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Doesn't it feel like we just got back to Court, and we're already getting shown the door? But before we slip into that inevitable post-season funk, let's take moment to reflect on the season that was.

Michael Hirst promised that we'd see Henry ride the "slippery slope into tyranny," and he wasn't kidding. Given the body count he amassed and that petulant temper of his, did you find it hard to know how to feel about Henry by the end of the season? I found myself flipping between laughing at his outbursts, being horrified by his cruelty, getting mushy over his love for Edward, and thinking, "That guy is bats@#* crazy!"

Looking back, Will Sommers was definitely a high point for me, giving voice to what most of us were thinking and calling out Henry on his twaddle. Too bad he only stuck around for one episode. More of him, please!

And what about the Germans? Duke William was good for some levity, although at times it felt like Austin Powers was going to pop out from behind a curtain. And Joss Stone was really good as Anne; you could feel that girl's nerves vibrating right out of the screen.

At the opposite end of the spectrum were scenes that just haunted me: the fields of bodies hanging in the north (that little boy!); Robert Aske saying good-bye to his wife; little Henry Pole trudging off to meet his doom...

And then of course there was the end of Cromwell, whose grisly death I had to watch through splayed fingers. When that axe stuck? (Shudder.) Getting rid of Cromwell sort of echoed getting rid of Anne at the end of Season Two--it was basically a matter of convenience and was so well orchestrated that their fates were decided well in advance. With Anne's shoes filled so quickly by Jane, we're left to wonder if the same will happen with Cromwell's nasty boots. Will anyone fill the power vacuum? Could anyone have that big a death wish?

But what did you think? What were some high points of the season? Or best lines? ("She looks like a horse!" has got to be a contender.) What made you crazy? Are there plot points or character twists you're still wrestling with?

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A week after trying unsuccessfully to get it on with Anne, Henry confesses to his Council that there's a problem - and certainly it's not him. He suspects that he can't consummate the marriage because deep down he knows that Anne's contract with the Duke of Lorraine's son was binding, so she's technically another man's wife. (And lord knows how incapable he is of adultery.) He orders the Council to confirm that Anne's contract was, in fact, binding. Cromwell squirms uncomfortably while Edward and Lord Brandon smirk.

Anne meets with Mary to tell her that her cousin, Prince Philip of Bavaria, would like to meet her. Since he's a Lutheran, Mary is less than excited, but Anne stresses the important stuff: Philip is "charming and very good looking." Mary says that Philip can come, but "not to expect anything." Those sound like some famous last words, right there.

The spawn of Cromwell, a.k.a. Gregory, drops in for a warm and fuzzy chat with his dad to remind us that, despite everything we've seen to the contrary, he's actually a human being. Not only that, but he's about to be a grandpa, too.

Lord Brandon has decided that Henry needs a diversion and charges Sir Francis with finding something more "extreme" than the usual Court dalliances. Sir Francis is more than happy to oblige, and he knows just the place to go - Lambeth Castle. It's a strange orphanage cum brothel for "aristocratic bastards." From his banter with the madam of the house, it's obvious that it's an old haunt. She tells Sir Francis that she has some new "pretty little things" and he quickly finds his pick of the litter: a lanky girl with a tumble of blond curls and a knowing look.

During some revelry at Court, Mary literally bumps into Philip, who has arrived unannounced. He apologizes for his breach of etiquette and explains that he just couldn't wait to meet her. Mary's resolve to shut out the heathen melts like an altar candle under a blowtorch. In a matter of minutes, they're smitten.

Sir Francis takes the waif, Katherine Howard, to meet Edward and Charles, explaining that her background is "not entirely conventional," but she's a "distant relation" to the Duke of Norfolk. She's meek at first, but quickly drops the guise, telling them that the kids at Lambeth Palace "ran a little wild." Edward circles her and all but kicks her tires, promising, "The fun is about to begin again."

In the midst of a Court dance, Lord Brandon gives Henry the good news: there is a glitch in Anne's contract with the Duke of Lorraine's son, which mean's Henry's off the hook. And just at that second, Edward makes sure Henry's eyes fall on Katherine, who's undergone an Extreme Makeover: Tudors Edition, and now looks like a respectable member of the nobility.

Meanwhile, in another corner of the party, Philip charms Mary into her first kiss and she weeps happy tears. That girl is repressed.

