‘The White Princess’ Season 1 Episode 4 Recap: The Pretender

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The White Princess Jodie Comer and Jacob Collins-Levy

Jodie Comer (Lizzie) and Jacob Collins-Levy (King Henry VII) in ‘The White Princess’ (Photo Credit: Starz)

Starz’ The White Princess season one episode four picks up with the Duchess of Burgundy (Joanne Whalley) in bed where she’s been for days following Mary’s tragic and unexpected death. Duchess Cecily (Caroline Goodall) attempts to convince her to get up, but the Duchess of Burgundy initially ignores her. She finally makes up her mind to rise and enters the throne room. Hugging Mary’s daughter, she tells Duchess Cecily they must plan their revenge on the Tudors. “Elizabeth will have her war,” says the Duchess.

Queen Elizabeth (Jodie Comer) and King Henry (Jacob Collins-Levy) lie awake in bed, face to face and on the verge of intimacy. They smile, enjoying each other’s company until Lady Margaret (Michelle Fairley) barges in without knocking. She announces Jasper’s returned from Burgundy.

King Henry is informed the visit didn’t go well because Mary died while racing Lord Strange. The Duchess of Burgundy blamed the Tudors and turned against King Henry, however Jasper doesn’t know what the Duchess has planned. Everyone fears the worst. It’s also revealed Lady Margaret is currently setting up politically advantageous marriages for Lizzie’s sisters.

Jasper (Vincent Regan) rushes after Lady Margaret following the meeting, and she’s angry at him for ruining their chance at peace. She also seems to believe he grew close to the Duchess while he was on the diplomatic mission, and her jealousy is barely kept in check.


Lizzie takes a walk cradling Arthur when Maggie Plantagenet (Rebecca Benson) catches up to her and asks if Mary’s death might actually be beneficial to Teddy. Maggie’s hopeful the Duchess will send men to rescue Teddy, but Lizzie explains this now means her sisters must all be strategically married to Tudors or Tudor faithful. It dawns on Maggie that means she’ll be married off too, and she grows concerned she’ll have to move away from her brother. Lizzie swears she will have a say in whoever is chosen to marry any one of her sisters or Maggie, saying she’ll take a stand against Lady Margaret if necessary.

Over at the Court of Burgundy, Francis Lovell (Anthony Flanagan) meets with the Duchess of Burgundy and Duchess Cecily. He’s gathered young English boys for the Duchess of Burgundy’s inspection, and she selects one to impersonate Teddy. The Duchess then pens a letter to Dowager Queen Elizabeth to be delivered to the Abbey. She apologizes for not writing earlier and has provided ink and paper for Elizabeth to write to Ireland for support.

Lizzie joins her sister Cecily (Suki Waterhouse) and Lady Margaret who are busy plotting weddings for Lizzie’s sisters, Maggie, and baby Arthur. Lizzie protests Arthur’s too young, but Lady Margaret says Henry plans to wed his son to the Spanish princess, Catherine of Aragon. Lizzie says she’ll discuss Arthur’s betrothal but won’t bind him to the decision, and she informs Lady Margaret she’s going to select Maggie’s husband herself. And while she’s demanding things, she also says she’s taking over the Queen’s rooms that Lady Margaret currently occupies.

Lady Margaret isn’t having any of Lizzie’s interference and tells her Maggie will marry Richard Pole, a loyal commander of King Henry’s. Cecily, of course, has to put in her two cents, claiming Richard Pole is a vicious brute. Lady Margaret says this is Henry’s decision and it’s settled. She also insists she’s not moving out of the rooms her son gave her to live in. Proving it’s unwise to cross Lizzie, the Queen fights back by suggesting Jasper Tudor should marry her mother’s sister, Catherine Woodville. Lizzie knows the impact her decision will have on Lady Margaret, given how much she secretly cares for Jasper. Lady Margaret’s face reveals just how much she hates Jasper marrying another woman, yet she says nothing as Lizzie leaves.

Lizzie finds King Henry and demands his mother be removed from the Queen’s rooms. Her timing is rotten as Henry’s just learned Teddy has escaped from the tower. They enter the tower and Teddy’s still there, securely locked up and under guard. Lizzie’s confused about what happened and King Henry blames the rumor on Burgundy. If they claim Teddy’s free, then they can use Teddy’s name to raise an army against King Henry.

Lizzie has a plan that involves Henry allowing the real Teddy to attend Cecily’s wedding. That will prove Teddy is still with them, and they can show he’s a valued member of their household. If he’s at the wedding, he can’t be in Burgundy. After the wedding, they can keep him instead of returning him to the tower where he’s scared and lonely. “You are better than this. Don’t be so threatened by a child. Show the world the man you are and let him live with us again,” pleads Lizzie. He agrees and Lizzie hugs him tight.

Cecily dresses for her wedding, practically begging Lizzie for compliments on her dress. Maggie lets Teddy know he’ll get to walk outside as part of the wedding party, telling him he must be good and not speak.

