So season two of The Tudors has picked up right where season one ended, and things in Harry’s court are just as full of lust and intrigue as before, if not moreso. I must admit to being addicted to the series even more now than in season one and for purely shallow reasons. For example, in an interview with Jonathan Rhys Meyers, the actor admitted that one of the perks of playing King Henry was wearing underwear with small crosses sewn all over it, which he planned to take with him once the series was over. The production has even thought about the kng’s underwear–I love that kind of detail! No, kidding, only kidding.
There is a scene in which Sir Thomas More resigns as Henry’s Chancellor. More promises not to speak of his opinion regarding the king’s relationships with Queen Katherine and Anne Boleyn once he leaves court. What is so engaging about the scene is that the viewer does not realize how tense the scene between the two former friends actually is until the king visibly releases his breath and slumps in the throne once More leaves the room. The tension is palpable, and the viewer is caught up without even realizing it. I did not realize that I was holding my breath until Rhys Meyers exhaled. Now that’s acting.
After watching only two episodes, I must admit that I miss Wolsely, but I’m not sure if that’s because I’m such a fan of Sam Neill or the machinations of Wolsley. Not to worry, though, this season promises lots of plotting and scheming withouth Wolsley. King Henry is decidedly darker. Brandon, when not trying to play assassin, admits that he has “grown up,” and it seems that everyone else is moving about this chess board, vying for position before more heads roll.
Peter O’Toole is deliciously malicious as Henry’s Catholic foil, Pope Paul III, but that’t not to say that we aren’t seeing a more serious side of Henry. The Reformation is rolling in. Cromwell is secretly rubbing his hands with glee. The clerics are rolling over. (But I had to pause and laugh when Henry held Parliament wearing that feathered hat that sits atop the head of every painted depiction of Henry VIII.)
The dialogue is still rich and engaging, such as when More talks to his daughter about a martyr’s death, but I must confess that the 21st woman in me wanted to throttle Anne for apologizing for giving birth to a female child. Of course, how was she to know that it wasn’t actually her fault? She should have listened to the King of France when he warned her that trying to live a life aspired to was not the same as living a life born to. And even though we know that baby will be one of the greatest monarchs the world ever saw, we still are reminded that Henry is a lout who deserts his post-partum wife the first chance he gets.
And by the way, does anyone else really hate Anne’s father as pimp?