Lord Brandon escorts Katherine into the King's presence chamber for a private audience. Henry interviews her briefly and then cracks her up by asking if she has any houses. He's pleased by her laughter. Eager to show off, he pulls out a ring with an impressive history. She asks if she can touch it and then adds a rather pornographic chapter to its story by putting that ring in places you'd be scared of losing it. Henry just grips his armrests. Hard.

Next time we see Henry, he's all business, going over various matters with Cromwell. Nonsuch Palace is finished, and he wants to give Katherine Howard some land and a couple of houses (amazing what that vanishing-ring trick'll get you), and oh, by the way, the Council found grounds for annulling his marriage with Anne. Cromwell breaks into a cold sweat, but Henry assures him that he's safe, no matter what he might have heard.

Henry's virility makes its triumphant return with a secret late-night visit to Katherine. She starts a long, slow striptease, and then a succession of microscenes conveys the following: time passes; Anne is unhappy; Cromwell has a grandson; Henry loves his son; and most importantly, Lord Brandon, Edward, and others are plotting some palace intrigue.

It's not long before we know what it is: Cromwell arrives at a Council meeting and is summarily arrested for treason. Cromwell looks to the Councilors for support, but they practically dance a jig as he's dragged off to the Tower. Later, they make short work of his trial, and Cromwell's fate is sealed.

Anne breaks the news to Mary that Henry has sent Philip home. She tries to offer sympathy, but the princess puts on her steely face and says it doesn't matter; she wouldn't have married a Lutheran anyway. But once she hits the hallway, she lets the tears out.

Although Anne's contract with the Duke of Lorraine's son is legit grounds for an annulment, Council decides it would be more "diplomatic" if they could also prove that the marriage was never consummated, a ragged Cromwell is ordered to record, in detail, everything he knows about the marriage.

Katherine reads Cromwell's letter aloud to Henry in bed, giggling nastily as she recounts the King's comments about Anne. She stops laughing when she gets to the part where Cromwell begs for mercy. Suddenly the mood is very sober in the bedroom.

Not sober enough to save Cromwell, though. He climbs the executioner's platform in front of a jeering, bloodthirsty crowd. Cromwell makes his sobbing farewell while the bleary-eyed executioner - whom Sir Francis got good and drunk the night before--tries to remain upright. When the time comes, the half-drunk axeman plays whack-a-mole with Cromwell's neck until a Yeoman of the Guard wrestles the axe from his hands and finishes the job. You could almost feel sorry for Cromwell. Almost.

Meanwhile, Edward is tidying up another of Henry's loose ends, informing Anne that her marriage is null and void but the King would like to keep her as a "sister." Anne reels but wisely accepts and, for that, she is rewarded with an annuity, a few properties, and the freedom to remarry if she chooses. Better to lose a husband than a head, is the lesson here.

Henry seems to have everything he's wished for, but it might be short-lived. After checking out Nonsuch Palace, he's lounging in bed watching a naked Katherine twirling and giggling on a swing. Inexplicably, a dark look crosses his face, he takes a sharp breath, and we hear someone say softly, "Your majesty?"

And that's it. Season Three is over and out.

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The Season Three finale! The King loses a wife but gains a sister and finds his appetite renewed by a fresh little tart. And oh, how the mighty fall! Its a must-see for anyone who loves to hate the Lord Privy Seal.

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With more than a little help from Cromwell, all roads lead to Cleves in Henry's wife search. While rumours of an impending war with France and Spain swirl, Cromwell doesn't miss an opportunity to emphasize the benefits of marriage to a Cleves. He strongly urges Holbein to paint a flattering portrait of Anne, which captures Henry's interest. And he secures a report from the ambassador, describing Anne as "incomparable." Henry's so distracted by the portrait that he doesn't realize that saying Anne is "incomparable" is like saying she has a "good personality." He's sold.

Duke William smells the eagerness on Henry's representatives, and plays it to his advantage. Oops--he forgot to mention that Anne is already promised to the Duke of Lorraine's son. When the King's reps express their displeasure, William barks that they had it coming, showing up in his country just expecting to have their way: "My country is not a brothel, and my sister is not a whore!" But the little pimp will consider going ahead with Henry if the King is willing to pay a high enough price.

He is. And when Henry offers to forfeit the dowry and pay William a stipend for introducing him to the Protestant League, the contract with the Duke of Lorraine magically evaporates. William sends his ambassadors to England to seal the deal.

The idea that Spain and France are ganging up on England gets defused pretty quickly after a Spanish flotilla off the coast raises false alarms (turns out they were merchant ships, not warships). Henry meets with Ambassador Chapuys who, despite rumours to the contrary, was never recalled from England. Chapuys assures Henry that France and Spain are on the outs again already, and that the Duchess of Milan is back up for grabs. Furious, Henry shouts that it's too late, and that he's tired of being a pawn for France and Spain.

