‘The Spanish Princess’ Season 2 Episode 5 Recap: “Plague”

The Spanish Princess Season 2 Episode 5
Ruairi O’Connor and Charlotte Hope in ‘The Spanish Princess’ season 2 episode 5 (Photo Credit: Starz)

Starz’s The Spanish Princess season two episode five finds Queen Catherine (Charlotte Hope) absolutely devastated after discovering her husband, King Henry, is having an affair with her lady-in-waiting, Bessie Blount (Chloe Harris). Episode five opens with Lina (Stephanie Levi-John) asking Catherine how she’s able to bear this betrayal, and Catherine admitting she can’t.

Queen Catherine confesses there’s nothing she can do; King Henry refuses to confide in her or admit what he’s doing. King Henry (Ruairi O’Connor), on the other hand, is jubilantly celebrating the great job he did in arranging Ursula Pole and Henry Stafford’s marriage. He informs Catherine they’ll have a masque performed after the wedding.

Henry leaves but not before saying, “The sun is shining. It’s a beautiful day for a wedding!”

Maggie Pole (Laura Carmichael) and Lina arrive after Henry’s exit and confirm Princess Mary is thriving. Catherine remains detached from her daughter, unwilling to bond with her child.

Following the completion of the wedding, Meg (Georgie Henley) confronts King Henry and demands her inheritance. He refuses, using the excuse she failed to keep the peace in Scotland. He reminds her she was prohibited from marrying if she wanted to remain regent following her King James’ death. It was her choice to disobey and hastily wed Angus Douglas.

Angered, Meg turns to Catherine and wonders how she can bear her “lying pig” of a brother. Meg warns she’s going to return to Scotland and reclaim what’s hers – with or without Henry’s help.

The masque commences and King Henry takes Queen Catherine’s hand while watching the dancers dressed as wild cats. Henry’s beaming while watching this performance, and Catherine takes that opportunity to ask her husband to come to her room that evening. He promises he will.

King Henry gives the performance a standing ovation. Catherine’s momentary joy vanishes when the female dancer removes her mask and is revealed to be Bessie. Those in attendance begin whispering as they realize what’s happened.

Thomas More (Andrew Buchan) and Maggie Pole have a quiet chat outside, away from the partying, and Maggie reveals her daughter seems content with Henry Stafford as a husband. She confesses she doesn’t enjoy carousing, and instead likes to slip away. As they talk, they notice William Compton (Luke Mullins) nearby. William falls to the ground, dead, and Thomas pulls Maggie away. William has the plague.

Maggie gives instructions to evacuate the court. No one is to come near this area.

Queen Catherine and King Henry hurriedly prepare to leave court and Thomas Wolsey (Philip Cumbus) is able to easily convince Henry to take refuge at his Hampton Court Palace rather than Windsor. Catherine’s not pleased with this change, but Wolsey has his way having usurped her position of influence over King Henry.

Maggie Pole, Thomas More, and Oviedo (Aaron Cobham) remain behind as everyone else heads off to Hampton Court. Maggie and Thomas may have been infected, and Oviedo’s been ordered by King Henry to guard the palace. William’s body is burned as are the items of clothing Maggie, Thomas, and Oviedo wore while tending to his body.

Despite the circumstances, Maggie and Thomas seem happy to spend time alone together.

During their carriage ride to Hampton, Catherine assures Bessie that Henry will tire of her. She labels Bessie just a temporary plaything, and she’s sure Henry will return to her. She promises Bessie will eventually be cast out of the palace.

As they speak, Bessie becomes nauseous. It’s revealed Bessie is pregnant with Henry’s child.

Edward Stafford (Olly Rix) greets Catherine as she exits the carriage at Hampton Court and both are amazed at this court’s opulence and how its appearance is even more impressive than Westminster Palace. Where did Wolsey’s money come from? It definitely wasn’t inherited.

Edward believes Wolsey’s only hosting them to increase his chances at being named Chancellor.

Queen Catherine meets in private with King Henry and delivers the news Bessie’s pregnant. Henry asks if it’s his and Catherine reveals she knows of no other man who’s been bedding Bessie.