Lady Margaret is, of course, angry Teddy’s been allowed out. She meets with Bishop Morton (Kenneth Cranham) to make sure he has someone in the crowd who will insure Teddy is tossed back in the tower.

As Cecily, King Henry, and Queen Elizabeth ride through the crowd they’re greeted with cheers and applause. Everything is going well until a woman (paid by Bishop Morton) yells that she supports King Edward (‘Teddy’), the Earl of Warwick. Teddy’s happy to hear this and yells out, inciting more of the crowd to call for him to be King. Lady Margaret sends the guards after Teddy and then fighting breaks out between York loyalists and those pledged to support King Henry. Teddy’s hauled away as selfishly Cecily tries to make it all about her, complaining they’ve just spoiled her wedding day.

King Henry’s angry and frustrated he let Teddy out and that men who pledged fealty have turned. Others who remain loyal fled after the limited uprising, believing this has done King Henry harm. King Henry’s not sure if Lizzie planned this chain of events, but she argues it wasn’t what she wanted. Lady Margaret intrudes to say it was Dowager Queen Elizabeth’s fault, claiming Elizabeth paid the woman in the crowd and it will lead to further attacks against King Henry’s claim to the throne. She suggests Elizabeth be killed and Lizzie can’t believe King Henry’s considering it. He believes he’s unloved by the people and they laugh behind his back. “I would kill for less than that,” says Henry, striding away with his mother.

Next, we return to Cecily’s wedding ceremony. She looks angry and not at all like a joyful bride. King Henry’s also in a foul mood and Maggie asks Lizzie to convince the King this was not Teddy’s fault. Lizzie tells her to be patient and then confesses she hasn’t met Maggie’s betrothed.

Jasper speaks quietly to Lady Margaret, agreeing to wed whoever they’ve selected for him. However, he’d rather stay at court with her.

Lizzie makes sure her ladies are passed out drunk after the wedding and sneaks out of the castle. She makes her way to the Abbey to visit her mother.

In Burgundy, plans are moving forward to go to war with King Henry. Francis informs the Duchess Ireland is with them. She tests the young boy she selected to masquerade as Teddy and he mistakenly answers when she calls Lambert. The Duchess is angry he reacted to his old name, scolding him he is Edward, the Earl of Warwick. While the Duchess of Burgundy speaks to “Teddy,” Francis explains to Duchess Cecily this young boy will be going into battle and that’s why he needs to practice sword fighting. Francis says this fake Teddy must lead the army to England or else there’s no point in the masquerade.

Lizzie’s little sisters cheer her unexpected arrival at the Abbey, giving their missing sister hugs before she can speak to their mother. Lizzie apologizes to her mother she didn’t come sooner and Dowager Queen Elizabeth (Essie Davis) asks after Arthur. When Lizzie asks if she’s been in contact with anyone, Elizabeth lies and says she hasn’t heard from the Duchess of Burgundy, not quite trusting her daughter’s loyalties. Lizzie reveals Lady Margaret wants her dead and so does the King because of Teddy’s kidnapping. Lizzie begs her mom to tell her if she knows anything about the Duchess’ plans, but Elizabeth continues to deny being in touch with anyone outside the Abbey.

Lizzie returns to the castle and is met by King Henry who believes she betrayed him. “You lied to me and you are as treacherous as she is,” he says through gritted teeth. Lizzie chases after him as he walks away, confessing she only went because he threatened to execute her mother and she wanted to see if her mother had any knowledge that would help them against Burgundy. Lizzie tells her husband the truth, that her mother wouldn’t tell her anything about any plans. She yells out to Henry as he’s leaving that her mother doesn’t trust her. He stops as Lizzie confesses, “She saw before I did myself that I am Tudor now. The birth of Arthur makes me so, whether I like it or not because I will never stand against him. Our son puts me on your side forever.” Henry looks unsure as Lizzie says their family is all she has now.

The Duchess of Burgundy and her men set sail to Ireland, with “Teddy” seasick and asking to return home. The Duchess has no sympathy and won’t agree to let him go home. Duchess Cecily does not support this decision and declares she will not be part of any of this.

News arrives that the Burgundy army is in Ireland and the Irish army is joining the war. King Henry’s trusted council, including Lizzie, listen as the King declares he’ll ride out at dawn to defend his crown.

Jasper asks Lady Margaret for a walk, confessing he’s been lonely and if circumstances were different he’d marry her. He acknowledges they’ve dedicated their lives to putting their son, Henry, on the throne and now that’s done, he wants her to ask for an annulment so they can finally be together in the open. He asks her to think about it while he’s at war.

