Wolf Hall: Keep Your Wrists Crossed It Confuses The Pain

Photo Courtesy Of The BBC
Photo Courtesy Of The BBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

We begin chapter five of the BBC series “Wolf Hall,” in the year 1535, six years after we first met these characters. An opening graphic informs us that the Act Of Supremacy, has declared that Henry is the Supreme Head of the Church Of England. However the Royal Emperor and his ambassador Eustache Chepuys, refuse to recognize the English Monarch, as the head of any church, or acknowledge Anne Boleyn as England’s Queen. The King’s secretary Thomas Cromwell, recently recovered from an illness that nearly killed him, has put together the itinerary of Henry’s Royal Progress. Cromwell’s included a five-day visit to Wolf Hall, the family estate of Jane Seymour in early September.

The night of their arrival, John Seymour throws a lavish banquet for his guests. However the trip apparently tired Henry out and he falls asleep at the head of the table and begins to snore. While the King’s advisors determine the best way to wake up Henry, Jane gets up from her seat at the table and taps the King on his hand till he wakes up. Clearly embarrassed, he says he was just resting his eyes.

Cromwell’s had designs on Jane for years and he’s finally ready to act on them, during this visit. That is until he looks out his bedroom window and sees Henry holding Jane’s hands, while talking to her. The next morning, Cromwell’s included in a meeting of the Seymour men, as Jane relays what happened the night before. She says Henry asked if she’d look kindly on him if he sent her a poem. She says she would.

One of the men tells her if he attempts to touch her, she should scream. She asks what if nobody arrives, if she did? Cromwell tells her that instead of screaming, she should pray as that would appeal to Henry’s sense of piety. She smiles and says she’ll study her prayer-book, to find an appropriate prayer for such an occasion.

Thomas and his ward Rafe head to Kimbolton Castle,  Katherine Of Aragon’s home, since she was sent into exile. Henry’s first wife’s close to death and she asks Cromwell, if he can arrange for her daughter Mary to come and stay with her through her final days.

She then brings up Anne Boleyn, saying she heard that she lost a child, something she too experienced far too many times. She asks if Anne asks about her and Thomas evades the question. Katherine then tells Cromwell that Henry once referred to her as his flower and gave her six-dozen silk roses, when she lost their first son.

Cromwell heads back to Whitehall and talks with Anne’s lady in waiting, Jane Rochford. He asks if the Queen’s with child and she says she is, but she’s not ready to tell Henry. He then visit’s the Queen, whose overcome with grief as somebody pushed her dog out the palace window and the pup died when he hit the ground below. We meet Anne’s fool for the first time, a dwarf whom Anne calls Mary, an insult to Henry’s first daughter, that her uncle the Duke of Norfolk refers to as Shirley the Shrimp.

She says she’s heard that the Pope’s looking to set up Mary to marry a French Prince, she then berates Cromwell for not setting up a match with French Royalty, for her own daughter. Cromwell says that the French stated very clearly they had no interest in marrying one of the country’s Princes to Henry’s second daughter.

She then tells Thomas, she’s aware he’s talking with the Seymour family. She says that Henry will never leave her, that since she became Queen, a new England’s emerged. One that can’t possibly subsist without her. Cromwell keeps his face blank and his mouth shut, as he bows to Anne and leaves her quarters.

That night at his home, Cromwell’s visited by Eustache Chepuys, who says that he’s heard tales that Cromwell’s about to send all the monks and nuns on the road. Cromwell then rips apart the clergy of the Catholic Church, saying among other things the monks steal from the poor and molest the young novices in their charge. He then tells Chepuys that he intends to increase good religion, not to see it wither.

The Ambassador gets down to the real reason for his visit. He’s been told that Katherine of Aragon, will die within days and he wants permission to go stay with her until she passes. He says that Henry refuses to grant him permission, so he’s begging Cromwell to intercede on his behalf.

Thomas talks with Anne and Henry the following day, as they walk through the Royal Garden. Anne’s naturally against showing Katherine any kindness. Cromwell, however tries to appeal to Henry’s sense of diplomacy, saying this small act maybe the first step in restoring relations with Rome. That with Katherine’s death, the church may finally recognize his marriage to Anne. Allowing his wife to influence his decision, Henry denies the Ambassador’s request.

Anne wakes up to find her bed curtains are on fire, she’s able to leave her bed without any harm. Henry and Cromwell are summoned, Thomas examines the curtains and then smells them. Henry’s truly shaken, but Anne assures her husband that she’s perfectly fine and blames the fire on an errant candle.

Henry’s hosting a jousting tournament at Whitehall and Cromwell begs the King to take it easy if he’s matched up against Thomas’ son Gregory. He tells Henry it’s Gregory’s first joust and he’s afraid his son will get killed in the competition.

He then goes to Gregory as he’s getting fitted for his suit of armor, for the competition. Thomas tells his son he’s got too much going on to attend the joust, but the truth is he’s afraid of witnessing his son’s death. He tells him that Henry says Gregory represents his house well, he tells his son he’s proud of him and wishes him luck.

Crowell’s at his desk a while later, when Richard enters the office his face white as snow. Thomas grabs his chest and asks if it’s Gregory, Richard says that Henry’s dead. His horse tripped while entering the ring and fell on top of the King. Rafe asks Thomas if they should leave immediately, before their enemies close the roads? Cromwell says he’s going to see Henry.

