Ah, the atrocities of war.  The eighth episode of The Tudors starts out right off showing thousands of men being carted off and buried in shallow graves.  Henry’s soldiers are dying off from illness, hunger, and the bad elements as they try to continue their siege on Boulogne.  The poor, overstarved men who are building a tunnel leading to the walls of the city are visibly tired and starving and not able to work fast enough for the King’s liking.

When the physician comes in to advise Henry about the “bloody flux” that is plaguing the soldiers, the king overturns a table and goes off on a tirade, claiming the physician is lying, that there is no disease, and that the soldiers are merely cowards.  He states that he will not bring cowards home.  He orders ALL of the soldiers to fight no matter what or he will “hang them by the wayside.”  He obviously wants his glory at any cost and it’s so obvious that Henry is losing his grip on reality.  You can’t help but feel sorry for those poor boys.

While his Majesty is away at war, Bishop Gardiner moves full steam ahead with his plans to reveal Queen Catherine as a Protestant heretic.  He comes to her to discuss a “matter” with her.  He requests her permission to indict some men of the King’s Privy Chamber, as a sort of “test”.  She rebuffs his request, explaining that she would rather leave that decision to the King, which inadvertently gives Gardiner the “evidence” he needs.  The Bishop is very clearly not pleased with her easy dismissal of his request, but I am sure it only makes him more determined to take her down!

Charles Brandon has decided to release his captive, Brigitte’s,  father in return for her “cooperation”.  Gee, that’s not textbook or anything.  The sacrificial heroine, “enduring” the handsome soldier’s advances “all for her father’s sake.”  Guess my cynicism is showing, lol!  The Duke has his hostage’s father released outside camp and I am sure we all know what is in store for the dear lady…….

A touching moment comes when the young Richard Leland runs into Harry Hearst while on his marching rounds.  He sees his new friend is near starving and insists upon giving him his bread to eat.  The men have a very strong bond despite the atrocious circumstances and it gives the optimistic something nice to watch amid all the distasteful elements of war.

Lord Hertford visits the King in Boulogne, reporting to him that Queen Catherine is doing quite well as regent of the kingdom while he is away.  Hertford is also shouldered with the unpleasant task of reporting that the Emperor, King Charles has already taken two French cities and taken many enemy prisoners.  Henry goes into another tirade about how no one knows how to correctly handle the soldiers, that sieging Boulogne in the manner they have been is making them grow soft and idle.  The King wants results and he wants them regardless of what reality is presenting to him.  He orders Sen. Trevisso to explode one of the charges under the castle prematurely, without warning.  Meaning a lot of his own men would meet their deaths. The King wanted to test his troops, to see what they could handle in a “crisis”.  Trevisso, for his part, begs the King to give him more time, and to reconsider so many would not have to die.  He asks for two days.  We don’t really get a real answer from Henry……

The Lady Mary pays a visit to Queen Catherine.  She very clearly hints that she is hoping the Queen is in favor of the Catholic religion, and Catherine manages to skirt around the issue with some success, however, I am sure at this point that Mary knows the truth.

Queen Catherine shows a very tender side with Henry’s children, discussing with Prince Edward the start of his education with his tutors and breaking with his governess and nurses.  She also tells Elizabeth that she expects great things from her.  I like how Michael Hirst throws in those little prophetic moments like that, as we all know that Elizabeth surely rose to the challenge!  Catherine also speaks with one of Elizabeth’s ladies privately, expressing her wishes to bring Elizabeth up with the Reformed faith as her mother, Anne Boleyn would have done.  I thought this was an extremely classy and wonderful touch on Catherine’s part.  Poor Elizabeth lost her mother so young…. this was certainly a wonderful way to help the girl connect with her mother in some way.  What many don’t realize is that Catherine’s decision helped shape the way Elizabeth ruled the Church of England which ended up saving many lives.

And….. very predictably, the handsome Duke of Suffolk and his gorgeous French captive do the deed.  She awakes him to tell him she was going to escape and then came back to him.  It’s all very quick and crazy, and did I say predictable???  I am just glad the aging Duke has something to be happy about again.

