Starz’ The White Princess wraps up its first season much too soon with episode eight titled ‘Old Curses.’ The season one finale begins with Lizzie (Jodie Comer) dreaming she’s walking the palace hallways, stepping into flowing blood as she approaches King Richard (Patrick Gibson) on the throne. Next to him are the mounted heads of her sons and King Henry. She falls to her knees and screams. Lizzie’s jarred awake by the dream, confirming it was just a nightmare by looking at her clean feet.
Lady Margaret (Michelle Fairley) checks on Prince Richard whose imprisonment has not stripped him of his determination to be King. He stares at Lady Margaret defiantly as she looks in on him through the locked door.
Maggie (Rebecca Benson) and Lady Catherine (Amy Manson) make their way on foot to the Duchess of Burgundy’s safe house, and the Duchess (Joanne Whalley) immediately instructs Catherine to write to Scotland’s King James for help. Catherine begs her to find her baby but after she’s sent out of the room, one of the Duchess’ men says what everyone is thinking. The baby is dead and Richard will soon be, too. Maggie disagrees, certain Lizzie will save Richard because she believes he is her brother. Maggie thinks they need to strike the castle now, and the Duchess is proud Maggie has spoken up.
Back at the castle, Lizzie enters King Henry’s council chamber as they’re discussing killing Richard and Teddy in order for Spain to grant the marriage between Prince Arthur and Catherine of Aragon. Lizzie confirms she was already told this by Spain’s Queen, and she confesses she set the fire in King Henry’s closet.
King Henry (Jacob Collins-Levy) commands the room be cleared as he wants to speak to Lizzie alone. Lizzie explains she wanted Richard to escape so Henry couldn’t kill him. She reveals details of her mother’s curse and that if Richard is killed, their son will die. Henry understands this means Richard is in fact Lizzie’s brother, and she cries as she tells him to think about their sons. She wants Henry to find another way, but Henry doesn’t think there is one.
Henry charges out of the room, leaving Lizzie without an answer.
Outside, a slightly more controlled Lizzie watches her sons practice archery. She informs Sir Richard Pole (Andrew Whipp) that the boys can do whatever they want today as long as they’re kept busy. When Maggie joins them, Lizzie asks where she was earlier in the morning. Maggie lies and says she went for a walk, claiming she was sickened by the fire and needed fresh air. When Lizzie asks after Catherine Gordon, Maggie says she hasn’t seen her.
The Spanish ambassador asks Lizzie if she understood his Queen’s instructions, and Lizzie claims she’s taking care of the matter.
King Henry looks in on Prince Richard and then commands his guards move him in with Teddy, the Earl of Warwick.
Bishop Morton informs Lizzie Scotland is readying their army for battle.
Lizzie travels to Newgate Prison and selects a prisoner who looks like Prince Richard. She instructs the guard to tutor the man and he agrees.
Tension is increasing at the palace as the King’s advisors resent Lady Margaret’s influence. He should be preparing for the upcoming war, but instead he’s called for his mother. She finds him deep in prayer and questions his motivation for moving Richard in with Teddy. She thinks that will send out the message that he believes Richard is not an imposter. Henry explains there’s a symmetry to it, saying, “Two York boys with a claim in the one room. The boy is who he says he is.”
Lady Margaret reacts by blaming the fact he’s not dead on King Richard being careless when he didn’t actually kill Prince Richard. She tells Henry to finish the job King Richard started, but Henry admits he thinks she’s the one who killed the boys in the Tower. When he asks point blank, Lady Margaret replies, “There are things that are necessary for the greater good, things that must be done.”
Her confession absolves Henry of his responsibility, and Lady Margaret says they’ll move forward on this issue together. However, Henry then explains there’s a curse on the killer of Lizzie’s brothers. Lady Margaret isn’t concerned when Henry says the male heirs of the killer will sicken and die. However, Henry believes Dowager Queen Elizabeth was able to use the craft and suddenly he grabs his mother by her neck, forcing her against the wall and holding her feet off the ground. Furious, he tells Lady Margaret she has damned his sons, that she put the mark of death on them. “You are a butcher of innocents! You are a killer of children!” He finally lets her neck go and calls her a monster.
Henry drags her out of the room and tosses her roughly in front of his men gathered in the hallway. “She does not come near me! She does not speak to me; she does not speak for me. Nobody listens to her!” Henry roars, warning them he’ll take their heads if they defy him.
Maggie pays a visit to the Tower, giving her brother a supply basket while quietly assuring Richard the Duchess is close by. She also tells him an army is gathering and he will take the throne. Richard asks Teddy what he wants when they’re freed and he’s King, and Teddy simply wants a friendly dog which causes Maggie and Richard to share a laugh. However, when Richard looks at Teddy and away from Maggie, his look changes to more calculating than happy.
Lizzie rushes to be with King Henry and he confesses King Richard was innocent and it was his mother who killed her brothers. He wants to know how the curse works and if it will affect both boys. Henry understands one boy will die, but wants to know which one. Lizzie, looking alarmed, says she doesn’t know which boy. King Henry has come to understand the rightful King was murdered by his mother and his life is now just a series of lies. “My beautiful boys are damned,” says Henry, nearly overcome with emotion.
In response to Henry’s revelation, Lizzie takes her husband to Newgate Prison and shows him the prisoner she selected. The prisoner was already sentenced to death, but he’s made a deal for a quick death and money for his wife. In exchange, he will say he is Perkin Werbeck and will confess to impersonating Prince Richard. Lizzie’s plan involves this man confessing in public followed quickly by a hanging. That will rid them of Prince Richard, break the rebellion’s back, and negate the curse. Her brother can remain alive but nameless in the Tower.
Henry refuses to go along with Lizzie’s plan, even when she warns him the York lords are bringing war. He tells her he loves her, calling her the “grace of his life,” but then he adds he doesn’t deserve her. He just wants her to be safe, and tells her to go speak to her brother in the Tower.
Lizzie and Richard have a talk in the Tower and Richard tells his sister she looks like their mother. Lizzie admits she didn’t always like their ambitious mother and would like to be able to ask her if it was worth her maneuverings. Richard declares he and Teddy will walk free and what’s wrong will be set right. He assures her he will not harm her children and she would be held in high esteem as the King’s sister. As for Henry, Richard’s aware he will fight to the death because he’s a soldier. But, there would be peace if he ruled. Of course, that means she would be widowed and her children fatherless.
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