‘The White Princess’ Episode 2 Recap: Hearts and Minds

The White Princess Jodie Comer and Jacob Collins-Levy
Jodie Comer (Elizabeth of York) and Jacob Collins-Levy (King Henry VII) in Starz’ ‘The White Princess’

Episode two of Starz’ The White Princess begins with Elizabeth of York (who goes by Lizzie) being dressed and told King Henry VII (Jacob Collins-Levy) has requested her presence. Lizzie (Jodie Comer) has a sweet-but-shy smile as she bows before her husband. Their lips nearly touch as she whispers, “My sickness is almost past,” when he enquires about her health.

King Henry VII, Lizzie, and their family and friends are entertained by a troupe of actors, and Henry and Lizzie seem content in each other’s presence. While the entertainment continues, Lady Margaret Beaufort (Michelle Fairley) welcomes Bishop Morton (Kenneth Cranham) to court. He’s been appointed to the Royal Council and is King Henry’s new Chancellor to England. He asks about Lizzie and Lady Margaret points out it’s her mother, Dowager Queen Elizabeth (Essie Davis), who needs watching.

Lizzie joins her mother once the performance ends and confesses her face aches from keeping up a happy appearance. Lizzie wonders how she’ll be able to continue the masquerade and her mother tells her to remain positive. Their chat is interrupted by Lady Margaret who would like to introduce Bishop Morton, however Elizabeth cuts her off, using the excuse that Lizzie needs to retire to her room to change her dress because it’s putting pressure on the baby.

Before their ladies can arrive, Elizabeth reminds her daughter that Royal Progress is crucial as it can be used to determine who is still loyal to York and who has committed to the Tudors. Lizzie reveals Richard considered Francis Lovell to be completely trustworthy, and mother and daughter determine Lovell’s the man most likely to come to their aid.

Lady Margaret explains the point of the Royal Progress to King Henry, informing him it’s important he rides through England to make his presence known. Jasper Tudor (Vincent Regan) agrees about the importance of the Royal Progress and that Henry must look regal while visiting his subjects. Henry’s warned the wounds are fresh and there may be skirmishes, and it’s best he carries a sword.

Lizzie asks Henry what route they’ll be taking, explaining she has friends she’d like to visit if possible. It will help them sell the idea that York and Tudor are united, and when Henry protests about her desire to visit people who supported Richard, suggesting that by not visiting them he’s giving them power. Henry gives in and agrees she can visit her old friends, but the meetings will take place in public. As he walks away, Lizzie smiles.

Jasper and Lady Margaret tell Henry cargo ships have been attacked in the English Channel, and he surprises them by requesting a change in his Royal Progress to include York. When they protest, he stands firm in his decision.

While her young daughters play, Elizabeth asks Ruth, a servant girl, if she can trust her to convey a letter that won’t end up in Lady Margaret’s hands. The servant agrees, and Elizabeth takes a letter Lizzie’s just finished writing to Francis Lovell, hides it in her dress, and hands Ruth a letter addressed to Harry Stafford. The letter switcheraoo is obviously to get the fake letter into Lady Margaret’s hands.

The letter to Harry was penned by Elizabeth and in it she confides that Lizzie actually likes King Henry and is no longer fully committed to York. Ruth, as expected, immediately delivers the letter to Lady Margaret and Elizabeth smiles as she envisions Lady Margaret reading that Lizzie’s disappointed in Henry’s performance in bed and in his inability to obtain an erection. Lady Margaret tosses the letter into the fireplace while outside the real letter to Frances Lovell is retrieved by the loyal stable boy, Ned.

Lady Margaret visits with Lizzie’s younger sister, Cecily (Suki Waterhouse), asking how she’s getting on and if she needs new dresses. Cecily, who doesn’t seem to mind speaking ill of her sister, confides in Lady Margaret that she’s been forgotten while her mom and sister are thick as thieves.

As Lizzie is packing for the Royal Progress, Lady Margaret visits her chambers to suggest she opt out of the adventure because it could be dangerous to her health. Elizabeth agrees and says she’ll step in and go in Lizzie’s place, since they both represent York and it’s important to show unity between the houses.

That night as they prepare for bed, Lizzie tells her husband it was his mother’s idea she remain behind. If she can’t go, Lizzie wants Henry to write to her from the road. He agrees, believing it will demonstrate theirs is a real marriage.

Dowager Queen Elizabeth promises her daughter she’ll write and Lady Margaret announces Bishop Morton needs to speak with her about Lizzie before she leaves. It’s a trick, and Elizabeth is locked up with her young daughters. She’ll be kept in the room under guard until King Henry VII returns from the Royal Progress.

