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Review of Episode 3, The White Queen

white_queen_promoWhat’s Past is Prologue

 

This third episode of TWQ was the best so far, mostly because it did such a terrific job of illustrating what female power looked like in medieval times. That power was grounded in a woman’s ability to influence the men who controlled her fortunes, and in her strength at coping with whatever fate – for good or ill – might throw at her.

 

The first two episodes were necessary. They set the scene, gave us a feel for the players and their relationships, made it clear how high the stakes were. In this third episode, the story picks up speed and I found it far more compelling and dramatic than the previous two.

 

Here we have Queen Elizabeth Woodville, Isabel Neville and Margaret Beaufort attempting to control their lives through their fathers, husbands and brothers, with varying degrees of success. One scene shows each of them even trying to influence God with essentially the same prayer: O Lord, give me what I want and smite my enemy. Nice touch.

 

What is clear is that these women were intelligent, resourceful, strong-minded and strong-willed, and that they needed that strength in order to circumvent, dupe, or put up with the men who were making the decisions. Is anyone likable here? Not really. Isabel gets our sympathy because she is so obviously a pawn with absolutely no influence over her father or her husband. Elizabeth started out as Cinderella, and so was in a good position to gain our admiration at the beginning; but for all her glimmering blonde beauty she seems to have turned to the Dark Side. And Margaret – well, what can you expect from someone who looks like the Wicked Witch of the West?

The White Queen via BBC

The White Queen via BBC

 

 

The title of this episode is The Storm, and a storm does indeed play a key role here. Was this an invention or a historical reality? I don’t know. Certainly the weather has at times been a significant factor in England’s history – in 1066 and in 1588, for example. This particular bit of foul weather was apparently conjured up by Elizabeth, and once again I’m finding this mystical element a little hard to swallow. There was some more fishing line magic in this episode, too. How did that work, exactly? Who put the baby spoon with the name Edward scrawled on it on the end of that line? Surely it was Elizabeth’s mother. And did she put baby spoons on all of the lines? If not, then what? It’s a magical gimmick that defies logic. Another objection: it doesn’t take a witch to figure out that if Edward & Elizabeth had a son, they would name him Edward.

 

Final verdict: I’m fine with The Storm that impacts events, but the magical element that summons it is just unnecessary. Give these women their due. They were smart. They were devious when they needed to be. They utilized all the resources at their disposal to impact events. I just don’t think that magic was one of them, and the story would be just as good without it.

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