The last episode of the Tudors ends with Henry's approaching death and his view of himself as
king. He stands before Holbein's great portrait in the chapel and sees his life flash before him. His death is not seen, but foretold by his dream of a pale horse with death as a rider coming for him. For those of you not familiar with the symbolism death rides a pale horse when he rides with the four horsemen of the apocalypse. The pale horse is just yet another of Hirst's beautiful use of imagery and symbolism in this epic series. He used it before when Anne Boleyn was executed. There was a flash of swans and feathers as she died. Swans are said to burst into song before dying, thus the term "Swan Song" to describe the end of something. Crows or ravens also flew from the top of the tower after she died. Crows are said to carry the souls of the dead to the other side. Hirst is truly an amazing writer and director.
The other fabulous thing about tonight's episode were the visits Henry received from three of his four dead wives. Katherine of Aragon came first. She chided him for being cruel to their daughter Mary and for not allowing her to marry and become a mother. She also told him that she was his true wife in the eyes of God when she was alive and still was. Needless to say, he was not happy about this, but I liked that she got that barb in one final time.
Anne Boleyn came next. She appeared to him in the night as he was preparing for sleep. He appears to be preparing some sort of tincture no doubt for his health, but one must wonder if he thinks he is losing his mind. He asks her why she has come and she says to see her daughter. She tells Henry she is so proud of her, how clever she is, how strong, how beautiful. She asks Henry if he is proud and he admits that yes, indeed he is but that he cannot always love her because she reminds him too much of Anne and what she did to him. Anne is shocked and replies that she did nothing to him, that she was innocent and the accusations against her were false. Then she looks at him and says "I thought you knew." It is not clear if he knew or not, but he does now. She also tells him that poor Catherine Howard lies in the ground next to her and that what happened to her was not her fault either. Anne looks at Henry almost with pity, but she still has that amazing strength that will not allow her to give in to the emotion. He turns and speaks her name and asks her not to go, but she is gone. He had not spoken her name in years. He is left to live with the fact that he killed an innocent woman, a woman he dearly loved, and that he never got the chance to apologize, which he does not deserve. Let him die with the guilt.
Jane Seymour is the last to appear and she tells him that all of his coddling of Edward has killed him. He will die young and he never lived much of a life shut away from the world. Henry is devastated by the news and turns away from his most beloved wife. He then orders his council to bury him next to her. Guess he really didn't have any choice since he either divorced or executed all of his other wives that were no longer alive and he knew his current wife would outlive him.
Hirst also did an amazing job of directing the cast. Princess Mary stands strong with her hands clasped as her mother always did. She has that backbone of steel they both inherited from Isabella of Castile. Elisabeth though is truly amazing. She has her mother's dignity and that way of thrusting her chin forward and holding her head high when she hears news that is not to her liking that Natalie Dormer as Anne perfected. The gestures of these two actresses are so similar that they really appear to be mother and daughter. A truly amazing series has come to an end. It goes out while a pale horse approaches from behind.