Becoming Elizabeth – Season 1 Episode 7 “To Laugh, To Lie” Recap & Review

To Laugh, To Lie, To Flatter, To Face

Episode 7 of Becoming Elizabeth starts in the Palace of Whitehall, with John Dudley now standing by Edward’s side. The thing is, Dudley has some pretty extreme ideas, including public burnings for dissenters, which gets Elizabeth thinking about the real evil here.

John Dudley’s idea is to “make England great again” and that comes from these extreme ideas. Interestingly, Somerset receives an unexpected letter confirming his release. This is Dudley’s doing of course, but it has the alternate plan of having him support the new Lord Protector in the council, under the guise of them having been “good friends” before.

Meanwhile, Spain (and by extension, Guzman) are not best pleased with the current plan of a Protestant wedding for Mary. The only thing for it is for Mary to leave and head over to Spain. This presents a conflict of interest between the two sides, something that threatens to blow up and escalate if it’s not dealt with swiftly – and handled elegantly.

Edward continues to make big plans, arranging a marriage for Elizabeth next. Prince Frederick from the Danish court is the latest suitor for her, but she’s not exactly happy when she finds out. Edward argues that England is vulnerable and believes an alliance with Denmark would be perfect. Elizabeth though bemoans a wedding with a 16 year old illiterate boy. Her heart clearly lies elsewhere.

At Framlingham Castle, Mary also doesn’t take kindly to her idea of an arranged marriage. Dudley shows up and throws his weight around, burning her possessions in front of the Spanish ambassador and his men, not to mention pushing the Bishop down the stairs.

Meanwhile, Lade Jane returns to Elizabeth. The latter is not exactly warm toward the woman, especially when she asks about what wedding nights are actually like. “You will bleed and you will hurt” Elizabeth says matter-of-factly. Eventually Jane signs off with a frosty retort of “whore”.

Elizabeth meets with her sister, and they both discuss their arranged marriages. Mary shrugs and claims this is God’s will and they’re being tested by the deity. Elizabeth actually agrees with the Spanish idea of her leaving England and fleeing to Spain. Mary is not happy and venomously spits at her sister, telling her there’s a far stealthier assassin at work (that being Elizabeth, given the disdain she’s showing.) Still, that doesn’t stop Mary from seriously mulling over the plan of leaving.

After this meeting, Elizabeth returns with a changed attitude. Realizing she has no choice but to marry, she decides to try and make the most of this situation. At the Danish Ambassador’s Residence, Robert makes his play with his father, suggesting that he could marry Elizabeth. And his reply? A swift smack to the face. That’s a no, then!

So while Mary forges her own path and leaves, Elizabeth walks through the fire and feels like she has no choice but to marry the Dane. However, Robert tries to convince her not to go through with this, convinced that she loves him.

When Elizabeth shows up, she’s instead greeted by the entire English council. It turns out Denmark has decided to insult England because of the insult of offering up Anne Boleyn’s daughter. Of course, this is in relation to Elizabeth and whispers in the court that she’s a whore.

Elizabeth gives an impassioned speech about the horrors of Thomas Seymour. Now, tellingly in the middle of this Edward coughs. And those coughs turn from an innocent clearing of the throat to coughing up blood and passing out on his bed later on.

While this is going on, Mary decides not to leave after all, retorting that “If England has to burn to stop this evil… then I will see it done.”

The Episode Review

The penultimate episode to Becoming Elizabeth may have been delayed for a week but it certainly makes the wait worth it. There are fiery ambitions sparking up in court, as Dudley starts to throw his weight around, while the reveal at the end about Edward’s court is likely to catch many people off-guard who aren’t aware of the history for this time period.

The whole production of Becoming Elizabeth has been pretty accurate up to this point and there’s been a great deal of care put into that side of things, along with the costuming and set design. Compared to offerings like Anne Boleyn, which felt stifled and poorly written, Starz’s period drama offers up some deliciously twisted drama and a pretty accurate depiction of this time period, which is great to see.

With Mary deciding not to leave after all, and Elizabeth caught in the middle of all this, her impassioned speech about women put through the meat grinder, courtesy of these awful men, is powerful and certainly poignant. It’s even more telling that the first response is to tell her she’s crying, forcing Elizabeth to conjure a stiff upper lip to maintain face. It’s a small moment but a very telling one.

Everything here rests precariously on a knife-edge though and next week’s finale looks like it’s going to be quite the dramatic affair. Bring it on!

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