Love, Loss, and Loose Ends

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.