Warning: Spoiler Alert
The power-play discussed in the first episode of the BBC Production of “Wolf’s Hall,” being broadcast in the states on PBS stations under the Masterpiece Theater, heading’s, gone into effect as we begin the second episode. A graphic that starts off the program, informs us that we’re in December of 1529, Cardinal Wolsey’s left London, now living in his home in Esler. However, the Duke Of Norfolk and his niece Anne Boleyn, who seeks to marry King Henry VIII, are less than pleased with the situation, wanting the Cardinal living in Yorkshire County, too far away to influence the English monarch.
Wolsey’s aide Thomas Cromwell, sits in a hallway of the palace, waiting for Henry to appear, when he does he motions to Cromwell to come forward. Cromwell gives Henry a parcel of paperwork, in his attempt to defend Wolsey, the King gives the papers to his aide Stephen Gardiner, and tells Thomas he can’t talk about the Cardinal. Cromwell attempts to speak, when Henry interrupts him, saying don’t you understand, I can’t. He and his advisors leave, save Gardiner who stays behind to talk to his former colleague. He chides Cromwell for thinking, Henry would grant him a meeting.
Thomas heads to Wolsey’s home in Esler, the Cardinal’s in a panic, as a cat gave birth to a black kitten, under his bead which he believes is a bad omen. He says he’s decided to move to York, however Cromwell tells him to stay where he is, he’ll soon be back in favor with Henry.
Returning home, he finds his only surviving child and least favorite, his teenage son Gregory’s home from Cambridge. Father and son, genial and affable with all, can’t talk to each other, Thomas believes Gregory fears him, while his sister-in-law, Joanne, his late wife Liz’s sister, believes Cromwell spoils the boy. He reminisces about when Gregory was an infant, says he misses having a baby in the house and Joanne, says don’t look at her. He asks her if John Williamson, (her husband) does his duty? She replies his duty’s not her pleasure and leaves the room. Cromwell mutters to himself that’s a conversation he shouldn’t have had.
Thomas meets with the Cardinal’s caretaker George, who shows Cromwell a whip, that Wolsey’s started using on himself. The lawyer says that Wolsey would be better off in York, but George asks how they’d pay for the move? Cromwell waits in the palace hallways for Henry and his advisors to pass and the King acknowledges his presence, then sends his advisors on ahead. He tells Thomas that he certainly sticks by his man and Cromwell responds, Wolsey always treated him well, Henry asks if he has no other masters, the lawyer remains silent.
He then tells Cromwell he’ll give him a thousand pounds to move Wolsey, for Thomas to keep the information to himself and to have Wolsey pray for Henry. He then tells Cromwell that he misses the Cardinal of York, greatly every day.
Thomas heads to Esler and tells Wolsey this is a strategic retreat, not a surrender. He says that he’ll remain in London, as his advocate with the King, who’ll soon change his mind and have him restored to full power. He says he’ll come to York himself, to fetch him, once Henry issues the decree. The Cardinal then gives Cromwell, a black velvet bag, containing a present for Thomas, that he asks that Cromwell not open until he’s gone. He then tells Thomas to get in good with Anne Boleyn, as she influence Henry greatly.
Cromwell’s been invited by Thomas More to his estate to dine, More’s against Henry trying to annul his marriage to Katherine Of Aragon, as well as the talk of breaking with Rome. Stephen Gardiner’s also a guest at the dinner, feeling quite uncomfortable, as the center of More’s “Fool’s” attention. Rumor has it that the “Fool,” fell on his head from a bell-tower, as a teenager, scrambling his brains. But Gardiner tells Cromwell, he wouldn’t put it past More, if the man were just acting the fool.
The dinner’s a tad bizarre, complete with a little monkey, eating on the table. More’s wife asks Cromwell, when he’ll marry again, Thomas responds, no one will have him. She says, that’s nonsense, his master may be down , but he’s got plenty of money, then asks if everything works “downstairs”? More’s humiliated, telling his wife she needs to cut back on the spirits, as her nose is glowing.
After the dinner, Cromwell takes a boat to visit Lady Anne. When he heads inside, he’s greeted by her sister Mary Boleyn, whose not shy about revealing her crush, on the far older man. She says she needs a husband to stop her father and Anne from insulting her, Thomas tells her to ask for someone young and handsome. She says she wants someone, her parents would hate, he tells her they’d kill her, she agrees he’s likely correct. She ten tells him Anne will ask him to perform a service for her, if he does it, she owns him. She says turn around and run the other way.
