the characters get more desperate, it’s a shame that we only have two episodes left before the show bows out for good. Being based on a set of novels themselves based on historical events, it’s not as if there can be a string of sequels or a renewal so, unfortunately, this is our lot. Sunday nights won’t be the same without it.
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The White Queen currently airs on BBC1 in the UK.