The Tenuous Grip
Episode 2 of Anne Boleyn begins with the Queen conflicted, shedding tears and haunted by the echoes of her miscarriage. Her nipples are leaking, and the servants bustle around trying to keep her positive. A month has passed and Anne has four months left to live. A slick rotating shot ensues as whispers of dissent echo in Anne’s memory.
With Henry busy in Westminster and his mood growing ever darker, Anne is told by her Uncle to be careful. The Queen keeps a stiff upper-lip though, telling him to trot back to Westminster.
Anne keeps up appearances though and attends mass with George. Although this is an act of kindness, it’s mostly used as a publicity stunt to show Henry she’s still able to perform her duties.
However, an enraged woman suddenly shows and tries to kill Anne, claiming she’s not the true Queen. With an urgent need to make sure Elizabeth is safe, Anne heads off to visit her. She saddened that she doesn’t recognize her and simply cries in Anne’s arms.
However, trouble is brewing in the palace. Ambassador Chapuys defies a direct order from Anne and walks away from her. He claims Anne isn’t the true Queen and challenges her position. This eventually leads to Anne walking away before things turn hostile.
When she heads back to court, Anne speaks to Cromwell and quizzes him about the current “back-door” deal with Spain. He scoffs, telling Anne there’s nothing back door about this given Henry has ordered this to be so. This simply reinforces Anne is being kicked out the royal lineage and she senses her grip is starting to wane.
In court the next day, Anne apologizes to Henry for what’s happened and mentions the Ambassador’s defiance. Anne believes Cromwell is the one behind this coup and suggests they set up a soiree to get to the bottom of this.
During the meeting with the Ambassador, things are tense, to say the least. Henry lashes out at him and Cromwell, prompting Anne to rile things up and invite Cromwell to their soiree that evening. He rejects though, leading Anne to sarcastically retort that they’ve “worked him to the bone.”
The evening’s festivities go ahead but Henry’s mind is elsewhere. Despite sitting with Anne after watching her dance, he can’t help but shoot a longing glance at Jane. Her worst fears are confirmed later on too, as Anne overhears Jane speaking to George. She makes a power play, deciding the only gift she’ll accept from Henry is one of an advantageous marriage.
In the morning, after a pretty lively and surprising turn of events, Anne catches up with Norris. After her comments the previous evening, she reaffirms that she was just joking but it’s definitely left a bad taste in everyone’s mouths. Anne’s marriage hangs by a thread after hearing that Jane has been moved into new lodgings – presumably to be closer to Henry.
Anne shows up in Henry’s chambers and eventually comes to blows with her husband. She strikes him, with Henry retaliating by pushing her against the wall. He thinks twice about choking her but it’s clear the seeds have been sown for Anne’s fate.
In the morning, Henry leaves without his wife, heading to the joust alone as the realization of what this means starts to hit home. Lady Shelton comes with a new message; Anne is being called away by her Uncle.
Anne is warned to be careful as she leaves court. In fact, Anne is accused of treason and there’s an arrest warrant out for her too. She’s allowed a court trial, which Anne believes will reaffirm her innocence. Spoiler: it does not.
The Episode Review
The second episode of Anne Boleyn injects a lot more tension and urgency into proceedings as Anne’s grip on the throne wanes. Unlike the stoic first chapter, this follow-up is much more character-driven, with a focus on Anne’s conflicting feelings toward her future.
On the one hand, she’s forced to keep up appearances and remain positive and confident. However, her inability to provide Henry with sons makes her a prime target to be rid of, with the ghosts of Catherine of Aragon’s reign still hanging in the air.
That much is especially true when the crushing realization of the ending hits home. Anne leaves and is escorted to the tower, with her fate resting on accusations of treason surrounding killing the King.
While the fate of Anne Boleyn is well-known, the stage is set for a dramatic episode to follow to finish off this turbulent three-part mini-series.