The King’s laid out on a couch outside the Whitehall with all the aristocrats just standing there, discussing who’ll take over the throne. Thomas asks for a mirror to see Henry’s breath, then he slams the King in the chest and the rudimentary version of CPR, brings Henry back to life.

Cromwell’s shaken by the incident, saying to a colleague that he’s likely the only person who can say the King Of England’s his only friend. He says though it appears he has everything, he’s got nothing without Henry on the throne. He’s then asked if he would have supported Anne as Regent and he says that’s the way he was leaning.

Henry’s back on his throne, when Anne and her handmaidens come into publicly greet the King after his accident. Anne says she prays and England prays, that he will give up jousting after the incident. He motions for her to approach him, when she doesn’t come close enough, he repeats the motion. When she gets close enough for his liking, he stands and screams that she might as well geld him while she’s at it. He says that would suit her fine, wouldn’t it? She turns on her heels and storms away silently.

The death knell of the marriage, sounds in the next scene as Anne once again has a miscarriage. Jane Rochford tells Henry that the doctor says the embryo was 13-weeks-old and appeared to be male. Henry screams at Rochford that Anne should have had a nurse by her side, but the Boleyn’s always turn away outsiders.

Later that evening, Henry tells Thomas that he believes he’s cursed and will never father a male child. He says if a King fails to father a son and bring stability to his realm, nothing else he does matters. Victories, adjusting the laws, the famous course, it’s all meaningless.

He then stares at Cromwell, and a slight smile paints the corners of the King’s mouth. He says he believes that he got tricked into his marriage to Anne. That he thinks she might have seduced him with charms and spells. He asks if that’s the case then the marriage would be null, wouldn’t it?

Henry sends a purse to Jane Seymour, accompanied by a letter. She sent back the purse and refused to open the letter, but she kissed Henry’s seal. Whether she planned to or not, it made Seymour even more attractive in Henry’s eyes as he now thought of her as chaste with a sense of honor.

Chepuys pays a visit to Cromwell’s home and the King’s secretary convinces the Ambassador to attend Mass at the Royal Court the next morning. Cromwell’s intentions are far from honorable, as he knows that Chepuys will run into Anne at the Mass and will finally have to acknowledge her. As he sees her and her handmaidens, he bows to her, they curtsy in return. Eustache’s furious with Thomas, but Cromwell says now that he’s acknowledged the marriage, Henry can end it.

King and Ambassador meet and it turns into a screaming match, as Henry tells Chepuys that he runs England and he’s not about to follow Rome’s orders with blind obedience. He then pushes the Ambassador and storms off. Chepuys is seething with anger, saying he acknowledged that creature (Anne) and Henry still treated him terribly.

The King storms back, this time calling out Cromwell, blaming him for everything. He says that Thomas believes he’s got Henry in his pocket, that Henry’s the son of a blacksmith and that Cromwell’s truly King of England. Thomas crosses his wrists in front of his face, then says God preserve you, Your Majesty, excuse me.

He heads to his office and he flashes back to his childhood, where we see how he picked up the custom of crossing his wrists. He went to see his father making horse shoes and young Thomas picked up a red-hot rod of metal, burning his forearm. His father tells him to cross his wrists and stick his arms into a trough of water. He tells his son to keep his wrists crossed, as it confuses the pain.

The aristocracy despise Cromwell and all the success he’s attained and they’re ecstatic that Henry dressed down his secretary in a public fashion. One of them walks into his office and says hopefully Cromwell finally learned his place, he’s nothing but a money-lender, despite all he’s attained. Thomas recognizes the man as one of those that participated in the play showing Wolsey going to Hell. Cromwell says he intends to profit from this incident.

There’s a meeting of Henry and his advisors the next day and Cromwell remains silent for most of it, getting another dressing down from an aristocrat when he decides to speak. After the meeting ends, Henry tells his secretary to walk with him. Although the words I’m sorry never come close to the King’s lips, he tells Cromwell that he’s his right hand man.

Henry then brings up dissolving his marriage to Anne, he mentions Harry Percy and how he and Anne were practically married, years before. He then tells Thomas of his affair with Anne’s sister Mary and says that might void the marriage as they’re sisters.

He grabs Cromwell’s arm in a brotherly fashion, then says he trusts in Thomas’ discretion and skill. He then smiles and tells him to make sure he’s very secretive.

Cromwell’s in his office at home, when suddenly he hears a man’s voice. Cromwell sees Cardinal Wolsey standing beside him. The Cardinal says “The problem is Thomas, he wants a new wife, so fix him one. I didn’t and now I’m dead.” Crowell looks up and the spirit’s gone, he’s in his office once again alone.

The Season Finale Airs Next Sunday at 10:00 pm on Your Local PBS Affiliate.

2 thoughts on “Wolf Hall: Keep Your Wrists Crossed It Confuses The Pain”

  1. I appreciate the detailed account of the episode. Still, there are a few small errors in this account (for instance, the young Thomas picked up red-hot tongs and burned his palm), but one larger one: in paragraph 6, it’s Katherine – not Anne – who tells Cromwell that Henry called her his flower.

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