Henry commands Catherine fetch Bessie and once she’s located, Bessie joins them and admits Henry took her virginity. He’s the only man who’s ever shared her bed. Catherine wants her sent away, but Henry shocks her by demanding Bessie stay and be taken care of. He believes Bessie will deliver him a son and doesn’t appear concerned it will be a bastard.

The Spanish Princess Season 2
Georgie Henley stars in ‘The Spanish Princess’ season 2 (Photo Courtesy of Starz)

Elsewhere, Meg returns to Scotland and asks the Duke of Albany (Gordon Kennedy) to turn over custody of her sons. He calls for them to be brought to her and assures Meg she can visit them whenever she likes. He reminds Meg he’s regent and warns blood will flow if the future king of Scotland is returned to the Earl of Angus’ custody. He reveals Angus has made himself at home at Holyrood and has been sleeping with Jane Stewart.

Over at Hampton Court, a lavish feast is underway as Charlie Brandon (Jordan Renzo) and Edward Stafford pepper Wolsey with questions as to the source of his wealth. Charlie asks about a hidden mistress and Catherine appears to be on the verge of tears.

Wolsey reveals the Pope has elevated him to cardinal. King Henry leads a toast to Wolsey as Catherine has had enough and leaves the table. Wolsey seizes that opportunity to embarrass the Queen on her way out of the room, leading his own toast to King Henry who “sires another child.” Those gathered are shocked, unaware Catherine’s pregnant. She confirms she’s not and Henry clarifies Bessie is carrying his child.

“This time I’m certain it’s a boy,” says King Henry, accepting congratulations from those at this table.

Later, King Henry joins Queen Catherine in her room, sending Bessie out. Catherine confesses she doesn’t want Bessie tending to her any longer, and Henry assures her Bessie means nothing to him. Henry explains that if Bessie can have a son, then he’ll know he’s not the problem – Catherine is.

Wolsey has Henry convinced God is punishing them.

Catherine leaves her room later and encounters Edward who shares important news. The French are paying Wolsey to influence King Henry on their behalf.

Back at Westminster, the body count rises as more people – including many children – fall victim to the plague. Maggie’s in the throne room when Thomas joins her, and she comments about the quietness. There aren’t any spies or gossips intruding on their peace. She recalls her youth in that very chamber and how she felt at home there, able to speak her mind freely.

With Thomas urging her on, she confesses what she’d like to speak about without any repercussions or judgment. Her private thoughts would reflect her desire for her mother’s touch and memories of only good things that happened before she lost her innocence. She also confesses she’d speak of love.

Queen Mary (Sai Bennett) writes to her brother, King Henry, to express sorrow over the news of the plague. She assures her brother she’s been a dutiful sister and reveals King Louis has died. (Their sex life might have played a part in his heart giving out.) After it’s confirmed she isn’t pregnant, she’ll be free to marry whomever she chooses.

Queen Catherine catches Bessie crying, and Bessie explains Wolsey told her she’d be sent away if she delivers a girl. Her family won’t take her back since she’s had sex out of wedlock. Bessie reveals they’ve told her she’ll have to make her living on the streets.

Apparently, King Henry had promised she’d be fine no matter what. Catherine isn’t sympathetic and demands Bessie pay better attention to Princess Mary.

Despite Wolsey’s attempt to shut her out, Queen Catherine speaks with King Henry as he’s looking over a list of prospective suitors. He’s reneging on his agreement and is attempting to figure out the best future husband for his now widowed sister, Mary. Catherine reminds him of his promise and is angry she brokered the deal he’s breaking.

Catherine shares the details of Wolsey’s wealth and how the French are paying him to speak with Henry. Henry reveals he actually set up the arrangement and gave Wolsey his blessing to accept bribes. Henry knows she, Edward Stafford, and Charlie Brandon mock Wolsey, but he claims Wolsey’s the one who understands him best and does his bidding.

King Henry gives Charlie Brandon an order to ride to France and fetch Mary, despite the fact the plague is still raging.

Catherine writes to Mary and warns her Henry isn’t going to honor his agreement. She explains Charlie will bring her home and suggests she do what she must before she returns to court.

