Scars mark you for life, inside and out. I once smashed by head against a door knob (I was eight) and opened my forehead. After that, I wore a straight fringe for the remainder of my childhood. Okay, that is nothing like what happened to the emperor Carlos and the consequences his accident had on his personality, but you can see the parallels, right?
This was truly a sad episode for my pal François. To start with, his mother, Louise of Savoy, dies! She was one of my favourite characters and Susi Sánchez was splendid playing her. You can imagine how heartbroken François is after the death of his main ally –he even faints during the wake! Just in time, Françoise de Foix arrives to comfort him, after years being away from court and from him. It made me realise how much I liked this couple. But alas, she is not there to rekindle their relationship, and I wouldn’t blame her, for who knows how many lovers the king has had since her. But Montmorency is soooo mistrustful that he assures the French monarch that Françoise is there only to demand some money that her husband lent to the crown back. Of course, my pal can’t believe this is true, but he agrees to ask her to give him all the jewels she had as presents from him back, to see what her true intentions are. Needless to say, Françoise sends him back a box full of gold bars that are worth as much as the jewels, from which she doesn’t want to depart because they remind her of her time with the king. As you can expect, François is angry at himself for having ever suspected her, and angry at Montmorency for having implanted the seed of doubt in him.
But François has no time to rest after his mother’s death! He receives Wolsey, who is asking for asylum, since returning to England would mean his death. Even at his worst moment, François is not an idiot, and hurries Wolsey to return to his country and die with the dignity that he didn’t have in life. Serves him well! Oh, he also welcomes Henry VIII, now separated from Rome, and they have a small disagreement after Henry states that, though he is not with Rome anymore, he still follows the doctrine to the T, unlike François, who is thinking about paying more attention to the Reformers.
And as a sign from God telling François that what he is doing is wrong, the dauphin of France, also called François, dies under strange circumstances. After this, the king decides to stay true to Rome and do everything in his power to rise and make a name for himself for the years to come to honour his mother. Starting with murdering all the heretics.
Oh, and he finally marries his son Henri to Caterina de’ Medici, in exchange for getting the Duchy of Milan. But then the Pope dies. Ouch.
So that’s it. Henry has finally separated himself from Rome. Well, he first marries Anne Boleyn (who seems quite smug, in my opinion), and then gets excommunicated by the new Pope, Paul III. It doesn’t matter, because Henry doesn’t really care! He is actually happy about it, he feels free.
Unfortunately, this means that Catalina has to go and live somewhere else! Both she and her daughter Mary appeal to Henry and ask for mercy, but there is no point. Although I admire Catalina a great deal: she keeps referring to herself as the only lawful queen (which she is) and fights for her daughter’s rights with her last dying breath. Because yes, Catalina dies in this episode. It was a heart-breaking scene that shows how the daughter of the Catholic Monarchs was a strong woman until the very end, writing a letter to Henry to remind him that they were married for 20 years and that he needs to take care of Mary. It even seemed as if Henry was affected when he found out that Catalina was sick. A small glimpse of humanity underneath all the craziness yet to come.
I will miss Catalina. We have finally had an accurate portrayal of the character, instead of those in films and TV series that show her as “the other woman” for some reason, when she was the first wife! And the same goes for Mary Tudor, always treated as a villain, when she was the rightful heir to the English throne. We’ve had to have a Spanish show to come and tell us that not everything is black or white.
Hernán Cortés returns happy to New Spain: a marquis, with a new wife and kids. He’s finally been knocked down a notch –must be the age? Truth is, he is more relaxed. He even suggests sending an expedition without him, which is something.
But we know that for an expedition to be successful, he needs to be in it. So when the leaseholders find out that it has failed, they almost demand Cortés’s head. Luckily for him (in a way), New Spain has become a viceroyalty, and the viceroy, Antonio Mendoza, is a big fan of Cortés, and considers him a living legend. So with new money and new ships, it seems as if Cortés’s adventures are not over yet!
Oh, drama, drama, drama. I can’t wait until Carlos is old and lives in Yuste, where all he has to do is attend mass and have long conversations with Francisco de Borja. Because right now, it’s all too stressful.
Let’s start with the triggering event. Carlos and Isabel are having a somewhat heated argument about how she is turning their son Felipe into a softy. Carlos rides away from his wife in a fit of rage, but a tree branch gets in the way and hits him in the head, getting thrown off the horse but with his foot trapped in the saddle, which means he is dragged for a while. Ouch! By the way, Álvaro Cervantes did this scene himself! That takes a lot of courage.
So, as it happens with life-threatening experiences that leave you with a limitation, Carlos turns into House and gets all grumpy about everything. And in addition to that, he ends up having a mid-life crisis, at age 31! It is quite a parallel of what François is going through in the same episode: all about how he hasn’t done anything worthy, how he wants to be remembered as the greatest of the greatest, etcetera. His first decision? To make Felipe’s education as severe as possible, so that he can be a great king one day. But when Felipe returns from sword practice with the Duke of Alba almost in tears, Isabel decides that this is not fair. Does grumpy Carlos care? Of course not. He decides to send Felipe away, far from his mother’s clutches so that he can get tough. Yes, we are talking about a six-year-old.
In the meantime, Carlos has many other problems, as usual. For instance, his sister María is having a similar crisis and doesn’t think she can be the right person to rule Flanders. She even thinks she might have her mother’s “illness”, which makes Carlos wonder if he has it as well. Seriously.
Luckily, Carlos sees the arrival in court of the closest thing they had in the 16th century to a psychologist: painters. Yes, Titian, responsible for some of the most famous paintings of Carlos and his family, finally makes his first appearance. Needless to say, the first painting Titian draws is awful: it shows Carlos hunched and sombre, and the emperor instantly tears it apart (this was during his House phase). We will have to wait and see how the next painting goes!
But there is more! After Carlos receives a ship full of gold from Cuba, courtesy of Pizarro, he decides that this is the perfect occasion to do something for his wife to apologise for being a jerk: attack Algiers, something he has been postponing for a while. But then, new setback! Remember how Barbarossa had been causing mayhem in Algiers? Well, now he has invaded Tunisia, and that is too close to Carlos’s territories in Italy. So all the money goes there. Sorry, Isabel.
Although the main cause of concern for the empress is that she hears Carlos is going to lead the troops! In a riveting and a bit scary speech, she lets him know that doing something so reckless would send her fuming, so he decides not to. For like a second, because then the Duke of Alba tells Carlos that he will be beside him during the battle and will protect him, so the emperor changes his mind! He wants, after all, to leave a mark in history. So he goes to get Felipe and sends him back to court with the message “Be right back. Have your son to entertain and comfort you. I totally did the opposite of what you wanted. See ya, Carlos.” I sense a major marriage crisis coming up after his return. Well, at least he won the battle!
Last night’s edition of El Mundo de Carlos was a combined one with episode 13, so I will post the link with my next review -coming soon! Also, everyone was wearing codpieces in this episode and it was very distracting. That must be the single most antiaesthetic and ugliest piece of clothing that has ever been invented.