Lord Brandon prepares to leave for Calais, where he'll meet Anne and her entourage and then escort them to England. Before he leaves, he shares a drink with Edward Seymour, who's decidedly less impressed with Cromwell than he was a little while back. They spell out what's at stake with the marriage: the King's happiness and, more importantly, Cromwell's reputation. "What a pity if it should all go awry," Lord Brandon smirks. They take a second to imagine the possibilities, smile, and clink goblets.

At Calais, the English nobles titter over the Germans' funny clothing and accents as Anne enters with fanfare--and a thick black veil. Lord Brandon is shocked by her lack of worldliness but hides it well. Sensing her nervousness, he quietly asks what she's been told about the King. She answers with a question of her own: "Why, what is it I should know?"

Well, for starters, he's going a bit "Silence of the Lambs." After debriefing Lord Brandon about Anne, Henry turns his attention to Cardinal Pole, who's eluded Sir Francis and Tom Seymour yet again. Henry vows that when he catches Pole, he'll "wear his skin as a shirt." And the he decides that he can't wait any longer to see Anne, so he's going to ride to Rochester to surprise her.

But he's the one who's surprised--and not pleasantly. When he gets his first glimpse of his bride-to-be, Henry stops in his tracks, his excitement evaporating. Anne throws herself into a low curtsey and can't bring herself to look him in the eye. Henry overcomes his distaste long enough to plant a perfunctory peck on her, then spins on his heel and exits. Loudly.

He storms into Court, bellowing, "I like her not! I like her NOT!" He barks for Cromwell and the ambassador to follow him into Council. Henry rants and raves that he's been duped, that Anne is nothing like what was reported. "She looks like a HORSE!" he shouts. The ambassador's about to wet himself and blurts that he never really got a look at her. Henry quietly menaces Cromwell, who murmurs that if he misled the King "based on false reports," then he's sorry. (Probably nowhere near as sorry as he's going to be.)

Henry wants a way out, but Cromwell claims there isn't one. Brandon helpfully points out that Cromwell has "been following a Cleves agenda from the beginning." Cromwell informs Henry that France and Spain have once again kissed and made up, so England needs the Protestant League more than ever. "I'm not well handled," Henry growls.

But a King has his duty, so he sucks it up and puts on a good front to present Anne at court. She's gracious and sweet as she meets the princesses, and Cromwell makes sure she gets a rousing round of applause.

Before reluctantly heading to his wedding, Henry glares at Cromwell and growls, again, "I am not well handled." Then, just in case that was too subtle, he throws Cromwell up against the wall before stomping out to collect his lucky bride. Cromwell tries to remember what it feels like to swallow.

As for the ceremony, it's a stark contrast to Henry's wedding with Jane. There are almost no guests. Henry glowers. Anne cowers. Cromwell can almost feel the blade on his neck.

The honeymoon isn't any better: sighs, ceiling gazing, and an awkward, uncomfortable silence. Henry's unable to perform.

The next morning, a supremely cranky King informs Cromwell that he likes the queen less now than he did before the wedding night. She has "evil smells" and he's pretty sure "she's no maid."

Cromwell tries to move things along by visiting the Queen and encouraging her to do what it takes to please the King. Anne says she'll continue to try, but Henry's no great turn-on, either. His leg is bloody and pussy and it "smells, yah?" Cromwell lets her know that a speedy pregnancy would be good for everyone.

It's a thought that Lady Bryan echoes later, as she helps Anne prepare for bed. Anne tries to play it cool, but Lady Bryan figures out that the King hasn't touched her yet. A terrified Anne asks, "If I cannot please the King, will he kill me?" Time will tell, but in the meantime, how's that for pressure to perform?

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Henry falls victim to the old bait and switch, but unfortunately, the Duke of Cleves has a strict policy of no refunds, no exchanges. Tension is about the only thing that rises on the honeymoon, and it extends well outside the bedchamber. Don't think it goes unnoticed by Cromwell - or his enemies.

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How amazing would it be to have every single episode of The Tudors at your fingertips? CBC's giving you the chance to win exactly that - a gift basket packed with DVDs from Seasons One, Two, and Three! (It's worth more than $250! And there are other great prizes, too.) The contest starts November 10 and ends November 30. It's easy to enter - check out http://www.cbc.ca/tudors/contest/ for more information.
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British R&B star Joss Stone joins the cast this week, playing the elusive Anne of Cleeves. Given that Anne is famously plain and known to be Henry's least favourite wife, is Stone's ego just a little bit bruised from the casting?

