Keep Your Knife Bright
Episode 1 of Becoming Elizabeth begins in January 1547. Henry VIII is dead and England is in turmoil. Three children, each born to a different mother, remain to continue Henry’s bloodline.
There’s Princess Mary who’s a Catholic, Prince Edward who’s a protestant and Elizabeth… who’s a survivor. The three children are gathered by Edward Seymour, brother to Thomas Seymour who’s currently in love with Catherine Parr. For those who know their history, this is Henry’s surviving wife.
Anyway, Edward (who’s known as “Somerset” here for his title as Duke of Somerset, which makes sense given two Edwards in this show would be a tad confusing for the average viewer) informs the children that Henry is dead. “Long live the King,” He utters, dropping to his knee before Edward, who’s now the King.
It doesn’t take long before Edward VI is taken by Somerset to Whitehall Palace. There, he speaks to Edward and plays the part of master manipulator. He encourages him to seek counsel with one voice… that being his. Somerset is trying to seize power, and the dumbfounded new King nods softly.
The meeting gets underway, as Edward VI takes the throne and Somerset gives him the stage. Standing up before these men, he calls Somerset the Lord Protector… which Thomas Seymour immediately throws shade at. He points out that as siblings they should both be equals
Thomas is eventually told to leave by his brother, where he ends up singing through the courtyard of Chelsea Manor that evening.
He meets Elizabeth too, and the pair trade quips. “Glory to you, Princess Elizabeth!” He eventually booms, before catching up with Catherine and informing her what’s going on.
With Somerset taking control of the council, Thomas is worried that they’re out. But then Catherine has an ace up her sleeve – Elizabeth.
With Edward VI on the throne, moves are made to try and honour the promise Henry VIII made, that being to marry Mary Queen of Scots. Edward is not happy, but Somerset sees this as an opportunity to bring Scotland to heel.
If this marriage was to go ahead, it would solidify Edward Seymour as the controller of both England and Scotland, which is why he’s intending to push this through. Of course, the Scots are none too happy about that and it’ll almost certainly lead to war.
De Silva, the ambassador of Spain, takes Mary away that evening during a big party. He quizzes her over the current arrangement in place with Edward VI. He asks where her values lie, with faint whispers of mutiny holding on his tongue. “My brother is King, you and my opinions are best kept to ourselves.” She says.
Meanwhile, Elizabeth contemplates whether to marry Thomas Seymour. The thing is, Seymour and Catherine Parr seize their opportunity while Edward Seymour is gone, off fighting in Scotland. They end up paying a priest to have them married.
As this is going on, we cut to the battlefield where Somerset leads the troops to victory in the battle of of Pinkie Cleugh. They soon head back to England, where Lord Dudley is quick to throw shade at Thomas for being foolish with Catherine Parr.
Still the attention here is on Edward VI and after victory, he looks favourably on Jane Grey, who’s the woman he really wants to wed.
He talks to Thomas about marriage, while Elizabeth too has plans to be wed, continuing to flirt with Thomas and trying to win him over. That is, until she learns about Catherine Parr and Thomas have been married. Although Edward is happy for them, Somerset is not.
He’s livid with his brother, but given Edward VI has given them his blessing, there’s not much the Lord Protector can do. Still, hostility spreads when word reaches the court that Mary has fled from Scotland to France. That earlier victory was fruitless; everything seems to have been for nothing.
Over at Chelsea Manor, Jane Grey arrives to stay. Elizabeth is livid when she finds out and confronts Catherine about her decision to let this “brat” come and stay.
Thomas appears out from the shadows though and reveals that this was his idea, which makes sense given what we heard during the banquet. He confirms as much to Elizabeth in private, along with Edward wanting him to marry Mary to “stamp” the Catholic out of her.
As the episode closes out, Elizabeth moves in to kiss Thomas but he pulls away slightly, asking her “what are we going to do Elizabeth?” As he leaves her to think this over, the series leaves a lot of enticing drama on the horizon.
The Episode Review
Starz have a decent track record when it comes to historical dramas and Becoming Elizabeth is no exception. With accurate costuming, an enticing cast and (from what I can gather from this first episode) a very accurate timeline of events in Elizabeth’s life, this one could be a sure-fire hit.
There’s a nice ebb and flow to the way this series has been put together and although the lighting is very dark, it’s pretty accurate when you think about the time period. I mean, it’s not Game of Thrones season 8 levels of darkness but I would advise shutting the blinds/curtains if you intend to watch this one during the day!
Speaking of dark, this period of history is incredibly dramatic and the show has captured that quite well so far. With some very dramatic events to come in the future, it’ll be interesting to see exactly how Becoming Elizabeth will bring all of this to life.
So far so good though; from this first episode Starz seem to have nailed this historical drama.
|Expect A Full Season Write-Up When This Season Concludes!