As the group prepares to leave, Henry questions why neither Lizzie nor Dowager Queen Elizabeth will be accompanying him. Lady Margaret says she wants the time to do some bonding with her son, confessing it’s been lonely without him.

Elizabeth works quickly, enlisting the children to watch for Ned through the window. She writes a note using her own blood.

Meanwhile, Cecily, Teddy Plantagenet, and Margaret Plantagenet (Rebecca Benson) are keeping Lizzie company. They’re restless and want to play, but Bishop Morton quickly shuts down their fun by announcing all the public rooms have been closed until the Royal Progress is completed. Lizzie asks for her grandmother, the Duchess Cecily, and is told she’ll be brought to her once she returns to her rooms.

Ned’s spotted outside and Elizabeth attempts to get his attention by tossing out her ring. Unfortunately, he’s already passed by and the ring falls a few feet behind him, unnoticed.

Duchess Cecily (Caroline Goodall) is brought to Lizzie’s room and everyone’s happy to see her and disappointed when she reveals she can’t stay long because she’s leaving England. She’s afraid to remain due to the barbarians, apologizing to Lizzie for her plight. She tells Lizzie to remain faithful to her mother and then leaves, saying she’s going to stay at her daughter’s palace in Burgundy.

Elizabeth remains at the window, weaving a spell to get Ned to return to find the ring. It works and Ned’s horse rears up right in front of the ring. Ned spots Elizabeth in the window and she tosses down the letter. The letter is to Frances Lovell informing him both she and Lizzie are being held in Westminster against their wishes. She continues, saying the Tudors are a canker that must be cut out, begging Frances to show his true colors now. “Do it and we’ll put Edward Plantagenet on the throne and a White Rose will grace England once again,” writes Elizabeth.

Ned delivers the letter to Frances Lovell as King Henry and his group make it to York, riding through the streets to the sound of cheers and applause. Henry’s welcomed and it appears everyone assumed he wouldn’t make it because of all the sickness. That takes Henry by surprise as his mother failed to tell him about the diseases spreading throughout England. Chaos breaks out as King Henry is attacked and stabbed in the arm by Frances Lovell.

King Henry is rushed inside where his mother begs to attend to his wound. He’s angry she didn’t tell him about the sickness and upset he’s already been set upon by rebels. Lady Margaret confidently tells him eventually the Yorkist rebels will accept him, but King Henry reminds her he never settled and remained steadfast in his fight for the throne. Lady Margaret says Jasper is hunting the rebels as she speaks, and they will come down hard on them when they’re captured.

Jasper leads the men on the hunt and they’re right behind the escaping Frances Lovell. As they’re about to catch him they come upon a group of men in armor on horseback. It’s a trap and Jasper commands his men to turn around and return to York.

Meanwhile, the servant girl Ruth falls dead in the courtyard.

Lizzie’s bored and wonders why they haven’t received a single letter from either Henry or her mother. She sends Margaret to the stables to find Ned and ask if he’s received any letters. Margaret makes it outside only to discover dead bodies, covered but not yet buried. Ned rides up and tells her to go back inside because it’s the plague or something similar. He also reveals Elizabeth never left and is locked in the tower.

Margaret tells Cecily that people are dropping dead all over England and that her mother is locked up close by. Cecily says they should keep this a secret from Lizzie because they don’t want her to get sick and hurt the baby.

Margaret returns to Lizzie’s side and lies, covering the fact she’s upset by saying it’s because there aren’t any notes.

King Henry pens a note to Lizzie informing her he was stabbed by Frances Lovett. He believes Lizzie’s to blame and his note drips with anger. “You’ll be irked to hear that despite your best endeavors, your husband and the father of your unborn child still breathes,” writes Henry. He also warns her that he knows her mother is in on this and if she had made the trip, he would have had her killed for this betrayal.

Lizzie’s astonished to learn her mother is locked up, and Margaret confesses they didn’t tell her because of the sickness. Lizzie rushes to find her mother, with Cecily, Margaret, and Teddy in tow. They tell her everyone is afraid because people are dying and Lizzie realizes no one is helping the people.

King Henry and his traveling companions remain safe inside in York, but he’s getting antsy. Henry and Lady Margaret exchange harsh words, and then Lady Margaret reveals a new plan. She wants them to meet King James of Scotland and offer him Elizabeth, killing two birds with one stone. King Henry believes that would just allow Elizabeth to attack England with the Scottish army and the Northern lords, effectively returning York to power.

