‘The White Princess’ Season 1 Episode 5 Recap: Traitors

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The White Princess episode 5

Jodie Comer (Lizzie) and Jacob Collins-Levy (King Henry VII) in ‘The White Princess’ season 1 episode 5. (Photo Credit: STARZ)

Starz’ The White Princess takes a seven year leap forward with season one episode five airing on May 14, 2017. The episode begins with the Duchess of Burgundy (Joanne Whalley) watching as Prince Richard (Patrick Gibson) is measured for clothing, with a voice-over revealing the contents of a recent letter to Dowager Queen Elizabeth (Essie Davis). She claims the news of Richard’s return has been embraced by their supporters and songs are sung about the “handsome York Prince with golden hair.” She reports those who support Richard have waited seven years for him to be ready to take his place as the true King of England.

King Henry (Jacob Collins-Levy) and Queen Elizabeth (Jodie Comer) watch as their three young children play while Lady Margaret (Michelle Fairley) looks on stone-faced. Back to official business, Henry and Lizzie inform their advisors of a letter from the Duchess on behalf of Richard inviting them to be her guests at court. Henry knows Richard is an imposter, and Lizzie assures him he has the support of England. There are rumors of nobles fleeing to Burgundy and Henry has a plan to respond.

Maggie (Rebecca Benson) plays with her young son and seems happy in her marriage to Sir Richard Pole (Andrew Whipp). She doesn’t want to return to Court when King Henry summons them, but will go because she can visit her brother, Teddy.

Next, we catch up with Teddy who’s not in the best mental state after being locked up for all these years. However, a smile emerges when he hugs his young nephew, Henry.

It’s revealed the reason Richard and Maggie have been asked to Westminster Palace is because King Henry is sending Maggie to Burgundy in his place. He believes she will be able to recognize Richard, if he’s truly her kin. With tears in her eyes, she agrees.


Lizzie and Maggie take a walk, and Maggie confesses the only thing keeping her from pure happiness is the absence of her brother. Lizzie reveals Henry always leaves a red rose and a white rose in her room every day and says it’s a happy union. Maggie is obviously nervous about her Burgundy trip, but Lizzie tells her not to be. Maggie asks if it’s possible it’s actually Richard, and Lizzie confides that this whole masquerade was instigated by her mother. “This is just another urchin our aunt has plucked from the streets and dressed up as a prince,” says Lizzie, trying to put Maggie at ease. Lizzie adds that Henry must never be told Richard escaped and reveals she is certain the Duchess of Burgundy’s “Richard” is not her brother.

Maggie says goodbye to her young son and Lizzie promises she’ll look after him while his parents are in Burgundy. As Maggie and Sir Richard ride off, Lady Margaret asks Henry if he’s sure about trusting them with this mission. Henry assures her he can trust Maggie, particularly since her son is with them at Westminster.

The setting switches to Bermondsey Abbey where Lizzie isn’t pleased with her mother. Lizzie demands Dowager Queen Elizabeth stop plotting with the Duchess of Burgundy. Elizabeth claims the Duchess doesn’t need her assistance, and then she hands Lizzie a letter from the Duchess. Lizzie declines to read it and says this Richard is an imposter. They argue over Richard’s right to the throne, and Lizzie reminds her mother she made her a Tudor Queen. Lizzie will not allow her mother to take away the crown, and reveals she knows her mother loves Richard more than she loves her. Elizabeth tries to convince Lizzie that’s not true, struggling to talk as she’s in ill health. Elizabeth says, “I’m fading. I should be with my oldest girl as I live out my days.” Elizabeth’s daughters have all been married off, and she realizes Henry would never allow her to live with Lizzie. Elizabeth tells her daughter she loves her and Lizzie, clearly moved, declares she and Henry are in love and Henry will do what she asks.

Dowager Queen Elizabeth is freed and welcomed back by Lizzie and Henry, with Henry sharing his hope that she’ll soon be well again.

Bishop Morton shows King Henry, Lizzie, and their advisors letters written by English lords which were to be delivered to the Duchess of Burgundy. The letters pledge their support for Richard and call King Henry “The Pretender” while naming Richard as Prince Richard, Duke of York. Lizzie speaks up, suggesting their son Harry should be ennobled and named Duke of York. Lady Margaret agrees with Lizzie, and King Henry says to make plans to do so. He also reveals he has something planned for the traitors.

Sir Richard and Maggie arrive in Burgundy and are welcomed by Duchess Cecily (Caroline Goodall) and the Duchess of Burgundy. The Duchess of Burgundy informs them Prince Richard can’t wait to see them and expresses shock that Maggie’s missing Harry’s ennobling.

