Need to catch up? Check out the previous The White Princess recap here.
When an outbreak of plague* is the best thing that happens to you, you are experiencing some rough times, indeed.
Yet in an episode of The White Princess in which Elizabeth and her mother are put under house arrest, Henry is stabbed and Teddy is thrown in the Tower of London, a little sweating sickness seems like manna from heaven.
How can this be? Read on for the highlights of “Hearts and Minds.”
*Yes, I know it’s not actually the plague. But because Ned mentions it in the episode, I did so here.
A GOOD SHOW | Lizzie’s doing a really good job of making Henry think that she’s kinda into him, but she admits to her mother that her smiles are as fake as Cecily’s kindness. “If I have to hear about his years in exile one more time, I will choke him with the pheasant eggs he has such a taste for,” she says, teeth gritted together in a pleasant smile. In a private moment, she and the dowager queen brainstorm about who might still be loyal to the Yorks and/or willing to foment revolution against the Tudors.
All of this takes place as Margaret and her crew of dour-faced gentlemen plan a royal tour that will parade Henry and Elizabeth all over England in a show of unity. They plan to be gone for eight weeks and to avoid York, until Lizzie steps in and makes Henry feel like a wuss for avoiding the last stronghold of opposition against him. (She, of course, wants to make contact with Frances Lovell, the man she and her mother have deemed “the whitest, purest York”.) So Henry makes a point of telling his mom that they’ll go to the town, because “I will not have them thinking I’m afraid.”
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But then Margaret forbids her future-daughter-in-law from going on the trip, citing the baby and danger and blah blah blah. So Lizzie’s mother happily steps in… but Margaret don’t play that! So she locks the dowager queen in a room in the castle — having outed her as planning to spread the word to her sympathizers on the road — and has the visiting Bishop keep an eye on her.
So when the royal parade finally leaves, Henry is accompanied by [drumroll please!] his mother. And really, did you think it would happen any other way?
HIT THE ROAD (AND THE ROYAL) | When the royal entourage arrives in York, Lovell skulks in the crowd until he can get close enough to the king — and then he stabs him in the arm. Another man shoots an arrow. A melee breaks out, and the guards hustle Henry into a nearby church or something while Jasper and his men take off after Lovell. They track the attacker to a camp, where his friends close ranks, and Jasper soon realizes that they’ve got to retreat or it’s going to get very bloody. (Interesting, though, that he later tells the king that they “lost” the assailant in the woods.)
Henry is pretty sure that Lizzie set up the entire ambush, so he writes a letter to tell her so. Meanwhile, Margaret thinks they should ride to Scotland and offer the single king of Brigadoon-land Elizabeth’s hand in marriage. Henry is all, “That’s a great idea… if we want Scotland and the Yorks to unite and overthrow us!” What he actually says: “If you spent less time flirting with my Uncle Jasper, perhaps you might give better counsel.” OUCH.
BEAR DOWN! | Back at the castle, a bored Lizzie quickly becomes aware that a) her mom is being held captive elsewhere in the building and b) people are dying — and rapidly — of a mysterious, plague-like illness. Pretty much everyone just wants to hide in the castle, except for Cecily, who wants to hide in the castle while wearing one of those Eyes Wide Shut plague mask thingees.
Lizzie is incensed, arguing that they have the gold and food that the people need, so they should give it to them. After she incites some guards to help her break down the doors to the treasury, she demands that the bishop tell her where her mother is. “She is locked in this palace, and you will tell me where,” she threatens, “or I will push this child from my body right here on the floor, and we will both bled to death and it will be on your head.” I think the moment I go all in on this show is when Lizzie then stands there and pretends to push the baby out of her womb while the horrified religious man watches.
As the mom-to-be grunts and strains and turns colors, I realize that this is possibly the only time in human history when an old man’s total ignorance of female anatomy has worked in a woman’s favor. “God will judge you for your sin,” the bishop spits at her, but he releases her mother, nonetheless.
After a brief reunion with her mom — who is elated that people are dying, because she hopes they’ll blame the fast-moving illness on Henry — Lizzie realizes that she and the dowager queen have different priorities now: Mainly, Lizzie doesn’t want Henry to die, just to be unseated from the throne and maybe tossed back to where he came from.
DADDY’S HOME | Another complication: The Yorks have started calling for Teddy, the (probably developmentally delayed) little boy who is also the Earl of Warrick, to assume the throne. So Henry has him thrown in the tower. After all, the kid’s a threat to his power.
Bereft, Maggie beseeches Lizzie to get Henry to release her brother. And while she’s crying, Cecily feels it’s important to spill the family’s biggest secret: Richard escaped from the tower, “but we don’t know where he is.”
Though Lizzie doesn’t get the boy released by the end of the hour, she does greet Henry when he returns and is surprised to hear that he reaped the benefits of her generosity: A crowd of commoners surrounded him on his way back to the castle, thanking him for helping them in their hour of diseased need.
Later, Margaret is anxious to know whether Henry punished his wife for “stealing” the palace gold. “I thanked her,” he replies. So Margaret decides to get her own revenge: After Lizzie makes a big show of having Henry feel the baby kick (under all that stiff brocade? That kid must be a medieval Michael Phelps), Margaret announces that her daughter-in-law’s confinement has begun. But Lizzie makes sure to invite Henry by her room whenever he wants to, prompting Margaret to spout off about how too much “womb stimulation” could affect the pregnancy. Oh Margaret, you saucy little minx, BEHAVE.
Now it’s your turn. What did you think of the episode? Sound off in the comments!