‘The White Queen’ Episode 3 Recap: Stormy Times Ahead for Isabel


Eleanor Tomlinson as Isabel Neville, Warwick the Kingmaker’s daughter, in The White Queen. ©BBC.

As this week’s episode opens, Warwick and George have betrayed Edward and are attempting to oust him from power. Last week, although imprisoned by Warwick, Edward got a message to Elizabeth and warned her to flee. If George has a boy, all will be lost. Fearing for her life after Warwick executed her father and brother, Elizabeth and her children have barricaded themselves in the Tower of London, preparing for a siege.  As the show begins, Elizabeth frets about Edward’s safety and worries Warwick might harm him.

The First Uprising: Edward’s in Captivity

Meanwhile at Warwick Castle, Warwick demands Edward dismiss the Rivers family as his advisors and restore his old advisors. With Edward in custody, Warwick is attempting to rule England through George. Edward doesn’t seem to be suffering too much though. He demands venison and ale. He then rebukes his captor’s daughter, Isabel, for marrying without his permission. He says to Isabel, “I do hope you’re not expecting loyalty from me” – both a reminder about her disobedience and her husband’s betrayal.

After Edward leaves we discover, Isabel is pregnant. Her family are thrilled. They view this child, surely conceived on Isabel’s wedding night, as an auspicious omen that God is on their side as they try to oust the Woodvilles and overthrow Edward.

At the Stafford residence, Margaret rejoices that Edward is off the throne, which she, of course, sees as a sign of God favors her. Her husband, Stafford, shrewdly says “you will decree whatever action you take as god’s will.” In response, Margaret unleashes a speech about how supportive Jasper is in her cause. When Stafford confronts her about her lionizing of Jasper, she replies, “Jasper and I are one in all things” Firmly, Stafford tells Margaret they are not: “you are married to me.”

Now that Isabel is a position where she might become king, Isabel receives a box from Westminster containing Elizabeth’s coronation robes, which still smell of her perfume. The two Kingmaker’s daughters discuss – fearfully and joyfully – about Isabel’s prospects. Isabel notes she will be in an untenable unsustainable position – she will be the third queen. Isabel worries that Warwick might even turn against George (Clarence).  Isabel feels like a traitor. Isabel now realizes she is her father’s pawn and says that marriage is a wretched thing for her – marriage isn’t like what it is for Elizabeth who is married to a man she loves. But Anne delights in the prospect of being queen and finds it easy to think of Elizabeth Woodville as her enemy “father says we must.”

In background, Richard fights with George about his treachery in betraying his own brother.

The plans to crown George proceed. Isabel is in her chamber with her sister – possibly doing some early preparations for her upcoming coronation. Isabel is distraught over the prospect of becoming queen, which she looks upon as a death sentence. Her sister Anne, however, is thrilled at Izzy’s luck–Anne would love to be in Isabel’s shoes. Just as Anne models the coronation robes, her mother, the Countess of Warwick, enters the chamber and says the plans are off. Parliament won’t agree to George becoming king. Warwick has risked all and lost all.

As a result, Warwick has no choice but to free Edward – who immediately returns home to Elizabeth.

Edward Returns Home, Elizabeth Deals with the Deaths

Back home, Edward confidently boasts about his adventure as though he was never truly worried. Edward says he told Warwick he would happily stay at Warwick Castle forever before he would give up Elizabeth. We soon find out, however, that Edward’s sojourn wasn’t quite as stress free as he likes to make it out to be.

When Elizabeth announces she expects Edward to execute Warwick and George for her father and brother’s death, she gets an unpleasant surprise. Edward refuses: he won’t execute them. They are his brother and cousin. Instead, Edward will make Warwick’s nephew duke of Bedford – something which offends Jacquetta deeply since it is her first husband’s title. Plus, much to Elizabeth’s horror, Edward will marry Warwick’s nephew to her daughter Elizabeth. Elizabeth’s  answer is basically, “Over my dead body.” In response, Edward rightfully asserts his kingly authority and says it will happen. Edward says he was worried sick Warwick would kill her and this is what he needs to do to keep her and the kingdom safe.

Meanwhile, Margaret’s chickens have come home to roost. Thanks to Margaret’s plotting, Stafford is stripped of an office and Margaret is sentenced to be under his authority in a form of house arrest. Stafford commands her not to write to Jasper Tudor or she will lose her books, freedoms, and visits to her son. Margaret, at prayer yet again, ruefully ignores this request: silence is her response.

In the next scene, the Neville sisters have to go to court with George, Warwick, and his wife. Looking at the courtyard below, Elizabeth plots to make them her ladies-in-waiting so that her “curse can do its work.” Edward greets them with open arms. But, Elizabeth, still wounded from father’s deaths rightfully reminds them of their place. She tells them they “will dance to whatever tune I will sing.”

Afterward Warwick and his family arrive, there is a banquet. Warwick approaches the head table. Elizabeth swears to Warwick that while Edward may forgive him, she never will. But, then, Edward’s mother, Cecily Neville, interrupts them to throws jabs at Elizabeth noting George is with child and “Edward is a man again.” Elizabeth retorts he has always been a man but “it seems that is not enough to win the loyalty of those who are supposed to love him.”

Elizabeth is a world of misery while Edward is business as usual. He gives lands to Warwick. However, despite Edward’s attempts at reconciliation, Warwick ambitions remain intact and he notes that he is hoping George has an heir. Elizabeth witnesses this exchange and it ups the stakes: she tells Jacquetta they must have a son.

