“The White Queen” – Episode 5 – War at First Hand

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Veerle Baetens as Margaret of Anjou in The White Queen. Image: ©Starz.

Elizabeth has finally had a male heir to secure the York line, but Lancaster is back in power with Warwick placing a feeble Henry VI back on the throne. While Margaret Beaufort is a loyal Lancastrian, she laments “If it’s God’s will for Henry to be king, why does he put another obstacle in the way?”
Edward sweeps into sanctuary, surprising Elizabeth in a joyful reunion and marveling at the sight of his son. George has fled France and Lancaster and rejoined Edward, the sons of York are reunited and go to war against Warwick. The Battle of Barnet is a triumph for York, but also heartbreaking for Edward, who sees Warwick slain in front of him. Anne Neville and Margaret of Anjou finally land in England, only to learn Warwick has been killed, and flee to Tewkesbury for the final bitter battle between Lancaster and York.

The White Queen seems to be finally grasping at what the story is really about, the Cousins War. The shifting alliances and the perils of choosing them all come together beautifully in this episode. When Isabel, abandoned by her husband and cries that “I am all alone” as Warwick leaves for England, she could hardly imagine that she would never lay eyes on her father again. Anne has to make the choice between fleeing to her mother, or staying with Margaret of Anjou, and will suffer the impact of picking the wrong side. Edward laments that he is pitted against his cousin who he once loved so dearly, and Elizabeth is forced to look at the terrible price they have to pay for security when she witnesses the murder of Henry VI. Even the villains were afforded a little humanity, to see Margaret of Anjou grieving for her son and Margaret Beaufort weeping bitterly while her husband died at her side was moving, and entirely appropriate, driving home the impact these wars had on everyone, not just the chosen heroes of the tale.

On a more amusing note, Aneurin Barnard, the pro-Richard casting choice, has shifted from earnest to dreamy. The romance between Richard III and Anne Neville is firmly kindled, when he asks her, just stopping short of batting his eyelashes “Do you love me, Anne?” while she blushes prettily. I am sure I heard the collective sighs of Ricardians the world over.

By Olga Hughes. 

Olga enjoys Philippa Gregory and history, to the horror of many. She runs the online magazine Nerdalicious with her partner C.S. Hughes.

Olga Hughes

Olga runs the online magazine Nerdalicious with her partner C.S. Hughes. Nerdalicious is the best source of Game of Thrones and other pop culture news, including books, film, sci-fi and medieval history.

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