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Friday
Jul052013

« In Which They Began Spawning In Their Teens »

Bluest Velvet

by SHELBY SHAW

The White Queen 
series writer Emma Frost

With a startlingly-familiar Lifetime soundtrack and overall contemporary feel to the characters’ airs, Lady Elizabeth Woodville Grey (Rebecca Ferguson) is a more realistic Kate Moss. Lady Elizabeth rolls her eyes, walks briskly in what looks like a white California beach cover-up, and lodges with a woman I first assumed is an older sister or cousin; it's her mother (Janet McTeer). Remember women began spawning in their teens in 1464 Northamptonshire, England.

When Mom takes her two young sons to greet Edward (Max Irons) the new king who has slain her husband, she seems eager and flirts openly. He looks like a college football player while Lord Warwick (James Frain) sounds American. Mother reminds Elizabeth of their magical bloodline and they consummate various forbidden witchcraft to predict the future. The White Queen is both drama and historical fiction.

Edward wins Elizabeth over by playing the whole I’m-going-to-battle-and-this-could-be-my-last-request card that must have been such a successful line in the day. Within 48 hours they make it seem like they’re lost childhood lovers. Her brothers disapprove of this puppy love, as Edward has already bed all the wives in England, they sneer. It was when I noticed Elizabeth wearing the same dress/hairstyle every day that I realized I can relate to her.

Because she meets up with King Edward, he assumes she wants sex and attempts to rape her, but not before she pulls out his dagger and begins to cut her own throat in warning not to come near. He makes a lot of I’m-King and you-wanted-it excuses before promising never to return. She’s clearly smarter and more mature than she comes off, causing me to wonder what her ultimate plan truly is (maybe magic). But in the next scene, no sign of the cut of her neck, she admits to Mother that if Edward dies in the coming battle, she’ll regret not letting him have her, she already regrets it. Because she loves him, or because he’s a celebrity?

While the men are the fighters, ultimate decision-makers, and heads-of-house, the women of The White Queen, based on the books of Philippa Gregory, are clearly represented as strongholds. Mother not only “scares” Elizabeth’s father (Robert Pugh), as he admits, but Elizabeth’s own magic begets her a simple sign: a crown ring. When she sees off Edward to battle, they coyly admit to being in love now because they’re insomniacs with no appetite. If she won’t be his mistress then will she marry him? She accepts happily and he says they’ll keep it a secret for awhile. This is a short jump into a very serious relationship.

Elizabeth marries in blue velvet (seems obviously witchy, could just be New Age materialism) but Edward forgets the rings and asks Mother if he can “borrow” one. Elizabeth produces (from matching blue velvet purse) her magic crown ring. He asks his new mother-in-law where to take Elizabeth and she gives him a key to a lakeside lodge prepped for consummation, like a parent handing over the keys to their Jersey Shore house for unmentionable pleasures.

The ensuing sex scene is brief and tame. Afterwards Edward must wash; at dinner he replaces sexual innuendo for conversation. He hastily leaves for battle and casually tells Elizabeth to never reveal their marriage. She immediately reveals it to her always-somewhat-perversely-spying brother Anthony (Ben Lamb) who in turn reveals how Edward has done this before and already has a bastard son.

When called upon to marry a French Princess for a peace treaty, King Edward ignores Lord Warwick’s request and announces his marriage to Elizabeth. It’s royally social suicide, but love is blind. Elizabeth and Mother meet Edward’s mother, Duchess Cicely (Caroline Goodall), an elegantly austere royal hag, and it’s perhaps the juiciest scene, fifteenth-century Mean Girls, with tongues so surprisingly sharp I expect them to behead one another. But what would an ending be without Elizabeth having a Seeing of her own murder?

By episode two, Elizabeth is quite pregnant in white (how ironic) before coronation, births a girl, and begins her duties as Queen, which mostly involve social appearances to banquets and weddings arranged between royal children.

Unfolding with enough secrets to make you wonder how it really happened, the stories continue in endless real-time, seemingly candid (for the fifteenth century) so that it never quite drags on. Everyone has their “conniving” look perfected, families tend to be more concerned with society than kinship, and women are factually scheming objects, living chess pieces men can choose to play. In The White Queen, politics are the never-ending gossip even of young girls – compatible royal matches are the heartthrobs of the century, and they’d all kill to have one as a husband, love second.

Three years later, Isabel (Eleanor Tomlinson), Warwick’s older daughter, finally gets a marriage to Edward’s brother George (David Oakes). War breaks out, made the riskier for because of controversy over Edward’s legitimacy and because Elizabeth has not borne him an heir. Meanwhile her father and a brother are beheaded at Warwick’s order.

Magic appears in the royal blood again through Lady Margaret’s (Amanda Hale) vision of her young 5-year-old, Henry (Reece Pockney), to be King Henry Tudor of England. The witches keep appearing as Mother gives a detailed spell and Elizabeth ominously carries out the curse after crying, “I tried to make them all my friends but now I want them dead.” This is the War of Roses.

Shelby Shaw is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is a writer and artist living in New York. You can find her website here. She twitters here and tumbls here. She last wrote in this pages about her return to New York.

"Beginners" - Matthew Fowler (mp3)

"Come Be With Me" - Matthew Fowler (mp3)

The new album from Matthew Fowler is entitled Beginning, and you can find his website here.

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Reader Comments (1)

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January 16, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMedium To Long Hairstyles

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