Lizzie demands the guards open the treasury so she can pay for doctors, food, and burials. Bishop Morton arrives with the key, but he refuses to follow her orders. She then instructs the guards to kick the door down, insisting this is what the King would want done. Bishop Morton commands the guards to stop but they don’t listen and break the lock. Lizzie enters the vault and hands Margaret and Teddy money to give to the guards for the people, reminding them to keep their distance and stay safe. Bishop Morton threatens repercussions, and Lizzie threatens him back. She will push the baby from her body right now if he doesn’t tell her where her mother is being held.

Lizzie’s mother is brought to her room, and Elizabeth fakes illness to chase Cecily and the Bishop from the room. She believes the sickness is actually to their advantage in that the people will blame King Henry for bringing it to England. It will make those who survive rise up against the newly crowned King. Lizzie doesn’t support her mother’s reasoning, telling her she provided money, food, and physicians to heal the sick. Lizzie asks if Elizabeth wrote to Frances, dismayed her mother set the plan to kill King Henry in motion. Lizzie’s upset her mother did this behind her back, preferring to have organized a battle – not an assassination. Lizzie admits she doesn’t want King Henry to die, just to be removed from the throne. Elizabeth says that’s not possible and she realizes Lizzie’s changed. But Lizzie fights back saying Elizabeth was too obvious and now King Henry will likely lock them all up which won’t help York.

Outside, the guards make their way through the crowd alongside a carriage with young Margaret and Teddy inside. They toss out money to the crowd and Teddy takes off his mask while the crowd cheers.

The White Princess Jodie Comer
Jodie Comer (Elizabeth of York) in Starz’ ‘The White Princess.’

Lizzie writes to Henry, saying she had no part in the assassination attempt. “However we move through this mess we’ve made of England, know this at least. It was not me. And now that I know that my mother is imprisoned, I can rest assured that it was not her. So if England comes against you, you must look inside yourself to find the cause,” writes Lizzie.

King Henry reads the letter and Jasper returns from the unsuccessful chase. It’s suggested Henry return to London because of the unrest and because some soldiers have changed sides. Apparently the rebels want the Earl of Warwick – Teddy Plantagenet – placed on the throne. As King Henry writes a letter, Jasper confides in Lady Margaret that the people believe Henry brought the sickness and his reign is cursed.

Guards arrive and take Teddy into custody under King Henry’s orders. Margaret screams as her brother is taken to the Tower. She runs to get help from Lizzie, believing he’s been taken away because he gave money away to the people. Cecily says that’s not the reason; it’s because he’s a threat to Henry’s claim to the throne. Cecily knows this because Lady Margaret wrote to her about the impending arrest. Lizzie angrily demands Cecily leave the room while Margaret continues to beg for help in freeing her brother. Lizzie comforts Margaret, embracing her in a lengthy hug.

King Henry asks his mother how royal he looks, returning home early in shame. However, as he gets closer to Westminster the townsfolk greet his arrival and bow to their King. Some hold up coins they were given, thanking him for saving them from the sickness. Bishop Morton explains to Henry that Lizzie broke into the treasury and threatened the heir’s life. Lady Margaret believes Lizzie should be severely punished for stealing from the Crown.

Lizzie meets Henry alone, bowing to her husband but saying in a very determined voice that you can’t leave people dying in the streets when there’s a way to help them. She’s ready to accept her punishment and Henry says she always knows just how to win over the people. Lizzie replies that you reap what you sew and fear breeds dissent and hatred. Henry admits that’s just the opposite of what his mother believes, and Lizzie wants to know who gave the order to lock up Teddy. Henry wants to know what else he could possibly do when the rebels were calling for Teddy to be king, and Lizzie suggests he could win them over by releasing Teddy.

Lizzie asks for her mother to be released from her room, and Henry wonders if Lizzie really believes Elizabeth has her best interests at heart. Henry tells Lizzie people hate him and love Teddy, and they love her. The people praised him for her actions, only taking a knee because of her. Henry surprises Lizzie by admitting he owes her his thanks, adding, “If only we could work together we could be a King for England.” However, he knows she’ll always hate him.

King Henry’s informed Lovett has made it to Burgundy which is now a rebel stronghold. Lady Margaret suggests they send an army, but Henry decides a peace envoy would be better. He selects Jasper and Lord Strange to lead the mission. As Henry’s walking away, Lady Margaret asks if Lizzie was punished for stealing the gold. Henry replies, “I thanked her.”

The episode ends with a power play between Lady Margaret and Lizzie. Lizzie finds Henry alone and places his hand over the baby as it kicks. Lady Margaret interrupts to demand Lizzie will now retire to her room for confinement until the baby is born so as not to overly stimulate the womb. Lizzie reminds the King it’s his choice whether to obey and whether to stay away from her bed.

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