When he goes to see Lady Anne, she asks where he’s been and he replies Utopia, she asks the subject of conversation and he responds, talkative women. She then gets down to the true reason she summoned him, a crude sketch she found in her bed. At that point Cromwell’s introduced to the Boleyn family Priest, then she tells him that the drawing’s supposed to represent her as the villain, she says that the chambermaid who made up her bed, cries whenever she approaches her. She asks Cromwell to see what he can find out. Cromwell and the Priest go to look for the girl.
The Priest points her out and Thomas knows her, but forgets her name, he introduces the Priest, then says this is where you tell him your name. She replies that she’s Thomas Seymour’s daughter, could this possibly be Jane Seymour, who’d become the third wife of Henry VIII?
When he gets home, Joanne asks about Lady Anne, while she serves Thomas dinner, was she tall or short, Cromwell replies neither. Joanne says she’s supposed to be a great dancer, Thomas responds, they never danced. She asks how are her teeth, Cromwell says when Anne sinks them into her, he’ll give her a report. Joanne, then asks why God tempts us so, kisses her brother-in-law on the cheek, then rushes from the room.
George comes to London to give Cromwell a report in how Wolsey’s faring, although the Cardinal hates the food in the North, he’s got thousands of people coming to visit him, from all over the country. George says that Wolsey’s got his spirit back, Cromwell warns George to keep him in check, so Henry doesn’t perceive him as a threat. He tells George that the Duke of Norfolk’s furious with all the attention the Cardinal’s receiving, but we can tell George isn’t paying attention to the message.
While Wolsey’s stock’s rapidly falling, Cromwell sees his begin to rise, as he’s invited to the Royal Court while Henry shows off his archery skills. When it’s his turn to take the bow, Thomas impresses his King greatly with his talent, Cromwell says he participates every Sunday in a neighborhood match. Henry suggests he attend one week in disguise, Cromwell says the King’s team would surely win.
There seemed to be a bond between Thomas and Henry the first time they met, an unspoken mutual-respect and Cromwell’s display with a bow and arrow, made the King respect him more. The two take a private walk around the palace’s private grounds, as Thomas educates his King on the intricacies of taxation and the amount of revenue the crown could derive from it. Henry tells him to meet with the King’s lawyers on the matter.
That night, there’s a knock upon the front door of Crowell’s house, waking all within. When Thomas gets to the front door, the Royal guard say that the King’s summoned him to Essex for a meeting, Cromwell tells the women and girls to head to bed, he takes Rafe, Richard and Gregory with him. Once they get outside, they’re met by Harry Norris and the Boleyn family Priest. Norris tells Thomas the King’s nearby and wants to meet with them both.
A deeply troubled Henry, greets them in his night-clothes, scared to death, from a dream he had in which his older brother appeared, standing in a circle of white fire. Henry says his brother looked quite sad, he believes his brother showed himself, to express his anger in Henry taking his Kingdom. He says his brother’s ashamed of him and will testify against him when Henry gets to Heaven’s Gates.
Cromwell asks the King, if his brother said anything or made any signals, Henry responded he didn’t. Cromwell then says that Henry’s misinterpreted the dream. The King’s brother appeared to show his support, not his displeasure. The man who would have been King, wants Henry to show the world, he’s the supreme ruler of his nation. Henry thanks him, then says, I always know who to call.
When Thomas gets back to his bedroom, he finds Joanne there, she was worried there’d been a reckoning, for all the nice things they have. Cromwell kisses her, she returns the kiss hungrily, as the scene fades to black.
Thomas’ high spirits, are short-lived as George arrives to tell him that the Cardinal passed. He’d gotten arrested a few weeks before by Harry Percy for high-treason, George believed Percy arrested him as Wolsey ruled against his petition years before to marry Ann Boleyn. He was eventually taken to the tower, but by the time Wolsey got there, he was close to death, after stopping eating days earlier. The Cardinal died, asking where Cromwell was.
However, as the episode concludes, Thomas is named a Counselor to the King. He also opens the present he got from Wolsey, before he left Esler. It’s one of Wolsey’s rings, which Cromwell puts on his index finger and wears from then on out.
The Story Continues Next Sunday Night at 10:00 pm on Your Local PBS Station.