Maggie gets a tour of the grounds from Duchess Cecily who she calls Lady Grandmother. Duchess Cecily believes Prince Richard is the true King, but she understands Maggie is there to say he’s an imposter.

Preparation for the ennobling ceremony is taking place as Lady Margaret and Jasper Tudor watch (Vincent Regan). They talk about their beloved Harry and Lady Margaret appreciates Jasper’s care of their child, King Henry, and his children. She asks if he’s happy with his York wife, and he confesses she’s kind and patient. His wife arrives and the conversation ends.

The young Prince Henry (‘Harry’) rides into his ennobling ceremony on a horse and then kneels as his father names him Duke of York.

Meanwhile in Burgundy, Prince Richard is introduced to Maggie Pole and Sir Richard Pole. The Duchess of Burgundy suggests Prince Richard and Maggie sit together so they can talk and get acquainted.

Prince Henry’s celebrated with a feast and King Henry leads a toast in his honor. Dowager Queen Elizabeth chooses this moment to appear, leading a toast to her own son, Prince Richard, Duke of York, who lives in Burgundy. She tells the nobles gathered they should follow Prince Richard and not the pretender who currently sits on the throne. Lizzie, angry at this outrageous act, declares Dowager Queen Elizabeth is not her mother. Elizabeth is taken away by the guards as a hush falls over those gathered.

Lady Margaret confronts Dowager Queen Elizabeth as she’s taken away, calling her mad for this betrayal of her daughter and grandchildren. Elizabeth insists the true King will prevail, but Lady Margaret insists Prince Richard is a fraud. “My son Richard made me a promise when I sent him away. He swore that he would avenge his brother,” says Elizabeth. “That vengeance is coming.” Elizabeth chokes and looks ill, and Lady Margaret assures her it’s God making her sick. Elizabeth doesn’t back down, asking Margaret how she’ll explain the blood on her hands. Lady Margaret responds by telling the guards to return Dowager Queen Elizabeth to the Abbey and make sure she has no way of sending messages.

The White Princess episode 5

Joanne Whalley (Duchess of Burgundy), Patrick Gibson (The Boy), and Amy Manson (Cathy Gordon) in ‘The White Princess.’

In Burgundy, Maggie asks Richard if he remembers their time together as children. Richard reminds her they didn’t meet as children, and Maggie corrects her inquiry to say they knew the same people and therefore should have memories involving those people. The Duchess of Burgundy asks Maggie to tell a story about Richard as a child and she recalls hearing a story of Richard and his brother sneaking a fox into the nursery. Richard laughs and says he remembers being terrified of the fox, and then Maggie asks the name of the maid Richard was scared of as a child. He replies Mary, and Maggie doesn’t react.

Maggie continues to politely challenge Richard on his childhood memories, recalling that Christmas was her favorite time to visit. She says they used to sing and on one occasion the servants joined in. Richard says he remembers that, but Maggie points out they didn’t meet as children so they shouldn’t share that memory. Richard covers by confessing he watched them sing from the balcony, too shy to join the fun. He then adds that it was the first Christmas after her father died and he explains he watched from a hiding place as she and Teddy wept in private. With tears in her eyes, Maggie says, “That is not my memory.”

Maggie gets up to leave the small group assembled and the Duchess of Burgundy stops her, whispering in her ear that she realizes she must continue this charade. The Duchess advises her that once Richard rises, Maggie will be called on to join them. The Duchess then announces to the group that Richard is to marry Lady Catherine Gordon.

Alone, Lizzie once again assures Henry England loves him. She also believes no one will take her mother’s statements seriously. Henry needs to know she loves him and Lizzie declares, “You are God’s King. You are England’s King. And you are my King.” They kiss and Henry is still obviously wounded by Lizzie’s mother’s speech. He tells Lizzie he’ll sleep alone.

Lady Margaret washes her hands and suddenly the clear water turns to blood. She runs from her room to the church where she kneels and prays. Jasper follows her and asks what’s wrong. He offers to share her burden, adding that Dowager Queen Elizabeth is mad and she shouldn’t listen to anything she says. Lady Margaret paces the floor and then quietly reveals one of the boys got away all those years ago. Lady Margaret believes Elizabeth swapped one of the boys, recalling that Elizabeth asked Margaret’s doctor years ago, “If you had two precious jewels, would you put them in the same box?”

