It’s a complicated family, and the politics are messy ‘was our defining thought during the first episode of “Becoming Elizabeth.” Haven’t enough shows been made on the Tudors? Apparently not, and there is always a new intriguing angle to explore and characters whose story needs to be told from their respective lenses. The Tudors not only made the history of Great Britain but have also been instrumental in crafting television history in the last decade and, by the looks of it, will continue to do so. To give the appropriate credit, the makers seem to recognize this fact and have paced the show accordingly. It does take us a minute to identify the whole complicated web of the family. Once we do so, the intrigue gets better. Let us take a look at what the first episode was like.
How Does Edward I Establish Himself As The King?
“Becoming Elizabeth” Episode 1 opens with the death of Henry VIII. His death has left behind a country in turmoil and his three children, who barely know him. He was married to Catherine Parr, who was childless at the time of his death. Lord Somerset, one of his advisors, comes to where Elizabeth is residing, for the purpose of escorting Edward to the castle, to begin his duties as the new king. Edward is initially hesitant and unsure of this new role thrust upon him. It doesn’t help that Lord Somerset tells him to keep a strong head as he will be dealing with 16 advisors at the same time. He tells him to let him be the Lord Protector as well as his voice. While Edward nods in agreement, at the time of the announcement of the ranks, Thomas Seymour, brother of Lord Somerset, expresses displeasure at this arrangement. He questions why only Somerset is the guardian when both of them are his uncles.
In the next few scenes, we see Edward have a sudden switch in personality. As is the nature of history, we have to assume that the power got into his teenage head and made him behave so, because there was no other explanation given as to this shift in the behavior of someone who is essentially a boy king.
He has been told to marry Mary Queen of Scots, but he is uninterested as she is just five years old. He looks like he would be willing to form that political alliance, but the war must be won against Scotland. He tells Somerset to win, or there would be consequences. Needless to say, the war is won. At the celebratory banquet, he confesses to Thomas Seymour that he likes Jane Grey, the girl he played cards with when he was younger. He fancies her to this day.
In the next scene, Somerset gives him the news that Mary, Queen of Scots, has fled to France, which means that their war was futile. Edward is furious as he feels like he now looks like a fool. To put it briefly, we saw the transformation of Edward from an unsure boy to an arrogant teenager with too much power. While the actual cause of the change is not shown, it is not hard to guess. He is one of the more unlikeable characters on the show, and we are waiting to see what we know is going to happen from our history books.
How Elizabeth Falls In Love With Thomas Seymour?
The answer to that is too simple-it is just the bane of charming men. Thomas Seymour is involved in an affair with Catherine Parr, Henry VIII’s ex-wife and Elizabeth’s stepmother, who has been in love with him since before she became queen. Now that the king is dead, both of them wish to marry each other once they effectively find a solution to the politics surrounding them.
It is at this stage that Elizabeth comes to live in Chelsea Manor with Catherine. The latter seems to be fond of her, though it looks like she plans on manipulating her for some political purpose. We would love to speculate on what that could be, but we will save that for the upcoming episodes, when the politics of the throne become clearer.
Elizabeth falls in love with Thomas Seymour right away. He makes her laugh, and it is apparent that Elizabeth has not done that in quite a while. Thomas flirts with her quite liberally, and Elizabeth misunderstands that he visits Chelsea Manor to meet her, when the actual purpose of his visits is Catherine, who, though initially amused at his interactions with the latter, tells him to reign himself in.
Thomas seems to have ambitions and plans of his own. We understand that he is not in love with Catherine, and he is definitely interested in Elizabeth, but not romantically. He sees that she is a useful pawn in the game of thrones and keeps her in the loop for his plans to be effective. But this doesn’t stop him from secretly getting married to Catherine.
His wife tells the king about their marriage, and Edward is surprisingly happy about it. Catherine is the only mother he has ever known, and Thomas is his favorite uncle. He is happy for them and accepts their union. Elizabeth, however, is heartbroken.
‘Becoming Elizabeth’ Episode 1: Ending Explained – Does Elizabeth Fall In Thomas’s Trap?
In the final few minutes, we see that Lady Jane Grey has come to live in Chelsea Manor due to the king’s interest in her. Elizabeth is extremely vexed at this and confronts Catherine as to how she could allow this. She sees Jane as a threat to her position in regard to the throne. But she notices Thomas listening to their conversation and is embarrassed about her words. She apologizes, but Thomas tells her to “never apologize for having a personality.” Catherine leaves the room to allow Thomas to comfort Elizabeth, but unbeknownst to her, he takes it a step further. He hints that he might want to marry Elizabeth, and his marriage to Catherine is not because he loves her but because he had no other “choice.” Keep in mind that he doesn’t explicitly say these words but just heavily implies them. Elizabeth leans in for a kiss, only for him to pull away and leave the room and a confused Elizabeth behind. So to answer our question, yes, Elizabeth has fallen into the honey trap he has set for her. Whether she manages to recognize and come out of it remains to be seen.
Final Thoughts: What Can We Expect From ‘Becoming Elizabeth’?
We think this show has potential. The makers have limited the storyline to the early years of one of the most memorable rulers in the history of the British empire, and they are not doing a bad job. We are not wowed by the sets or the costumes, it must be said. Elizabeth is too meek for now, and we are looking forward to seeing that side of her that laid the foundation of Great Britain. The pace is quick, yet easy to keep up with. For all of our misgivings about Thomas Seymour, he was the most interesting part of “Becoming Elizabeth” Episode 1, and we want to see how his character plays out. We also liked how we were not overwhelmed with the story. The motivations and complexities of the characters were presented in quite a simple manner, which aligns with the format of fitting a lot of history into eight episodes. We like that they did this. And that’s what makes anyone tune into a show about history that they already know—seeing how it plays out in an intriguing way. We have high hopes and can’t wait for the next episode to come out.