Not at all. "I'm like, 'I'll play anything. I'll do anything on The Tudors," Stone says. "I'm really happy that I ended up being Anne of Cleves because it's such a different thing to do. She isn't exactly the most beautiful of the Queens apparently, but I think that she was very smart, a very intelligent young lady. She didn't lose a head." And that's saying something.

Was she nervous making her first major foray into the world of acting? "I discovered, like two weeks before I got out here, 'Yeah, so, by the way, you have to speak in a German accent. And you have to learn the harpsichord.' So there were those two things that were a little bit worrying. But it's been great fun."

Joss Stone's latest album, her fourth, was released in October, and her big voice and soulful mojo are a pretty far cry from the awkward, mumbling Anne. So kudos to her for pulling off such a convincing transformation on the show. And despite what Henry says, she doesn't look like a horse (you'll see!).

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Henry's back with a vengeance, but he's learned a lesson from all the infighting during his absence: someone needs to be in charge when he's not around. And that someone, he's decided, is Lord Brandon, whom he appoints President of the Council. He's also decided that Reginald Pole's family is officially on his hit list.

It's not long before Sir Francis barges into the Poles' castle and arrests them for suspicion of treason. Suspicion is quickly replaced with hard evidence: Sir Francis tosses their castle and comes up with an old Plantagenet royal banner and a banner linked to the Pilgrimage of Grace.

And with that, it's curtains for the Poles. Even a letter from Mary can't stave off the inevitable. The elder Poles are guilty of treason, and according to Henry, you can't "leave a sapling in the ground" or it will grow up into a tree with 40,000 rebels flocking to its banner (it made sense to him), so even little Henry gets a date with the executioner.

Of course, there's more to it than that. Henry can't help smirking over the whole thing, declaring, "There you are, Cardinal Pole. Now, eat your heart!"

With his enemies disposed of, Henry turns his attention to more pressing matters: choosing Wife Number Four. One candidate in particular captures Henry's imagination: the Duchess of Milan. She's one of Charles V's suggestions, and she has an impressive list of credentials: she's 16, a widow, and supposedly still a virgin. As an added bonus, she's also a fan of cards.

Cromwell is less than thrilled by the prospect of yet another Catholic queen, and pulls some behind-the-scenes maneuvers to make sure that Anne and Amelia of Cleeves are in the mix.

The Duchess of Milan isn't exactly impressed by Henry. She's convinced he's responsible for all of his wives' deaths, including Catherine's (who was her great aunt, by the way). She'd only go for the marriage "if she had two heads" or if the Emperor commands it. Not exactly promising.

Henry's forced to take a break from wife shopping when his leg wound flares up again. He shudders and shivers and howls in bed for a week. This time, the wound hasn't burst on its own to drain the nastiness. When Edward pokes his head into the King's chamber to reassure himself that Henry's not actually dead (rumours are swirling), the sight and smell of the lump in Henry's thigh nearly gags him. He suggests that the barber-surgeons lance it and learns that that could kill Henry.

As the President of the Council, Brandon weighs the risks and, in the end, orders Cromwell to call for the hired knives. It's a good call: Henry is saved.

One of Cromwell's old school chums, John Lambert, isn't so lucky. Turned in for preaching that communion bread is just communion bread and not really the body of Christ, he must either recant or burn. To the King, Cromwell plays down his friendship with Lambert but secretly meets with him in the Tower to beg him to recant. Lambert refuses, deciding he'd rather burn for real than have figuratively flaming pants like Cromwell.

As soon as Henry's up and around, the search for Number Four is back on. Henry decides he needs to see the candidates in person, and for the sake of efficiency, suggests to Ambassador Castillon that the top French contenders be rounded up and herded to a convenient location, so he can look them over in one go. Castillon balks at the idea, and when he snidely suggests that maybe Henry should give them all a romp, too, he's tossed from the Court. So odds are, the next queen won't be French.

Suddenly, the Cleeves sisters aren't looking so bad, and Henry dispatches an envoy to check them out in the flesh. But their brother, Duke William, isn't about to offer up the goods that easily. He plays hard to get, claiming, "You're moving too fast. What do you think my country is, a meat market?" The King's representatives look perplexed--perhaps wondering what a meat market is.

