BBC One historical drama The White Queen concluded in a very majestic way. Slowly building up the tension throughout, as the final battle loomed ever nearer.
We all knew how the series would end, as the history books are there to remind us. The final battle took place in the last seven minutes of the episode, preparing the viewers of what was about to come. A very good decision as it gave room to more storytelling, showcasing what we loved best about the series.
The episode starts as tragically as its ending, with the death of Prince Edward – heir to the throne and beloved son of Queen Anne (Faye Marsay) and King Richard III (Aneurin Barnard). Meanwhile Elizabeth’s (Rebecca Ferguson) daughters Cecily and Lizzie (Freya Mavor) have been appointed as Anne’s ladies in waiting, much to Anne’s dismay.
Week by week we’ve seen the character of the Kingmaker’s daughter grow and become ever stronger. Though there was always a note of fragility in the background, in the way Faye Marsay played Anne. She remained true to herself until her very last moments – dying of a sickness to the lungs. She made a last stand against Richard, speaking her mind about how the North kept supporting him, only because she was the Kingmaker’s daughter. One of the highlights of the episode as it pointed out that he should take better care in the way he treated her, instead of flirting with Lizzie.
The storyline of the love affair between uncle and niece, was rather uncomfortable to watch, but that was meant as such. According to Richard it was a strategy to make Henry Tudor (Michael Marcus) look like a fool if he was courting his bride-to-be. But Lizzie truly fell in love with her uncle and was prepared to marry him.
We saw a real change in Richard’s character, played exceptionally well by Aneurin Barnard, as a flash of insanity and rage crossed his face when he told Lizzie to go after Anne’s death. Scandal at Court and beyond erupted, due to rumours he had poisoned Anne to marry his niece.
Plotting continued at the Stanley household with Margaret Beaufort (Amanda Hale) willing her son to invade England, and her husband Lord Stanley (Rupert Graves) playing the waiting game until the very last possible moment. The banter between those two characters was as enjoyable as ever, Stanley teasing his wife throughout – as he wouldn’t make a decision regarding the support of Henry.
Margaret also got a taste of her own spiteful behaviour when Lizzie made her own stand. Showing every inch of the Rivers women mentality, she tells Margaret that whatever happens next she’ll be Queen! Leaving her future mother -in -law slightly dazed. A first this series!
With so much happening at Court and the final battle preparations, we barely saw our White Queen in this final episode. Back at Grafton Manor, where the story began, Elizabeth is surrounded by her family – and her son Richard, who returned safely from Flanders. It was great to see how Rebecca Ferguson channelled Janet McTeer‘s performance as her mother Jacquetta, now that Elizabeth is that same age.
Henry Tudor lands in Wales to find no real support, and at the end it all comes down to Stanley’s decision. They built up the tension extremely well, as Henry momentarily loses all hope at being able to win. Even Margaret with all that self-belief loses faith and backtracks on the entire plan, realising she’s about to lose her son on the battlefield. But it’s all too late and a battle has to be fought.
The infamous Battle of Bosworth is thoughtfully played out, edgy and suggestive in tone when it comes to the gruesomeness of the battle. Betrayal has been one of the cornerstones in The White Queen, and this is exactly how the story ends – with Stanley’s betrayal of his King. Richard loses his horse and enemies turn on him. Killed and stripped on the battlefield, Richard III’s empty stare causes a shudder and image you won’t soon forget!
And so the King is Dead. Long live the King! Stanley picks up the disregarded crown and brings it to Henry – Henry VII is King and Margaret Beaufort knew all along that this would happen…
The White Queen may have concluded but there’s definitely room for a second series. Philippa Gregory’s novels continue telling the story of Lizzie in The White Princess and how she came to be Queen of England. Marrying Henry Tudor, and having to face her own brother’s rebellion as Richard makes a claim for the Throne.
This being said, if a sequel is made many members of the talented ensemble cast won’t be returning – as their characters have died. Much praise has to be given to Aneurin Barnard for turning Richard into quite a likeable character and not at all the perceived tyrant from the history books. He of course loses it at the end, but for much of the series he was mostly the sound of reason. We already lost Edward (Max Irons) and George (David Oakes) along the way, but the Three Sons of York shall be remembered fondly.
The White Queen had a bit of a slow start but when it came into its own, it really became the unmissable series of the week. Gripping and at times very emotional storylines, with enormous amounts of plotting, deceit, betrayal and love, performed brilliantly by the entire cast.The White Queen was never about being entirely historically correct, but all about strong female characters – Elizabeth Woodville, Anne Neville and Margaret Beaufort, showing the power of women who changed the course of history. A great achievement and very much hope a sequel will be in the works.
The White Queen is released on Blu-Ray and DVD on Monday 19 August in the UK.