As part of the King’s Royal Progress in summertime, Cromwell includes a stop at the home of the Seymour family, Wolf Hall. Cromwell has had his eye on their daughter, Jane – a quiet and gentle creature – and as he soon learns, so has the King. With Anne still unable to give him an heir, the King’s notorious wandering eye has taken up its task once again.
After Cromwell spots the King and Jane flirting in the garden, he and the King’s other advisors confront Jane and ask her just to what extent this dalliance has gone. She denies any adultery – but admits that the King has asked her to “look kindly on him” though nothing untoward had taken place. Knowing the King well, they advise Jane to pray audibly if he makes an advance – a deflection that would not only avoid injured feelings, but also position Jane as a virtuous and pure maiden.
Cromwell visits Katherine of Aragon at her residence in exile to see that she has been taken ill and is not expected to survive. Per Anne’s wishes, her household has been broken up and she hasn’t seen her daughter in months. Cromwell reveals that the French Ambassador, Eustache Chapuys, has offered to extract Princess Mary from the Boleyn household and offer her safe passage to France. Katherine refuses this escape path – knowing the King would assume that Mary would stir up an army and come back to avenge her position in the line of succession.
Meanwhile, back at court, Anne is pregnant again. In a strange accident, her pet dog is found dead – which, in such a superstitious society could only be read as a bad omen. Anne reveals that she knows about the attempts to secret Princess Mary to France by way of an arranged marriage with the Dauphin. In her desperation to hold onto relevancy, she demands that Cromwell destroy Mary’s reputation, but Cromwell refuses. Cromwell advises Anne to dispense with the scheming – he knows that Anne suspects the King’s interest in Jane, which is driving her crazy. He asks her to lay low until her child is born.
Later that night, Cromwell is visited by Ambassador Chapuys who is concerned with Cromwell’s plan to dissolve the monasteries and convents in England that had formerly been associated with the Catholic church. Chapuys is not sold on the idea of this new religion – and threatens (on behalf of his king) to halt trade with England. Suddenly overcome with emotion, Chapuys reveals that Katherine is on the verge of death – he cares deeply about the former Queen and asks Cromwell to get the Kings permission for him to visit. Permission is denied – the King is still furious that Chapuys refuses to acknowledge Anne’s position – and Katherine dies without being able to say goodbye.
Anne is thrilled with the news of the former Queen’s death. She and the King hold a banquet to which they both wear bright yellow — the color of celebration and decidedly untraditional funeral garb. Katherine is buried outside the royal cemetery and her belongings are repossessed and brought back to the palace.
In the middle of the night, after Katherine’s funeral, there is a fire in Anne’s bedroom that leaves the entire palace shaken. Apparently there had been a prophecy that an English queen would be burned. Cromwell is convinced that it’s arson, and goes to Jane Rochford to see what she knows. The official story is that it was an unattended candle that started the blaze – and as to whom had left it unattended, she’d rather not say.
Cromwell’s son is participating in a joust, which Cromwell is too busy to attend – partly due to his long to-do list, and partly due to a fear of seeing his son flattened in his first competition. It appears that even in Tudor England, dad can’t always be in the stands at your little league game.
Whilst Cromwell is attending to his business, one of his men rushes in saying the King has died in a jousting accident. Cromwell immediately snaps into action – sending for princess Mary to be rescued from the Boleyns, and arranging for his own escape before the ports are blocked by Plantagenet supporters. Cromwell knows the King is his only ally – and with him gone, his life is in serious danger.
Amidst the tussle, Cromwell notices the King breathing, and gives him some sort of rudimentary CPR, jolting the king back to life. Civil war is avoided, for now.
Anne miscarries again and the King is increasingly frustrated. Henry views his failure to provide an heir as Anne’s shortcoming. He speculates that she may have cast spells on him, and that if it were true, the marriage would be nullified. The orchestration of Anne’s downfall has begun.
Meanwhile the king has been continuing his flirtation with the wholesome Jane Seymour. Jane proves to be skilled in the art of seduction – playing up her virtuous image in sharp contrast to Anne’s increasingly soiled one.
Stephen Gardiner is seen creeping around the palace once again – before he’s sent away in disgrace to France. He reveals to Cromwell that he knows that Cromwell had killed a man back in Putney, and Cromwell’s father paid off the family to keep them from punishing his son. Cromwell, who has hated his father for so long, never knew the debt was quietly paid off in his name.
Chapuys meets with Cromwell to talk about what is the future of the king’s marriage. Chapuys wants to get back in with the royal crew but cannot bring himself to concede to Anne’s wishes. Cromwell invites Chapuys to mass at court, but his intentions are less than noble – he knows that when Chapuys crosses paths with the queen, he’ll be forced to bow and acknowledge her station. Chapuys is furious with this deception, and in an attempt to spin this affront into an opportunity for diplomacy, approaches the King with an offer of a match for Princess Mary. This does not go over well – the King views the offer as a brash intrusion and demands a public apology from the French King.
Henry flies in to a rage at Cromwell, thinking he had engineered the whole thing. Cromwell, ever the diplomat, reacts with poise, leaving the situation and retiring to his chambers until the king can cool down.
The Boleyns see Cromwell’s public chastisement as an opportunity to assert themselves – threatening Cromwell to stay out of the business of the nobility, and reminding him that in their mind, he owes all his power to them. Cromwell, however, knows otherwise.
Once the King has settled down, he approaches Cromwell after a meeting and offers what is about as close to an apology as Cromwell could hope for. He tells Cromwell that Cromwell is “his right hand.” But with this high praise comes a new, difficult assignment – to topple Anne from her position as Queen, paving the way for the King to formally woo Jane Seymour.
Wolf Hall airs Sundays at 10pm on THIRTEEN in April and May 2017.