Wolf Hall, like Anne Boleyn, has come to an end. If you missed anything along the way—who was who in the Tower, among the enemies, and at Anne’s end—check out these 12 Essentials of Episode 6: Master of Phantoms, and see Cromwell’s haunting transformation into a cold agent of survival and revenge, and Anne’s final transformation into an indelible legend. #WolfHallPBS
1. February, 1536: Whitehall Palace
Anne Boleyn: You think you’ve grown great. You think you no longer need me. But you’ve forgotten the most important thing. Cremuel. Those who’ve been made, can be unmade.
Thomas Cromwell: I entirely agree.
The Queen’s threats no longer hold power over Cromwell.
2. February, 1536: Austin Friars
Sir Nicholas Carew: We require you to join us. We are content to have Seymour’s girl crowned. She’s known to favor true religion. And we believe she will bring Henry back to Rome. And this is our difficulty, Cromwell. We know you are a Lutheran.
Thomas Cromwell: No sir. I’m a banker. What will happen to Anne Boleyn?
Sir Nicholas Carew: I don’t know. Convent?
The religious conservative Carew speaks to Cromwell on behalf of those who wish to restore Papal authority: Lord Exeter, the Courtenay family, and the Poles. Cromwell is in the minority, caring what will happen to the Queen.
3. Spring, 1536: Whitehall Palace
Jane Rochford: Do that again and I will hit you back. You’re no queen, you’re just a knight’s daughter—and your time has come.
Anne is petulant and increasingly reckless with her courtiers, scrambling to turn them against one another when denied the fealty she desires. But she makes a dangerous enemy in Jane Rochford.
4. Spring, 1536: Whitehall Palace
Thomas Cromwell: Be advised by me. Speak to no-one.
Jane Rochford: Be advised by me. Speak to Mark Smeaton.
Jane Rochford sets the wheels in motion, implying Anne’s infidelity with the arrogant musician.
5. Spring, 1536: Austin Friars
Thomas Cromwell: Perhaps you’re wise not to speak. Best to have it all written down. The council will hardly believe it otherwise. They’ll be amazed at your success. Jealous. “Smeaton, what is your secret?” they’ll demand. And you’ll answer “Ah, I can’t impart.” But you will impart, Mark. You’ll do it freely. Or you’ll do it enforced.
Cromwell has played on the musician’s arrogance, tricking him into so much as saying he’s carrying on an affair with the Queen. His sudden shift from flatterer to icy prosecutor strips away Smeaton’s hauteur and fills him with terror.
6. Spring, 1536: Greenwich Palace
Anne Boleyn: I don’t know how to be ready.
Thomas Cromwell: Just come with us.
As always, there is an understanding between Anne and Cromwell. Now, as he escorts her from her palace chambers to the barge that will take her to the Tower, it’s an understanding of her fate.
7. Spring, 1536: Tower of London, Norris’ Cell
Harry Norris: You’ll not torture gentlemen. The King wouldn’t permit it.
Thomas Cromwell: There don’t have to be formal arrangements. I can put my thumbs in your eyes and then you would sing ‘Green grows the holly’ if I asked you to. Hmm?
Cromwell now threatens the behavior he so condemned in Thomas More.
8. Spring, 1536: Tower of London, Brereton’s Cell
William Brereton: The King favours me.
Thomas Cromwell: Does he? Does he? Well you should complain about your lodgings then, shouldn’t you?
Cromwell is now exacting his revenge for Brereton’s contempt for the Cardinal.
Spring, 1536: Tower of London, Harry Norris’ Cell
Thomas Cromwell: I need guilty men, Harry. So I’ve found men who are guilty. Though not necessarily as charged.
In exacting his revenge, Cromwell is empowering himself as both judge and jury.
Spring, 1536: Tower of London, Francis Weston’s Cell
Francis Weston: I don’t blame you, Cromwell. It’s just… I thought I had another twenty years…
Thomas Cromwell: Well we know not the hour, do we Francis?
In the Tudor court, no one knows the hour. Cromwell should heed his own words.
9. Spring, 1536: Tower of London, Privy Chamber
Anne Boleyn: I only have a little neck. So it’ll be the work of a moment.
Anne has almost touched Cromwell and engendered his pity…until she makes her all-too practiced gesture, clasping her hands at her breast. He recoils from her perceived artiface. She has lost her chance of a powerful ally.
10. Spring, 1536: Tower of London, Great Hall
Duke of Norfolk: Though shalt be burned here, within the Tower or else to have thy head smitten off as the King’s pleasure…These fellows say I’ve done it wrong. They say I have to say burn only…
Thomas Cromwell: The phrasing is the King’s, and don’t tell me what we can or can’t do, we’ve never tried a queen before.
The King is showing mercy in allowing a more immediate, less horrific method of execution.
11. Spring, 1536: Tower of London, Execution Site
Anne Boleyn: And thus I take my leave of the world and of you all, and I heartily desire you all to pray for me. O Lord, have mercy on my soul, to God I commend my soul.
Anne’s last words are barely audible in the noise of the crowd.
12. Spring, 1536: Whitehall Palace, King’s Chamber
The King’s appalling joy and crushing embrace of Cromwell starkly contrast Cromwell’s bleak demeanor; he is shattered, haunted by his own actions. Worse still, will his actions insulate him from a capricious king for long?