William eventually relents and puts his sisters in front of the King's men. They're outfitted identically, down to the heavy veils over their faces. When the representatives show their displeasure, William barks, "What? Would you see them naked?" While they've got to wonder what he's working so hard to hide, there's not much they can do.

Still, marriage to one of the Cleeves could end up being Henry's last, best option. While he's been on the prowl, Francis and Charles V have become friendly again, and it looks like they might be getting ready to "point their swords against" him. That could be a more disquieting prospect than whatever is behind the veils.

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Henry opens auditions for the next queen, but with his track record, will anyone be interested in competing? Cromwell shifts from widow making to matchmaking, convinced that Henry needs to marry a nice little Lutheran girl. But with Henry's leg putrefying, he may not make next week, never mind another trip down the aisle.

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It's 1538, so time has passed since Jane's death, but Henry is still swallowed up in grief, hanging around her tomb and pledging to join her.

And then out of nowhere Sir Robert Packington, a Member of Parliament and friend of Cromwell, is shot in the head on a London street.

Cromwell believes the murder is meant to send him a message. He refuses to speculate on who is behind it, but he will say this: "Dark forces are at work both inside and outside the Court."

And while those forces must be stopped, Cromwell has more important business at hand: marrying off the King one more time. Yes, sure, Henry finally has an heir, but one boy is hardly enough to guarantee the line. Plus, Henry has shut himself away and refuses to see or speak with anyone, except his Fool, and that just can't be good for business.

We cut to Henry, scribbling furiously in a darkened room. His Fool, Will Somers, surveys the sketches that are hanging everywhere. Henry asks what he thinks. "Are you mad?" the Fool answers, "I don't think! Thinking is dangerous. But I'll wink." He does. Henry chuckles half-heartedly and calls him an idiot.

Henry confides that his sketches are plans for a new palace called Nonsuch, which he wants to rival the French palace at Chambord. The Fool mocks his dream but Henry clings to it, choking, "It's all I have." Besides his three kids, a kingdom, millions of pounds, and countless other castles, he means. (But that's being uncharitable, isn't it?)

Meanwhile, in Caserta, Italy, Reginald Pole is preparing for bed. He holds the papal seal in his hand, murmuring that he feels safe when he has it. So safe that he begs his companion to sleep outside the door.

It's a wise move, as the man no sooner lies down than he has a dagger pressed to his neck. While Tom Seymour holds him in check, Sir Francis rushes past, bursting into Pole's room shouting, "Traitor!" He stabs the bed repeatedly but then realizes that it's empty. Feathers fly while Tom rushes in and spots the open window. Foiled again!

For safekeeping, Prince Edward has been whisked away to Hampton Court, where Lady Bryan (Sir Francis's mum) will oversee his upbringing. Sir Francis drops by for a visit, but while he's admiring the baby, Edward Seymour arrives and orders him to leave. He reminds Sir Francis that the baby is his blood and growls, "I'll thank you in future to leave my nephew alone...and my wife, too." Sir Francis smirks.

Meanwhile, a swordfight unfolds somewhere near the castle, and the King's own Sergeant-at-Arms is killed. Translation: law and order are starting to break down around the Court.

Cromwell is feeling the panic now, and in an attempt to stave off chaos, he calls the King's Council to a meeting. It ends before it can get started, with everyone challenging his authority and Brandon spitting that Cromwell is not to summon him "anymore to anything!"

The King finally gets it together and calls for Cromwell, who manages to bring the subject around to remarriage by reminding Henry that a single heir is not enough. Henry wearily agrees to consider it.

Fully back in the land of the living, Henry takes a stroll with Sir Francis and Lady Misseldon, who's leaving now that Jane's household has been dissolved. Henry invites her to spend one more night with him before she goes.

Then he turns his attention to another pressing matter: that slippery little weasel Pole. Sir Francis speculates that he must be safely in Rome by now, which sets Henry's teeth on edge. He vows, "Though I cannot touch him, I will make him eat his heart!"

Fed up with the lack of progress in creating a doctrine for his new Church, Henry assigns the Bishops some homework: six questions that will form the basis of the faith. When the Bishops present their answers to the King and his Council, it's clear that the new Church will have more than a little Catholic flavour. Lord Brandon, Edward, and the King are pleased, but Cromwell can barely disguise his distaste. There goes his Reformation, up in incense.

While the Bishops drone on about their doctrines and punishments for non-believers, we fade to Henry and Lady Misseldon ripping their clothes off and getting hotter than a couple of heretics on fire.

In the end, we're left with the image of the Fool slouching on the throne and laughing heartily. Make of that what you will.

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