To Death We Must Stoop
Episode 8 of Becoming Elizabeth starts the finale with us skipping forward two months in time. The King is gravely sick and bedbound, while Dudley watches on. He’s reassured that the King will be “well soon” by the physician but he’s not so sure. Instead, Dudley sends a messenger off to give a note to Mary, deciding this has gone on for too long.
The Kingdom is in perpetual turmoil, and Mary rides with Pedro and her other loyal followers to see the King. She meets Dudley and demands he release Bishop Gardiner, she also wants a Catholic service so she can pray for her brother and finally, she’d like Dudley to “get out of her f*cking way.”
The meeting is an emotional one, and even more so when Edward weakly tells Mary to convert. Elizabeth watches on from afar, still unhappy with her sister after that letter about the adultery. Mary eventually does apologize but these wounds run deep between them.
How does Dudley try to cling to power?
Interestingly, Elizabeth runs into Dudley after this meeting who pledges his loyalty to her, hinting at Elizabeth usurping her sister and taking the throne so they can “change the world” together. In other words, prevent a Catholic from taking the crown.
Meanwhile, Mary speaks to Edward Seymour who decides they should play from the same side and “restart the game”. With the battle-lines drawn, we cut across to John Dudley’s residence at Durham House. Robert is back after several months of absence. John speaks to his son and suggests he marry Elizabeth after all. Now that he has an agenda – deciding Elizabeth can take the throne – this is all a big game for John Dudley to save his own skin and continue clinging to power.
What happens at the succession meeting?
Mary and Pedro recognize this threat and set to work with Edward Seymour to try and eliminate them before they grow too unwieldy. Seymour approaches Dudley and warns him that this game – standing up against Mary – isn’t going to work. “You can fight the tide, but it is coming in all the same.” He says, and walks away.
Elizabeth also receives a similar warning from Mary, but that only further riles her up, pushing her into wanting to become the Queen after all. She wants to preserve her brother’s legacy and to elevate beyond being a plaything for men. This is, of course, something Elizabeth has experienced in the past.
A succession meeting is called, with Mary putting her name forward. Edward Seymour points to Dudley as a usurper, and despite Elizabeth’s stake in all this, is on the verge of being kicked out. That is, until the King’s fever breaks and he’s well enough to stand before the important players and break this secret meeting up. As a result, Dudley clutches to these precious moments and throws Seymour into the tower. As for Mary, she’s silent and curtsies before slipping away. Dudley is desperate and even tells the King that both sisters were conspiring against him in a ploy to put himself on the throne.
Do Mary and Elizabeth stay together?
With his death impending, Seymour brings Elizabeth in and speaks his final piece, discussing his brother and the eerie power he had over people. With that, Seymour prepares to be executed. Pedro approaches and tells him he has no enemies in the crowd, as everyone watches on in shock as the man is beheaded.
Meanwhile, Edward VI brings Elizabeth and Mary into his chambers. He’s livid at their perceived betrayal and forces them both out. Mary speaks to her sister though, who admits she doesn’t hate her. The thing is, Mary is indifferent toward her sister. Mary colloquially refers to them both as the “virgin and the whore” and points out that they have very different roles in this game but are still women after all.
How does Becoming Elizabeth end?
While the King is alive, neither will rule. “Thank god.” Elizabeth says, but you can tell there’s more going on behind her eyes. Likewise with Mary. But as we cut to the King, he vomits blood all over the table. He casts a worried glance at Dudley, as the episode comes to a close.
The Episode Review
It’s a shame that the viewing figures for Becoming Elizabeth have been so low. This has been an enthralling drama, although I can understand that some people are put off by the slow pace and some of the dialogue choices.
However, in terms of plot and narrative development, this has been pretty accurate to the real, historical events and the ending actually sets things up for an intriguing second season – should this be renewed.
This is an exciting period of history and although Becoming Elizabeth hasn’t quite fired on all cylinders, as a political drama this has been pretty good on the whole, with some real stand-out moments. However, those after a fast-paced show with quick, snappy dialogue and lots of action will undoubtedly be left wanting.
As the episodes have progressed, the story has certainly ramped up in tension across to this uneasy finale, with the door left open for more and nothing really resolved at the end. Whether this will remain on a cliffhanger or not though, will depend on what Starz choose to do with this but I certainly wouldn’t grumble at another season!
|Expect A Full Season Write-Up When This Season Concludes!|