Over in Scotland, Meg confronts Angus (Andrew Rothney) about his betrayal. He claims his plan was to keep her children safe and that Jane Stewart means nothing. Meg’s enraged but Angus continues to plead his case, saying he only slept with Jane because he was lonely, she was there, and he has needs. Jane finally speaks up and reveals they’ve been sleeping together since before he married Meg.

Meg kicks both Angus and Jane out of Holyrood, warning Angus never to return. “I will find a way to end this marriage or I will die in the attempt! You can have my word on that!” warns Meg.

Queen Catherine leaves King Henry’s bed chamber to discover Wolsey lurking outside, having eavesdropped on their lovemaking. He advises her that it won’t matter she’s smart, fierce, or capable if she can’t deliver a son.

Over in France, Mary plays the part of a grieving wife in public. In private, she’s ecstatic to reunite with Charlie Brandon. They catch up on news, and Charlie reveals Henry’s not the man he used to be.

Mary asks Charlie why she should be faithful to Henry when he lies and uses them. She believes they should make their own decisions and should choose each other. Mary doesn’t think Henry will take drastic action given she’s his sister and Charlie’s his best friend. She threatens to enter a nunnery if Charlie won’t have her. When he tells her she can’t, Mary replies, “Let’s fall in love then. Fall with me, Charlie Brandon.”

They kiss and sparks fly.

Lina finds Queen Catherine praying and reminds her she needs to eat. She confesses to having evil thoughts that involve the deaths of Bessie and her unborn child. Lina assures her everyone has evil thoughts and that God will forgive them. Catherine believes Bessie will be a good mother and thinks maybe she should be magnanimous. That could be God’s wish.

Catherine worries Henry’s planning on casting her out. Lina comforts Catherine, sure Henry would never do that to his wife and Queen.

Back in France, Charlie and Mary wed. They’re very much in love and their wedding night is filled with passionate lovemaking.

Days later, Lina’s overjoyed to receive a letter from Oviedo saying the plague has passed. Catherine’s also received a letter, but this one isn’t going to lift any spirits. She informs Henry that Mary and Charlie have wed, and initially Henry laughs. He quickly becomes enraged when he realizes Catherine isn’t joking. He threatens to behead them both and Catherine reminds him Mary was promised she could marry whomever she chose.

Henry believes Charlie’s committed treason, angered he would betray their friendship. Catherine suggests he read the letter, explaining they’re begging for his forgiveness. Catherine confirms she sent Mary a letter suggesting she make her own decision about marriage, but she did not tell her to wed Charlie. She adds, “They did that out of love. We were those lovers once. Perhaps you have forgotten.”

After he sends Wolsey away, Catherine lays it all out. She reminds him he never gave Meg her inheritance, he told Mary she could choose her second husband, and he promised her fidelity. Catherine even points out his promise to Bessie to feed and house her, but that was also a lie.

King Henry fights back by suggesting she broke her promise to him by not delivering a son. Since she failed, he’ll treat her as he pleases. As Catherine turns to leave an emotional Henry pleads, “I have a need for something I can not get. Give it to me, Catherine. Give me a son.”

Maggie and Thomas have one final quiet evening together. Thomas is introspective as he talks about never wanting to bring pain or anguish upon his children. He promises to always cherish his time alone with Maggie in their palace, saying it brought him great joy.

Maggie realizes there will never be anything more than friendship between her and Thomas.

Catherine writes to Mary and confirms Henry’s angry, suggesting they don’t return to England for now.

The time arrives and Lina attends to Bessie with assistance from Mary and Anne Boleyn. Her screams draw in Catherine and it’s obvious mom and baby are in distress. Lina explains Bessie’s unable to push the baby out, and Bessie’s panicking that both she and the baby will die. Catherine leaps into action, grabs a knife and performs an episiotomy. (Lina initially assumed Catherine was going to stab either Bessie or the baby.)

Bessie delivers a boy. He appears healthy and Catherine immediately wraps him up and takes him to King Henry. “Henry, this day I give to you a son,” says Catherine.

Henry cradles the child and as he’s walking out to give thanks to God, he turns and thanks Catherine.