The White Princess Jodie Comer

Jodie Comer stars in ‘The White Princess’ (Photo Credit: Starz)

Lizzie brings Arthur to Henry as he lies awake in bed. She asks him not to fight, to lead his men into battle but not personally participate in the fighting. He replies, “If I were to die, you’d be rid of me. Your mother safe, your cousin free to take the throne.” Lizzie, tears in her eyes, asks how she can prove her loyalty, believing asking him not to die should convince him she’s on his side. She snips hair from Arthur and gives it to Henry, wrapping her hands around his and asking for him to promise not to fight and to come home safe. She kisses Henry’s hand as Arthur sleeps on the bed by his father’s side.

Army camps are shown and King Henry kneels in prayer. On the opposite side, the Duchess of Burgundy hands the fake Teddy a white rose to carry with him into battle. At home, Lizzie attends Maggie’s wedding.

The battle begins and poor Teddy looks terrified as the English army rides toward him. The battle is bloody and brutal, and Jasper is wounded while King Henry watches over the battlefield but doesn’t personally engage.

At home, Lizzie receives a letter from her mother who apologizes for lying to her about being able to send letters. Her sister Cecily whispers that Lady Margaret believes their mother funded the York army. Elizabeth’s letter reveals she had a vision Arthur will never be King. She also asks her daughter to turn on King Henry and back her missing brother’s claim to the throne. Lizzie reveals the note’s contents to Cecily, telling her sister their mother wants Arthur to die. Cecily wants Lizzie not to listen to their mother who has never been on their side and only does what’s best for herself.

Lizzie and Cecily help prepare Maggie for her wedding night. Maggie’s frightened of this stranger who comes to her bed but Sir Richard’s surprisingly nice. (He is missing an arm from battle.) He confesses he doesn’t like to be the center of attention and says he’s beneath her but will try to be a good husband. She cries a little, confessing she doesn’t want to move away from her brother. Richard reassures her all she has to do is ask and they’ll return to London for visits. He genuinely wants to make her happy, and she tries out her new name: Maggie Pole.

Lizzie visits Lady Margaret, telling her she’s difficult to figure out. She has love for Henry but there’s so much hate inside her, and Lizzie believes Lady Margaret would have been happier had she married Jasper. Lady Margaret doesn’t take this well and storms off. She decides she will allow Jasper to marry Catherine Woodville after all.

Cecily delivers the good news to Lizzie that they’ve won and their mother has lost. Cecily also reveals she will be leaving court to live with her new husband at his castle. Cecily briefly kisses her sister, throwing in a jab that she’ll be happier than her sister, and then she leaves to join her husband.


King Henry, Jasper, and the men return and they’ve brought Lambert Simnel, the boy the Duchess masqueraded as Teddy, back with them as a prisoner. Jasper’s badly injured and cries out in pain while dismounting his horse. After King Henry proclaims the traitor will be dealt with, Lady Margaret speaks up and says the traitor Dowager Queen Elizabeth also needs to be dealt with.

Jasper approaches Lady Margaret and she looks down and turns away. He understands she’s declined to be with him.

Queen Elizabeth sits beside King Henry when he addresses his people. Henry thanks his loyal and trusted men, grateful for their performance on the battlefield. He promises they will be rewarded, but first he must deal with two traitors. One is the York woman who has plotted against him and the other is Lambert Simnel, the fake Teddy. The penalty for treason is death, and the crowd cheers when he asks if they should be killed. Only one person – Richard Pole – speaks up when he asks who wouldn’t see them put to death. He speaks on behalf of Lambert, saying the young boy is just a pawn and should be spared.

Lady Margaret speaks against Dowager Queen Elizabeth, reminding her son Elizabeth rallied the Irish and paid them in gold. Henry then reminds her he won, despite Elizabeth’s plotting. Lambert quietly says, “Please, your grace,” and King Henry delivers his verdict. Lambert will live and will work in the palace kitchens. He then focuses his attention on Lizzie, telling her she may inform her mother on their next visit that “the King is in good health and sends his regards.” Those gathered laugh and Lizzie grabs Henry’s hands, thanking him for sparing her mother. Meanwhile, Lady Margaret shoots daggers with her eyes at Lizzie.

Jasper, walking with a limp, meets once more with Lady Margaret. She informs him he will marry the wealthy Catherine Woodville, Dowager Queen Elizabeth’s sister, and that King Henry has given his blessing.

King Henry shows Lizzie to the Queen’s rooms, confessing he made his mother vacate them. They are now Lizzie’s, reminding her he’s kept his promise and now would like her to keep her promise that they’ll be happy together. Lizzie’s worried her mother won’t give up but King Henry believes she’s done her worst and he’s still alive. He gives Arthur a gentle kiss. Lizzie caresses Henry’s face and they kiss while Arthur coos.

Back in Burgundy, the Duchess sits on her throne as Duchess Cecily introduces a surprise guest. A boy enters the room and claims to be Richard, the lost young prince.

More on The White Princess:
The White Princess Episode 5 Traitors
The White Princess Episode 3 Burgundy Recap
The White Princess Episode 2 Hearts and Minds Recap




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