And, it is down to the river again for more magic. This time Elizabeth fishes a baby spoon out of the river with the name Edward. Elizabeth will give birth to a boy named Edward – if the magic comes to pass. Elizabeth rejoices and finally the storm clouds begin to lift from around her.

Elizabeth gleefully goes to her husband. She draws Edward into her bedchamber where she makes Anne Neville, now her lady-in-waiting, unlace her dress. Edward and Elizabeth’s foreplay sickens and humiliates Anne, who looks like she is on the verge of tears.

The next day Anne approaches her father, begging for reprieve from her service to Elizabeth. Warwick says soon there will be a marriage for Anne. Anne’s hopeful it will be Richard, but, alas, no. But, Warwick cryptically vows they will never betray him again.

Another Uprising

A short time later, Edward is leaving – there are uprisings in the North for old king Henry. Elizabeth begs him to stay and announces she is pregnant with a son. Edward is thrilled. Still, he has to leave and promises to be back by May Day.

In the next scene, we encounter Warwick with his daughter Anne. A messenger comes bearing news: Warwick feigns surprise when he reads there is a rebellion against the king.

Meanwhile Lady Margaret is overjoyed when Jasper comes to deliver the news of the uprising – saying their time has come at last. Margaret and Jasper meet with her husband Stafford to plan.  Margaret and Jasper see this rebellion as an opportunity to return the throne to Lancaster.

Stafford refuses to send men – much to Jasper and Margaret’s outrage. Stafford points out he has lost a brother and a father to this cause. Stafford the voice of reason, says that mad old King Henry doesn’t even know his own name and Edward is the better king. Margaret, disgustingly, frames the issue as the need to ensure God’s appointed king is on the throne and disparages her husband as a coward. She cries “how can I live with such bitter shame?” and flees the room. Afterward, Jasper and Margaret reconnect – she gives him a necklace and says know that I’m with you  on the battlefield while Stafford looks on from a window above. To be honest, it is all a little sickening and not exactly historically accurate.

Meanwhile at the Warwick residence, it is revealed that Warwick is behind the rebellion. Isabel is devastated since she is now in peril again.

Later that night, knowing Stafford saw her with Jasper, Margaret goes to Stafford in his bedchamber to apologize. Stafford demands to know what she gave Jasper. Margaret responds truthfully, begs forgiveness, and also asks to make amends with her mother. Then they kiss and presumably have sex. This feels like a transparent ploy to get Stanley on her side. In reality, Margaret Beaufort hated sex and used to ask her confessor for forgiveness for hating it so much.

The next day they go to see Margaret’s mother. Immediately, she asks her half-brother Richard to pray with her. (Richard is the blonde youth Margaret’s mother couldn’t stop fawning about at the banquet in an earlier episode.) At prayer, she claims that God has given her a sign that Richard shall help in his work. Slowly, she persuades Richard to abandon King Edward for old King Henry. It also helps she dangles the prospect of Richard being on the throne.

Everyone in this next phase of war has a stake in it. All the women pray their men will be returned safely and ideally triumphantly to them. But, Margaret, prays that Edward will be killed in the battle.

At the battle, young Richard Welles learns that this isn’t God’s holy war to return Lancaster to victory. He learns, instead, he has been a pawn – likely just for his troops – and that God won’t save him. He flees from his tent across enemy lines to Edward’s camp. He demands to see the king. He confesses the plot to Edward. Edward stabs him in the gut growling, “Traitor.” Somehow this seems unfair, but maybe from Edward’s point of view the damage has already been done.

After the Battle

Back at the Beaufort residence, Margaret’s mother learns her beloved son Richard Welles is dead. Yet, all Margaret cares about is that Edward isn’t dead. She doesn’t bat an eyelash when her mother collapses with grief or when she learns her half-brother is dead. Jasper loses and has to flee to France. Margaret, however, is seemingly incapable of taking accepting the consequences of her own actions.

Isabel is having some type of labor or pregnancy pains when Warwick arrives home from the battle. He announces they lost due to Richard Welles’ betrayal. Warwick vows to make George (Clarence) king. He says they will sail to Calais and raise an army.

As Warwick’s family head to port, Queen Elizabeth, Jacquetta, and baby Elizabeth conjure a storm by blowing on a bowl of water. As the Nevilles board the ship, Isabel doesn’t want to get on the ship. She’s terrified. Sadly, she couldn’t yield to her instincts.  Isabel goes into labor during a roiling sea. Water floods through the hatch and down the stairs. A sailor tells Anne that it is a witch’s wind that tosses around the ship.  In fact, it is so intense the Woodville witches who called the storm are scared of their own magic. In a scene that might just represent every woman’s most horrifying idea of childbirth, Isabel’s baby is breached.

Meanwhile, Margaret goes to her son to make sure he is okay. Little Henry, however, barely recognizes his mother or certainly doesn’t feel anything for her. Rather the boy is desolate that his Uncle Jasper has left him. Margaret runs into Jasper and gives him one last longing kiss. Jasper swears he will come back from his exile in France with an army.

Edward arrives home with a wagon of peaches reminding Elizabeth he kept his word to be home by May Day.

The next day on the ship, we learn that Isabel lost her baby boy. George consoles Isabel. Isabel blames George, but his only concern is that she have a son before Elizabeth Woodville has one. George vows, “This is not the end, Isabel” thinking only of his ambition. But, for Isabel it is the end of her baby.


Jamie Adair is the editor of History Behind Game of Thrones, a website about the history behind George RR Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" novels and the hit TV show, "Game of Thrones."

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