Lady Margaret is nearly frantic and then Jasper asks the key question, wanting to know who the boys got away from – the murderer? Lady Margaret replies, “It is not murder if it is God’s will.” Jasper’s incredulous, accusing Margaret of actually killing the young boys. She admits to ordering it, but isn’t sure if it was carried out. Jasper’s furious, telling her killing children is not God’s will. As he turns to leave, Margaret needs to know if he’ll tell King Henry. Begging, she says Henry would not understand. Jasper is certain Henry would not forgive such a despicable act. Margaret continues to plead that the knowledge of what she did to help him become King would ruin Henry. “If Henry is to be ruined it will be by your actions, not my telling of them,” says Jasper, tossing her hand off his arm.

In Burgundy, Duchess Cecily and the Duchess of Burgundy are not in agreement over how to proceed. Duchess Cecily doesn’t believe going to war to make Prince Richard the King is the answer, however the Duchess of Burgundy will not be reasoned with.

Duchess Cecily visits Maggie and breaks down in tears. Cecily knows if Prince Richard marries Catherine, then the only possible outcome is war. She thinks Richard is her real grandson and can’t stand the thought of losing him.

Maggie wakes to find her husband prepared to leave to return to England. He wrote a letter to King Henry informing him of Richard’s betrothal to Catherine, and Maggie confesses her grandmother thinks Richard is not an imposter. Plus, the fact Richard knew about she and Teddy crying all those years ago on Christmas has her confused as to what to believe. Sir Richard asks if it’s possible someone else witnessed she and Teddy and simply told the story to Richard. He also thinks anyone could deduce she would cry on Christmas after her father’s death. Sir Richard is certain this Richard is fake and begs her to think about the implications if this Richard is real.

The morning after Lady Margaret’s confession, Jasper claims to be ill and misses the council meeting with King Henry. Henry addresses those in attendance, revealing the Duchess of Burgundy’s plan to marry Prince Richard to Catherine Gordon and gain the support of Scotland. Lizzie immediately shoots this down, noting that if Catherine’s the best the Duchess can do then it’s obvious Prince Richard doesn’t have the support of Europe. Plus, Scotland doesn’t have the money to start a war. King Henry tables the matter until he can speak to Jasper.


Maggie and Sir Richard return and after some prompting by King Henry, Maggie declares Prince Richard is an imposter. Sir Richard then hands King Henry a bag containing the wax seals of the traitors who support the imposter. King Henry pulls out paper with Sir Boswell’s seal and has him taken away. He next names Lord Smithson, Dowager Queen Elizabeth, and his own close confidante Sir William Stanley, brother of Sir Thomas Stanley and brother-in-law of Lady Margaret. Sir Stanley declares he’s loyal to the rightful king, Sir Richard of York, as he’s taken away.

Following the public unveiling of the traitors, Lizzie asks Henry what he plans to do with her mother and the others who plotted against him. He’s not going to kill her mother, but he must kill the others. As they’re speaking, Lady Margaret enters and agrees with Henry’s decisions.

Lady Margaret visits Jasper, but he only wishes to speak with King Henry. He will not disclose what he’s going to tell Henry, and once again Lady Margaret pleads with him to not say anything. Jasper is in fact very ill and wasn’t pretending simply to avoid Lady Margaret. She comforts him as she helps him into bed and he responds to her question about his feelings by saying he’s never loved anyone but her. But, this revelation about her part in the murders makes him believe he never really knew her. “Henry needs to know what is done in his name or he will execute traitors while the greatest of all remains at his side,” says Jasper, struggling to speak. Tears fall from Lady Margaret’s face as she apologizes for the pain she’s caused him. She leans close as if to kiss him and then places a pillow over his face, holding it there until he is dead. In his weakened state, Jasper’s unable to hold her off.

Lady Margaret flees Jasper’s room, returning to the chapel to pray.

King Henry’s informed of his uncle’s death by Jasper’s wife and runs to his room. He kneels by Jasper’s body on the bed and wails in sadness.

Lady Margaret cries in the chapel and then looks up to see a candle’s flame extinguished.

More on The White Princess:
The White Princess Episode 6 English Blood on English Soil Recap
The White Princess Episode 4 The Pretender Recap
The White Princess Episode 3 Burgundy Recap
The White Princess Episode 2 Hearts and Minds Recap




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1 Comment

  1. Thank you for your recap. It is thorough and explains a lot. Harry is of course young Henry VIII…but maybe some people don’t know that bit of history. They did jump 7 years ahead, which means Arthur, Margaret and Henry VIII are in the picture. All these Margarets, Elizabeths, Richards, Henrys…so confusing.