Episode Title: Assassins
Original Air Date: November 4, 2016
Episode Number: 1×09
As tensions with Philip increase, Elizabeth spends time with her old friend Porchey. Churchill’s portrait is painted for his 80th birthday.
This was yet another fantastic episode and I think the show really hit its stride at the halfway point and it’s just non-stop awesomeness from then on. The focus on this episode was more on Churchill and his struggle in accepting his age and the reality of what turning 80 years old means. He finally decides it’s time to retire and it’s probably to the delight of some and the relief of others. Anthony is delighted, of course. Clementine is relieved. Elizabeth is probably anxious/nervous/sad/excited all at once.
But first let me start with the painting plotline. First off, I did not recognize Stephen Dillane (he will always be Stannis Baratheon to me – I will always be for House Baratheon) until halfway through the episode which is a complete fail on my part. I should have recognized him right away. I guess he looks different without Melisandre by his side.
I really liked how Churchill and Sutherland started out as antagonistic and then their relationship mellowed and they even opened up to each other about their young kids who passed away and bonded over each other’s paintings. What Sutherland interpreted or got out of Churchill’s pond painting was unbelievable. He got what Churchill was probably not even aware of and why he’s painted that pond numerous times. Such a powerful scene. And then when Churchill heard Sutherland’s interpretation of his painting, John Lithgow’s face was priceless. It was like a bulb came on.
That painting was something else, though. I’m not an artist, but I’m with Churchill. That was not a flattering painting and I, too, would have been offended if someone saw me that way if I was at that age. I did love the framing of the last scene when Sutherland left and you see the painting in the background and you have Churchill in the sofa sitting down and pretty much mirroring exactly what is on the painting. That was very cool.
Churchill having the last audience with Elizabeth was so bittersweet. For sure, the forehead kiss will be one of my favorite moments from this season because it was just so awfully sweet and tender. Quite akin to a father showing affection for his daughter. I may or may not have teared up during this exchange:
“However will I cope without you?”
“You will be fine, Ma’am.”
“I have nothing more to teach you which is why it’s time for me to leave.”
Now on to Porchey, Elizabeth, and a jealous Philip. Philip really isn’t painted in a good light in this series, is he? I would love to hear the real Philip’s thoughts along with the rest of the royal family especially Elizabeth. Is he really this tempestuous and whiny in real life? Yeeesh. One wonders what Elizabeth saw in him. He can’t separate the fact that Elizabeth and Porchey are business partners and thinks that there’s something else going on between them due to their history. He should learn trust his wife more.
“I have nothing to hide from you. Nothing. Porchey is a friend. And yes, there are those who would have preferred me to marry him. Indeed, marriage with him might have been easier. Might have even worked better than ours. But to everyone’s regret and frustration the only person I have ever loved is you. And can you honestly look me in the eye and say the same?”
It says a lot when he couldn’t say anything in response to Elizabeth’s question above.
And that ending with Elizabeth’s speech about Churchill was perfection. I don’t even know what to say about it so I’ll just quote the whole thing:
“My confidence in Sir Anthony is complete and I know he will lead the country on to great achievements, but it would be useless to pretend that either he or any of those successors who may one day follow him in office, will ever, for me, be able to hold the place of my first Prime Minister, to whom my husband and I owe so much and for whose wise guidance during the early years of my reign, I shall always be so profoundly grateful. I will remember you always for your magnanimity, your courage at all times, and for your unfailing humor founded in your unrivaled mastery of the English language. I take comfort from the fact, that in losing my constitutional adviser I gain a wise councillor to whom I shall look for help and support in the days which lie ahead.”