Warning: The following post contains spoilers for The White Princess Episode 7.
That feeling you might have just experienced is the dizzying reality of an episode of The White Princess that has turned everything on its head. If you thought you knew where your loyalties lied, Episode 7 of The White Princess might have left you with some major doubts. Thanks to some powerhouse performances from the cast (Jodie Comer, Jacob Collins-Levy, Patrick Gibson, and Michelle Fairley), Episode 7 proved to be one of the series’ most indelible hours.
Here is Starz’s official plot description for Episode 7 (“Two Kings”) via The White Princess‘ official website.
“A pretender to the throne is held captive at court, confounding the Tudors, and creating a new rift in Lizzie and King Henry’s marriage.”
In The White Princess Episode 7, Henry VII (Jacob Collins-Levy) attempts to break the young man claiming to be Prince Richard (Patrick Gibson). Throughout Episode 7, Henry takes drastic measures to get “Richard” to recant. Even when Henry publically humiliates the man he believes to be an imposter by walking him through the streets, the young man does not break.
Paraded barefoot and shirtless, the crowd initially begins throwing things at him, before a stirring speech by the so-called “imposter” brings them to a halt. After Lizzie’s powerful speech brought Henry’s forces back in a previous episode, it would seem The White Princess might be laying a subtle clue that such a gift runs in the York bloodlines.
Henry tries and fails to break “The Boy,” aka Perkin Warbeck, aka Richard
Henry’s attempts to humiliate the possible Prince Richard do not end on the streets of England. They continue at court, where Henry intimates he has had his way with the maybe-Richard’s wife, Cathy (a heartbreaking Amy Manson), taking her as his unwilling mistress.
The declaration outrages Lizzie (Jodie Comer), who thinks it is a low blow to his opponent. She is also hurt by her husband’s possible infidelity, and his bragging about in court, an act which humiliates Lizzie herself. The White Princess never completely dispels whether Henry is lying, or ashamed to admit how low he is willing to go to drive “Richard” into submission.
Mad Margaret is at again in The White Princess Episode 7
While Henry’s behavior was appalling, so was his mother, Margaret’s. After stealing away “Richard” and Cathy’s baby, Margaret insinuates to Lizzie that their son will be murdered, a prospect that sickens Lizzie.
As Episode 7 wears on, it becomes clear that Lizzie is starting to believe that Perkin Warbeck is actually her long-lost brother, Richard. When he enters court early in the episode, she looks at him briefly before wistfully turning away.
As he did previously, the young man shares more personal details that only Prince Richard could know, such as the name of their father’s mistress. As the seventh hour of The White Princess builds, the legitimacy of Richard’s claim strengthens.
Richard stands by his claim in The White Princess Episode 7
After Richard is severely beaten by Henry, Lizzie decides to make a bold move. Clearly hoping to spare the man she believes is her brother, while also saving her husband’s claim to the throne, Lizzie sets a fire in Henry’s wardrobe.
She goes to Richard, and tries to convince him to abandon his claim, and leave England with his wife. She assures them she will send their son to them when the coast is clear.
When it appears Richard has accepted Lizzie’s deal. He makes an even bolder move. As Lizzie and Cathy arrive to publicly sell that Richard has died in the fire, he emerges from the flames, defiantly declaring he is the true King of England.
Where The White Princess Episode 7 leaves Lizzie
Episode 7 was not a flattering hour for Lizzie. She smacks a distraught Cathy on the head and acts jealous of her husband’s possible infidelity, instead of being outraged that he has taken Cathy against her will. To Lizzie’s credit, she does attempt to save her brother and her husband.
How The White Princess is starting to rival Game of Thrones
In a world without dragons and magic, and where all deaths are final, The White Princess is a dire universe to enter. Like Game of Thrones, The White Princess features ruthless matriarchs, sibling rivalries, fraught ambitions, and brutal betrayals.
As the Starz series has entered its final episodes, a true darkness has grabbed hold of it by Episode 7. As it has progressed, loyalties have been tested, and Lizzie cannot win, no matter who she sides with.
Characters turning to the dark side
When you are watching Game of Thrones you seldom have to worry if its tested heroes will turn to the dark side. Lizzie’s behavior in Episode 7 has given this viewer reason to pause.
The White Princess is careful to not let us get too close to Richard. We observe him through Lizzie’s eyes. While she insists he is an imposter, those same eyes betray another truth. It is a truth that can also be seen in the expressions of Richard’s wife, Cathy, who remains devoted to him despite Henry’s calculated attempts to undermine them.
History is in the eye of the beholder
The White Princess reminds us that our take on history is often informed by whose perspective we are seeing it from. Would viewers be rooting for Lizzie, if they had seen more of her brother, Richard, from the beginning?
Would viewers be rooting for Henry, if they saw how he treated Richard’s wife behind closed doors? Would they be rooting for Lizzie and Henry to overcome this other couple, if they had seen Richard and his wife fall in love? The answer is probably not.
The White Princess gives us enough insight to know that Richard is a man who is courageously devoted to his claim. We know from the crushed expression on his wife’s face that whatever happened with Henry has left her troubled. We can tell from a few fleeting moments in privacy, Richard and his wife share a loving relationship, every bit as a formidable as Lizzie and Henry’s.
We also know that while Henry and Lizzie are fretting over preventing a curse that may or may not be real, Richard and his wife’s son has likely been murdered and whether they know it or not, their hope to save him is gone.
There is no going back for anyone on The White Princess. Find out how it all ends when the finale airs next Sunday, June 4, at 8 p.m. EST.
[Featured Image by Starz]