Now we come to a very big climax in Boulogne.  You see Trevisso telling all of the men who helped to dig the tunnel thank you and it was a pleasure working with them….. and then orders them to go.  It’s clear he is going to detonate the charge under the castle.  Harry Hearst is one of the ones who remain behind to help light the way after the fuses are lit.  It’s a tense silence that comes over the entire field.  Then…… chaos.  The fuses are lit……there is a rumble and the earth begins to shake……..the boys in the tunnel are running for their lives, hoping to make it out before it all comes down.   You see the earth move around the castle and then it all starts to come tumbling down in a big thunderous roar.  Men are cheering and fighting all at once.  Harry Hearst is pulled from the tunnel.  He is the only one who made it out alive.  Unfortunately, his friend, Richard did not fare so well.  An arrow hit him almost immediately.  The English soldiers attack the castle.

Word quickly reaches Queen Catherine that the King has taken Boulogne.  She is overjoyed as are Henry’s children.  She informs the children he will be home soon.

Henry receives the keys to the city of Boulogne, enjoying the humiliation of the French.  The King goes on to boast and brag and, as usual,  take full credit for the siege.  He is clearly soaking this victory up for all it’s worth.  He decides after the one victory, to return to England, instead of pushing on to invade Paris, leaving the Earl of Surrey in charge in France.

It’s a very sad moment when Harry Hearst visits Richard Leland’s grave.  He tells him he is sorry.  Most people wonder why he says that.  I am thinking maybe it’s some kind of survivor’s guilt?  Maybe he is just sorry to lose a friend.

Charles Brandon decides to reveal his feelings to Brigitte and asks her to come to England with him.  She agrees.

Next we see a spectacular view of the cliffs of Dover, and Henry and his men riding through the forest.  The Queen has come to meet him personally and it’s a very happy reunion.  I LOVE the costumes in this scene!!!!

There is much fanfare and joy and cheering as Henry returns to court with the keys to the city of Boulogne.

Spanish Ambassador Eustace Chapuys presents himself before the king to ask his permission to leave court, as his health is quickly fading.  Henry decides to grill the Ambassador about the Emperor’s intentions towards the French.  He informs Eustace that he has permission to leave and that he hopes he is relieved he no longer has to lie for the Emperor.  It’s sad to me that Henry would end things with Chapuys in this way, but who could ever guess at that time what Henry would do next?

Eustace pays one final visit to the Lady Mary to say goodbye.  I feel so sorry for her.  This man was like a father to her.  Now he was leaving, preparing to pass on.  It had to be hard to be faced with that when he was the only constant in her life for so long.  Sarah Bolger gives a very heart wrenching speech as Mary to Chapuys, telling him that she will do all in her power to “make England faithful again.”  She vows to do whatever it takes.  You can see Michael Hirst is foreshadowing, showing us how she formed her ideas and her determinations which later led to her nickname “Bloody Mary”.  I am sure even the crimson dress she is wearing in this scene is symbolic of the moniker as well.  Eustace asks permission to embrace her.  He hugs her and gives her a ring in memory of him.  He explains it was a gift to him from the Emperor, who received it from her mother, Queen Catherine of Aragon.  I am so sad to see Chapuys go.  He was a character/person I really liked.

This episode is sad in many ways… and it only grows more sad.  Lord Hertford reports to the King that as well as completing a treaty with the French, the Emperor has consented to a marriage between his daughter and the French King’s son, the Duke.  He also reports that the French are preparing to march on and recapture Boulogne.  Despite this news, Henry proceeds to order Hertford to arrange for bells to be rung and masses to be said in honor of the great victory.  Henry says he wants the name Boulogne to be imprinted on English hearts.  He seems sort of out of it and delusional at this point and you just know it can’t be good.  The episode ends with Henry, alone, falling to the floor………

Two more episodes left, Tudors fans!  I can’t believe we have almost come to the end of the series!  Episode 9 coming very soon!

****All pictures for this post were found on the site – Showtime’s Tudors Wiki (which has been SUPER helpful to me!)  http://tudorswiki.sho.com/photos and a Sarah Bolger fan site: http://sarah-bolger.com/gallery/index.php